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Monthly Archives: October 2008

The textbook definition of stress boils down to “if you’re alive, then you’re stressed”. So, if you say you’re not, then you’re either lying or dead.

Everyone experiences stress and responds to stress differently. How you handle it depending on your physical and mental health at the time. What totally stresses you out might not even faze the next guy.

So, how do you know if you have too much stress, or badly managed stress?

If any of the following situations sound familiar, and you experience them frequently, then you may be headed for some serious health problems.

  • You think you “function just fine” on 5 or 6 hours of sleep
  • You brain won’t shut off and you toss and turn all night
  • You get an overwhelming feeling of dread as you wake to face the day
  • You have frequent obstacle course dreams, treadmill dreams, repetitive dreams or worry dreams
  • Your shoulders and/or back are in knots, but you think “that’s normal”
  • Your face is pinched and your jaw is set and your eyes are squinting. Try something. Relax your face and see what happens. See? Ahhhh…
  • Your head feels like its going to burst open or pop off due to a massive headache or migraine
  • You can’t poop or you’re pooping all the time
  • You constantly worry about getting a horrible disease
  • You feel nauseous and you’re retching in the a.m. – every day, or just sometimes…
  • It seems you’re always sick, or getting sick, or just getting done being sick
  • You’re finding a lot of hair in the shower drain
  • You get zits
  • Your eyes or lips twitch
  • You don’t have the energy you used to, and you don’t know why
  • You break out in hives
  • Your hands shake. Are they shaking now?
  • You’re fidgety – tap, tap, tapping or bouncing or jiggling. Stop it!
  • You bite your nails
  • Your chest gets tight and it’s hard to breathe
  • Your throat gets small and it’s hard to swallow
  • You pick your lip or chew the inside of your cheek
  • You grind your teeth
  • You clear your throat a lot (phlegm stress)
  • You feel lost
  • You’re gaining weight but you’re not eating more than usual
  • You’re eating everything that’s not nailed down
  • You’re eating junk food or fast food
  • You’re not hungry at all and can’t imagine eating
  • You’re losing weight because you don’t have the time or energy or desire to eat
  • You decide your friends are no longer your friends
  • I love you. I hate you. Leave me alone. Don’t leave me.
  • You stop being a good friend/mother/wife/husband because you’re too busy
  • The blame game is the only game in town
  • You say things like, “I’m sorry I’m taking everything out on you”
  • You’re late for everything
  • You BURST OUT crying in the grocery store
  • You’re hyper-critical of the ones you love the most… and of everyone else
  • You say really hurtful and inappropriate things
  • You BURST OUT laughing at a funeral
  • You can’t stop yelling at your husband or your kids
  • You want to punch something
  • You throw a ping pong paddle at your friend while giving them the double bird, screaming “I hate you!”
  • You find the ice cream in the pantry the day after you unload the groceries
  • You leave your keys in the car…or the freezer
  • Simple math is hard math
  • You’re looking for your glasses and they’re on your head
  • You think everything would be better if you just have a drink… or 5
  • You smoke too much pot. Is that possible? Kidding…
  • You think one more little Valium couldn’t hurt
  • You don’t smoke but you want a cigarette anyway
  • You spend $1000 on a feather bed but you can’t pay your rent
  • You’re convinced you’re going to die a pauper
  • You’re clumsy – you trip over, run into, drop and spill things
  • You’re avoiding work or friends or events
  • You’re go, go, go all the time
  • Thoughts swirl around your head and you fixate on things
  • You not only sweat the small stuff but you also… um…sweat
  • You hide from the world in inappropriate places where you can “just be yourself”
  • You don’t take care of yourself because you’re too busy
  • You’re having health issues
  • You stress about stress
  • If some of these things sound just a little too much like you, or someone you love, then it’s time to take action to reduce the stress.

    We all experience short term stress once in a while, things like taking a test or giving a speech or trying something new – things that make your heart pound or your palms sweat. As soon as the event is over, though, the physical signs disappear quickly, usually before resulting in serious health consequences.

    Then, there are those guaranteed stressors like losing a job, getting married, having a baby, getting divorced, changing jobs, buying a house…. Again, these are usually manageable in the short term but you should definitely incorporate some stress relieving activities to get you through the rough spots.

    The real scary problem is your prolonged or long term stress. The constant daily pressures that you “just live with” can be the path to disease and even sudden death.

    Here are 15 Stress Tips that Could Save Your Life. Be sure to consult with your doctor as well.

    There are also some really great stress reducing products to help you stay on track. Here are Allegro’s 10 Most Popular Stress Relief Products.

    Another thing I highly recommend is monitoring your blood pressure at home. It’s super easy and takes, like, a minute.

    Hey, we care about you, so do the right thing and take care of yourself and the ones you love. Besides being your one-stop shop for medical supplies we can help you find products by medical condition, including stress. See All Stress Management Products.

    As always, we appreciate your business.

    These are all things that I made a priority a few years ago. I stick to them like glue. Since I started using these stress management techniques my outlook on life, my mood, my feelings of well-being and most importantly my health have improved drastically. I hope it can help you too.

    1. Exercise. Even a little bit of exercise relieves tension like nothing else. You don’t have to go to the gym or even do anything structured or super strenuous. Walk around the house, the neighborhood, up and down the stairs (or even 1 stair). Get a pedlar exerciser or some hand weights and use them while you’re watching TV. Get a yoga tape or DVD and make it the first thing you do every morning and the last thing you do every night. See your doctor first if you have health issues. See All Exercise Products

    2. Get out of the office. You’re not doing yourself, your customers or your boss any favors by working 10 hours a day. Besides, life’s too short.

    3. Go to bed in time to get 8 hours of sleep every night. Just do it.

    4. Take a vitamin with antioxidants. I also take Glucosamine with Chondroitin and MSM for my joints. If you have high blood sugar, consult your doctor before taking Glucosamine.

    5. Get certified to SCUBA dive and do it as often as possible. Just thinking about it brings my stress level down.

    6. Stop eating crap. Go to a nutritionist. Having a sound eating plan will help reduce your stress.

    7. Stop dieting. It’s so stressful. Your diet is “what you eat” not “what you do”. Cut the portions if you have to. Have a protein shake for breakfast. When you need some cake, take a bite or two, just not the whole slice. Your body will fight to keep the weight on if you’re stressed.

    8. Get regular massages and pedicures. Don’t think of it as a treat, but as a necessity.

    9. Don’t lose yourself to your husband/wife/kids/job. Force yourself to go out with the girls, or play an instrument, read books, take classes, get involved in a charity that you love.

    10. Learn to say “no”. Try it a few times and you’ll realize that the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt. People will respect you for it.

    11. Stop worrying about what other people think. You’d be surprised at how much you’ll relax when you realize that you don’t have to be perfect, or dress perfect, or have a spotless house.

    12. Have more sex.

    13. Relax as hard as you work as hard as you play. I used think balance was all about playing as hard as I worked. So wrong. You have to add ‘relax’ to the mix.

    14. Stop working when you’re on vacation. Leave your computer (or anything else you’re constantly typing stuff into) at home if you have to. Just put it down and walk away. Bliss.

    15. Do an honest inventory of the situations, events and people that stress you out. Decide whether they are energy givers or energy zappers. Eliminate or avoid the energy zappers.

    Don’t know if you’re stressed? Take the Stress Test!

    Here are Allegro’s 10 Most Popular Stress Relief Products.

    See All Stress Relief Products.

    Take care and as always, thanks for your business.


    1. Spa-N-A-Box Portable Spa
    2. ergoBead Hand Exerciser and Stress Ball
    3. Deluxe Handheld Shower Massager
    4. Yoga Starter Kit
    5. The Original Backnobber II See all Pressure Massagers
    6. Soothe-A-Ciser Pillow
    7. Cobblestone Mat
    8. Spine Worx Back Support Alignment System
    9. Stress Buster Ball
    10. Free Standing Kick Bag

    Don’t know if you’re stressed? Take the Stress Test!

    Shop by Medical Condition. See All Stress Relief Products

    The Allegro site is chock full of great products for wheelchair users but now you can find a specific selection of products in Paraplegia: Shop by Condition.

    Click on “Paraplegia” under the Shop by Condition tab (home page) anytime to see a comprehensive list of Allegro’s most popular paraplegic products including shower chairs, transfer benches, cushions, catheters, daily living aids, safety products, wheelchair accessories – you name it.

    Thanks to everyone on the Allegro Experts Network who helped me put the list of products together, along with suggestions from our own Product Manager and Allegro veteran, Mike Benge – a 15-yr. paraplegic with impeccable taste in products and places to work.

    Special thanks to Allegro fan and Expert Network member “Del Huffman from Tennessee” for his recommendations.

    Del’s Letter

    I have been a T-8 Paraplegic for over a quarter of a century; the result of a motorcycle accident. It seems I have tried every medical supply and every type of medical equipment out there. I am more than pleased to possibly help someone ‘cut to the chase’ with what works and is best for the difficult life we must endure in the “Wheel-World.”

    As a male with a spinal cord injury, I find the UltraFlex External Catheter, by Rochester Medical, to be the best there is. Also, the Conveen Leg Bags, 800 ml, compliment the caths as the ultimate set for urological supplies. What is best about these items? They are durable, non-irritating to the skin, odor-free, and one can’t tell you even wear them! All of this is important to a person with modesty, as life can be embarrassing at times given our circumstances…

    Allegro’s Bisacodyl Suppositories, USP 10 mg. are the most effective available, and very inexpensive too. The glycerin ones are not even close to the bisacodyl in effectiveness.

    All of Allegro’s shower chairs are great; I have used several. Depending on the level of injury, the back rest height, and non-slip legs, (rubber tube caps) are excellent for a safe, and relaxing shower. I live alone, and am very active so I need the best products to help me be independent, and on time! I am a full-time college student, majoring in Social Work, I coach basketball, am involved in ministries, and work part-time too. I am very clean and organized. I know that exercise, cleanliness, and a positive outlook are key to a wonderful life of independence and joy.

    All the folks at Allegro are always ready to help you and they carry all of the coolest merchandise available you will ever need! From wheelchairs and parts, to hygiene products, there is so much out there and life is what you make it.

    Character is measured by what it takes to stop you; adversity with composure is my motto!

    Del Huffman, Allegro Fan

    A big Allegro “Thank You” to Del! What a guy. If anyone else has suggestions about products that other paraplegic or active wheelchair users would enjoy, please email me. I’m at vpaxton (at) allegro (no space) medical dot com. You’ll have to decipher this on your own, as I have to be cryptic to avoid spammers using my email address.

    Live Well. -v

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    A year has passed since my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and I shared my personal thoughts with you. Click here to read my thoughts from last year. Today I am very happy to report that her treatments were successful. She is cancer free!

    It was a bumpy road, but we are thankful for the results. After the diagnosis we had many meetings in the planning stage of the treatment. Her plan included lumpectomy surgery to remove the cancer cells. The tissue sample from the first lumpectomy indicated that there were cancer cells in the outer margins and would require additional surgery. Not the news we had hoped for and certainly a set back physically and emotionally. If waiting for the results from the first surgery was difficult then waiting for the results from the second could only be described as excruciating. Thankfully the follow up surgery was successful in getting the required margins so we were able to move to the next steps in treatment which is radiation therapy.

    She was given a form of radiation known as Brachytherapy. Unlike whole breast surgery in which a beam of radiation is beamed over the entire breast for a short period of time daily over the period of 6-8 weeks, Brachytherapy uses radioactive pills inserted for minutes at a time directly into the lumpectomy area via catheters. This process is a bit more invasive due to the catheters through the breast, but only takes 5 days of treatments.

    In many meetings and discussions with her doctors we learned that as little as 10 years ago the detection, treatment and prognosis for my wife would have been much different. The efforts to find a cure are working. There are many fine organizations and events that you can participate in to help find a cure or help others dealing with this disease. Every little bit helps.

    Here are a couple of products to consider that are useful, stylish and provide support in the form of donations to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. They support breast cancer education and mammogram financial assistance for women that cannot otherwise afford this test.

  • $5 is donated for each pink and white shower chair sold
  • $10 is donated for each pink rollator sold
  • My message last year ended the same way I am ending it this year. I would like to finish this with a personal wish for the very best if you or a loved one is dealing with breast cancer. Remember that you are not alone! My thoughts and prayers are with you all. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month but unfortunately breast cancer doesn’t read the calendar. Remember to support the fight against breast cancer year round.

    David Williams, Director of Product Management

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    Whether to use heat therapy or cold therapy for arthritis pain depends on the type of arthritis and the type of pain you are experiencing. Since everyone experiences and responds to pain differently, you should discuss a pain management plan with your doctor. You may have to try several things to see what works.

    When to Use Ice to Treat Arthritis Pain

    According to Dr. Kevin Sperber, Board Certified Pain Management Specialist at Columbia University,
    “As a general rule of thumb, ice is best for soft tissue musculoskeletal injuries such as bruises, sprains or acute trauma. Cold therapy may also be beneficial if you experience a flare of pain after activity. Cold acts as an analgesic by numbing the sore area and can also drastically reduce swelling and discomfort.”

    Traditionally, doctors recommend cold packs be applied for only 10-20 minutes at a time. With prolonged application of cold you could hurt yourself, especially if you have sensory problems or impaired vascular circulation in your hands and feet.

    When to Use Heat to Treat Arthritis Pain

    Therapeutic Heat is more commonly recommended for arthritis pain because it relaxes tendons and ligaments thereby increasing flexibility and decreasing pain. Heat also increases blood flow and improves joint range of motion.

    So why the debate over hot or cold? Dr. Sperber says that for acute injuries (sprains, strains, etc.) just about everyone recommends ice, but for chronic conditions, like arthritis, both cold and heat can help reduce inflammation, so it may come down to whichever feels better to you.

    As for how heat should be used, there are competing problems. The trick is to get enough heat into the tissue, for long enough, without burning your skin. For example, hands heat up fairly easily because the tissue is not “deep”, but for deep tissue pain, in the hip for instance, you may need to apply a lower temperature for a longer time. There are specific products that address these issues and each product comes with recommended time usage guidelines.

    Most Popular Cold Therapy Products:

    • Frozen Gel Cold Packs. Save your frozen peas and use a pliable, reusable “ice pack” instead. ColPaC makes them in lots of sizes and shapes. Keep ice packs in the freezer and they’ll be ready whenever you have a flare-up. Remember to use layers of dry terry toweling between the cold pack and your skin.
    • Biofreeze. This topical pain reliever is highly recommended for temporary relief of arthritis, tendonitis and fybromyalgia. You can order it in a tube, roll-on, spray or gel pump.

    Most Popular Hot Therapy Products

    • Portable Inflatable Whirlpool Spa. Get the benefits of a hot tub without the expense of installing one. The ultimate in heat therapy, relaxation and pain/stress relief, portable whirlpools are highly recommended by arthritis pain sufferers. They can be placed indoors, outdoors, on your patio, on your deck, in your RV, in your condo or your apartment. We recommend the Spa2Go or the Spa-N-A-Box because they are easy to assemble (20 minutes) and there is no special wiring or plumbing needed.
    • Infrared Heat. Sometimes deep penetrating heat is the best thing to reduce your arthritis pain. The Thermotex Infrared Heating Pad TTS Platinum model is the most popular although there are other Thermotex therapy systems available. The TTS Platinum is a nice portable size (17” x 15”) and has adjustable straps so you can fit it comfortably almost anywhere on the body.
    • Light Relief Light Therapy. This hand-held device provides topical heating to elevate and/or maintain tissue temperature wherever it is placed. My grandmother uses it to relieve joint pain and she loves it. One of our Allegro customers used it to relieve pain in her dog!
    • Paraffin Bath. Dip your hands, feet or elbows in melted paraffin wax and let the intense heat spread through your stiff arthritic joints for fast acting, drug-free therapy. The best one on the market is the Therabath PRO Paraffin Bath. This unit is large enough to accommodate your hands, feet or elbows but small enough to fit on your countertop. It includes hospital grade paraffin with your choice of scents.

    * Moist Heat. Arthritic and rheumatic pain is often relieved with moist heat. Moist heat increases blood flow, soothing inflamed joints and increasing flexibility. We suggest the Theratherm Digital Electric Moist Heating Pad, the Thermophore Automatic Moist Heat Pack or the Thermophore Arthritis Pad. There’s also a Therabeads Moist Heat Mitt that you wear on your hands.

    • Arthritis Gloves. These specially designed arthritis gloves provide mild compression and warmth for your hands. Heat increases circulation which reduces aches and stiffness. Some people wear them day and night. They have open fingertips so your can feel, touch and grip.

    Thousands of Allegro Medical customers have found relief with these products. So can you. Order yours today.

    Check out all of our hot/cold therapy products or go to our Arthritis category to see all arthritis products.