A New Way for Therapists to Get Inside Heads: Virtual Reality
The service is also designed to provide treatment in other ways, like taking patients to the top of a virtual skyscraper so they can face a fear of heights or to a virtual bar so they can address an alcohol addiction.
Backed by the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, Limbix is less than a year old. The creators of its new service, including its chief executive and co-founder, Benjamin Lewis, worked in the seminal virtual reality efforts at Google and Facebook.
The hardware and software they are working with is still very young, but Limbix builds on more than two decades of research and clinical trials involving virtual reality and exposure therapy. At a time when much-hyped headsets like the Daydream and Facebook’s Oculus are still struggling to find a wide audience in the world of gaming — let alone other markets — psychology is an area where technology and medical experts believe this technology can be a benefit.Photo Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times
Traditionally, psychologists have treated such conditions by helping patients imagine they are facing a fear, mentally creating a situation where they can address their anxieties. Virtual reality takes this a step further.
“We feel pretty confident that exposure therapy using V.R. can supplement what a patient’s imagination alone can do,” said Skip Rizzo, a clinical psychologist at the University of Southern California who has explored such technology over the past 20 years.
Barbara Rothbaum helped pioneer the practice at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, and her work spawned a company called Virtually Better, which has long offered virtual reality exposure therapy tools to some doctors and hospitals through an older breed of headset. According to one clinical trial she helped build, virtual reality was just as effective as trips to airports in treating the fear of flying, with 90 percent of patients eventually conquering their anxieties.
Such technology has also been effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. Unlike treatments built solely on imagination, Dr. Rothbaum said, virtual reality can force patients to face their past traumas.
“PTSD is a disorder of avoidance. People don’t want to think about it,” she said. “We need them to be engaged emotionally, and with virtual reality, it’s harder for them to avoid that.”Photo Credit Ramin Talaie for The New York Times
Now, headsets like Google’s Daydream, which works in tandem with common smartphones, and Facebook’s Oculus, the self-contained $400 headset that sparked the recent resurgence in virtual reality technologies, could potentially bring this kind of therapy to a much wider audience.
Virtually Better built its technology for virtual reality hardware that sold for several thousands of dollars. Today, Limbix and other companies, including a Spanish start-up called Psious, can offer services that are far less expensive. This week, Limbix is beginning to offer its tools to psychologists and other therapists outside its initial test. The service is free for now, with the company planning to sell more advanced tools at some point.Photo Credit Limbix
After testing the Limbix offering, Dr. Jewell said it allowed patients to face their anxieties in more controlled ways than they otherwise could. At the same time, such a tool can truly give patients the feeling that they are being transported to a different locations — at least in some cases.
Standing atop a virtual skyscraper, for instance, can cause anxiety even in those who are relatively comfortable with heights. Experts warn that a service like the one offered by Limbix requires the guiding hand of trained psychologists while still in development.
Limbix combines technical and medical expertise. One key employee, Scott Satkin, is a robotics and artificial intelligence researcher who worked on the Daydream project at Google. Limbix also works with its own psychologist, Sean Sullivan, who continues to run a therapy practice in San Francisco.
Dr. Sullivan is using the new service to treat patients, including a young man who recently developed a fear of flying, something that causes anxiety simply when he talks about it. Using the service alongside Dr. Sullivan, the young man, who asked that his name be withheld for privacy reasons spent several sessions visiting a virtual airport and, eventually, flying on a virtual plane.
In some ways, the young man said, the service is still less than perfect. Like the Street View scenes Dr. Jewell uses in treating her patients, some of this virtual reality is static, built from still images. But like the rest of the virtual reality market, these tools are still evolving toward more realistic scenes.
And even in its current form, the service can be convincing. The young man recently took a flight across the country — here in the real world.Continue reading the main story
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July 30, 2017 at 02:06PM
Weekend Link Love – Edition 462
RESEARCH OF THE WEEK
The sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand has declined by 50% over the last 40 years.
Birthday wishes do come true, as long as you wish to increase the cake’s bacterial levels by 1500%.
Another study shows that wearing blue blocking goggles at night boosts melatonin levels, even when you use your smartphone.
Watching TV for a few hours a week might not be so bad (and may even be good) for a kid’s brain development as long as they watch and discuss it with a caretaker.
Hip thrusts are great but don’t seem to increase sprint performance.
Turns out the Canaanites weren’t killed off.
NEW PRIMAL BLUEPRINT PODCASTS
Episode 179: Thor Conklin: Host Elle Russ chats with Thor Conklin, an entrepreneur who credits his healthy paleo lifestyle as a critical co-factor in his success.
Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts below, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.
INTERESTING BLOG POSTS
How to lower your cholesterol, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Homo erectus may have displayed human-like thinking at least 1.8 million years ago.
The overwhelming importance of conscientiousness.
DNA evidence is changing everything we thought we knew about plant and animal domestication.
It’s always nice to see a success story.
THINGS I’M UP TO AND INTERESTED IN
Nice take on the AHA/coconut oil controversy: From Nina Teicholz.
I hope they used avocado oil: Bob Dylan potato chips are all the rage in China.
I would have liked this guy: Japanese longevity expert who recently died at 105 had great advice for long life.
I’m glad I never got into playing football: 110/111 NFL brains were found to have evidence of CTE, the neurodegenerative disease caused by trauma.
I just did the same thing last week: Man thinks cubed butternut squash is cubed cheese, tries to return it.
One year ago (Jul 30– Aug 5)
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Want to make fat loss easier? Try the Definitive Guide for Troubleshooting Weight Loss for free here.
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July 30, 2017 at 10:11AM
Skinnytaste Dinner Plan (Week 85)
Skinnytaste Dinner Plan (Week 85). I’ve added new recipes from last week plus a mix of some older favorites. Have a great week!
Pictured below is The Skinnytaste Meal Planner where I plan my dinners for the week (you can of course use any meal planner). Meal planning is a great way to get organized before heading to the supermarket to get ready for the week! My breakfast is usually something quick like eggs with fruit, a smoothie or avocado toast. We’re a family of four, so if a recipe serves more, it’s either packed up for everyone’s lunch or eaten the next day as leftovers. If you would like to see some of the previous week’s dinner plans, click here.
Skinnytaste Dinner Plan (Week 85)
Monday: Summer Cavatelli with Corn, Tomatoes and Zucchini
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July 30, 2017 at 07:49AM
Tamari and Kombu Soft-Boiled Eggs
Hardboiled eggs are a perfect snack, but even a perfect snack can get boring sometimes. This recipe offers a slight variation—and, oh, what a difference! A mild-flavored hard-boiled egg turns into an umami flavor bomb. This egg practically melts in your mouth, thanks to a yolk that is creamy and runny instead of dry and chalky. The soft, rich middle is a delicious contrast to the salty flavor and firm texture of the outer egg white.
Try a soft-boiled egg once, and you might never go back to hard-boiled. The change is easy to make—simply boil the eggs a few minutes less. Eggs are the ultimate Primal food source, full of protein, healthy fats, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. The more ways you can enjoy them, the better. A carton of soft-boiled tamari and kombu eggs is a healthy and easy go-to snack to keep in the fridge.
(P.S. Kombu isn’t an ingredient that’s absolutely necessary for this recipe, but it’s worth adding. Steeping kombu in the marinade extracts minerals and makes these eggs an even healthier supplemental food).
Servings: 6 soft-boiled eggs
Time in the Kitchen: 25 minutes
*The saltiness of tamari can vary between brands. If your first batch of eggs is too salty, cut back on the amount of tamari used for future batches.
In a medium bowl, whisk together warm water, tamari, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, ginger and kombu. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Use a large spoon to carefully set the eggs in the bottom of the pot.
For soft-boiled eggs, cook exactly 7 minutes.
While the eggs boil, fill a large bowl with water and ice.
When the eggs are done, set them gently in the bowl of ice water.
When the eggs are cool, peel while holding the egg underwater (this helps the shells come off more easily).
Submerge the eggs in the tamari marinade so they are completely covered. If the eggs aren’t completely submerged, try a different sized bowl or a jar, or, add more water.
Marinate the eggs in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours (after that the eggs tend to get too salty). If refrigerated, the eggs will stay fresh for about a week out of the marinade. The marinade can be kept in the refrigerator and re-used for more eggs.
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July 30, 2017 at 07:46AM
News Analysis: Consensus Is Health Law Can Be Fixed. Now the Hard Part.
Among the hardest hit are those who do not qualify for subsidies to help with premiums or out-of-pocket costs, which rise along with rate increases. Michael Lawson, an independent consultant for local governments in Washington, D.C., said the monthly premiums for his basic plan from CareFirst jumped to $527 this year from $290 last year. He is 60 and earns too much to get a subsidy, but because of various health problems he has already reached his $5,000 deductible for the year. He likes his plan but thinks that to keep rates more stable, Congress and the Trump administration need to do a better job of enforcing the law, particularly its requirement that most people have health insurance.Photo Credit Zach Gibson/The New York Times
“They need to enforce the A.C.A. as it’s written,” he said. “Don’t kill it by benign or even malicious neglect.”
The politics are exceedingly tricky in a divided and dysfunctional Washington, but economists, insurers, doctors and health policy experts across the political spectrum agree that immediately addressing three or four basic shortcomings in the existing system would go a long way toward making the law more effective and financially stable.
Stabilize the Markets
There is widespread agreement that the first order of business is to calm what are now very jittery insurance markets. “You need to stabilize things before we change them,” said Michael Neidorff, the chief executive of Centene, one of the few insurers that are aggressively expanding in the market.
Time is of the essence: Next month, insurers must decide what they charge for 2018 or whether they want to stay in the marketplaces at all.
The most significant step would be to guarantee continued funding to reimburse insurers for waiving deductibles and co-payments for low-income customers, as the health law requires companies to do. The Trump administration has threatened to stop making the payments; insurers are now getting them on a month-to-month basis.
If these so-called cost-sharing reductions are not paid for the remainder of the year or in future years, people will see premiums go up by nearly 20 percent to cover them, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Companies could also decide to leave the market, creating a potential collapse, said Mike Kreidler, the insurance regulator for Washington State. In a statement issued Friday, state regulators urged lawmakers to move quickly. “We have insurers who are very apprehensive and very nervous,” he said.
While insurers are hopeful that Congress will pass legislation guaranteeing the payments, they would also welcome a commitment from the administration that it, too, wanted to stabilize the market. “There seems to be a conflict internally: Are they going to sabotage the market or are they going to help the market?” said Gary Cohen, a former Obama administration official who is now an executive at Blue Shield of California.
President Trump has hinted he is unwilling to help. His Twitter post on Friday reacting to the Senate vote, like others he has posted recently, suggested a willingness to watch the market collapse: “As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal.” In another post on Saturday, he warned that bailouts “ for insurance companies” could “end very soon.”
But the fundamental problem that many insurance customers face is sky-high deductibles or premiums that are simply out of reach. Health economists and others say there are ways to lower premiums so more people can afford coverage.
“One of the best quick fixes that is not controversial is reinsurance,” said Paul Ginsburg, a health economist who directs the Center for Health Policy at the Brookings Institution. That would involve the government helping insurers pay for the sickest, most expensive people, whose costs can drive up premiums in places where there are not enough healthy customers to balance them out.
The Affordable Care Act provided the funding for three years, but many people think reinsurance needs to be permanent. A bipartisan agreement seems possible now because in their failed replacement bills, both House and Senate Republicans had supported the idea of providing assistance to insurers, as well as extra “stabilization” funding for states to potentially help lower people’s premiums and deductibles.
Over the longer term, lawmakers need to find a way to encourage more people, especially those who are healthier, to enroll, said Dr. Martin Hickey, the chief executive of New Mexico Health Connections, one of the few remaining start-up insurers created by the law. He said he was proposing rate increases of anywhere from 20 to 25 percent, although they were proposed before the Senate bill failed.
“The pool needs to get stabilized or otherwise we will see year after year of double-digit increases,” he said.
Reduce Drug Prices
Mark Dalessandro, an adjunct professor at a community college in Tucson, saw his out-of-pocket expenses for the asthma medication Advair jump to $292 per month this year from $50 per month last year, after he was forced to switch plans because his insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, left the market in his area. He said he had little choice but to pay for it. “For just a month’s supply, for something that helps me breathe, what are you going to do?” he said.Photo Credit Conor E. Ralph for The New York Times
Mr. Dalessandro, 54, pays $405 per month in out-of-pocket costs to cover everything from the Advair to cholesterol drugs. That is on top of the $1,462 he pays in monthly premiums for coverage for himself, his wife and his two teenage children.
The fluctuating drug cost makes him feel as if he were on a “roller coaster,” he said. “You just kind of feel like you can’t get ahead of the game.”
If there is one health care issue that both Republicans and Democrats have vowed to fix, it is the rising cost of prescription drugs. During the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and Mr. Trump railed against outrageous prices set by pharmaceutical executives like Martin Shkreli and drug companies like Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen.
But there is little agreement on the best way to fix the problem. Democratic proposals, such as allowing Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and allowing cheaper drugs to be imported from overseas, are fiercely opposed by the drug industry — a potent lobbying power in Washington — as well as Republicans in Congress.
And though Mr. Trump has excoriated the industry, his administration has not yet put forward a plan to address the issue. A draft executive order on drug prices that was obtained by The New York Times in June revealed a far more industry-friendly approach, easing regulations in the hopes the drug companies would lower prices on their own.
Democratic leaders in Congress identified rising drug prices as one of their economic priorities in a new campaign, “A Better Deal,” that was made public this past week. Under their plan, a new federal agency would take action against companies that engaged in egregious “price gouging,” Medicare would be allowed to directly negotiate the price of drugs for seniors, and companies that raised their prices significantly would have to warn the federal government in advance, as well as give a reason for their planned price hike.
That is not to say the parties have not found some areas of agreement. There is bipartisan support for measures that would speed more generic drugs to market, including a proposal that would crack down on brand-name manufacturers that bar generic companies from gaining access to the samples they need to make copycat versions. And Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is taking steps to encourage more competition among generic manufacturers.
Expand Access for Poor
Although the Affordable Care Act has greatly expanded access to coverage — the nation’s uninsured rate fell to 10.9 percent last year, according to Gallup, from 17.1 percent in late 2013 — many Americans remain shut out. One of the biggest reasons is the refusal of 19 states to expand Medicaid to virtually all low-income citizens, as the law’s authors intended. Some may be reconsidering now that repeal of the health law seems unlikely.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that it was unconstitutional to require states to expand the program, leaving it to each governor and legislature to decide. As a result, more than 2.6 million of the nation’s poorest citizens remain in a coverage gap: They cannot qualify for Medicaid, but because the law was written with the assumption that they would all get it under a national expansion of the program, they are not eligible for subsidies to help them buy private coverage.
About half these people are black and Hispanic, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation; about two-thirds live in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas.Continue reading the main story
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July 29, 2017 at 06:36PM
Behind Legislative Collapse: An Angry Vow Fizzles for Lack of a Viable Plan
In Winterset, Mr. Grassley fanned the flames about so-called death panels, saying, “You have every right to fear.”
“We should not have a government program that determines you’re going to pull the plug on Grandma,” Mr. Grassley said then.Photo Credit Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times
The election of Mr. Trump was supposed to be the unlikely answer to a seven-year question for Republicans: how to make good on their agenda-defining oath to undo President Barack Obama’s signature achievement.
But if the death knell came with Mr. McCain’s downward-turned thumb early Friday morning, the bill’s failure has far deeper roots in this star-crossed era of unified Republican government.
A ruling party that never expected to win. A conservative base long primed to accept nothing less than a full repeal. An overpromising and often disengaged president with no command of the policy itself and little apparent interest in selling its merits to the public.
By the time the end came, Vice President Mike Pence — dispatched to the Senate to cast a tiebreaking vote — instead seemed resigned. Ms. Collins had clustered with the other two “no” Republicans, waiting to cast their votes.
“All of the sudden someone tapped on my back and it was the vice president,” Ms. Collins said. “He obviously had heard that John has decided to vote no. He was well aware of my vote and Lisa’s position and he was there to talk to John.
“He said, ‘Boy, are you tough,’ but he softened it by putting his arm around me as he said it.”
For months before that moment, the distress signals had flared.
Days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Republicans gathered in Philadelphia for their annual retreat, exulting in their November victories as liquor flowed and Trump-themed socks were tucked into gift bags for lawmakers.
“Think of everything we can achieve,” Mr. Trump told them, predicting the busiest Congress in recent history and placing repeal-and-replace at the front of the line.Video
John McCain Casts Decisive Health Care Vote
Yet in private sessions that week, Republicans worried about being saddled with a politically toxic “Trumpcare,” with some acknowledging that their dual promises — repealing the law swiftly without pulling the rug out from Americans — could not be reconciled.
“Republicans will own it,” Representative Tom McClintock of California said, according to an audio recording from the gathering. “Lock, stock and barrel.”
The House pressed on, slogging through boiling town halls that called to mind the Democrats’ fate in 2009.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan gamely played the salesman, delivering a slide-show presentation on live television with his sleeves rolled up for a bill that his president would eventually deride as “mean.” After pulling a planned vote in March, the House passed its version in May.
Mr. Trump celebrated the one-chamber triumph with a Rose Garden victory ceremony.
Senators were less convinced. From the start, a fissure emerged between those hoping to repeal the law and sort out a replacement later and those who insisted they must be done in tandem. Republican leaders in Congress planned to take the first approach. But that strategy quickly unraveled, with Mr. Trump demanding a simultaneous repeal and replacement.
In the upper chamber, where Republicans hoped to develop their own bill, the stumbles arrived quickly. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, assembled a working group of 13 senators to draft the legislation — all of them male — excluding Ms. Murkowski and Ms. Collins.
Concerns came not just from moderates like Ms. Collins but from reliable Republicans in some unlikely places: Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who told any reporter within earshot that he did not have enough information to even form a firm opinion.
At the same time, Russia-tinged scandal shadowed Mr. Trump with increasing urgency, delivering a deluge of distractions.Photo Credit Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times
In mid-May, Mr. McCain, who was at the time not considered a potential swing vote on health care legislation, was asked if Republicans might be more willing to buck Mr. Trump on policy issues given the circumstances.
“Are you kidding me?” the senator shot back. “Do you think that I am not known — you think my reputation is that I go along?”
Even on matters specific to health care, Mr. Trump was not helping. At a lunch with Republican senators at the White House in June, he savaged the House measure and called for a more “generous” bill in the Senate, injecting himself into the chamber’s delicate negotiations.
Ms. Murkowski was seated directly to Mr. Trump’s right. As he ticked off soaring premiums in different states, the president leaned over to her. “I hate to say this to you, Lisa, but in Alaska, they’ve gone up 207 percent on Obamacare,” he said.
Weeks later, at another White House lunch, another fence-sitting Republican, Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, was seated in the same position. “Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?” Mr. Trump said.
The recruitment efforts grew more ham-fisted with time. After a vote on Tuesday to proceed to a debate on health care repeal, which only Ms. Murkowski and Ms. Collins opposed among Republicans, Ms. Murkowski received a phone call: Mr. Trump had directed his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, to remind the senator of issues affecting her state that are controlled by the Interior Department, according to people familiar with the call.
And Mr. McCain’s startling diagnosis of brain cancer had an impact — and not just on him.
“That was the low point,” Ms. Collins said, recalling a phone call with Mr. McCain after the diagnosis. “It made me realize that even though I was under a lot of pressure, it didn’t compare to what he was going through. It reminded me of how very personal and important health care is.”
On that initial vote, Mr. McCain had been a qualified yes, returning from treatment to deliver a short-term balm to Mr. Trump and his fellow Republicans.Photo Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
But his final decision awaited. He joked, on his return, that he would soon give his peers cause to regret all the nice things they had said about him.
Mr. McCain had come back to the Capitol with a plea for his colleagues, delivered on Tuesday in a soaring address from the floor: “Let’s trust each other,” he said, lamenting the state of the institution. “Let’s return to regular order.”
All week after that, Democrats approached him, praising the speech, with a request of their own: Help the Senate get there.
“I know,” Mr. McCain told them repeatedly. “I know.”
As Thursday night slid toward Friday morning, a group of Republicans, including Mr. McCain, demanded assurances from Mr. Ryan that the House would not simply pass the slapdash legislation that many viewed as a placeholder.
The White House thought it had persuaded Mr. McCain by assuaging him on two fronts: Administration officials had been in touch with Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, whom Mr. McCain had looked to for guidance, and nudged the governor to make clear to Mr. McCain that he was in favor of keeping the process going. And Trump aides made certain that Mr. Ryan assured Mr. McCain in a phone call that the so-called “skinny” repeal bill at hand would not become law. Mr. McConnell appeared confident as well, for a time.
But Mr. McCain’s decision was so shrouded in mystery that his closest friend in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, and longtime aide and muse, Mark Salter, were not quite sure early Thursday evening how he would vote.
“Wait for the show,” Mr. McCain told reporters asking for a preview.
When Mr. McCain reached the floor in the wee hours of Friday morning, Mr. Pence was eager to speak to him. The vice president made clear that he, too, thought little of the bill at hand but that it was more important to go to a bicameral conference committee where a new measure could be hashed out, Mr. Graham said.
Before long, Mr. McCain left to take a call in the cloakroom. It was Mr. Trump, echoing Mr. Pence’s argument.
Democrats stirred. “Not sure how vote will turn out,” Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said on Twitter, “but we have a shot.”
Mr. Trump has spoken often of leverage in negotiations. On Friday, he had none. It is difficult, in the best of circumstances, to strong-arm an octogenarian war hero battling brain cancer.
And two years ago this month — in Iowa, inevitably — Mr. Trump had disparaged him for being captured in combat.
“The three who voted against it have a very negative relationship with the president,” said Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana. For Mr. McCain in particular, he said, “He’s not one where you’d expect a phone call to make the difference.”
Shuffling across the chamber, Mr. McCain convened with Democrats, informing them of his choice. “They can read my lips,” he said to laughs, fearing his hand would be tipped ahead of time from inside the gallery.
At one point, the senator joined Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski, telling them they had done the right thing.
“We talked about how if anyone knew about doing the right thing it was John McCain,” Ms. Collins recalled. “It was very moving.”
By 1:30 a.m., Mr. McCain returned to the middle of the floor, a few feet from where he had spoken of bipartisanship and comity on Tuesday. Mr. McConnell stared straight ahead, motionless, as the Republican promise fell away.
Mr. McCain held out his arm, waiting to be recognized once more, and dropped his thumb.Continue reading the main story
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July 29, 2017 at 03:54PM
Family surprises mother's caregiver with nursing school tuition
His mom, Judy Wright, was battling Parkinson's Disease. She made it through that day. But her son -- and Judy Wright's nursing aide, RonTunDe Hector -- knew she didn't have long.
Hector believed she knew exactly how much time Chris' mom had left. "RonTunDe said 'The Lord told me when she's going to pass," Wright said. "She's going to pass on Sunday.'"
To everyone's surprise, Chris' mother survived for three more days and passed away on Sunday. It was July 9, which happened to be Hector's birthday.
Some might say it was a coincidence that Chris Wright's mother died on that day -- but Wright and Hector say they don't believe in coincidences. It was divine intervention, they say, an intervention that began three years ago with a random act of kindness.
Kindness on the highway
2014 was a rough year for Hector.
The single mother of two boys was going through a divorce, she recalled, and money was tight.
"One Sunday I ran out of gas on the highway. I started walking with my gas can and I only had $5, and this guy pulled up and said, 'you need help?'" Hector said. "He filled up my car with gas and gave me $40. It was like God sent him my way."
That kind act stuck with Hector, who works as a hospice care aide at St. Mary's Hospital in Athens, Georgia.
She came to care for Judy Wright through her job at St. Mary's. When she showed up at the family's home for the first time, they felt a strong bond with her, Chris Wright said.
A past connection
"My dad said, 'I feel better when she's here,'" Wright said, "so I set up a time for her and I to meet. We started talking about the care my mom needed and our faith, and she asked what church I went to."
"I said Cornerstone Church, and she said 'I met the nicest man from that church three years ago. He helped me in one of my hardest times,'" Wright recalled. "She got my attention because I was like 'I probably know him,' and then she says 'I ran out of gas and he filled up my tank and gave me $40.'"
That was when Wright realized they had already met.
"I'm already crying at that point and said 'RonTunDe, that was me,'" he said. "She said 'take off your hat' and saw it was me, and we just cried."
While caring for his mom, Hector became like a member of the family, Wright said. She told them it was her dream to go to nursing school, but that she didn't know how she was going to pay for it.
Funding a future
After Judy Wright's death, her family decided to repay the caretaker's kindness. In lieu of flowers, they asked mourners donate toa fund
that they set up to help Hector pay for nursing school.
In less than a week, they raised over $8,000 for the aspiring nurse and surprised her with the news.
"I cried all night," she said. "I didn't stop crying until 1:30 that morning."
Their story went viral and the fund has now collected almost $30,000.
They see this as just the beginning of their story.
"She is driven to serve people and care for the sick," Wright said. "That's her calling. She's going to be a nurse. No doubt in my mind."
"I've always felt I had something to offer the world, I just needed a platform," Hector said.
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July 28, 2017 at 05:21PM
Becoming Strong & Healthy as a Vegan
By Leo Babauta
As a vegan for the last five years (and veg for a decade), I’ve learned a bit about being healthy and strong on plants.
For those who would like to learn about it, I’m offering this guide (as a non-expert fellow learner).
I had a reader write to me about becoming vegetarian, and say that he went back to the gym and feels very weak. They didn’t like the feeling they got after eating meat, so wanted a change, but they’re worried about feeling weak.
Some things to say about this:
So it’s not only possible to be a strong and healthy vegan, I think it’s not that hard. Anyone who gets into fitness and health tends to do research and experiment to figure out what works, so it’s not any harder than that for vegans.
Here’s what I suggest, based on my research and personal experience:
This might seem like a lot, but it’s a newbie mistake to not do your research, so read up on this stuff. In fact, if you do, you’ll be more educated than most non-vegans as well, who are often lacking in important nutrients too.
Putting It All Together
OK, with all of that to digest (pun!), how can one manage all of this into a simple vegan diet? This is what I recommend (again, as a non-nutritionist — don’t just take my advice, research it):
If you find some recipes with these general guidelines — experiment to find a balance that works for you — you’ll find that a healthy vegan diet is not that difficult. It might take learning some new recipes, adjusting your taste buds a bit, trying some new foods, but it’s a lot of fun to learn to do all of this. And the benefits in health are incredible.
Nutrition is just one part of fitness and health — a super important part, but not the only one. I’ve experimented with lots of kinds of exercise — from running marathons (and one ultramarathon) to Crossfit, the Goruck Challenge, weight training, sports, swimming, bicycling, yoga and more. I’m not an expert at any of them, just a learner.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
How would I mix all these together? Whatever works for your life is best, but here’s a sample schedule that I might follow:
That would get you pretty strong and fit, I think. Of course, you should work your way up to this, starting with bodyweight strength training if you’ve never lifted weights, and getting a trainer to help you with form if you start lifting barbells. Go to an intro yoga class if you haven’t done that. Start with walking and then mix in some jogging with your walking if you don’t run. And of course, if you have any health risks, get checked out by a doctor, don’t just follow the advice of some guy on the Internet. :)
In the end, mixing up your exercise and easing into it is a good idea, as is eating lots of beans, nuts, seeds, greens, colored veggies, whole grains and fruits. With a plan like this, you’ll have a hard time not becoming strong and healthy as a vegan.
Questions & Answers
Some questions you might have:
Q: Why bother becoming vegan at all if you have to worry about these nutrients?
A: Vegans all have different reasons, but my reason is just to not participate in hurting and killing sentient beings if I can help it. I can be happy and healthy and enjoy delicious food without hurting animals (to the extent that I’m able), so why should I eat them?
Q: Isn’t supplementing unnatural?
A: Perhaps. I’m not as concerned about following the naturalistic fallacy — most of us do things that aren’t “natural” all the time, from using computers and cars to eating pizza and using deodorant. And the truth is, it’s a small inconvenience compared to what we do to animals.
Q: Isn’t soy bad for you?
A: Nope. I did an article on this myth years ago. I’ve been eating soy several times a week (sometimes daily) for a decade without any health problems. I prefer to eat less processed versions of soy, like tempeh (fermented soy beans) or edamame (green soy beans). But I have found no problem with tofu or soymilk on a regular basis (in moderation of course). I don’t recommend overdoing soy protein powder or soy meat substitutes, but here again, moderation is the key.
Q: What if I (or someone I know) got really unhealthy as a vegan?
A: It’s possible, especially if you didn’t eat good amounts of protein, calcium, iron, B12, and things like that. It’s also possible to get really unhealthy as a non-vegan. Lots of people eat diets that don’t have the right amount of nutrients, so educate yourself and do a bit of experimenting. One common problem is just eating raw plants, mostly raw vegetables, without getting all the nutrients you need. For taste, not getting enough fats or protein is a common problem, as is not getting enough umami flavor (the taste of grilled meat) — grilled mushrooms are a good way to get umami.
via zen habits https://zenhabits.net
July 28, 2017 at 04:21PM
Generic Eye Drops for Seniors Could Save Millions
By Robert Preidt
University of Michigan researchers report that eye doctors caring for seniors prescribe brand-name medications in more than three-quarters of cases, compared to one-third of cases among nearly all other specialties.
"Lawmakers are currently looking for ways to reduce federal spending for health care, and policies that favor generics over brand medications or allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices may lead to cost savings," said study senior author Lindsey De Lott, of the university's Kellogg Eye Center.
"Using a brand medication for a single patient may not seem like a big deal, but ultimately, these higher costs are paid by all of us," De Lott said, referring to publicly funded Medicare coverage for seniors.
Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that brand medications are superior to generics, which can cost three or four times less, De Lott said in a university news release.
Eye doctors prescribe more brand-name drugs by volume than any other group of health care providers, according to the researchers.
In 2013, eye care providers generated $2.4 billion in annual Medicare Part D prescription costs. The researchers analyzed those costs, and showed that switching to lower-cost generics could save $882 million a year. Also, negotiating prices with drug makers could save $1.09 billion a year, the study authors said.
Looking at specific eye conditions, they found that glaucoma medications made up half of prescription eye drugs -- at a cost of $1.2 billion.
Dry eye medications claimed the second highest billing, mostly due to one drug, cyclosporine (Restasis), which has no generic equivalent. Restasis was the most-used eye medication among Medicare Part D beneficiaries, accounting for $371 million in spending.
Noting that patients may stop taking medications because of the cost, the study authors said patients using glaucoma drugs should ask their doctor about effective, less expensive medications.
The study was published recently in the journal Ophthalmology.
WebMD News from HealthDay
SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, July 19, 2017Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
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July 28, 2017 at 03:17PM
FDA Looks to Reduce Nicotine in Cigarettes
By Steven Reinberg
FRIDAY, July 28, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will focus on reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes to make them less addictive, while also making other nicotine products -- including patches and gum -- safer, agency officials said Friday.
In addition, the FDA is delaying implementation of last year's rules on cigars and e-cigarettes currently on the market until 2021 and 2022, respectively. That will allow time to ensure the regulatory standards are appropriate, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said at a morning media briefing.
"We want to make sure those products, particularly the e-cigarettes, go through an appropriate set of regulatory dates to make sure they're safe, make sure they are meeting standards," he said.
Central to the FDA's new approach to tobacco control is the belief that products such as e-cigarettes and cigars should not be used by kids. Rules are needed to deal with "kid-appealing" flavors, Gottlieb said.
Patricia Folan, director of Northwell Health's Center for Tobacco Control in Great Neck, N.Y., applauded the FDA's attention to teen smoking.
"Addressing the detrimental role of flavors, including menthol, in the initiation of tobacco use will be a very significant step in reducing tobacco use among our youth," she said. "Not only are flavors attractive to youth, but are also harmful to lung health."
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have shown that most cigarette smokers start as teens, and the FDA wants to prevent them from getting hooked in the first place, potentially stemming rates of lung disease.
But the American Lung Association believes kids will suffer if the FDA delays implementation of the e-cigarette and cigar rules.
"The Lung Association is concerned," said Erika Sward, the association's vice president for national advocacy. "What we are seeing here is that FDA, under the framing of a new approach, is weakening public health protection for e-cigarettes and cigars, and they are punting protection for kids down the road for five years."
Probably the most significant part of the FDA's new proposal is "advancing a regulation to reduce nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to nonaddictive levels," Gottlieb said.
If cigarettes are no longer addictive, "we can take a more balanced approach to some of the newer innovations that might have the potential to help current combustible cigarette smokers transition off combustible cigarettes and on to products that might be less harmful," Gottlieb said.
It's not the nicotine in cigarettes that causes lung cancer and lung disease, but rather the other chemicals released from burning tobacco, he said. Nicotine, however, is the addictive element.
Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the FDA's broad approach is inventive. But he worries it may stall.
"The vision Gottlieb painted in its entirety is the most comprehensive approach to reducing the death and disease from cigarette smoking that we have seen from the FDA," Myers said.
"The risk is that he is never permitted to go forward with the bold components designed to reduce cigarette use, while e-cigarettes and cigars remain on the market," Myers added.
Any plan to get the tobacco industry to create lower-nicotine cigarettes will be a lengthy process. It must take into account the problems observed with previous low-nicotine cigarettes, namely that people smoke more and inhale more deeply to get the same nicotine hit.
Gottlieb said other issues may arise, such as a black market in high-nicotine cigarettes.
The FDA thinks exploring safe ways to deliver nicotine in products like e-cigarettes and nicotine gum is essential for their users.
"Here's an opportunity to reframe the debate [about e-cigarettes]," Mitch Zeller, the FDA's director of the Center for Tobacco Products, said during Friday's news conference.
"We need to ask some tough questions about the benefits and potential risks about any new technology. But those questions should be asked through a reframing of what's it going to take to address the leading cause of disease and death related to tobacco use, which is cigarettes," he said.
The agency will also review its position on premium cigars, reopening a discussion on special regulations for these cigars, he said.
WebMD News from HealthDay
SOURCES: Matt Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; Patricia Folan, DNP, director, Center for Tobacco Control, Northwell Health, Great Neck, N.Y.; Erika Sward, vice president for national advocacy, American Lung Association; July 28, 2017, media briefing with Scott Gottlieb, M.D., commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Mitch Zeller, J.D., director, FDA's Center for Tobacco ProductsCopyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
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July 28, 2017 at 02:56PM