Month: December 2014

Frustrated With Your Doctor?

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The doctor’s role as an authority figure is very much deeply ingrained in the American culture. In addition, no one wants to be perceived as a difficult patient. It’s fine to follow your doctor’s orders if it is based on shared medical decision-making. However, when you’re in a room with a paper on the exam table crinkling under your bare bottom you may not feel so empowered. That being said, you cannot afford to be intimidated by your doctor and be a passive bystander. You need to keep focused on what is being ordered for tests and medications. Do not make rash decisions at that moment but rather go home and research it and look at other options if they are available. I would disregard those doctors who tell you everything on the Internet is incorrect. You must be careful when researching of course but there are very reliable nonprofit organizations that provide sound guidance like the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland clinic. Dig for the facts and not someone’s recommendations because they had a similar medication or similar test. Ask a lot of questions, make sure you know the tests are justifiable and medications are not in conflict with what you are ready taking or the side effects that could be dangerous to your particular condition. We would not dream of buying a weed-eater let alone a car on someone’s recommendation without looking at facts and figures and comparisons first.

Be careful and be precise when you explain a symptom to your doctor. Many unnecessary x-rays, MRIs, and other procedures are commonly ordered because doctors do not want to be sued for not screening properly, for instance, if the patient has a heart attack or some other unknown known event after the appointment. Doctors are often paid a fee for these procedures and have a “better safe than sorry” justification. The same goes for referrals to specialists. They are invaluable in diagnosing a problem but need to be terminated when their expertise is no longer needed and a primary care physician can take over.

Make sure your communication is open with your doctor.

  • Ask questions such as “what does that mean”? Most doctors just assume that you understand their medical terminology that they use every day. They are under incredible time pressure and if you do not bring a list of complaints to them you will probably get rushed out before you have all of your answers and concerns addressed.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor that you’ve considered other hypotheses about your health based on your own observations.
  • Avoid “on the way out the door” complaints. Those are things you suddenly remember like “oh and by the way I’m having pain in my back or trouble swallowing”. At that point the doctor can’t really do anything so they tell you to make another appointment or go to the emergency room. By then your 15 minute allotted appointment is up.
  • Be honest when talking to your doctor about your out-of-pocket costs. Most people are shy about bringing up financial concerns even thinking they might get substandard care if they mention money is an object. But the fact is that in almost all cases physicians have good options available. They may know about free prescription drug samples or programs from the pharmaceutical companies that could pay for your medications.

Putting these suggestions in place may be difficult at first but it will empower you as a patient. After all it is your body and your life. Too many times miscommunication or lack of communication between patient and doctor ends up with serious consequences. There are no old-time general doctors anymore that know your family and have the time to sit down and have a conversation with you. The old practice of physicians using critical questioning to get a better knowledge of what’s really going on with the patient has been replaced by scheduling as many patients in 15 min. increments as possible. Never forget the medical field is a huge business and as such you are the customer. You are the profit and the loss on their financial sheet but that also gives you enormous power because without your insurance and money they would not exist as the huge corporation that they are. You are the customer, you are the product and you have a right to accept or decline medications, tests or procedures. If you have a doctor that is very uncomfortable with that you need to look around and find a doctor that became one for the right reason.

Is Universal Design For You?

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universal home

Universal design is the design of products and environments that is usable by all people without the need for adaptations. Some people use the term “aging in place”. Owning a home is a huge investment but so many reach that goal only to find later it’s not user-friendly as they age and their physical limitations prevent them from using most of the features in the home they originally loved. In addition the need to remodel usually comes at a time when people are on fixed incomes and cannot afford it. Other events such as accidents or illnesses can make it difficult to remodel as money is flowing out to the medical field while on a drastic time limit.

The answer, of course, is to be proactive in design when you buy your home or remodel your existing one. The best time is while you are still working and can afford it a little at a time.

Some areas to consider are –

  • No step entry. No one needs to use stairs to get into a universal home or into the homes main rooms.
  • One story living. Places to eat, use the bathroom and sleep are all located on one level, which is barrier free.
  • Wide doorways that are 32 to 36 inches wide let wheelchairs pass through. They also make it easy to move big items in and out of the house.
  • Wide hallways. Hallways should be 36 to 42 inches wide. That way, everyone and everything moves more easily from room to room.
  • Open floor designs. Everyone feels less cramped. And people in wheelchairs have more space to turn as well as people using walkers.
  • Some universal features that could make it safer as you age or incur a disability are- 
  • Floors and bathtubs with nonstick slip surfaces help everyone stay on their feet. They’re not just for people who are frail. The same goes for handrails on steps and grab bars in the bathrooms.
  • Thresholds that are flush with the floor that could make it easy for a wheelchair to get through a doorway as well as walkers.
  • Good lighting helps people with poor vision. And it helps everyone else see better too.
  • Lever door handles and rocker light switches are great for people with poor hand strength. But others like them too. Try using these devices when your arms are full of packages. You’ll never go back to knobs or standard switches again.

As a society we are proactive in so many other areas like insurance, retirement savings, yearly wellness checks and we also need to be proactive in keeping our independence and freedom to stay comfortable in our own home by making these changes. Aging happens to all of us, it is inevitable, and by preparing for it we also prepare for any other physical changes that may come down the pike before retirement. Many people end up in nursing homes waiting on remodels to happen so they can go home. Don’t let this happen to you. There is much more you can provide that can make your house user-friendly to all ages and all people in your family.

For more information on Universal Design you can contact Southwest Center for Independent Living by visiting their website at

It’s a Dog’s Life

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 Delilah doesn’t feel the need to impress anyone or prove herself.

She is not concerned with social image.

She is concerned with being happy which includes belly scratching and “Beggin Strips”cheese flavor.

She is built for speed but has couch potato syndrome.

She has a propensity for biting her nails and shaking all over when something is confusing or scary or needing to get attention for “Beggin Strips. She’s not into biting, she’s into loving and being loved. Her life is simple, easy and is lived in the moment.

Delilah shows me what life should be about. I wish for you all what Delilah has, happiness, ability to love and be loved, living each day looking for the good stuff and as many “Beggin Strips” you can hold.

Perfect Food For A Party

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han sands

These are so easy and taste so good!

Still Camping

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Most of my friends would probably characterize me as energetic, determined and fun loving.  It is true I want to be active and involved with life, especially nature.  I love camping and everything that goes with it like the smell of wood blazing in a campfire, cooking on an outside table, waking up to the sounds of Crows, Finches and squirrels chattering.  It feeds my Soul and brings me comfort I can find nowhere else.  That is the reason I decided I was not going to let the disability I incurred almost 20 years ago keep me from what I have enjoyed all my life.

The early years of camping with a disability were arduous to say the least.  At that time people with disabilities were not even considered in the planning of recreational outdoor areas.  The Americans With Disabilities (ADA) was brand new in 1990 and nothing was even close to being enforced.  Some planners and budget minded designers perceived laws like the ADA as intrusive.  Just like the Civil Rights Act implemented in 1964, both have been praised and ridiculed as an answer to equality.  There is no doubt, however, the guidelines enforced by both have made our society a better place to live and work for everyone. For people with disabilities it ensures equal opportunities to access the very same experiences and privileges people without disabilities have always cherished.

 Now it’s beginning to be a whole new experience with accessible docks, concrete pads to camp on that allow smooth wheel chair access, accessible toilets and showers, raised picnic tables and fire grills, accessible entrances to lodges and bait shops and plenty of disabled parking.  I no longer have to take a lawn chair into the shower to sit in or take a roll of paper towels for hand drying because the hand blowers were too high or be restricted to one or two places that were not to steep or rocky to fish safely.  One of my favorite camping areas is Roaring River State park located just south of Cassville about an hour from Springfield.  Known for it’s premier trout fishing, it nestles in a valley with clear ice blue water meandering from a deep underground cave.  If you are lucky enough to wake before the whistle that signifies fishing is open, you will drink in a breathtaking view of the mist lifting off the earth in a mystical silent dance.  A weekend there and you will feel like you’ve had a two-week vacation.

There is also a huge variety of adaptable equipment for anyone with any disability to enjoy their favorite outdoor activity weather it’s camping, hunting, fishing, archery, bird watching or just walking.  A great place to find out about all of these wonderful technologies and actually try some of them out is at the annual “Day At The Range and Outdoor Adventure Fair” held at the Andy Dalton Shooting Range in Bois D’Arc. Additional information can be found on the web at or by calling Southwest Center for Independent Living at 417-886-1188.  This is a great way to find out everything available to you and maybe some things you didn’t even know existed!  And where else can you have all that and a free lunch too?

 I have always believed being in outdoor recreational activities promotes life long development of character as well as camping skills, teamwork and appreciation of the environment.  It gives a chance to experience first hand what none of us can afford to lose, our connection and responsibility to the earth we share. Camping is a group experience for my family and my four kids were raised loving it.  Now I can enjoy it equally with them and my eight grandchildren.  Thanks to the dedication of disability advocates and the visionary planning of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the outdoors in Missouri is available to all of its citizens. Everyone knows Nature is ever evolving so why shouldn’t we?

Transfer Your Potential

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Why is it that when most of society looks at people with disabilities or seniors they only see what is apparent right in front of them? Actually, if they consider looking beyond that to transferable skills the person carries within them it would blow them away. Just the fact that they have survived by pushing through obstacles mentally and physically all their lives creates a person who knows how to get things done. Thinking out-of-the-box to accomplish most things others take for granted is a unique talent. These groups are doers. They don’t have time to complain of headaches, aches and pains or limitations. They are the champions of “if there’s a will there’s a way”. I think transferable skills are so overlooked because they are so basic. Here is a list of just a few –

After Holiday Shopping Comfort Food

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Sometimes you just have to feed yourself some comfort food. I try to eat light but dragging home worn out and drained from elbowing crowds and fighting for a disabled parking space this easy and cheap casserole has my name on it. The savory, warm, gooey cheese and potatoes is so relaxing it can take you from exhaustion to serenity. As it bakes for an hour you can take a warm bubble bath while smelling that wonderful aroma from the oven.


Here’s what you are going to need: Preheat to 375 degrees

1 bag (2 pounds) frozen hash browns, thawed 1 can cream of chicken soup 1/4 cup finely chopped onion 1/4 cup butter, melted 1/2 cup of sour cream 1/2 cup of milk 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 3 cups of shredded Colby jack cheese

Here’s what you need t0 do:

Blend all ingredients. Put half the amount in greased baking dish, sprinkle additional cheese. Add remaining mixture.

Bake in the preheated 375° F oven for 1 hour until hot and bubbly and it begins to brown on top. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.