Category Archives: medical events

You might be having a personal summer if…

Women are SO lucky!  We are blessed with the ability to grow a new person inside our tummy.  Our body is set up to make milk to feed this new person and provide a good start to a new life.  As women age, their  bodies are also able to create what is sometimes called “a personal summer”.  When I began having my own personal summers, I talked to my doctor about them.  I asked, “SO…. how long do women generally have these personal summers?”  He replied, “Most women generally are only inconvenienced by them for maybe two years.”

I will now say to the world……..He was liar, liar:  pants on fire! I am currently working on 18 plus years!

Ok. Let’s get down to the nitty, gritty.  Personal summers are HOT flashes.  By HOT, I mean you could spontaneously combust in  probably 12 seconds,  Maybe less than 10 seconds! Maybe even 5 seconds.  Men have NO idea.

So why don’t we run through some of the common actions that women might have to do in order to deal with Hot Flashes…….I have 18 plus years of experience—remember?

**You store some of your bras in the refrigerator.  Nothing like a “cool” one to bring the temperature down! Better yet, store at least one in the ice maker!

**You pull off your shirt and stand in front of the open refrigerator door (or window fan or freezer or walk-in freezer at work)

**You can fan with a toothpick

**You step out of the shower and go stand naked on the porch, knowing that all water will have evaporated from your body by the time you get to the porch

**Your bedroom has air conditioning on the lowest setting available, a ceiling fan on high and a tower fan that faces your side of the bed

**You sit up in bed at night and pull off your pajamas or gown and throw the wet garment as far away from you as possible

Do any of these sound familiar?  Then baby, you have entered the Hot Flash Zone! B-E-W-A-R-E!!!!!!!



The Miracle in a Sugar Cube

There is a lot of debate today about vaccinations.  You find parents in the pro group and parents in the con group.  Parents have the right to deny vaccinations to their children.  When I was growing up, no one even thought about not taking your vaccinations.  It was a given.

In the 1950’s, children had mumps, chicken pox and measles.  There were no shots to prevent them.  I had all three in first grade, one right after the other.  Since I was a big reader, I just read all day long.  Some days were not as pleasant and I slept. No big deal.  I had all the regular vaccinations-smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough also known as pertussis. My parents remember how dangerous those diseases were and had friends or relatives who had died from these serious illnesses. They never considered refusing vaccinations for me or my younger sister.

We also had another disease in the 50’s that was pretty scary.  It was infantile paralysis or polio.  It was the “most” feared disease because nothing could be done.  Once someone contracted polio, doctors could only treat the symptoms.   In 1952 over 60,000 children had polio. More than 3000 died. Scary. Really scary. There was believed to be a link to public pools. Late summer was even called polio season.  Public pools were drained and closed.  It was a terrible time.

I had a friend who had polio.  She was lucky.  She spent time in the hospital in an iron lung.  It would breathe for her.  She laid in it all day for several weeks.  She also spent time at Warm Springs in rehab.  Franklin Roosevelt had also been there.  She gradually learned to walk again with braces on her legs and crutches to support her.  She was one of the happiest people I knew.  She had survived.  The fact that she would never run and play again was not important to her.  She was alive!

Then a miracle happened. Jonas Salk developed a vaccine for polio.  It was tested and found to be effective.  People everywhere wanted this vaccine for their children.  In our town, the first people vaccinated were the children.  And since there were so many, the city decided to set up a public vaccination center in a local high school.  It was a grey rainy day.  I remember it exactly.  We found a place to park and walked a few blocks to the high school and in the double front doors. Both my parents were with me.  We stood in line for a while. I am sure there was a form to sign but I don’t remember anything about that.  We inched closer to the nurses who were distributing the vaccine.  They were dressed in white dresses, white hose, white shoes and white nursing hats. Finally it was my turn.  The nurse handed me a little white cup with a sugar cube in it.  The vaccine was dropped on the cube.  I put it in my mouth and it melted and tasted just like sugar.  And just like that, polio left my present and my future.  It was a miracle on a sugar cube!

2015 Day 18: The Lump

As you may be aware, the month of October focuses on breast cancer as well as breast health.  I volunteer with a breast advocate group at one of our local hospitals and really enjoy the opportunity to do health fairs and other events and have the chance to talk with women.  People generally think that the advocates have all had breast cancer.  That is not true. I have never had breast cancer. But what I have had are some oops along the way that made me well aware that it is important to have good care when bad things happen.  So-today I am writing about the first time I found a lump in my breast.  Perhaps my story will help someone else.

I was that person who always had a “call back” when I went in for a regular mammogram.  Maybe it wasn’t always but it was enough to feel like always.  In those days, the radiology department did not call you on the telephone. They sent a certified letter to your home. EEEKKK! You go to the mailbox and there is a notice to come to the downtown post office to pick up a certified letter.  I find that scary enough.  Generally it would be a full week after the mammogram. And it was always on a Saturday afternoon that I would receive the notice. That meant I had the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday to wonder why I had a certified letter.  The card did not give the sender’s name. If it had I would realize the reason for the letter.  I would pick up the letter Monday and it would be too late to call. So I am off another day but at least I knew WHO sent the letter.  The next day I would find out that my mammogram was “abnormal” which are scary words for any woman. I would make another appointment which generally took a week and go back for another one.  In a week, I would get another letter. Certified. Sometimes I would be done and have the “normal” thing.  Sometimes I had to go back for an ultrasound.  And then another week before I knew anything.  Stressed out is the operative word for me! One time when I was back for the third time, I refused to get off the table and get dressed until someone looked at my most recent test.  Guess what? That worked! I knew right away.

Then one night I was getting undressed for bed, removing all those unmentionables that women wear, and felt a lump in my left breast.  It was not the size of a golf ball but it sure felt like it was! I don’t think I slept any that night! The next day, I called my doctor who squeezed me in that afternoon.  I think I probably touched the lump 500 times that day before I even got to the doctor’s office.  I wore a cotton sweater set and you could even see a lump through the sweater.  My nurse at school took my blood pressure but then decided to not tell me what it was! I am guessing it was high.

Once at the doctor’s office, he came in and looked at my breast and said—“You have a lump.”  I hate to say this but I wanted to yell-“DUH of course I have a lump!” He sent me off to see a surgeon. So I was looking at another appointment in two weeks.  I am not sure how I made it two more weeks but I did.

The surgeon was great. He was so calm that I became calmer. He told me he would drain it because he thought it was a cyst. So don’t worry.  Then the nurse began to set up things for him. I laid down and he told me to shut my eyes. He said it will not hurt but he didn’t want me to see the needle and be frightened. When he was done, he told me not to worry. He would call when the lab work came back.  He also told me that sometimes these things come back. Yikes! Oh No!

And it did.  Come back that is.  The lab work was ok. Whew! In three weeks it was back again and BIGGER.  Rats.  So he told me he wanted to take it out because it was better to do that.  So we set that up.  In six months.  When I was out for the summer.

Six months later, I had the lump removed.  Before the surgery, the surgeon told me not to worry. It would be ok.  So when I woke up, the surgeon was standing beside my bed.  He smiled.  I asked if everything was fine.  He said, “Yes everything is fine and you still have your breast.”  You see you have to sign that they can take everything while you are asleep. Then he said, “Do you want to see your breast?” and I said, “Yes.” So he carefully unwrapped the bandage and showed me my breast.  I am still impressed by his compassion to me that day.  That he would let me actually see that it was still there.  He didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to be there when I woke up.  But he was.  And I am thankful for him still to this day.