Julie Bain

5 Things You Need to Know About Tooth Pain

August 15, 2012 at 9:05 am , by

I was stressed out last week for a bunch of reasons. So when I woke up Monday morning with pain in my teeth, jaw and ear on the right side, I figured I’d been clenching my jaw in my sleep. Yep, it must be TMJ pain, I thought. (That’s the temporo-mandibular joint; put your finger right in front of that triangular area in front of your ear and then open and close your jaw; you’ll feel it.) Turns out I was in denial, the first of what I call The Five Stages of Dental Grief.

No, I thought. I do not, and cannot, have a major, expensive dental problem right now. I have too many other things to deal with. I will take ibuprofen, and it will go away. Yes, that throbbing, steady, can’t-think-of-anything-else pain on the upper right side Will. Go. Away. Right? This phase lasted three days. The pain didn’t go away.

At the dentist’s office: “Could be from clenching my teeth, right?” “Hmm,” he said, peering at the digital X-ray. “You have a little cavity here. Want to take care of that right now?” Just a cavity? Yes! That will solve it! “But I can’t guarantee it will stop the pain,” he added. Ugh. The anesthesia brought sweet relief. For a while. But when it wore off, the pain came, back, sharper than ever. TMJ pain on top of new filling, I wondered?

The next day, I also started feeling excruciating sensitivity to cold. And now I could tell that the pain and sensitivity were centered on the upper back molar, next to the one that had the cavity. I’m a health editor, so I knew that wasn’t good. “Patients can have some degree of cold sensitivity from receding gums,” says Melanie Kim, D.M.D., an endodontist in New York City. “But if it starts to become sharp and extends for a period of time after it’s triggered, that is usually a nerve issue.” A nerve issue. As in: I may need a root canal. $#*! Hello, Stage 2: Read more

The Sound of Music Behind the Scenes

April 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm , by

The hills are alive… Raindrops on roses… I am 16 going on 17… Climb every mountain… How do you solve a problem… A drink with jam and bread… So long, farewell… Every morning you greet me…

If you can jump right in and sing every one of these with me, you’re officially a Sound of Music junkie. So are we. My colleagues Amelia (left) and Lauren (right) and I were so excited to meet with Kym Karath, who played Gretl, the baby of the von Trapp family, in the iconic 1965 movie. She’s holding the new book that all the “kids” worked on together, called The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook. As if you couldn’t tell that’s her. She looks exactly the same!

The book is a blast, full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes, photos and memorabilia. It even includes a DVD of home movies. I love the section called “Rock the Boat,” about the famous scene where the kids and their governess return home from their revels wearing the play clothes lovingly made out of the ugly, about-to-be-retired curtains. All hell breaks loose when they see that their father, Captain von Trapp, has returned from his travels with the elegant baroness. They jump up to greet him and the boat capsizes.

Well, the water was murky and had leeches on the bottom. The kids had to do four takes and, worst of all, 5-year-old Kym didn’t know how to swim. Julie Andrews was supposed to fall forward and catch Kym at the same time, which she did perfectly on the first take. On the second try, however, Andrews fell off the backside of the boat and little Kym “sank to the bottom of the lake like a boulder.” “I swallowed a lot of lake water,” Karath says. “You can imagine my mother’s reaction. They had to restrain her from jumping in. She couldn’t swim either.”

Luckily, the son of the assistant director dove in and saved Kym, and the take was the one used in the film. But when you watch the movie, you’ll notice a jump cut to Heather Menzies, who played Louisa. They had to edit out the footage of the rescue, after which the poor girl, who’d swallowed so much murky lake water, promptly threw up all over Heather’s costume.

The book (which would make a great Mother’s Day gift!) is full of fascinating stories like that—guaranteed to make watching the movie again a whole new experience.


The New Preventable Epidemic

March 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm , by

I remember my dad saying that one of the few regrets he had in life was not taking better care of his teeth. By his 60s he had lost many of them and hated his dentures. He was typical; in fact, 43 percent of adults 65 and older have lost six or more teeth because of decay or gum disease, according to the CDC.

I have regrets, too. During college and the low-income years as a newbie journalist that followed, I procrastinated on my dental visits, too. The result? Several root canals and a couple of mega-expensive metal implants. Thousands of dollars and quite a bit of pain later, I learned my lesson for good. Now I see my dentist every six months like clockwork—and that definitely saves money in the long run. (Read our award-winning article by Sharlene Johnson on how to save on dental care here.)

But taking care of your teeth and gums saves you more than money—it could even save your life. Gum disease creates a nasty type of bacteria that can travel throughout your body, causing inflammation or infections that may lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes or pneumonia. In rare cases, oral infections can be fatal. Even in kids.

Yes, kids. And now there’s a new demographic whose teeth we need to worry about: preschoolers. A shocking story on page 1 of The New York Times today by Catherine Saint Louis is a must-read for any parent. In it, she writes that “dentists nationwide say they are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more. The level of decay, they added, is so severe that they often recommend using general anesthesia because young children are unlikely to sit through such extensive procedure while they’re awake.” (Read it here, including really good advice from dentists.)

My jaw dropped when I read this article. In it, several dentists talk about using general anesthesia on very young kids who needed extensive work, including root canals and crowns. Apparently this has gotten pretty common. The culprit? Endless snacking and juices. And not brushing kids’ teeth. Parents need to step up to the plate on this vital health issue. Using general anesthesia on kids is risky—and really expensive. Dental problems can lead to lifelong health problems and reduced quality of life. And most important, it’s all preventable. You won’t regret it.

Photo copyright soupstock—Fotolia.com


We Love Our High Heels

February 23, 2012 at 10:26 am , by

At the Saks flagship store shoe sale recently (yes, its shoe department really is big enough to have its own zip code!), I was mesmerized by table after table loaded with five-, six- and even seven-inch heels—all marked down. “So this must mean that the giant platform high-heel craze is on the wane?” I asked the dapper salesguy standing nearby.

“Not at all,” he replied. “You should see the styles that are just coming in!” So okay, I bought the five-inch pair above.

Our fashion editor, Sue Erneta, agrees that shoes aren’t coming down to earth quite yet. “We’re still seeing tons of high, high, high heels,” she says. She loves the platform styles because at 5-foot-1, she says they give her the lift she needs. “And a platform in a high heel is much easier to walk in—especially if it has a chunkier heel for stability,” she says (although her leopard-print pumps, left, don’t have that). She pulls one off and demonstrates how to subtract the platform height (an inch) from the heel height (four inches) to get the adjusted actual lift (a mere three). Sue’s Algorithm: Is this the new math?

There is also a return to the more classic, ladylike pump without a platform, she says (like the one my fellow healthlady, Jessica, is wearing, below). Some of them are super-pointy, too. Those can really mess up your feet! “I don’t wear anything I find uncomfortable,” says Sue. Hmm. Fashion editors may have a different pain threshold than us mere mortals.

Still, we have to admit, we love our high heels. That’s why we created our story “Killer Heels” in the March issue, with everything you need to know about skyscrapers and the foot problems they can cause. We know you can’t give them up completely. Neither can we. Hey, we believe that with sexy shoes—as with all things chocolate—moderation is the key.

Twinkies and the Weight-Loss Blues

January 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm , by

Know any good Twinkie jokes? I just read that Hostess Brands Inc. is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and, as a health editor, I’ll shed no tears for the freefall of its junk-food sales. But I do feel some nostalgia for those sugary (and indestructible) lunchbox treats of my youth.

I grew up in the Midwest when processed and convenience foods were new and a novelty. My mom had been a home economist and food editor at Meredith Corp. in Des Moines, Iowa—the same company I work for now (parent of LHJ and other brands). Mom believed in home-cooked meals, including fresh produce from the garden when possible, and desserts only for special occasions. But sometimes, when my brother or sister and I begged for the sugary cereals we saw on Saturday morning TV commercials (Quisp and Quake!) or those hot-pink gelatinous Hostess Sno Balls others had in their lunchboxes, Mom would give in. But in general, we were all about moderation. We didn’t drink a lot of sodas, didn’t snack much, and we ran around and played outside all year round. We were not overweight and we seldom saw kids who were.

I learned more about food and nutrition as I grew up, and went through every food fad, from the Julia Child classical French experiments of the ’70s to the low-fat, high-carb, pasta- and Snackwell’s-eating ’80s to the high-protein bacon-scented Atkins ’90s to the locavore, whole-foods 2000s. Somehow, through it all, I’ve savored and enjoyed all kinds of foods without much dieting or obsessing. In fact, I’ve pretty much managed to stay within 10 pounds of my high-school weight for several decades. Nothing that virtuous about it: I just never went way overboard—and (here’s the real secret), I never starved myself.

The more we learn about metabolism, the more we know how much dieting screws it up—sometimes for life. Once you gain a lot of weight, it’s really, really hard to lose it and then keep it off. Big weight loss changes your physiology in ways we’re just beginning to understand, and only the most disciplined people seem to be able to maintain it. Tara Parker-Pope wrote a fascinating piece about this called “The Fat Trap”  in The New York Times recently, and it’s worth a read. Maintaining weight loss is possible, not hopeless. But the best bet is never to gain much weight in the first place.

Of course, that advice is much too late for a lot of folks. And the New Year is when they decide to do something about it. That’s why our friends at Yahoo! tell us that online searches for “how to lose weight quickly” are up more than 300 percent, and interest is extremely high right now for “Snooki weight loss.” How did the pint-size Jersey Shore star get down to 98 pounds? I don’t think I want to know. And based on the latest research, sadly, her loss probably won’t last.

Photo by Christian Cable on flickr.com.

What We Love Most About the Holidays

December 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm , by

Our staff here at Ladies’ Home Journal is not just incredibly talented, hard-working and yes, nice (hear that, Santa?), but they’re also a sentimental bunch. So we’ve shared some of our favorite rituals, memories and traditions below—just for fun.

Ever since I got my French bulldog, Smuckers, two years ago, my obsession is designing holiday cards featuring him in festive garb. (I use tinyprints.com.) Last year he was an elf (a pretty angry-looking one); this year he’s dressed as Peeved (left), one of Santa’s lesser-known reindeer. Lest you feel too sorry for him, note that he was paid handsomely in cheese cubes for enduring the three-minute photo shoot. And if you think this makes me a little bit crazy, well…you might be right. But with a face like that, how can I resist? —Jessica Brown, features editor

When my son, Oliver, was 3 we gave him his first Duplo blocks. He loved them so much it started a holiday tradition, and we still give him a Lego set each year. He’s 19 now! —Jeffrey Saks, creative director

When I was little, my parents had one Christmas record that we played over and over: The Andy Williams Christmas Album. Now I have it on CD, and I love listening to it (no matter how uncool) because it brings back good memories of opening presents with my brothers. —Kate Lawler, executive editor

What I love most about the holidays is that my 85-year-old mom is vibrant, happy and healthy and is still around to share this special season with us. —Sally Lee, editor-in-chief

I always feel grateful at Christmastime (when I’m not cursing the crazy crowds, that is) that I live in New York City. This time of year is pure magic in the Big Apple! —Lorraine Glennon, senior books & articles editor

Ever since I’ve outgrown toys, I’m all about the cookies this time of year. Christmas. Hanukkah. Kwanzaa. Las Posadas. Whatever. I’m totally interfaith and multicultural in the month of December. Whoever/whatever you celebrate, I will eat your cookies. And, no matter how Grinchy I get in the hustle and bustle of the holidays, the Charlie Brown Christmas album by Vince Guaraldi always brings a smile to my face. (And gets me dancing like a Peanut.) —Ron Kelly, managing editor

For me, it’s decorating the house. This year I’ve tapped into my inner Martha Stewart by putting a Christmas tree in every major room. My big helper is my 3-year-old, who likes to hang all the ornaments on the same branch. Sigh. —Susan Pocharski, entertainment director Read more

What Are We Thankful For?

November 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm , by

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Relatively untainted by commercial endeavors (despite earlier store openings to get a jump on Black Friday), it’s a day of togetherness, loved ones, great food and wine, football, autumn leaves, fighting over who’s going to do the dishes and, yes, being grateful for what you’ve got. Studies have shown that expressing what you’re grateful for reduces stress and increases your well-being, but we already knew that! So in the spirit of the season (and because it’s more fun than getting our real work done), some of our LHJ staffers share what they’re most thankful for right now:

• I’m thankful for my best friend and roomie Nadine, who just finished chemo cycle number nine and still cooks for me. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor at 24. I’m so happy that she’s chugging through her treatment. Even though it’s hard sometimes, we still make it to happy hour when we can! —Amelia Harnish, editorial assistant

• I’m thankful for going to see the new Muppet movie with old friends from high school when we are all home for the holidays. —Gab Porcaro, associate fashion editor

• I’m thankful for my new husband—and for the fact that I don’t have to plan a wedding ever again. —Catherine LeFebvre, senior editor, lhj.com

• I am thankful that my Save the Children sponsor child writes me back and says that his favorite subject in school is reading. —Ron Kelly, managing editor

Ron’s also funny, so we had to give him two more:
• I am thankful that neither of my cats have expressed an interest in going to college.
• One thing I’m not thankful for is that there are no pajama jeans for men, which would surely make the aftermath of Thanksgiving dinner a whole lot more comfortable. (Granted, not for my family, but for me.)

• I’m grateful every day that I have two amazing daughters that inspire me and make me want to be my best self. —Diane Malloy, publisher

• I’m thankful for all the delicious afternoon snacks that come out of our LHJ test kitchens. (Hey, chocolate cake is good for your soul!) I’m also thankful that my wonderful parents are in good health—and still happily married after 53 years.  —Kate Lawler, executive editor Read more