Friday, December 31, 2010

2010

2nd worst year of my life and I could dwell there, but won't.

What am I thankful for after this year has flown by?

  1. Garret is home, where he should be.
  2. Sir Hawtsalot came into my life and showed me that no matter my circumstance, I'm still lovable.
  3. Storm's recovery showed me I can cope with just about anything; his death likewise.  How I made it through that, I do not honestly know.
  4. My study skills and habits are much stronger than they ever needed to be and I can get solid As.

What am I looking forward to in 2011?

  1. Getting back to school at some point and finishing my pre-reqs.  The funky MD in another school can kiss my ass, I may have to apply to Caribbean schools but so the "f" what... at the end of my tenure there, I'll still be an MD able to practice in the United States as a fully licensed physician.  And then again, I may just be accepted here in the U.S.
  2. Finding a contract that makes the above possible.  After three years of the worst recession in almost everyone's memory, I truly believe 2011 will be the turning point and I will find the resources necessary to get the above done.  Cannot wait!
  3. Garret starting his own path to engineering school (MIT - be on the look out, he's coming your way in 2013).
  4. Being able to take my parents on a vacation.  Turns out when I traveled extensively in my last life, the points are still on Marriott (THANK YOU MOTHER MARRIOTT!!!) and I have a week in a very warm, tropical location paid for with the points in a JW Marriott.
  5. And last, I look forward to reconnecting with Sir H.  A great man, an even better father, and someone whom I've been lucky enough to call ...

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

InterStim for Bowel Control

While researching what could cause lack of bowel control in elderly people, I found the Mayo site to be helpful in qualming fears in the elderly person's child.  Yes, one of my parents has a bowel disorder that causes the individual great embarassment over the past weekend.

In helping the individual (washing the clothes, finding suitable and fitting alternatives from my son's and my respective closets, getting towels, and other sundries), my primary concern was the underlying cause.  The person said the colonoscopy done last fall showed nothing (no polyps, no other types of growths); when questioned about foods that set it off, the reply was nothing of note.  When questioned about nerves, nothing out of the usual came up as things are actually quieting down for our family.  My last questions were current diet - enough water in diet as constipation is a cause for fecal incontinence.  Odd, right?  At the end of all the discussions over the period of three days, I realized there was not much I could do but provide assistance when needed, support when asked for, and love... unconditional love and acceptance.

I also looked up Medtronic's InterStim device and whether or not the FDA had given MDT approval yet to market the device in the U.S.

Fabulous device that allows bladder control and is FDA approved in the US.  Other gastro-uro uses included bowel but that usage is only approved in the EU currently.  Yes, AdvaMed code allows physicians to implement the device for bowel incontinence in the US but I can imagine doing so means the insurance companies won't pay for it.

So, the elderly person is caught in cross-fire until I win the lottery, or the FDA approves bowel usage.  I hope the approval comes sooner rather than later as etiologically, there is nothing wrong my elderly parent and the bowel.  Apparently, it is just sacral nerve degeneration that happens with aging.

Here's a snapshot of the device and a link to MDT's site.  (At work, I'll upload pic later from home)

http://www.medtronic.eu/your-health/constipation/about-the-device/what-is-it/index.htm

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Family

It was an AWESOME Christmas this year despite, or in spite?, of all that has happened.

My parents were thrilled.

My son was very happy, over joyed, and thankful.

Below - is the picture :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

On This Christmas Eve

I think of all those far from their loved ones, or those who love them.

I miss Storm.  I miss Sir Hawtsalot.  I miss ... and yet, with this Christmas Eve I am reminded how blessed I am.

My parents' hotel room is decorated lightly for Christmas, presents under the tree.  It was a blast to run around pulling things together for them.

My son is home with me this year.  Last year... last year.  This year he is on a fabulous path for himself, guided by his own hope and his own dreams.  I'm merely the purveyor of the path of his choosing.

And that is the reason for this season.

Merry, merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cipro For Noobs

Gotta love my son.  He'll be 19 (!!!) next Wednesday.  Seriously, when did I get old enough to have a kid that old?!  Anyway, that's not the point exactly...

Yesterday my script gotten written as I'd requested: 500 mg Cipro taken 2x per day for 5 days and what ails me should be dead.  This is not the first time I've taken the med so I kind of knew what to expect but apparently, my diet coke fetish is hampering me, or rather, is causing unwanted side effects.

Like, I'm more dizzy.  I'm light-headed.  The world seems to move slower than my body is ADHD notwithstanding.

When I told my son this, he asked with a very serious face, "Is the sky purple where you are?"  (he was sitting next to me in the car).

I said, "Dizzy son, not stoned out of my mind!!"

He laughed.  I was amused.

Note to self for future reference: tell patients to knock off the diet coke when taking Cipro or their children might likewise wonder what kind of meds they're on!

Make it a great day ~ and giggle, someone might need that (and the someone, could be you!)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Great Convo At Clinic Today

Found a minute clinic, not quite called that but the idea is the same.  I was expecting to pay about $200 to be seen by doctor so I've been waiting while the pain in my back flank gets worse.  Without more TMI, there were more symptoms that were getting worse as well.  And then, I saw blood.

So, I rapidly found a clinic and sat with the man who wore the official badge.  He asked me what I thought my counts might be and I told him.  The only thing I was wrong about was my blood count - it was higher than expected and not in the way that normally might be thought of as good.

Anyway, we were chatting.  He asked how I knew lab reports, etc.  I told him my experience with Storm and that I had been hoping to get through pre-reqs and admitted to medical school but that it was looking more obscure right now.

He is a PA.  He said he wished he'd have gone a different route and understood my itch - that volunteering, and helping and assisting doesn't scratch.  He said he would tell me to not stop, that no matter my age, I'll get in somewhere. 

Then he mentioned his attending.  She's 56.  She started med school at?

48

And then, I smiled broadly.

To top that off, my son sent me a song about brick walls and not stopping.  haha.

I get it.  I don't want to stop.  I don't have the means right now to continue.  So, I'll consider it a way point on my path and nothing more :)

Make it a great day!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Relieved (Not Really)

All jesting aside, for some reason, I ALWAYS sigh relief when my background check comes back.  Not sure why.  I have no speeding tickets on my record (they were expunged with a batting of my eyes, and a flirty smile... or maybe it was just the DA's way of allowing everyone who promised not to be bad for the next year's way of getting to his ski resort quicker), I have never so much as uttered a bad word in public (privately that may be a different story)...

But for the American Red Cross a ciminal background check must be done (yeay!) and mine, is below (sans the very personal information which I deftly used paintbrush tool on).

Have no fear, your blogger has a clean sheet :D  (not that you have doubted it anyway)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Volunteering

Two days ago, I had an orientation for a new volunteering opportunity.  I look at it not so much as I need to have that on a potential medical school application pedigree for I have plenty of volunteering activities, charity organization board memberships, organizational leadership and other activities to discuss. 

About 14 years ago, two F-4 tornadoes whipped through a small cluster of cities in the SE part of my state.  Ripping doors off houses, wildly whipping furniture, appliances, and other household goods around the main floor of homes, destroying a near by university, I was about the 10th person on site.  Without training.  From two hours away.

I came with duffel bags packed with warm clothing, blankets, food, mittens (it was 78 in the afternoon pre-tornado, 35 after it swept through).  There were shovels and garbage bags, and gloves for working.

My heart came too, apparently.

While designating team leads to go into houses, secure the homes, make sure people were out, make sure the newly homeless were able to find shelter and warmth, for some reason, I got picked to lead a team through one of the more difficult areas.  The houses with their pink roofs were missing shingles, found two or three blocks away, stuck and stuffed underneath the vinyl siding of another house.

I had not been formally trained.  My heart led me, my brain led the teams I was assigned.  I was interviewed by the local media and eventually, national news.

Now, I'll be formally trained by the American Red Cross.

Never knew how much they did beyond disaster help and blood drives.  Amazing what started out as compassion on the field of war to where that compassion is extended to all.

Here's a link - check it out.  Maybe there's something you'd like to do? 

http://www.redcross.org/

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cuteness, Puppy Breath, Slice of Heaven

I think I just, as I typed that heading, figured out what to name the puppy:

So, dear readers, I give you Great Dane puppies ...
Settling in for a long nap post-breakfast, big chunky pup wonders where to plunk her awesomeness...


and of course, the best place is with her siblings, or on top of them...


And little puppy having no part in nap time, explored the tunnel without any concern for the weirdo with black thing mounted to her face.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Brain Wiring - Toys

While trying to figure out what to get my son for Christmas, I found a list of cool electronic gifts.  Among the gifts was a toy called Mindflex.  After reviewing the site, and reviewing some other material on it, seemed like a plausible electronic gadget especially given the book by Dr. Doidge on the ability of the mind to remap itself.

You can watch the video here:



So, I also started wondering about what videos I might find outside of Mattel's site (Mattel is the manufacturer).  Guess my comfort level would have been higher had it been from a med device company or research institute or pick-your-favorite other clinical type company.  Mattel is none of those.

Quickly, I had several other videos to watch on the Mindflex hoax.  I have not had time to research why the 2nd video works (some of you more sciency people probably already have it figured out - I'm guessing moisture on the side of the head wearing ear muffs = sponge demonstration). 

So, here's that video.  Let me know your thoughts.



I'm kind of sad to see the scam video as I was hoping there was new neurological research being performed that would help with PD patients, or ALS patients or ... but apparently, not so much.

Make it a great day anyway!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rumblings In My Mind

Lightly falling, surrendering whisper-white snow
Foot tracks wandering, forging ahead
Into the light, into hope, into grace

Wind lifting fluffy white crystalline snow
Pure, innocent children of the Heavens
Seen and heard and loved all the same

Christmas, peace, and feathery world
Serenity, hope for those at hand
Blessings and joy eternal, my friend

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big Smile For Today

You've followed my story(ies), you're read about the bumps, lumps and bruises.  You've also read about my parents and their respective health, or lack of.

This Christmas is already going to be better than last.

One, my son is with me this year when last year I was not speaking to him, nor did I have any interest in doing so.

Two, I'm healthy.  Last year, I spent Christmas day in the ER hoping to God that I did not get admitted.

Three, and this is a BIG one, despite that my cave has no room for a tree, despite that 2010 will go down as the 2nd worst year in my life (2nd to the year Austin passed away), despite that for the better part of this year I've wondered, how/when/where...

I'm renting a room for my parents at the nicer hotel in the area.  They will get to their own services that night, drive to our city, we'll have snacks when they arrive at my cave, then I'll head out to my annual tradition of concert and Catholic mass at the cathedral BUT THEY...

will head to their hotel room... where they will find a decorated room, with a tree, with their presents underneath, and music playing lightly.

Just called the hotel, they said that not only could I decorate but that they would be willing and eager to help me.

My parents, I can only imagine, will be over joyed.  My parents will be thrilled and stunned.

And that is the reason for the season!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

He Came Home

Storm, that is.  In a box.  Heavy box.  Sat in the truck, my son was with me.  His eyes were welling.  Mine were already holding back tears.  Turning on the radio, this song played - neither of us had heard it before.  Oddly fitting. It was a blurry drive.



I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming

[Diddy]
Back where I belong, yeah I never felt so strong
(I’m back baby)
I feel like there’s nothing that I can’t try
And if you with me put your hands high
(put your hands high)
If you ever lost a light before, this ones for you
And you, the dreams are for you

I hear “The Tears of a Clown”
I hate that song
I feel like they talking to me when it comes on
Another day another Dawn
Another Keisha, nice to meet ya, get the math I’m gone
What am I ‘posed to do when the club lights come on
Its easy to be Puff, its harder to be Sean
What if the twins ask why I aint marry their mom (why, damn!)
How do I respond?
What if my son stares with a face like my own
And says he wants to be like me when he’s grown
Sh-t! But I aint finished growing
Another night the inevitible prolongs
Another day another Dawn
Just tell Taneka and Taresha I’ll be better in the morn’
Another lie that I carry on
I need to get back to the place I belong

[Dirty Money - Chorus]
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming


[Diddy - Verse 2]
“A house is Not a Home“, I hate this song

Is a house really a home when your loved ones are gone
And n-ggas got the nerve to blame you for it
And you know you woulda took the bullet if you saw it
But you felt it and still feel it
And money can’t make up for it or conceal it
But you deal with it and you keep ballin’
Pour out some liquor, play ball and we keep ballin’
Baby we’ve been living in sin ’cause we’ve been really in love
But we’ve been living as friends
So you’ve been a guest in your own home
It’s time to make your house your home
Pick up your phone, come on

[Dirty Money - Chorus]
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming


[Diddy - Verse 3]
“Ain’t No Stopping Us Now“, I love that song
Whenever it comes on it makes me feel strong
I thought I told y’all that we won’t stop
We back cruising through Harlem, Viso blocks
It’s what made me, saved me, drove me crazy
Drove me away than embraced me
Forgave me for all of my shortcomings
Welcome to my homecoming
Yeah it’s been a long time coming
Lot of fights, lot of scars, lot of bottles
Lot of cars, lot of ups, lot of downs
Made it back, lost my dog (I miss you BIG)
And here I stand, a better man! (a better man)
Thank you Lord (Thank you Lord)

[Dirty Money - Chorus]
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm A Pseudo Aunt

About 5 weeks ago, in a superb Wisconsin location, a substantial litter of puppies were born.  Not just any puppies, Great Dane puppies.

The loss of Storm still haunts me at times.  His presence in our home is definitely missed as are his other traits and while I am still putting together his YouTube video (not a tribute to utter morosity), I'm also enjoying life and loving the vantage point of Auntie watching these beautiful babies grow.

Newborn - minutes old


1 week old


2 weeks old


4 weeks old - thinking about how mischievous dane pups are supposed to behave


because why behave when you can...


almost 5 weeks and finding white stuff on paws is ...


These dane pups are not what you find in your local paper.  They are not $350 for an AKC puppy whereby the breeder proclaims that being AKC actually "means" something (it doesn't really - sorry if you believe it does... no, scratch that, I'm not sorry, if you believe that, you're sadly very misinformed).  They are not a "pick a dam and pick a sire and breed to your heart's content and then SELL SELL SELL" puppies.  They are not "hope the legs are good on the breeding pair" or "hope there will be no wobblers - well what is wobblers anyway" type bred puppies.

These puppies, or in this case this pup from a litter of 13, came from a well thought out, well planned breeding of AKC CHAMPIONSHIP dogs where ALL available health tests are performed on the breeding pair to ensure the best possible genetics and health is going into the puppies.  Likewise, they are also NOT $350.  What difference does the CHAMPIONSHIP title mean?  Doesn't AKC mean the same thing?

A lot.  and No.

AKC judges are only able to judge after passing tests and having "been in the ring" for many years.  They are REQUIRED to judge the dogs in the show ring to a set, written standard.  Any dog deviating from that standard is not seen as upholding why the breed was bred in the first place.

Kind of like a standard for medical doctors.  Think of it like the USMLE or COMLEX - if you can do well against the standard of those tests, the inference is that you are well equipped educationally to be a doc.

Only those dogs getting enough types of wins are given the title Champion.  It takes many long hours of training the dogs and many more hours of traveling to shows to get judging completed. In some cases, it can take years to "finish" a dog (aka: get the CH on front of name).

Again, like a medical doctor has to pass several different types of tests (more if specialty): USMLE Steps 1-2-3.

With dogs, the AKC on the papers is just stating that according to records the dog has a pedigree that is recognized for 5 generations as all pairs being of the same breed, in this case, Great Danes.

AKC is similar to medical schools.  For the most part, it does not overly matter which medical school you attend, in the end, you have M.D. at the end of your name, tests you've passed and at that point, MOST patients don't care what school you went to.

Is your training better if you go to a higher tier med school - yes, more than likely - but ultimately, it is the USMLE scores that get you your residency and your first spot as a full fledged doc.

In dogs, it is the CH on the front end and tests (heart, CERF, legs, etc) that help create the quality pup.

The one pictured is in a litter I was supposed to visit today (16" of snow and white out conditions stopped that trek).  I don't know if she will eventually be my pup or not, but she is gorgeous, she is well bred, she is in her early stages of possibly becoming the dog equivalent of an M.D.

Titled.  Cherished.  Tested.  Loved.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dignity - Many Condolences

As many have commented elsewhere, dignity takes many forms, shows itself in vastly different ways, and manifests itself on people's canvasses. I've followed the story in the press, and perhaps you have as well:

Elizabeth Edwards and her cancer treatments.

The cancer itself has had to be harrowing, the debacle that is her estranged husband's deceit far worse.

Yet, through it all, her dignity has remained intact. She has shown courage and grace when the world, and her own health, were against her. She has maintained a quiet dignity reminiscent of days gone by when people held their tongue and took the high road.

Apparently, that dignity will take her onto the next stage in her life's journey as she has stopped cancer treatments.

I do not know the family, nor anyone connected to them, but my thoughts are with her family and friends, and all others currently suffering the ravages of disease.

I only hope that if I am ever in a similar situation, I remain as steadfastly dignified Elizabeth has been.

EDITED:

Elizabeth Edwards passed away on Tuesday, December 7th.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pediatric Oncology

Many ask what field in medicine I want practice with excited looks on their faces. Apparently, they want to hear neurosurgery, or orthopedics, or ob/gyn, or EM. It is an odd feeling when I tell them and their eyes look downward, their mouths unsure of what to say next so they more than often mumble, "Why that?!" as if there is something wrong with wanting to help the children, and their parents, through the most difficult times of their respective lives.

Because I can, is all that comes to mind.  Because... I have to.  Because that God of mine, gave me a heart so large, it loves everyone (well, most everyone!), and feels the compassion toward helping the kids.  Because, I've lost one of my own.  Because, I understand the agony, the panic, the fear, the hopelessness... and the hope.

As I have done every year since I started this blog, I'm doing it again this year... posting a link so you can donate to St Jude's Children's Hospital.

Donate now and help the children of St. Jude

Please consider donating. If you have followed my blog you know my own story. Last week my parents visited the food shelf to get food for my son and I . And yet this week, as my last unemployment rolled in, I started a new contract. Will be getting my first paycheck in two weeks... and I'm donating.

When I'm asked why pediatric oncology and I start with "Because" I end with "Why not? Each day these kids and their parents get to spend together is one more day than they might not have had. Is it not worth it to try?"

To me it is. I would give anything and everything to have had one more day with Austin.

Make it a great day - click the link. $2, $3, $5 or more... just give. Please?