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How to Talk to Your Partner About Making Love Again

13/02/2019 jleff 0

Q: How can I talk to my partner about making love again?

A: I so appreciate your question, first, because it tells a story that’s shared by many, many couples, and also because it shows how much you care. Your partner had a hysterectomy a few years ago, including the removal of both ovaries. She’s not using any hormone therapy.

Intercourse is “dry” for both of you, and therefore uncomfortable. She describes a sensation like “being stuck by needles.” You both miss the intimacy you had earlier in your relationship, and you believe your partner is experiencing some depression.

You’re feeling like there aren’t treatment options, because you’ve heard about side effects and risk of cancer. And yet, you want to “be there for her” and to make love again.

Let me start by saying that your understanding of effective treatment options as causing harm is misguided. A great resource for dispelling some myths and informing yourselves about treatment options is Estrogen Matters: Why Taking Hormones in Menopause Improves Women’s Well-Being, Lengthens Their Lives—and Doesn’t Raise the Risk of Breast Cancer. You can get a preview of the content by listening to this interview I did with the authors for our podcast.

Your partner is experiencing painful intercourse as a result of progressive genitourinary syndrome of menopause (previously called vaginal atrophy), and there are safe and effective (and even nonhormonal) prescription options. Some of the terms you use to describe her pain suggest she may also have vulvodynia.

Unfortunately, once things get to the point you describe, over-the-counter, nonprescription options (like moisturizers and lubricants) aren’t really therapeutic. Those are best used early in the process for prevention.

When I say this is “progressive,” I mean it will naturally, if untreated, get worse. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect her to be interested in sex when it causes pain, and we recommend she not have sex if it is causing pain. Having painful sex will in turn cause additional problems involving pelvic floor muscles (vaginismus), another condition contributing to pain.

I explain to women this is a “fork in the road”: You move forward without intercourse as part of your intimate relationship or you seek treatment to regain/retain comfort, and then continue treatment as long as you want intercourse to be a part of your relationship.

You’ll be best served—and I believe you’ll both be happy—if you confront this situation and have an honest conversation about mutual desires and needs (and your message to me was a good starting point!). There is little pleasure for you knowing that intercourse is causing pain for her.

Use this website, if you like, to talk about how things change for women and the available treatments; you can start by sharing this page, and then navigate to related topics.

If restoring sexual health to the relationship is to include intercourse, I’d recommend that your partner see a certified menopause care provider (I often suggest the North American Menopause Society’s “find a provider” link) who can help her to understand her condition, based on a careful examination, and then understand the treatment options. 

Good luck! I know from my own research and practice with patients that there are safe and effective treatment options, and we can almost always restore comfort and pleasure.

Barb DePree, MD, has been a gynecologist for 30 years, specializing in menopause care for the past 10. Dr. DePree was named the Certified Menopause Practitioner of the Year in 2013 by the North American Menopause Society. The award particularly recognized the outreach, communication and education she does through MiddlesexMD, a website she founded and where this blog first appeared. She also is director of the Women’s Midlife Services at Holland Hospital, Holland, Michigan.

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7 Important Facts Every Woman Needs to Know About Heart Attacks

12/02/2019 jleff 0

Women are three times more likely to die after a serious heart attack than are men. That’s the findings of a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, highlighting a few serious facts.

Learn More: How Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms Are Different Than Men’s

Heart attacks in women are not usually the typical movie version of the elephant-sitting-on-your-chest.

1. Despite decades of awareness and prevention, heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death in this country.

2. Heart attacks kill more women than all forms of cancer combined, killing one woman every minute.

3. While having a healthy lifestyle is a good preventive measure against heart disease, it can’t totally eliminate that risk. Other factors—like cholesterol, family history and high blood pressure—matter, too. Yet there’s a lot of misconception surrounding risk factors and facts. For example, a Heart IQ Quiz conducted by MDVIP, a national network of concierge physicians, found that only 55 percent of women said they were knowledgeable about the risk factors for heart disease, and only 43 percent were well informed on the best screening methods for heart disease.

4. Being a woman means different, less traditional symptoms and risk factors for heart disease and heart attack. That’s why many women mistakenly attribute their symptoms to things like indigestion, acid reflux, the flu or just plain aging.

5. It’s possible to have a heart attack and not even know it. “Silent” heart attacks, which have no obvious symptoms, are more common in women than in men. These may not be discovered for days, weeks or even months after they occur, when your health care professional performs an electrocardiogram. These types of heart attacks can occur in women younger than 65 and are more likely to happen to women with diabetes (which can change the way you experience pain).

6. The most common symptom, for men and women, is chest pain. But only half the women who suffer heart attacks will get this warning sign. Women are more likely to have different symptoms than men, including:

  • Back, neck, jaw or throat pain

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Shortness of breath

  • Pain in the back, neck, jaw or throat

  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

7. It’s never too late to adopt healthy habits. If you smoke, quit—you can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent just one year after quitting. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week, and concentrate on a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and poultry, fish and nuts. The same survey mentioned above found that more than half of Americans falsely believe that people with heart disease should eat as little fat as possible. But there is value in unsaturated fats found in foods like salmon, nuts, soybeans and avocados, all of which can actually help improve cholesterol.

This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.

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Smart Steps for Healthy Feet

12/02/2019 jleff 0

TUESDAY, Feb. 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Are your feet something you think about only when they hurt? Simple steps can protect them from common problems, some of which are hard to get rid of.

READ: 8 Ways to Treat Your Feet Right

The first step …

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How Color Can Help You De-Stress

11/02/2019 jleff 0

MONDAY, Feb. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Many studies have shown that color affects both mood and behavior. Color can help you go from sad to happy or angry to calm.

READ: Ways to De-Stress

When it comes to mood, there are four primary colors. Th…

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Things You Should Know If You Wear a CPAP Mask

07/02/2019 jleff 0

Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, therapy is a common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep. A CPAP machine uses a hose and mask or…

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Cutting Calories Can Boost Your Sex Life and Your Sleep

07/02/2019 jleff 0

THURSDAY, Feb. 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The benefits of eating fewer calories may go far beyond losing weight.

Three decades of animal studies have found that eating fewer calories can extend lifespan and reduce the risk of chronic diseases and e…

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Why I Chose to Freeze My Eggs

06/02/2019 jleff 0
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By Lola Banjo

To many, matters regarding fertility and reproductive health are highly personal. People tend to be less open about their experiences, sometimes even with other family members. Minority women, especially, feel ashamed to undergo treatments like egg freezing for fear of being judged.

But seeking out assisted reproductive technologies, whether for social or health reasons, is nothing to be ashamed about. It simply means women are now more aware of all the options that science has created to make it possible to have a chance of becoming a mother.

While my reason for freezing my eggs was a social one, the pervasiveness of the stigma meant that when I was researching the process, it was hard to find women within my social sphere who had been open about freezing their eggs or were willing to discuss their experience.

This hesitation to share can cause feelings of isolation, as we are unaware that there are many other women experiencing similar things. Michelle Obama recently alluded to this in her book where she discusses her in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey and having a miscarriage. She recalls feeling like a failure, ashamed and lonely, until she realized she was not alone.

Here is my own story.

From a young age, having children has been one of my greatest life goals. While many girls dreamed of their wedding day, I’d fast forward to becoming a mother. By high school, I even had names picked out—but I first wanted to have a career, gain financial independence and a find suitable partner to raise children with. 

At 28, I was well on my way. I had just graduated from a top MBA program, started my career at a top consulting firm and was newly engaged to a man I thought was the love of my life. The plan was to have my first kid at 30, shortly after we married, my second at 32, and my third at 34.

But then my relationship ended, and I was so devastated and heartbroken that I swore off relationships for the next three years to protect myself from another heartbreak.

When I was ready to date again, I had a moment of panic. I could no longer ward off the not-so-gentle nudges from my family that it was time to start a family. The pressure was so intense that even though I was thriving in other aspects, I felt like a failure because I was starting over and not close to being married.

I began to put a lot of pressure on myself to make every relationship work out because time was ticking. It became an up-and-down rollercoaster of finally liking someone, emotionally investing in our relationship, then realizing we were not a great match and having to go back to the drawing board. I no longer enjoyed dating—it felt more like a draining task that needed to be done. I’d wonder if every guy sitting across the table from me on a first date could potentially become my husband and the father of my children.

I knew I needed to re-center. I wanted to date (and have fun doing so), take the time to properly get to know someone and let the relationship blossom without the pressure of stressing about the future. I didn’t want to compromise on finding “the one,” but knowing my fertility wouldn’t necessarily “wait,” when my ob-gyn brought up the idea of egg freezing, I knew she was right. In July, I started the process.

What I Learned About Egg Freezing—and In Vitro Fertilization

Technically, a woman can naturally conceive until she reaches menopause, but it becomes harder with time. What egg freezing attempts to do is freeze time—that is, preserve a woman’s eggs when they are of higher quality.

Here are some lessons I learned from for my egg freezing procedure:

  • Freezing your eggs won’t guarantee a baby. While the success rate has been improving, outcomes will vary depending on age, genetics, reproductive history and other lifestyle factors.

  • The initial tests are very important. After the first consultation, you will go through testing of your fertility factors, reproductive health, STI (sexually transmitted infections) status and genetics. You should not make assumptions about your fertility prospects until you complete this step, as the results will help you and your doctor assess if you should continue with the process.

  • Freezing your eggs won’t deplete your egg supply. I learned that my normal reproductive cycle wouldn’t be affected because only the eggs that would be “lost” anyway through the natural process would be captured.

  • Do it when you feel most comfortable, but the earlier the better. On average, 25-year-old eggs are better than 30-year-old eggs and 30-year-old eggs are better than 35-year-old eggs. Wondering the best time to freeze your eggs? The general rule is now.

  • Egg retrieval is the first part of IVF. In a full in vitro fertilization cycle, after the oocytes are retrieved, sperm is used to create an embryo in vitro, and then the embryo is implanted. I learned that when I froze my eggs, I would conclude the second half of the IVF process when I was ready to use my eggs.

  • It is not a quick process. Durations vary, but it took about three months from the time I had my initial tests to the time I had the retrieval surgery. While the injections themselves last 10 to 12 days, some tests leading up to it can only be done at certain times of the month.

  • Injections, injections, injections. I almost changed my mind when I realized how many needles were involved because I am terrified of them. There are frequent blood draws to test hormone levels and then every night, I injected myself thrice in my abdomen for 11 days.

  • Not everyone in your life will understand your decision. If you are looking for unanimous support from friends and family, you might not get it, but that’s OK. Trying to convince someone it is a good idea for you to freeze your eggs might be putting your energy toward the wrong thing. As long as you (and your doctor) know why you’re doing it, that’s good enough.

  • Support is essential. If you are an independent woman, you may be inclined to think you could do this on your own, but it helps to have a support system, no matter how small. I was blessed to have the support of a couple of loved ones and having them to listen was invaluable. A great example was my best friend talking to me over FaceTime as I administered the injections the first day. I talked to her through tears, seriously doubting if I could do it, but she calmly cheered me on.

  • Even with support, the egg freezing procedure can feel long, lonely and emotional. There is loneliness in the mere act of pricking yourself with needles every night and clinic visits every morning before the rooster crows. But also, due to the hormone injections, my estrogen levels were incredibly high, and I was very emotional. I felt proud about freezing my eggs, but I also felt some sadness about having to do it at all. I’d cry when I’d see a baby, even staying off social media to avoid it. My normal routine was also completely thrown off track. One particular tough morning, I got up at 4:30 a.m. to get to the clinic by 6 a.m., but it was so packed that I would not be seen till 7:30 a.m. I had an important 8 a.m. meeting with a one-hour-plus commute. I was so overwhelmed that as soon as I stepped into my car, I burst into tears. My weight was also out of control, and I lost all the definition in my abs as my ovaries expanded. I also had no desire to be social. I wanted to just stay home all day. But don’t worry: This part only lasts for two mentally and physically exhausting weeks.

  • You cannot travel for a period of time. Throughout the three months, I was only able to squeeze in a week of work travel. As someone who loves to travel, my inability to do so felt suffocating. You have to visit the clinic frequently for blood tests and ultrasounds; hence, the travel restriction.

  • The egg retrieval is a surgical procedure. On retrieval day, I arrived at the clinic, received an IV, then proceeded to the operating room. I received a propofol-based anesthesia. Then the surgeon used an ultrasound probe through my vagina to retrieve the eggs. I didn’t feel a thing. The surgery took less than 30 minutes, but I was there for three hours. Also, I couldn’t drive, so I had someone accompany me.

  • Plan for recovery time. I took about a month to feel fully back to normal again. After my surgery, I felt very bloated and had days of painful cramping. I was also nine pounds heavier, due to both the IV fluids and not being able to work out for weeks. After the surgery, I was advised to refrain from working out (or sex) for another one to two weeks.

  • The number of eggs retrieved per cycle will vary. During each ultrasound, the number of follicles, which carry the eggs, are counted. Generally, the more follicles the better. However, not every follicle might contain an egg. In addition, some of the retrieved eggs might not be mature enough to be frozen.

  • You may need more than one cycle. Doctors advise freezing six to 10 eggs per live birth desired because some eggs may not survive thawing and some will not successfully fertilize into an embryo. But you will likely be unable to know if you will need more than one cycle until your first cycle is complete.

In the end, every woman will have a different experience. So while it’s good to share our stories, be careful about comparing them. Our bodies are different and two seemingly similar women could have drastically different experiences and results due to factors beyond their control.

When I’m ready to start a family, I hope to conceive naturally, but having my frozen eggs just in case makes me feel relieved, empowered and less pressured in my dating.

If you’re also considering freezing your eggs, I commend you on making this important decision. What you are about to embark on won’t be easy, but if all works well, it will be worth it. Though you might feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. You are strong and amazing. You can do it!

Lola Banjo is a corporate strategist and innovation executive with a passion for advancing women and underrepresented minorities. She has spent the majority of her career helping large organizations achieve strategic goals through a blend of analysis, partnering and creative problem solving and she uses the same thinking to ideate on tangible ways to address social issues. Her personal passion for and commitment to serving others has led her to her work as Board Director at Mouse.org, an organization that supports youth from underserved demographics via a technology education, and as a committee member of FACE Africa, an organization addressing water and sanitation issues in sub-Saharan Africa. She holds a B.S. in Materials Engineering w/ minors in Mathematics, Economics and Computer Science from Rutgers University, a M.S. in Financial Engineering and a Grad Certificate in Risk Management from New York University, and a MBA in Strategy, Finance and Decision Sciences from Emory University. She has also studied at top schools around the world including FGV Rio (Brazil), WHU Koblenz (Germany), RSM Erasmus (Netherlands), The London School of Economics and SDA Bocconi (Italy). She is an avid photographer and world traveler, having visited 100+ countries and counting.

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Should I Care About My Circadian Rhythm?

06/02/2019 jleff 0

You’ve heard the phrase circadian rhythm. Whether you know what it means or not, it’s important to your overall well-being.
Circadian rhythms are the numerous processes in the body that follow a 24-hour schedule. Several processes are timed to lig…

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Update Dietary Guidelines for a Healthier You

06/02/2019 jleff 0

TUESDAY, Feb. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Every five years, the U.S. government updates its dietary guidelines based in part on new research, but always with the goal of disease prevention.

READ: Healthy Fruits You Should Be Eating

The 2015-2020 gui…

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What You Need to Know About Stress Urinary Incontinence

04/02/2019 jleff 0

By Jessica Shepherd, MD, for Women’s Health Foundation

It’s time to address a common condition: stress urinary incontinence. Although more than 33 million adults in the United States suffer from bladder control issues, many women tend to shy away from…

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Ads For Short-Term Plans Lacking ACA Protections Swamped Consumers’ Online Searches

31/01/2019 jleff 0

Steven Findlay
January 31, 2019

Consumers shopping for insurance online last fall — using search terms such as “Obamacare plans,” “ACA enroll” and “cheap health insurance” — were most often directed to websites that promote individual health plans that didn’t meet consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study.

They also failed to get adequate information about those plans’ limitations, according to the analysis by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

The study, provided to Kaiser Health News ahead of its publication online, probed online marketing practices in eight states.

“It was disturbing, but not unexpected, to find such a high proportion of misleading ads and come-ons,” said Sabrina Corlette, the lead author. “That raises the risk that consumers could be duped into buying health insurance that they think offers comprehensive and secure coverage, but does not.”

The study focused primarily on the marketing of short-term plans, which don’t have to meet most ACA provisions, such as the requirement to cover preexisting conditions. The researchers found that regardless of the search term used, companies promoting or selling only these kinds of plans dominated the results.

Insurance regulators from each of the states told Corlette’s team that tracking the marketing and sales of short-term plans is challenging, as is educating consumers about the risks of limited coverage.

Michael Conway, Colorado’s interim insurance commissioner, told Kaiser Health News in an interview that he has a “high level of concern” that the marketing tactics the study found could have drawn unsuspecting consumers into selections that do not meet their needs.

“We are on alert for complaints,” Conway said. “If we have to strengthen our regulations on marketing, we will.”

Eric Cioppa, Maine’s insurance superintendent, said in an interview that his office has no evidence that consumers unknowingly purchased short-term plans based on misleading online marketing.

“We’ll respond accordingly and aggressively if we find that took place,” Cioppa said.

But Corlette said the findings provide early evidence that after regulatory changes by the Trump administration, some insurers are aggressively marketing short-term plans as a replacement for traditional health insurance, without fully informing consumers of the limits of the skimpier coverage.

That could warrant stronger federal and state oversight, she said.

The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, looked at online marketing in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas and Virginia. Those states were selected to reflect diverse geography and regulatory approaches, according to the researchers. Of the eight, Colorado and Minnesota require short-term plans to adhere to a shorter contract duration than required by federal law.

Changes In Short-Term Plan Rules

The ACA bars insurers from denying coverage to people who have health problems or charging them higher premiums. The law also mandates a minimum set of health benefits and requires plans to cap enrollees’ out-of-pocket expenses.

By comparison, short-term plans can deny coverage to applicants who have a preexisting condition and often exclude or limit coverage of maternity care, mental health treatment and prescription drugs.

As a result, short-term plans cost significantly less — typically about half to a third of an ACA plan if the deductible is the same. They are sold outside the ACA exchanges. And people who buy them don’t qualify for the government’s premium subsidies.

These plans are not new. They predate the ACA and allow people to buy coverage between jobs, for example.

The Obama administration put a 90-day limit on such coverage in 2017 because of concerns that the less expensive plans would attract younger and healthier people. Losing such customers could undermine the stability of the ACA marketplaces because they would be left with older and sicker enrollees.

Beginning this year, however, the Trump administration lengthened the potential duration of short-term plans to 364 days and allowed customers to renew the plans.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that oversees the ACA insurance exchanges, said those changes offer more affordable coverage that can be “a lifeline to people priced out of the ACA market.”

“These plans are different, and consumers do need to know what they are purchasing, which is why we now require more robust warnings about the limits of these plans than before,” she said. “Fundamentally, we believe in giving consumers more options and leaving it up to them to decide what is right for them and their families.”

The study evaluated online ads in the weeks just before and during the latest open enrollment for ACA coverage, which in most states began Nov. 1 and ended Dec. 15. The researchers analyzed 256 search results and 65 websites and interviewed state regulators in all eight states.

They found that Google searches were most often topped by paid “lead-generating” websites. Such sites don’t sell insurance but ask shoppers for contact and demographic information. Insurers and brokers can buy that information and contact prospective customers. Or, call centers affiliated with the lead-generating sites phone consumers and direct them to a seller.

The researchers also created a profile of a 29-year-old consumer seeking insurance who was in good health and with an income of $20,000 so she was eligible for premium subsidies for ACA-compliant coverage. They entered this consumer’s information into several lead-generating websites and fielded six phone pitches from brokers selling short-term and other non-ACA plans.

Among their findings:

  • During ACA open enrollment, only 19 percent of the searches using the common search terms yielded sites offering solely ACA-compliant plans. Before open enrollment, the return was less than 1 percent.
  • Lead-generating sites promoting short-term plans or other non-ACA compliant insurance products were the most common search result in every state, representing more than half of all search results before and during open enrollment.
  • The six brokers who encouraged the purchase of coverage over the phone provided minimal plan information. Most refused to provide written materials or discontinued the call when asked for such materials.
  • State officials lack full information about which insurers are marketing short-term plans to their residents, with one official calling it “one of our biggest blind spots.” Most said they plan to start monitoring the insurers’ practices more closely this year.
  • ‘Necessary Niche’

    An estimated 600,000 to 750,000 people bought short-term plans in 2017. The Trump administration projected last year that about 200,000 ACA customers would switch to this coverage in 2019 due to its rule change. A second government forecast predicted that the new policy would boost short-term coverage enrollment to about 2 million people by 2022.

    Insurers who specialize in short-term plans vigorously defend them.

    “This is a small and necessary niche in the [individual insurance] marketplace,” said Jeff Smedsrud, CEO of Pivot Health, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and one of the firms whose website the study analyzed. “If people need temporary coverage, we are there for them. We don’t want people who qualify for a government subsidy to buy our short-term plans. They should get coverage under the ACA.”

    Shaun Greene, head of business operations at AgileHealthInsurance.com, said short-term plans offer a more affordable option to people who don’t qualify for a government subsidy under the ACA.

    But Matthew Fiedler, a health insurance specialist at the Brookings Institution who was not affiliated with the study, said the longer-duration short-term plans may befuddle some customers. The study, he said, “strongly suggests that some consumers are going to be confused and end up with plans that cover less than they expected.”

    Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Here’s How to Slow Down Time

29/01/2019 jleff 0
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It’s crazy how time seems to go faster and faster the older we get, isn’t it? I read that somewhere once. Whoever wrote it explained that it was something about the measurement of time related to the ratio of years we’ve already lived versus the years we have left to live. Trying to explain this further or understand it more precisely makes me think too hard and hurts my head, so I won’t. (It also makes me all philosophical and edge precipitously close to an all-out existential crisis, which I’d prefer not to do. Especially now.)

That’s because I recently suffered what is mostly one of those “age-related,” crisis-y things that happens: a detached retina.

I’ll spare you the details, or rather invite you to read all about it here.

But getting back to my reason for this post … slowing down time.

I’ve often thought that besides growing older, another reason time moves so quickly is that I’m trying to cram too many things into too little time.

Do I overestimate the power of a minute, an hour, a day, or do I underestimate how much time each thing will actually take to do?

And then, of course, there’s this: Time seems to move quickly when we’re enjoying what we are doing. Ah, the bliss of being fully immersed and in that “zone.” You look up from what you’re doing, and, in what feels like a flash, it’s four hours later.

Conversely, time crawls when we’re bored or unhappy and all we want is for that chunk to break into tiny little pieces and be over—quickly.

But I digress. Back to my detached retina.

This was a medical emergency and I needed surgery, after which I had no choice but to rejigger the way I spent my time. For the first week I had to rest my eyes (doctor’s orders!) which meant no reading—at all.

That gave me a lot of time to think about time itself—how I spent it, how I wasted it, how I missed it.

And it was about time that I realized a lot of things, both good and bad, about time. Sometimes, it takes a little shaking up to bring you to your senses, after all.

  1. My name is Sheryl and I am an addict. I discovered that the overwhelming pull of emails, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is real and feels truly physical and as close to a pure involuntary reflex you can get short of being tapped on the knee with a rubber mallet during your annual checkup.

  2. I had been on a newspaper hiatus, since reading the news every day put me into a funk. But suddenly all I wanted to do was sit with the newspaper and delve into everything—even politics. (Do we always crave what we can’t have?)

  3. I realized the true power of reading to help you relax before bed and the value and power of a ritual. I can’t remember a time, since learning to read, that I got into bed without grabbing a book or magazine to ease me off to sleep. (Podcasts offer a good, though not equal, alternative, I discovered.) Read more about why you need a bedtime ritual.

  4. I rediscovered the lost art of conversation. No more emails, no more texts, no more shunning phone calls because I was too busy working, or at the gym, or running at a zillion miles an hour off doing who-knows-what. I had time to sit still and catch up with so many of my friends in real time. I remembered how it was possible to stay on the phone for hours, like I used to do as a teenager. I’d forgotten the pure joy of hearing a familiar friend’s voice, sharing stories, asking a question and getting an immediate answer—the power of the spoken word and its ability to lead you into an uncovered and unpredictable treasure trove of tales.

  5. Rather than rushing through my mornings, time opened its arms to me. The combination of cold bleak winter days and my forced hiatus (I was not yet allowed to drive, either) rendered me restless, and I ambled aimlessly through my house throughout the days. But soon my pacing morphed to leisurely lingering. When I stopped to gaze out my rear window, I was struck to see, in the near distance, the blazing reddish-yellow light rising from the sky. Normally around the time of sunrise I’m either sleeping or awake with my attention either on the morning paper or yes—you guessed it—my computer or iPhone. Now I know precisely where to position myself to catch the sun rising each day and where to stand to catch a glimpse of its reflection as the day wraps up.

  6. I enriched myself with TV-worth-watching. (While not permitted to read, TV watching was OK.) Remember the days of seven channels? My children still marvel at the fact that we grew up with just seven channels, instead of seven hundred-plus. Some memorable movies and series I discovered: Wanderlust (Tony Collette is one of my favorite actresses); Schitt’s Creek (so funny and touching at the same time); Beautiful Boy (tough to watch but very powerful and real); Dirty John (like a soap opera you can’t stop watching); Tidying Up (Do we really need everything we have? Still considering that one … ); and Queer Eye (those guys are the cutest!).

  7. I gained a newfound appreciation for my sight. We often don’t know what we’ve got till it’s gone. A good reminder to never take our health, our senses or our minds (or friends, for that matter) as a given. They are not. And if we’re fortunate enough to have them, we must treasure them, care for them, respect them and savor them. Find out What You Need to Know About Age-Related Vision Loss.
  8. Once cleared to use my eyes more, I checked in on social media to see if I’d missed anything (see #1, above). It didn’t take long for me to question this decision. While I’ll admit that social media can be valuable in certain ways—professionally, I belong to a few very helpful groups, and personally, it has connected me with long-lost friends—did I really need to read someone’s post boasting that they’d finished the crossword puzzle in record time or to look at someone’s series of selfies unabashedly reaching for compliments (why else would someone post so many selfies, I wonder)? And seeing an endless reel of photos of another’s perfectly warm and wonderful Caribbean vacation really got on my nerves. (Maybe a little envy on the last one.)

  9. It might be Pollyanna-ish for me to say so, but I do think it’s important to try to look for the silver lining, as much as possible, in unpleasant experiences. It may not come to you right away (I moped for a few days after my incident, I’ll admit). While I’m not from the everything-happens-for-a-reason school of thought, I do believe that the trauma and sorrow of our unpleasant and unfortunate experiences hang around long enough to teach us precisely what we need to know.

  10. Please, don’t wait for a medical emergency or a medically induced reason to slow down. Because if you do, you’re bound to miss a whole lot of things along the way.

This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.

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Health writer Sheryl Kraft tells how a medical emergency—having a detached retina—forces her to slow down and reconnect with the people and natural world around her.
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5 Common Autoimmune Diseases That Affect Women

22/01/2019 jleff 0

Rates of autoimmune diseases have been steadily climbing over the last 30 years. Estimates indicate the number of Americans affected could be as high as 50 million, which is 20 percent of the population.

Did you know that women are much mor…

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Blood Test Might Yield Early Warning of Alzheimer’s

22/01/2019 jleff 0

HealthDay News

TUESDAY, Jan. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Leaky blood vessels in the brain may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say.

READ: 7 Early Signs Of Alzheimer’s

They followed 161 older adults for five years and found that those with the most severe memory declines had the greatest leakage in their brain’s blood vessels, regardless of whether the Alzheimer’s-related proteins amyloid and tau were present.

The findings could help with earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and suggest a new drug target for slowing down or preventing the disease, according to the researchers from the University of Southern California.

“The fact that we’re seeing the blood vessels leaking, independent of tau and independent of amyloid, when people have cognitive [mental] impairment on a mild level, suggests it could be a totally separate process or a very early process,” said study senior author Dr. Berislav Zlokovic. He is director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the university’s Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

“That was surprising, that this blood-brain barrier breakdown is occurring independently,” Zlokovic added in a university news release.

The blood-brain barrier prevents harmful substances from reaching brain tissue. In some people, this barrier weakens with age.

“If the blood-brain barrier is not working properly, then there is the potential for damage,” explained study co-author Arthur Toga, who is director of the Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute at Keck.

“It suggests the vessels aren’t properly providing the nutrients and blood flow that the neurons need. And you have the possibility of toxic proteins getting in,” Toga said.

“The results were really kind of eye-opening,” said study first author Daniel Nation, an assistant professor of psychology. “It didn’t matter whether people had amyloid or tau pathology; they still had cognitive impairment.”

The findings were published recently in the journal Nature Medicine.

The next step in this research is to determine how soon mental decline occurs after damage to brain blood vessels.

The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s is expected to nearly triple to about 14 million by 2060, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: University of Southern California, news release, Jan. 14, 2019

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Nutrition and Exercise Tips for Weight Loss

21/01/2019 jleff 0

HealthDay News

MONDAY, Jan. 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) — There’s no doubt that an unhealthy diet and couch potato lifestyle put your health at risk, but when considering improvements, should you change one at a time or both at once?

READ: 10 Foods That Promote Weight Loss

Northwestern University researchers found that it’s not only doable, but also more effective, to change unhealthy behaviors simultaneously. Different groups of study participants were given a pair of changes to make. One involved diet — either lowering saturated fat or increasing fruit and vegetables. The other involved activity — either increasing exercise or reducing screen time.

All participants received remote coaching to help them with motivation, but those assigned to eat more produce and spend less time with their gadgets were most successful at making healthy changes stick.

The researchers followed up with another study that looked at making all the changes simultaneously — increasing produce while reducing saturated fat, and exercising more while decreasing screen time. They added a smartphone component along with the coaching and found that participants who stuck with the program were able to reach all goals over the nine-month study.

A separate study at Stanford University found that participants who boosted exercise and diet together improved in both areas. They also reached the goals of completing 150 minutes a week of physical activity, getting the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and limiting saturated fat to 10 percent of daily calories.

Those who first focused on improving diet only had a harder time establishing a consistent routine and meeting fitness goals when they did start working out. Those who started with exercise and changed their diet later ultimately met key goals, but weren’t as successful as people who did both from the beginning.

The bottom line? As you streamline calories, be sure to put exercise on the menu as well.

Copyright © 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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5 Self-Care Tips for New Moms That Barely Cost a Thing

17/01/2019 jleff 0

By Vivian Manning-Schaffel

For many women, pregnancy is all about self-care. Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, move your body, take your vitamins and keep consistent with doctors’ appointments. While all of these things benefit the mom-to-be, …

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Gene-Linked Iron Disorder More Common Than Thought

17/01/2019 jleff 0

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The most common genetic disorder among northern Europeans — called hemochromatosis — occurs more often than previously thought, according to a new study.

READ: 9 Low Iron Symptoms

The researchers also …

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Everything in Moderation, Including Moderation

16/01/2019 jleff 0

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By Jen WeissI admit that I often have an inner conflict. I preach the benefits of moderation as well as simple habits and how they can lead to big results. However sometimes,…