Friday, January 18, 2019

Flashback Friday - the packet labeled Paul

Most weeks, I don’t know where the time goes, but I at least try to keep track of what day it is. Here it is another Friday morning, and I am totally unprepared to write a blog post. The professionals would probably say that I’m better off not posting anything, than posting something lame and thrown together in five minutes. Yet here I am, bucking the system.

Going through Mom’s old pictures last Sunday, I found a pack labeled “Dad/Paul’. I’d never seen these four pictures before and only one was clearly labeled.

This is my dad’s sister Emmy and her husband Jeff Jeffers. In 1934, age 22, she was diagnosed with heart disease, some type of valve disorder.  At the time, there was nothing that could be done about it.  She and her husband decided that because of that they would not have any children.  They lived for a time in Chicago and Iowa, as well as Tripoli, Wisconsin.  They moved to California in 1954, where she died two weeks later at age 42.  The cause of death was listed as pneumonia, but in the 21st century, the diagnosis probably would have been congestive heart failure, a product of the valve disease. 
The other three pictures, I have no clue. I’ll have to keep studying them. 




Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Coming to the Clinic – Part 9 – and the winner is . . .

If you read last Wednesday’s blog, you may be wondering which colon screening test I opted to take. My choices were Colonoscopy, Cologuard or FIT. (If you didn’t read last week’s post on this topic, or if you totally forgot what it was about, you might want to revisit it here.)

First, in case you don’t know me, I may not be the poster child for good health and fitness, but I’m only a few pounds overweight, I don’t smoke or drink alcohol, I very rarely eat red meat, I get a reasonable amount of exercise, and I am really working on getting enough sleep. And back to my eating habits? I pretty much consume the Three C’s. Cheerios, chocolate and cookies. I know. My bad.

But with all that in mind, I really am at very low risk for colon cancer. I did have one uncle who was diagnosed with it in his old age, so that’s really all I have going against me. With all that said, hey, folks, I still had my colon screening. So, remember that. No matter how low-risk you are, screenings are important and recommended for a reason.

I did the FIT test last year. Probably the easiest screen to do, but also needs to be repeated every year. This time around, I decided to try the Cologuard. Slightly more complicated to collect, but good for three years.

So, one day, a week before Christmas, my square Cologuard box came via UPS. It sat on the kitchen counter for a few days, amongst the tins of candies and cookies, before I realized that this was not the time of year to deal with this. I put the box in my home office, waiting for the holiday dust to settle. 

Plus, when the Cologuard people called me a few days later to see if my package had arrived and if I had any questions, they reminded me that there was a time element in me getting my specimen to them. Between the weekends and the holidays, there wasn’t a lot of time to get this thing delivered.
Then, New Year’s Day evening, just when I thought that I can deposit my sample in the little plastic container, I was hit with the stomach flu. Seriously? Yes, a couple day of diarrhea and my colon was cleaned out enough that I should have gotten right in for my colonoscopy.  

Instead I waited until the following Monday morning and was able to drop my perfect specimen into the plastic jar. Got it labeled, sealed it up, got it ready to take to town for drop-off on my way to work. In a near blizzard. I really did not want to mess this up, somehow, I would get my Cologuard box off to UPS that day.
I’ll save you from the whole story, because it was rather convoluted (and stressful), but in the end when I finally got the box to the store which sends out UPS in our town, I almost broke down in tears when I saw an identical box on the counter. I pointed it out to the woman working there and said something like, “send mine with that one.” She looked at the two boxes and was like, whatever. I really wanted to set my box down next to the other one (I really wanted to take a picture of them together!), thinking, my poop has a partner to travel to the lab with.

I’m starting to think that I will try the colonoscopy next time just to see if it is that much fun. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

How Many Gifts were Given this Week?

  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8 (New International Version)

Last Sunday I shared with you that my word for 2019 is Gift. Not surprisingly, that word is found a lot in the Bible. Today’s verse might be familiar to you; I’ve seen it used a fair amount.

Last week, in addition to sharing this word and a different verse which inspired me to choose it, I mentioned that my goal for the year is to share my gifts of time, talent, and resources with those in need. As today’s passage reminds us, however, I’m not going to tell you if I shared any of my gifts this past week. That’s for me and God to know, for the recipient to maybe find out and for you to definitely not know.

All I can say is that my stinginess still far outweighs my generosity. But don’t we all have a long way to go with that?

Thank You, Lord God, for giving us the greatest Gift, that of salvation, given freely and lovingly. Amen.
This was actually a gift to our parents in 1991. My brother, sisters and me. Before ugly sweaters were a thing. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Flashback Friday - 8mm movie stills

 If you read Sunday’s post, you may remember that I promised you the story behind the picture I posted.

A few years before I was born, my parents got an 8mm movie camera. Which means, that as I’ve been going through the box of old pictures of my mom’s, I’m finding a ton of faded photos of my brother and oldest sister. By the time my other sister and I had come along, my parents were so in to using the movie camera, that they didn’t take nearly as many snapshots.

A few months ago, I ran across an ad for an online place that “preserves your family memories”. I did some research and opted to “preserve my family memories” locally. The woman has done an okay job putting those 8mm reels onto CDs, and I’m not going to complain. The movies are fifty-plus years old, after all. I just can’t get them from the CD onto my computer so I can edit them. But for now, I can improvise. And get misty eyed. 
 My sister Pat and I. 
 Pat and I with our paternal grandma. 
With Dad, in matching sweaters that Mom probably knit for us. 
We had a nauseatingly lot of matching outfits. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Coming to the Clinic – Part 8 - The Bottom Line

My goodness, it has been since the end of August that I have added to this series. About time I get back to it.

Today we are going to discuss one those places no man or woman ever wants to go. Or wants their doctor to go. But it’s not nearly as bad as you think. That place is your colon, a place where cancer may be lurking. And if it is, by the time you have symptoms (such as weight loss, blood in stool, change in stool, abdominal pain), it may be too late. So, if you are over 45 to 50 years old (or even 40 in high risk individuals), you need to take this seriously, and go get your colon checked.

There are a number of different tests which can do this. I’m going to outline the most common screening options for the majority of the population at average risk.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is the gold standard in routine colon screening. It is the only colorectal cancer screening tool that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Not only does colonoscopy perform a complete evaluation of the colon, if any precancerous growths (called polyps) are found, they can usually be removed right away. If anything else looks abnormal, a biopsy can be done. Because this is such a thorough exam, it only needs to be done every ten years.

Having a colonoscopy requires a complete bowel prep the night before to cleanse the colon. Because you will be sedated, you need to take a day off work and will need a ride there and back home again. On very rare occasions, complications may occur such as a bowel perforation. Since it is a procedure, done in your doctor’s office or hospital, it is more expensive, but when used as a screening tool, most insurance carriers cover it.

Fecal immunochemical testing or FIT

FIT is probably the easiest way to check for colorectal cancer and is totally non-invasive. FIT detects tiny amounts of blood in the stool that could be a sign of cancer or large polyps. You get a simple kit from your doctor’s office, put a small amount of your stool into the kit and return it to your doctor’s office or the lab. There’s very little prep, it’s inexpensive and you don’t have to take time off from work. However, FIT is not as effective as colonoscopy at finding cancer or polyps, so it needs to be done every year. Also, if your result comes back positive, you will still need to have a colonoscopy. FIT has a false positive rate of about 5 percent, often times caused by ulcers or hemorrhoids.

Cologuard or FIT-Fecal DNA Test

This test is the newest in the battery of colon screening tools. It checks for both blood and DNA markers, which can be a sign of cancer or pre-cancerous growths. It is non-invasive and done in the comfort of your home. After your healthcare provider orders the test, a kit is shipped directly to your home with instructions explaining how to complete the test. After collecting your stool sample, the kit is sent directly to a laboratory for processing and analysis. The test should be repeated every three years.

No special diet or bowel prep is required for a stool DNA test. However, if the test does show a possible cancer or pre-cancer, you would need a colonoscopy.

Here is something to keep in mind with both the Cologuard and the FIT test. As already mentioned, a routine screening colonoscopy is covered by most insurance carriers every ten years. The Cologuard and FIT test are also usually covered, but if either one of them comes back positive and you need to move onto the colonoscopy, it is no longer considered screening. It will be considered a diagnostic test and most insurance companies will no longer pay for it. It sounds like a scam, but I’m giving you the inside scoop here, both literally and figuratively.

Bottom Line (also literally and figuratively)

When colorectal cancer is found early, before it has spread, the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%. This means 9 out of 10 people with early-stage cancer survive at least 5 years. But if the cancer has had a chance to spread outside the colon or rectum, survival rates are lower. (American Cancer Society website)

So whichever screening tool you think would work best for you, talk to your healthcare provider, and then follow through.
Next week: Which screen did I go with? 

Just some random food from the coast of Kenya, coz I couldn't post a picture of what it looks like at the other end. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Gift - Word of the Year 2019

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (New International Version)

It feels like a very long time since I wrote a Sunday inspirational post. Like, it’s been a year, right?

Speaking of the new year, I’ve been picking a Word of the Year for the last few years. I just looked it up, and it’s been an amazing five years. That’s five words. They have been Acceptance, Anticipation, Possibility, Peace, Purpose. I seem to have been leaning towards alliteration.

In addition to the Word, I find a Bible passage which goes along with it. From the verse above, perhaps I have chosen the word Perfect for 2019. Or it could be Above. No, of course not, stop being silly.

First, you may be asking yourself what I am even talking about. I don’t know when or how this first came about, but there has been a recent trend to choose a specific word to be your focus for the year. The word can be motivational, inspirational, calming, humorous (I guess, coz can’t everybody use a good laugh every day). But whatever word you choose, for whatever reason, you carry it around in your head each day, almost like a mantra.

Anyway, you can look it up online if you still don’t get the idea. But back to me.

The word I’ve chosen for 2019, or that has chosen me, is Gift. Not only to remind me that every where I look I see the countless gifts that God has showered upon me, but also so that I try to be a gift to someone else each day. Whether I spend time with a friend in need, buy something seemingly insignificant for a stranger, give away one of my prized possessions so that it can find a new home and a new heart. Whatever I encounter over the next year, let me offer the gifts I have available.


Give me a giving heart this year, Lord. Guide me in sharing my gifts. And as always, thank You, Father, for everything You have given to me. Amen.  
There is a long story behind this picture. I'll try to share it soon. All I'll tell you now is this was one of my sister Pat's birthday parties and I'm sure she got gifts, so it fit the theme. But more so because Pat was the best gift that God gave to that little girl with the squinty face.

I have to add this update. Why did it totally slip my mind that today is the day we celebrate the visit of the Magi to Baby Jesus? The day they offered their gifts to the Christ Child? And here my blog post is about gifts. I have to call it another fail on my part and another wink from God.  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Things Can Only Get Better

I promise that I will get back on my three-days-a-week blogging schedule, but for today I’m keeping it short and sweet. As you may have heard, I’ve had another minor setback. If I told you all about it, this post would be anything but short and sweet. It would be the complete opposite and not for the faint-hearted. Let’s just say that I am thankful we have two bathrooms in our house and that Hubby and I can cross off our bucket list one more thing that every couple should do together.   

(January 1, 10:00 pm. Me: I think it’s time. I have to get to the bathroom.
Hubby: Me too.
January 1, 11:20 pm. Me: I’m going in again.
Hubby: Me too.
January 2, 12:15 am. Me: I'm not gonna make it. [good thing I have a bucket.]
Hubby no response as he is already in his bathroom.)

Yesterday morning he observed that we have been sick every day so far this year. Isn’t he a gem?

We are both much better today. I’m almost back to eating normally, Hubby not yet. I even somehow gained back one of the four pounds I lost in 24 hours. Things can only get better. 

Let me end with a picture of one of my neighbors just hanging out in my backyard the day before New Year’s Eve.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 New's Year Day and where have I been?

    I didn’t plan on taking nearly a full week off from blogging. Family is more important, not only over the Christmas holidays, but any time of year. House and home matter a lot too. So I’ve spent the last week chillin’, not writing here or on any other project, taking a lot of pictures though. Oh, and also scouring Ancestry.com to put together my family tree. Made the mistake last night of starting on my husband’s family tree, actually stayed up until after nine pm on New Year’s Eve.

But you don’t need to know any of that. You just want to see some of the pictures, right? 
 Once again, bought too many presents, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 
 I also, once again, had to raid the kitchen cupboard for boxes.  
 I may look festive, maybe too festitve, as in, have eaten too many cookies already. 
 Santa always looks festive, though, especially when he borrows a baby for a photo op.
 Even more festive when he is delivering presents to his favorite doc. 
 Christmas Eve was more of a frenzy of opening presents. 
 The dogs think so too. 
 Christmas morning, chillin' after all the gifts are open. 
 All the puppies, that one chance at a good pic. 
 House guests for the weekend - the hubby's brother and his wife from Iowa. 
 My beautiful daughter and her family. 
Dino doing his job. 
And that's all folks. 
Have a Happy New Year.