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Doctor’s Tip: Our biggest epidemic — child abuse

Dr. Greg Feinsinger

We seem to be living in an age of multiple epidemics: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, drug abuse, gun violence and COVID-19. In terms of human suffering, and damage to our society and economy, child abuse is arguably the biggest of them all.

At workers’ compensation medical conferences, there is usually a presentation about “delayed recovery”: Ten people suffer similar low back injuries at work, nine are pain-free in a few weeks but the 10th never gets better. We were told to always consider a history of child abuse — mental, physical or sexual — in these cases. It’s not that the pain is in these patients’ heads; it’s that childhood trauma “rewires their brains” so that they react differently to life stresses such as injuries, through no fault of their own.

“The Body Keeps The Score” is a book on the New York Times best seller list by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D., a Boston-based psychiatrist who started his career working with Vietnam War veterans with PTSD. He eventually went into private practice and is past president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. The title of the book refers to the fact that emotional trauma leaves a lifelong imprint not only on people’s brains, but also on their bodies. An example of the mind-body connection is that trauma victims (including those who suffer child abuse) continue to secrete high levels of harmful stress hormones for decades afterward, resulting in chronic problems such as memory and attention deficits, irritability, sleep disorders, migraine headaches, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, weakened immune systems and even cancer (stress causes inflammation, which contributes to cancer).

In his book, Van Der Kolk points out that research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found the following: “One in five Americans was sexually molested as a child; one in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body; and one out of eight witnessed their mother being beaten or hit.” Over 12 million women in the U.S. have been victims of rape — more than half when they were under the age of 15. As Van Der Kolk puts it, such trauma “is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain and body.” Victims of child abuse “often feel sensations (such as abdominal pain) that have no obvious physical cause,” and suffer from lifelong mental illness and relationship problems.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences study was conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the CDC and involved 25,000 subjects, mostly white and middle class. High scores on the number of adverse childhood events correlated with higher workplace absenteeism, financial problems, lower lifetime income, depression, chronic pain, suicide attempts, alcoholism, heart disease, liver disease and cancer. Women who witnessed domestic violence as children were at higher risk of ending up in violent relationships; men who witnessed domestic violence as boys were seven times more apt to abuse their partners as adults.

Due to studies like Adverse Childhood Experiences, Van Der Kolk calls child abuse “our nation’s largest public health problem,” affecting not only individuals but their families, the economy and society as a whole. It is estimated that “eradicating child abuse in America would reduce the overall rate of depression by more than half, alcoholism by two-thirds and suicide, IV drug use and domestic violence by three-quarters. It would also increase workplace performance and decrease the need for incarceration.”

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network was established by Congress in 2001, and it now has 150 centers nationwide. Its mission is to educate teachers, judges, ministers, foster parents, physicians, probation officers, nurses and mental health professionals. The societal solution to preventing child abuse, in Van Der Kolk’s opinion, is to provide more help for families: “Economists have calculated that every dollar invested in high-quality home visitation, day care and preschool programs results in seven dollars of savings on welfare payments, health care costs, substance-abuse treatment and incarceration, plus higher tax revenue due to better-paying jobs.”

Van Der Kolk is not a big fan of medications for PTSD because — with the possible exception of hallucinogens (read “How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollin) — they help the symptoms rather than the underlying cause. Based on patient outcomes and brain-imaging studies, good results have been achieved with nonpharmaceutical treatments such as meditation, yoga, rapid eye movement (EMDR) and neurofeedback.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Bankers’ Hours column: A wife’s income could not be counted for a mortgage

There’s a child care crisis in the U.S., and it will have a significant effect on the economy. It almost certainly is not going to right itself, so the ramifications will permanently change how we live. More specifically, it could be that housing will see a shift across the board.

Queue up nostalgic music and travel back in time to 1961. I was fresh out of the service, and my first job was processing FHA and VA home loans. I worked for one of Denver’s top mortgage bankers, and it was a busy operation, so I might take five or six loan applications, and say that I took 25 apps in a given week. Out of that number, maybe two — and I’m sure never more than three — involved two incomes from husband and wife.

The reasons? First, there were far fewer women in the work force back then. And the ones that were working didn’t count for much. Underwriting and qualification guidelines for both FHA and VA stated that a wife’s income could not be counted in qualifying unless it was incontrovertibly proved that she could not have children — generally a verified statement from a physician.

Single women were not granted home loans. The only exception in my experience over three years in this job was a loan to a 51-year-old practicing psychiatrist.

And our family was able to experience this, more or less, on the other side of the table. My wife and I were married almost immediately after I finished Marine Corps infantry training. It was the best time in 150 years to be in the Corps if you didn’t want to get shot at, so we ended up spending close to three years in southern California. She promptly started looking for work, and was well qualified to do it, but was repeatedly turned down because her husband was in the military, and “these guys get transferred, you know.” She did find work and became a key employee in the business. But we had decided to have the birth of our first child to be covered by Uncle Sam, more specifically at the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital. Her company’s policy was that pregnant women couldn’t work there, and her boss held out as long as he could but reluctantly had to fire her.

Today, all of these activities are statutorily illegal. If the event, or events, are egregious enough, you’re facing some very serious federal legal action and big monetary penalties.

Things began to change in about 1969, slowly at first, and then the snowball began tumbling downhill, culminating with the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974. Suddenly, it seemed, the amount of disposable income available to buy a home had increased exponentially. More houses could be built, bigger homes could be bought. This helped make housing an integral part of the high points of the economy for the last 45 years.

A collapsing child care industry means that a lot of workers will not be generating disposable income for home purchases, some temporarily, some, possibly, permanently, albeit on a smaller scale than the great sea change in the early ’70s. I’m not an economist (and I don’t play one) but I have a hunch the effect could be significant economically and socially and even spark longer-term cultural changes. Maybe new homes will be smaller to accommodate lower family incomes. Possibly multifamily units will take on a dramatically more significant role in housing. We’ll see.

What? Oh, why wasn’t the wife’s income counted way back when? The theory was that if the wife got pregnant, she’d quit working, and the loan would immediately become delinquent. My regular readers (I believe there are three of you now) know from the way that I parse ancient history that I’ve been around the lending business for a long time. And I’ve never, ever, in all those years, seen a mortgage go into default because someone had a baby.

Pat Dalrymple is a western Colorado native and has spent more than 50 years in mortgage lending and banking in the Roaring Fork Valley. He’ll be happy to answer your questions or hear your comments. His email is pdalrymple59@gmail.com.


Immigrant Stories: The Weaver family has history in No Name

Jim and Kathie Weaver. Courtesy

Intro: Kathie Flynn met Jim Weaver, the love of her life, in 1976, and for the next 41 years, they did almost everything together until Jim’s death in September 2017.

Jim Weaver is remembered as “Doc” Weaver, an outstanding orthopedic surgeon in the valley and an innovator in orthopedic surgery. Jim grew up in Glenwood, graduated from Glenwood Springs High School in 1947 and went on to Harvard and then to the University of Colorado, where he earned his doctorate in orthopedic surgery.

He met Kathie in New Mexico when he was chief of orthopedic surgery at the University of New Mexico. Here, Kathie remembers Jim and his parents.

Weaver: I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was born in 1944. My grandparents, the Flynns, came from Dublin. So I was very Irish and very Catholic and did 16 years of Catholic school.

Gallacher: How was that? Being raised in Catholic schools? Do you have stories?

Weaver: Well, when I was in sixth grade, I was in St. Vincent’s Girl’s Academy with my two friends that were my best friends. Elvis Presley came to town, and he was singing at the armory in Albuquerque, and my two friends went down and were standing on the stage, and when Elvis got off the stairs, they each kissed him one on each cheek. It was in the morning paper in Albuquerque, and they were expelled from St. Vincent’s Girl’s Academy.

Gallacher: What was growing up like for you?

Weaver: My parents raised Arabian horses. They had good friends from Lebanon, and they had brought some Egyptian Arabians over from back home to New Mexico, and they became good friends of ours. And so, we started raising Arabian horses.

We did halter classes and riding classes, native costume classes. We had the national Arabian champion stallion and the international Arabian champion stallion out of our herd, both in the same year.

Gallacher: Where did your grandparents settle after Dublin.

Weaver: They lived in St. Louis, and my brother and I would spend summers with them in St. Louis. It was great.

Gallacher: What happened after Catholic school? What did you do?

Weaver: I had a job, working at an orthopedic office during the day, and I was volunteering at night at the Bernalillo County Indian Hospital in Albuquerque in the emergency room. That’s how I met Jim. He was a professor of orthopedics at the University of New Mexico. Eventually we got married and moved to Aspen. Jim’s partners had been wanting him to come to Aspen for a long time, since he grew up in Glenwood.

We owned part of Snowmass Clinic, and he worked at the Aspen office, and I worked at Aspen Valley Hospital at night, typing while he was operating on the people that he’d seen during the day at Snowmass Clinic. And then we’d drive back to Glenwood.

Gallacher: Had Jim always planned to come back to Glenwood to practice medicine?

Weaver: Yes, his dad wanted him back here to help him take care of his mom. He was an only child.


Jess Weaver, Jim’s father

Gallacher: What was Jim’s dad like?

Weaver: Jess was a great guy, high energy like his son, smart. He came to Glenwood in 1926 and started the creamery on Cooper. He delivered milk and ice cream with a horse and wagon in town, and Jim washed milk bottles, and they lived in the apartments above the creamery.

They built a summer home on No Name and spent summers out there. Eventually the family bought a sheep ranch near Harvey Gap, and in 1932 Jess bought land on the Flat Tops, and Jess and Jim’s grandfather built a trail up No Name. It was the trail that is now known as the Jess Weaver Trail. They built the cabin in 1934 at 10,400 feet that overlooks Grizzly and No Name Creeks. That’s where he started raising horses for the cavalry.

Jess had a 99-year lease with the Forest Service. We have a live spring right on top, and so there was plenty of water and grass.

Gallacher: Where did they winter those horses? That’s some rough territory in the winter.

Weaver: They would herd them down to Harvey Gap where Jess had his sheep ranch.

Gallacher: What were summers like at the cabin?

Weaver: Oh, my gosh, just gorgeous. Deer and elk were everywhere, because the only reliable water source was from this natural spring. We had a big tank that we just kept running all the time.

Gallacher: What was Jim’s mom like?

Weaver: She was great. She played the piano and organ and sang for the Presbyterian Church.

Gallacher: Did your folks visit the cabin?

Weaver: No, they couldn’t get to the cabin because it’s a four-hour horseback ride all up hill, and it’s rugged. You’ve got to be strong to make it up and down on a horse. So a lot of our family and friends never made it up there.

Gallacher: You were comfortable around Arabian horses, so you must have fit right in.

Weaver: Yes. Jim and I did well together. In the beginning, there was just Jess and Jim and I, and we’d go up to the cabin and spend the night, and I’d get a headache and be a little nauseated, but neither one of them said to me, “You have high altitude pulmonary edema.“ They just said, “Oh, it’ll go away.” So it wasn’t exactly easy dealing with those two. Jess would wake up every morning at 5, and if we weren’t awake, he made sure we were.

Gallacher: When Jess was up, everybody’s up?

Weaver: Exactly. He’d get out the cast iron pans and start banging around, making breakfast. And if that didn’t work, he would start the chainsaw.

Gallacher: Oh, lord.

Weaver: He could be a maniac, but he was a great guy.

Gallacher: Yeah, but he wasn’t so great when the chainsaw was running at 5 in the morning.

Weaver: No. Jim would say, “Oh, my God, my dad wants us up.”

Gallacher: Jess Weaver sounds like a very strong-willed person

Weaver: He was. Jim used to tell the story about the year he graduated from high school in Glenwood. It was 1947. Jess, Jim’s dad, had graduated from CSU in 1926, and he wanted Jim to go to veterinary school when he graduated. He said, “I will buy you a brand-new Plymouth convertible if you go to CSU veterinary school, or you can take your scholarship and go to Harvard.” Jim looked at the brand-new car and said, “Dad, I gotta go to Harvard.”

Gallacher: I read that Jim lost a son in an accident. Can you speak to that?

Weaver: Yes. He was 16 years old. Jess was his name, after his grandpa. He was climbing in Silver Plume, Colorado, with some friends, and they didn’t have any climbing equipment. They were 350 feet up when he fell. They helicoptered him to St. Anthony’s in Denver; he died two days later. Jim also lost his daughter to breast cancer about seven years ago.

No Name Creek

Gallacher: He had a lot of tragedy in his life. Didn’t he lose his dad in an accident as well?

Weaver: Yes. It was 1978, Jim was supposed to present a paper in Lake Placid, New York, on June 30th. And Jess called insisting that they go to the cabin. He said, “I can see the aspens turning green on top, and we need to go.” Jim said, “Dad, look at the creek right next to your house. It’s crazy high.” It was June 25th, and the runoff was peaking.

Jess kept insisting, and Jim finally gave in and saddled the horses. I stayed home to look after Jim’s mom. Jim said, “We’ll be back soon. When we get to the crossing, Dad will see that it’s impossible.”

An hour or so later, here came Jim down the trail at a trot, and we never trotted a horse on that trail. He was crying. “I lost Dad,” he said. “When we got to the crossing, it was raging, but Dad was still insisting that we cross. He told me his mare was steady on her feet, and he was going. I told him to wait ’til I got a rope around him, but he just kicked her, and she stepped in, and the rapids rushed over her and Dad was gone.”

I called search and rescue, and then we rode back up to look for Jess and get the mare. She was still standing in the rapids, but we couldn’t get near the creek.

Search and rescue, Butch Blanco, Craig Westley and a bunch of others came up, and Craig was finally able to get the mare out. Screens were set up along No Name Creek, but days went by with no sign of Jess. Finally, after 10 days, we decided to have a memorial.

Two weeks later, they found Jess in the willows, not far from where he had fallen in.

Gallacher: Losing his dad like that must have haunted Jim.

Weaver: It did.

Gallacher: How did he make peace with that memory?

Weaver: Well, before the accident, Jess had been failing. He was losing his eyesight and his memory, and he was dealing with a bleeding ulcer and epilepsy. Jim felt that he was ready to die. He told me the last thing his dad said before he rode his horse into the rapids was, “If I make it, I make it, and if I don’t, I don’t.”

Gallacher: That’s quite a story.

Weaver: Yeah. A few years after Jess’s death, Jim and I were coming down the No Name Trail on horseback, and there were two Forest Service men coming up the trail carrying a sign. “We’re looking for Dr. Weaver,” they said.

They were carrying the sign for the “The Jess Weaver Trail.” We were so touched that the Forest Service had named the trail after Jess.

Gallacher: What was it like when you first met Jim? Was it love at first sight?

Weaver: Yes, for both of us. Jim would say, “The minute Kathie and I met one another, we fell in love.”

Gallacher: What do you think that was? What was it about him that …

Weaver: He was tall, blonde and really good looking and had beautiful blue eyes and a great body. He was funny. He had a very dry wit and didn’t speak much, but when he did, you wanted to listen, because it was important.

Gallacher: And you made a life together.

Weaver: That’s what we did. It was great. And then he died four years ago on the 20th of this month.

Gallacher: How has that been for you? Swimming in the river of grief?

Weaver: It was tough, Walter. Jim was my bestest friend. We were constantly together. Being an only child, he didn’t like being alone, and I was with him all the time.

Gallacher: You probably still see him “in all those old familiar places.”

Weaver: That’s why I walk the Jess Weaver Trail. That’s why I come here in the summer. That’s why I look up on the mountain and know all my relatives are up there, all his relatives and all our dogs, and so I’m at peace when I’m here for the summer.

Note: Kathie lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her spiritual guide and fur friend, Barney.

Stein column: Thank you for supporting our schools

Rob Stein

The November election results gave us plenty to be thankful for this holiday season. We are grateful for our community’s vote of confidence in our schools and the passing of a mill levy override to address a staffing crisis. We couldn’t have asked for a better holiday present, so thank you. Your investment in our schools will keep on giving for years to come.

This funding will be difference-making for so many of our teachers and staff members; it will directly impact the lives and futures of our students and families. Every student, teacher and staff member in the Roaring Fork Schools joins me in expressing gratitude to our community for supporting our schools. This funding will help us address our staffing crisis and ensure we have great teachers and staff members in every school. We can’t thank you enough for this investment in our future.

I also want to thank the many volunteers and supporters who made this happen. This started more than two years ago with an exploration committee who studied the issues, put together plans and made a recommendation to the Board of Education in August. Then a hard-working group of campaign volunteers walked neighborhoods, posted signs, wrote letters and raised funds. It was invigorating before the election to see so many teachers and supporters waving signs as morning and afternoon commuters drove down main streets.

And I want to thank the teachers and staff members who continue to hold it together under challenging conditions. As the sign says in my local coffee shop, “Please be patient with those of us who did show up for work today.” Staff shortages have burdened the remaining staff members enormously as they have picked up extra shifts, given up planning time to cover classes and generally had to do more with less.

Because it will take time to restructure our entire compensation plan for over 900 employees, we are offering an immediate $500 hiring bonus for new staff who join us from December through March. Please spread the word, and you might even consider picking up a shift yourself.

The election was actually one for the history books for the Roaring Fork Schools: Almost 70% of voters supported the mill levy override to pay our teachers and staff a living wage, which is the strongest vote of support for a school district initiative at least in the last few decades.

We didn’t take this election for granted. While our communities have historically supported education measures, we find ourselves in a truly unique time. We’re in the second year of a pandemic, and many are still feeling economic pain and uncertainty. For so many to vote for a tax increase during such a hard time is generous indeed.

While our community has rallied around education, there’s no denying that the school board meetings around the country have reflected the polarization and tension in our nation. While people disagree about so much right now, it’s important that we all agree on having great schools. Thank you for coming together around this most worthy cause: our kids. Have a joyous and restful Thanksgiving this year.

Rob Stein is superintendent of Roaring Fork District schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

Torres column: All bodies are unique and should be appreciated

Before I started weight lifting, I weighed 130 to 135 pounds. I loved my body back then. I did not compare my body with someone else. I didn’t even know there was a difference between my body and others’. It could be because the society where I grew up did not give attention to insignificant details.

One day I was working with a body builder. I noticed his body was different than mine. We worked together doing an extremely physical job. I remember asking him how he got his body. I asked if he did it by doing the physical work of our job. He answered, “No, I wish. I exercise.”

I remember being in harmony with my body. I didn’t dislike my body. I never thought about my long neck, skinny legs, skinny arms, small belly and flat chest. I only set up a goal, and I worked towards it. Setting my goals was important, but it was not enough. It was my actions — what I was doing to increase my muscle mass. I started going to the gym every day. I stopped drinking. I was tired from work, but I still went to the gym and gave my best. I started eating differently than I was before.

Finally, I started to see results after three months. I was not, however, where I wanted to be. So I continued. Three years later, I reached my first plateau. Still, I saw other guys more muscular than me. They were in the gym, magazines, movies, music videos. … I wanted to be like them. I tried harder, but my body was not built to be bigger. Sometimes, “friends” would come and ask me if I stopped lifting weights because I was smaller. They knew that phrase would bother me.

After taking my time meditating and studying my past, I understood that I was happy with my body, no matter what others said. And one of the reasons why I didn’t care was because the environment never put ideas about a perfect body in me. I started caring when others contributed to my thoughts.

I kept studying my journey. I noticed that I replaced many bad habits by good habits. As an example, I replaced drinking with exercising. My body shape changed; I’m stronger; I have more energy; my clothing fits me better; and I hardly get sick. My happiness was not the “new body” but the good habits I acquired. So I continue practicing all the new habits.

Later, I understood that many guys in magazines take drugs and other guys have a different type of body than I do. Drugs or supplements? No, I care too much about my health to take a risk. There are three types of bodies for men and women: endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. I’m classified as an ectomorph. The mesomorph tends to be more muscular than my body build. It is impossible for me to be as muscular as the weight-lifting mesomorph. This did not mean that I can’t work around my body type and make it healthy and attractive.

I noticed that it doesn’t matter what type of frame some people have, they usually are not happy with it. They want to have someone else’s frame. Skinny girls want bigger hips and many girls who have bigger hips want to be like the skinny girls.

I started to accept my body again. And the perception of the “perfect body” went away. I achieved a perfect body. It was healthy, stronger, more energetic and had good posture and more muscle development.

The reality is that we can have an attractive body, be physical and mentally healthy no matter the type of frame we have.

To clarify, accept yourself, love your body the way it is, care for it, exercise it and nourish it with healthy food. Don’t get persuaded by others. See your clear, realistic goal and start working toward it. What’s most important? What are you going to do every day to get there? Stop drinking? Eat organic? Get rid of junk food? Exercise? Make your new lifestyle a habit.

Find your body type, work it, and, please, for the love of God, don’t compare yourself with someone else. You are unique the way you are. You are beautiful. You may improve your physical appearance by losing weight, toning your body and improving your posture, but only compare yourself with your old you. … That is when you start seeing results. Everything begins with the mind and becomes physical when you work for it.

Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Basalt and Glenwood Springs and author of the books “Lose Weight Permanently” and “Finding Genuine Happiness.” His column usually appears on the third Wednesday of the month.

Doctor’s Tip: A potpourri of health tips

MOUTH MICROBIOME: An unhealthy profile of bacteria in your mouth contributes to gum and tooth disease (gingivitis and periodontitis respectively). These conditions cause inflammation that contributes to formation of plaque in arteries. Furthermore, this inflammation is often the trigger that causes rupture of arterial plaque—the cause of heart attacks and most strokes. Dentists who understand the mouth/vascular connection can order a profile of your mouth microbiome, which if abnormal can be treated appropriately with antibiotics and other measures. However, the downside of such treatment is that antibiotics kill the good mouth (and gut) bacteria along with the bad. Dr. Greger’s website nutritionfacts.org presents information indicating that the best way to attain and maintain a healthy mouth microbiome is through a plant-based, whole food diet (search gingivitis, periodontitis on this website).

ARE COMMERCIAL STOOL TESTS USEFUL FOR DETERMINING GUT MICROBIOME HEALTH? No. These are advertised on the internet, but are not ready for prime time yet — they have not been shown to be accurate or useful.

PHYSICIAN/PHARMACEUTICAL COZINESS: An editorial in the October issue of the American Family Physician journal states that in 2016 the pharmaceutical industry spent 20.3 billion dollars on marketing directly to health care professionals, in an effort to convince them to prescribe their products. The industry places ads in medical journals, sponsors conferences, hires drug reps to influence prescribers via face-to-face visits, and in 2016 spent $979 million on direct payment to physicians. The editorial makes the following recommendations: 1) Physicians should not visit with pharmaceutical reps or allow them in their offices. 2) Physicians should not accept gifts, meals, or direct payments from industry. 3) Physicians should refuse free drug samples for their patients, because there are almost always cheaper alternatives.

PREVENTING BLOOD CLOTS WHEN FLYING: Prolonged sitting associated with flying can cause blood clots in the legs, which can go to the lungs and cause life-threatening pulmonary emboli. To prevent this, contract the muscles in your legs frequently, hydrate well, avoid alcohol, walk about for 10 to 15 minutes at least every 2 hours, and consider wearing knee-high elastic compression stockings. People with risk factors such as history of clots, cancer, or recent surgery should have an injection of the “blood thinner” heparin (40 mg. of Lovenox) on the day of travel and again the following day.

HOW MUCH EXERCISE? We know that exercise prolongs life and improves quality of life. It improves cognition and reduces risk of dementia, anxiety, and depression. It improves sleep, lowers risk of heart disease, strokes, and hypertension. It reduces weight gain, lowers risk of falls, lowers risk of type 2 diabetes, and decreases the risk of many cancers. The current Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity such as jogging, singles tennis, bicycling at least 10 mph, hiking uphill or with a heavy pack, or high-intensity interval training. If you prefer less vigorous exercise, the recommendation would be at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, doubles tennis, bicycling slower than 10 mph on level terrain, active forms of yoga, ballroom dancing, or water aerobics. In addition, the Guidelines recommend strengthening legs, hips, abs, chest, shoulders, and arms twice a week.

DOES CBD WORK? CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-intoxicating component of marijuana. It is being touted for several conditions including pain, and has become big business. According to the October issue of Nutrition Action, published by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, a recent study in Australia showed it did not help with low back pain compared to a placebo. The FDA has approved only one CBD product — a prescription drug to treat a certain type of seizure.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Doctor’s Tip: Update on osteoporosis

Osteoporosis (brittle bones) often leads to fractures. About 20% of American women and 4% of men aged 50 or older have osteoporosis. Another 50% of women and 30% of men have osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis).

Osteoporosis causes over 1.5 million fractures annually in the U.S. White women age 50 and older who do not receive estrogen replacement have a 46% risk of sustaining an osteoporotic fracture during the remainder of their lives. Hip fractures are a major cause of disability and placement in long-term care facilities. Fractures in the vertebrae cause a bent-forward deformity of the spine that interferes with quality of life.

The November issue of Nutrition Action, published by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, has an interview with Bess Dawson-Hughes, an endocrinologist and professor at Tufts University in Boston, who is former president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. She notes that throughout life, bone is constantly being remodeled by cells called osteoclasts that absorb bone, and osteoblasts, cells that make bone.

There is a net bone gain until we reach our peak bone mass at age 25-30. At menopause, due to drop in estrogen levels, the balance is changed so the average menopausal women loses 2-3% of her bone density every year for five to eight years, after which she loses about 1% a year. Starting at around age 50, the average man loses about 1% a year for the rest of his life, due at least in part to a drop in testosterone levels. People who develop osteoporosis have a greater than normal rate of bone loss.

Osteoporosis is diagnosed by a DEXA scan, available locally. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends this test at age 65 for women and 70 for men, but earlier if risk factors such as a previous fracture are present. Abnormal loss of height is a red flag for osteoporosis: Most people lose 1.5 inches as they age, due to drying out and collapsing of the discs between the vertebrae. Loss of height beyond that is a sign of compression fractures of the spine, which often are painless. To estimate your fracture risk, go online to Sheffield.ac.ukFRAX and click on the calculation tool.

The most common risk factors for osteoporosis are: 1) aging; 2) deficiency of estrogen in women and testosterone in men; 3) heavy alcohol use; 4) smoking; 5) long-term proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole; 6) long-term steroid (cortisone) use; 7) anti-testosterone prostate cancer treatment in men; 8) overactive thyroid or parathyroid glands; 8) low physical activity; 9) malabsorption diseases such as celiac disease; 10) early menopause; and 11) a Western diet. Of interest is that obesity is associated with stronger bones, because fat cells manufacture estrogen.

Why does a Western diet increase risk? Dr. Dawson-Hughes explains that the typical American diet, which is based on animal products and refined grains, is acidic, whereas a plant-based diet is alkaline. Bone is alkaline, so the body dissolves bone to neutralize the acid associated with a Western diet.

If you want to prevent or treat osteoporosis, eat a plant-based, unprocessed food diet and cut back on or avoid animal products and refined food. Adequate calcium is important throughout life and is best obtained through green leafy vegetables and legumes, including soy. Of interest is that people who drink more cow’s milk have a higher incidence of osteoporosis and fractures. Calcium supplements are controversial, but adequate vitamin D levels are important for strong bones, and many people need D supplements.

Weight-bearing exercise in the upright position most days of the week is important for bone health. Jogging, hiking, stair climbing and racquet sports are best. But if you have brittle bones, engage in safer activities such as walking. Dr. Dawson-Hughes also recommends muscle-strengthening exercises two or three days a week, which not only increase bone density but also make people stronger and therefore less apt to fall.

There are medications for osteoporosis such as Fosamax. They can have side effects, but if you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, the health risks from having a fracture outweighs risks of side effects from these medications. Postmenopausal estrogen is another way to prevent and treat osteoporosis, but risks must be considered. Medications are not recommended for osteopenia.

Dr. Feinsinger is a retired family physician with special interest in disease prevention and reversal through nutrition. Free services through Center For Prevention and The People’s Clinic include: one-hour consultations, shop-with-a-doc at Carbondale City Market and cooking classes. Call 970-379-5718 for appointment or email gfeinsinger@comcast.net.

Whiting column: The pros and cons of developing new housing

In the last month, I received several requests for a column advocating denial of the recent West Glenwood annexation proposal and an equal number requesting a column advocating approval.

Given that numerous other valley development requests are already on the table and others are sure to emerge, the most productive approach would be to provide a pro/con discussion of the elements involved in a housing development decision.


<The more units built, whether rented or owned, increases supply, and will exert downward pressure on price.

<Assuming the people living in the units work in that community, there will be reduced traffic on the roads into town because fewer people will be commuting from up or down valley. Ramifications would include:

  • Fewer accidents, reducing repair and medical expense;
  • Fewer employees late getting to work or home when the road is difficult or closed due to weather, rockfall, snow, accident, etc;
  • Reduction in the use of gasoline;
  • Reduction in exhaust-caused air pollution and contribution to climate change;
  • Reduction in household income spent on the commuting process;
  • Increased opportunity for family time and involvement in school and community;
  • 94% of people prefer to live where they work.

<An increase in the property’s valuation, consequently increasing property tax receipts.

<An increase in local sales tax revenue, which funds local infrastructure and amenities.

<An increase in local employment in construction, materials sales, and businesses servicing the additional local population.

<If the development is a condominium or apartment model, density is increased, which maximizes the use of the scarce resource — land — which also can facilitate additional open space.

<The possible increase in availability of desired retail products and services.


<Local population will increase.

<There will be an increase in local traffic. Not traffic to work, because that will be a wash, but traffic to schools, grocery store, other local businesses, etc.

<Increase in land occupied by residential parking and an increase in on-street parking.

<Increased need for a scarce resource: treated and untreated water.

<Increased need for police, fire and other city services, increasing the city budget.

<Increased population, requiring additional education and medical services.

<Increased infrastructure needs such as roads, streetlights and local traffic mitigation.

<The increased tax revenue resulting from increased population follows the increased need for services by 6-18 months, creating a short-term cash flow issue for the city.

<Potentially an initial lack of egress in relationship to increased population.

<The nature of the neighborhood may change.

This is not a comprehensive list of the pro/con elements, but hopefully enough to facilitate additional thought as we determine our individual opinion on a development proposal.

There are applicable concepts that are not pro/con, but universal economic concepts regarding development.

  • The need for housing is unlikely to go away since the need has been around for decades and is a corollary to any desirable place to live.
  • Development is not an origination function; it is a resultant function. The origination function is availability of employment. People aren’t coming here because we have housing but because the jobs are here. They desire to live where they work.
  • Most locations without an affordable housing issue also have an employment problem, crime problem and insufficient tax revenue for desired amenities.

Development issues are a population issue. If we allow people to come here, there is an inherent responsibility to provide them with a job, a safe place to live and an education.

It doesn’t matter whether the population increase is a result of the availability of employment, birth rate or immigration from urban areas or another country; the only way to minimize development is to deal with population. The best way to deal with that is beyond my purview.

It is our responsibility to make an educated decision regarding development and other issues.

Bryan Whiting of Glenwood Springs believes in nonpartisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to bwpersonalresponsibility@gmail.com.

Mark Hillman column: Republicans must face the truth about 2020 and move on

Republicans must confront the “elephant in the room” – former President Trump’s persistent claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Many Republicans believe him. Most Americans do not.

By 2-to-1, independent voters believe the 2020 election was legitimate. Yet they are rapidly souring on President Biden due to soaring energy costs, empty store shelves, under-staffed businesses, rising consumer prices, the border crisis, our Afghanistan humiliation, growing threats from China, and the realization that Biden cannot be trusted.

Those are the important issues Republicans must address, contrary to former President Trump’s edict that the most important issue is “solving” the “Election Fraud of 2020” or else Republicans won’t vote in 2022 and 2024. His is a narcissistic prescription for political surrender.

Upon hearing Trump’s edict, Democrats laughed and cheered. They know the one thing that can rescue them from the growing anti-Biden backlash is Republicans foolishly refusing to vote.

All election complaints are not created equal, so let’s consider complaints about 2020 on their own merits:

Many states used COVID-19 as an excuse to loosen voting procedures in 2020 and did so without approval by their state legislatures, as required by the U.S. Constitution. It’s frustrating that the Supreme Court did not rule on these dubious changes before the election. Worse still, the court refused to hear a post-election challenge in Pennsylvania that wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the election but could have drawn a bright line against future changes by officials who lack authority.

Under our Constitution, establishing voting procedures is the responsibility of state lawmakers. In contentious states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, neither party can change the law without cooperation from the other. Republicans don’t have the power to “solve” these problems alone, so when Trump threatens them with electoral suicide, Democrats are all too happy to do nothing and watch it happen.

Next, both social media and legacy media colluded prior to the election to censor factual stories that could have damaged Biden. Big tech censorship is a big problem, but it won’t be resolved while Democrats control Congress, because they know this censorship favors their party. If Republicans stay home next November or in 2024, how does that help?

Finally, what about Trump’s claims that voter fraud cost him the election?

Most everyone near Trump in November 2020 told him there was no verifiable evidence that the election was stolen. His own campaign lawyers discredited claims that Dominion used Smartmatic technology to change votes and blew up Rudy Giuliani’s bizarre assertion that they are counted in Spain.

Trump’s hand-picked White House counsel, Pat Cipollone, told him it was wrong to pressure the Justice Department to pursue unprovable claims of voter fraud. Attorney General William Barr, whom Trump appointed, told him that DOJ had found no evidence that voter fraud changed the outcome of the election and that wild claims by Sidney Powell and others were “bulls—.”

If there was documented election fraud, even in one key state, one of these hand-picked Trump lawyers would have pursued it.

The recent recount by pro-Trump forces in Maricopa County, Arizona, actually gave Biden a larger margin of victory and disproved several other dubious claims. Likewise, a hand recount in Georgia produced a result that mirrored original county-level tallies, except in one county where an election clerk was fired after discovery of 2,600 uncounted ballots.

In Colorado, former Secretary of State Wayne Williams has persuasively testified to the security of our election system. Our voter tabulation systems are required to be completely isolated from unsecured networks, including the internet. Dominion voting systems, used in 62 Colorado counties, are tested before and after each election and have passed, literally, 100% of 868 accuracy tests. Trump’s own Homeland Security Secretary “cited Colorado’s election processes as the best in the nation.”

It’s high time for Republicans to face the facts about the 2020 election and direct their fighting spirit toward solutions for America’s future.

Most Americans have tuned out Trump’s face-saving claims that the 2020 election was stolen, because it obviously was not. They want leaders who present a positive vision for our future — not ones obsessed with recriminations about the past.

Mark Hillman served as Senate Majority Leader and State Treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.

Vidakovich column: The Biscuit and War Admiral

Near the end of this past summer, I made mention in one of my columns about the two horses and one donkey to whom I would often stop to give treats on my morning runs on the road to the Glenwood Fish Hatchery. About a month ago, I noticed that the older horse that I referred to as Seabiscuit was not with Sherman the donkey or the jet-black horse that I called War Admiral.

When I would get up close to my three buddies this summer, feeding them apple slices, it was easy for me to see that Seabiscuit had been around for a while. He walked to the fence each morning gingerly and well behind the other two. His ribcage showed, and the graying on his head was easy to spot. I always made sure I gave him a few more bits of apple than the other two.

One evening, just after sunset, I was running down the road by the field, and I stopped to chat with Sherman and War Admiral. While I was there, a gentleman whom I often see on the road walking stopped and asked if I had noticed that one of the animals was missing. I told him of course I had and asked where Seabiscuit was.

The words I had feared came out gently in a manner designed not to alarm me, but the sadness hit hard, and it was tough not to show emotion in front of the stranger when he told me that the horse’s owner, Bruce Bowles, had to put him down.

He explained to me that it was a tough day for everyone, since he is a good friend of Bruce. The horse was 32 years old and was in such poor health, it was a sure bet that he would not have made it through the winter. I let him know that I had called the horse Seabiscuit, after the great racehorse from the 1930s. When he told me the real name of the horse was Wiley, I found it ironic, since I had run that same road up to the fish hatchery and above for many years with my friend Bob Willey.

Though my anatomy still suggests otherwise, I am convinced at times that I am part female. The emotion that took control after learning of Seabiscuit’s fate had me fighting back tears during the rest of the journey down the road and to my house.

A few mornings after learning of Seabiscuit’s passing, I sat along the fence near the two remaining animals and looked east toward Lookout Mountain in the early morning light. There’s always a sense of peace following a run, and as I gazed across the river at all the car lights on Midland Avenue filled with Mr. and Ms. Frenzy, in their desperate hurry to go nowhere, I thought of Laura Hillenbrand’s wonderful book about the life of Seabiscuit and all the fascinating people that were associated with the champion horse.

I then looked just down the road into the field at the spot where I had been told Bruce had to lay his friend of 32 years to rest. It must have been a tough day for him and his wife. It’s hard to say goodbye to any loved one.

War Admiral and Sherman are still in the field for me to greet and feed in the mornings, and there are two others named Copper and Seven in the adjacent pasture to whom I stop to give apples and carrots also, so I am still in very good company.

Just so you know, on Nov. 1, 1938, the real Seabiscuit and War Admiral ran against each other in a match race at the Pimlico race track in Baltimore, Maryland, in what is still widely regarded as the greatest horse race ever. ‘Biscuit won that day, and retired two years later as the leading money-winning horse in the world after his victory in the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap.

I wish I could have been there that day to give him some apple slices and say a proper goodbye.

Glenwood Springs native Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer, teacher and youth sports coach. His column appears on occasion in the Post Independent and at PostIndependent.com.