Archive for the ‘Health’ Category:

2016 Done.

March 4th, 2017

2016 was one helluva year. I endured pain, worked a lot, but I still had my share fun and adventure. Outside of me, it was an election year in the US, which does not need any more mention – i think we’ve all had our fill of politics. We also lost some great musicians – David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael – and I’m grateful for their music and artistry. But you know about that. Let me fill you in on me.

The pain I referred to was due to a pinched nerve I got in early January – it was unlike anything I ever experienced, and taught me humility, patience, and how to really endure pain. The first few days were the worst, couldn’t sleep, crying every day, not knowing what to do. But after talking to some doctor friends, I ended up seeing a physiatrist, aka Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, who eventually diagnosed me with a herniated disc and pinched nerve at C7 vertebrae. 3 ESI’s and a couple months later, I was almost back to normal, so then I focused on getting back in shape. I saw a physical therapist from May to July, with the goal of rehabilitation and preventative maintenance. Well, rehabilitation was quick, but preventative maintenance is a tricky one.  Sometime in august my shoulder was hurting and I stopped almost all the exercises I learned, since they all involved my shoulder. I still could do long runs, and that continues to be a nice stress reliever, but my back and shoulders still cause me trouble. Today my issues are manageable, I’ve learned the power of controlled breathing, and am thankful everytime I’m able to pick up a bag of groceries without pain.  I often think about what my grandparents used to always say when someone complained about this or that – “well, at least you got your health”.

In terms of our New house, things are pretty much settled – but not done, things are never done. It’s been 2.5 years since we bought it. The first year we spent lots of time fixing things up, but we ended up only doing essentials off our huge wishlist. Like most things, we prefer to spend our time and money on other priorities. Nonetheless, some of the essential house fixin’ included electrical work (3 different electricians), maintenance on boiler and radiators (main floor), maintenance on HVAC (upstairs forced air AC + Heat), tuckpointing ($7k to fix outside brick walls) and basement work. We are also lucky to have a handyman friend, B-Dub, work on a bunch of random things throughout the house. One of the most important things to me was getting the basement into a place I liked. When we bought the house, the wife and I agreed the basement would be mine to customize, she calls it my man cave. Like most basements, it doesn’t have nice wood floors, high ceilings, fancy wood trim. What it does have is my complete control. A place i can leave as a work-in-progress, pause and resume at will. Last year i set up the basics so i can do work – lighting, tables, shelves, desk – a place to put everything. This year i made it mine – got my leather chair, sofa, big tv, nice speakers, a subwoofer, and a mixer – a place I can unwind after work, let music wash over me, or binge-watch netflix, amazon, or plex.

Speaking of music, my life has been full of changes, but one thing that has not changed is my love for music. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, friends, wife, my work, other hobbies .. but music is .. like my best friend. Listening to the right song when i feel a certain way is like home. And I strayed from music for a few years, not spending much time alone with it. I still enjoyed seeing shows, listening while commuting, at the gym, or just background music while doing other things. But spending time alone with music is special. Finding new music, carefully listening and appreciating it, forming opinions, making playlists, sharing with others. I still want to spend more time here (or hear, punny), finding new gems, getting to know my old favorites again, making playlists so i can easily listen wherever i go. This is the year I feel like music made a comeback for me. And for now, I give thanks.

Now to expand on the fun and adventure. The wife and I hit the beach in January, as we do most winters in chicago, but this year we did an all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic. We were lucky to be next door to a Pearl Beach Club, a brand new club on the beach with serious sound system – you know I love me some good loud house music. The wife and I also had one more getaway – a nice long weekend in Michigan in October – hot tubs and airbnb! In March, September, and NYE, I visited my family down south – really enjoyed camping on Cumberland Island. In early June I made it out to California to visit friends and get some mountain time – hiking in tahoe was very healing for me, as was seeing my old friends and honoring Jeffrey on bike and brew ride. Additionally, there was countless BYOB Supper club dinners, Freakeasy parties (DLC tribute to Prince!), and, like every year in Chicago, summer was a non-stop fun factory of concerts, street festivals, biking in shorts, and hanging out with old and new friends. Now that I think about it, I had had a lot of fun in 2016.

So to sum up, I will always think of 2016 as the year I had my herniated disc. And there were other things that were not so fun. But its important to “Count your blessings” (as Mama used to say), and after writing this I realize I am lucky and blessed to have time and ability to continue doing the fun things I’ve always enjoyed. 2016, I thank you. Good day, sir.

I said, Good Day.

Weight, Obesity, and BMI

April 25th, 2008

Did you know 1 out of 3 Americans is obese? 2 out of 3 are overweight? Yep, according to a 2007 CDC study. And according to a 2007 worldwide study, 40% of adults are overweight, with 25% being obese. Holy crap. More people are obese than underweight worldwide (WHO 2000). And don’t forget the childrens – 15% of those ages 6-19 are overweight according to 2000 CDC data, triple what it was in 1980 (more stats).

But how much do you have to weigh to be considered obese? Well, you are considered obese if you have a BMI greater than 30, and overweight if its greater than 25.

What is BMI? Body Mass Index. It’s the most popular, accurate way (heh, way, pun) to measure obesity (sort of). It’s a simple formula based on your weight (lbs or kg) and height (inches or meters). According to CDC, the BMI formula is 703 x (lbs) / (inches^2), or if you are from metric land, its just weight (kg) / [height (m)]2. For me, I have a 23.7 BMI, thats 703 x 175 lbs / (72 inches)^2 = 23.7, or 79.4 kg / (1.83 meters)^2 = 23.7 in metric talk. Heres my BMI results from this BMI Calculator, which gives you a nice chart like this:

BMI Weight Range (6′ tall) Weight Status
18.4 and Below 135.7 lbs and Below Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 136.4 – 183.6 lbs Normal
25.0 – 29.9 184.4 – 220.5 lbs Overweight
30.0 – 34.9 221.2 – 257.4 lbs Obese (moderate)
35.0 – 39.9 258.1 – 294.2 lbs Obese (severe)
40.0 and Above 295.0 lbs and Above Obese (very severe)

If you’re 20 years or older, its the same for men and women. Here’s a BMI Calculator for those under 20. If you ain’t feeling this math or the BMI thing, don’t worry – I crunched the numbers and made this reference chart.

Weight Chart, Over 20 years old

Height Normal Weight Range Obese
5 ft, 0 inches 94.7 – 127.7 lbs 153.3 or more
5 ft, 1 inches 97.9 – 132.0 lbs 158.5 or more
5 ft, 2 inches 101.1 – 136.4 lbs 163.7 or more
5 ft, 3 inches 104.4 – 140.8 lbs 169.0 or more
5 ft, 4 inches 107.7 – 145.3 lbs 174.5 or more
5 ft, 5 inches 111.1 – 149.9 lbs 179.9 or more
5 ft, 6 inches 114.6 – 154.5 lbs 185.5 or more
5 ft, 7 inches 118.1 – 159.3 lbs 191.2 or more
5 ft, 8 inches 121.6 – 164.1 lbs 196.9 or more
5 ft, 9 inches 125.2 – 168.9 lbs 202.8 or more
5 ft, 10 inches 128.9 – 173.8 lbs 208.7 or more
5 ft, 11 inches 132.6 – 178.9 lbs 214.7 or more
6 ft, 0 inches 136.4 – 183.9 lbs 220.8 or more
6 ft, 1 inches 140.2 – 189.1 lbs 227.0 or more
6 ft, 2 inches 144.1 – 194.3 lbs 233.2 or more
6 ft, 3 inches 148.0 – 199.6 lbs 239.6 or more
6 ft, 4 inches 152.0 – 204.9 lbs 246.0 or more
6 ft, 5 inches 156.0 – 210.4 lbs 252.5 or more
6 ft, 6 inches 160.1 – 215.9 lbs 259.1 or more
6 ft, 7 inches 164.2 – 221.4 lbs 265.8 or more
6 ft, 8 inches 168.4 – 227.1 lbs 272.6 or more


I’m not sure I trust CDC entirely. This 2006 CDC study said no change in American obesity since 2003-2004. But by their own numbers, obesity went up 2% overall, almost a 7% increase (males up 7.1% from 31.1% to 33.3%, females up 6.3% from 33.2% to 35.3%). At that rate the number of obese people will more than double in 11 years. Yes, no-increase means double in 11 years. Hello? Is this the new Bush-Era Science?

Fiber Cereal

February 21st, 2008

I never would have guessed it 10 years ago, but i love me some high fiber cereal. Don’t get me wrong, bacon is still king, but 4-5 times a week i have the following breakfast: Non-fat Yogurt, high-fiber cereal, and dried fruit (I prefer Trader Joe’s dried berry medley of blueberries, strawberries, and cherries). No really, it tastes great .. and gives me energy all morning.

Here’s some cereals i considered (popular fiber and ones i buy), ranked by percent fiber, grams per serving [grams protein]

  1. 50% fiber – 13g per 26g (1/2 cup) [3g] All-Bran w/ extra fiber
  2. 47% fiber – 14g per 30g (1/2 cup) [2g] Fiber One
  3. 43% fiber – 12.9g per 30g (1/3 cup) [2g] Bran Buds
  4. 41% fiber – 13g per 32g (2/3 cup) [3g] Organic Smart Bran
  5. 19% fiber – 10g per 52g (1 cup) [13g] Kashi GoLean
  6. 18% fiber – 10g per 55g (1 cup) [8g] Optimum Power
  7. 13% fiber 7.7g per 59g (1 cup) [4.7g] Post Raisin Bran
  8. 9% fiber – 5g per 58g (1cup) [6g] Grape Nuts

As you noticed, i slipped in grams of protein, too, cuz, that sorta matters. Other things matter too, such as organic/health ingredients. Thats why i eat Smart Bran by Nature’s Path. I just don’t trust those big companies .. i mean, really General Mills, who wants aspartame, aka sweet-n-low, in their fiber one? More Fiber Cereals by CNN.

Why high-fiber? Initially I did it cuz i had a great uncle that had colon cancer. But as it turns out, those old studies were .. not accurate. Recent studies show no link between fiber-diet and colon cancer (src), but maybe (src). However, high-fiber diet is great for many other things – for lowering cholersterol (which my family also has high amounts of), preventing heart disease, preventing type 2 diabetes, and relieving constipation. On average, males age 14-50 need 38g of fiber a day, females 9-50 need 25g per day (src).

So what other foods have high fiber? apples, prunes, dark green vegies like broccoli, spinach, and … beans – the big winner. But during my research, i found some disparity in how much fiber was in, say, baked beans. For example, here’s a list of grams of fiber per 1 cup baked beans:


Health Insurance 2007

December 18th, 2007

Over a year ago i talked about getting health insurance. As I discussed in that blog, I ended up with Blue Cross PPO. Over thanksgiving health insurance was being discussed, this time with my sister and her family, and decided I should re-survey the landscape. Especially since Blue Cross jacked the price in March 2007 from $127/month to $170/month.

This time I went with Blue Shield’s PPO 4000 plan. Basically its $96/month for $4,000 deductible. Once deductible is met, Blue Shield covers pretty much everything, as long as i see in-network doctors. But until deductible is met, i pay for everything myself except regular doctor check-ups, which are $35. Of course, you never know if everything is really covered. Once again, thanks to eHealthInsurance for making it easy to find and apply for my current plan.

Vaccinations and India blog

January 30th, 2007

I almost forgot i have a 2004 blog of my India trip (now on It contains many long entries and fun picturs, but most importantly a list of vaccinations i got in 2004. Hurray. I checked with the CDC for the latest, and there were no vaccinations required, but several recommended for Australia/NZ, Southeast Asia, India, and Europe. The CDC’s yellow book is useful, and here’s a nice tip from it – dengue and mosquitos are one of the biggest problems, and applying insect repellent with Permethrin or DEET to skin and clothes is good advice, especially after dawn and before dusk, and around still water where rain might collect.

I went back to Overseas Medical Clinic in San Francisco (415-982-8380 49 Drumm St., 1-4p walk-ins). I love that place – they are so the opposite of every other doctor office – they specialize in shots, so are very knowledgable about what you need. I got a Hep A shot ($100), which lasts 12 months, and if i take another in 12 months, that will last 10 years. Here’s my previous shots from 2004 that are still valid – Oral Typhoid (5 yrs), Diptheria-Tetanus (10 yrs), Polio (10 yrs). She also gave me a prescription for Malarone, an anti-malaria pill. She suggested buying them in Bangkok ‘cuz they are way cheaper than here. Malarone is a daily pill, but there’s also a weekly pill called Lariam but that one drives people a little crazy.

I’m ready. Bring it on, ASIA.

Donate Blood

October 18th, 2006

Ever since i was 18, I’ve been donating blood. Mainly I do it because people need blood (number one reason people give for donating), but also because i find the process very interesting. In the last few years i’ve been doing apheresis, which is a longer but more helpful process. Instead of just taking one pint of whole blood, they taking out your blood, processing it, then putting it back in every 5-10 mins for about 2 hours. Thats right, they recycle your own blood back in ya. The machine also includes a little something in the returning blood to prevent coagulation – it makes your lips an mouth area tingle and feel cold. Whoa, trippy !! Basically the red blood cells are the limiting factor and they are only extracted at the end of apheresis. Here’s a little more why its good to do apheresis instead of doing the regular whole blood donation:

“After you donate whole blood, the unit is separated into platelets, red cells and plasma in our laboratory. Only two tablespoons of platelets are collected from a whole blood donation. Six whole blood donations must be separated and pooled to provide a single platelet transfusion. However, one apheresis donation provides enough platelets for one complete transfusion — that’s six times the amount collected from a whole blood donation.” –

On the business tip, I donate at Blood Centers of the Pacific Irwin Center, mainly because it is convenient. They are owned by United Blood Services, a non-profit organization covering 18 states and 500 hospitals. 2nd largest in the country, They had $434 million in operational revenue yielding $28 million in operational income in 2005. $100 million was spent on blood collecting and testing supplies, $170 mil on wages. Very interesting.

Why is blood red ?? Its the Hemoglobin !! “Hemoglobin is a protein that contains iron. It carries oxygen to the body tissues and gives blood its red color.” By the way, my blood type is A-, and 44% of US peeps can use my blood. What’s your blood type?

Health Insurance

September 25th, 2006

Yeah, I’m insured !! Took me a couple months to sit down and decide what to do, but i finally did it a couple weeks ago and today i got my insurance card in the mail. Hurray. For the record, I spent a half day doing it – reading up on stuff, picking a plan, and applying. For a single healthy guy like me, it wasn’t that hard. Plans start around $60/month and go up past $400/month. There are also tons of sites that let you compare different plans, form the major players to smaller insurance companies. I liked the best – i applied on 9/7, they sent me email a week later saying i was approved, and got my card a week after that.

The plan i picked is the “PPO Share 2500” plan from Blue Cross of California. For me, thats about $127/month (price is based on location, age, and deductible – see the PDF). That’s a $2,500 deductible, with a $7,500 out-of-pocket limit, $35 copay for doctor visits, $10 copay for generic drugs, and a 30% coinsurance for most other things. That means after i’ve spent $2,500 of my hard-earned cash, Insurance will start to cover 70% of the bill on most things till i’ve spent $7,500, and then they should cover it all. Well, let’s hope so – there’s lots of fine print, not to mention blue cross is shady

Note that this does not include dental or vision – dental was about an extra $30/month, not sure what VSP would have been. I just saw dentist and eye doctor in the spring, i figure i could go a little bit without those. After all, i’m really just getting insurance for catastrophic things that might cost $100,000 or more to fix – i’m not really interested in having insurance pay for little things like teeth cleaning or another pair of glasses. Now I can go do dangerous things like burningman and hike half dome .. oh wait, i already did that.

My Back

July 1st, 2006

My back has always been a pain in my ass (heh). Well, a few weeks ago in Atlanta, i got a pain in my shoulder so bad that i couldn’t lay down, take deep breaths, or even eat a full meal without pain. So I went to my mom’s orthospinologist, Dr. Parkerson in Atlanta. He took some x-rays and then told me the good news and bad news: The good news was that he found a problem that prolly caused my pain. The bad news was that my vertebrae were messed up. He told me lots of numbers, like my C1 was tilted 8 degrees to the right, but basically i was twice as bad as his average patient. He couldn’t tell me how long I’ve been that way – could have been since april when i took a bad fall while snowboarding, or as far back as when i was 8 years old and broke my collarbone. He made some adjustments, and i got better, but still far from where i need to be. Once i got back to SF i started seeing an orthospinologist here, Dr. Christina Meakim. They tell their patients they must come in about 1-2 times a week till the adjustments “hold”, usually about a month. The adjustments are very well placed, but light, and can easily be undone by jarring activities (like wrestling, heh). Although not as bad as that first pain in atlanta, i still get backaches when i sleep for just 7 hours – and i wake up tired. I feel like i’m definitely slowing down, so i finally decided i want to focus on fixing this thing once and for all. That means see her 1-2 times a week, take it easy, and not do any traveling for more than a week. Sigh. My summer trip to asia is now postponed till fall .. or longer. If this works, and my back is fixed, i cannot tell you how happy i’ll be. Booyakasha.