That Time I Became a Car Racing Enthusiast

My husband is a car enthusiast. He has been this way since the day I met him 25 years ago. He drove a Plymouth Sundance Turbo with a modified exhaust which made the car sound like a hot rod.
 
He has collected Car and Driver and Motor Trend magazines since 1993, and he knows everything about cars – how they work, how to make them look, sound and drive better, and how to fix them. Horsepower, torque, and stance used to be foreign terms to me, but now they are common household conversation amongst our two sons.  Although my husband can’t remember names of people he has met, he can remember everything about them once he knows the car they drive.
 
Throughout my life, I have been drawn to car enthusiasts. Two of my best friends in medical school were wired the same way – obsessed with cars.  Needless to say, they got along great with my husband. I could not understand the obsession, so I thought it was silly. I was everything but supportive.  
 
My friends finally persuaded my husband to go to the track so that he could drive in a safe manner. They assured me that this would reduce his erratic driving on public highways. It seemed counterintuitive – how could driving on a track with a bunch of testosterone crazed men trying to one-up each other be safe?
 
One day, I finally decided to see what the hype was all about.  I went to a track event in Georgia, only to find that the drivers were considerate and most weren’t there for their ego but to fuel a passion.  The drivers were required to point by to allow a faster driver/vehicle to pass, and the point by’s were mandatory.  
 
Driving on the track isn’t as much about speed as it is finesse.  There is a driving line for the track that you must learn to properly execute each turn safely and efficiently.  Until this is mastered, you cannot increase speed safely.  
 
I took it a step farther and signed up for a track event where I drove.  The atmosphere was exhilarating; hearing the sounds of the race cars, and the visceral sensation of executing each turn properly was intoxicating.  The weekend was full of nonstop excitement.  Even though, I was exhausted from all the focus and adrenaline, I was hooked and signed up for another weekend.  
 
I think I finally understand what all the hype was about.

That Smell!

Breakfast on the griddle, jasmine in the garden, your lover’s favorite perfume – No doubt each of these conjure a particularly pleasing emotion. After all, our sense of smell, more than any of the other senses, is psychologically linked with memory and can have a profound effect on the ways in which we connect with the world around us.
 
Common Reasons for Olfactory Loss
So, imagine for a moment, that you’ve lost your sense of smell. Scary, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-common occurrence. Among the top direct or indirect contributing factors to a partial or full loss of the ability to smell are:
 

  • Nasal obstruction
  • Degenerative nerve disease
  • Exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides or solvents
  • Head and neck cancers and related radiation treatments
  • Chronic respiratory infections
  • Oral disease
  • Radiation therapy
  • Dementia, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s
  • Traumatic head injuries
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Certain medications or drug abuse
  • Advanced age

 
Dangers of Olfactory Loss
Any of these conditions can negatively affect the functionality of not only our olfactory nerve cells (those responsible for your sense of smell) but also your gustatory nerve cells (those responsible for taste). That loss of functionality can affect not only your quality of life, but your safety, and perhaps your very life, as well. For example, the smell of certain gasses, smoke, or spoiled foods can alert us to danger, allowing us to act before it’s too late. And, research on the psychology of smell shows that body odor, produced by the genes which make up our immune system, can help us subconsciously choose our life partners.
 
While most people would report a loss of sight or hearing as a top worry, it’s clear that the loss of smell is a far underestimated misfortune. Fortunately, however, help is available.
 
Treatment Options
If you suspect you’re beginning to lose your sense of smell, a highly-trained otolaryngologist can perform a thorough examination of your head and neck to pinpoint signs of infections, inflammation, or physical obstruction that may be affecting your sense of smell or taste. Treatment options may include prescription or over-the-counter medications, including decongestants or antibiotics, or surgery to remove nasal polyps or other obstructions.
 

5 Most Common Allergy Triggers

Statistics show that some 20 percent of people develop allergies of some sort. Allergic reactions develop when the immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless antigen, resulting in a range of symptoms from sneezing to hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis. While potential allergens are innumerable, there are a few common culprits.
 

  1. Pollen: Multiple varieties of trees, grasses, weeds, and flowers produce pollen that can trigger hay fever or seasonal allergies. Most result in irritating, but non-life-threatening reactions like sneezing, runny nose, and watery or itchy eyes.
  2. Pet Dander: The physical and emotional health benefits of owning a pet are countless, but life with Fido and Fluffy can be tough if you suffer from allergies. That’s because of pet dander, a protein mix secreted in an animal’s skin and saliva that can trigger allergic reactions.
  3. Dust Mites: You can’t see them, but you sure can feel the effects of their presence if you’re prone to allergies. These microscopic buggers live in house dust and feed on pollen, fungi, bacteria, and dead skin that naturally falls from humans and animals daily.
  4. Insect Stings and Bites: Stings and bites by honeybees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, and fire ants can cause mild to severe allergic reactions, including swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, and throat, as well as, difficulty breathing and low blood pressure, itching and hives.
  5. Molds: Multiple types of molds can grow in persistently damp or wet areas, like bathrooms and basements, that lack adequate ventilation.

 
 

 
Other common allergens include certain foods and medications, latex, fragrances, and – believe it or not – cockroaches. Many allergic reactions can be avoided by keeping your home clean and dust-free, using a home air filtration system, changing your air conditioning filters regularly, clearing your home of dust collectors like stuffed animals and certain types of carpet, and bathing your pet regularly.

The Obesity Epidemic

We are in a worldwide crisis, but it is a crisis that we choose to overlook.  No one wants to accept the responsibility because it is an ugly word.  Obesity is a word that brings about feelings of shame, diminished self-worth, and often anger. But we cannot ignore the crisis anymore. Obesity has more than doubled since 1980 and over 69 percent of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. Forty-two million children under the age of five are overweight or obese.
 
Obesity is defined as excessive fat accumulation which can impair your health. The World Health Organization defines obesity as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30.
 
What Is Causing Obesity?
In my specialty, Ear, Nose and Throat, I commonly see patients who believe that they have a condition called hypothyroidism (under active thyroid) that is responsible for their weight gain but usually the thyroid labs are normal. This leaves them wondering why they are gaining weight.
 
Next, they immediately want to see a gynecologist because they believe menopause is the second most likely cause of their weight gain. The implications of poor diet or sedentary lifestyle are not often considered.
 
The sleep apnea patients want to have surgery to “cure” their sleep apnea so that they don’t have to wear their CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine every night.  They are shocked that I can’t guarantee a cure with a BMI of over 40.  
 
Americans need to take an honest inventory of diet and exercise routines to accept responsibility for their lifestyle choices. The American diet consists of highly processed and sugary foods. Obesity can be reduced by increasingly replacing these foods with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.  Fats found in fried foods and oils should be replaced with healthy fats. Regular physical activity of a minimum of 150 minutes per week should be part of the required routine.  Obesity is preventable.  
 
Health Risks of Obesity
Advertising is largely to blame.  We all see commercials to “grab a Coke and a smile” or “fight your hunger with a Snickers”. There are never any sexy television commercials advertising broccoli, carrots, or asparagus!
 
The health risks of obesity include the following:
 

  1. Coronary Heart Disease
  2. High Blood Pressure
  3. Stroke
  4. Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Abnormal Blood Fats – high levels of triglycerides and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Abnormal levels of these blood fats are a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
  6. Metabolic Syndrome – a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke.
  7. Osteoarthritis
  8. Sleep Apnea
  9. Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome (OHS) – breathing disorder that affects some obese people. In OHS, poor breathing results in too much carbon dioxide (hypoventilation) and too little oxygen in the blood (hypoxemia).
  10. Reproductive Problems
  11. Gallstones

 
Our country’s health care burden would be significantly decreased if our nation started being more focused on preventing disease rather than treating it.  “There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.” Arlen Spector

Confessions in a Medical Spa

The number of clients I see in my medical spa increases rapidly from September to December.  Everyone wants to look great for their holiday parties and look amazing when they spend time with family members, ex- husbands and ex-wives.
 
Women Confess “Biggest Secret”
I often hear quite a bit about the lives of my clients and their incentives for keeping up their appearances. Recently, I have had several women confess some of their biggest secrets. “I need to look as good as I can because my husband is over twenty years younger than me!”
 
This was a confession that I don’t hear often. So needless to say, it caught my attention. “Isn’t that stressful?” I asked. “Not at all!” my client replied, “I just need to keep up on my preventative maintenance.”  What was most interesting to me was that my client felt she needed to confess her marriage to a younger man. She wasn’t necessarily ashamed by it, but she felt she needed to confess to avoid being judged.
 
Double Standard Alive and Well
In contrast, my male clients boast about being married to a younger woman. Perhaps society is more accepting of this phenomenon. After all, it is much more common, but it reflects a common double standard in our society.
 
Men tell me that they are attracted to younger women because they are more attractive (aka haven’t let themselves go like women in their age group), and they participate in similar activities. They feel younger women are more compatible with them from an energy and vibrancy standpoint.
 
This doesn’t just apply to women, as I have certainly seen my fair share of men who have completely given up on themselves and on life. So the question is, when will the double standard become extinct? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, isn’t it? And who are we to judge what makes others happy?  
 
Live Your Life
I personally appreciate how honest my clients have been with me over the years, as it has expanded my perspective and changed the way I viewed things in the past.  My personal opinion is that people should be able to live their lives fully in the way they see fit.  The judgment of others is inconsequential.  But I guess I will only know how I really feel if my son brings home a woman twice his age.