Archive for May, 2010

Ah. Three-day Weekend(s)

May 31, 2010

The throes of my former three-day weekends have begun many weeks beforehand with planning: reservations, food supplies, first aid to include mosquito repellents and SPF-50 creams, does my bathing suit fit (the way I want it to?!), cleaning the house before I leave, the comfortable clothes packing through a 5-day weather watch, check book balancing to make sure bills are covered, an automotive check list (tires, fluids, trunk room), house light timers, and so forth.  Add whatever else you personally prepare and  we’re on our way.  Don’t forget animal care, which in itself is quite detailed.

Having gone through this routine for several years, I quit.  The tasks-to-goals for comfort and care to get from point A to point B have become unabashedly tiresome.   Viewed as a ‘vacation,’ I think it is anything but!  Highways, byways, parking lots, airports, etc., are too overcrowded for my tastes.   Motorhomes, campers, trailers, ‘toy boxes,’ motorcycles, 4-wheelers and ski-doos, have slowly covered my hi-way journey, blotting out scenery.

Enough is enough!  We stay home.  Glorifying in the relaxed atmosphere of home has been gratifying.  Sure, we still take part in ‘going places far far away’ for extra-ordinary activities, but not on a three-day weekend!  The weekend before or the weekend after is when we plan to escape the home scene.  In this way, our final destination is always more relaxed, there is more room to enjoy all the sights, and we do not have to be so alert, anxious, and careful of the multitudes! 

Ah, three-day weekends – national holidays – are appreciated humbly as we raise our American flag, outside our front door in gratitude and remembrance.  God Bless America and all its citizens!

Cowboys

May 27, 2010

Mm, mm, mm.  To me, cowboys are rated right there among firemen, policemen, men in uniform.  Yep, so I’m easy.  Through my experiences with camping (earlier blog), I have become acquainted with a few real-life cowboys.  As rustic and rugged when days of old, the characteristic stereotype of each cowboy I have met remains the same. 

Here’s a little story I found from a Physicians’ Mutual pamphlet I recently received and wanted  to share with you about cowboys.  For instance, “American cowboys get their roots from the Mexican ‘vaqueros.’  All the way back to the 1500’s, vaqueros were hired by ranchers to herd cattle from Mexico to what is now New Mexico and Texas.  When American settlers moved into the area, they were influenced by the vaqueros’ culture, including the way they dressed, spoke and drove cattle.  This influence was the start of the traditional cowboy image.

“With the building of railroads in the 1860s and after the Civil War, cowboys became important figures in the Wild West.  As herding routes changed and expanded, many towns were founded in their wake.  These settlements often benefited from cowboys who came to spend their hard-earned money, although most settlers considered cowboys to be troublemakers.  In reality, cowboys were young (normally in their 20s), hardworking men whose life was often exhausting and lonely.  They lived a life based on self-reliance and individualism.

“By the end of the 1800s and into the early 1900s, the cowboy way of life changed.  As more ranchers sectioned land with barbed wire and railroads moved farther west, the cowboys were not needed as much.  However, while the life af the cowboy changed, their culture began to be idolized by the rest of America.  With popular movies like High Noon and Gunfight at the O. K. Corral and famous TV shows like The Lone Ranger, Bonanza, and Gunsmoke, cowboys became heroes in the public eye.  There was also the birth of the “singing cowboy” portrayed by Gene Autry and Rex Allen, as well as rising star actors such as Roy Rogers, Dale Evans and John Wayne.  So, even though the real cowboys saw themselves as survivors just doing their job, Hollywood portrayed them as romantic, hero figures.

“In some aspects, the cowboys’ way of life today isn’t much different than it was 100 years ago.  For example, it is still hard work requiring long hours watching over large herds of cattle.  But other aspects have completely changed.  Some cowboys and ranchers use modern technology to make the work easier, like using helicopters to watch over the land and cattle (instead of relying solely on horses).  Though times are changing, the cowboy continues to live on as a symbol of persistence, independence and hard work.”

Ah, I repeat: a symbol of persistence, independence and hard work, very analogous to many of our life’s daily situations.  Take care!  A. K. Buckroth.

Camping

May 24, 2010

What comes to your mind when someone mentions “camping” or says “I’m going camping?” Visions of tent setups and sleeping inside one in a ‘sleeping bag?’  A fire hole built with stone and wood, allowing the roasting of hot dogs and marshmallows?  Gazing at the universe of stars on a clear night?  Any number of positive visualizations come forth, right?  Well, that is where I was for the last five days – ‘camping.’ 

Not ever thinking of the adage “expect the unexpected,” I went forth headlong through many preparations a week beforehand until arriving at the final destination.  Grateful to own a ‘pop-up’ trailer, that in itself took two hours to set up.  The weather did not help.  Knowing in advance that the temperature would not be above 60 degrees fahrenheit, that came and went quickly at three o’clock in one afternoon. 

Then the unexpected arrived: hail, rain, more hail, wind, a temperature high of 27 degrees, more rain then snow.  Too wet to light a match to, the wood pile remained in the mud.  The portable heater ran 24/7; even the dogs shivered.  Having to walk them, I did so, pleasantly.  But they did not want to eat due to the strange environ.  Oh well.  After four days, we made it home safely, to the warmth and comfort of our home.

With all that being done, I became ever-so-grateful for what I have and what I do not have.  That concept of thought is really quite simple.  Think about it.   Use it.  Be grateful.  I am.

A. K. Buckroth

Judy’s Update III (RE: Kidney Transplant)

May 19, 2010

Judy goes home today!  Excited to share this with you, such news does not come without apprehension and fright.

After undergoing a kidney transplant on March 12th, ironically her surgeon’s birthday, her progress is delightful!  Besides having to maintain a minute strategizing of her body, mind and soul through insulin shots, pain medication and immuno-suppressant drugs, her attitude is upbeat and anxious.  I do not blame her.  Eight days in a hopital environment is plenty!  Although her overall care was excellent at UMASS (University of Massachusetts), her 40+ years of diabetes knowledge and stubborn independence will blossom once again.  I believe.  I am proud of her.

Until next time, I remain a big sister.

A. K. Buckroth, MA, Author

“Signs of Cancer…”

May 18, 2010

An Eye-Opener On Ovarian Cancer
THIS IS A MUST TO READ TO THE END   

I hope you all take the time to read this and pass it on to all you can. Send this to the women in your life that you care about…. 

Years ago, Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer. Her symptoms were inconclusive, and she was treated for everything under the sun until it was too late. This blood test finally identified her illness but alas, too late. She wrote a book to heighten awareness. Gene Wilder is her widower. 

Kathy’s Story: this is the story of Kathy West 
“I have Primary Peritoneal Cancer. This cancer has only recently been identified as its OWN type of cancer, but it is essentially Ovarian Cancer. 

“Both types of cancer are diagnosed in the same way, with the ‘tumor marker’ CA-125 BLOOD TEST, and they are treated in the same way – surgery to remove the primary tumor and then chemotherapy with Taxol and Carboplatin. 

“Having gone through this ordeal, I want to save others from the same fate That is why I am sending this message to you and hope you will print it and give it or send it via E-mail to everybody you know. 

“One thing I have learned is that each of us must take TOTAL responsibility for our own health care. I thought I had done that because I always had an annual physical and PAP smear, did a monthly Self-Breast Exam, went to the dentist at least twice a year, etc. I even insisted on a sigmoidoscopy and a bone density test last year. When I had a total hysterectomy in 1993, I thought that I did not have to worry about getting any of the female reproductive organ cancers. 
“LITTLE DID I KNOW. I don’t have ovaries (and they were HEALTHY when they were removed), but I have what is essentially ovarian cancer. Strange, isn’t it?

“These are just SOME of the things our Doctors never tell us: ONE out of every 55 women will get OVARIAN or PRIMARY PERITONEAL CANCER. 
The ‘CLASSIC’ symptoms are an ABDOMEN that rather SUDDENLY ENLARGES and CONSTIPATION and/or DIARRHEA . 

“I had these classic symptoms and went to the doctor. Because these symptoms seemed to be ‘abdominal’, I went to a gastroenterologist. He ran tests that were designed to determine whether there was a bacteria infection; these tests were negative, and I was diagnosed with ‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome’. I guess I would have accepted this diagnosis had it not been for my enlarged abdomen. I swear to you, it looked like I was 4-5 months pregnant! I therefore insisted on more tests.  They took an X-ray of my abdomen; it was negative. I was again assured that I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and was encouraged to go on my scheduled month-long trip to Europe . I couldn’t wear any of my slacks or shorts because I couldn’t get them buttoned, and I KNEW something was radically wrong. I INSISTED on more tests, and they reluctantly) scheduled me for a CT-Scan (just to shut me up, I think). This is what I mean by ‘taking charge of our own health care.’

“The CT-Scan showed a lot of fluid in my abdomen (NOT normal). Needless to say, I had to cancel my trip and have FIVE POUNDS of fluid drawn off at the hospital (not a pleasant experience I assure you), but NOTHING compared to what was ahead of me. 

“Tests revealed cancer cells in the fluid. Finally, finally, finally, the doctor ran a CA-125 blood test, and I was properly diagnosed. 

“I HAD THE CLASSIC SYMPTOMS FOR OVARIAN CANCER, AND YET THIS SIMPLE CA-125 BLOOD TEST HAD NEVER BEEN RUN ON ME, not as part of my annual physical exam and not when I was symptomatic. This is an inexpensive and simple blood test!

“PLEASE, PLEASE TELL ALL YOUR FEMALE FRIENDS AND RELATIVES TO INSIST ON A CA-125 BLOOD TEST EVERY YEAR AS PART OF THEIR ANNUAL PHYSICAL EXAMS. 

“Be forewarned that their doctors might try to talk them out of it, saying, ‘IT ISN’T NECESSARY.’ Believe me, had I known then what I know now, we would have caught my cancer much earlier (before it was a stage 3 cancer). Insist on the CA-125 BLOOD TEST; DO NOT take ‘NO’ for an answer!

“The normal range for a CA-125 BLOOD TEST is between zero and 35. MINE WAS 754. (That’s right, 754!). If the number is slightly above 35, you can have another done in three or six months and keep a close eye on it, just as women do when they have fibroid tumors or when men have a slightly elevated PSA test (Prostatic Specific Antigens) that helps diagnose prostate cancer. 

“Having the CA-125 test done annually can alert you early, and that’s the goal in diagnosing any type of cancer – catching it early. 

“Do you know 55 women? If so, at least one of them will have this VERY AGGRESSIVE cancer. Please, go to your doctor and insist on a CA-125 test and have one EVERY YEAR for the rest of your life. 

Please forward this message to every woman you know, and tell all of your female family members and friends. Though the median age for this cancer is 56, (and, guess what, I’m exactly 56, women as young as 22 have it. Age is no factor. ”

A NOTE FROM A Registered Nurse: 

“Well , after reading this, I made some calls. I found that the CA-125 test is an ovarian screening test equivalent to a man’s PSA test prostate screen (which my husband’s doctor automatically gives him in his physical each year and insurance pays for it). I called the general practitioner’s office about having the test done. The nurse had never heard of it. She told me that she doubted that insurance would pay for it. So I called Prudential Insurance Co, and got the same response. Never heard of it – it won’t be covered. I explained that it was the same as the PSA test they had paid for my husband for years. After conferring with whomever they confer with, she told me that the CA-125 would be covered. 

“It is $75 in a GP’s office and $125 at the GYN’s. This is a screening test that should be required just like a PAP smear (a PAP smear cannot detect problems with your ovaries). And you must insist that your insurance company pay for it. 

“Gene Wilder and Pierce Brosnan (his wife had it, too) are lobbying for women’s health issues, saying that this test should be required in our physicals, just like the PAP and the mammogram. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO SEND THIS OUT TO ALL THOSE YOU CAN. BE IT MALE OR FEMALE, IT SHOULD NOT MATTER, AS THEY CAN FORWARD IT ALSO TO THOSE LOVED ONES THEY KNOW.”

Thank you!

Judy’s Update (Re: Kidney Transplant)

May 15, 2010

In brief, and right off the bat, Judy is doing well – exceedingly well.

After seven years of dialysis treatments three times a week, this kidney transplant is a miracle.  Strange to say or even appreciate, she is able to urinate on her own.  As a dialysis patient,  this particular body function was halted.  I cannot imagine…

Also, her second day after surgery, she is eating like never before.  For instance, French Toast and an egg with coffee for breakfast; corn/clam chowder for lunch; lasagna for supper.  The corn chowder is what startled me.   “Corn?” I repeated in great surprise.  “Gosh, that kidney sure is doing its job if you are able to digest and pass corn!” 

Before the transplant, she was unable to drink most any liquids or fluids.  Her food intake was minimal.  This ever-so-stringent diet included no more than a tablespoon of water – per day!  Always a hot tea lover, I know she will now be able to resume this fondness.  OMG.  Wonders, wonders, wonders. 

Transported to a ‘regular’ hospital room just this morning (Saturday, May 15, 2010) after ICU for two days, her doctors are gleaming with delight.  Dr. Shimul Shah, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Organ Transplantation at UMass Medical School had told her that day, March 12, 2010, that it was his birthday.  “And you’re getting the presents,” he said.  Dr. Jeffrey Stoff, nephrologist, visits with her, of course, checking the incision and adjusting her insulin along with the other required meds.  Yuck, I hate meds.

Due to her being on a ‘dextrose’ drip, her blood sugars have escalated.  As she realized what was happening, her terminal feisty attitude toward self-care  awakened.  “I need more insulin!” she told a nurse.  It is just plain good that she knows what is going on.  Forty years with diabetes, she knows better than most, including medical staff.  Ha, that is the same attitude I carry!

Yes, she was given a larger dose of insulin and is leveling off, so to speak.  Yes, the immunosuppressant drugs, her pain meds, and whatever other required medications are working, but not without consequences.  Her body is “puffy,” as Judy describes it. 

All in good time with concentrated prayers, she will get through this – and so will the rest of us!  Halleluia!

A. K. Buckroth, www.mydiabeticsoul.com

A LARGER History on Diabetes

May 14, 2010

Keeping up with knowledge and highlighting what I know in many facets of my life, I occasionally peruse the local library.  As the neighborhood library is an exact mile from my house, walking there and back is an extra positive for my daily diabetes care regimen. 

While there, I came across a childrens’ book on Diabetes.  No longer a child myself and having lived with diabetes for over fifty years, I was curious to see what writings, books, were available to the newly diagnosed diabetics, especially the children.  Not much has changed, really.  All of the avialable childrens’ books pertaining to diabetes are uplifting, encouraging.  That was certainly not the case when I was a child in the 1960’s.  Oh well. 

I found one particular book entitled plainly “Diabetes,” by Gail B. Stewart, copyright 1999.   I learned something!  Chapter 1 immediately details the history of diabetes as I have never known.  I re-write this for you here:

A History of Diabetes

  • 1500 B.C. – First description of diabets in the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian compilation of medical works containing a number of remedies for passing too much urine. 
  • 400 B. C. – Susruta, a physician in India, records diabetes symptoms and classifies types of diabetes.
  • A.D. 10 – Celsus, a Roman encyclopedist and author of a comprehensive medical text, develops a clinical description of diabetes.
  • 2nd century A. D – Aretaeus, a Greek physician, coins the term diabetes.  (Diabetes is the Greek word meaning “to siphen” or “to pass through.” )
  • 1869 – von Mering and Minkowski observe that diabetes develops when an animal’s pancreas is removed.
  • 1921 – Banting and Best obtain and purify islets of Langerhans from an animal pancreas, inject the material (insulin) into a diabetic animal, and find a fall in blood sugar level.

I thought this important to share with all of you.  It is just as simple as that!

A. K. Buckroth (www.mydiabeticsoul.com).

 

KATIE MAXWELL “Writing Achievement Award”

May 13, 2010

Among many other daily affairs and involvements, the Sacramento Suburban Writers Club (SSWC) has become one of my social passions.  In this day of explosive social networking, the SSWC helps to keep me grounded as a human being.  Here is a small background:

“SACRAMENTO SUBURBAN WRITERS CLUB, established in 1955, is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving writers in the Sacramento region.  The club meets monthly, in Fair Oaks.  New writers and experienced writers are encouraged to join.”

So be it.  Having been a member for less than a year, I was throughly encouraged to get my book published.  Such a facet was accomplished as of March, 2010.  With that in mind, three days ago I was granted the “Katie Maxwell Writing Achievement Award For Outstanding Achievement In Writing.”  Phew!  What a fantastic surprise!

Such an accomplishment could not have been achieved without the social interactions, inspirations, and encouragements from the other members.  With that being said, I strongly encourage wannabe writers to search out writing groups in your areas.  Your muse will find you.

A Kidney was Donated!

May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010, at approximately 1:45pm, I received a telephone call from my sister’s mother-in-law.  Yes, that is unusual and frightening at the same time.  Former moments that I have heard from the woman is to tell me that my sister, Judy, of Worcester, Massachusetts, is in the hospital – again.  For good reason, I often think the worst and hesitate to answer the phone.  I answered it today.

“Hi Andrea.  It’s Avis.”  she said with a brightness to her voice.  “I have some wonderful news.  Judy is in recovery right now from a kidney transplant.”  “Whoa,” I thought.  “OH MY GOSH!” I exclaimed.  That’s excellent.  Having asked for more details, I just wished I was there.

Judy will “remain in recovery at UMASS (University of Massachusetts Medical Center) before she is wheeled to ICU (Intensive Care Unity) for about two days.  The care nurse assigned to Judy was Karl’s nurse (Avis’ son and Judy’s husband) when Karl had his transplant.”  Halleluia!

You see, Judy was diagnosed in 1964 as a diabetic.  This actually occurred on her fifth birthday.  She was the second child to be diagnosed with this disease in a family of five children.  I was the first at age two in 1959; Gina was the third at age 12 in 1970.  Judy married a man, Karl, who was diagnosed in 1978 at the age of fifteen.  Okay, so between the four of us, we’ve been through it all!

To make a long story short, Judy has been undergoing dialysis for the last seven years.  This one diseased complication pertinent with diabetics, nephropathy, took over and disabled her young body.  This also means she has been on the “Kidney Donor List” for that long.   

I can only guess at how much longer she would be able to survive on dialysis, three days a week.  I am grateful to the donor and the donors’ family for granting my sister and me and my family this present.  Thank you.  Thank you so very very much.   Organ donations are a matter of life and death.   I wish more people felt and believed in this fact.

Good health to all!  AK.

Polish Diet (Chapter 4, “My Diabetic Soul”

May 12, 2010

  “…The Polish diet is very bland yet healthy and safe as far as calories are concerned. Kielbasa is boiled, peirogis are boiled, chicken is boiled for soup or typically baked, beets are boiled for burak zupa (beet soup), and you already know about the cabbage. It took me a long time as an adult to adjust my taste buds to spicy foods. Fried foods were unavailable in my mother’s house. It was very rare that I indulged eating fried foods if only because I did not like them. Therefore, through my Polish upbringing, my diabetes and I have had a healthy start in life! I consider this factor as not only a great advantage, but a blessing as well.”  A. K. Buckroth