Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting a Parakeet to Sit on my Finger

I’m frequently amazed by the skills my muscles remember.

Of course I can ride my bike and swim. And do some magic tricks with rubber bands.

But get a parakeet to sit on my finger? Is that even a muscle skill?

I hadn’t done that in over 50 years.

My grandtwins were given parakeets for Bat Mitzvah presents. They asked if I, the oldest person in the room, knew how to get a parakeet to sit on a finger.  I had a parakeet when I was about their age.  Actually, I had several parakeets.  And, they sat on my finger.  I remember tapping the wall and having the birds fly to sit on my finger.  But that’s not how it starts.

I couldn’t find the words to explain how to get a parakeet to step off its perch and climb onto my finger.  So, I put my hand in the cage, put my finger in position, touched the bird’s toes in the way that my muscles remembered, and it stepped onto my finger.  My grandtwins were thrilled.

They had me repeat the action. They copied it.  The bird put a foot onto their fingers.  Muscles can teach muscles what words cannot say.

Muscles remember what words have forgotten.

Muscles are amazing.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

High Cholesterol is Protective for Senior Women

Here’s a big new secret:

High cholesterol is protective in women.

A Norwegian study of 27,000 women

An Austrian study of 82,000 women

Both studies show that the higher a woman’s cholesterol (past the age of 60) the less likely she is to have cardiovascular disease, the less likely she is to die of a heart attack or stroke.

The Austrian study is from 2004.  The Norwegian study is from 2012.

Yet in 2014, women in America who have cholesterol over 200 are told they must reduce their cholesterol level by exercise, diet and pills.  

Why would American doctors want to take away women’s protection from heart disease?

All I can think of is that they don’t know about these studies.  I have no idea how to educate the doctors.  

However, doctors are strapped for time. When they see a woman’s blood test results, they look for H’s and L’s.  If that H wasn’t printed on a woman’s blood test result sheet, then doctors wouldn’t try to treat them.

So, I’m trying to find out how to get the guidelines for blood labs changed.  If I can succeed, a simple change in printouts will save thousands of lives.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Even Breasts Look Odd to me

The one thing I really miss since my mastectomy is going braless.  

I’ll go out without make-up.  I’ll wear dirty gardening clothes when I walk my dog.  I am not vain. But, walking around with one boob just looks weird, even to me.  

So, before I go out in public, I stuff a prosthetic into a mastectomy bra and put the thing on.  Even when the weather is hot. Even when I won’t be seeing anybody I know.  Everybody I know is aware I’ve had one boob chopped off.  But they’re still used to seeing me with two.

Recently I read about stick-on boobs.  No glue – something in the texture of the prosthetic is supposed to make it stick to the skin without feeling icky or irritating.

I read reviews.  Several models got positive reviews, but very few details.

I wrote some stores that carry them – do you have a model that stays on when swimming vigorously?

One store wrote back that they have one model that will do the job.  I ordered it.

Then I thought – I forgot to ask how the sizing runs in that model.  

I wrote the store.  The consultant wrote back that the model I had ordered runs small.

Yay!  It was my smaller breast that got cancer.  I think it looks odd to have even looking breasts. I never had them before, so why now, when the replacement is fake?  But all the consultants I talked to previously, suggested I buy the size that fits the bra – no one had mentioned the possibility that I might want something different. And I didn’t think about it.

I’m looking forward to looking more like me again – with uneven breasts.  And now that I’ve thought about it, I’ll just order a size smaller in the future. 

If I have to buy a boob, it may as well fit my self-image, rather than my bra.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why do Docs Gloom-and-Doom me?

Why would I even want a doctor? I don’t get sick.

Not unless you count being hit by a car and getting cancer.  And I don’t need a regular doctor to treat emergencies.  That is the work of specialists and surgeons.

But, I want someone to go to if I ever need a referral.

So, I tried a new doc.

I was nervous.  I always am when I go to visit a doctor.

I have hated doctors ever since I was little.  They always want my blood and they do things that hurt. 

When I was a child, the horrid nurse would cut my fingertip with a razor blade and then squeeze blood out of it.   Nobody ever told me why.  The medical profession apparently has the right to hurt people without giving reasons.

And doctors have gloom-and-doomed me all my life.  Each one picks a new topic that they think will kill or maim me. And then they get all bossy and mean telling me what I need to do to prevent this upcoming gloomy doom.

I was hit by a car while riding my bike when I was 9.  My hips were knocked out of alignment.  For the next 9 years, my mother took me twice a year to a horrible man who said I had scoliosis and that I was going to grow up to be an ugly cripple if I didn’t let him fuse my spine and put a rod in my back.  I refused.  But I had to listen to his horror stories twice a year.  Plus he took a bunch of x-rays every year – he took two each in every position “in case one didn’t come out.”   I'm blaming my cancer on his x-rays.

When I was 34, somebody told me about a chiropractor who treated scoliosis.  I went to him.  He took one look at me and said, “You don’t have scoliosis. Your hips are out of alignment.” He then adjusted my hips.  Poof! Amazing! My hips were level. I was more comfortable.  I’d been out-of-alignment for 25 years. Docs don't talk to chiropractors. They'd rather gloom-and-doom.

Then there was the doctor who delivered my first child.  He let me go through the entire labor without drugs even though I pleaded for them.  But, for the delivery, he gave me a spinal and an episiotomy and dragged my daughter out with forceps.  He claimed there was something wrong with my spine and I could never have a baby normally.

Two years later, I had my second child at home after a 1 hour labor. My husband delivered her without problems. I wrote the doc who had delivered my firstborn to give him the good news. He wrote back an angry letter that my baby could have had problems and I shouldn't have had her at home.  With one gloom-and-doom dismissed, he had to invent a new one.

When I wanted to get my tubes cut, the first doctor I went to insisted on a bunch of blood work.  He discovered that I have Gilbert’s Syndrome. Suddenly he wanted to biopsy my liver and spleen and gall bladder and run a bunch of other tests.  He was sure I was in imminent danger of major problems.   

I found a different doctor to do my tubal ligation.

That doctor freaked out because during the surgery, he saw that my intestines have thin walls.  He’d never seen anything like it. He didn’t know why I was alive. You’d think he’d just done an alien autopsy.  Fortunately, he didn’t have any treatments in mind.

The story goes on and on like this.  Doctor after doctor.  Gloom-and-Doom story after gloom-and-doom story.

This new doctor was no exception.  I came in for a general physical.  He measured my blood pressure.  It was high. 148 / 75.  My heart rate was 90 bpm.  I was stressed out. Wondering what horror story this one was going to give me.  Other doctors had seen this before.  They call it White Coat Syndrome. Long ago, I bought a blood pressure cuff.  At home, my blood pressure is in the 1-teens over 70 something and my heart rate is in the low 70's.

The doc was polite to me in his office.  He didn’t doom-and-gloom me right there.

A few days later, I received an email from WebMD telling me that New Doc had recorded the purpose of my visit as High Blood Pressure.

I got out my cuff.  I took a photo of the readout. 114 / 79.  I emailed it to him and asked him to please correct the WebMD record to show the real reason I had gone to his office.  He refused.

Then he told me I need to get more exercise and eat a better diet.   We had discussed my exercise during the visit – how I get between 3 and 4 hours of exercise per day. We did not discuss my diet.  

He’s a goner.  He gloom-and-doomed me. He lied about me. And he gave me an unfounded order for lifestyle change.

Next year, I’ll try again. Maybe.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My NOW Series

During my week of being unplugged, I started thinking of words for which NOW could be an acronym.  Here's what I have so far.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Outgrow Beginners Mind

I took the past week off to meditate, and read books by meditators.  Many ideas were useful – I’ll cover them in future blogs.  But first I want to comment on one that jarred me: The idea of beginners mind as something to be cultivated.

The standard argument says something to the effect that in the beginners mind all problems have many solutions, but to the expert mind, there are few.

In my experience, it has been the opposite.  When I was a beginning home owner, and my air conditioner wouldn’t turn on, I had only one idea – call the repair shop.

The repairman came over, instructed me to put new batteries in the thermostat. He waited, while I did that, obviously going over in his mind what to do next if this step did not produce the desired results. Voila – new batteries – the air conditioner turned on.

The folks who write these books for beginning meditators offer proven techniques and advice based on experience.

The beginners mind is a necessary stage, but as I see it, the beginners mind last only as long as necessary, until we become more adept.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Prosthetic Floats

The owner at my gym asked me if I had a bikini for summer.  I think he was teasing, and he’s been hitting on me lately, which I think is totally inappropriate. So, I took this as an opportunity to give him a straight line and possibly turn him off at the same time.  “Of course. I need one to hold my prosthetic.”

I’ve tried the one-piece mastectomy swimsuits.   After the suit is thoroughly wet, the prosthetic sinks down and down, closer to my waistline.  With a bikini, there’s no place for the prosthetic to go.

Or so I thought.  I swam my quarter mile plus 2 laps.  As the swimming season goes on, I become stronger and more vigorous. I climbed out of the pool, and took off my goggles. As I was walking to the shower, I saw the 20-something lifeguard starring at my chest.  This man can’t even be bothered to watch people swim, and here he was looking at a grannie chest?   Something wasn’t right here. 

I looked down.  Half my swimsuit top was empty.  Back on with the goggles. Back into the pool.  Slowly, I did breast stroke up and down the lanes where I had been swimming freestyle, so I could keep my face in the water.  Nothing.  

My swimming prosthetic is clear silicone.  I asked another woman who was swimming to be on the lookout for it.  She asked, “Does it float?”  I told her, “I don’t think so.”

Meanwhile, my husband, the alien, was scanning the pool as he walked along side it.  He pointed at a rather large looking bubble about 10 feet from me.  I swam over to investigate.  “It floats!”

I guess I gave the swimsuit a rough ride, and the prosthetic bailed.   Now I have to find my bottle of water-proof glitter and paint spots on it, so I can find it more easily if it escapes again.

And the company needs a new slogan: The Prostheic that Floats.  I stuffed the fake boob back into its pocket, and climbed out again.  I never did tell the lifeguard what happened.