Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A Life Curve Ball and CBD

July 17, 2019
Wednesday

As we head into the rest of the summer, Ross is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  He has eight more treatments to go.  YAY!   Aside from the tiredness, he's feeling well.

I've had a birthday and we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.



One of the things I have struggled with throughout my life is anxiety.  Having read a bit about the wide range of symptoms which can be attributed to anxiety, I would classify what I deal with as "manageable".  By that I mean it doesn't affect my life on a daily basis, but is more likely triggered by stress levels caused by life's curve balls.

Since we are currently in the midst of one of those curve balls, I have been wondering what I can do to manage the anxiety and stress.

Which brings me to today's topic.  The "miracle" of Cannabidiol or more commonly known as CBD,

According to an article in the Harvard Health Blog:

"CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control."
I've been toying with the idea of trying CBD for a few months.  During that time it seems as though the availability of CBD has become more widespread.
There are flag signs outside of all sorts of stores and shops advertising CBD.   It seems as though smoke shops were the first to bring CBD into their inventory.  Since I don't smoke (any kind of anything), I was hesitant to wander into one of "those" kind of stores.
Recently I noticed that our little local party store was flying the CBD flag outside of their shop.
When we entered the store, I wondered which aisle would contain the shelf holding the CBD products.
Party hats?  Balloons?  "Over the Hill" paraphernalia?
The woman behind the counter obviously noticed my furrowed brow and unsure demeanor.
"Can I help you find something?" she asked.
She was a friendly sort, introduced herself as "Patty" and was quite willing to tout the benefits of CBD.  Which, by the way, the various products were locked in a small cabinet on top of the counter.
Before I go further, I must tell you that I have been quite skeptical about the miraculous efficacy of CBD.
So, Patty had quite a job ahead of her to convince me.
But, Patty told us of a personal experience she had which led me and Ross to walk out the door with $100 worth of CBD products.

Apparently, Patty also has anxiety issues.   She also had been leery of CBD.  Her partner, Fran, though, was a proponent and advocate and swore by it.   But Fran could not get Patty to try it.
One day, Patty's father was rushed to the hospital.   Patty has extreme anxiety when faced with illness, hospitals and especially elevators.  All of which is what she would have to immediately be able to cope with.
In the middle of her panic, as she cried to Fran, that she would not be able to handle any of it, Fran said to Patty, "Open your mouth!"
She put a drop of oil under Patty's tongue and according to Patty, she immediately  started to calm down.

I thought, okay if it can work for Patty, it should work for me.

I bought the Gummy Bears.  Since Ross talked about pain in his neck, she pointed out the the cream would work well.  We got that too.
Patty told me to take on every morning, like a vitamin.   She said, "You don't have to wait for tomorrow morning, take one when you get home."
Which I did.
Here is what I experienced.   I immediately felt a strange sensation in my limbs.  Arms and legs.  I also began to get nauseous.   I  became jittery and irritable.  Perhaps the jittery and irritable feelings happened because I was upset about the other sensations.  I don't know.
I finally had to take an Ativan (tranquilizer) to settle down.
Since that first time, I was willing to try again, but with a lower dose.  I cut the gummy into quarters.  A quarter of the gummy did not seem to have any effect, good or bad on me.
I have not tried again.
Ross has yet to try the cream.

Now, every evening I take about a 1-1/4 mile walk around the neighborhood.  I listen to a book while I walk.  Currently I am listening to "Commonwealth" by Anne Patchett.
After my walk I settle in for some TV viewing and knitting.  I am working on a scrappy afghan.


Walking, listening to a book and knitting seem to be the "miracle" remedies I need to quiet the anxiety and stress of this latest life curve ball.

Have you tried any of the CBD products?  Have they worked for you?



Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Rest of The Story - Our Mini-Vacay in the ER

The ER
The last week in June has been the week that our family spends in Ocean City.  To accommodate the thirteen of us, we rent a couple of houses for the week. It has always been one of my favorite times.

This year because Ross has to have daily radiation treatments for his prostate cancer, we couldn't stay for the whole week.   We decided we would book a room at the nicest hotel in OC for the weekend.


Our reservations were for Saturday and Sunday night.

We had a nice day on Saturday, got in a little sun time at the pool and visited with the family at their rental in the evening.

Ross woke early on Sunday not feeling well.  We decided to head home.  Fortunately, we only live 45 minutes from OC.

A few hours after we got home, Ross' symptoms became more concerning.  Enough so that I called 911.

Our local EMT, emergency services are excellent.  Two ambulances and a police officer came within minutes.

They determined that what Ross was experiencing was not life threatening but recommended an Emergency Room visit.

This is where the real story begins.
We got to the hospital at 12:30 p.m.

Emergency room time is different from normal time.  It surely slows down in an emergency room.

There is a sign in each cubicle stating the times that one should expect to wait.  For instance, standard blood work and run of the mill X-rays might take one to two hours before results are known.
It's a three to four hour wait if you are having a CT scan.

I guess the emergency room Public Relations people thought that having an "expectation sign" posted would make the patients more patient.

Trust me, as the hours and hours go by, the sign becomes less effective.

I have a feeling that everyone reading this has had experience with hospital emergency rooms.

The mere fact that one is in a hospital emergency room is certain to bring on anxiety.

Over the years, one of the things I sadly have had to learn when dealing with medical situations is to be a patient advocate.  That also goes for times when the patient has been me.
I question everything.

For instance, before a diagnosis was specifically made the nurse came in hauling vials of medicine.
"I have your medications Mr. G," she cheerfully said.
"What are you giving him?"  I asked.
She rattled off the names of the medicines.
"What are they for?"  I asked.
She told us and I asked Ross if he wanted to take them.  He declined.
I must explain here that the medicines were for the symptoms Ross described.  Pretty much over the counter stomach soothers.
The point I am making is that the nurse was going to administer these medicines without explaining what they were why they were being given.
"I got the order from the doctor,"  she explained.  As if that was the only explanation we needed.

It's at this point that our story becomes scary.

I think by now it was about 3:00 pm.
The nurse came in with a cup filled with liquid.  She extended it to Ross and told him that he needed to "drink this".

"The doctor has ordered a CT scan," she told us.

"Why?"  I asked.

She explained that the doctor thought he saw something suspicious on one of the routine X-rays and wanted to get a more detailed picture.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you the stomach dropping, heart stopping feeling we experienced at that moment.

We asked to speak to the doctor.   A half-hour later he popped in.

He convinced us that the CT scan was necessary.

The time frame for a CT scan is this:  One hour after the patient finishes the drink, he is taken for the scan, then it takes 2-3 hours for the results.

The waiting was hard. 

After about 90 minutes the ER doc came in and explained that what he suspected was indeed true and he had ordered a surgeon to come in.  It would take about two hours for the surgeon to get to the hospital.   Then he left the room.

As you can imagine we were in shock, tired, and trying to digest what we were just told.

We asked to speak to the doctor again.

"Sorry, but he left." we were told.
Apparently his shift was over and another ER doctor, Dr. Galapos (not his real name) was then assigned to Ross.

Dr. Galapos came in to explain the condition that Ross had and depending on the severity, what the possible treatments might be.

I asked to see the CT scan results.

What happened next is still unbelievable to me.

A few minutes later, Dr. Galapos came back into the room.

"I've cancelled the surgeon," he said.
He went on to explain that the CT scan report indicated that Ross did not have what the original ER doctor suspected.

I was baffled.  No, more than that, I was relieved but furious at the same time.

Apparently the first ER doctor was in such a hurry to leave that even he didn't have the patience to wait for the CT scan results!

But, because one of the symptoms that Ross originally described could be heart related, Dr. Galapos still recommended that Ross stay for 24 hour observation.

By the way, Ross was feeling fine at this point.  All of his heart tests were negative.

We agreed for one reason alone.  Ross' cardiologist, Dr VJ would be in to see Ross the first thing in the morning.

Ross finally got into a room at 8:30 p.m.   Exhausted and hungry, I left to go home.

Dr. VJ did see Ross first thing in the morning and cleared him for release. 

By the way before the paper work was done and his IV removed, two people came into the room with orders for additional testing.  I had to explain that Ross had been released.  After verifying with the doctor they apologized and went away.

Need I say this?  Be your own patient advocate!

Aside from an occasional bout of anxiety, Ross has been doing okay. 


This is how I prefer to remember our weekend.









Thursday, June 27, 2019

I Had A Keratin Treatment and I Love It!

Update on my Keratin Treatment


In a recent post titled "Because I'm Worth It" I wrote about the protein treatment I was going to get on my hair.  The treatment is commonly known as Keratin.  As I wrote in my post, Keratin is supposed to bring youth back to your hair.  Smooth it out and eliminate frizz. 

There are two versions of the treatment.   A full and a mini or express.  I opted for the express version for two reasons.
First was the cost.  The price of the full process is about twice what the express costs. 

Amy, the hair stylist told me that the express would probably last at 6 weeks.   (The full lasts a couple of months and takes twice as long to apply.)

Second, I wasn't sure I would be happy, so I figured the mini would be a good trial.

When I wrote that post I had not yet gone for the treatment and had posted "before" pictures of my hair.

Before Pictures




I had the process done (along with a hair cut) and I highly recommend it!  It definitely made my hair softer, smoother and eliminated the frizz.
Amy suggested that I buy shampoo and conditioner specifically made for Keratin treated hair.  That was an additional cost, but the products should last for months. 


Here are a few "after" pictures.





Last weekend Ross and I thought a little get-a-way was in order.   We booked a hotel room in a NJ beach resort a little ways from where we live. 

It didn't quite work out the way we hoped. 


Yes, there is a story.  More on that in the next post.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Because I'm Worth It!

I've decided to obsess about my hair.  It's interesting how easily I can distract myself from my current reality.

I let my hair go gray (or is it grey?) about four years ago. While I did it strictly for practical reasons, I fell for the kindnesses I received from various people who gushed about how beautiful my hair looked.

The practicality of not coloring my hair is two-fold.  First,  I don't have to take the time to get a touch up every three weeks.   Speaking of that, I came to realize that if I didn't have that touch up every three weeks, the streak of gray along the roots was too obvious to fool anyone into thinking that chestnut brown was my natural color.
I did not like the mess of doing my own at home. Anyway I wasn't doing such a good job of it.  So I would get it done at the salon.  This brings me to the second practical reason of letting my hair go gray.  It gets expensive.


First Time Application
*$65.00 & Up
Retouch on 4-6 weeks
*$60.00 & Up
Retouch w/ Blow Dry
$70.00 & Up
Retouch w/ Haircut and  Blow Dry
$80.00 & Up

 

About the same time that I stopped coloring my hair, I also let it grow a little longer than I had been wearing it. 

That was a savings too.  Not as many trips to the salon to get a hair cut. 

Reading about why our hair grays is pretty depressing. 


Science of Grays
Your hair follicles have pigment cells that make melanin, a chemical that gives your hair its color. As you age, these cells start to die. Without pigment, new hair strands grow in lighter and take on various shades of gray, silver, and eventually white. Once a follicle stops making melanin, it won’t make colored strands again.
Gray hair is thinner than hair with natural color because its cuticle is thinner. Your hair needs that natural protection from water, ultraviolet rays from the sun, humidity, chemicals, and heat styling. Without that barrier, your hair loses water. So your gray will feel dry, fragile, and coarse.

My hair is more white than gray.  It is definitely dry, fragile and coarse.
Lately I have been giving serious thought to cutting my hair short and dying it a color.

I was talking to Judy, the woman who does my nails, the other day.  She told me that, "You should absolutely color your hair!"
"Get it cut really short and spiky," she said.  "And, oh, get some really funky glasses too!" she said.

  While Judy was going on about what I should do with my hair, I envisioned something like this:


Judy's alternate suggestion was more interesting to me.  She told me about a treatment I could get which would "make you have teenage hair!"
My ears perked up at that.
"Really?"  I asked.
She assured me, "It's wonderful!" she said.
"I get it done all the time," she said.
I think she saw the puzzled look on my face as she caught me looking at her hair.
"Oh, I am due for one," she said.

The treatment Judy told me about is called Keratin
Keratin is the protein in hair that makes it strong and lustrous. It tends to be weaker in curly and textured hair, which can result in dryness and frizz. Keratin treatments are a game-changer for people with tough-to-tame locks. Performed in salons by professionals, the treatments coat the strands with the protein to make them smooth. Some treatments make hair pin straight for months, while other formulas simply eliminate frizz. Choose the right keratin treatment for your hair type and styling needs to get the most from the smoothing wonder.

I'm interested.  I mean, come on!  Teenage hair! 

I've made an appointment for Thursday to get this miracle treatment.
By the way, it's not very practical.


Brazilian Keratin Treatment

Brazilian Keratin
*$300.00 & Up
*Prices may vary according to hair length, and thickness.
Up Charges are based on extra time, perm and kits used
(includes shampoo, conditioner and style)



Oh, no, I'm not paying $300 and up!   I getting the mini-keriten, which is only $145! 
To have teenage hair!  Come on!
As L'Oréal says, "I'm worth it!"

My Before Photo

Stay tuned.



Saturday, June 8, 2019

Keep Your Chin Up

A year ago I  stopped doing what was my regular exercise routine.  My now neglected regular exercise routine consisted of participating in a one hour weight bearing, aerobics class, three times a week.  

Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 8:30 a.m., a group of about a dozen 60-80 year old women meet in the community club house to lift, march, dance, bend, stretch and mostly huff and puff for about 60 minutes.  The class is led by a 57 year old, very fit, very perky, energetic likable woman. 

Until a year ago, I diligently attended this class.  
I'm not sure why I stopped going.  It wasn't a gradual cutting back.  No, I just stopped going.
I came up with one excuse after another.  I blamed it on my aching hip or my chronic plantar fasciitis.  
     
I said it was more enjoyable to get up out of bed when I wanted to.  I loved spending the morning leisurely lounging around with my tea for as long as I desired.  Perhaps, I just ran out of steam.  
When I gave it careful consideration though,  I thought about the timing of when I stopped going.        
It was then that I realized it coincidently coincided with the passing of our little Maltese Rico.    
When that thought popped into my head, I brushed it away.  No, it couldn't be that. 
I mean I was sad to lose Rico after having him for nearly 18 years, but I didn't feel what I would describe as typically depressed.
But now, I realize that my self imposed cocoon hibernation was a form of grief.
     
Last week I went for an annual physical exam.   I wasn't surprised at my weight gain.  Leading the sedentary life style that I was now leading, of course there would be weight gain.   My blood pressure was a little elevated.  Again, not surprising.  
But what did surprise me, though, was the result of my bone density test.  It showed that I have Osteopenia.  

     "Osteopenia is when your bones are weaker than normal but not so far gone that they break easily, which is the hallmark of osteoporosis."

  
Having Osteopenia didn't surprise me, I've had it for years.  The astonishing thing about these latest results was that the Osteopenia has improved since my last bone density exam.  I suddenly understood that my aerobic, weight bearing exercise class was benefiting me much more than I realized.  

Because of our current circumstance (described in my last post "Did you ever have...") I am not available to attend the 8:30 aerobics classes.
    
Our community has a beautiful fitness center.   We also have a fitness trainer available in the community to help with one-on-one training.
I met with her last week for a one time, get me going session.
She helped me set up a routine, which I can easily manage.   
Ironically, unbeknownst to her, the best advice she gave me was more meaningful to me than just a physical benefit.   
As I was worked with the free weights, she told me to keep my chin up.  A couple of time she would reach over to tilt my chin upwards.   She told me that looking straight ahead with my chin up would help improve my posture. 

I realized that I do that often.  When I walk, I look down, not ahead.

Keeping my chin up is good advice, especially now, for more reasons than one.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Did You Ever Have One Of Those Days?

Did you ever have one of those days?

I'm writing this on Saturday, June 1. 

Part One
On Thursday as I was going about, doing my usual morning routine of making the bed, throwing some laundry in, etc, I suddenly saw a flash of light out of the corner of my right eye.  It literally looked like a streak of lightening.  That was weird, I thought.
A couple of seconds later, I began to see these black string like things in my line of vision.
Thinking I had something hanging from my hair, I kept brushing my hand across my face. 
I looked in the mirror, I didn't see anything, but the stringy things were still there. 
Okay, there must be something in my eye.  A piece of dust or something.   
I asked Ross to take a look.  "Nope," he said.  "I don't see anything."
After a few minutes the stringy things subsided.  I still had one, though hanging out in the corner of my eye.
I chalked it up to stress, not sleeping well the night before and feeling more tired than usual that day.
We went about the business of the day.
When we were settled in after dinner, for the heck of it I decided to look up my symptoms on the internet.
I googled "eye problems". 

I came across this article from "WebMd" which fit my symptoms exactly:

Detached Retina

What Are the Symptoms?

A detached retina doesn't hurt. It can happen with no warning at all. But you might notice:
  • Flashes of light
  • Seeing lots of new "floaters" (small flecks or threads)
  • Darkening of your peripheral (side) vision
If you have any of those symptoms, contact your eye doctor immediately.

That last sentence sent me into a panic.   Contacting my eye doctor immediately was not an option at 7:00 p.m.  I did actually try to call.  The message on the answering machine told me to call 911 if it was an emergency.  The office would be open at 8:15 a.m. the next day, Friday.
At 8:15 on Friday morning, I talked to my eye doctor's receptionist and explained my symptoms.  She asked if I could get there right then because the doctor was only going to be in the office until 10:30.  First of all, the doctor's office is 30 minutes from our home.  Second of all,  Ross has his radiation scheduled for 10:00.  It seemed more important to me to make sure Ross got his treatment.  
I asked the receptionist if she thought I could wait until Monday to see the doctor.  She told me that actually the doctor doesn't deal with retina problems and would just refer me to a retina specialist. 
So, let me digress for a moment and reflect on that.   Why did the receptionist ask me to try to come into the office when she knew the doctor would not have been able to treat me?  I'm glad I didn't attempt to make that trip.
Okay so back to the story.   I called and made an appointment with a retina specialist for 2:00.  As I was scheduling the appointment, I asked the receptionist if it was necessary to see someone immediately.  She said, "I would suggest that you do."
That threw me into full anxiety mode.   Cause that's what I do. 
But, before my eye doctor appointment we had to go to Ross' radiation session at 10:00.  
Part Two
We headed to the radiation center at our usual time.   Traffic was light.  We were making good time.  In fact we were probably going to be a little early.   
The radiation center is on the east side of the highway on which we  travel.   But we first begin our travel on the west side of that highway.  Therefore, once we get to the location of the Radiation center,  we have to make a jughandle u-turn to get onto the east side.  
As we approached the traffic light where the jughandle is located, we discovered the traffic light was not working.  This is normally a busy intersection and it was this day.  With the traffic light not working, it was chaos!  Cars going in all directions, drivers not knowing when to stop and when to go.    
While we were in the middle of the round-about, cars were coming from all directions. We were all trying to merge and get into one of the three appropriate turn lanes.  As Ross was inching over to the center lane, I heard the crunch. 
My immediate reaction was "Oh, no!"  I threw my hands up and covered my face.  I asked Ross if he knew who hit us.  He said he did.  "It was that black car.  She's behind us screaming at me."
I told him to keep moving.  There was no way we could stop in the middle of all the traffic.  '"She'll follow us," I said.
We managed to get out of the jughandle,  and we turned into the parking lot of the Radiation center. The woman in the black car followed us.  We pulled into a parking spot.  She pulled in next to us.  She rolled down her window and continued screaming at us.
"Are you freaking kidding me!"  "You hit my car!"  "You hit my car!"
She was driving a large black Infinity SUV.  Sort of like this:

We drive a four door sedan.  Sort of like this:



I rolled down my window. and said, "Sorry, but we have an appointment there," pointing to the building with the sign which clearly states, "Radiation Onconology". 

She sort of sputtered, and I could see the humanity in her began to take over to tame the shrew.  
Ross, in a his typical way, very calmly and in a soft voice said to her, "There's no need to yell."
I chimed in with, "Cars can be fixed."
As an aside here, based on the damage to both cars, she had damage to the headlight on the driver's side.  We had damage all along the side of our car on the driver's side.  I do believe she hit us. 
But, since the damage was of only a scraping type, there was no jolt to either car, which means none of us experienced any kind of physical injury,  Ross and I were not going to argue with her about who hit who.
As we waited for the police to arrive, I noticed that people were hanging outside the building.  I told Ross he should go in to check in.  When he came out he said the electricity was out.  That meant that the radiation machines were not working. 
By this time Lynn, that was the screaming woman's name, had completely calmed down and began to apologize to us.   
She said that she doesn't normally act that way, but she had a lot of errands to run that day.  And she was going to be late for a lunch date she had with her sister.   
<sigh> Poor woman.  (sarcastically).
The police officer was quite understanding.  He wrote up the police accident report and didn't issue any tickets.
After the officer left, Lynn asked if she could give us a hug.   
By the way, I did happen to mention my upcoming appointment with the eye doctor because I probably had a detached retina. 
By the time it was all over, I kind of felt sorry for her.  She must have felt awful at the way she screamed  at this white haired couple, he with cancer, she with a detached retina. 
We went back into the center.  The electricity had just came back on, but now they were backed up with their own traffic jam of patients.  They told us we could wait, it would probably be an hour.  They said we could skip this session and it would just be tacked on to the end.  In other words Ross will still be receiving all 45 treatments. 
We decided we needed to leave, go home and relax a bit before my eye apportionment.

Part Three 
I going to be brief here.  I do not have a detached retina.  But what I do have is:
Vitreous Degeneration
What is the treatment for vitreous degeneration? In most cases, vitreous degeneration does not affect eyesight, but certainly may be annoying. There is no good treatment for removing the floaters. Surgery to remove the vitreous gel from the eye is reserved for more serious problems, like a detached retina. That is because the surgery can have complications. We recommend that people try to learn to see around their floaters. The floaters usually settle to the bottom of the eye like the snow in a snow-globe and stop being as bothersome as time passes. The brain also gets tired of looking at a floater all of the time and starts to ignore it. You will always be able to see the floater again if you concentrate on it, or if you are looking into the sky or another very light background. 

It's something to keep a check on.  

The moral to this story is... well I know what I learned.  How about you?




Saturday, May 25, 2019

Wearable Art, Radiation and Maury Povich

A week of radiation treatments are under Ross' belt. The treatment itself only takes about 11-15 minutes. 
Ross is physically feeling okay so far with it. 
I believe the stress he and I are experiencing comes not from the actual treatment, but rather from what the treatment is hopefully curing. 

I am amused by the TV channel selections in the waiting room.  The remote is fair game.   Each day this week the TV was tuned to a different station.  It was quite an eclectic array, ranging from Cable News to Maury Povich.   By the way, "Rob by a DNA score of 99.9%, YOU ARE THE FATHER!"

I bring my knitting with me and although the waiting time is not long, I still manage to get in a few rows on whatever project I happen to bring with me.   As always, the rhythmic process of stitching with string and sticks help with the stress. 

The other day I decided to go through all of my completed knitting projects.  I have them tucked here and there in various dressers drawers or on shelves stored in decorative storage boxes. 

When they were all in one place, all together, I began to question why?  How many pairs of socks do I need?  What about all of those shawls?  Why?  Don't get me started the amount of hats, scarves and cowls.

 The more I pondered the "why" of my kitting obsession,  I began to understand the answer,

I often talk about the soothing and calming feeling that knitting produces, but there is another just as compelling reason I knit.

It also satisfies my creative need.   As I looked at all of the items,  I realized I was admiring 
individual pieces of art. 

Although most of the items I make are created using a pattern written by someone else,  I chose the colors. 
I like the way color choice brings my own individuality to a project.   







It's sort of like coloring in one of those "adult" coloring books.  The picture is drawn by someone else, but you get to choose the colors.
However,  unlike the coloring book, my art is wearable.