Sunday, June 29, 2014

6 Survival tips for long travel days and airplane rides

We received several great tips which made our travel to Ireland/Scotland more pleasant and healthy.  I share these with you now:

1.      Dress comfortably.  My girlfriend/travel buddy and I wore nice exercise/gym jogging pants, tennis shoes and layers of clothes.  The only thing restricting our movement was our seat belts.

2.     Wipe down your airplane dropdown tray with antiseptic wipes and use hand sanitizer before you eat.  I recently read an article saying the airplane dropdown tray and pocket on seat in front of you were probably NOT wiped down after the last person sat in your seat—probably did not happen.  If that person coughed and sneezed germs and/or viruses on the tray table, guess who gets exposed???

3.      Move around often.  Remember that deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can occur when we sit still for long periods of time.  See my blog post from June 1, 2014 for more on this topic.

4.     Carry eye drops in your carryon and use them.  After our all-night flight to Glasgow, my eyes were dry and irritated.  A few eye drops and they felt so much better.

5.     Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen your mouth.  It will feel so much better—and your seatmates will thank you.

6.     Buy noise-cancelling headphones.  Several years ago I traveled by myself to AZ to visit family.  On the way home, I sat beside a woman and her small infant.  That child cried and fussed from AZ to St Louis.  My nerves were frazzled and I wanted to say, “do something for your child, woman!”  I kept my mouth shut, but barely.  I decided that noise cancelling headphones were a future purchase.  I know headphones aren’t cheap (we got ours for Christmas presents one year) but they are amazingly protective to my ears—and my nerves.  

Those are new suggestions for surviving travel.  Do you have some you want to share? 


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Vacationtime has health benefits

Last Sunday I shared a few pictures from our Ireland/Scotland tour vacation.  You might ask why I talked about vacation when I usually talk about health topics.  Simple.  Taking vacations contribute positives to our health.  Check out this article at
Now you have justification for planning and taking that vacation you have been wanting to take. 
So whether your dream vacation is playing golf at the Home of Golf (St Andrews Golf course in Scotland)

or visiting a  beautiful Caribbean island or sitting on the fishing dock at a local lake, I encourage you to take vacation days and relax.  Your body will thank you.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Touring Scotland and Ireland

We took a wonderful vacation through Scotland and Ireland with Globus tours last month.  This two week trip with our travel buddies RJ and JL took us through 5 countries (Scotland, a little of England and Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland).  We did not know if we would like a land tour (moving to a different city almost every day and different hotels (different beds—for us who like our creature comforts).  But it was a great trip.  We saw many sights; fell in love with the Irish and Scottish people.  They were very warm and friendly.  Our tour guide Helen and driver Paul were true professionals; they took excellent care of us and showed us so many interesting places.  We would recommend a land tour with Globus.  If you want to check out our itinerary, see
What do you think of when you hear of Ireland and Scotland?  Castles.  We saw several. We toured Balmoral (The Scottish home of the British royal family).
We saw Edinburgh castle/fort on the tallest hill of Edinburgh. This huge castle was used as a city/fort and still has cannons in place. 

We walked on St. Andrew’s Golf Course.  St Andrews may be the world’s most famous golf course and is known as the “home of golf”.  We weren’t able to get tee times to play but we had lunch at the club house. 

We also saw beautiful rolling hills and sea shore sights such as the Cliffs of Moher (shown here). 

  We saw sheep (even pink sheep as one farmer had died his sheep pink for a local festival).  Our tour director said that’s the first time she ever saw pink sheep (a first for us also).    

During our two week tour, I took over 680 pictures.  I cannot begin to share all our pictures but am sharing these few.  Our Globus tour exceeded our expectations; we enjoyed our trip and would recommend it highly. 


Sunday, June 8, 2014

All about cataracts

As we age, people notice their vision changing. There are multiple reasons that our vision can change and I always recommend seeing an eye doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.  During this blog post, I talk about cataracts.   

What are cataracts?  As we age, our eyes age also.  The lens inside our eyes (compare it to a lens on your camera) becomes opaque (cloudy). Instead of the light going straight through the lens to the retina where our brain and retinas (one in each eye) give us sight, the light is distorted by the opaque areas of the lens.   This normal aging occurrence called Cataracts affects most people.

Symptoms of cataracts include hazy, blurry vision which may start as a small area of blurriness and worsens.  You may notice that lights (especially at night) glare and cause a halo of light around whatever you are looking at. You may notice colors aren’t as bright as they have been in the past.

What causes cataracts?  Cataracts are considered a normal part of aging.  However, researchers recognize these risk factors as contributing to cataract development:  UV lights, smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, obesity, some drugs such as corticosteroids, statin medicines, and hormone replacement drugs, previous eye injury and surgery and a family history of cataracts. 

Can cataracts be prevented?  The experts aren’t sure but they suspect that protecting your eyes from UV rays and eating a healthy diet which includes vitamin E, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent cataracts.

Treatment for cataracts ultimately involves surgery. You may be able to delay surgery for a while with a new pair of glasses.  Eventually surgery is the answer.  However, over the past 40 years the improvements in cataract surgery has been amazing to watch.  According to, cataract surgery is the surgery most often performed in the US.  With the improvements in surgery, a replacement plastic lens called an IOL (intraocular lens) will be implanted.  Most people get excellent results and their after surgery vision is within the 20/20 to 20/40 range. 

Information from the American Academy of Opthalmology about cataracts can be found at

For more Tips for Eye Health in People 40-60, check out this website

Tips for Eye Health in People over 60 can be found at


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Preventing blood clots while we travel

Do you ever travel?  While we may not all travel to Ireland or Aruba, most of us travel in our cars.  If you travel by car, train, bus or airplane for a timeframe of four hours of more, you face a risk of blood clots.  Much of what we know about travel and blood clot dangers has been learned from air travel but it applies equally to any long trip.  

Blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can affect anyone who travels four hours or more. 
DVTs can affect anyone who sits still for a long time.  When we sit still, we do not utilize the muscles in our feet and legs which help push the blood back up the venous system to our hearts.  When the blood just sits in the deep veins of the legs, it can develop into a clot. 

 While anyone can suffer from a DVT, there are risk factors which increase this danger: 
·       people over 40,
·       anyone with a body mass index over 30 (obesity),
·       varicose veins,
·       recent surgery or injury within 3 months,
·       women who are pregnant and up to 6 weeks after childbirth,
·       women who are on hormone replacement therapy or who are on birth control pills containing estrogen
·       Cancer treatment or active cancer
·       A history of blood clot personally or within your family
·       Having a medical catheter in a large vein
·       Having limited mobility (a cast or other immobilizer)

Signs and symptoms of DVT:
“About half of people with DVT have no symptoms at all.” Symptoms include:
·       unexplained swelling and pain in your arm or leg
·       skin is warm to touch
·       skin appeared reddened  According to the CDC, contact your doctor as soon as possible for any of these symptoms. 

While signs and symptoms of a DVT can be serious, the life-threatening danger of a DVT occurs if the blood clot breaks loose and travels to your lungs (called a pulmonary embolus or PE).  Signs and symptoms of a PE include
·       “difficulty breathing
·       Faster than normal or irregular heartbeat
·       Chest pain or discomfort, which usually worsens with a deep breath or coughing
·       Anxiety
·       Coughing up blood
·       Lightheadedness or fainting. If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical help right away.”

How do we protect ourselves from the dangers of blood clots.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gives these suggestions:
·       Be aware of the dangers of DVT and what signs and symptoms may occur.
·       Move your legs often.  “If you’ve been sitting for a long time, get up and stretch your legs.  Extend your legs straight out and flex your ankles (pulling your toes toward you.)  Some airlines suggest pulling your knee up toward the chest and holding it there with your hands on your lower leg for 15 seconds, and then repeat up to 10 times.  These types of activities help to improve the flow of blood in your legs.
·       Talk to your doctor about your risks of DVT and any planned long (more than 4 hr) trips.  Discuss your risks and whether there is anything you should be doing to help prevent DVT.  Would compression stockings (TED hose) help protect you?  Would it be a safe and wise behavior for you to take an aspirin to help protect you from a blood clot?  Talk to your doctor and make a plan for your travel. 
·       Do you take blood thinners?  If so, continue taking as your doctor instructed.  
      More information about DVT and how we can protect ourselves can be found at