November 6, 2008


Filed under: By Paul Jason — Administrator @ 10:38 pm
     Paul Jason

 Chapter 16:      The Wonder Drugs (continued)

Having described my regimen of post-surgical drugs in the last installment, my commentary on that subject would be incomplete if I failed to address the one last “wonder” about these drugs: their cost. 

 The monthly retail cost of these medications is over $200.00 (a little less if your pharmacy has a “senior citizen” rate).  By far the most expensive medication of the group is Lipitor. Fortunately, my medical insurance plan covers a significant portion of these expenses so that my actual out-of-pocket cost is less. Of course, the plan costs me over $5,000 a year in premiums and covers me alone.  Is it any wonder that so many moderate-income, retired and elderly people are desperate to receive financial deliverance from the impossible costs of their life-preserving prescriptive medications.
I find it incredible that any individual in the United States who can afford to own his/her own home is entitled to deduct every penny that he/she pays in interest on his/her mortgage loan, thereby receiving a subsidy towards the capital appreciation of the value of that property,  but that no individual can deduct the cost of his life-saving or life-preserving prescriptive medications unless they, together with his medical and dental expenses, exceed 7.5 % of his/her annual adjusted gross income.

 Thus, for example, in spite of the relatively expensive health insurance plan that I pay for, the out-of-pocket co-payments that I am generally obligated to expend for medical services and prescriptive medications amounts to an additional  $2,500.00, more or less. I am unable to deduct one penny of that expense on my income tax return.

 Can there be any question why these inequities engender outrage amongst many Americans, both young and old?  If Congress has assisted some citizens to achieve the American dream, it has also condemned others to suffer the American nightmare.  It is a national disgrace, and Medicare Part D is not the answer.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the fact that in spite of the reality that these wonder drugs have been proven to reduce the necessity of hospitalizing patients suffering with episodes of congestive heart failure and myocardial infarction (the pharmaceutical companies claim that for every dollar spent on prescription drugs $3.65 in hospital costs are avoided; that 50,000 heart-related deaths could be prevented each year in the U.S. if high-risk patients received statin drugs; and that deaths attributable to heart disease and stroke have been reduced by 50 percent in the past thirty years due to drug therapy), such hospitalization is essentially covered by Medicare, while the drugs are an added expense.

Congress’ efforts to provide drug coverage at prices the average American can afford has  been inadequate at best. I subscribe to the notion that the medical/drug needs of the American people will not be properly served until they receive the same coverage their elected representatives, the members of Congress and the President, do.  I challenge you to name one other milieu in which the employees (our elected officials) receive better health care benefits than their employers (the voters).

To be continued…


November 4, 2008

Keeping the holiday pounds down

Filed under: By Tamra Rosenfeld — Administrator @ 8:29 pm

 Tamra Rosenfield

First comes Thanksgiving, then the holiday parties, then the weight.  Make this year different.  Remember gaining 1 pound a year over 30 years really adds up.  Here are a few tips that may help:·        Don’t skip meals.  Skipping meals especially breakfast may not only slow your metabolism but will make you hungrier at your next meal.

·        Don’t give up.  Just because you ate a lot on Thanksgiving does not mean you can eat whatever you want until New Years.   

·        Focus on weight maintenance rather than weight loss.  This is not a time to start a diet.

·        Limit beverages with calories.  Soda, juice, and alcohol can add from 100- 200 calories in 8 ounces.

·        Have a light snack before going to a party.  That will prevent you from over-eating when you get there.

·        Be physically active every day.  This will help you maintain your weight.

·        Try to load up on healthier items such as vegetables and fruit so you will be less hungry for the higher calorie foods.

November 2, 2008

From Flab to Fab

Filed under: By Ellen Bittner — Administrator @ 2:55 pm

  Ellen Bittner

Chapter 5.  Overcoming Obstacles - Part 2: Injury

Please note: This blog relates a personal experience and is not meant to replace medical advice.

I had just begun to change my lifestyle and was looking forward to a healthier and more physically fit body.  I was now swimming regularly and had found a personal trainer, Vadim Vilensky, to work with.  Vadim’s nutritionist also helped me create a more balanced eating plan.

My new fitness regimen was just a few months old when I began to feel an ache in my left shoulder.  This pain was different from the soreness I sometimes felt after a workout.  I tried various treatments – heat, cold, stretching, massage, and electric stimulation.  Although they provided temporary relief, nothing managed the discomfort for an extended period of time.  In fact, the “ache” became more intense, and the range of motion in my shoulder gradually became more limited. 

Since I was determined not to let this situation interfere with my resolve to “get healthy” I continued to swim, using a modified stroke, and kept up my workouts with Vadim.  He worked around my “injury” and created circuits that were challenging, while avoiding activities that would aggravate my shoulder.

Following several weeks of trying to alleviate the situation on my own, I made an appointment to see an orthopedist.  After examining me, he gave me a cortisone shot and prescribed physical therapy.  The shot and physical therapy gave me some relief, but after a month of physical therapy sessions there wasn’t much improvement.  When I went back to the orthopedist he ordered Magnetic Resonance Imaging (an MRI) in order to get a more detailed view of what was going on with my shoulder. 

The MRI revealed “minimal degenerative changes of the AC joint…, thickening of the supraspinatus tendon…, and a tear of the inferior surface of the supraspinatus.”  I now knew the root of my problem, and was relieved to know that my injury was most likely the result of many years of repetitive movement (writing on, and erasing a chalkboard), and was not caused by the challenging physical regime I had embarked on.

As a result of this diagnosis, the orthopedist referred me to an orthopedic surgeon in his practice for a more thorough examination.  After a brief consultation, this surgeon recommended that I have arthroscopic surgery as soon as possible to repair the partial tear.  The idea of surgery did not appeal to me, and after only a month of physical therapy I felt it was too soon to give up on alternative treatments, so I decided to see a different orthopedist for another opinion.

This second orthopedist had many years of experience and took a more conservative approach.  After examining me and reading the results of my MRI, he decided to prescribe further physical therapy, rather than opt for immediate surgery.

In the meantime, Vadim introduced me to Rachel Riendeau, a massage therapist who was trained and certified in Orthopedic Massage at the Muscular Therapy Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This treatment is an option for pain relief that involves injury assessment and the treatment of tendons and ligaments.  During my treatments, Rachel worked on my shoulder, breaking up the scar tissue that had formed, and performed stretches that increased my range of motion.  I must admit that these procedures were somewhat painful, but the results were remarkable.

The orthopedist monitored my progress regularly, and after about six months of this three-pronged approach – physical therapy, resistance training, and massage therapy – he and I saw amazing results.  The pain in my shoulder had dramatically decreased, and my range of motion had considerably increased.  I was also notably stronger.  Although there was vast improvement in my shoulder, the orthopedist felt that I had made as much progress as this line of treatment would allow. 

The moment of truth had arrived.

It had been more than six months since my first cortisone shot, and the orthopedist decided to give me another cortisone shot as a last resort.  If this shot provided the hoped for results, I would be “home free.”  If not, the orthopedist would now recommend surgery. 

Well, it’s been four years and I haven’t had any surgery. I continue to work out with Vadim and my shoulder has gotten even stronger and I have full range of motion.

My health/fitness journey continues in “Feeling Fab”…  







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