Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bocas Bound and Red Frog Beach, and now we are in Bocas Town!!!

We are glad to be out of Bocas Bound and Red Frog Beach on Bastimentos Island. I am sure the island is pretty when there is sunshine and blue skies, but unfortunately we maybe saw the sun for about 30 minutes during our 2-day stay there.

We also are a bit disturbed regarding the customer service, and the attitude of the people there. Yes, we stayed at Bocas Bound, not the fancy, high priced resort. We were anticipating staying on the beach all day, so no need for a fancy room, right? And, we never stayed at a hostel type place before, and while we didn't stay in the dorms, we had a private room, we expected more.

First, we expected the place to be cleaner. There was a HUGE amount of black hair in the shower. In both showers, in fact. Even though the room was a private room that sleeps 5, we still had dormitory style bathrooms, with 2 toilet stalls (one without toilet paper) and two shower stalls.

There was water leaking into the two toilet stalls... from the walls? From the toilet seal? I don't know.

They gave us only 2 towels, which never dried since it was so humid. After the first day they smelled moldy.

And since we had a bad time getting up the hill with "the giant" (that is what I am nicknaming our HUGE piece of luggage), and since it had been raining off and on, we requested an hour in advance, a ride down the hill to met the boat taxi today. It never came so we walked down ourselves. Steve carried the 64-lb luggage on his head. It is crazy.

The bar and grill we went to yesterday, on the beach, took forever to get our orders. It seems that everywhere it takes forever to get an order. I don't like that. Time is money, and good customer service! And, it started pouring down rain so everyone on the beach ran to huddle under the covered bar and grill area. We found out later that the owner of the bar was there... rumor has it that he is from Michigan, but not sure... anyway, he stood up and yelled at everyone that in fact, there was a fire code (this was an open building, no walls at all) and that everyone needed to leave unless they were going to buy something. What a crock. So basically the fire code says you can have as many people as you want as long as you buy something? Definitely not impressed.

But we are off the island. We needed to experience that, however painful it was. We arrived in Bocas Town today, on Island Colon (the main Island in Bocas Del Toro) and a big town with a lot of rastafarian and Jamaican influence. I like it so far. The couple that we met at the above mentioned bar yesterday are staying here. It was a trip... I can't believe it!! We started talking to them right next to us, and when we asked where they were staying, they told us Bahia Del Sol, in Saigon Bay, and we said "We are checking in there tomorrow!!" so we came around 1:00pm, our room wasn't ready but we went to Bluff Beach with them today, and then to Las Coralina (spelling?) restaurant and hotel, for lunch.

The funny story about that was when the other couple, Brian and Becky, ordered, they got their food right away... the waitress put the food down in front of Brian and he started eating the french fries. He opened up the bun on his chicken sandwich to check if it had cheese.... well, the waitress came running back out and took the plate from him. It wasn't HIS order! It was for the next table. He had a french fry in his mouth and we thought she was going to take that, too. We were amazed that she took it right from him and set it down 3 feet from us. The other table's occupants didn't even seem to notice. it was pretty funny.

One thing I noticed that wherever I go here in Panama, the bed heights are very low. It is just an observation, and so once I swing my legs over the edge of the bed to get out, I have to re-learn this. I have kicked the ground a few times.

There were bugs every place we went. So far the worst was at Bocas bound. But I haven't even seen a mosquito yet!!

Oh, here is a cute story about the local children on Bastimentos Island. They catch the red frogs from the island and put them in big leaves. They then offer to show us gringos the red frogs, for 25 cents. Very entrepreneurial. Becky asked them what they were going to use the money for, and they said pens and crayons so they can color and draw. Don't know if that is true, because later the kids bought soda pop with some of the money, but it is still cute.
I took lots of pictures but haven't downloaded them yet. Probably will just add them to my Facebook Photos.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wet. Rain. Moisture. Humidity. Clouds. No Sun. Panama.

I think maybe we can get tired of our vacation. Sounds weird, huh? But the past 3 days of nothing but rain with only peaks of the sun, really wore us down. Yesterday morning we left Boquete at 8:30am and Patryck and his wife drove us back down through David (which was sunny, by the way), and then around and up through the mountains, to the Caribbean coast, and Bocas del Toro, where we are now.

We were tired from sleeping not so well in the uncomfortable beds at Colibri Lodging (don't get me wrong, it was a steal for the price, but had we known that Boquete would have basically NOTHING to do when it rained, and restaurants that ddn't stay open after 7pm, and locals that didn't really like us gringos, well, we would have gone for a more inclusive hotel with a gym and spa, etc, or we would maybe have only stayed one night).

Once we got to Almirante, we were in a shanty town area with a dock. Barely anyone spoke English, but we needed to take a "water taxi" to Bocas Town, on the Island of Colon, and then another water taxi out to Bastimentos Island, to our current place of lodging at Bocas Bound on Red Frog Beach.

The water taxi ride was an adventure in and of itself. We had 19 people on the boat with all our luggage. The water was choppy and it was about a 30 minute ride. Waves were splashing up into the boat, and I was worried our suitcase was going to flop out of the water. Finally, though, we arrived in Bocas Town. It reminded me of a busy Jamaican town. Lots of Rastafarian influence. I had to run to the bank to get cash, since we didn't have any for our boat ride to Bastimentos Island. Somehow the price of our ticket from Bocas Town went from $3 each to $10, we were suckered. Oh well! Next time we will know better.

We finally arrived at the Marina at Red Frog Beach, and ended up walking up a steep hill, maybe half a mile, to Bocas Bound, in the pouring rain. We were not happy campers. Tired, exhausted, and wet. Our room was not ready yet, but finally we got some food, got into some dry clothing, and last night, got a good nights sleep.

This morning the weather looks a little better. Possibility of some sunshine today. We are looking forward to it!!!


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

How to get Diabetes: The Zero-Calorie Hoax

I am not affiliated with Dr. Sears at all, but sometimes I really like what he has to say. I LOVE Stevia, and avoid diet beverages at all costs... and I wanted to forward this on. I wish he had a link to a website with this information (or at least one easy to find), but nonetheless, good information...

Al Sears, MD
11903 Southern Blvd., Ste. 208
Royal Palm Beach, FL 33411
December 28, 2010

Did you know we drank over 43 billion cans and bottles of diet soda last year?

Diet soda’s been on my mind lately because I’ve been reading the latest studies on diabetes. Did you know drinking diet soda leads to diabetes?
One recent study says point blank that if you drink diet soda every day, you’re 67 percent more likely to develop diabetes.1
And the more you drink, the worse it is. Another study found that those who drank the most diet soda had a 34 percent greater risk than those who drank the least.2
Even the famous Framingham Heart Study found that people who drink more than one diet soda a day have a 56 percent increased chance for developing metabolic syndrome – that’s the group of risks that give you a greater chance for diabetes, as well as coronary artery disease and stroke.3
But if you want a sweetened drink, a good alternative to diet sodas are drinks sweetened with stevia. This herb has been used for hundreds of years as a natural sweetener without problem and can be found at your local grocery store. Just keep in mind that it’s 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
The best thing about stevia is that it’s a natural extract. It has no calories, and doesn’t spike your blood sugar. In fact, it might even help increase insulin sensitivity.4 And increasing your insulin sensitivity – that is, keeping the amount of insulin you need to process sugar low – is the key to reversing diabetes.
There are other sweeteners you can use, too, like sorbitol and xylitol. These sweeteners are made from alcohol, and don’t cause an insulin reaction. They’re natural laxatives, though, so you might want to add them to your drinks little by little.
These are just two ideas you can use to get away from drinking diet soda and get off the road to diabetes. For more ideas like this, I found a report that’s full of real-world, easy-to-follow advice. It also gives you tips on foods to steer clear of, and tells you about little-known blood tests like Hemoglobin A1c and fructosamine. To get the report, go here.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

1 Nettleton, J.A., Lutsey, P.L., Wang, Y., Lima, J.A., Michos, E.D., Jacobs, D.R. Jr., "Diet soda intake and risk of incident metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA),” Diabetes Care Apr 2009; 32(4): 688-94
2 Lutsey, Pamela L., Steffen, Lyn M., Stevens, June, "Dietary Intake and the Development of the Metabolic Syndrome. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study," CIRCULATION AHA Jan 2008; 107.716159
3 Dhingra R, Sullivan, et al, “Soft drink consumption and risk of developing cardiometabolic risk factors and the metabolic syndrome in middle-aged adults in the community,” Circulation 2007; 116:480–488
4 Gregersen S, Jeppesen PB, Holst JJ, Hermansen K., "Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects," Metabolism Jan. 2004; 53(1):73-6

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Rain Rain go AWAY!! It is not supposed to be the rainy season here in Panama!!!

Today was another rainy day with lots of wind. We were very cold here in Boquete. However, there were a couple hours of sunshine that peaked through the clouds. We walked all around town, and ended up eating tacos from a whole in the wall corner cafe for lunch. Very good.

Then, we ended up at Isle Verde resort for some massages. They have a spa inside the resort, where you can get massages here in Boquete. We paid $45 plus tip for a deep tissue massage that lasted an hour. She was very knowledgeable and we feel SO good now!

We had dinner at as local pizza joint. I think the pizza was so-so, but Steve LOVED it.

We are still cold, huddling under the blankets in bed, haha, this will be the joke part of our vacation. We are worried about Bocas del Toro now, I snuck a peak at the weather forecast and it will be wet and rainy for the next few days... at least it will be warmer though!

On our way to the spa tonight we saw a young couple whose car was stuck (see attached picture) so we helped them unstuck their car. (is that a word, unstuck? hmmm).

I also included a picture of the San Juan Bautista church, and some horses. 2 horses were inside the fence, but one was outside, they were just hanging out, like friends chatting. The other picture included is a picture of the town square, or city center.

We are leaving early tomorrow morning and so most likely I won't be able to post again until tomorrow evening. We will see.

Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous

Now we are in Boquete, Panama!! Freezing our butts off!!!

I have a few things to write about, regarding Panama.

First, everyone who knows me knows I LOVE animals and do a lot of animal rescue. It is hard for me to see the way animals are treated out there. I don't know if they just don't know any better, or just feel that us humans are at the top of the food chain, so we can do what we want to those below us. Here is what I have noticed... There are a lot of chickens / roosters just walking along the roads. That is very common. Same with dogs. They are all scrawny. I bet you won't ever see an overweight animal here. And, there are a lot of cats, too. I would be afraid to have them get hit by a car. But I can just see that none of the dogs are neutered, no collars on them, etc. I hope the dogs are happy. Even the cows are scrawny. Maybe it is a Panamanian thing, because they can just eat more grass, right? And there seems to be plenty of it around them.

But cockfighting is big here, and that disturbs me. The value they place on these beautiful creatures is based on how well they can fight.

And, as we were driving up to David from Boca Chica, we saw multiple people out there on the side of the road with birds, parrots, cockatiels, etc. on a piece of wood or stick, they were just holding them, wanting to sell them to just anyone passing by. To me, pet ownership is a responsibility. I don't think that just anyone should be a pet owner. In fact, many folks I know should NEVER have a pet.

Now that we are in Boquete (pronounced Bo ket ay), in the mountains, we are experiencing some bad weather. Strong winds, heavy rains. It may not be so bad if we weren't nestled in a little mountain valley... but I am not sure. We have been cold. We checked in to the Colibri Lodge, which is basically a house that a family lives in, and they have rooms on the side and back, maybe 4 rooms in all, with private entrances. Very inexpensive, about $25 per night for two people. It includes a private bath, and supposedly hot water. Last night the shower was hot, as I used it to wash my face. The sink doesn't have hot water though. And the power has been going on and off. Right now I have been wanting to take a shower, but apparently there is no hot water left so I am going to wait awhile. The poor weather in Boquete has really put a damper on our plans, it is freezing outside (well, rainy and windy) and we don't have the proper attire.

We thought more of the locals would speak English here, and it is frustrating for me to try to communicate. I know it isn't their fault at all, it is my lack of preparation by not learning Spanish well enough to communicate. Heck, we didn't even bring a Spanish to English / English to Spanish dictionary with us!!

When we first arrived, our driver, Patryck, took us to The Rock restaurant. I accidentally ordered fish and a soup. I even ate some of the fish without knowing what it was. haha. I quickly stopped once I found out what it was. Yuck. Steve says it is all psychological. Oh well.

Tomorrow morning our driver, Patryck, will pick us up, take us to the Caldera hot springs, and then on to Bocas del Toro, where we will spend the next 5 days in two different locations there.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Where we are in Panama

I am telling you the story of our trip to Panama, and all our experiences from my normally outgoing, positive viewpoint. But now I will share some things that I don't like.

First, they aren't anything against Panama, they have to do with my body. Nope, it isn't going to be me complaining about how I look in a swimsuit, hehe!! The first thing is that I have a cut on the bottom of my right foot... from our first full day here, when we went kayaking. (In the picture of the boca chica area, we stayed right next door to Seagull Cove Lodge, and the "X" is Boca Brava, a backpacking hotel in Panama, where we ate lunch when kayaking. The "smudge" (which was supposed to be a heart, haha, is our "deserted island" where we saw the iguana, etc.

But the tide comes in quickly, and goes out quickly here. When that happens, rocks are along the shoreline, and I cut my foot walking up to shore. It hurs. But I have colloidal silver and some pure iodine drops that I brought with me, and have been cleaning it out. Nonetheless, it is right on my arch. And since I have flat feet, every step hurts. Steve has one, too, but he has high arches and he says it doesnt bother him. Lucky Steve.

The next thing that is killing me is the bed. It is very uncomfortable here, sleeping. Sure, we have A/C in the room, the temperature is ok, but maybe I am so spoiled with my ultra plush luxury mattress at home. I have back issues as it is, and shoulder issues. But it feels like sleeping on the floor. The pillows are hard, as well. I understand it keeps them usable longer, but it doesn't make them more comfortable. So I have woken up every morning stiff, and toss and turn during the night.

But, we are leaving today for Boquete, for 2 nights. Then we will be off to Bocas Del Toro -- first, spending 2 nights on Bastimentos Island, and then the next 3 nights in bocas Town. I will insert more images of those areas when we are there.

We leave for boquete in about 3 1/2 hours.

I included a picture of the country of Panama, as well. boquete is right above Boca Chica, and then Bocas Del Toro is above Boquete, on the Carribean side of the country.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Private Island, White Sand Beach, Crocodiles and Dolphins... Feliz Navidad!

What an adventure today! We went with the resort owners son, Cedar, and one of his local friends, out on the boat today. What a perfect plan for a warm and sunny Christmas day in Boca Chica, Panama


Cedar and his friend

As we started out on our trek, we went toward a private island that a friend of Cedar's owned. It was very  reclusive. We landed on a gorgeous beach, I mean, it was amazing! Black sand beach, a little hut could be seen off the beach a few hundred yards, and two dogs came out to greet us. Here are some pictures:



What was extraordinary about this place was that it had sort of a swamp or a lake not too far from shore (the tide didn't reach it) and in this "swamp" there were about a dozen young crocodiles!! With names!! [[posterous-content:btfcFxjIqydjhGHntvHc]][[posterous-content:hwamlzhzBDttmqJDazyI]]

We played with them for awhile, and I took a movie, I am very poor at taking movies, will never be a good photographer. So we will just deal with that and be forgiving. But I got a few photos, too.[[posterous-content:EyIeabkIyHcjtJtyBaeJ]]

Then, we walked along a stone path through the jungle on this private island... from my understanding, this guy who owns the island has an all inclusive place where he will take wilderness lovers (and folks who don't need to stay in a 5-star hotel) out on treks and adventures in Panama, and they stay in a hammock in a little open hut. Very quaint and outdoorsy. And expensive. Apparently you can rent the whole island for $1,100 per night.

Once we finished THAT adventure, we went to a white sand beach island that took about 30 minutes by boat to get to. On our way, we saw DOLPHINS!! Unfortunately all I had was my camera on movie, not photo setting, so I have a very horrible movie of about 5-7 dolphins frolicking and playing alongside our boat. That was so cool.


And on to our white sand beach. The inlet / cove was perfect. Water was warm, waves were calm, I wasn't afraid of drowning. (Yes, normally I am afraid of drowning).[[posterous-content:pBGhnbbuIEamqodyqIDk]]




We got a LOT of sun, and relaxation. What a wonderful Christmas, the white came from the sand, not the snow. Yes, this is the life. I am sick of snow! I don't want to go back to Minnesota!

Here is a picture of the Pacific Ocean. Amazing!!! Just water for thousands of miles. Makes me feel small!


Here is a picture of Steve, and one of me, on the boat during our adventure today:


[[posterous-content:IqvjItnHphlBmraFJArw]]And here is a picture of Donna (the owner of the resort) and I when we got back and after we showered so I don't look like a drowned rat.


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2nd day in Panama

Yesterday we ended up kayaking to some deserted island. Well, no one lives there but it is accessible to anyone who wants to land there. The tide here in the bay is a big one, ranging from 18 to 20 feet. When the tide is out, you can see many more islands and rocks. But when the tide is in, they disappear. I am out here on the veranda at Gone Fishing Panama, and am viewing the island that we kayaked to yesterday. It seems so much closer than I remember when I was actually out on the water kayaking.

Maybe that is because I am SUPER SORE today. My upper back muscles and shoulders are killing me. Steve says he did most of the work paddling, but he is a liar. It was 90% me. And I am sticking with that claim.

It is so peaceful and gorgeous here. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! What a wonderful day to wake up on Christmas morning just outside the city of David (about 20 miles away). I know it is a different city than Bethlehem (Steve has pointed that out to me many times), but the symbolism is still there for me, I think it is Luke 2:10 that says "For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord". How cool is that. It may not be THE city of David, but it sure has the same name!!! :)

I am definitely not dreaming of a white Christmas. I have been keeping up with the news back in Minnesota, and they got dumped with another 4-6 inches of snow yesterday morning, and two more storm systems will be coming through in the next week. Hopefully it will all be done snowing for the rest of the winter by the time we get back. haha!! So much false hope there!

Today we have planned to go with the resort owners son, Cedar, and a bunch of locals, to an island about 12 miles away, have a picnic lunch packed, and just lay on the beach, party, swim, etc. Another couple that is staying at this resort, from Switzerland, (an older couple) have befriended us and the gentleman (I think Verner is his name?) cautioned us with fatherly advice about how much closer the sun is than we are used to. So be sure to use the sunscreen. I like the fatherly advice!! :)

Here are some pictures of the deserted island from yesterday, along with my footprint and Steve's footprints. You can tell how flat footed I am. Thankfully I have sandals with custom made orthotics built in, so my legs and hips don't hurt as much anymore.

Adios!! Will write more later!!! FELIZ NAVIDAD!!!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Here we are!!!

Our trip from Minneapolis to Panama was eventful but smooth. Here are the highlights:

We woke up at 2:30am to make it to the MSP airport by 4:15am. I was expecting to go through the "body scan" units at the airport, but found out that only a few of the security checkpoints have those body scan units. So, we went through just the metal detector, and I did get a little pat down from a matronly lady, but she didn't touch any of my private parts.

We flew into Miami to catch the flight to Panama City. We were excited we got upgraded to an exit row, but dismayed when we realized we couldn't lift the arm rests (my favorite way to fly is sprawled against Steve, sleeping, which was impossible on this segment). Sure, we had great leg room, but we also couldn't recline our seats.

We had a dog in the row in front of us, who behaved very well. No barks or anything. The lady told us the dog was a seasoned traveler. 

Much different (peaceful) than our journey from Miami to Panama City. That flight was full and 5 people got bumped. We sat in regular seats (with no leg room) but our arm rests moved, and our chairs reclined. I tried to sleep but didn't get much shut eye. There were 2 children in our immediate vicinity that were screaming (I would guess around 2-3 year old). they could talk but also could throw major tantrums).

Once we landed, we got through customs quickly (yay) and got our luggage. We had one piece of checked luggage that weighed 64lbs so we had to pay extra for it. But, at least everything made it in one piece.

We then had to rush (via taxi) to the regional airport in Panama City to catch our flight to David. Our flight was scheduled for 5pm but when we arrived at 4:10, they said "no". We were worried a bit, but decided to just go along. We found out they meant to put us on the 4pm flight that was JUST leaving. So we rushed, and made it onto the tiny plane. We flew Aeroperlas. The "stewardess" was a friendly young man and we got free cookies and beverages on the 40 min flight. Even the beer was free, although I don't drink.

When we arrived in David, we were in a very small airport. In fact, they only had one room where passengers board. (one gate, I should say). The small Panama City one had 2 rooms. Airport parking is free (even for weeks), and it is nestled on the outskirts of David, which is a bustling town of maybe 200,000 residents.

When we were driving to catch the flight, we drove through the toll roads right in the middle of Panama City, and noticed LOTS of garbage, dumpsters were FILLED with trash and other debris. We found out that the government is taking over the garbage collection and they just haven't gotten up to speed yet.

So, we arrived in David, and Connie, our host (her and her husband own the cute boutique hotel in Boca Chica named Gone Fishing Panama) was there to pick us up. It is about a 50 minute drive from David to Boca Chica. Her Excursion wouldn't start (you need 4WD on these roads out here). Finally we got it to start and went about 1/3 of the way to the resort before the vehicle start spewing out smoke from both ends. We parked at a gas station to cool the engine off, put oil in, and some water in the radiator (once it cooled off), and waited. We couldn't get it to start again, so we taxi'd it to the resort.

We didn't mind this little adventure at all. It was what we wanted to experience. What life really is like living here. Boca Chica is a town of about 250 people, a little fishing village. David is I think the 2nd or 3rd largest city in Panama. It is not a nice looking town, but it is absolutely beautiful in its own way. People walk down the middle of the street, no cares in the world, which makes it frustrating for drivers. There are malls, shopping places, etc but very different from what I am used to back in the states.

We finally got to the resort. We got to drive on the Trans American highway, which in my mind would have been an 8-lane bustling freeway. Nope. Try a 2 lane windy road without any center divide. The drivers are brave (or stupid)... we had an 18-wheeler pass us at 100 kilometers per hour!! Many cars have only one headlight working. I dont think any of them have shocks on their cars. We finally get to the steep,windy DIRT road leading to the resort (we are in a taxi -- a small car). Steve and I are in the back seat with a cooler in between us, he has a box of food on his lap (big box) and towels. When Donna came to town she went shopping, too, so we had to not only load the taxi with our 64-lb luggage, our carryon suitcase, backpack and purse, we had to load it with groceries, too. So all the weight in the car made it impossible to get to the resort. We kept bottoming out. We had less than half a mile to go, but Donna's son came and got us with his 4X4.


It was almost 9pm by this time, and we had been up since 3:30am Panama time (Eastern Standard time). So we ate a quick dinner and went to bed.

Our room is gorgeous, our deck is beautiful, the view is phenomenol, the ladies who work here are so sweet and adorable. I know one of them is named Lupe. They call her Loopy. We walked on the beach this morning (low tide) and Steve is right now sleeping in the hammock as I am on the veranda / porch overlooking the ocean.

The most interesting thing? I am at peace. I am relaxed. This just rocks. I LOVE Panama so far.

Our plan for today? Relax, swim in the pool, maybe try some kayaking. Later we can walk into town (only one restaurant, which Donna didn't recommend, she said it was dirty and the hygiene was an issue), a pool hall / bar, and a mini-mart. But we still want to check it all out, and it is about a mile away.

Other observations... it is HOT here. And humid. It is just changing into "summer" here, and they say they never get rain in the summer in this area of Panama, but yesterday it rained a little, and they received more rain than ever before, these past few weeks.

I can't wait to write more about our adventures tomorrow, and post more pictures.

Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

New warning over poisoned fillings

This article is from Dr. William C. Douglass, MD. I subscribe to his newsletters, but unfortunately he doesn't have a link to a website to click on his email newsletters so I can post a link to the article. So, I am copying it below and attributing it to him. Mercury is very bad for you, we all know. And many of us have it in our mouths. I removed all my amalgams (not personally!) years ago, and have only composite fillings. Unfortunately my dental insurance doesn't cover them. They cover the cheaper, silver fillings. So, I just take care of my teeth and hopefully won't face any cavities in the future. And while I got the amalgams removed from my mouth, I used my detox foot pads to remove the heavy metals. I do feel a lot better and am not afraid of chronic diseases anymore!

New warning over poisoned fillings

Got fillings? Of course you do... but you might want to rip 'em out -- teeth and all -- when you hear about how they're slowly poisoning you.

Dentists like to call these things "amalgam," which is a fancy way of saying "mercury mixed with silver."

But of course, if they put it that way, patients would run screaming from the clinic... so "amalgam" it is, and by some estimates these poisoned fillings now line 180 million unsuspecting American mouths.

Now, a new report finds that those fillings send 67.2 million Americans beyond safe mercury exposure levels, as defined by the EPA.

What's more, the report by the International Academy of Oral Medicine finds that if the more rigid California exposure standards were used, 122.3 million Americans would exceed safe levels.

And if you use Douglass standards, all 180 million Americans with mercury fillings are in dangerous territory -- because there is NO safe level of exposure to this toxic heavy metal.

Yet here you are, probably being exposed as you read this. It happens every time you chew, chomp, grind, bite or even brush.

And if you're pregnant, your unborn baby is exposed to all that mercury, same as you, putting your kid at risk for autism and other development problems... all because your dentist filled your teeth with a toxic heavy metal -- and probably never even bothered to tell you.

The feds have insisted that a mouthful of poison is perfectly safe, but that claim is based only on useless short-term studies. There's strong evidence now that slow-but-steady exposure to mercury over a lifetime can lead to degenerative disorders such as lupus, multiple scleroris and Alzheimer's disease.

And if that's not enough, take a look at the effect it's having on a type of wetland bird...

Researchers fed male white ibises pellets with different levels of mercury to simulate what they might get from eating contaminated shrimp and crayfish.

Boy-birds who ate the most mercury stopped showing interest in girl-birds and paired with other males instead.

Could this be true for humans, too?

Judging by the number of "alternative arrangements" springing up around the country, I wouldn't be surprised.

Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous

Friday, December 17, 2010

No more blogging about my shoulder surgeries!!

It has been 18 weeks yesterday, since my left shoulder surgery. I had my final PT and post op visit with my orthopedic surgeon this past week. I feel great. Well, I have a long road ahead of me still. Sometimes after laying on my left side for hours at night, I wake up with a stiff, sore shoulder. Sometimes I over use it and it is very sore for a few days. Sometimes (like recently) I don't stretch every day like I am supposed to, and it gets tight.

But, overall, My pain is FINALLY less than before I had my surgery. I honestly never believed this possible, only in my wildest dreams. Speaking of wildest dreams, I need to look up that Moody Blues song, it was one of my favorites about 22 years ago!

I won't be posting updates weekly. I think maybe in the spring, or a couple months down the road I will post how I am doing, but overall I am very pleased.

We are heading out to Panama in 6 days. I will miss the dogs but am thankful my friend and her family will be house sitting for us over Christmas.

Carpe Diem!!!

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Week 17 Bicep Tenodesis surgery and Subacromial Decompression - my story

Yesterday was 17 weeks since my bicep tenodesis surgery on my left arm (and subacromial decompression / distal clavicle excision). And it was 12 weeks since the subacromial decompression and distal clavicle excision on my right shoulder. So, time is creeping by, and I am HEALING!!

I knew that week 17 would be the magical week. I can honestly say now that I am in LESS PAIN than before my surgeries. This is fantastic (as I am leaving for Central America in 2 weeks).

I am still tender and sore. My muscles still aren't 100% strong. But I can do practically everything that I try to do. I even painted my condo (with help from a friend).

I have to admit I haven't been doing my regular physical therapy, and here I am, at 5:30am admitting this when I see my physical therapist in an hour... shame on me! But I had a tenant move out of my condo, and need to get it ready for a new tenant, I need to find that tenant, and my truck heater broke and it is like 12 degrees F outside, and Steve is sick with the flu, and my dogs need attention, and I am exhausted. So, with a lot going on in my life, there is an immense amount of stress right now.... and so much to do. So I have been doing my stretches maybe about 1x per day at least, and I have been foregoing my strengthening lately. I will talk to the PT today, but since I have been working (i.e. painting, scrubbing, cleaning, carrying boxes) I think that he might say that constitutes strengthening!!

So that is my update for this week. I think maybe now I will wait a few more weeks to report back, as I am on the path to being fully healed, and it probably isn't fun reading minute details every week, with nothing new to say really.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why Skim milk will make you fat -- a blog post from Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist

Why Skim Milk Will Make You Fat and Give You Heart Disease

by Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist on February 28, 2010

in Healthy Living,Most Controversial

Joke: How do you dramatically increase sales of a new or unpopular food product to the American public?

Answer: Call it a health food!

This joke, while funny, is also very sad as it illustrates with humor what common sense, logic, observation, and facts cannot for the vast majority of Westerners. Time and time again, Americans are completely duped by the clever marketing of a food product, falling all over themselves to buy it just because it has been touted in the media and by their (equally duped) doctors as a food that will improve their health.

Don’t believe it? How about margarine? Americans, in the span of just a few short years after World War II, all but completely shunned butter and this behavior pattern continued for decades because saturated fat was supposedly the demon of heart disease. See my blog which explains the truth about butter.   Americans are finally waking up to the fact that butter is a wonderful, truly natural healthfood and it is margarine that ironically causes heart disease!

What about soy? This is another supposed “health food” that has been proven to do nothing but cause an epidemic of hypothyroidism is the Western world (you know the symptoms: overweight, losing your hair, depressed, tired all the time). Soy in Asia, as it has been consumed for thousands of years, is always fermented for long periods of time before it can be safely consumed – and even then – in very small quantities! The modern processing of soy which involves grinding up the leftover soy protein, the waste product in the production of soy oil, and putting it in all manner of food products which line our grocery store shelves makes for a dangerous and health robbing line of consumer goods.

I also blogged recently about the latest healthfood scam: agave nectar. Here again is an example of a new food that was marketed using the “health food” label. This approach to selling to the American people is obviously working as these products are readily available in most health food stores despite the fact that this product has a more deadly concentration of fructose than the high fructose corn syrup in soda!

Now, On to Skim Milk!

Hopefully, you are now convinced that labeling an item as a “health food” is a frequently used approach for selling something to the American public. Skim milk falls into this same category.

Prior to World War II, Americans didn’t ever drink skim or lowfat milk. Drinking such a product to stay “thin and healthy” would have been laughable. Americans would only drink whole milk. In fact, the larger the creamline on their milk, the higher quality the milk, and the more likely the consumer was to buy it. Milk wasn’t homogenized in those days, so a consumer could easily see the distinct creamline on the milk to determine quality.

Cream has been considered a true health food for centuries. In Ancient Greece, Olympic athletes drank a bowlful of cream to give them strength and endurance before competition. Why? Because cream steadies blood sugar for an extended period of time. No ups and downs in insulin when your diet has lots of wonderful saturated fat in it. It is only when you eat lowfat that blood sugar issues such as diabetes and hypoglycemia tend to arise.

So, how did skim milk come to be recognized as a healthfood in America? It all ties back to the demonization of saturated fats that began shortly after World War II. Americans started to abandon butter and cream in droves about this time because studies had apparently shown that saturated fat was linked to the growing number of heart disease cases in America. Never mind that atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) was virtually unknown prior to the mid 1920′s when Americans drowned everything in cream and butter. Logic and observation clearly indicated that saturated fat could not possibly be the cause of heart disease – it was obviously something new that had been introduced into the American diet. Of course, this “something” is partially hydrogenated fats which were introduced around 1921 (Enter Crisco. Bingo! First heart attack in 1927). These factory fats are primarily responsible for the epidemic of heart disease yet saturated fats took the fall anyway.

With Americans abandoning whole milk due to its high saturated fat content, skim milk was touted as the new heart healthy food. Americans bought the scam hook, line, and sinker. Skim milk was the new king of the dairy aisle. This behavior pattern has continued for decades despite the average American getting fatter and fatter and the cases of heart disease showing no signs of abating.

In the 1990′s with the beginnings of the childhood obesity epidemic, doctors even started to encourage parents to switch their children to skim or lowfat milk around age 2. This foolish recommendation has done nothing but make kids fatter.

How does drinking skim milk make kids (and adults) fatter? This apparent paradox occurs when you reduce the saturated fat in a person’s diet and he/she turns to carbs (grains and sugars primarily) to fill in the gap. It is the grains and sugars that truly make you fat, not saturated fat. I’ve said before on this blog that the more butter and cream I eat, the easier it is to maintain my weight. MUCH easier. The same goes for all of us. If you drink skim milk, you will be missing out on the satiating, blood sugar and insulin steadying affects of saturated fat, so your body will automatically give you sugar and carb (grains) cravings to make up for it. The body is able to MAKE saturated fat out of sugars, hence the sugar cravings that are impossible to control when you eat a lowfat diet that includes skim milk. Try it! Eat tons of butter, whole milk yogurt and whole milk cheese for a few days and watch your sugar cravings rapidly diminish!

Another big secret is that Big Dairy adds skim milk powder to skim milk. Here’s an excerpt from “Dirty Secrets of the Food Processing Industry” from the Weston A. Price Website:

A note on the production of skim milk powder: liquid milk is forced through a tiny hole at high pressure, and then blown out into the air. This causes a lot of nitrates to form and the cholesterol in the milk is oxidized. Those of you who are familiar with my work know that cholesterol is your best friend; you don’t have to worry about natural cholesterol in your food; however, you do not want to eat oxidized cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, to atherosclerosis. So when you drink reduced-fat milk thinking that it will help you avoid heart disease, you are actually consuming oxidized cholesterol, which initiates the process of heart disease.

One parting fact: pig farmers love feeding skim milk to their pigs. Why? It makes them REALLY fat! Still want to drink your skim milk? I hope not.



Posted via email from rhauptman's posterous

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Week 16 bicep tenodesis update / SAD / DCE

It is now 16 weeks since my major surgery. Last night during my strengthening exercises, I did 5lb weights on both arms, when I did the arm curl. It felt like my left arm was lifting 10lbs to the 5lb weight on my right arm, so we do have strength issues there. And I can't just power lift, because I am looking for toning. Then, once I get my muscle toned, I can start to do heavier weights. It was the first time I tried the 5lb weight on my left arm, and boy was it hard. I only was about to do 20 reps. I will shoot for 30 reps tomorrow. (I do strengthening every day).

On another note, my "sleeper stretch" is improving. I am almost able to put my arm all the way to the ground, just a few inches to go. I have my next physical therapy appointment in a week and a half, and I hope to be able to be close enough to show off!!

I am in pain still. A lot of movements in my left arm cause pain. But, I have to say that it isn't excruciating like it was before the surgery. And, I almost have full range of motion, which is nice. It is just that my arms are so weak that I have trouble with certain movements. Don't know how I am going to paint walls this weekend!!!

I am sleeping better. While I still have a lot of pain at night, and especially in the morning, it IS decreasing. slowly but surely.

Where I am most tender still is the tops of my shoulders, where the acromium is, where they cut off the end of the clavicle. This is very tender on both shoulders, and like I mentioned in a few earlier posts, it is because of the ligament that is up there, I can't remember the name. It is traumatized from the surgery and can realistically take up to 8 months (one person said 6 months, the other said 8 months, so what I want to hear is the 6 month one. That way in 3 months I can hope to have both shoulders back to normal!)

I can't wait. This is a struggle, a daily battle. I am exhausted from all the things I have to do, on top of the physical therapy. If I miss a day of physical therapy I REALLY feel it. It is amazing the difference that it makes. And, I THINK the pain is slowly going away. It is hard to tell when you live with it day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute. I know my range of motion IS getting better, and my strength is getting better as well.

I will just keep on keeping on!

My ultimate goal is to be able to work my garden come spring, and not have ANY pain associated with my shoulders. I can't wait!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My niece's version of her trip to Minnesota

Here is a picture my niece, Genesis (age 10) drew of her visit to Minnesota. I like the portrait she drew of me so much, I am going to copy it in Photoshop and make it my profile picture. I LOVE the hair! And the foot prints of my dogs, Aegis and Max.


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Saturday, November 27, 2010

week 15 Bicep Tenodesis update!

I can't believe how bad I have been this week! With my brother and his family driving from Washington State to Minnesota for the week, I have been very lax in my physical therapy. I maybe did 1/2 of 1 session every day, vs. 2 sessions twice a day. And, I didn't do any strengthening.

And, I am feeling it. A lot of stiffness. More pain during the night/morning. When you are so exhausted, and dead on your feet from all the sightseeing, cooking, visiting, etc. the last thing on your mind is to go through an hour of stretches and strengthening exercises.

So, I am back to the grindstone. Still exhausted, but by Monday I will be on a roll again (this weekend I am playing catch up, focusing mostly on my stretches!!)

I have almost full use of both arms now. 15 weeks post op, and while I have tenderness during the day and pain during the night, and of course, stiffness in the morning, I am able to open heavy doors with either arm, carry bags, lift things, etc. What limits me now is my strength (which I am slowly working on).

I can now reach behind my back with both arms, even though it is still painful. That stretch with my left arm, and the one where I bring my arm across my front, to the other shoulder, to stretch, are still the most painful stretches that I do.

I definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even though I am tight and stiff from not doing my physical therapy this week, (well, for 5 days since my appt on Monday where the PT said I was doing well), the pain is actually getting better, day by day. little by little.

Next week I hope to have a better update for you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

left shoulder: bicep tenodesis, subacromial decompression, and distal clavicle excision 8/12/2010
right shoulder: subacromial decompression and distal clavicle excision 9/16/2010

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Week 14: Bicep tenodesis and SAD/DCE

I am doing good. Moving right along on my recovery. Not much difference to report this week, except that I started seeing an S.O.T. chiropractor about 2 weeks ago, and that has made a remarkable difference in my range of motion with his active release techniques.

I have to admit I have been slacking off the past few days on my physical therapy. I have basically been doing the stretches to make sure that I can go as far as I have been able to go previously, and then I move on to the next one. I can't believe how busy I have been, and as a result, have been so exhausted all I can think about is sleep.

So, I have to get back on the bandwagon. Physical therapy is key!

My range of motion is getting a lot better. The pain is decreasing. The pain at night is still pretty bad, and I can't get comfortable, but oh well. That will decrease as time goes on, I just know it! I can reach behind my back now, but not move my arm up my back very far (my left arm). With my right arm, I can go halfway up my back. I am still working on those specific stretches. Those are the stretches that I have been slacking off on, mostly. And, Steve has been helping me with the sleeper stretch.

I am up to 2lbs on my left arm, and 3 lbs on my right arm, while doing most of the shoulder strengthening exercises. I know, that doesn't sound like a lot, especially after 3 months since surgery. But, well, you don't really go much more than that at all, ever. And with the arm curls, I am up to 5lbs on my right arm, and 3 lbs on my left, so that is good. I can see some muscle definition starting to show. Woohoo!

Long hard process. Tough. Painful. You have to be persistent. And patient. And follow the instructions of the physical therapist and the OS.

Oh, just a note... I am not icing very much at all anymore, maybe a couple times a week, at night. The doc said that there was really no need to at this point now.

The most painful things for me are the tricep muscle where it meets the teres minor rotator cuff muscle.(in my left arm). I am still using Soothanol X2 before bed and sometimes in the morning. And in the morning I am taking either Aleve or Advil, but only once per day. I know I should take it more often, but it just isn't happening, I forget, or am too busy to think about it. Then before bed I am too tired to go all the way downstairs to get it, and already brushed my teeth and can't take on an empty stomach, so I just say oh well, and go to sleep.

I have been using the Far Infrared Sauna about 4x a week.

So that is my latest report. My thoracic spine area has been causing me pain, but I don't know if it is still the chronic pain that I experienced before my surgery, or temporary. I did have a rib pop out early last week, but the chiro put it back in and it was the most amazing feeling of relief. But I still have some muscle pain between my shoulder blades.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Times change. People don't.

“Times change. People don’t.”
John Caples

This is regarding marketing -- reading between the lines you are told that yes, times change. We are not the same society as we were in the 1700s. But... people stay the same -- we are all the same. We want acceptance, love, companionship, we want to feel important, proud of our accomplishments, and make something of ourselves. This can be said of people in 800 B.C., and it can be said of folks in the dark ages, and in our modern time.

So... regarding marketing, so many marketers think it is is important to do things differently because times are changing... the media we use can be different, but the marketing itself has no need to be changed. The concept, the ideas, the ones that have stood the test of time -- can all be the same.  Here is a list of emotional hot buttons that work in all media, regardless of whether it is online, in print, in a direct mail piece, or on television (just watch the ASPCA ads for confirmation that this works!)

The emotional hot buttons that work in all media: fear – greed – guilt – anger – exclusivity – salvation – flattery.

These ideas that I wrote about are from an article that Denny Hatch wrote, and can be found here

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Week 13 post op bicep tenodesis and subacromial decompression

Is week 13 unlucky? I don't know, but I am sure stiff and sore!

I have realized a few things:

1) if I miss a morning or evening of doing my physical therapy exercises, or if I don't do all the exercises (especially the sleeper stretch, which is the "death stretch"), then I am going to be extra stiff the next day

2) while it seems like the pain isn't going away, yet, I do have to acknowledge that I am doing MORE -- more weights on my strengthening days, more repetitions. So all in all, I would say I am improving.

3) alternative therapies do help. For example, I started seeing an S.O.T. chiropractor last week, and I walk away from his office feeling great. And the medical massage that I get every other week seem to help, as well.

I am borrowing a TENS unit from a colleague who had a frozen shoulder a few years ago. I wake up being super sore after using it, like I had a huge workout the night before.

I also had some issues with my thoracic area, a rib had popped out, which caused a lot of pain in the surrounding muscle groups around my shoulder blade.

But, overall I am doing good. Sleeping still sucks big time. I am not taking any pain killers at night, but I do take an anti-inflammatory in the morning with breakfast. I switch back and forth from advil and aleve. Last night I didn't do my stretches -- I did a sauna, but I got home late and had so much to do that I scrimped and cut out my stretches. Bad mistake. This morning when I did them, I was super stiff!! I have to remember not to do that anymore. Even if it means going to bed later, I have to do my stretches. That is key!! Even more important than sleep!

The only movements where I do not have full range of motion in, are putting my left arm behind my back to try to scratch my back, for example. That is a very difficult move. I can get my arm behind my back, with the help of my other arm, or with the wand. Another movement that hurts is bringing my arm across the front of my body to the other shoulder. I can do that, almost full range of motion, but it hurts like heck!! And not a stretching too much kind of hurt, but real, honest to goodness pain!!

Well, I am 13 weeks out. The doc says I am going along just fine for the time it has been. I am ready for it to be a month from now... I hope I am feeling amazing then! Week 17 will be my magic week!

My right shoulder hurts near the acromium (up at the top of the shoulder where they cut the clavicle and took out the bursa). That will take months to stop being so tender. I am ready for that to be done, now! It has been 8 weeks now, and from what I have read and heard, it is doing fantastic. Full range of motion, not much pain at all doing the movements I do, and it is easily bearable.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A different kind of chiropractor

I have this annoying rib that always pops out from my thoracic spine. It is the T-4 vertebrae. It has plagued me for almost 20 years. Unfortunately, once it pops out, it is hard to get it back in place. I have gone to chiropractor after chiropractor, and I leave my appointments in pain.

So, I think about 2 years ago, maybe a little less, my rolfer told me about a modality of chiropractic that I had never heard of before. It is called S.O.T. (for sacral occipital technique). So I searched online and found one within 20 miles of me. That has made a difference in my life!

So, the past week I had horrible thoracic pain, and really needed some relief. It is bad enough that I am struggling with my shoulder pain from my surgery recovery, so I went to New Brighton Chiropractic and saw Dr. Andrew Kollar. Not only did he pop my rib back in without any pain, it was done with pure ease.

And, he did active release technique on my shoulders, to help me in my rehabilitation from my shoulder surgeries. It is amazing. I go in with limited range of motion and I leave with full range of motion.

And, he doesn't "crack" your back by jabbing you real hard with his hands on your back. That isn't how SOT chiropractic works.

So, if you live in the area of the north metro in the Twin Cities, I would strongly suggest checking this clinic out. And, they are all so nice! Even the other patients that you get to meet are very friendly!

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Monday, November 8, 2010

I wear my detox foot pads only on the weekends

I have been wearing my detox foot pads only on the weekends. Since I workout and shower before bed, (thanks to the time it takes to dry my hair, I don't bother with it and just let it air dry overnight), I don't have time in the mornings to stick my feet in the tub and scrub the goo off them. So on weekends that is what I do. I wear 3 on each foot for 2 nights a week.

I can tell when I haven't worn them for awhile. There is a big difference in how I feel, and how I sleep. I know I am recovering from 2 shoulder surgeries, so sleeping is difficult as it is, but it is a bit easier when I wear the foot pads, which is nice, since the weekends are my only available times to sleep in.

Every person is different. Some parents use them for their kids, for the sole purpose of helping them sleep better. They make a huge difference! Other parents use them for their kids because their kids are showing signs of ADHD. The detox pads help these kids by pulling the toxins out of their bodies. As a result, they are acting like normal kids vs. hyperactive, no attention span sugar-junkies. I believe diet plays a role as well. The more you can get your kids off of high fructose corn syrup, the better!

Right now I am offering 40 free detox foot pads with the order of 200. So for only $190, you get 240 detox foot pads, which is enough for 1 person for 4 months. That is a crazy good deal.

Check them out if you haven't. I give away free samples if you email me.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

11 weeks post op today!! Bicep Tenodesis, SAD and DCE

Today marks 11 weeks since my bicep tenodesis surgery.

Since this past Monday (and I don't know whether it was the new stretches I got assigned from the physical therapist, or whether it was the magic "10.5 weeks since surgery") I have seen a tremendous improvement. It was like a light switch just flipped on. I have such an amazing amount of range of motion (passive), and am slowly regaining the strength.

Except for one thing. Last night I tweaked my arm while I was sleeping. I was laying on my back with my arm around a pillow near the side of the bed, and it fell off (my arm -- not off my body, but off the pillow) and overextended as it fell toward the floor, jarring me awake with a cry.

I am going to assume I just tweaked some muscles and that in a day or two it will be all better.

The time it takes (approximately) for the bicep tenodesis to heal, is 12 weeks. Then, the next 12 weeks after that is focusing on strengthening and completely getting my range of motion and strength back. I understand I won't be able to be as strong as I was in my heyday (in my bicep muscle) but no worries on that.

One more week until I hit that magical 12 week mark!

I am so excited. I am still having trouble sleeping, it is very painful, but I am off all my painkillers, and only take Aleve or Advil when necessary (about 1x every two days it seems now).

My range of motion is about the same as it was before surgery now, so that is something. The pain may also be about the same, but of course it is a different kind of pain -- soreness vs. pain with movements. And it gets better every day!

I am still pretty cautious about what I do, but I am slowly doing more. Starting to lift things with both hands vs. only using my right hand, starting to maybe lift a pot or pan in the kitchen with only my left hand. Things like that.

And, I am very serious about my physical therapy. I do stretches every morning, and evening, and I do strengthening like I am supposed to do, every other day. It does seem like a long time, and patience is an issue with me, but I have to keep on keeping on, and focus on the long term effects, vs. what I want NOW.

My right shoulder is now 6 weeks post op on the subacromial decompression (SAD) and Distal Clavicle Excision (DCE). I have full range of motion and am doing weights up to 3lbs on my strengthening (not the rotator cuff muscles, that is set at 2 lbs, no need to ever go more than that -- but the arm curls I am at 3lbs now, and hope to move up to 5 lbs within a week). I have a lot of tenderness on the top of the shoulder, where the acromium and clavicle meet. But as I mentioned before in previous posts, that was to be expected and it may take a few months more to have that fully be gone. And, other than that, the pain is completely gone in my right shoulder, which is great.

My fears? Yes, I still have them. I fear still that I will get a frozen shoulder. I know that is a silly thing to fear, as I am very active and consistently do my stretching and physical therapy. But I still worry.

I also worry that the numbness in my left arm near one of the incisions will never go away, and it will stay like that forever.

My left elbow hurts, too, as a result of all the stretching that I am doing, it is carrying the brunt of the weight from over compensating for my shoulder. So the tendons around my elbow are very sore and right now, it hurts more than my shoulders!! But I have been told that once I regain my strength in my shoulder and the elbow stops overcompensating, then it will go away. Let's hope! It would be sad to fix one problem only to cause another.

So, my goal of being at full range of motion by the end of the month... I actually still may be able to achieve it, I am almost there now! (Passively, which means when I use the wand for range of motion exercises, I guide the stretch with my other hand). I cannot do the stretches actively yet, at least most of them. But who knows, at the rate I have progressed these past 3 days, I just might! I can put my arm straight over my head perfectly now, but not hold it there long because it is still weak... with the wand I can hold it there forever! And I can now get it behind my back, but not up to my shoulder blades yet, unless I use a door handle or something to help. So that is cool.

My ultimate goal is to have everything "back to normal" by Thanksgiving. I have a lot of cooking to do! This includes strength and range of motion. I understand it will take months to achieve my max strength, what I mean is so that I can perform my daily tasks with ease.

I can do it!!

I also understand it will probably take 6 months to a year before I can sleep without pain. Of course I would like it to be closer to 6 months, so I will pray for that!

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 10 bicep tenodesis and subacromial decompression (shoulder surgery) recovery

I was traveling for business this week and it wreaked havoc on my physical therapy routine. I love having a set protocol each day, when  I wake up, I have a routine. Before bed, I have a routine. But being away from home and having weird hours throws that routine off kilter.

I have to say that I was able to reach full range of motion for one specific stretch I am doing, last weekend. And every day I stretch and stretch to make sure I can still reach that full range of motion for that one. So far, so good.

My goal to get full range of motion back by the end of this month will not be attainable. That is sad for me, but I have to be realistic.

I also have been in a lot of pain lately. My right shoulder is very tender, I would have to say it is more tender than it has been since right after the surgery. My left shoulder is also sore -- my tricep (the back side of my arm) and my deltoid muscles are very sore. I know it is because I am working them out, after so long without working out, and I was hauling around luggage, etc which I probably shouldn't have been doing. I just don't see why we have to have the farthest gate at the most inconvenient terminal, when we travel. Hah!! So a lot of walking, pulling luggage and carrying a backpack over my shoulder.

Sleeping is still very hard. I don't want to take any more narcotics unless my pain gets worse, and then maybe only on the weekends. This whole week I only took 1 vicodin, when I was in  Montreal, and it didn't do anything for me. It doesn't even make me drowsy anymore, which tells me that my body's tolerance for it is rising. Which scares me, of course. So, I will stick with Aleve or Advil when I remember to take them. So the pain must not be that bad if I don't always remember to take the anti-inflammatories.

I don't mean to complain about the pain. I AM healing. It is a long, drawn out process, and at 10 weeks post op for my bicep tenodesis, I think I am doing fairly well. I still have some concerns. Mainly, the range of motion. The stretches still hurt pretty bad, and I have tenderness and soreness and tightness of muscles. But the pain is there. It is no walk in the park, and I get frustrated now that it is starting to be jacket weather -- it is very hard to put on jackets when both your shoulders are not fully healed!

My goals are still to get my range of motion back, but I think I should be realistic and change the goal to Thanksgiving. I see my physical therapist again on Monday, first time in 25 days, so that will be good, he may give me new stretches to do, and then he can assess where I am at. Then, I will see my doctor for another post op visit on November 1st, a week later.

I am nearing the finish line. I can feel it. Give me a few more weeks and I think I will reporting much better news!! Until then, I will still give my weekly updates and continue trudging along on my physical therapy.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Physical Therapy and Range of Motion

I was thinking today about my goal to have my complete range of motion back by the end of this month. And I decided I don't think it is do-able. I don't see my physical therapist again until October 25th. And until then, I am supposed to concentrate on the exercises he has given me up to this point. There are a few that I haven't even started on yet. For example, I am not doing any stretches yet to allow my arm to go behind my back (say, scratching my back). I can barely put my hands on my hips!!

So, I think I need to re-assess my goal. I want to have complete range of motion in all the exercises that he has already given me. THAT, I think, is do-able. I will continue working on this.

Now, off to a bubble bath!!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

surgery updates -- 9 weeks and 4 weeks post op bicep tenodesis and SAD/DCLE

I am sore. I understand that the soft tissue in the body, after the trauma of surgery, takes months to heal. So I am definitely learning patience and determination.

It has been 9 weeks since my bicep tenodesis in my left shoulder. I know it takes 12 weeks for the bone to heal, and I am almost there, I can't wait! Only 3 more weeks!! Then I can start strengthening the bicep (I think!) Right now my arm is skinny and flat, looks like a child's arm (haha!) I am taking narcotics sparingly, and then religiously doing my stretching.

I am still in pain. For any of you reading this, and thinking about doing the surgery, or wondering what is going to happen when you have the surgery - -well, every body is different. I was in decent health and shape before my surgery. But, I am in a lot of pain now. I know the pain will go away, and it is better than it was a week ago, or two weeks ago, or a month ago. But it is a long, painful process. It will be worth it in the end, though. I have my ups and downs, but the downs don't seem to be as bad, and slowly getting better. It is no walk in the park, for sure.

In the mornings, I get out of bed in pain, and I think to myself "I don't remember it hurting this bad" and every morning I think the same thing, it is just that I went to bed without feeling the pain... and I wake up stiff and sore. Once I loosen up, do my physical therapy, put Soothanol X2 on, and ice it, I am fine.

I think the pain I should be more descriptive... it is really extreme soreness and tenderness, not jarring pain. But it is a lot of soreness and tenderness. Especially the days after I do the strengthening (I do those every other day). I do more weight on my right arm because it is only recovering from a SAD/DCE, and not the bicep tenodesis.

Another thing... my clavicle on my left side is much more prominent and tender than the one on my right side. I talked to the doc this morning (well, her P.A.) and mentioned it. She had called me back because I left a message requesting a doctor's note to bring my exercise wand on the plane with me, for my business trip next week. I called the TSA, and emailed them. They basically told me that any disabilities would be respected, but that the airport security has the final say in what I can and can't bring on the plane. The wand is only a 2' PVC pipe, weighing like 7 ounces. I suspect it could be used as a weapon, but my bags are really going to be checked in at the gate, (just not baggage claim)... not even on board with me. (regional plane). I use the wand for about an hour a day or more... for the various exercises morning and night. I don't want to mess my physical therapy up.

So... overall, I am healing. I am getting impatient though!!

I am still shooting for October 31st to regain full range of motion on my left arm. I don't know if I will succeed, but that is my goal. And if it takes longer, then so be it. But at least I have a goal to work toward. The hard ones for me are putting my arm behind my back, and also rotating my arm outward, when my elbow is tucked in to my side. But I am getting better!!!

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Physical Therapy -- Is it worth it?

I used to ask myself whether physical therapy actually works. Here is my take on it:

There are a few different reasons for physical therapy (in my case). After chronic bursitis in my shoulders, along with rotator cuff tendinitis, bicep tendinitis, neural tension, dyskinesis, etc. All these issues became extremely painful to deal with. I had been going to a rolfer, acupuncturist, 3 different modalities of chiropractic, massage therapy, gua sha, etc. They seemed to help temporarily. But my quality of life was sorely affected. Finally, I was referred to a physical therapist.

There are many different types of physical therapists. One clinic I saw before, was Physicians Neck and Back Clinic. They used the Med-X (sp?) machines -- isolating your muscles and strengthening them. They have a pretty good success rate. But it wasn't for me. It caused me more pain (as it wasn't treating the problem and only focused on the back -- and they call my upper back "the neck" which bugged me, since in between my shoulder blades is NOT my neck). As it turns out the extreme pain in between my shoulder blades was affected by my rotator cuff -- it is all connected and I don't know how, but I will accept that is the case and move on (I am not in the medical field so I trust them on this).

I then went to a physical therapist's regiment of stretching and strengthening the right muscles... my rotator cuff muscles which are the sub scapularis, teres minor, infraspinadus and supraspinadus. I may have spelled some of those wrong. But strengthening those and stretching really did help my range of motion and my strength. But the pain did not go away, and it was on both shoulders. My right shoulder did have a very good result, it used to be the most painful of the two, but as it healed and consistently ranked on a pain scale, only 3-4 out of 10, it did not stay my biggest problem. My biggest problem was now my left shoulder. (This was also after getting a cortisone shot in both shoulders, it worked for a while, but then wore off).

Since I had been doing physical therapy on my shoulders for over 6 months by this time, and the pain was not gone, THEN, as a last resort, we decided to opt for surgery. By now I was seeing an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in shoulders.

Physical therapy was EXTREMELY important BEFORE surgery for a couple reasons:

1) There was a chance it could have worked -- therefore avoiding surgery!
2) It strengthened my muscles so that recovery AFTER surgery would be a LOT easier.

But, you have to remember that this is homework - - you can't NOT do your exercises and stretches. You have to be consistent and  do them frequently. Sure, it takes time. Right now I am spending about an hour and a half every day, total, on stretches and range of motion. Before my surgery I was spending at least 45 minutes on them.

So, now that we know the importance of trying physical therapy BEFORE surgery, let's talk about AFTER surgery.

This is very important. Even more so than before surgery. You have to be committed to this, or I suggest not even bothering with surgery and sticking with pain pills for the rest of your life.

I will use myself as an example. I had SAD (decompression surgery) and DCE (Distal Clavicle Excision) on both shoulders. Those are pretty simple processes and heal quickly. Basically, they remove your bursa, cut out any bone spurs, and cut off the end of your clavicle. Soreness can remain for months, but on my right shoulder (I am not even 2 weeks post op right now) I have full range of motion, and no "pain" -- just tenderness and soreness as a result of my bone being cut off, and my bursa removed. I expect soreness for the next month or so, going away gradually. Then, I will be 100% better in my right shoulder. Currently I am using my right arm to carry any heavy stuff I have to carry.

Almost seven weeks ago I had the SAD and DCE on my left shoulder (the bad shoulder) but along with that, I had a bicep tenodesis. They removed the longhead bicep tendon, and re-attached the little stub that was left, to my humerous bone. THAT was major surgery. As a result, I was in a sling for 4 weeks. I could only do basic pendulum and isometric exercises, and then the wand exercises a few weeks afterward. (Wand exercises ROCK for range of motion, by the way). Because of this, many of my muscles in this shoulder atrophied, and I lost a LOT of range of motion. Besides, my shoulder is still so weak I cannot hold my arm above my head for any length of time yet. So.. here is where physical therapy comes in. I seriously was afraid of getting a frozen shoulder. So I did my pendulum exercises from day one, although they hurt and weren't the most comfortable to do.

So the first reason why you need to do physical therapy for shoulders after your surgery is to avoid getting a frozen shoulder. The second main reason is that you can heal properly. I was told by my surgeon that the first month at least, after my surgery, would be worse than the pain before my surgery. I am now through that period, and the main pain associated with all this, is the soreness I am getting from my physical therapy. I started doing more stretching exercises, to get my range of motion back. There are some motions where it is SO painful I feel like my bone is breaking. But I am working through that. Every day, as I do my physical therapy, I go to the point of almost wanting to cry. Some days I think I am regressing. But overall, I can see how much farther I am able to stretch, and how much easier it is. Even if it is just a centimeter farther. That is improvement. It is slow going. I was told this would take 3-6 months MINIMUM. And strengthening really doesn't start until after 8 weeks... of course actually living it vs. just being told what to expect, is very different.. I wasn't prepared for the difficulty that physical therapy has become.

And, each time I am given new exercises, to do along with the previous exercises, I wonder where I am going to find time to incorporate it all into my hectic schedule. Luckily I have found that I can do some at work, in my office, while I am on a conference call or on a webinar, or during lunch or break. Sometimes it also feels like I go 3 steps forward just to take 2 steps backward. But I AM coming along.

I also sometimes regret not doing these physical therapy exercises sooner, I look back and figure maybe I didn't really need to be in a sling for 4 weeks... letting my muscles atrophy. But the more I read about a bicep tenodesis I realize that I NEED to allow my bone to heal. There are two screws holding the muscle in place right now. A fall or an accident or me trying to lift something heavy when I am not ready, could ruin the whole surgery and give me a tenotomy (where they just cut the tendon and you end up with a popeye bicep). That would be very bad. I am about 5 weeks away from when I am considered a "successful healing". (It takes 12 weeks for the bone to heal, they told me). I am glad I didn't screw it up.

So, while I am still in physical therapy, and have been for the past 8 months straight, I am very thankful for my decision to continue with it. DON'T GIVE UP. LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY. If they tell you to ice your injury 2-3 times per day, then DO it!! Icing sucks in Minnesota in the winter time, for sure. But Thankfully it has been warm this past summer, and by the time winter comes along I plan on being healed :)

My goals are to be fully healed in my right shoulder by the end of October. There is a ligament on the top of your shoulder that attaches the acromium and the clavicle... well, that might be sore for up to 6 months, I was told!! Sore or tender... but I already feel so much better I am thinking that will be completely gone by October. That will be 6 weeks for my right shoulder. Then I can start some strength training for all my shoulder and upper back muscles!!

My goal for my left shoulder is to have complete range of motion back by the end of October. I know that is almost 5 weeks away, and seems so far out, but I have to have goals that I can accomplish. And, since I will be starting some simple strengthening exercises, I think I will be able to do a lot more with it by then as well (i.e. carrying bags of groceries, etc). Then, by December 23rd, I want to be considered fully healed so that I can start strength training, kickboxing if I want, etc. That also is the day that I leave for my Panama vacation, and I want to be able to kayak, etc. That is almost 4 1/2 months from my surgery, and it is 100% do-able!

Yes. Physical therapy is worth it. In just a few more short months, I am going to be pain-free -- a total different quality of life. I am so excited about it. Lots of peaks and valleys throughout the process, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

6 weeks post op from bicep tenodesis left shoulder / 1 week post op from S.A.D. and D.C.E. in right shoulder

First, I have to say that my right shoulder, 1 week post op, is doing amazing from the subacromial decompression and distal clavicle excision. I have full range of motion and although I still feel tenderness and soreness when I do certain movements, I am still amazed at how quickly I feel better. It is wonderful. After my experience with my left shoulder, and how extreme that pain is, I just feel so good that my right shoulder is better than it ever has been! Woohoo! Even 2 days after surgery my range of motion was better than it had been for years!! This is something to be excited about. It was the easiest surgery I had, with a quick recovery. I am already doing all the physical therapy for that shoulder, that I have been doing for 6 weeks on my left shoulder, with no pain at all!

Now, on to the left shoulder. It is 6 weeks today since my surgery. I had the subacromial decompression and distal clavicle excision, like I did on the right shoulder, but I also had a bicep tenodesis. Basically, they removed about 3 inches of my long head bicep tendon, and then re-attached the muscle to my humerous bone with 2 screws. That was the major part of the surgery. It takes about 3-6 months to recover, and maybe up to 12 months to get the strength back.

So I am 6 weeks post op, as I mentioned. I was at the physical therapist yesterday (my first appt since my surgery LAST week on my right shoulder, but after he looked that over and had me perform different arm raises, etc. he disregarded that shoulder and focused on my left). He gave me 2 new stretches to do. These are killers. I mean, PURE AGONY. I thought I was doing well, but yesterday was my first time second guessing myself. It didn't feel good at all. One of them, is an additional wand exercise (AAROM) I searched for a picture online but couldn't find one, so we can just use our imagination. The first wand exercise (ROM) that is agony for me is the one where I take the wand (broomstick, etc) and hold it horizontal behind my back with both arms, hip width apart. Then I have to pull it up my back, as my arms stretch. My right arm is fine, but my left arm is very hard to do. I had tears streaming down my face when I first did it. And, this morning when I did it before work, I actually felt so sick that I thought I was going to throw up from the pain.

The next exercise is where I am laying on my left side with my left arm bent at the elbow at a 90 degree angle, my fist up, my triceps laying on the ground, out to the side. Then, I take my other hand (my right hand) and grab my left wrist, and slowly try to get it to the floor, toward my feet (not toward my head, I am not supposed to bend it that way, yet or maybe ever). I think I can barely get it to go 2 inches. It is extremely painful.

Well, I will do these exercises/stretches at least 2 times a day (more, if possible), and see where I am on Monday, when I have my next appointment. I WILL be taking pain killers through this next week, I know it. I cannot believe my body would produce this much pain for simple stretches. I am just weak from pain fatigue, and sometimes feel like I want to give up. BUT I WON'T !!!! I am in this for the long haul.

I will report back how I am doing next week. I sure as heck hope it is better than this week!!!!

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