Dr. Mauk’s Boomer Blog

/Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog

Each week, Dr. Mauk shares thoughts relevant to Baby Boomers that are aimed to educate and amuse.

Kidney Stone versus Labor – And the Winner is?

I had always heard that kidney stones were the closest thing to labor pain and childbirth that a man could experience, but being a woman who had been through labor four times, I didn’t quite believe it or understand the comparison. That is, until the other day…

I was sitting at the computer writing and felt a pain like a muscle cramp in my right side. But, since I couldn’t recall having done anything strenuous the day before, I just figured I had been sitting too long in one spot. Moving around helped for a brief time until the pain returned, more intense and radiating from the right flank around my side and down to my groin. Hmmm….being a nurse I wondered what this could be so I tried the usual techniques as the pain intensified: Tylenol, the massage chair, walking, lying down, sitting up, and having the kids rub my back. Yikes, the pain that can only be described as an unrelenting, constant hurt of the greatest magnitude, a 12 on the pain scale of 1 – 10, which no positioning or over the counter pain medication can touch had me rolling on the floor and telling the kids to call Dad to come home from work now.

Yes, that was just the beginning of my kidney stone experience. In trying to explain the pain to my husband on the phone, he said I sounded so short of breath that he thought I was having a heart attack and called EMS. When they arrived, the pain had subsided and I was left to diagnose myself with a kidney stone, with which the paramedics agreed. But since the pain was completely gone, did I really need to go to the hospital and in an ambulance no less? On their recommendation, the answer was yes.

In the ER, the IV was started and a CAT scan done to confirm our suspicions. Having no history of kidney stones, I was surprised at this painful attack that came on with no warning at all.

The ER doctor came in to see us and said in a thick accent, “Well, you were right. In 5 – 7 days you will have a special delivery!” he laughed.

I glanced at my husband who had turned white and later told me he thought for a second, “you mean she’s having a baby?!” (which at 53 surely would have been some sort of miracle). My first thought was “5 – 7 days of this pain? Are you kidding me?” How will I survive?

Another painful bout came as I lay on the gurney, and four strong IV medications didn’t completely take away the pain. We were told the pain comes from the spasms of the ureter as the stone blocks the flow of urine and irritates the inflamed tissues. Who could imagine that a 2 mm stone the size of a grain of sand could cause so much discomfort? The word intractable pain had new meaning for me now and I wished I had been more sympathetic to people and patients with kidney stones.

They sent us home with a urine strainer and prescriptions for Flomax and a combination of anti-inflammatories and pain medications. Another attack in the car and all I could do was writhe in pain and pray for relief. My husband kept repeating, “I hope I never get one of those”. It is the type of pain that one would do almost anything to stop but that nothing relieves short of passing the stone.

As I took my pain pills, strained my urine, and drank copious amounts of water to help the delivery along, I had time to reflect on the age old debate of kidney stone pain being akin to labor and childbirth. Having some experience in the childbirth area, I still found no way to compare the two in terms of what hurts more, but here were my reflections:

Labor pains were more predictable and increased with intensity as you moved towards the goal of delivery. Kidney stone pain, on the other hand, was unpredictable and had the most intense pain with every bout.

Doctors can predict when the baby will be delivered by closeness of contractions, and examining cervical dilation and effacement. Kidney stone delivery is much less predictable.
If your baby is too big to be delivered vaginally or there are complications, a C-section can be performed. And if your kidney stone is too big to pass, you may have laser treatment to break up the stones or major surgery to retrieve them. Both can mean painful recoveries.

There are medications they can give you for labor and delivery. You can even get an epidural, which I never had, but am told they can make the experience much less painful. But the kidney stone pain didn’t seem to be completely obliterated by anything short of passing it.

In comparing types of pain, I guess I can see where men would say they come close to labor pain with a kidney stone, but 10 hours of back labor was equally as bad, and having your OB doctor turn your baby internally prior to a natural birth still rates as the #1 pain I have ever had (but at least it was over quickly).

And last, but most significantly, with labor and childbirth you expect and usually earn a wonderful, lasting, happy surprise at the end of the process, where you hold your newborn in your arms and experience the glory of motherhood, quickly forgetting the pain that was endured to have your bundle of joy. Whereas, at the end of your kidney stone passing, you collect a little grain of something that goes into a plastic container for the urologist to later analyze and you can’t believe how much that little devil hurt to get out. You may experience relief and joy at the passing, but there are lifestyle modifications to make to try to avoid it ever happening again, and still without the assurance that it can be prevented, so unlike the conception process. Who, having had one kidney stone, would ever make plans to have another?

Fortunately, my stone did not take 7 days to pass and was gleefully collected in a matter of hours.

So, my answer to the question of which is more painful, a kidney stone or labor and delivery, is a simple one: they cannot be compared. It’s like apples and oranges. Different types of pain, but both extremely intense, though the kidney stone is much more unpleasant because the outcome is not a lasting joy for the rest of your life. Since every person experiences pain differently, no one could really answer this question anyway because pain is a subjective experience.

For me, given the choice between labor and a kidney stone, I pick labor. Childbirth is definitely more fun and with rewards that last a lifetime.

By |2019-11-18T13:15:25-05:00November 27th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Kidney Stone versus Labor – And the Winner is?

Pets Provide Significant Health Benefits

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Pets Provide Significant Health Benefits By Rachel Blankmeyer, DVM

Some of our closest companions, especially as we age, are our four-legged friends. The human-animal bond provides many benefits to people who may otherwise be isolated due to emotional, behavioral, or physical problems. Research shows several health benefits of pet ownership for older adults, including lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels. A study by Friedmann & Thomas in 1995 showed that pet ownership actually resulted in increased survival rates after a heart attack. Other studies have shown that pets may provide social support similar to that of a family member for older adults. Consider additional general health benefits such as weight control and stress reduction, and pet ownership seems like a win-win situation!

You may have heard of the Alzheimer’s patient study performed by Edwards & Beck in 2002, where persons with Alzheimer’s disease observed a facility fish tank and demonstrated improved relaxation, alertness, and eating habits. This is a huge deal for patients dealing with dementia because at least 50% experience weight loss, increasing the mortality rate and progression of disease. Stroke survivors may also specifically benefit from animal companionship through improved communication, dexterity, mobility and balance. As a veterinarian, I may be biased, but the facts don’t lie: animals help all of us have a more active daily life, and can enrich our lives emotionally! So, consider the cost-benefit ratio:

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Adopting your new forever friend from your local shelter…$35
Pet food for one month…$10
Years of companionship and improved health…priceless.

By |2019-11-18T13:13:48-05:00November 26th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Pets Provide Significant Health Benefits

Guest Post: 5 Things to Do If You Fall

Not only are 1 out of 4 seniors experiencing a fall each year, but new data shows that more seniors are dying from falls than were a decade ago. While you can absolutely take steps to help prevent falls like decluttering pathways in your house, installing grab bars and safety rails around the bathroom and stairs, utilizing mobility tools and orthopedic aids, and exercising regularly to maintain balance and coordination, it is also critical that seniors and their caregivers know what to do in the event of a fall.

Keep these important steps in mind to limit injuries and prevent critical complications if you fall:

1. Check for injuries – when you fall, you may know right away if you have hurt yourself. Pain, discomfort, swelling, blood, and bruising will signal that there is an injury. Sometimes, however, you may not see or feel any of these symptoms immediately because your adrenaline is rushing or you are confused or disoriented.

It is key that you take a few minutes to calm your breathing and get back in touch with your body. Slowly move your feet, legs, arms, and hands. Do not attempt getting back up if you are dizzy.

2. Roll onto your side – this will allow you to rest briefly and double check you are not injured.

3. Pull yourself up onto your knees and hands – from this position you can crawl to a nearby piece of sturdy furniture or stairs on which you can pull yourself up.

4. Support your weight with your hands – place one hand at a time on a flat surface of the piece of furniture and lift your strongest leg up so your knee is bent and your foot is pressed to the floor.

5. Slowly rise to your feet – using your arms and legs, push up slowly bringing both your feet under you to stand up. Find something to sit on nearby, i.e. a chair, to rest and catch your breath.

If you are unable to get up after a fall, call for help right away. If no one is with you but you are able to safely use your mobile phone, call 911 for help. Any potential injury to your neck, spine, or internal organs does require immediate attention so it is absolutely ok to call emergency services for help.

If you fall and are both by yourself and without a phone or medical alert device, on the other hand, keep calling out for help as your energy allows, banging on a nearby wall if reachable, and keep your body moving, even if only slightly, to stay warm.

 

 

 

By |2019-11-18T13:13:34-05:00November 25th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Post: 5 Things to Do If You Fall

Guest Blog: 10 Signs Your Aging Loved One Needs Support at Home

It can be difficult to see your parent or relative age. At one time, he could do anything. Now, it seems as though age has gotten the best of him. If you’ve seen changes in your loved one due to age, he may need extra help at home. The following are some of the most common signs of someone who is in need of a nurse or senior caregiver.

#1: Unkempt Home
If there has been a drastic change in the way that your loved one keeps his home that may be a sign he lacks the energy or physical ability to pick up and clean. Extra support at home can ensure that your loved one lives in a healthy, safe environment.

#2: Missed Medications
Forgetfulness is common in older individuals. Missing medications can lead to withdrawal and the return of symptoms of medical problems. It can lead to more serious problems as well – stroke, heart attack, etc. Help at home can remind your loved one to take medications as prescribed.

#3: Missed or Canceled Medical Appointments
Forgetfulness and the inability to drive to appointments can lead to failing health. A senior care worker can provide transportation and encouragement to attend all medical appointments.

#4: Body Odor
Just as cleaning and picking up the home can be physically demanding, taking a shower or bath is too. With someone in the home, your loved one can get the assistance needed to get into the shower and out of it to keep him clean and feeling refreshed.

#5: Sudden Change in Weight
Medical problems can cause lost pounds, but not being able to cook healthy meals can be the reason as well. Since it can be difficult to cook when feeling tired or lacking energy, someone in the home can make sure that he has meals ready or set up a meal program that gets food delivered on a schedule.

#6: Problems with Mobility
Balance and walking can be hard as people age, and this can lead to falls causing serious injuries. Help with completing daily tasks can reduce the risk of falls.

#7: Confusion or Uncertainty
This can cause a lot of distress for your loved one. Have someone there to lend an ear or explain something that doesn’t make much sense can calm the anxiety of your loved one to improve his quality of life.

#8: Depression
Losing interests in hobbies or activities he used to enjoy could be a sign of depression that can lead to many other problems. Having a caregiver provide support and encouragement can help your loved one feel better or get the mental health he needs.

#9: Mail Piling Up or Unpaid Bills
It can be easy to forget to pay a bill from time to time, but if it becomes a habit, it might be a good idea to have someone help with going through mail and managing bills. This is one of the services that senior care workers provide in addition to helping with other daily tasks.

#10: Diagnosis of an Age-Related Medical Problem
Alzheimer’s or dementia can cause a loved one to forget or engage in risky behaviors. Having someone by your loved one’s side most of the day can help minimize the risk of him hurting himself.

Your parent or relative may have taken care of you for many years. Now, it’s your turn to care for him. Home care can help you do that. Look into the many options available if your loved one exhibits any of these symptoms.

About the Author:
Kendall Van Blarcom is a licensed marriage and family therapist providing personal consulting to seniors who need someone to talk with to improve the quality of their lives. More information can be found about personal consulting at http://www.kvanb.com.

By |2019-11-18T13:14:36-05:00November 24th, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Guest Blog: 10 Signs Your Aging Loved One Needs Support at Home

Be informed about Stroke

Consider these facts about stroke from the American Stroke Association (2013): Be informed about stroke.

• Nearly 800,000 Americans annually suffer a new or recurrent stroke.
• A stroke occurs about once every 40 seconds. About every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke.
• Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 137,000 people a year.
• Risk of stroke death is higher for African American males and females than for whites. Females have a higher rate of death from stroke than males.
• In 2010, Americans paid about $73.7 billion for stroke-related medical costs and disability.

Stroke is simply defined as an interruption of the blood supply to the brain. It is most often caused by a clot that either originated in the brain or traveled from another part of the body. Warning signs of stroke include (National Stroke Association, 2013):
• Sudden weakness or paralysis, usually on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion, speaking or understanding
• Sudden changes in vision
• Sudden dizziness, incoordination, or trouble walking
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you or someone you love experiences any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Do not delay. New medical treatments may be able to reverse the effects of stroke, but time is critical. Note the time that the symptoms started so that you can inform the medical professionals who are providing treatment.
The effects of stroke depend on the area of the brain that is damaged. Some common results of stroke are weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, difficulty walking or dressing oneself, aphasia, trouble eating or swallowing, bowel and bladder changes, cognitive changes such as memory problems, and emotional issues such as depression and mood swings. Stroke affects the entire family, so be sure to seek out resources and support in your community if a stroke has touched your family.

For stroke survivors, treatment in an acute rehabilitation facility with an interdisciplinary team approach is highly recommended and results in more positive outcomes. The rehabilitation team works together with the survivor and family to accomplish personal goals and achieve the highest level of function possible. Although some of the effects of stroke may be long-lasting or permanent, there is hope of continued progress and good quality of life after stroke.

By |2019-11-18T13:14:17-05:00November 23rd, 2019|Dr. Mauk's Boomer Blog, News Posts|Comments Off on Be informed about Stroke