Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm Not Lazy, This is My PT

I grew up thinking the image of a person sitting behind a desk, with feet up on that desk, represented laziness or arrogance. Recently, though, I had an experience that has caused me to re-evaluate that idea, and now see that person with feet upon desk as someone taking care of his or her health.
It goes something like this. A few days ago, my daughter and two granddaughters were visiting. I was walking around barefoot, and my daughter commented that my feet were swollen. What she said, in actuality was, “Dad, your feet look like Fred Flintstone’s.” I’d not suffered any discomfort or pain, so I really hadn’t noticed. But, after her remark, I looked down, and dammit, my feet were a bit puffy. We then noticed that the veins and bone structure I could usually see on the back of my hands was also missing – my hands were a bit swollen.
The two of us did some research, and learned that this kind of edema is caused by blood pooling in the extremities. Unless it’s a symptom of RA or heart problems, it’s not really dangerous, but can become uncomfortable if not brought under control. The recommendations we found were surprising, but simple. Decrease salt intake, increase exercise, increase intake of citric acid (from lemons and limes, which can be added to water), and elevate the swollen limbs above the heart for about 30 minutes a day. Elevating hands is easy, but if you work in an office environment, the only way to elevate your feet is to put them on your desk or computer work table.
Doing it in my home office is no problem, but I just happened to be about to leave on a trip to consult with some DOD colleagues at a research facility, so I’d be working in a lab with four or five other people. I explained my situation, and they laughed, but encouraged me to give it a try. To my surprise, within two days, the swelling in m y hands had completely subsided, and decreased considerably in my feet – more in the right foot than the left, but noticeable in both. Thing was, I also figured out how to get the same amount of work done.
So, the next time you see someone leaning back with feet on desk, don’t think ‘lazy bum.’ That person is just doing a little valuable physical therapy to improve health and lengthen work life.