Saturday, October 27, 2012

Medical benefits: the Didgeridoo

My fine instrument -- the didgeridoo
  Who would have thought it? This week I attended the Medical Grand Rounds at CSM, the hospital where I practiced. The topic of the lecture was: Sleep Apnea: a Complete Look at Advanced Diagnosis and Treatment.
       The speaker, a pulmonologist who specializes in sleep medicine, sited that learning to play the didgeridoo using what is called circular breathing actually can help people with sleep apnea and can decrease the number of sleep apnea episodes. Now I haven't read this article from the British Medical Journal, but I assume this would really only help those who have fairly mild sleep apnea. It is presumed that this activity helps by strengthening the muscles that support the tissues of the throat and that surround the airway, letting those muscles work to keep the airway open better during sleep.

Monday, October 22, 2012

4:00 AM Awakening: Owls & Venus Glade

     This morning I awoke at about 4:20 AM. I don't know what awakened me. At first, I was just moving around in bed to try to find a warm comfortable position. Then I became more aware. And I heard what sounded like the neighbor's dog barking. It was a series of 2 barks together, then a pause, then 2 more barks, repeating this pattern. This was unusual. The neighbor's have a chocolate lab mix with what looks like some hound in her. She is normally very quiet -- seldom barks. But it sounded like the soft bark of a dog that was waiting to be let back in the house. Then the sound changed to more of a yip and finally a medium loud shrieking or squawking call. I altered my identification -- the coyotes are playing in our neighbor's back yard. But then shortly, the culprit certainly identified itself -- with a hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo whoo whoo. It was our pair of great horned owls. They were calling to each other in our cottonwood trees just outside my bedroom window.
     We think they nest in Virmond Park just north of us, in some tall mature spruce trees in the center of the park. They have been seen there roosting. For as long as we have lived here on Lake Michigan we have occasionally seen one of the owls fly in front of our car headlights from a fencepost or tree perch. They are magnificent birds with up to a 5 foot wingspan. One year shortly after we moved here, a pair of owls were out flying in the late afternoon and they perched on a snag out front of our house in a small wood lot.