Friday, September 26, 2014

They Didn't Kill the Cat


One of my clients emailed me – she was upset – her cat is dying and she can’t stand to see him suffer – she’s taking him to the vet to have him put to sleep.

I know she has no family members who could go with her, so I volunteered.  She accepted.

I met her at the vet’s office.

Her cat hadn’t eaten in 3 days.  He was weak.  He’d had many medical tests and tried many medicines.  She’d spent over $6000 trying to save him.  He’s only 9, which is young for a cat. He was obviously in pain.

The vet was just back from an all cat vet meeting.  She had ideas for more tests (that could be run on existing tissue samples, so no more pain for the cat). Depending on the results, she had ideas for more medicines to try.

The vet wanted to try these options before putting my client’s cat to sleep.

My client had planned to board her cat at the vet while she went out of the country. She will be out of contact with everybody while she is gone. 

The vet agreed that this isn’t good. If her cat doesn’t get well, there will be no way to contact my client if the new drugs don’t work and the decision must be made.

Then the vet made an offer I’ve never seen before. She offered to take ownership of my client’s cat, pay for the tests, pay for the medicine, and make any necessary decisions.  She would take care of the cat as her own.

Such kindness is remarkable.  I support my client in accepting it.

The vet promised to keep my client posted with results of the tests and the medicines and any necessary decisions.

From what I saw, this cat doesn’t have much of a chance, but it is wonderful that the vet is willing to try. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Are Algebra Woes Hereditary?

When my younger daughter had trouble with algebra in junior high, I told her, I’d had trouble with algebra in junior high, too.  But I took it again when I was older and the 2nd time it was easy.  I didn’t know if it was easy because I was older or because I had a better book.

When I decided to try algebra again in my late 20's.  I went to the local book store (yes, a regular bookstore, not the college text book shop) and spent the afternoon looking at all the algebra books in the book store. I finally selected one. It cost $6, which was more than 4 hours wages.  But I had decided to learn algebra. I had enrolled in college algebra and I wanted to pass it this time.

Whatever the cause, my maturity, my new textbook, suddenly algebra made sense.  I was even able to show my teacher new ways to solve problems. 

A few days ago, someone emailed me – about trouble with algebra.  What did I suggest?  Clearly, telling her to wait until her late 20's wasn’t an option.

I’d long since sold my old copy – in well-used condition.  But a few minutes of searching the web, and  I found plenty of people selling old copies, some for a penny plus shipping.  And despite its age, some sellers claim to have copies in very good condition.  I have to wonder if these copies were used.

Yes, this is an advertisement. Yes, I get a commission if you buy from this link.  I’m not sure what the commission on a penny is.  So, I’m not doing this just for the money. If you know somebody who is having trouble with algebra, the book I recommend is Modern Elementary Algebra by B. R. Rich
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Modern Elementary Algebra

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

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2753.2011.01767.x/pdf

An Austrian study of 82,000 women

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15006277

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.