Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Do You Believe?

Did you hear about the Associated Press study done recently? Over a third of those interviewed said they believe in ghosts. And one in four says they actually believe they have seen a ghost. Maybe it’s just that time of year, with Halloween here and all. Or, maybe it’s that the human need to believe in things beyond what we can see and understand is so powerful, we’ll reach into the supernatural to satisfy that craving.

I listen to National Public Radio a fair amount. I am struck by a series called, “This I Believe. “ It is based on a 1950s radio program inspired by Edward R. Morrow whose own intense belief in the power of the freedom of speech pushed him into the limelight during that difficult period of McCarthyism, racism, and the specter of atomic war hung heavy on the nation.

The series host, Jay Allison (pictured right), and producer, Dan Gediman, draw parallels between those years and now. They note that we are not listening well to each other; in some cases, not at all. Our times are complex and require true dialogue. Their goal: “A public dialogue about belief…one essay at a time.” Anyone can submit a 350 -500 word essay. They read them all and post all of them on their website, thisibelieve.org. They choose several per week to air on various NPR shows. It’s remarkable to me how diverse, funny, poignant, terrifying, satisfying are our beliefs. Every time I hear one, I find myself musing about beliefs – my own, yours, the ones we believe together.

What draws the line between belief and hope, I wonder some days. When do we first believe? Is it simply part of being human, an instinct of sorts, or do we learn how to believe from those around us? How many of us express our beliefs through the lens of religion or spirituality? How many through the grit of the every day? Do beliefs change? What separates believers from non-believers? Can anyone be either all the time?

If you take a tour through some of the essays, or spend a day listening to your co-workers or family members, or watch the World Series, you see it, you feel it. (I was so taken with the faces of fans at Coors Field on Sunday as they continued to believe, to hope, to will a win for their team. Eyes closed or open, hands clasped or flailing, voices hushed or shouting. It was all about believing right up until the last swing of that bat. And when spring comes, there’ll be plenty more again!)

Belief is as much a part of who we are as the color of our eyes, the food we eat, the goals we set. The line is thin, I think, between believing and hoping. It might be an academic question, of course. But, we’ve all met someone who seemingly has neither. And recognize instantly, one who has plenty of both.

One of the “This I Believe” essayists, James Sheehan, firmly exclaims: “I believe in barbeque!”

So, when I read that a 33% of Americans believe in ghosts, I smile. That’s it! We are compelled to believe. It’s in our human code. This I believe!

What do you believe? Give us your comments and musings, especially if you believe in ghosts.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Parkinson Disease: The Basics and Beyond

Parkinson Disease (PD) is a brain disorder. It affects roughly 1.5 million Americans, with 60,000 new cases diagnosed every year. It affects men and women almost equally, and appears most commonly after the age of 65, although 15% of cases are diagnosed in those under age 50.
When 80% of certain neurons in the brain (substantia nigra) die, symptoms of PD appear. These particular neurons are responsible for the creation of the neurotransmitter called dopamine, which allows for the smooth movement and coordinated functions of the body’s muscles. The primary symptoms, tremors and shaking, slowness of movement, stiffness and difficulty with balance, are present in nearly all who are diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Other signs may include stiff and cramped handwriting, expressionless facial appearance, softness of speech, shuffling gait and depression.

Diagnosing this disease is extremely difficult as there are no exact tests yet that can determine whether someone actually has the disease. It is more a process of elimination. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should consult a neurologist who can order the battery of tests necessary to discover what is going on. I know of several individuals who worked over the period of a couple of years with their neurologists trying to determine whether they were suffering from Parkinson Disease of something else.

Treatments almost always include taking some form of dopamine which, especially in early stages, eases the tremors, stiffening and walking difficulties. Over time, as more of the diseased neurons die, the effects of PD grow worse. Within the last few years an approach including brain surgery has become a salvation for some patients with this condition. It is not a cure, but does relieve some of the more severe effects for a period of time. The surgery is not for everyone, of course, and is usually not even considered unless all regimes with medication fail. I have an acquaintance who had the surgery a number of years ago, first on one side of his brain, then on the other. His symptoms diminished for many years. When I last saw him, however, he was experiencing a return of the tremors, stiffening and difficulty speaking and walking. He said he had no regrets, though, about having had the surgery when it first became available. It gave him a number of nearly symptom-free years that he enjoyed immensely. His spirits are good and he continues to lead a very productive life.

One of the many demanding challenges of PD involves walking. Often an individual will “freeze” when s/he comes to a curb, threshold or some other change in the walking surface. The brain recognizes this as a change, but cannot adapt the gait to it, so the legs and feet stop and cannot get moving easily again. While it has long been known that shining a light on the area just ahead of the feet can stimulate the brain to cause movement again, it’s the more recent introduction of the Laser Cane and Laser Light Walker introduced by U-Step a few years ago.

The Laser Cane is a bronze adjustable cane that looks for all the world like an ordinary cane. It has a small button that activates a red laser beam of light across the front of the cane when activated. Easy to use, this cane offers the user a handy and seamless way to project the beam of light necessary when episodes of freezing occur. It’s a good companion for those who suffer from PD, ALS and other diseases of the neurological system.

The Laser Light Walker has an additional feature of locking brakes that must be released by the individual before it moves. This gives extra security that the walker will not get away from the user. It only moves when s/he is ready to move. It has the easy to use button that engages the laser beam when the user needs it. It can be easily turned off when not needed. Its U-shaped base provides more security and as a result testing with the product reveal that most users can move three to four times faster with this walker than with traditional walkers. This walker also has a tighter turning radius, and at only 22 inches wide, it maneuvers easily through traditional doorways.

Actor Michael J. Fox brought attention to PD when he was diagnosed in 1991. In 1998 he revealed his disease to the public and has become one of the great champions for research. He founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation which focuses on research and support for those with the disease and their caregivers.

One of our colleagues and customers, Nick Peterson, has lived with Parkinson Disease since 1975 when he was 25 years old. Nick’s energy, liveliness and enthusiasm for life make him an inspiration to everyone. Among his many talents, Nick speaks nationally. His Colorado company, Shaky Speakers Presentations, sends him around the country with his inspirational and motivational messages. You can contact Nick at 888-757-7712 for more information about his presentations.

Do you have Parkinson Disease or know someone who does? We are always on the search of “people in the know” to give us first person accounts of experiences, treatments, tools that you find useful. Share your experiences here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dance, Dance, Dance

“Dance till the stars come down from the rafters.
Dance, Dance, Dance, till you drop.” W. H. Auden

I have an old, but very dear memory of a September Sunday in Paris, crossing the Pont Neuf, shadows long with the day’s end near. As I approached the end of the bridge nearest to the Left Bank, I heard music and saw a crowd gathering. A young, sexy couple in black, approached the crowd smiling. Suddenly, it was all tango, legs long and hair loose. I could not believe my eyes. Breathless with excitement, I pushed closer and watched this daring dance on the Pont Neuf at sunset in Paris. When they finished the crowd cheered. Encore, we begged. The couple bowed, smiled, waved goodbye and, strolled off. Many of us stayed together for a while buzzing about the spontaneity of it all, the passion, the beauty. Some rubbed their eyes, wondering if the whole scene had actually happened. It has stayed with me for years and years.

There is evidence of dance on the walls of prehistoric caves. Figures in movement, repetitions, rituals. And they say kids dance before they walk and until they learn that everything is not music. We are meant to move, we are meant to dance, I think. My brother met his wife while teaching dance at Arthur Murray Studios in the late 50s. Our family watched, mesmerized, as they took to the floor at every gathering, liquid, silky, saying things with the samba and cha-cha that no one would ever say out loud. And how my mother could dance! Even into her 80s she would join a line dance or accept the invitation of a stranger to move onto the dance floor. It’s a theme that runs through my family and my life. I came of age, though, just as dancing became an individual kind of thing, when young people would flock onto a floor with or without a partner and wiggle, bump, grind into the wee hours of the morning. If there was any slow dancing, it was simply two bodies hugging each other, moving in circles. But it was fine. It did whatever it was supposed to do at the time – create closeness, establish rituals, define a kind of community.

I heard an interview the other day with the lead dancers of Dancing with the Stars. Did you know that this “reality” show is among the most watched on television these days? The premise is that stars and celebrities of all kinds compete with each other by dancing. Once chosen for the show the individual has three days to practice with the professional lead dancer in choreographed programs. They appear in front of an audience and the judging begins. The television audience participates in the judging, too. There are elimination rounds over a period of a week or two. (I have never seen the show, so I’m piecing what I’ve read and heard about it together). These two dancers spoke about how challenging it is to teach someone to dance traditional and formal moves in so short a time. They love it, they say, because they witness how many of these stars, so comfortable in their usual forms of celebrity, struggle at first with their discomfort dancing, then melt into the fun of moving with discipline and flair. The interviewer asked if there were a story of failure, of someone who simply could not do it in the end. “Never, not ever!” they chimed at the same time.

Miss Wheelchair Colorado 2000 is a dancer and actress. I remember being moved watching her and an ambulatory partner dance in a parking lot, celebrating her victorious reign. And at Pam’s birthday party two years ago, a friend with MS, confined to a power chair, took the hand of another and rocked the night away. She said moving to a beat feels so wonderful, so liberating!

We all know that dancing is good for us besides. Did you know you can burn hundreds of calories dancing even just for 60 minutes? And learning the patterns of ballroom and formal dances does wonders for your brain fitness. The camaraderie and enjoyment of dancing contribute to forming and strengthening social networks and community, which recent studies show help ward off depression and the ill effects of aging.

And yet, in spite of all these positive outcomes, it’s another one of those things that people tend to leave behind, feeling self-conscious, foolish or not so nimble anymore. How about declaring a day of dance, especially if you haven’t danced in a while? Or, a day to watch someone else dancing, at least? Tune in to that crazy TV show, or sign up for dance lessons at the local Fred Astaire Studio. Let your children or grandchildren talk you into a few go rounds of Ring Around the Rosey. Invent some new steps. “Dance till the stars come down from the rafters. Dance, dance, dance till you drop.”

Do you dance? Tell us your dancing story.

Monday, October 22, 2007

EasyPivot Patient Lift

If you are a caregiver for someone who cannot stand or pivot from one place to another, you know how difficult it is. It is literally backbreaking work, not to mention extremely uncomfortable and sometimes painful for the individual under your care. In hospitals or other medical facilities, there are often three people or more who lift and move patients. This is just not possible when someone goes home to continue rehabilitation. Thankfully with transfer boards and the array of lifting mechanisms now available to everyone, not just health care professionals, moving individuals from place to place is more possible. However, for some the use of a traditional transfer board or sling still does not create the right conditions.

In 1973, Joel Lerich, a mechanical engineer, had a life-changing car accident, leaving him a quadriplegic. Joel did master most daily tasks again after months of rehabilitation, except transferring from place to place. But, he never felt stable or safe in a traditional patient lift sling or on a transfer board. He was acutely aware, too, of the impact on his wife who was his primary caregiver. So with his mechanical engineering mind, Joel created the EasyPivot, a streamlined machine designed for safe, efficient transfers. With this machine neither the size, strength or agility of the caregiver or patient are a factor.

The EasyPivot pulls the individual forward into a leaning position instead of suspending the person from the back with the use of a sling. With a variety of models to suit any number of individuals and their lifestyles, the EasyPivot is a great solution for the single caregiver situation. At our New Product Showcase event many of our testers tried this incredible machine, in some cases agreeing to be the “patient” and in others the “caregiver.” While trying anything new for the first time is sometimes unsettling, it was great to see the curiosity and the willingness to truly test these products. See Kristy, a product tester, and Ed Kalin, the Rand-Scot representative using the EasyPivot below.

Take a closer look at the EasyPivot here or stop by Capabilities for a demo.

Sign up to volunteer as a product tester for future New Product Showcases. We’ll be doing another one in the Spring of 2008!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Featured Product: The Colorado Cycle by Rand-Scot

We mentioned our wonderful New Products Showcase a few weeks ago. We continue to reap the benefits of that event as we take the suggestions of our product testers and gather more feedback from customers every day. We’ve had the Colorado Cycle on our showroom floor for a few weeks and it has captured some attention. Al DeGraff, a C-5/6 quadriplegic, developed the first Saratoga Cycle in 1987. He says this invention helped keep him alive, ensuring movement and activity at a time when the array of rehabilitation was still in its infancy. The company, Rand-Scot, has gone on to enhance the product, make several models based on need, and has introduced other products designed to help those with disabilities.

The Colorado Cycle is a bi-directional hand cycle ideal for home use. It sits on a table and allows for adjustable levels of tension depending on the user. You put the pulse sensor on your earlobe to track cardio levels, and off you go. Well, figuratively. It’s a stationary cycle, of course. Their sturdy steel welded table that adjusts in height to fit wheelchairs and body types is sold separately. Stop by our showroom to see this marvelous tool. We can help you decide if it’s the right tool for you. It’s great for cross-training or doing moderate to heavy aerobics. You control the tension, so it’s great for those just trying to get a program started, too. It tracks distance, time, sped, calories and pulse. What we and our product testers like especially is that there is a wide variety of handgrips available to accommodate various disabilities, allowing you to be comfortable. Let’s face it, we are usually more motivated to stick with an exercise regimen when it is comfortable for us and works with who we are! You can exercise from a wheelchair or a straight-backed chair. It is also the lowest price cycle in the Rand-Scot collection. Take a look at this product here or stop by the store for a demo.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Life is for the Goal-Oriented... Or So It Seems

I recently read about a study at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center, co-authored by Robert Wilson (pictured right) that examine the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease through a slightly different lens. While much of the research on Alzheimer’s Disease has looked at genetics and general brain fitness, Dr. Wilson’s work specifically highlighted the role of “the purposeful personality.” His findings suggest that those who view themselves as self-disciplined achievers have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s than people who are less goal-oriented. The link, he explains, may be that “a purposeful personality somehow protects the brain, perhaps by increasing neural connections that can act as a reserve against mental decline.” You might wonder how scientists like Dr. Wilson do this research. They actually examine the brains of individuals after their deaths. In this case, the scientists looked at the brains of those who had been identified (or self-identified) as goal-oriented, purposeful individuals. Surprisingly, in many cases they found lesions that would have otherwise qualified as acceptable criteria for Alzheimer’s, but these individuals showed no signs of dementia before their deaths. “This adds to our knowledge that lifestyle, personality, how we think, feel and behave are very importantly tied up with risk for this terrible illness,” Wilson said. “It may suggest new ideas for trying to delay the onset of this illness.” These findings were published in a recent Archives of General Pyschiatry.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since reading the article a few weeks ago. Aren’t we all goal-oriented? I’ve been wondering and asking folks this question. I suppose I have known some people whose qualities would not include self-disciplined, purposeful or goal-driven, although they have gotten along just fine in their careers and life in general. So, what is it that sparks drive and purpose? Are we born with these qualities, do we cultivate them through experience, can we begin to develop conscientiousness later on in life if it’s not been a key motivator for us previously? As I watch my grandchildren, it’s impossible for me to imagine that we are not born with a sense of drive and purpose. Each one of them pushes the envelope of learning and experimentation, however unique and different they each are. And yet, in my inquiries these past couple of weeks, I have had some frank answers to these musings. Many, of course, insist the lead lives of purpose and focus. Not possessing these qualities is probably a hard thing to see in oneself or to admit. On the other hand, I was inspired by some who frankly said they were not self-disciplined and spoke about the ways that has affected their lives. Some have regrets, others have focused instead on their other fine qualities. It’s one more take on the nature/nuture argument. I love thinking about these things.

What do you think? Do you identify yourself as goal-oriented? If not, how have you achieved what you have? If so, do you think you were born that way or is there a life-defining moment you could share with us that caused you to focus, to become more purposeful? Post your comments or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you.

The critical conclusion is that there is most likely not one silver bullet to unraveling the mystery of why some individuals fall to Alzheimer’s and others do not. Each finding gives another clue and, as Dr. Wilson says, another suggestion for something we might try to ward off this illness. At Capabilities we have introduced a focus on brain fitness. You can read our many Brain Tips and Facts, check out the incredible Brain Fitness program with a free demo, or try our fun Scrambles puzzles. We intend to add to our collection over the coming months. What other ideas do you have for us? Email with your ideas about specific products you enjoy or have seen that enhance brain fitness.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thinking about the Possibilities

We had another incredible week of experiences at Capabilities. They say you can tell a lot about who you are by looking at the 5 people you spend the most time with. We have a bit of a twist on this and say you can tell a lot about us at Capabilities by the great company we keep and the groups we support. Among the many invitations we respond to, this week we spent time at the annual events sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind. The Colorado Chapter and related local chapters hosted their annual conference in Denver this year. I had the pleasure of representing Capabilities and providing information about products for low vision and blindness. I also had the chance to sit in on a couple of the many great speakers who, by their presence and their accomplishments, provide useful information and inspiration to the attendees.

I was struck in particular with one of the speakers who gave a history of the blindness movement in this country. He and several of the speakers quoted early on the depressing employment statistics, for example, for the blind population. There is a 75% unemployment rate among this group. This says a lot about the enormity of the task ahead in working with employers to raise awareness and funds to transform workplaces into friendly places for people with disabilities of all kinds, especially, it seems, for those who are blind.

His talk harkened back to the early days of help movements, sparked, he said, by the concept of “noblesse oblige,” the idea that those who have must help support those who do not have. While also considered pejorative, the notion of “noblesse oblige” helped fuel what is now the business of so-call “helping organizations,” non-profit groups, church groups, missionary groups and the like, around the world. The speaker highlighted the creation of “asylums” for the blind, institutions born out of an initial spirit of concern and compassion, but transformed through the practice of isolation into prisons where the blind became dependent on the kindness of others, and therefore, more and more removed from society.

This discussion caught my attention because just days before I had heard an intense discussion with a leader from an African nation decrying the African aid efforts of celebrities, like Bono of U2, suggesting that many African nations have become infantilized as a result, unable now to create the kinds of economies developing nations must in order to survive for the long term. It’s a case of “giving them the fish,” he exclaimed, “rather than teaching them how to fish.” The argument was compelling as he cited situation after situation where aid groups “rescue” populations only to leave them to fend for themselves with the same levels of intellectual, political and economic tools as they had previously. The cycle continues. In come the rescuers again. The nation never develops.

The speaker at the NFB event on Friday, however, drew a sharp contrast to the way leaders among the blind have evolved. And he points to the accomplishments of the NFB, to the many organizations that exist today for research, education and promotion of those with blindness. The basis now is self-sufficiency, he explained. Just look at the way businesses are putting together research and practicality to create sophisticated tools that enhance independence. This is where the intersection of purpose and creativity comes. It is a place I respect and spend my days in, as we are ever on the search for the kinds of tools that foster independence, that bring a smile back as someone does again what they have loved to do, but for a while believed was impossible with their blindness or low vision.

As I’ve thought about it more in these past few days, I went back and refreshed my memory on the emergence of the term, “noblesse oblige.” I was first a student of French literature and I recalled that HonorĂ© de Balzac is credited with using this expression first in his Le Lys dans la vallĂ©e in 1835. William Faulkner used the term a lot in his novels, contrasting the haves and the have nots, as in The Sound and the Fury, for example. The concept, however, is ancient, even if the expression itself is fairly modern. The expectations of royalty to deliver to the people, to bring succor and respond to real needs, were ever-present to dynasties and monarchies across civilization. Sometimes they sparked events that that created positive change. It was great to hear an analysis last week that was not afraid to recall the positive associations of “noblesse oblige” while highlighting the path that leads away from dependency to a culture of independence.

We are lucky to keep such good company that at once enlightens and stimulates important dialogue and thought, and reinforces our purpose and mission at Capabilities. Many thanks to all who sponsored and spoke at the conference and to the many who attended and spent time speaking with us. We are better for having met you and worked with you.

Please enter the dialogue whenever you would like by posting a comment or thought to the topics we write about. We know that people continue to grow and learn through the interactions with others. Your contribution may be just the catalyst someone else needs to make a change for the better.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Featured product: P-Mate

On September 25th, we held our first New Product Showcase. We wrote about this in a blog last week. One of the products presented was the P-Mate, a portable urinating device that allows women to urinate standing up wherever and whenever they need to, without losing their dignity or risking unhygienic and unpleasant public restrooms. The P-Mate can be used during any activity where restroom facilities are less than desirable, or not available at all.

If you are a woman and have traveled to some parts of the world, you know the uncomfortable circumstances you can find yourself in. I recall coming off the Maras salt flats in Peru in desperate need of a restroom. Sorry, our guide told me. I finally had to resort to the old crouching method. I have never been terribly skilled with that approach. Need I say more? How many times have you been camping or hiking and just wished you could stand and be done with it like your pal, Joe. Imagine, too, if you were on crutches. No squatting possible.

A woman does not have to undress to use the P-Mate. Just move one leg of the underwear to the side, put the P-Mate in place and you’re good to go. Urine is funneled through the P-Mate and away from feet and clothing.

Karen Diamond, founder of the North American distributor, Go Your Way, represented the product and gave away samples to our product testers. She told the story of Moon Zijp, the Dutch woman who invented the P-Mate. While on a trip to Indonesia, she found herself, as many women have, in circumstances that were uncomfortable and embarrassing. Upon her return she created the first prototype and demonstrated on live TV on a local talk show in the Netherlands! Her fame was instantaneous and the P-Mate was born.

The feedback from the testers was unanimously approving of this product. “I would purchase this product today,” one said enthusiastically. Another called P-Mate a “definite product for Capabilities…unique AND functional.” Pam and I were also impressed with the simplicity and usefulness of P-Mate. The P-Mate folds to fit discreetly in your pocket. Carry a zip-lock bag for later disposal. This thing is amazing. So, after seeing the enthusiastic response of our testers and reflecting on our own impressions, we have added P-Mate to our roster of products.

Check it out in Our Products section or stop by Capabilities and pick up a five-pack for your next road trip. Then let us know your reactions. If you have already used this product, share your thoughts today by posting a message to this blog.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Living and Thriving with Arthritis

A couple of weeks ago we started a blog series on arthritis. Since then we have chatted with many on this topic, especially those who come through the store. We focus this time on a discussing how people cope with arthritis. We got many ideas from those we have spoken with and from the purchases people make.

For some people the focus is on staying limber, moving, exercising through the pain and discomfort with the hope of reducing the inflammation and keeping it under control. Many pain specialists advocate this approach. If you are able to move, they say, do it. Walk, bicycle, swim, dance, stretch. Lift weights carefully and under some supervision. We have seen a increase in the purchase of the Pro-Flex Foot Flexor, for example. This is an easy-to-use tool that gives you seven different stretching activities for your feet and legs that you can do even while sitting! It travels well, too, and might be a life-saving activity to do on the plane, for that matter, to avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or the conditions that can lead to the development of this condition. (DVT is a condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg. DVT can cause pain and may lead to complications such as pulmonary embolism.)

Resistance bands are another easy tool to add to your stretching regimen. We sell them in precut lengths and strengths to make it even easier. Try out a number of strengths to figure out which level you are currently at. Work with that one for a while, alternating with a band of the next strength lower and higher. This practice ensures that you will give your muscles a full range of flexing, resting your muscle and challenging it with the easier and harder strengths.

There are many others we spoke with over these past couple of weeks who are simply in too much pain right now and are working on getting some relief. Pain creams, such as BioFreeze, are popular. We found a Colorado product we simply adore that we think out performs BioFreeze. Pain Wizard is the creation of Bill and Mikel Kleess, a Johnstown, Colorado couple. They have mixed together natural healing herbs to create a powerful effect on the muscles and joints. We usually suggest rubbing some on your sore spot while you walk around the store. Inevitably, by the time you have browsed around a bit you find your ache has subsided. I’ve used it after an especially hard workout, or after hours working in the yard. I have a bit of arthritis in one of my toes. I generally rub Pain Wizard on before I go to sleep. It does the trick. Based on our own experience, we think Pain Wizard should be in your tool bag for combating arthritis pain.

Another significant weapon in the fight against arthritis is the Swede-O Thermoskin gloves.
This glove is anatomically designed to provide warmth and compression to offer relief of pain and discomfort in the fingers and hands for arthritis and repetitive pain sufferers. The outer fabric is made of a non-slip material that provides added grip. The glove is secured with a velcro fastening.

Thermoskin increases elasticity of muscles, tendons and ligaments to reduce the risk of injury when under stress and strain. It is clinically proven to increase surface skin and subcutaneous temperature between 2-3 ° F, the optimal level to make tendons and muscles more pliable and elastic to provide optimal muscle function. Just recently a young woman with lupus came in looking for something to help the aching and chill in her hands. The Thermoskin glove seemed to be the perfect solution.

Other types of relief popular with our customers include soaking in soothing baths with Nuwati Herbal Wash My Pain Away Bath Salts. These bath salts contain sea salt, epsom salt, baking soda, seven herbs and three essential oils. Early Native people bathed daily, year around, in streams, lakes, or at home. Even in winter, people would bathe in the water of a local river. "Going to the water" is a sacred ceremony of the Tsalagi (Cherokee) people. Sipping tea is a balm for many who suffer chronic pain. See our previous blog on teas and check our Events section for upcoming seminars and workshops on tea, pain control and other topics.

Let us know what you do to live and thrive with arthritis. Post your comments, send us an email, or stop by if you are in the Denver area and tell us your story.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Thank You!

Our deepest appreciation to everyone who celebrated with us during September, and especially on Friday and Saturday last week. It was such a delight to spend time with you, share some good food and cake, and listen to your thoughts and ideas about growing Capabilities.

A special thank you goes out to our staff whose talents and smiling faces make Capabilities a warm and welcoming place. We appreciate you very much!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Diabetes: Facts To Know

We recently hosted Seth Braun, a local Certified Holistic Health Counselor who practices at the Mandala Center in Boulder. You may remember him from an earlier Guest Blog. Seth focused on diabetes, ways to prevent and bring it under control if you already have the disease. I have done more research on diabetes since that seminar and am amazed to discover that roughly 21 million Americans have diabetes, although over a third of these folks don’t know they have it. Expenditures on this disease are in excess of $132 billion dollars, or nearly $1 for every $10 health care dollars spent. It is also the sixth leading cause of death.

To see the disease and its effect first hand as I work with many of our customers makes me want to pay even more attention to prevention. Did you know that diabetic retinopathy creates up to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year in our country? And it’s the leading cause of kidney disease. I have worked with a number of customers who have neuropathy, the effects of disease to the nervous system whereby sensation in the limbs is severely diminished. I recall working with one woman who was so delighted with a particular foot massager we carried because after only 15 minutes, she was able to feel one of her toes again. She came back three or four times to try it out, finally deciding to purchase it and make it part of her daily routine in combating diabetes.

I was also surprised to learn that over 90% of all diabetes is Type 2, or the type referred to as adult onset. A large percentage of Type 2 folks can tame diabetes with diet and exercise. And identifying if you are at risk for diabetes requires a fasting glucose test. The test score identifies a condition as “pre-diabetes” if you have a score over 100 and under 125. Men are at slightly higher risk than women for developing diabetes. If diabetes is in your family, your odds increase as well. And, if you are sedentary and don’t have a good diet, you simply add to the potential risk of contracting Type 2.

So, whether you are feeding your brain, your muscles, or your heart, making sensible eating choices seems to be the path to follow, with exercising as a critical component. If you have been exceptionally thirsty or hungry for a period of time, if your vision seems to be getting blurrier or if you have any of the risk factors, you should see your physician and get the fasting glucose test. Identifying pre-diabetes or diabetes early on gives you an excellent chance for treating and, in some cases, eliminating this disease.

Tell us your story about diabetes. What led you to be tested? What were some of the first changes you made? How are you maintaining your blood sugar levels now?

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Night to Remember: Our First New Product Showcase

Pam and I get introduced to many new products all the time. Whether it’s just new to us or a new invention or idea, we look at dozens of products every quarter. Many of them catch our attention, cause us to linger and come back again and again, and finally persuade us to be added to our already robust array of products. Others might not be right at the moment, but impressed us enough to stay in our minds until the perfect opportunity arrives.

As this year unfolded, we talked about how we might engage customers and prospective customers to give us feedback on product lines before we purchased them. We love being part of the community and enjoy finding new ways to interact. And so the New Product Showcase was born. We held our first one last week at Capabilities. Engaging customers with us to examine a handful of new products, we reasoned, helps us stay focused even more on people’s needs and wants when choosing product, and not just on what we love.

What fun we had pulling the night together. It was nothing, however, compared to the actual event itself. It was our own little reality show! We showcased six very interesting products. Over the coming weeks we will detail each one here in a web log. We’ll share some of the comments of our “testers,” some of our own observations and thoughts, and will let you know if and when we actually purchase the product. You’ll get to meet the people behind these products and those who passionately market them.

We showcased one product that we already have in our store, Healthy Shelf. Sometimes we find a gem that others have not yet discovered. We love to shine a light on such treasures, helping others get there sooner. Creator and inventor, Renee Mazer, told the group about the moment she realized she needed something other than the family hand towel in the bathroom. She walked in on her small son cleaning up after a misfire! It had never occurred to her before to ponder just how many germs float around on surfaces and towels. Her research further convinced her that the time was right for a simple solution. You can read more about Renee and Healthy Shelf in a previous blog. It was wonderful to share our thoughts about the product and why we purchased it for Capabilities. Highlighting the benefits in real time to a roomful of attentive participants is a wonderful thing. We definitely will do this again!

Stay tuned for more of these new product showcases. We plan on hosting another in the new year. If you are already intrigued by the idea of participating, please email us to get on the growing list of those who would like to play with us next time. If you are one of the pioneers who stepped forward to join us last week, please post a comment here about your experiences that night. If you have a product you would like us to consider, please email us some details please and point us to a web site.