Archive for the ‘Health issues’ Category

Colonoscopy Science Project

August 10, 2018

I went in this week and got my dreaded colonoscopy. Good Girl! My last one was ten years ago, lucky for me, no polyps, and my recall was ten years. Whew! That ten years sure flew by. I remember thinking two years ago, that I still had two years until my next colonoscopy, as if every day I was dodging a bullet.

They really aren’t that bad, except when you think about it. The fasting the day before, the dreaded prep, the procedure – you know, that scope going up your butt. The potentially bad news delivered on the spot in your still-sedated state … Huh, what did you say, doc?? You found WHAT??

So I scheduled mine several weeks back, and got the prep – “Suprep” which translates into ‘a super amount of chemical liquid you gulp down on an empty stomach to turn your intestines into a washing machine.’ I shoved the package in the buffet. Why think about it until the time comes?

The time came this past Wednesday – ‘colonoscopy day’. First thing Tuesday morning, fasting day, my husband, David, made sure I woke up to a ‘Do not touch! sign on the coffee pot. Okay, fine. I pull the stack of printed material out of the buffet and fish out the ‘prep’ page. The instructions contain several ‘you musts’ – as in, “you must follow the clear liquid diet the day before your procedure.” Okay so read up what they mean by ‘clear liquids’

Yellow highlighter to emphasize the ‘musts’

Hmmm. I see we have apple juice. And some chicken broth. Yum! Okay, apple juice for breakfast. Then another glass of apple juice, because I’m hungry. Lemon herbal tea for lunch. etc etc. Massive headache by 2pm. Too much sugar? Coffee withdrawal? I switch to chicken broth. Head is pounding at this point so I take two Advil. By evening I’m reading the instructions that came with the Suprep kit. Oh, no NSAID drugs, it says somewhere in fine print. “Non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs” such as Advil. Oh well. The Advil did knock the headache a bit.

7PM – time for the prep! Okay will spare you of too many details here. Mix one bottle of 6 oz chemical with water to fill up 16 oz container, gulp it down (sipping is a slow regurgitant torture), followed by gulping two more 16 oz containers of water – 1 1/2 quarts total. There. Doesn’t that feel great. Way to assuage your hunger! Relax now while you feel your stomach gurgle the concoction cup by cup into your small intestine, wishy-wishy-wash-wash, entering your colon now, cup by cup, loosen up your bowels, baby… until your colon goes into spin mode, don’t delay! Sprint to the toilet!

You start your first intestinal washing machine routine at 7PM because the cycle isn’t complete till after 10. Yippee! Set your alarm before bed – you don’t want to miss the 5:30 am start on your second prep cycle tomorrow morning.

Of course, you don’t sleep well, for fear of oversleeping way past 5:30 am. I had this horrendous dream that I had arrived for my colonoscopy at the wrong facility, and was hiding under a blanket on the gurney all prepped for a procedure no one knew a thing about. The nurses would find me and kick me out(!), and I couldn’t remember – did I forget to do that second prep?? What the hell time of day is it? I need to bail! Whew. I wake up, check the clock and see that it’s 4am. Okay… back to sleep…

5:30 AM my i-Phone alarm blares off on my bedside. Quick! Jump up and turn it off! (so as not to disturb David). Hey, why is the alarm still blaring away? What the heck? David reaches up to turn his i-Phone off. “I set my iPhone alarm too, as a backup.” What a thoughtful husband. But at 5:30 am it’s a bit unnerving when you turn off your alarm only to still hear it ringing on the other side of your bed.

Okay, I’m a pro now. Second dose, same as the first. I have downed the whole 48 ounces in one half hour! – by 6am. Easy peasy this time since the stuff should wash right through me. Uh-oh. It’s coming up! Just stand up by the toilet now and breathe … and … oh no, here it comes! A projectile of vomit shoots out of my throat like a rocket on a trajectory that crashes into the toilet. Wow! Wasn’t expecting that. Huh. Oh well. Expelling the prep from both ends will surely speed up this process!

By 7am I’m trying to nap on the couch. Just jump up about every six minutes to run and squirt in the toilet. Like clockwork. If I were more of an engineering type I’d graph the data – you know, say, of time elapsed vs. amount expelled (a true scientist would catch each squirt ejected from your butt into a cup for accurate measure and comparison, but it felt like about 2/3 cup each time.) You could literally divide the total amount of prep ingested by the amount expelled at each sitting, over six minute time intervals, and closely predict when your bowels would be empty. Or, just trust the directions: You must finish the morning dose of Suprep 3 hours prior to your check-in time. Hurling up a third of the prep at the get-go turned out to be an act of genius, though, enabling me to cop a restful little nap before jetting off to the surgical center by 9:30 am.

Now if you think my blog is verbose, try sitting alongside me lying on a gurney in a sterile medical facility calming my nerves for a medical procedure. I constantly chatter – like, at the nurse: “I’m not about to be awake for this! I’ll take the sedation!” Which means the nurse has to poke a vein, right? Dammit! “I don’t want you poking around for a vein only to shove in the needle, jab it around several times once its in there, trying to hit the vein, then declare, “Oh, it’s a roller!” which has happened to me more times than I can count. The veins in both my arms are rollers! I need the most professional phlebotomist on the premises to attach the IV … trust me, I don’t know how many nurses I’ve been through who can’t even locate a vein in my arm!…”

At this point the nurse has attached the IV to the back of my right hand. Donned in my backless gown and booties, covered by a cotton blanket, I’m prepped and ready to go. I then wait several minutes in this tiny prep room for the new nurse “Brian’ – he finally shows up and wheels me across the hall to a room which houses the ‘colonoscope’ surrounded by a wall of machines, for my colonoscopy. Another nurse greets me. “Hi, I’m Charlene” (or something) Then I start in on Charlene about the prep and how it expelled so regularly I could have made a ‘flow’ chart, had anyone thought to do that? I bet you had an engineer or physicist or someone who came in here with a graph or chart like that, that would be just like them! And what about this procedure, did that nasty prep strip the bacteria right off the lining of my intestines? What’s it called, mucosa? Should I get on probiotics right away to whip my mucosa back in shape?…The doc comes in, I’m chattering at him too, and he makes some comment about the ‘reliable valve’ at the end of the small intestine…

But mostly I wanted to pay attention to the moment they sent the sedatives through the IV (Fentanyl – 50 mpg, Propofol- 120 mg, and Versed – 2mg). I anticipated the rush and count-down into dreamland, you know, that half-sedated place where your muscles completely relax and your mind takes you to a land of dragonflies, shooting stars and fairies where you can reach out and touch the moon, uh … it’s possible, right?

But no. I’m chattering away about engineers and their flow charts and probiotics, and the next thing, I’m being awakened by a strange nurse in a curtained cubicle in a large room with a view of the check-out desk. “You’re done” the lady says. “We’ve called your husband to pick you up and as soon as you are dressed you can go home.” She hands me some papers and tells me something about how the test went well, my intestines were fine. (Yay! check that one off!) I don’t recall seeing the doctor. I do recall stumbling out and riding home with David.

But no worry. Everything is explained in the report. The terminal ileum was reached, the cecal sling folds were seen, the appendiceal orifice and the ileo-ceal valve were identified.

And now my gut is filled with air from the procedure. No big deal. We’ll drive downtown and take a walk to work it out. I could see myself releasing air out of my butt with every step! But no, the science project expands here to include the nature of hot air and how it rises, even when it’s in your intestines. So instead of seeping out my butt as I walked, the air rose inside, ballooning out in my duodenum, and my stomach, judging from my area of pain, but in any case, I was certainly not burping up any clouds of air. At this point, buckling over with pain getting back to the car with David, I would guess that maybe the mass of air got sealed in by the … esophageal sphincter at the top of my stomach? (Could maybe save this question for the gastro doc at my next colonoscopy?)

So, yeah. A word of advice for those of you getting your colonoscopy. Get a ride home and go to bed. On your side, with your butt in the air. And let the air in your intestines rip! I would say, based on my experience, it takes about five minutes for a healthy fart to build. Their release is pretty consistent. You could chart the data for a another flow chart.

Either that, or just take a nice long nap and visit a land with stardust, lillypads, and butterflies, where you can climb over rainbows.

Oh, one more thing. Did I mention that David has his colonoscopy next week? His prep kit is up on the desk in his office. Here, I took a photo:

You must fill to the line at the top!

Not to worry. We got it covered. Colonoscopies are becoming routine around here.

Get to Your Eye Appointment!

March 31, 2017

Three years have passed since I got my last pair of glasses. I decided maybe it was time to visit the optometrist, have my vision checked, and consider getting new glasses. Of course in terms of pleasure or motivation, visiting the eye doc ranks second to say, getting a root canal. Short of walking around in a blur or in a constant corrective squint, suffering from double vision, or enduring stinging or throbbing eyeballs, who would willingly schedule a visit with the eye doc?

To begin with, there’s the mandatory ‘puff of air’ eye test where you plant your chin on a machine and position your eye a toothpick’s width away from the source of the pressurized puff, then hold your eye wide open to receive the spontaneous blast of air thrust directly onto your eyeball, startling you off your seat, first the left eyeball, and then, before you can gather your bearings, ‘Poof!’ the assault to the right eyeball. The puff of air holds the unique distinction of traumatizing nearly every civilized human being from early childhood through adulthood, a test you can’t get out of no matter the excuse, unless you have fallen into cardiac arrest, because the puff of air checks eye pressure. And then there’s the eye drops, which you can’t get out of either, however, if fast enough, you can slam your eyes shut so the drops hit sealed lids, sabotaging the drops’ ability to penetrate and dilate your pupils. (I learned this from one of our kids.)

They’ve come up with a new test, I learned at my visit this past week, involving a machine that measures your peripheral vision. Per the usual optical assessment machine, you set your chin in the fixed metal chin support and affix your eye on the vision field while holding a clicking device. Once you are in position the technician alerts you that the test has started. A feint blob of pale squiggly lines appears at random places and time intervals on the screen and every time you see it you hit the clicker. All set up and ready to go, I was suddenly afflicted with a nose itch so intense I wanted to yell “Abort!” and pull away to engage in a scratch-and-rub orgy with my left nostril. But the technician has already declared, “The test has started!” and I’m scrambling to get up to speed blurting out loud that I have a nose itch, to no avail. Blood pressure rises as I manage the distraction of the itch against the task of clicking at what I perceive to be the sight of this feint blob of squiggly lines popping up on the screen, sometimes not peripherally, but in the middle of the screen, hey isn’t this a peripheral vision test? Mind overload here. Need to scratch my nose!

I managed to pass the peripheral vision test while also confirming my inability to multitask with a nose itch. This same phenomenon occurs when I’m in the dentist chair. I can hardly hold my mouth open, coping with a nose itch. To my hygienist’s credit, she allows me at first signals of distress to raise upright from my dental cleaning position to scratch my nose. The nose itch phenomenon occurs nearly every time I get my teeth cleaned.

Have you ever considered the bedside manner of your optometrist? Exactly. No you haven’t. Your optician or optometrist is at the other end of the optical machine flipping incremental vision correction lenses or some such thing. The conversation goes like this:

Which is clearer, 1 or 2?
2?
3 or 4?
uh…
3 or 4?
I think 4
5 or 6?
5 … maybe
7 or 8?
8?
9 or 10? Tell me when they look the same
They look the same! (all the while wondering how much your answers have screwed up your glasses prescription and when you can be done so you can scratch your nose.)

I’m happy to report that after all was said and done the tests revealed relatively good news, that is, my long distance vision got a little worse, enough as to warrant a new pair of glasses, but hardly significant since I’ve been legally blind since grade school anyway. Since the biggest E on the sight chart is only readable to me without my glasses at 6 feet away, my distance vision appears to be about 20/800 meaning, without my glasses I can see at 20 feet what a normal 20/20 sighted person can see at 800 feet. Plus I have stage 1 cataracts that appear not to have worsened over the past three years, plus various peripheral specks and floaters and whatnot, ‘incident to age’.

So yeah, I got the drops. Two installments. I know my enormous black pupils probably weren’t bulging out of my eye sockets but my brain had me convinced they were. I tried to go trendy on my new frames, you know, large, round, dark purple or maybe dark red plastic frames like what Meryl Streep wears to the Oscars. Boy did they look ridiculous on me. Maybe I need the glittery gown, hairdo, stage, and jewels to complete the look.

But hey, driving home in those dark plastic disposable sunglasses you have to wear to protect your super-light-sensitive dilated pupils?

I was cruising down Hollywood Boulevard.

On-the-Job Flu Vaccine Protection

October 1, 2016

Our daughter Megan has a delightful job as a volunteer at one of our local hospitals. A few hours a month she and I together take a food cart around to the surgical waiting room and into patients’ rooms and offer complimentary drinks and snacks. We also meet the families of newborn babies and take complimentary photos of the babies. It is a wonderful job and Megan and I feel very fortunate and privileged to have this job.

This past Thursday the volunteer supervisor asked us, “Have you had your flu shot?” Although most states do not require healthcare workers to get the flu vaccine, a growing number of hospitals and health care facilities are mandating it as a requirement for employment with the stance that the flu vaccine is the best way to protect immunocompromised patients from getting the flu.

However, according to this article in Health Impact News, a meta-analysis study published by the CDC reveals that flu vaccinations among healthcare workers offer no evidence of protection to the patients under their care.

There are an estimated 200 viruses that have “influenza-like” symptoms, and the vaccine only protects against 3-4 strains of the flu. According to this article by the National Vaccine Information Center, The CDC is admitting that flu shots don’t prevent influenza most of the time. In fact, studies show that a history of seasonal flu shots can even make people more susceptible to getting sick with a fever, headache, body aches and a terrible cough that hangs on for weeks. A lot of people also get and transmit influenza infections without showing any symptoms at all.

A properly conducted (randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blind) study of the influenza vaccine has been completed and the results published. Check out this link.

To summarize the article, in this study 115 children were randomized to receive Vaxigrip Vaccines, or placebos, administered in Nov and Dec, and the subjects were then followed for 9 months and monitored for illnesses. Laboratory analysis determined the type of virus present, in case of illness. The results were not good for the vaccine. The rate of influenza infection was almost exactly the same on both groups (4.3% vax vs 6.5% unvax). Most significant of all, 29% (20) of those receiving the vaccine got a non-influenza illness, compared to 6.5% (3) of the unvaccinated.

The most common non-influenza illnesses were due to rhinovirus and coxsackie virus. These viruses are generally mild, but can cause serious harm in susceptible people. Also, other respiratory viruses were reported.

“Vaccine recipients may lack temporary non-specific immunity that protected against other respiratory viruses.”

Also, many flu shots still contain thimerosal, a form of mercury used as a preservative, which is a known neurotoxin.

Inflammation caused by immunizations poses a special risk to pregnant women. If flu shots were mandated for all healthcare workers this would place these babies at risk.

Well, you’ve probably guessed by now, Megan and I are not getting the flu shot. I have never gotten a flu shot. I took Megan to get a flu shot about 10 years ago thinking it was a smart choice – before I did any serious research. She has not had another flu shot since.

Back to our local hospital … “If you choose not to get a flu shot then you must sign this waiver saying so. Plus, you must wear a face mask in the hospital.” Okay!

The face mask is not exactly the sexiest nor the most glamorous face accessory, but we do love our job and we will comply:

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I was telling my sister Lisa about it. She said, “Why don’t you customize the face masks to make them more interesting?”

Hmmm. She was on to something….

Even a sticker added interest…

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Let’s go scary-creepy for Halloween! A spider will do…

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Or how about Hannibal Lecter-ish … The Silence of the Lambs…

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Okay that’s too creepy. “Volunteer wearing customized face mask causes patient heart-attack.”

Let’s go with bunny-face

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Rudolph:

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I know! How about dog face?

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Awwww, cute.

A mustache is in order:

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Add a goatee:

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With Megan in a beard and me in a mustache, we could enter patients’ rooms as Cheech and Chong.

Okay, just trying to make light of the situation. Not trying to get us fired. Which, BTW, health care workers are being fired for their personal choice not to get the flu shot. In early 2012 a hospital in Indiana fired eight workers, including three popular veteran nurses, because they declined to be vaccinated. Over a two-month span at the start of the following winter, at least 15 more hospital workers in four states were let go for the same reason.

We are grateful that we can keep the wonderful volunteer job. Masks it is!

We just won’t get the flu shot. Not this year, not ever. I think we’ll do fine.

If you want, you can check with me again on this, say, in ten years? I’ll fall into the ‘randomized, placebo-controlled group’, in case you’re gathering statistics.

Smell No Evil?

March 11, 2012

I had this strange thing happen to me this week, and it may all be in my head, but here’s the story: I went to a Goodwill store on Wednesday. They had lots of used books – for a buck or two – and two books caught my eye. One was an old favorite of mine – I must have read it 30 years ago, The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, MD, and the other was the sequel to that book, People of the Lie – The Hope for Healing Human Evil which, maybe I’d hadn’t read. I bought them both.

I started reading People of the Lie the next day, but noticed it had a strange, musty and dusty smell. While I was reading I rubbed the corner of my eye with the tip of my finger and suddenly my eye started itching profusely and the itch wouldn’t go away. I read the book in bed before going to sleep that night, but was awoken in the middle of the night with my eye itching again, along with a major nose itch, you know, the hard-rubbing, deep-massage-to-assuage kind of nose itch. I noticed the book on the bedside and thought of the weird smell (which I thought I was still smelling).

Well, this is going to gross you out (sorry!), but the next thing, I get this thought (yes, at 3 AM): What if that book had come from some HOARDERS – what if it had been sitting in a pile, amidst a ceiling-high pile, in a filthy house, for years, perhaps, and it was contaminated with – God knows what. Mold spores! – for starters.

When I got up the next morning, I swear, I had a full-fledged allergy attack – sneezing like crazy and then my lungs started burning. I kept thinking about those HOARDERS who maybe died or something, or had an intervention through their family who donated their shit to this thrift store (isn’t that what the families do?). I don’t know whether my lung, nose, and eye issues might actually have been brought on by the thought of the whole thing, or what … but I am so grossed out!!!

In this book Dr. Peck (a psychiatrist) tries to define ‘human evil’- how you might (if you’re lucky, and preferably professionally trained in the field of psychology) recognize an ‘evil’ person. He talks about ‘malignant narcissism’ which, well, is decidedly more interesting to read about than, say, How to Clean Everything (which was another book for sale at the thrift store). – Well anyway, at this juncture I think I know how to recognize an evil book!

Whatever. I just can’t get the image of the whole ‘HOARDER’ mess out of my mind, but I wouldn’t mind finishing the book, I’m finding it totally fascinating and well-written!

I wore a sweatshirt with a hood this morning, clumping the hood into a wad and shoving it up against my nose, to read the book over my morning coffee. My husband entered the kitchen and chuckled at me – “Why don’t you throw that book away and get it at the library?”

He had a point. The sweatshirt covered my nose so well that I was mostly breathing through my mouth. I did a lung check. Yep, they still hurt a little. I was still sneezing and couldn’t avoid the … dust? Smell? H&#$%ERS?

I went to the library. YES! They had People of the Lie – uh… crap! It’s checked out!

I’m on page 173.

Here’s a picture of the book:

Looks innocent enough, eh? Yeah.

Let me know and you can have the book. It’s riveting. If you’re interested in the study of evil. Sort of hits you right in the face (and beyond).

Maybe just don’t breathe while you’re reading it.

I read 30 more pages in the book today. And my lungs kinda hurt. I’m honestly worried that I’ve contracted some kind of lung fungus.

Whatdoyathink? Should my appointment be with a lung specialist or a psychiatrist?

Yesterday Was A Day

March 4, 2009

I had a day yesterday. Of course I had a day yesterday since, obviously because I’m making a blog entry today, I was still alive yesterday, but what I mean is, it really was a day.

I haven’t gotten to the subject of my health issues on my blog yet. (What self-preserving reader wants to hear it, anyway?) But to sum it up, I have back pain (lower back and neck) with corresponding sciatica (which is a real pain in the butt, my right buttock to be precise), tendonitis in my left elbow, slight tingling in both legs, and joint pain (knees and hips mainly). I am currently getting physical therapy for my back. I wake up most every day with all these symptoms at various levels of severity, none of them severe, but all of them together rather … eh … tiresome, distracting, annoying, and at times, unnerving.

But not yesterday. Yesterday I awoke with no pain whatsoever in my back, buttocks, joints, no tingling in my legs. I remained free from the usual symptoms (which I’ve had about a year and a half) as the day progressed. It would have been fabulous and marvelously encouraging except for the resounding MIGRANE in my head, accompanied by its annoying little sidekick, nausea. Both ailments stubbornly persisted all day in spite of my ingesting huge amounts of ibuprofen. What the heck? I guess all my body pain was now in my head?

Which begs the question, “Are my symptoms psychosomatic?” Do I, on some unconscious level, dig pain and illness because of all the attention I garner in my passionate malingering to friends and loved ones and my earnest efforts to heal?

My symptoms draw my focus like a pestiferous ant draws sunbeams through a hand-held magnifying glass. Which, one could argue, that kind of focus is a vast improvement over, say, a scatterbrained and ditsy focus.

Directing my mind and efforts on assuaging my symptoms might be a good thing. It keeps me more alert and in the present, as in, “Shit, that knife stab in my right buttock hurts like holy hell right now!”… (Rub, rub). My butt aside, all of this direct focusing over time might make my brain more Alzheimer’s resistant.

Okay, so this is a crock and it doesn’t matter anyway because today I’m back to my old symptom-fruitful self. Yep, my body must have sucked the pain back out of my head ’cause there it is yelling out of my lower back and butt again. And the leg-tinglies are baaack too (“Hello!”). Oh joy.

However, not to worry! I’m focused on it. Later today I’ll be off to my 1-1/2 hour – session of physical therapy to strengthen my back. Yeah! I’ll just try not to let my head know what I’m doing, in case all my frenetic exercising and individualized hands-on conditioning from the therapists raises the hair on those ravenous attention-craving crevasses of my mind.

And, Oh! My stomach is growling now … poor, neglected, hungry stomach!