Archive for the Health Category

Oink, Oink

Posted in Health on April 28, 2009 by gyma

flying_pigI’m sitting here watching NBC Nightly News (or whatever they call it) and I was surprised to hear Brian Williams lead off the broadcast by saying we must stop calling it the swine flu.  Why?  Looks like the Pork Lobby is upset because it’s giving pigs a bad name!

You won’t be surprised then, to know this is what one of the major pork producers has to say about this:

[…]

Smithfield Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. pork concern, prefers to call the disease “North American influenza.” Swine flu “just has the wrong name,” said C. Larry Pope, Smithfield chief executive officer.

And well, you have to love those pork producers, who think we shouldn’t be calling it the swine flu because pigs aren’t getting sick!  Maybe things like this wouldn’t be a problem if we spent more money on education so we didn’t have such a dumbed down populace.

Y’all know you can’t get this flu from eating pork, right?!

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Are You Ready?

Posted in Health on April 27, 2009 by gyma

Sometimes I’m too laid back when it comes to emergency preparation.  I think we filled a couple of milk jugs with water on December 31, 1999, and that’s the only disaster preparation I’ve ever done.

Now that I’m older I think it’s about time to take some responsibility.  And the recent news of the possibility of a flu pandemic is just the impetus I need to take action.  I saw a video at work today stating 50M people died during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, when the population was about 1/4 what it is today.  If we were to have a similar outbreak now, you’re talking a couple hundred million dead folks. 

So here’s my plan:  I’m going shopping tomorrow and will buy the following items:  salt, sugar, jello, batteries, cough drops, bleach, and some extra food.  What I haven’t figured out is water storage.  In looking at a couple of flu preparation manuals online, it was suggested you have 2 gallons of water per person per day for 30 days.  That’s 120 gallons for us.  How do you store that much water?  The other items I’m considering buying are a box of surgical masks and a box of disposable gloves.  Oh, one other thing – I also plan on keeping about $500 in our lock box – in small bills.  The small bills will be the hard part, though.

So, how have you prepared?  Not ready?  Then take a look at this – I think you might find it motivational.

Stroke Zone

Posted in Health on February 18, 2009 by gyma

blood-pressure

I saw my doctor Monday to get a refill on a prescription I’m forced to take forever and ever because of a medical goof up several decades ago.  My doc was alarmed because my blood pressure reading was 170/90 and didn’t go down one bit while I was there.  I’ve always struggled with ‘white coat’ syndrome so I wasn’t all that worried.  I did, however, take his advice and have my bp checked a couple of other places throughout the day.

I have a cuff at home I used when a different doc wanted to start me down the pill path a couple of years ago.  But every time I checked, my bp was within the normal range.  This time my cuff was reading a bit high, but nothing like 170/90.  I took the cuff to work the next day and asked one of the public health nurses to take my bp so I could check my cuff with her reading.  Sad to say the reading was 190/100! although my cuff was reading 135/85.  I called my doc’s office immediately and was back in this morning.  I’m now the proud owner of 2 more pills to pop, but they have lowered both my pulse and bp.

The original drug I take is synthroid because I no longer have a thyroid.  When I was about 3 years old, my family doctor thought it would be a wonderful idea to irradiate my tonsils to shrink them.  It did shrink them (temporarily, I might add) but several years later I developed a very large tumor on my thyroid.  Lucky for me it was a benign tumor and the surgeon removed only one thyroid lobe.  But less than 5 years later there was another tumor on the other lobe.  I waited nearly 20 years to have that tumor removed and now I struggle to get my tsh levels balanced (it currently isn’t in balance and could be a major factor in the stroke level bp problem).

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that once my tsh levels are correct, I’ll be able to get off the bp meds.  My mother was taking dozens of meds by the time she died because everything she took caused something else to go haywire, which was then fixed by taking another pill.  Ad infinitum.

I’d like to think that had my family doc opted for the tonsillectomy, I’d be a much happier person about now.

And let this be a lesson to have your home monitoring systems calibrated regularly so they don’t lull you into a false sense of security.

Brain Bombs

Posted in Getting Older, Health on February 13, 2009 by gyma

brainThere’s something wrong with my brain.  I’m hoping the problem is temporary and will somehow fix itself.

For the last several months my brain has been substituting similar sounding words.  For example, I’ll type update when I mean upstate.  Or to becomes do, etc.  So far it only happens when I type, not when I speak or talk.  I have no idea why it’s doing this but it’s making me feel stupid.

And even though I’ve learned to proofread everything, my brain continues to play games with me because I’ll find errors even after proofreading.  Perhaps I’m having problems with the connection between my eyes and my brain in addition to the connection between my brain and fingers.

In all seriousness I’m not worried in any substantial way, but I wish I could do a data dump [my original version had dumb instead of dump!] and rid my brain of all the extraneous crap I no longer wish to remember.  That might free up enough space to make my brain work more efficiently.  Actually I think the problem is most likely due to lack of sleep.  I can’t remember the last time I fell asleep at a reasonable hour, slept through the night and several REM cycles, and awoke in the morning refreshed and eager to start the day.

And just think – I wouldn’t have to park in the same row wherever I go just so I’ll be able to find my car again.

Merry Christmas, Honey!

Posted in Health, Holidays on December 7, 2008 by gyma

Here’s what I’m getting Mr. gyma for Christmas.  Somehow I don’t think he’ll be grateful.

A Million to One Odds

Posted in Health with tags on November 14, 2008 by gyma

not-twins

This is an unusual story, hence the million to one odds.  Ame and Lia, shown above, are 5-month old girls born on the same day, to the same mother, but they are not twins.  It seems Lia was conceived first and three weeks later, Ame was conceived.

The mother probably needs to find a new method of birth control, since Lia was conceived while the mother was taking birth control pills.  To make it more interesting, she was still on the pill AND pregnant when she conceived Ame.

It’s probably a good thing that this is a once-in-a-million phenomenon.

Blurred Vision and Stem Cell Research

Posted in Health with tags , , , on November 12, 2008 by gyma

blurryThis is what my world looks like without corrected vision.  I’m severely myopic (well, in vision anyway) so 11 years ago I started researching permanent correction.  I found it uncomfortable to wear contacts and my lenses were so thick that much of my vision was distorted from them.

LASIK was still in its infancy and there were several controversies swirling around PRK.  A co-worker had RK (radial keratotomy) done on her eyes and swore by it.  A local doctor had years and years of experience performing RK so I went to him with questions in hand.

In hindsight I think he was more of a used car salesman than doctor, but that’s another story.  He reassured me, with the confidence of a bull fighter, that although there were some risks, they could be easily corrected.  With the exception of blindness (!), something he had never experienced and which was nearly always caused by post-operative infections.

Although I was nervous the day of the procedure, I told myself everything would be fine and forged ahead.  I was the doc’s last appointment of the day, and that probably should have rung some bells.  Especially since he was in a hurry to leave because of a daughter’s recital.

That day turned out to be a nightmare and a bit of a watershed moment in my life.  In his haste, he cut too deeply and collapsed the cornea.  A couple of weeks later, when my vision continued to be horrible, he decided to “fix” his error by putting in a pursestring stitch in an effort to steepen the cornea.  Not only didn’t it work, it was painful and created an irregular cornea so a contact lens won’t seat properly.

One of the consequences of this unfortunate surgery is that I went from being more of an extrovert to an introvert.  For several years I was nearly agoraphobic because I couldn’t see well enough to feel confident of my surroundings.  I’m forced to wear a contact lens in my one good eye and the other eye basically shuts down.  It means limited peripheral vision and I really should not drive in the dark.

To make matters even worse, the weekend after the 2004 election I suffered a detached retina in my good eye.  I had emergency surgery and the miracle doc who operated on me saved my vision (and basically my life).  But I have some scar tissue on the sclera now which means the contact lens doesn’t fit as well as before.

I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars in an effort to restore my vision.  Nothing has worked.  My only hope at this point is for a corneal transplant, which currently has a very low success rate.  But stem cell research might change all that if I were able to produce a cornea from my own cells.

So you can imagine my delight when I read recently that one of Obama’s first actions might be to overturn the ban on publicly funding stem cell research.  Such research might not save my life, but it will make an immeasurably large difference to the quality of my life.