Monday, 18 October 2010

Here comes the rain again

As early as 3pm last Friday, I've been battered by warnings of super typhoon codename "Megi" entering the Philippines area of responsibility. After experiencing Ondoy last year, I must admit that I joined the bandwagon and forwarded the warning to my office e-group, posted on FB (right) and texted my loved ones to prepare. 

Well, it's Monday and the weekend was bright and sunny. Alas, I heeded the warning and cancelled diving in Anilao thinking that the waves will be choppy. 

PAGASA short for the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has forever been criticized for errors in storm predictions. In fact, this prompted PNoy last Augsut to dismiss then-PAGASA administrator Dr. Prisco Nilo, for failure to warn residents of Typhoon Basyang (international codename "Conson") on July 14. The typhoon claimed 8 lives, left more than 3,000 stranded at ports nationwide and found Luzon with no electricity .

I know that its better to be safe than sorry but I must say that PAGASA over did it. At 3pm last Friday, I received this warning: "Megi is expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility around midnight or early Saturday morning.  International weather models indicate that it will continue to gain strength as it remains over water and may possibly reach "super typhoon" strength within 24 to 48 hours. PAGASA advised the general public and local disaster risk reduction managers to prepare and take precautionary measures."

Sad to say that Gai was right for commenting on my FB post that ""if PAGASA predicted it, chances of wreaking that kind of havoc... are next to nil." Even Kane tweeted yesterday "Told you tweeps. Pag OA ang PAG-ASA sa warnings at forecast, hindi darating ang ulan, bagyo, at baha."

For weather warnings and advisories, I will now be referring to more reliable weather sites like the Japan Metropolitan Agency. The storm's path is detailed day-by-day including it's intensity, center position, direction, wind speed and gustiness. As of 6pm tonight, the site says that the storm's intensity is indeed 'very strong' and is heading west southwest at 25 kph towards South China Sea and will be outside the Philippines by tomorrow.

As I type the wind is now howling scarily and the rain pounding. "Megi" dubbed locally as super typhoon Juan has weakened and slowed down and is now in Manila. It has unfortunately left Isabela, a province north of Manila, under a state of calamity. Yesterday, it was declared storm signal number "four" in the area, the ultimate public storm signal warning issued by PAGASA. I do hope that the provinces were well prepared for super typhoon Juan because of the early warnings.  I, on the other hand, must be cautious in heeding warnings lest I want to cancel another weekend or make my 81-year old mom worry unnecessarily.


Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Are you OA?

Guilty! Yes, I am OA.  I was recently diagnosed with joint effusion which is really osteoarthritis or OA. The x-ray confirmed the diagnosis. The report says "impression: beginning degenerative changes."

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease which is one of the leading causes of disability amongst elderly men and women.

At the World Arthritis Day forum today though, I found out that this disease is not age specific. Women are more prone to OA and tend to start developing symptoms in their 30s and 40s and worsen as they age. 70% of all OA is knee-related.  The risk increases to 57% in those with a past knee injury.

I must confess that my threshold for pain is quite high. I have ignored the aches and pain that come with my running regimen - drills, intervals and distance. It was only last month in Victoria, BC (Canada) when the weather dropped to a chilly 10 degrees Centigrade that I paid attention to my knee. I guess the cold weather affected my knee joint. I was experiencing constant pain, stiffness swelling and limited range of motion.  I found it difficult to walk, bend and even, climb up and down the stairs.  So, when I arrived home, I immediately headed straight to the hospital to see an orthopedic.

At the clinic, the orthopedic doctor overhead me discussing my ailment to my running coach over the phone. He corrected me and said "you have joint E-ffusion and not I-ffusion. . water on the knee which is actually a symptom of osteoarthritis." He said the cause is repetitive stress or overuse of the knee. He prescribed the following medications: anti-inflmatory (arcoxia), topical cream (V-Gel) and to wrap my knee for 20-minutes with a warm towel twice a day. He also advised to avoid anything strenuous and to specifically stop running. If the swelling does not subside, he recommended to aspirate the knee to remove the excess fluid which he said is better than knee replacement.

Well, I don't like anything invasive so I went to see an alternative, holistic sports doctor, an acupuncturist (Dr. Kit Navaro) who recommended to limit leg exercises to  3x a week and to go back to 'basics'. This means, correct my form and strengthen the leg muscles - knee, calf and hamstrings. He stressed the need to rest in between; meaning, do absolutely nothing.  Tomorrow I am seeing a sports rehab doctor, Dr. Bate, who hopefully, will recommend physical therapy.

If all things fail, I found out at the forum that another option is viscosupplementation. This is a procedure that involves the injection of gel-like substance into the knee. The first step is similar to aspirate to remove the diseased joint fluid and then, introduce the gel-like substance. The substance will simulate the synovial fluid to protect the joint by absorbing shocks and lubricating the moving surfaces. The product available in Manila is called Synvisc-One, a USFDA approved  injection regimen that provides up to 6 months of knee pain relief.  Of course, the procedure requires a prescription from either a rheumatologist or orthopedic.

The upside of this treatment is fast relief lasting from 6 to 12 months. The downside is, it's another botox treatment where you need a shot every six months.