health

Dodged A Bullet

On the 9th of this month, I received a phone call from my doctor’s office. The results of my recent blood work were not good. It’s was so bad that they were preparing me for a leukemia diagnosis. Needless to say, I was a bit scared. We scheduled a follow-up blood test for 3 weeks or so.

I took the follow-up on the 24th. The doctor called me back yesterday afternoon. And lo and behold, somehow my scary blood counts had returned to normal. Well, not completely normal, my cholesterol is still wacky, but that’s just wings and beer. I’m down with that.

Today I went to a hematologist, just because I wanted to make sure everything was normal and this wasn’t just a lull in a bigger battle. They took about 8 vials of blood ran several tests in the office and all seems better, although my lymphocyte count is a bit high. So she is sending that test out to see if we can determine what, if anything, the cause is. I go back in about 3 weeks to get the result.

I had a real long diary-like post I had been keeping expecting to tell the story of the diagnosis and my struggles with the disease. Well, it’s been deleted, and I’m back to posting “Random Ramblins'”. Could be worse things in life.

So me and my buddy Harvey the Skull will continue to hang out and post some videos.

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Harvey

Here’s one of my favorite Bob “The Noble Laureate” Dylan songs:

Peace,
B

 

The Problem With Doctors

Well, the problem is not with doctors themselves but when you have multiple doctors and the “failure to communicate” to quote Cool Hand Luke.

This is a relatively new issue for me. Most of my early adult life was spent in the military. So most doctors were in one building, the base hospital. For soldiers that were assigned to units other than the hospital itself, they had a “Battalion Aid Station” (BAS), basically an Urgent Care center. They could go there for “sick call” (early morning time for folks with colds, injuries etc..) and usually, they saw a P.A. (Physician’s Assistant). If they needed specialized care they would have an appointment made for them or were sent to the ER if needed (i.e. a broken bone that needed to bet set immediately).

Once they were under the care of a specialist, a surgeon, urologist,  internal med, orthopedist or OB/Gyn for the ladies, they would stop by the BAS, get their medical records and go to the appointment. This way the specialist had all tests, x-rays, lab work etc.. right there for each and every visit. It was a fairly good system. And if one doc had a question for a doc in another department, it was a simple walk down the hallway or just a phone call away.

What do we have now? Multiple specialists spread all over creation who only talk to each other when the patient asks. And then only if “the situation needs it”.

Case in point. I had blood work done last week. I asked the lab tech if the results of the labs ordered by my primary care doc be sent to my bi-polar doc, and the labs ordered by my bi-polar doc sent to my primary care. “Nope”. It’s not on the order.

Now I understand HIPPA laws. Back in the day, when I was doing websites (thankfully I don’t so that anymore), the Christian group I was playing webmaster for (and yes I was a “Christian” at that time and belonged to the group) wanted a “prayer request” page.  When I pointed out that a page listing names and illness and such violated HIPPA laws, they didn’t seem to care. They wanted it anyway. When I refused to do it on the grounds that as the “webmaster” it would expose me to a federal lawsuit, they still didn’t seem to care. The “We’re should be allowed because it’s for a good cause” was the mindset. No need to say I am no longer a member of said group.

But back to the blood work.  So I had to call my primary care doc had her office fax over the lab work to both my cardiologist and my bi-polar doc. No worries there. Her office is quite up to standards electronically, as is my cardiologist. My bi-polar doc? Not so much. The young lady I spoke to was very confused as to what I need to be sent and to where. How difficult is it to understand that I need the lab results the doctor you work for ordered sent to my primary care doc? Apparently quite difficult, as she called me back several hours later asking why did she need to send the lab results that my primary care doc had over back to them? So again I had to explain I only needed the results that YOUR doc has sent to my primary doc.

One thing that would fix that is a general repository of medical records. A giant database that everything goes to and any doctor you see, whether it be a new primary care if you’ve moved, or a new specialist you need to see, can pull your data out of the “cloud”.  But that is not likely happen. Too many hackers and that would be a prime target. If that data was breached and held captive people would die.  And that’s not good.

But what about a scheduled day once a month for doctors to get together and discuss patients that they have in common. I imagine a “Skype” or a conference call, doesn’t have to be video, where doc “A” can talk about patient “X”‘s recent lab work, and doc “B” may express concern that it may be cancer, while doc “C” says, it may just be a drug reaction. I figure if every doc took one day a month to handle their patients with multiple specialists, they could discuss every one of those patients at least once a year, and maybe every 6 months, with as many of the other docs as could attend. Maybe I’m just dreaming, but there hs to be a better way for doctors to communicate.

Got any better ideas?

Peace,
B

World Mental Health Day

From Wikipedia:

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. This day, each October, thousands of supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. In some countries this day is part of an awareness week, such as Mental Health Week in Australia

  • 1 in 5 (or 43.8 million) adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (or 10 million) adults experience a serious mental illness.
  • 1 in 100 (or 2.4 million) live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% (or 6.1 million) of Americans have bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% (or 16 million) suffer from severe depression.
  • 18.1% (or 42 million) live with an anxiety disorder.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

And yet:

  • Only 41% of adults with a mental health condition received help and less than 50% of children 8-15 received mental health services.
  • Only 36.9% of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment.
  • Less than 20% of Americans with moderate depressive symptoms sought help from a medical professional.
  • And 4% of young adults with self-reported mental health needs forego care.

These numbers are scary. As one with Bi-polar (“luckily” I’m type “2”, my manic phase is spending money, not rage), I understand the problems faced and the stigma that admitting you have a mental illness can bring.  I take my meds as directed, and they usually work. However, like everything else, some days they don’t.

I’ve walked into a car dealership and bought a new truck, on my lunch break, just because I felt it was time. I’ve also laid in bed wondering how many sleeping pills I had left, and would it be enough?

I have never acted on any of the suicidal thoughts I’ve had. I’ve come close, but my fear is that I’d screw that up too and be in a coma the rest of life and become even more of a burden on my family.

Many times mental health is not understood in the same way as physical health. If you have the flu, your coworkers usually don’t want you around because you’re contagious. But if your depressed or having an anxiety attack, and take a day off, they don’t seem to understand. I have been a firm believer in “Mental Health Days” long before I was diagnosed.

Here’s a link to a story out of the UK of a boss that “get’s it.”  Go read it and come back, I’ll wait for you.

Back now? Hope you enjoyed that story. It’s reassuring that there are other people in the world with the compassion to allow someone to take a needed break.

There are way too many different types of mental illnesses for me to list here. I know that several of friends, both in the real world and the online world, have some of the issues. I’d just like you to know that I’m here to listen to you. I’m not trained in counseling (although I was a paramedic for most of my military career), I will gladly listen and offer whatever help I can. There are millions of us out here with similar problems. We can help each other, along with trained medical folks. Get your counseling, if it helps, take your meds, meditate, follow whatever faith practice you like. We can do it.

Peace,
B

 

Nothing To Say…

I have nothing to say today other than we finally had power restored last night, one week after Hurricane Irma hit.

So I figured I’d post a video for the way I’m feeling.. although I’m way past 45…

Peace,
B

Long Ago On Twitter

There was a time when big corporations paid attention to their Twitter accounts. Some years ago I found a bag of rather old Fritos stuffed away behind some stuff in the pantry. I randomly tweeted that “I hope they wouldn’t kill me.”  Within minutes I had a response from Frito Lay on how to replace the bag at no cost to me. Despite the fact that they were well beyond their expiration date. They didn’t care. They wanted to help.

Another time I asked on Twitter how to remove White Out from a pair of pants. The “Goo-Gone” folks replied that their product would do it. Sadly it didn’t, but at least they reached out.

But things have changed. In recent time Wifey® and I have reached to AT&T (see here), we have tried not only on this blog, but Twitter and Facebook without a single damn response. And now in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, I cannot get our utility company (Florida Power & Light) to answer me. I have sleep apena, as such I need a CPAP machine to help me breathe at night. Couple that with my asthma/emphysema, the possibility of my stopping breathing in my sleep is greatly increased. Not to mention how hard it is to get up when the alarm goes off, provided of course that I’m not already up doing nothing but trying to get my head around me and breathe.

So what was once a great way to reach out to someone in a large corporation has turned to shit. They don’t care. Helping people in need does nothing for their bottom line, so they turn a blind eye and ear.

I feel very let down by this turn of events. I didn’t spend 20 years of my life defending this country in the military to be treated like this.  Not that my congressman cares either. His office staff has been AWOL for a week or more.

So all-in-all, I say “fuck it”.  I’m gonna drink my craftbeer as long as I have gas for my generator to keep the fridges running and money to buy it.

For those of you not in the paths of Hurricane Harvey or Irma, peace to you. Be thankful of what you have. For those that, like I, have been affected by either storm, best of luck. I’m ready to call it quits.

Just how hard is it to emmigrate to Scotland anyway?

Peace,
B

Anger & Resentment

I have just come from two doctors appointments today.  The first was with my primary care physician (actually her Nurse Practitioner) to find why after more than 18 months of dieting and exercise (including the cutting out of all alcohol, watching my carb intake, both Paleo & Keto plans) I have continually gained weight, without adding any noticeable muscle mass. In my Army career (and honestly my entire life) upper body strength has always been lacking. Push-ups, pull-ups and such were so tough I usually only made the minimum to pass.  Sit-ups weren’t so tough, but still not easy.  And I won’t even go into the 2 mile run.

This afternoon I meet with my respiratory doctor. I know have an official diagnoses of COPD/Emphysema and now need a nebulizer four times a day, along with 2 daily inhalers and a rescue inhaler.  I’m turning into my dad. He had emphysema and used a nebulizer for years. But he smoked 2 – 3 packs of cigarettes a day for many years. I have smoked maybe 10 cigarettes in my life.  I would say it’s not fair, but then no one ever said life would be fair. How I came to have the lungs of a 2 pack a day 20 year smoker is beyond faith.

Let’s talk about my mind/brain. I’m bi-polar type 2. Have been all my life. There is a good possibility that all of these conditions can be blamed on the fact that my mother smoked and drank while she was pregnant with me.  Not that I blame her. In 1958 it was par for the course, doctors didn’t know any better. so nothing was said.

So who can be blamed? Some might say, the sins of the fathers have been passed down. I don’t believe that, since I don’t exactly belive in the Christian God. At honestly, at times like this my belief drives me further away from a “true and just God”.

While I admit I never was one to “treat me body like a temple”, the  military made sure I was in the best shape I could be. I know my body has broken down over the years, I’m 58 now, not the 17-year-old kid who first enlisted. But dammit, I’m still too young for this shit!

I want to see my granddaughters graduate high school. Maybe get married and give me great grand children. Now I’m not sure I’ll make it to retirement. Wifey® and I want to buy an RV and travel the country. For all I know, I’ll never leave this house again.ZXZZZX

I go see my psych doc near the end of the month. I want to talk cannabis oil with him. It has to be oil, since my lungs are so fucked up I can’t smoke a joint. I’m hoping it will alleviate some of the bi-polar problems so I can deal with these other issues with a “sane” mind.

But for those that hold to the maxim that “God won’t give you more than you can handle” I say bullshit.  It’s not in the Bible. I’ve looked, Wifey® has looked, and my seminary friends have confirmed this fact. And I have to ask why was I born broken? What sin did someone in my family do that caused me to be the scapegoat? It couldn’t possibly be for the Messiah to prove his claim.

I am ready for it to end. I am not contemplating suicide, so don’t go calling anyone. But I wish it was over. And as I’ve said before, it would have better if I had never been born. As my sons like to say “No good can come of this”. I truly hope that when I die my conscience doesn’t go somewhere, that I just get reabsorbed to the universe and hopefully stay there. maybe become the “star-dust” of another spirit, maybe on another plane of existence. But not to come back to this hell on earth.

I never wanted this to become a “whiny” blog, so I’ll stop here. But I will say again. There is no “True and Just God”. Someone prove me wrong.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for sign from Brigid, maybe she’ll bring me peace.

Peace,
B

Disappointment Sets In

So, for the last two months, give or take a few days, Wifey® and I have been eating the cleanest we have ever eaten in our lives. We are limiting the carbs, making sure the protein and fats balance as much as possible and eating lots, and I do mean lots of veggies. We have found we absolutely love “Zoodles” (hipster term for Zucchini spiral cut noodles). They are great with just about any protein we use (especially with sauteed shrimp with sun-dried tomatoes).  As of tonight I have not had any beer for 19 days (my usual intake was a six-pack a night with a twelve-pack or more on Saturday and Sunday – each).  I would estimate Wifey® has had maybe 3 glasses Pinot Grigio during this same time.

Using a keto tracker on my phone, I am usually about 10G of carbs over (but still well within the limit of 50G of carbs per day, my protein is usually within 10G either way, but the fat intake is always quite low. The app recommended a 2000 calorie per day range for me to reach my goal weight of 175 (currently at 206ish). Most days I am 800 – 1000 calories under this.  Wifey® didn’t install a tracker so I don’t know where her numbers stand. Of course, I wouldn’t post them here anyway as that’s her business. If she wants to share them with the world, no problem. But I wouldn’t do it without her permission.

Our usual week look like this:  Four days a week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday & Thursday) we do 30 minutes of cardio, I use an elliptical while she uses a treadmill.  Wifey® is only 4’9″ so the stride on most ellipticals are too long for her, hence the treadmill.  She will keep the speed and incline pretty high and we burn roughly the same amount of calories in our cardio sessions.  We then will do 30 – 45 minutes of weights. Nothing too heavy as we’re not trying to add mass, just tone up.  Oh and in case you’re wondering we take Tuesdays off it’s because we’re old and need a break, and on Friday and Saturdays we have our granddaughters and the gym does not have daycare.

Now here’s the question; why are we not losing any weight?  I would think (again just for myself) that cutting out the calories and carbs from 3 cases of beer a week alone would make a difference. Add in the better eating choices and exercise and the pounds should be falling away like crazy.  But so far?  I’ve lost half a pound. That’s it. I seriously doubt it’s “muscle mass” as my doctor tries to tell me (encouraging, but doubtful).  especially since my beer belly hasn’t gone down any (think of me as Homer Simpson, but with better hair, which drive my high school buddies insanely jealous since they’ve all lost their hair).

I was reading in a Keto group on Facebook and one lady claims to eat only 5G carbs a day and is losing 10 pounds a week. I find that very difficult to believe. I usually manage to eat half an avocado (not my most favorite food) for breakfast. According to MyFitnessPal that’s 2G of net carbs right there. Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before, which typically consists of a meat, some veggies and maybe a fruit bowl (typically 3 melon salad). I didn’t look those up, but I sure I’m way over 5G of carbs already.

As far as losing 10 pounds a week, that sounds dangerous. Even if she’s morbidly obese that is too fast of a drop.  In my 20 years as an Army para-medic, I was taught that 5 pounds a week was a good goal to lose.  Anything over and serious metabolic problems could occur. But that was 22 years ago, so the research may have changed.

So for any and all fitness type folks out there, please pass along any tips or tricks and advice as to what I’m doing wrong. Otherwise, next weekend I’m having a beer or three.

You can leave comments below, there’s a link down there somewhere…

Peace,
B

Paleo Shrimp, Avocado & Cilantro Salad

One of the best aspects of living in Florida (as opposed to Floriduh where the idiots roam), is the abundance of fresh seafood. We get Gulf Shrimp daily, Atlantic reef fish like Snapper and Grouper almost on every street corner.  Daytona doesn’t have quite the fresh variety that we had growing up in Miami, but the pickings are still good.

We also have a plethora of Avocados. I have to admit that as a child I detested Avocados. I referred to guacamole as “baby poop”. Funny story; the first time I had dinner with my now wife’s family her mom asked if wanted any “pear”.  Being a fan of the Bartlett Pear, I said sure. She handed me a rather large slice of Avocado. That’s not a pear I said. Sue it is, she replied, it’s an alligator pear! I had never heard of an alligator pear and handed it back since I knew it was just an Avocado by a different name. When I told her I didn’t care for Avocados she came back with her usual reply; Have you ever tried them? Mom’s rule was that you had to try something before you said you didn’t like it.  I assured I had tried it before, so she left me alone.

Which brings me to a wonderful recipe my Twitter friend Shane Organ  (@iamshaneorgan) posted just the other day. A very interesting Paleo Shrimp & Avocado salad.  I have come to tolerate Avocados recently mainly for the health benefits.

Here is the original recipe:

Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Cilantro
Ingredients
Cilantro Dressing/Marinade
• 3 tbs fresh Lime Juice
• 2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped ( I like a bit more cilantro)
• 1/8 tsp fresh cracked Pepper
• pinch salt to taste
Salad
• 1 lb cooked chilled shrimp deveined/ tail removed
• 2 ripe avocados
• 2 cups baby spinach
• 2 cups chopped lettuce of your choice
Servings: servings
Instructions
Cilantro Dressing/Marinade
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix.
Salad
1. Drain any excess water off shrimp if using thawed shrimp.
2. Pour cilantro dressing over shrimp. Stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (2 or 3 is better).
3. Wash and dry lettuce (use a Salad Spinner or just let it sit in a strainer). Divide among plates.
4. Cut avocado into bite-size wedges (about 1/2 inch cubes work well too). Sprinkle over lettuce.
5. Add marinated shrimp to the top.
6. Top with marinated shrimp and leftover dressing. Enjoy!

As usual, we changed it up a bit. Instead of using bland, rubbery, pre-cooked shrimp (Shane is in Canada after all. I would imagine it’s hard to get fresh shrimp.) I took about a pound of freshly cleaned and peeled shrimp with about 1/2 TBSP (I don’t measure anything, it’s all eyeballed) of Badia Chile & Lime seasoning, 1 TBSP of Lemon Pepper and 2 tsp of Seasoned Salt. Seasoned up the shrimp and let sit for about 5 minutes, then sautéed them over medium heat in about 1 TBSP of Ghee.  Then mixed the dressing/marinade as above with the shrimp and threw it all in the fridge to cool down.  Then off to the gym we went.

When we came home we assembled the salad as described and chowed down.  Even had enough left over so that Wifey® and I have lunch for today. And let me tell you, it’s an awesome dish!  Thanks Shane.

Peace,
B

(Shane can found on Twitter as noted above and his website: http://www.shaneorgannutrition.com/)

Gym Observations

(Warning: This may be considered as sexist by some folks.  Too bad.)

In an effort to get a bit healthier, Wifey® and I have joined a gym. Well actually Planet Fitness (some do not consider this a real gym).  But it works for us, and there are many well-defined men and women that use this facility.  Some of these gentlemen are rather large and appear to have been working out for quite some time. They lift enormous amounts of weights (at least compared to me).  Some are quite “cut” as if they are preparing for a body building competition, other are just massive.

The other night there were of two of these “massive” gentlemen standing in the middle of the gym, blocking access to several machines talking about their tattoos.  But were heavily inked. But the funny thing about it was they were pointing to specific tats and saying how much this one hurt more than this other one. It was like they were trying to one up each other; “my tat hurt worse than your tat”.  This went on for a good twenty minutes. With people trying to move around them to use the equipment the whole time.

Then there are the ladies. They are several young ladies that are quite fit. I know they can out lift me, out sit-up me, basically just out do me. Period. I am amazed. And a bit humiliated.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.  It’s the old men, and by that I mean older than me (and I’m damn near 60).  These guys, which I’m sure are there “on advice of their doctors”, do nothing more than stand around and stare at these ladies. I don’t entirely blame them, some of these ladies (all young enough to be my daughters, so maybe these old farts grand daughters) are quite attractive. Any one of them could be a model in any fashion magazine. But to just stare and gawk is not helpful in any way.

I’m sure these ladies don’t mind nearly as much the attention of the younger, more “buff” men in the gym, but the unwarranted voyeurism of these men is downright disrespectful.  Now I’m not saying I don’t look at them either, I am a human male after all (even if I do have “low T”). But I try to give them the respect I would expect if I wasn’t a fat old man (with nice hair). Even Wifey® admits she “checks out” the young studs and “wonders how old that one is” (again, young enough to be your son dear).

Of course there are various reason folks go to the gym. Some its health reasons (doctors do quite frequently advise patients to get more exercise), some to lose weight, others to improve their body image (body physically and mentally).  But if the main reason you’re paying your monthly membership is to ogle the women, go to a strip club. You have more to see and the drinks are better.

Peace,
B

Killing Lunch Time (or is it killing me?)

Sitting here at my desk, my meager lunch finished and music blaring in my headphones.

As I’ve posted before, my wife and I have been trying the Paleo and/or Keto eating plans.  Seems that my body does not care for either one.  The highest my blood pressure has been since starting these is 94/62. Basically I should be in a coma. My blood sugar has dropped extremely low, and the A-Fib has returned. So obviously, I am stopping the plan. We did learn somethings we will carry forward such as limiting our carbs to a greater extent. As I also have a cholesterol problem, and keto is known to elevate cholesterol, my doctor also advised me to stop.

Part 2:

Not the best day at work I have to admit. When I was promoted to this position it was for two main projects. Both of which have been pretty much stopped cold. Our city commission has cut about $780K from the city budget for next year, with a chance that it could go deeper still. This means that while my main project is funded for this year, as of October 1st, it may not be. So phase two (not to mention phase three) may not go. And with the issues we are having with phase one, it may get canceled even sooner. If the council cuts the budget ever deeper, there is a possibility that lay offs could occur. So I am rather concerned about my job future.

And of course with all this going on, the Bi-Polar depression is in high swing.  The usual visual and auditory hallucinations are going full blast.  Like Jackson Browne says in “For A Dancer”;

“It’s like a song playing right in my ear that I can’t sing, I can’t help listening.”

Things move in and out of the peripheral of my vision, thumps and whines in my ear all the time.  Hence the headphones.  At least then I know what I’m listening to and I can shut out the world for a short time.

Hopefully tonight’s gym time will work it all out.  Or I’ll die.  Either is acceptable.

Peace,
B