Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I have been lazy about posting stuff lately. There has actually been a fair amount of stuff happening, almost none of it related to my efforts to get in better shape and lose weight, but still...
On June 20th, I took Danny to one of the activities the local American Cancer Society offers for kids with cancer. This one was Wrangler Day at Rio Cibolo Ranch. RC Ranch is an entertainment ranch, which is to say that it is a real ranch, but at the same time, they are in the entertainment business. Groups of people come to see a ranch, go on a hay ride, see and feed cattle and other animals, eat Texas barbecue, etc., etc.
This event was just for kids with cancer. I was sorry that more kids didn't come, because it was so much fun, and they really treated the kids well. Danny was reluctant to come initially, but my feeling is that we should take advantage of opportunities to have fun and meet other kids with cancer - something we haven't really had much success at.
It was a very full day. We went on a hay ride, got to feed and pet a variety of animals (longhorns, beefalo, buffalo, llamas) - and sit on a longhorn! - play a lot of games (ping pong, shuffleboard, skee ball, horseshoes, etc.), eat a catered lunch, ride on the river, eat s'mores (huge, hot campfire, which was a bit incongruous in June in the middle of a hot day), play bingo, paint goblets to make a fancy chandelier...
Danny's favorite was the trick roper. He really wanted a picture with this kind and generous man, and he obliged.
There was also a sing-along with two talented young people who were both survivors of childhood cancer. That was a very nice message of hope for the families there.
By the end of the day, Danny and I were pretty tired. We had a lot of fun, but, as is unfortunately usual, he didn't really get to know any of the other kids with cancer. However, I was a happy mother when he said afterwards, "I had SO much fun!" I hadn't heard him say that in a very, very long time.
I am even willing to show a very embarrassing picture of myself. Danny begged me to get up on the long horn, and I finally said I would. Then he just *had* to take a picture. Anything to make him smile.
Sunday, July 06, 2014
I recently found a new doctor, and I must say that I am very pleased with him. I have had an oncologist and surgeon since 2007, when I was diagnosed with cancer, but I haven't had a primary-care doctor. A few years back, a friend referred me to one, but, in the end, neither she nor I was terribly happy with him. He was a pretty nice guy, and I'm sure a competent doctor, but I draw the line at a doctor who has the office staff send you a letter telling you your test results. I mean, I understand he is busy, but that's a bit too much.
So I wanted to find someone else. I had heard pretty good things about this guy. The same friend who left the other doctor had switched to him, and my pastor goes to him, plus one of my oncologist's nurses. That sounded like a good enough recommendation.
When I went to the first appointment, he took a thorough history and had blood drawn for a whole lot of tests. He also referred me for a colonoscopy, about which I am not at all happy, but that's another story. The follow-up appointment last week was to discuss the results.
I wasn't thrilled to find out that my thyroid hormone is low. Not low enough to require treatment at this point, he said, but when I asked if there is anything natural one can do to increase it, he said no. I am going to research that myself, though.
In addition, my levels of omega threes are about half of what they should be. Since I take quite a lot of Krill Oil, I was unhappy about that. Well, it turns out that I should be taking 2000 mgs. of omega threes, not 2000 mgs. of the Krill Oil. Yikes! At the strength of the oil I have been taking, to get 2000 mgs. of omega threes, I would have to take twelve capsules per day! There are only 60 capsules in the bottle - it would last five days. And they are pretty expensive pills to start with. I need to find stronger and cheaper pills.
On the plus side, my Vitamin D levels are good, so that at least was a relief to me. I take a Vitamin D supplement and try to get a little sun at least occasionally, before I put on the sunscreen.
Dr. F recommends a niacin supplement, because my levels of 'sticky' cholesterol are very high. That I don't mind doing. I just hope it works. He also recommends exercise to get my inflammation down. Big surprise there. But I really haven't found anything I like well enough to stick to it long term. With my bad hip, I simply can't run. :-( Walking is OK, but it gets pretty boring for me.
One other marker I am not familiar with is my coagulation genetics, which came out as intermediate risk genotypes. To improve my situation, he recommends that I take methylfolate, which, again, since it is a vitamin supplement, I don't at all mind doing.
Also on the plus side are my blood sugar numbers. They are very good. Also my liver function and kidney function look pretty good. My CBC is all fine. And after looking for so many months at Danny's terrible numbers, it seems strange to see a CBC with every single number in the normal range.
All this isn't too interesting, but I am very pleased to have a doctor who is really doing a thorough evaluation and telling me what I can do to improve things. He did also say that what he does is to try to prevent heart disease and stroke, but that in my case, what is really of concern is my risk of cancer. I do know that, but of course many of the same changes to diet and lifestyle that can lower the risk of heart disease can also lower the risk of cancer.
What makes me so happy is that he takes the time to do all this. My previous doctor didn't. And now, I do have my work cut out for me.
Friday, July 04, 2014
I have a bunch of blogs just waiting to be written, including one about a day Danny and I spent at a really neat ranch, and also my recent visit to my GP (some good news, some not so good). But CLAIREINPARIS posted one of those 'getting to know' you sorts of questionnaires I used to do a lot of, back in the day when e-mail was new and the earth was young, and I decided to go ahead and do the questionnaire before any other blogs. I hadn't done one in years. So, here goes:
Your go to chewing gum flavour…
Probably Juicy Fruit, but I rarely if ever chew gum.
Best time of the year…
I like the fall, but fall in Pennsylvania, where I grew up, rather than in
Texas. It just isn't that pretty (or that cool) here.
If you were a toe nail polish what color would you be….
Well, if the question is really what nail polish color I like best, I would
probably say a muted pink. If the question is really what color fits my
personality, who knows? Maybe tan.
Chocolate chess pie.
First record you ever bought…
That's really hard to remember. It might have been a Carpenters album.
Yes, I admit it (blush, blush).
Current perfume you use…
I really don't wear perfume.
Do you have any trophies or awards…
One, for a bowling league I was in some years ago. I believe it was
a trophy for participating. I have no trophy-earning skills whatsoever.
Worst day of your life…
I have had several super horrible days. One, maybe the worst,
was in January of 1982.
Do you cuss and swear...
Not often, and I try not to, but sometimes a word or two slips
out. I always regret it.
Celebrity crush you would get a hall pass for…
I have never had one that I can remember.
What is the new reward if it isn’t food anymore…
A new book, always a book.
What makes you the Zodiac sign you are…
I don't pay any attention to the Zodiac, other than knowing
what sign I am, which happens to be Libra.
What is your goal weight....
I have intermediate and long-term goals. My long-term goal
Do you think you are a giver or a taker…
Honestly, I am more selfish than I would like to be, but
I am a giver as well as a taker, especially when it comes to my
Beach house or Mountain cabin…
Definitely the mountain cabin. I am not a beach person.
If you monogrammed your towels...
I'm not sure what the point of this question is. I would put my initials
Someone offers you free plastic surgery, what do you do….
Right now I would refuse it, but at some time I might consider a
I might be tempted to time travel back to….
I love history, and I would like to visit a lot of different times and
places. However, I don't think I would want to live in any of them.
Nickname in high school....
Some people called me Mati Jean or Maude. But the biggest one was
Mean Mary Jean, after a character in a Chrysler ad - "Mean Mary Jean,
superstar of our team..."
Sunday, June 29, 2014
...which, in my case, means the dreaded *lawn!* I have, unfortunately enough, a huge back yard. My front yard is small and manageable, but the back yard is another story. It can't all be mowed in one session, because the mower will manifest its displeasure by stopping and refusing to re-start. Presumably it gets too hot and wants to cool off.
It mattereth not to me, because by the time the mower wants to call it quits, I have long since passed that point anyway. But the result of all this is that it is a rare day indeed when both my front and (entire) back yards are completely mowed. And we have had more rain than usual lately, and I have been out of town twice this month.
So, there was one part of my back yard that simply didn't get mowed. At all. Today I had to tackle the back yard, but even the parts that I had mowed two weeks ago needed it again. It's a very vicious cycle. So I donned my mowing uniform (shorts, T-shirt, tennies, sunglasses, baseball cap, sunscreen, and bug repellent, and had at it.
It's a jungle out there! Two hours later, I had made some progress, but was a long way from the prize. And I was exhausted, dehydrated (in spite of drinking quite a lot), and filthy. Did I mention it was in the 90s? Which is pretty much is every single day, all summer (and spring and fall) long, and which is why I put off mowing whenever possible.
On the plus side, I am optimistic that I may possibly be able to finish the back yard tomorrow, if I work hard.
By way of showing the immensity of the job, here are some before and after pictures of my back yard from a previous mowing adventure. That time I won the prize! But it was winter and much more pleasant mowing weather.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Danny's hospital had a huge party last Saturday for Cancer Survivors. It was fifties themed, and there was a costume contest, dance competition, free food for the survivors, door prizes, a raffle, a health fair, etc., etc. When Danny got the invitation, I called to ask if there would be kids there, since I was afraid it would be entirely geared for adults. The lady reassured me that there would be lots of kids there, and that there were plenty of activities for kids.
So, Danny, Cecily, and I went to the hospital for the party. My first warning that it wouldn't be what I expected was the huge line of cars trying to get to the parking lots, and the extremely full parking lots - not at all normal for a Saturday. Then there was the fact that there were so many people inside that it was a bit of a struggle to get into the building. What was worse was that there were almost no kids to be seen.
We weren't dressed for the competition, nor were any of us interested in dancing, so we didn't quite know what to do at first. There was lots of free stuff, including some books. (I took one that seemed interesting - it has a lot of strict vegetarian recipes.) But we felt sort of out of place for quite a few reasons, not least of which was that most of the people there were really pretty old. I should have realized that it would be that way. The vast majority of people who get cancer are older - heck, age is one of the biggest risk factors for getting cancer. The number of children who get cancer is minuscule in comparison.
Then the speaker started announcing awards, and at that point we were up near the front. He started handing out trophies for things like - the most recently diagnosed person, the person who has survived for the longest time, the oldest survivor, the one who has had cancer the most times, etc. His not-too-efficient method of finding these people was to start with a certain time frame (or age) and ask people to raise their hands, then go one notch further and again ask for a show of hands, etc.
Well, when he got to the 'youngest survivor' category and started by asking if there were any survivors in their forties, I got a little irritated, and yelled out, "Here's one who's thirteen!" or something similar. Someone got his attention, and he looked our way. Honestly, Danny isn't anything close to the youngest survivor, at that hospital or anywhere. There are actually babies who are born with tumors (though it's rare), and lots and lots of kids who are toddlers get cancer. So I was quite surprised when, having had his technique pre-empted, the announcer yelled out to ask if there were any survivors younger than thirteen. No one raised his hand. No one. That's when I knew that the lady who told me lots of kids come to this event was waaaaaaay off base.
So Danny won the prize. And we got our picture taken, and apparently we will make the hospital newspaper as well, since I guess Danny was more interesting than the 94-year old oldest cancer survivor.
After that excitement, we went through the health-fair booths and got a few more freebies. Then we got into the mile-long line of people waiting for the meal, which was anything but healthy (cheeseburger slider, tater tots, and a mini milkshake), got our food, and retreated to the basement, where there were empty tables to eat at.
We also got to chat with Danny's oncologist, who was staffing the pediatric oncology table and was probably bored by not having too many people stop by her table. As the youngest and newest doctor in the clinic, she evidently got stuck with the job no one else wanted. I mean, why would adult cancer survivors be interested in stopping by the pediatric oncology table?
In the end, it was kind of fun, but I am not sure we will come again next year.
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