Sunday, October 25, 2009

#71 Eating Like a Bear, Literally

World's Fattest Man Eats 20,000 Calories a Day [printed in Martha Edwards posts Oct 21st 2009 9:00AM]

Worlds fastest swimmer eats 12,000 calories a day while training.

Average sized bear eats 20,000 calories
a day.

Sumo wrestlers eat between 18,000 and 20,000 calories/daily

When I saw that headline, Man Eats 20,000 calories, well, I just couldn't resist clicking on the link to see what 20,000 calories a day looks like, or perhaps what I really wanted to see was what a person who eats 20,000 calories a day looks like. Put it down to morbid curiosity.

Mr. Paul Mason has the dubious distinction of being the heaviest man on earth, weighing in at 976 pounds. It seems that Mr. M., aged 48, had to eat 2,000 (oops, I forgot a zero), I mean 20,000 calories daily to gain back the weight (250 lbs) he had lost while in the hospital recuperating from "a life-saving operation". For those of you who don't understand calories or count calories, that number, 20,000, is about 10 times more then the amount a 48-ish year old active man should be eating to maintain his weight. I need to share -- I'm actually a little jealous; not of stuffing my pie hole with 20,000 calories/daily, but a 2,000 calorie day does sound like a nice change from my 1,300 calorie day.

Of course, the honor of being Mr Biggest doesn't come without its problems. Mr. M rarely leaves his bed, and has 7 around the clock care-givers taking care of his daily needs. Let's stop here for a sec. Mr. Biggest and I are the same age [give or take a year], and having 7 people take care of my daily [and probably pretty intimate] needs because I was too fat to do it myself, would be humiliating and horrifying. (NOTE: I know there are people living this way due to debilitating diseases that necessitate the use of round the clock caregivers. I believe Mr. M is in a different category.) In the on-line article, the author, pretty much said that she really couldn't feel sorry for Mr. M since his goal was to become this way.

Mr. Mason can't travel in a car or on an airplane, and when he had to be rushed to the hospital for the above life-saving surgery, the British Air Force had to airlift him there. As to his clothing needs, I'm guessing that they're custom made. Truthfully, though, why bother getting dressed at all, as in underclothing, shirt and pants? If my "job" was eating 20,000 calories a day, and not moving from one spot, I think a mu mu would do just fine; it would definitely make it easier for my 7 caregivers. Actually, before husband and kids, there were probably a couple of days a year where I would plant my tush on the sofa, watch movies, catch up on missed TV shows, nap, read, eat all my meals in front of the TV, and never get out of my PJs. I looked at these days as a bonus day, not a lifestyle.

I'm not trying to sound nasty here, nor insensitive to the plight of the obese, and unlike Ms. Edwards the author of the article, I do feel a little sad and sorry for Mr. M. However, as we know, there are thousands of people living with body weights of 300 pounds and up. I TRULY BELIEVE that the last thing any of them would want is to add a few more pounds -- let alone another 200 or 300.

Oh, and just in case you're interested, it costs the British government $164,000 U.S. dollars a year to keep Mr. Mason alive. As of 2009, the cost of his care reached the $1 million mark

Quote of the Day: "I realized that I'm more important than food. I love a big slice of pizza, but I love myself more." Valerie Bertinelli

Friday, October 23, 2009

#70 When Your Body Knocks, Do You Answer?

When it comes to your health, the worst thing a person can have is a high tolerance for pain, a non-pushy temperament, an "I don't want to rock the boat" personality, and a life that is so busy and hectic, that there is no time to "take off". Since this is breast cancer awareness month, I thought I would write a babble that stresses how important it is for us to know our bodies intimately, and not to be put off when a doctor doesn't have all the answers. This babble isn't meant to scare anyone, but rather to remind us all not to ignore that little voice that tells us that something "just ain't right". Honor your body. And for my male readers, share this with the women in your life so that they know you care about their bodies IN EVERY WAY.

I was waiting for my daughter and leafing through an old People Magazine, when I came across an article that was titled, "Fighting to Stay Alive". It is the story about a member of the rap group TLC, Tionne Watkin, and her life before and just after the discovery of a brain tumor. The debilitating headaches that she experienced for nearly 6 years, ones that would have sent the most stoic person to the doctor, were, she thought, due to stress, her disease and the demands of her career. Tionne has sickle-cell anemia, and because of this disease, her pain tolerance is extremely high. Only when she started experiencing blurry vision did she go see a doctor, and it was after her MRI, that a brain tumor the size of a grapefruit was discovered.

Wow, I thought, as I replayed in my head a conversation I had earlier in the day. That morning, my friend "Cleopatra" called to cancel an upcoming date . She didn't sound very good, so I asked if she was ill. Her response was not what I expected. She told me that she had just returned home from the hospital, where her left ovary and fallopian tube were removed. Cleo has spent the last 5 years explaining to any doctor who would listen, that something just wasn't right with her left side.... especially during ovulation. She visited many different specialists, but to no avail. She was told that her pain could possibly be due to some adhesions that she may have developed from her 2 C-sections, but nobody was ever sure. During the past five years, the pain has increased and decreased, but has never gone away. This last time though, was so painful, that she had to walk doubled over, and after 2 days of intense pain, she took herself to the emergency room. Long story short, she had a raging infection that, she was told, had been brewing for a very long time. On numerous occasions she remembers asking her doctor, "Is this pain normal?", and on her last visit, the doctor told her that she had probably pulled a muscle. My very smart friend sat there nodding her head trying to think when, in the last five years, she may have pulled "this muscle". I know you must be wondering why nobody found this problem earlier. It seems, there are 2 reasons. First, the infection was what the doctors [suspected was] encapsulated or walled off; it never spread. Second, poor Cleo has had at least 2-3 bouts of sinusitis a year for the past couple of years, plus she had bronchitis, pneumonia and meningitis during this 5 year period. With each infection and illness, she was given antibiotics. And, if you've ever had a sinus infection [which I have], you are sometimes put on antibiotics for a month, or more, to kill whatever disgusting stuff is living in your sinus'. Ironically, because Cleo had been healthy for the past 5-6 months and not on any antibiotics, the infection was able to intensify enough so that when the ultrasound was taken [for the 3rd time], something finally showed up.

I have worked in the healthcare field as both a clinician and as an administrator, and yet, when I am a patient, I wait my turn patiently, spend my rushed 10 minutes with the doctor, and then sit there nodding my head in response to what the doctor is saying, when what I really should be doing, is asking more questions and/or giving more symptoms. In today's healthcare atmosphere, we need to be our own advocates. We no longer have a doctor that follows us from childhood to adulthood, and knows all our family members and their medical histories. Both Cleo and Tionne lived with "their problem" because they were able to... up to a point. Thank goodness, the outcome for both, was a good one.

Quote of the Day: "Once you choose hope, anything's possible" Christopher Reeve

Saturday, October 10, 2009

#69 Body Dysmorphia

Joan Rivers on Aging: "Once I thought some guy pinched my nipple and it turns out he accidentally stepped on it."

Bette Midler on Aging: "After thirty, a body has a mind of its own."

Lucille Ball on Aging: "As a woman 'matures' it's best to use a make-up table with everything close at hand - and don't rush; otherwise you'll look like a patchwork quilt."

Bobbie on Aging: If one must adjust to growing older, and age is an issue of mind over matter, then how I mind my matter needs some adjusting.

A couple of years ago, I went to the salon for the usual - a trim, highlights, and some low lights. After sitting there for 2 hours and shelling out a ridiculous sum of money, I came home and thought, not for the first time, that I didn't really like my new haircut. However, this is pretty typical for me since it usually takes about two or three days before I figure out how to style my new cut, and for the products they used to be washed out. This time, though, was different. Nothing I did worked. That's when I decided that this "do" wouldn't do. I told a friend how I was feeling. She said something like -- I should go back because my hair happiness is an advertisement for my salon and stylist. Four days post haircut, I returned to the salon and told "Spartacus" how I was feeling. He was very nice and told me to sit in his chair and he would "fix" it.

As the minutes ticked by, I sat there staring at myself in the mirror, trying to figure out what it was I didn't like. I lifted my hair off my neck, I made make-believe bangs, and so on. It was when I pulled part of my hair back into an Alice in Wonderland style [that's what my mom always called it when we were little] that the light bulb went off. I pulled tighter. OMG, it wasn't my hair I didn't like, it was my face!! Something, it seemed, had happened since my last visit!!! My eye lids looked heavy, my cheeks were, well, not where they were supposed to be, and I saw lines around my mouth that I didn't remember seeing last time. Now don't start with, "oh Bobbie, you're so hard on yourself" thoughts; I wasn't seeing an "old lady" sitting in the chair, but I wasn't seeing the "young" lady that I picture in my head.

Fifteen minutes later when Spartacus walked over to discuss what we should do, I told him that my hair was fine and that it was my face I needed to deal with. Of course, he told me I was foolish and silly [which I'm not sure was true, but especially liked hearing with his accent]. Although I do think I have a slight problem with body dysmorphia, I am able to step back and perform an honest critique of my body parts. While Spartacus droned on, I sat in his chair wondering if 42 was too young for a face/cheek/eye lift, and would my husband be willing to shell out $10,000 for a "birthday gift". I walked out of the salon wondering what other 42 year old women do when they feel this way....

I changed my hair dresser....

photo - me at 31
photo - me at 40
2 photos - me at 47, the no make-up, no hair done Bobbie, and the public Bobbie

Quote of the Day: "Start slowly because direction is so much more important than speed" author unknown

Monday, October 5, 2009

#68 How NOT to Stop a Crying Baby

Last Saturday, with a couple of hours to spare, I went shopping at my favorite chic boutique, TJ Max. Since the cold weather season is approaching, and also at my daughter's request, I went in search of some winter duds for her. I was zen shopping, oblivious to everything but the sweaters in front of me, when the sound of a crying baby interrupted my trance. I tried to ignore it, but then I heard the mother, in a loud voice, say NO! The baby [more than 1 less than 2, I later saw] stopped crying, but I could still hear his/her hiccupping boo hoos.

As I continued sweater seeking, humming along with Cheryl Crow and Elton John, I was once more jerked out of my trance. This time it wasn't by a loud voice, but the sound of a slap. I looked up, and in slow-mo, watched this little girl work herself up for an all-out howl. I looked around to see if anyone else was as upset as I felt. Oh Yes!! There were a number of women, moms and daughters all looking at each other and at me. I saw the baby's mom look at us looking at her. "Dare me" her eyes said. With just a twinge of fear, I took on her dare. I very nicely and calmly told this young mother that baby's are programmed to cry when they feel pain and that hitting a baby is not the way to get them to stop crying. That's all I said. I walked to the next rack where I was able to hear a woman say to the mom, "it's 4:00 in the afternoon, baby witching hour. It's just not a good time for babies and mommies. We're all tired. Be patient". Then, another woman told the mom that hitting is never the answer and that she should try a different method. Everyone was quiet and polite, but I know, in my heart, that we were just talking into the wind.

I decided to leave -- my heart just wasn't into shopping anymore. I kept replaying that mother's look and what I had said. As I walked over to the check out line, heart still racing, I hoped that I hadn't done the wrong thing. I was standing in line, waiting to pay for my few things, when a women came over to me and said that I was very brave for having said something. A few more in line nodded along with her. Brave? I wasn't brave. I have no armor to protect me from watching a child, or for that matter, an animal, unjustly hurt. They are, in different ways, defenseless... I HAD to say something.

As I reached my car, I once again realized the power of one voice. If one person speaks up, others will follow. Had I not told the young mother that hitting wasn't the way to stop a baby from crying, perhaps those other ladies might not have had the courage to speak up. Who knows if my saying anything, or those other women saying their piece, had an impact on that mother, but perhaps it had an impact on someone else in that store... someone who has been too scared to speak up, but may now take that chance.

Quote of the Day: "The good life is inspired by love and guided by knowledge" Bertrand Russell (English philosopher, logician, mathematician and, historian)

#67 Should There Be an Extra Tax on Soft Drinks?

We know there's an obesity epidemic in the United States. We also know Americans make poor food choices and have begun to think that super sized meals are the norm. Recently, in The New England Journal of Medicine, an article was written where the authors recommended a way to help with obesity as well as a way to help with the cost of healthcare. They say: tax soft drinks and sugary drinks. As I see it, this "argument" could go three ways. First, the tax may deter people if the cost of soda truly becomes unaffordable. Second, the billions of dollars raised by this tax could help offset the burden obesity puts on the healthcare system. And third, it could totally backfire. Truthfully though, I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's the old punish bad behavior vs promoting good behavior. How about helping to reduce obesity while promoting wellness? Instead of taxing "bad", why not subsidize good - like fruits and veggies?

Is too much intervention good? I mean, of the government kind. Once upon a time there was prohibition -- Bad. Next came the cigarette tax -- Good. Ironically, just a few weeks ago, I had a mini debate where I argued on the side of government intervention. My "opponent" was saying that we [the US] are so 1984 -- you know, big brotherish. I told him that I was ok with public space spying [cameras on the interior and exterior of buildings, etc], especially if it deterred and/or solved crimes. Lets just say that he let me know, in not such a nice way, that he didn't agree with me. Well, now here I am thinking that maybe taxing soft drinks has gone just a little too far. Could we possibly next see an increased tax on items with hydrogenated oils? Trans fat? Too much sugar? Of course, the piggy-who-can't-control-herself-part-of-me sort of wishes that this would happen [with chocolate products only], but the grown-up who should be in control of her food and life thinks, WE the consumer, must take responsibility. Plus, I think the tax would have to be very, very, very high to make the price of soft drinks exorbitant to its "users". If caffeine is as addictive as nicotine, and people are willing to pay $5.00+ per pack of cigarettes, well even I can do that kind of of math...

Quote of the Day: "There is many a slip twixt the cup and the lip" Richard Harris