Category Archives: Health

3 Year olds Prefer McDonald’s

Time Magazine is reporting a new study by Stanford researchers that states that kids age 3-5 statistically prefer a hamburger when it appears in a McDonald’s wrapper versus the exact same hamburger when it appears in plain packaging. Time’s argument goes that more regulation is required to protect children from the influence of corporate advertising.

On average, 48% of the kids said they preferred the taste of the McDonald’s labeled hamburger, compared with 37% who preferred the unmarked burger; 59% liked the McDonald’s branded chicken nuggets compared with 18% for the unbranded nuggets, and 77% said the French fries in the bag stamped with the McDonald’s arches and a smile tasted better than the fries from a plain white bag.

I do not doubt any of the Stanford study’s findings, and I do agree that children deserve extra protection from advertising’s influence. However, it’s not just the kids who are being influenced. I’m willing to bet that if you duplicated this study against any demographic having a positive or neutral impression of McDonald’s, McDonald’s will always beat the the plain packaging.

In Chapter 5 of Blink, Macolm Gladwell recounts brand marketers’ experimentations with packaging for margarine, soft drinks, and brandy and how the right package boosts perceived quality of the actual food items:

Cheskin was convinced that when people give and assessment of something they might buy in a supermarket or a department store, without realizing it, they transfer sensations or impressions that they have about the packaging of the product to the product itself… The product is the package and the product combined.

Advertising is about spinning a story, selling a dream, or appealing to our natural urges. For kids and parents alike, these are areas of great susceptibility.

Depression, Rage, Death: cost of WWE wrestling

I don’t follow fake wrestling or its history, but Kevin Hench of Fox Sports chronicles pro wrestling’s far too lengthy history of tragic endings. I believe I counted 20 wrestler deaths (not including Chris Benoit’s family) that Hench documented since 1984. With the exception of a few accidents, almost all of the deaths were overdose, suicide, or premature heart attack.

Once the tabloid journalism dies down, I will be highly surprised if we don’t see more debate around the issues Kevin Hench raises.

Dean Karnazes 24 Hour Endurance Run: Live 6/21/07

Accelerade, a sports drink that has been sold for years in specialty running and cycling shops, is having its coming out party. As part of the promotion, Accelerade has ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes attempting to break record for most miles run on a hamster wheel in 24 hours. You can view the event live today Accelerade’s website.

Personally, I think riding a 24 hour mountain bike race gets monotonous enough, riding the same lap over and over. I can’t even imagine how grueling (and incredibly boring) it must be to run indoors on a treadmil.

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Broken legs and prohibition.

So I can’t do anything. I just found out I’m not supposed to be consuming any alcohol, as it may impede bone healing. I read it online from a British medical study, and Barbara (Dr. Pike’s surgical assistant) corroborated it. She explained to me that alcohol thins my blood, which lessens the effects of bone laying down a new matrix for bone growth.

Then it occurs to me. I’m taking aspirin for the expressed purpose of thinning my blood to prevent clots. And thinning is good. But I can’t drink beer because it thins my blood, therefore thinning is now bad. Huh?

So I repeat the above out loud to Barbara as I weigh my dilemma and propose the following: why don’t I lay off the aspirin and instead drink the beer.

Javaun's Dilemma

I don’t get an affirmative from Barb. I’ve had my share of chemistry, biology, biochem, what have you, so this seemed plausible.

So let’s review what you CAN’T do with a broken leg:

  • Can’t drink beer.
  • Can’t ride a bike.
  • Jen is out of town so I can’t… hang out with Jen.

Anyone have any ideas? I don’t have cable. What do normal people do to kill time?

Day 2: On my own with a broken ankle

I thought I’d be fine on my own, once both Jen and my parents had left. I’m managing, but I grossly underestimated how hard it would be to take care of myself. I’m learning how difficult it must be for individuals with permanent disabilities to perform the same tasks we all take for granted. This world is really not designed with them in mind, and I can’t even imagine what it’s like in other countries that don’t ADA.

My parents and Jen did their best to help anticipate a lot of of the big recurring obstacles. I’m pretty much relegated to the couch, and to carry something back with me, I either have to hop/crutch and give up one hand, or throw the thing at the couch. The “throw” method works great with pillows or books and not so great with hot tea. My parents found some wheeled tables at the goodwill, and Jen tied a rope to it. I can push/drag stuff from one room to another with this.

My cart for transporting stuff from one room to another. 

The bathing dilemma I’d solved myself. I have a garbage bag over my cast, with a towel wrapped right under the opening and a band of surgical tubing to tie it shut.

Still, there’s a bunch of small tasks you never think about. I’m learning the basics — hopping, carrying stuff, balancing, — and my right leg is getting really strong. I’m actually a whiz with the crutches. I got the technique quickly, but now even my muscles have adapted. I use mostly core muscles — chest, lats, back — rather than arms, and I don’t fatigue easily.

It took me 40 minutes to prep the kitchen and make a salad yesterday. Next time I fill the cat’s water bowl, I’ll bring the water to the dish rather than hop with a full bowl. Cleaning up cat barf is another unpredictable event, and she’s not always considerate with her choice of locations.

All in all, yesterday was tough, and I was really grouchy. I cursed loudly and repeatedly and will be embarrassed when I next see the neighbors.

This past week, I was really bad about myself. I’m mostly confined indoors, I can only get up for short periods of time, and I’ve had people waiting on me hand and foot. I’m going to be like this for 2 more months, and I can’t (I thought at the time) even take care of myself.

What I’m learning is that I can take care of myself. Everything takes much, much longer, and you really have to learn to do everything all over again. But I’m getting much faster now that I have the basic learning curve. And it’s really, really satisfying now that I’m making some progress. So I can take care of myself, which is making me feel independent again.

The tough part continues to be restraining myself from doing too much and letting my leg heal.

Broken Leg Academy of Martial Arts Presents…

Don’t miss  Broken Leg Academy’s Upcoming Seminar!

We will reveal all secrets to mystifying techniques and attacks in all positions and situations, including:

  • “Sit on the couch position”: Sit motionless 10 hours a day without killing yourself!
  • One legged pee stance: learn how to go to the bathroom like Mr. Miyagi!
  • Vocal commands: ask your wife/parents to bring you things in an authoritative manner!
  • Knitting: Knit one, pearl two. Learn the ancient art of sweater fabrication, since you really can’t do anything else…

I got a call tonight from Brett at Tiger Academy. I do miss my jiu-jitsu buddies a ton. I can’t replace the training anywhere, and mostly I can’t replace those people.

Keep your hands up

Also found out that Jeremiah’s fight can be viewed here.

Hospitals and the strangers you meet.

I was first on deck at Northside, which everyone tells me is an absolute blessing. It sure didn’t feel like one when I got up at 4:30. Nonetheless, I’m not dependent on anyone else’s surgery schedule, so I was basically assured to be first in, first out, and on the road before rush hour traffic.

I was given a few options for anesthesiology, and I always opt for the least invasive method. I truly believe the recovery from the drugs is often worse than the procedure. In this case, I received an epidural injection, a popliteal block (a block on the nerve behind my knee), and some sedation so that I would shut up during the surgery. I did drift in and out during the procedure, and I distinctly remember hearing the doctor ask for a scalpel, then ask about his drill. I mostly remember not really caring.

recovering from talus surgery 

I spent an hour or so in a shared recovery room looking to my left, right, and across at the other patients. I’d had a relatively uninvasive procedure and hoped they were so lucky. I saw one woman wheeled in unconscious. She looked to be in terrible shape, but I realized she was still out. I heard faint muttering from the nurses of a masectomy. I couldn’t help but feel terrible for this woman and sincerely hoped she’d make a full recovery. I later learned that Jen had been in the waiting room conversing with two women. These were the same two we encountered at 5:30 am and had them witness my living will; I was so rushed to get all my paperwork signed, I’d barely had a chance to read any of it, nor to share more than the most basic smalltalk with these two who were signing a document that said the hospital must legally deprive me of food and water should I fall into a persistent vegetative state.

Jen had talked with these two at great length. She said their mother was back in the hospital for treatment of cancer that had spread into her lungs. I mentioned that I’d heard something about a masectomy, and Jen confirmed that the woman had fought breast cancer and was now seeing a relapse. How terrible I now felt. These two women had been so seemingly concerned when I told them I was in for ankle surgery. How foolish I now felt.

The hospital staff was excellent, and I was finally moved to a room. Our nurse was great, and it turned out her husband was a local cyclist for a rival team. We talked at length about healthcare, cycling, hobbies, and I received more than one lecture on how to and how not to rehab my ankle.  There was also a list of criteria I’d have to meet before going home, including having the epidural wear off so that I could bear weight on my other leg, as well as demonstrating the ability to eat and pee. 

beef stew 
I opted for the “surprise” plate and requested no red meat. They sent beef stew.

I talked quite a bit with the nurse while Jen ran out to get Percoset, aspirin, and some gas. Our nurse is a traveling nurse like my friend Erick, meaning she can pretty much get a job in any city. She’s on for three 12 hour days and then off for 4. She has a 2 year old and a husband who is recovering from being hit by an SUV. She went into nursing because she loves people, which was clear to me. I’d told her how I thought I received excellent care from all the physicians, who were no doubt experts in their field. But I realized that I really couldn’t have ever been one, because they don’t have the time to spend more than a few minutes with their patients.

T-minus 15 hours…

Had my pre-op with the doctor today. He corroborated my expert read of the CT and my talus is still broken. He did say that there was evidence that the bone and cartilage are still actively trying to heal — they won’t be able to — but that means my body is still trying. Good news for the impending operation.

I’m scheduled at 7:30 tomorrow. My doc did his undergrad and med school at Michigan. I also found out they call the main hospital the “big house”. Interesting.

I’m ecstatic with my choice of a surgeon. He’s definitely a scientist. He’s meticulous with the details, and extremely well-read. So I have the left brain covered. He’s also left-handed, so apparently I have the right brain covered as well. I’ve heard from 2 different medical professionals that he’s obsessive in the details. One of the top guys in Atlanta says that he’s seen the best results from my doc… Here we go.

Javaun’s rant on healthcare

I wore an ankle boot for 6 weeks, and so I wasn’t about to undergo surgery without seeing if it had done me any good. I had my second CT scan yesterday. It’s really quite an amazing process. You spend 20 minutes in the waiting room, fill out paper for 10 minutes, then go back to the on-deck circle for 10 more minutes. Then they bring you into the room, put you on the table, and then align you and scan you in less than 3 minutes.

While an MRI is the gold standard for soft-tissue imaging, CT is the gold standard for bones. A fracture like mine, that is almost invisible on an X-ray (the first doc didn’t see it on the first four X-rays, the second caught it on the 7th or 8th) is clear as day on a CT. I didn’t have doubts about going in on Friday, but if I did, the CT was clear enough: I’m not getting better.

So obviously this technology is pretty cool, but not everyone gets to have it. The actual scan I had was complete in about 45 seconds. If you walk in off the street, the going rate is about $1500. If you have any insurance that is in network — including the terrible “open access” HRA I have — the in-network discount is about $1200, which brings the cost down to under $300. Even if I pay out of my own pocket (which I will probably have to, but many people don’t) it’s quite affordable. Now, if you’re a poor person without insurance, at $1500 the cost is 5 times higher. This is a diagnostic, often preventative measure. Who decided that people that can’t afford insurance should have to pay more for the same service?


I asked all the questions, did my reading, called surgeon friends in Tennessee, Oregon, and even phoned Boulder Sports Med in Colorado. I’ve done my homework and I am confident I have the best person to perform the operation. 

I was really lucky to have access to the doctors I’ve seen. I saw 3 of the best ankle surgeons in Georgia before picking one I liked. I also saw the  podiatrist who sees most of the Atlanta Falcons and is a local legend and hero in the cycling and running communities.

I will no doubt face a lot of out-of-pocket expenses, but since I can a la carte several items, such as the hospital, I can choose an in-network facility and an out-of-network surgeon. Maximum choice mixed with cost-savings. My corporate insurance is the only reason I’ve had this level of choice and affordability. Most Americans aren’t this lucky.

Less than 2 days from surgery…

After 4 months on the sidelines, I’m finally going in for surgery on Friday morning. I have a fracture of the lateral process of the talus, which is an ankle bone that sits below the tibia and fibula and above the calcaneus, or heel bone. The talus has a poor blood supply and doesn’t heal. People fracture it in car wrecks or freak accidents. It’s a 1 in 1000 ankle injury, but it’s 15% of all snowboarding ankle injuries. Hence the name “snowboarder’s fracture.”

I should’ve known better. I was X-rayed at Snowbasin Emergency clinic at the base of the slopes. The doc gave me the good news that the X-rays didn’t show a fracture, and I wish he’d known to tell me that anyone who injures an ankle snowboarding should be aware of the risk of a talus fracture. Still, I can’t fault him, and every specialist I’d seen told me how difficult it was to identify this fracture with an X-ray. About half of these talus fractures  go undiagnosed for months, which is when permanent disability sets in.

I should’ve listened to my gut when my left ankle swelled up like a pregnant woman’s. I was told I had a sprain and rehabbed it as such. I hiked, I biked, I did jiu-jitsu. Even if I’d immobilized, it’s doubtful it would’ve healed. There are a few bones in the body that don’t heal, and this is one of them.