Posts Tagged With: Health

To Those Who Put the Care in “Health Care”

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am grateful to those people who learn the hard words, study for years, understand anatomy and biology and math and science and medicine to become doctors and nurses and technicians and clinicians and caregivers in hospitals and medical facilities.

LTD_Clincal_0019 Stethescope

There’s no way to thank someone enough for the hours and years they have dedicated to excelling in their field.  Having the life of a person as your responsibility must weigh heavily every day. Knowing what steps to take, what tests to run, how to help, where to go, what’s next must feel stunning.  Having the guts and knowledge to cut open a skull, break open a chest, or work on the miracle that is the human body simply amazes me.

How thankful I am this week for all the doctors, medics, nurses, therapists, anyone responsible in any way for saving my Mother’s life. Gratitude pumps through my veins this week. I breathe in thanks and exhale hallelujahs.

She continues to progress with stunning rapidity. (Yay, Mom! You go girl!)

I want to hug every doctor or nurse I see, every med student, EMT, phlebotomist, x-ray tech, even receptionists, to vicariously share the inexpressible gratitude I feel to those who worked directly on and in behalf of my Mother.

If you are in the medical field, this thanks is to you, for your selflessness, the hours of paperwork, your kindness and diligence, and your skill.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Words I’d Rather Not Need to Know

Day three of Mom in the hospital.

It’s afternoon and she’s being moved out of ICU and into rehabilitation. The physical therapist had her up and walking a bit. Hooray!  Her toes and feet don’t want to move as easily as her legs do. Not sure what that means right now. She’s not complaining of pain and that’s good. Her blood pressure is stable. When they were moving her, my sister-in-law got her to laugh. I take that as one of the best signs yet.

*************

I love words. Usually.

dictionary-1 copy.jpg

(Photo credit: TexasT’s)

Since Dad’s early morning phone call on Saturday I’ve had to become familiar with words I never wanted to have to know. Words like subdural and hematoma, intubate, edema, extubate, aphasia, expressive aphasia and swallow evaluation.

I’m sure there were other big latin words thrown around at the hospital, but I’m getting the edited, layman’s version through text messages and emails and phone calls.

So I’ve searched the internet for answers. Sometimes it’s scared me, sometimes it reassured me. Sometimes I didn’t know what to think.

Here are a few words I learned this week:

  • Hematoma- a collection of blood
  • Subdural Hematoma – In a subdural hematoma, blood collects between the layers of tissue that surround the brain. The outermost layer known as the dura. In a subdural hematoma, bleeding occurs between the dura and the next layer, the arachnoid. The bleeding in a subdural hematoma is under the skull and outside the brain, not in the brain itself. As blood accumulates, however, pressure on the brain increases. If not treated quickly can lead to a life-threatening occurrence.
  • Edema– swelling caused by fluid in the bodies tissues.
  • Intubate – to insert a tube into the larynx (helps with breathing)
  • Extubate -to remove a tube.
  • Aphasia is a disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control language. It can make it hard for you to read, write, and say what you mean to say.
  • Expressive aphasia – you know what you want to say, but you have trouble saying or writing what you mean
  • Occupational therapist – helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing support for those experiencing physical and cognitive changes.
  • Clinical Swallow evaluation – determines if a person is recovered sufficiently to eat and swallow food after an injury or intubation. Can also help a speech therapist in assessing a patient.

What does all that mean?

It means we almost lost Mom. She’s improving surprisingly quickly. There’s a long path of recovery ahead though. She still can only say a word or two at a time, and has a hard time finding those words. The right side of her vision is inattentive, or unaware, so that needs some work.  She’ll need occupational, physical and speech therapy.

Salt & Pepper

I joked last night that now Dad can get a whole story told without her interrupting him. But I wouldn’t count on that for too long. They usually both tell parts of a story together, one correcting the other, or filling in a detail, or adding something important. They are like Salt and Pepper. Dad without Mom is a puzzle with a piece missing, a recipe with a key ingredient left out.

I’m glad there are people out there that know all those latin words and medical terms and what to do about it all. It translates into a few very important words that I do understand.

Mother.

Father.

Family.

Life.

Health.

Love.

Categories: Family, Hope, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Little Relief Valve for Us All

 

Day two for Mom at the hospital.

 

Thanks to my siblings for keeping me up to date through phone calls, texts, photos and emails, it’s almost like being there. This afternoon she has been extubated, is moving her legs and arms and can speak one or two words at a time. All good signs after having suffered a subdural hematoma and the surgery to relieve the bleeding and pressure. We are cautiously very optimistic!

 

Phew!!!

 

So, for a little tension relief, I’ve looked up some jokes from Reader’s Digest to share with the family. We could all use a little laughter right now. Enjoy!

 

Hiccups

A fellow walked into a drugstore and headed to the back to speak to the pharmacist. “Do you have anything for hiccups?” he asked.
Without warning, the pharmacist reached over and gave the man a sharp smack on the shoulder. “Did that help?” he inquired.
”I don’t know,” the startled man replied. “I’ll have to ask my wife. She’s waiting in the car.”

Wrong Patient

 

Hospital regulations require a wheelchair for patients being discharged. However, while working as a student nurse, I found one elderly gentleman already dressed and sitting on the bed with a suitcase at his feet—who insisted he didn’t need my help to leave the hospital. After a chat about rules being rules, he reluctantly let me wheel him to the elevator.

 

On the way down I asked if his wife was meeting him. “I don’t know,” he said. “She’s still upstairs in the bathroom changing out of her hospital gown.”

 

Math Question

“If you had two dollars in one pocket and three dollars in the other pock-et,” the teacher asked a little boy in her class, “what would you have?”

“I’d have someone else’s pants,” the boy answered.

Second Grader Wisdom

 

During a science lesson, my sister-in-law picked up a magnet and 
said to her second-grade class, “My name begins with the letter M, and 
I pick things up. What am I?” A little boy answered, “You’re a mommy.” —Robert Boyer, Marion, Indiana

 

English Professor

A harried man runs into his physician’s office. “Doctor! Doctor! My wife’s in labor! But she keeps screaming, ‘Shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t, can’t!’”

“Oh, that’s okay,” says the doctor. “She’s just having contractions.”

Jewelry

 

As I was admitted to the hospital prior to a procedure, the clerk asked for my wrist, saying, “I’m going to give you a bracelet.”

 

“Has it got rubies and diamonds?” I asked coyly.

 

“No,” he said. “But it costs just as much.”

 

Closing words:

 

Having Mom showing signs of improvement: priceless!

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Hope | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sudden or Slow?

“Don’t you think it’s much harder to have someone die suddenly than to have them die slowly?”

Multiple myeloma (1) MG stain

Multiple myeloma. Don’t let the pretty color fool you, this is wicked stuff.

A room full of ten women recently heard that question. The one asking is dying slowly. It’s a process that’s being going on for the past four and half years. The one she was asking lost her husband unexpectedly to death six months ago. Neither of these women qualify as old, not by any stretch of the imagination. They are young and at the peak of life’s gifts and joys and grinds.

What a stunning question to ask someone straight out when they’ve suffered such a horrendous loss.

It caught my breath. But they’ve both earned the right at such honesty about  a difficult subject.

But there’s no topic off-limits in that group. Not anymore. Ten years ago, maybe. Now. No.

A short list of some the other losses for that group of friends:

  • Two have cared for a dying or dementia ridden parent who then died.
  • A mother died from cancer.
  • A mother died after a long, long life.
  • A best friend dying suddenly in an accident.
  • A husband suffered a massive coronary, lived, but has lost earning capacity, mental acuity and vitality.
  • A sister with brain cancer.
  • Parents died at the hands of a drunk driver when she was eleven.

The Answer to that question is…

The conclusion was that sudden death was harder to deal with. No warning. No chances to say goodbye, to say last important words.

Although, the slow dying thing isn’t exactly fun for anyone involved either.

My friends talked about extra weeks purchased at the cost of hail-Mary chemo treatments. Talk of hospice and bereavement counseling also bantered about the room.

Honestly, I felt myself trying to physically create an emotional wall in that room. I kept turning my head away from this wrenching discussion, visualizing a barrier, willing my hearing to deafen instantly. Even now, writing about it, I’m leaning away from that side of the room, trying to create distance from such personal stabs of knife twisting pain.

I can’t, I won’t, I don’t want to deal with it.

There’s no escaping though.

We’re all dying slowly.

But that’s not the point is it?

The point is living in the meantime.

Velcade Chemo treatment: Cycle 2, Week 2

Velcade Chemo treatment (Photo credit: tyfn)

That isn’t always easy. Filled to the brim with mean poisons, your body overrun with side-effects, doped up on painkillers to survive the treatment that’s supposed to buy you more time, how do you make use of such poor quality time? How do you smile when the pain is excruciating? How does someone do anything useful, check any tiny thing off their bucket list, interact with their loved ones in a meaningful way under such circumstances? Cancer and its treatment is a personal tornado that rips lives to shreds.

Or maybe your challenges are slightly less complicated than that. Maybe you have chronic pain or a life altering illness. Perhaps you’re unemployed. Maybe you’re always worried about finances. Perhaps you work in a horrid place. Maybe your spouse makes life unbearable. Your parent might need additional care. Your child could have learning difficulties. Your car is unreliable. Loneliness haunts you. Your past feels inescapable.

Or maybe, if you’re lucky, it’s just garden-variety stuff. Busy schedules, sore muscles, what to fix for dinner for the zillionth time, a curfew-breaking teen, piles of bills needing attention, the mountain of laundry requiring scaling, a leaking roof, a tooth ache, weeds.

Living in the moment while living in the reality we find ourselves in. Not always easy. Rarely easy, actually.

Have we created a now that includes eternity or is now all there is? What’s your perspective? Immediate, long-term, short-term? Or maybe with blinders on? That’s a tempting option, but not a great one. How do you get through? What’s your coping strategy?

Death is coming for us all, eventually. Sooner or later. That’s the only way out.

What are we doing in the meantime?

Categories: Death, Mental Health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Best Wrinkle Cure Ever!

“Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
”

anti botox brigade

‘Nuff said.

Categories: Humor, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Cleaning for My Heart

“When you forgive, you heal your own anger and hurt and are able to let love lead again. It’s like spring cleaning for your heart. ” – Marci Shimoff

I am one of those people who holds on tight to a hurt, a slight, a painful experience and won’t let it go.

I don’t mean to be unforgiving. But I’ve often found myself retelling an incident, names removed to protect the guilty, and feeling justified in still resenting, still being critical, still harboring the hurt.

Why?

Why would I do that? It’s not hurting the other person who hurt me. Telling the story, sharing the anger, doesn’t make me feel any better. In fact, it makes me feel angry all over again, resentful all over again.

I think it’s something I need to work on. Forgiving MSH if he forgets to do something I ask him to do. Letting go of the criticism I feel when someone points out improvements I need to make. Taking a pass on reliving frustrations and heartaches from years ago. The list of things I need to let go of is huge.

How much energy is this draining from me every single day?

Would I feel less tired if I used that energy to plant a forgiveness garden? Could I let the heartache or misunderstanding dissipate and disappear through some physical act of letting go? Could I write it down and set a match to it?

Huisvrouwengymnastiek / Gymnastics for housewives

Gymnastics for housewives (Photo credit: Nationaal Archief)

I’ve always loved the idea of spring cleaning. A hundred years ago it was a huge process that involved cleaning soot from walls, beating dust and dirt from rugs, sanding tables,  disinfecting dark places, opening windows and finally letting in fresh, healthy air. Disease and infection and vermin thrived if spring cleaning didn’t happen every year.

Could lack of forgiveness be the reason my energies are low, my vibrancy diminished?

Today I’m beginning the physical spring cleaning of my home. Perhaps, I can also begin to purge the emotional and spiritual dust and grime. I’m sure there’s room and need for fresh air and sunshine in a more than a few of my nooks and crannies.

Can I let love lead and heal my heart? Sounds difficult. But then, it must be easier than holding on to all my junk.

Hmmm. Forgiving. Healing. Letting go.

I’ll have to play with that idea today as I organize, dust, vacuum, polish, sweep, scrub and clean.

Wish me luck.

Categories: Love, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Mess of Mixed Metaphors

“I am the captain of my soul, I am the master of my….” whatever…

Whoever said that, whenever they said it, didn’t have the eternal cough of the blue plague of 2013.

Sure you can pick your attitude but that’s about it.  You can’t pick up an extra packet of actual physical energy at the corner drugstore when the survival of your basic vital organs has taken precedent over, oh, lets say, walking and sleeping and eating.

When breathing in becomes akin to sucking air through a soggy wet sponge and exhaling is more like a ’55 chevy truck trying to get started on a subzero morning, attitude counts for zilch.

Bad Hair Day

Bad Hair Day (Photo credit: simon_redwood)

No amount of perkiness is going to hide that hair sculpted uniquely by the pillow you molded, wrestled, cursed, punched and eventually drooled all over. The lovely color coördinated pajamas you carefully picked out to show stalwart resilience, sooner than later give over to a kind of Harry-Potter-got-dressed-with-some-things-from-Hermoine’s-bottomless-purse-look that should never be purposely duplicated.

And when you think you’ve cheerfully hit that magical spot in the illness where improvement feels imminent, you’ll overdo it by, oh I don’t know, sweeping off the front porch rug and running a load of laundry. And suddenly you’re back to desperately whispering sweet nothings to your lungs in hopes of pacifying them into a quiet stasis.

Days and nights run into each other, not even bothering to say excuse me, in a kind of manic rush of boring nothingness. Where is optimism now? In the trash can with the overflowing used Kleenex and saltine wrappers.

The formerly comfy couch and I have become too well acquainted. It’s not a healthy relationship anymore. I’m thinking of cutting back to visiting once or twice a week.  I’d like to renew my friendships with my boss and her neurotic dog, my car, the grocery store, my gardening and the laundry.  It’d be wondrous to see real live people again, too!

Highclere Castle

Too much Netflix, too many books, too much internet combine into a perfect storm of fevered sleepless weirdness involving Downton Abbey, White Collar and Sherlock Holmes which, oddly, seem to go together ever so well.  At least they did. In the haze of cheerful coughing everything is lovely, loverly, lovely!! Cue the soundtrack to “My Fair Lady.”

But now, ah yes, now I am on the upswing.  No, nix that.  I did not say that.  I don’t want the virus/bacteria/evil dark Sith to know that I think my body is winning.  After all, Attitude is Everything and Pride goeth before a Fall and all that. Rest, rest, rest, rest and more rest is about all I am capable of or should try to do.

Han Solo and Chewbacca

Until the rebel forces prevail and the planets all align, I will continue to sip herbal tea, Russian Tea, hot ginger honey and lemon, hot chocolate, mulled cider, broth, powerade and NON-diet coke. Once Han Solo shows up with Chewbacca, then and only then, will I stop slurping Ramen noodles, yogurt, Chicken Soup and saltine crackers.

Do I seem a little lost in fantasy land? Yup, I probably am. I’m teetering on the edge of a not so optimistic attitude, thinking this cough really will never end.

I can’t imagine keeping my sanity intact for an illness of any real magnitude.  As it is, this nineteen-day (so far) cough has pushed me to my perkiness limits.

Don’t worry.  I’m working on it.  I’ll get there.  In the meantime, I’ll just rest and try to stay off the internet as much as possible.

Where’s my book?

Categories: Humor, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Lambchop and the Borg

So it’s day eight of an apparently eternal cough.  I am a mere newbie from all reports I’ve read or heard.

LAMB CHOP

Isn’t Lambchop a sweetie? (Photo credit: happydacks)

To paraphrase a lovely puppet from the sixties, Lambchop, “This is the cough that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend, somebody started coughing once not knowing what it was and they’ll continue coughing now forever just because this is the cough that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends, somebody started….”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

I’ve heard from some that it only lasts two weeks.  MSH has been battling the crud since before Christmas. I read of one who’s been hacking since the dawn of time, Thanksgiving. My doctor said nine days. How did she come up with nine days? Why nine, not eight, or twelve.  She probably figured by day nine I would have lost track of what day it was (I have) and I wouldn’t care anymore (I don’t.) Smart doctor.

star trek borg race Star Trek Exhibit at Queen...

“Resistance is Futile” So is cough suppressant! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently this evil abomination of a cough laughs in the face of antibiotics, chortles at inhalers, becomes maniacal at the introduction of steroids. To quote the Borg from Star Trek, “Resistance is futile.” In other words, cough suppressants are useless, too.

I had a little run in with an over-the-counter cough suppressant that failed to warn me of the possible hallucinations, nausea, light-headedness and chills that would accompany the promised temporary cessation of cough. I know I should have googled it before taking it, but I was already beside myself.  Or at least I was beside my lung, which I had hacked up during the previous few coughing bouts.

At least during the next eighteen hours of coughing I wasn’t quite so freaked out by it because I was, by all accounts, high as a kite!!

The dreams I have between hacking sessions are bizarre and frightening. Perhaps that explains my earlier references to Lambchop and The Borg in the same blogpost.

I’ve resigned myself to living out my remaining days in my robe and slippers, of which I have two choices. My boss, bless her generous heart and sense of humor, gave me a leopard print robe and leopard print slippers as a Christmas gift. So now I can be stylishly near death’ s door.

Leopard Rug

Leopard Rug (Photo credit: Curious Expeditions)

When that robe gets too germ infested I can wash it and wear my puffy blue cloud print robe which matches where my head is at and where I hope to end up should this cough dispense my other lung on the floor.

I have come to one conclusion through this.  Hell is not a fiery pit, it is a coughing fit.

I have a few last words for you.  Hand Sanitizer. Vitamin C. Zinc Tablets. Face Mask.

Be well and may your immune system stay strong!

Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Forget Comfort Foods, Try This Instead

Comfort foods.  I could wax poetic about all the varieties, textures, tastes, emotions and colors of myriad edibles.  So could you.

Have you ever considered “comfort memories?”

It’s self-explanatory.  Here’s an easy example.

My son can put himself to sleep by remembering himself through a specific ski run at a specific resort.  Recalling the swoosh of the snow under his board, the bite of the cold across his cheeks, the trees as they blur past, the feel of his muscles as he moves to catch a curve and negotiates the bumps and jumps, all combine to relax and calm him into a deep and restful sleep.

Nice way to put yourself to sleep, huh? I think so.

I have a way of relaxing myself when I’m feeling ill or in pain that, if I remember to remember it, works very well to comfort and ease my body and mind. It’s rooted in how I was cared for as a child when I was sick. It’s definitely a comfort memory.

Asleep on the couch

Asleep on the couch (Photo credit: geekdreams)

I recall pillows propped on the dark green couch, blankets tucked around me, with the TV on low and bluish across the room.  I remember the smell and taste of the concoction Mom would mix. It consisted of a bit of warm water, a spoonful of paregoric, and some sugar.  It was a licorice smell and taste, somewhat bitter, but eased by that spoonful of sugar.  My tummy always settled out if I was nauseous, my sore throat eased.  Sleep came easier in spite of noise or fever or pain.  I can still feel the coolness of the pillowcase as she turned my pillow to the cool side when my fever was high.  There would often be a cool cloth on my forehead and smoothed across my hands and arms, pulling the heat from my body and sending a swell of relaxation through my tired, aching limbs. Even if she was only checking my fever, Mom’s hand on my cheek let me feel cared for, loved and safe.

If I can conjure that image, those sensations, then I can settle into a rest that reminds me of that love.  I can relax and let the discomfort of whatever hurts lift away from me, even if only momentarily.

To know such care and comfort should fall to every child.  Every adult should be able to pull from the library of memory such a book, filled with tales of love and triumph.

What memories bring peace to you?  Is there anything you can recall from childhood, or adulthood, that on remembering, brings comfort, peace, joy, relaxation, love?

Categories: Family, Love, Memory Lane, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Taste of Wisdom and Insight

 

Today I’m sharing some quotes that resonated with me when I read the book, “Let’s Take the Long Way Home” by Gail Caldwell.  This is a book I recommend to anyone.  In fact, I think it’s time I reread it myself.

Cover of "Let's Take the Long Way Home: A...

On Being a writer:

“If writers possess a common temperament, it’s that they tend to be shy egomaniacs; publicity is the spotlight they suffer for the recognition they crave.”

“…not without reason did an old friend refer to me as the gregarious hermit.  I wanted the warmth of spontaneous connection and the freedom to be left alone.”

Insight about Relationships:

“It took me years to grasp that this grit and discomfort in any relationship are an indicator of closeness, not its opposite….we had great power to hurt each other, and because we acknowledged this weapon we tried never to use it.”

“dying doesn’t end the story; it transforms it.  Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue.  Most of us wander in and out of one another’s lives until not death, but distance, does us part – time and space and the heart’s weariness are the blander executioners of human connection.”

The Real Reality:

“…the world as we see it is only the published version.  The subterranean realms, whether churches or hospital rooms or smoke-filled basements, are part of what hold up the rest.”

About Dying:

“Suffering witnessed is a cloudy and impotent world: The well, armed with consciousness, watch a scene they cannot really grasp or do much to alter.  Suffering is what changes the endgame, changes death’s mantle from black to white.  It is a badly lit corridor outside of time, a place of crushing weariness, the only thing large enough to bully you into holding the door for death.”

Enduring Loss:

“Caroline’s death was a vacancy in the heart, a place I neither could nor wished to fill.”

“like a starfish, the heart endures its amputation.”

Categories: Books | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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