Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Thanksgiving Wish

Dear Magical Thanksgiving Wish Turkey,
My wish for the next Thanksgiving and holidays is to have a girlfriend. Not just any girlfriend, but one that is compatible and such. I want her because holidays are better with someone special.

Early Thanks, (By the way your cousin tasted delicious)
P.S. If she really likes sex that would be great too! ;)

Friday, November 26, 2010

No More Depression! It’s been one YEAR!

Great news folks, my shrink has told me that I’m not clinically depressed! It’s been about one YEAR since my last episode of depression. Frankly, I think that I started going to him when I was getting better. I didn't want to go to him sooner because when I was depressed I had some dark thoughts that I wouldn't have wanted to share.

He has realized that I’ve gotten better primarily on my own and asked me what has made the difference. Besides all the good thoughts and prayer of good people like you, (thank you!), I believe that my diet in particular has placed a key roll in my recovery. I haven't taken any medication for depression.

For a long while I had to live off the food I got from food cupboard donations. Much of it was canned and boxed highly processed food with a very limited variety of canned vegetables. I rarely got any fresh fruit or vegetables. I’m grateful for what I got, however it wasn’t a very healthy diet. Now that I’m on food stamps, plus have had a health scare, I started to eat a much healthier diet. It's much more balanced nutritionally. I’m eating a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables. I’ve also switched to healthy fats/oils like olive oil. I’ve been taking A-Z multiple vitamin and mineral tablets. I also read that serotonin is good for depression so I’ve been eating 1 oz of deluxe mixed nuts and a potato a day. Eating garlic may be helping as well. Although I'm not on the Mediterranean diet, my diet is similar. I'm sure that exercise like walking has helped me too, although I have not been consistent.

I’m aware that I’m not out of the woods. Depression is like having a severe injury that is prone to re-injury. In other words depression is a weakness that can return. I have to stay vigilant in my fight against it and do what I can to maintain the ground that I’ve gained. I’ve chosen to keep seeing a shrink, (believe it or not). I think that he has helped a bit, but honestly not nearly as much as I thought he should have. Due to a change in my health care insurance I will need to drop him and get a new shrink. Hopefully the new shrink will be more effective. Right now I’m just very happy that I’m no longer in depression!

By the way, eatting healthy has had other benifits. I have lost 47 pounds so far.

For more information on the link between diet and depression read...

Depression Guide, Depression and Diet by WebMD

and Nutrition: Lower Depression Risk Linked to Mediterranean Diet by The New York Times

photo credit

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you all a fun, safe, and blessed holiday!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Leukemia's little dance with me

"Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells that starts in the bone marrow." Doctors have been telling me for about 10 months that I might have leukemia. CML was the main suspect. It has been a long year.

It all started with flu like symptoms, leg pain, wheezing, and a low grade fever that lasted months. I asked my Homer Simpson like doctor for an H1N1 test, but he said I wasn't "sick enough". He didn't even examine me. Blood tests were taken and a high white blood cell (WBC) count was found, (leukocytosis). I was sent to an oncologist at Strong hospital, and so leukemia's little dance with me began.

Next came a parade of doctors and exams. Within 10 months I averaged one doctor's visit per month, had 6 series of blood tests, a CAT-Scan, an ultrasound, an endometrial biopsy, a bone marrow biopsy, and a partridge in a pear tree. Why didn't my oncologist tell me from the start that the bone marrow biopsy/aspiration was the only true test to diagnosis leukemia? I would have had it sooner!

About 2 weeks ago I walked into Strong's Wilmot Cancer Center and took a seat close to the door. I never sat that close to the clinics entrance before, but this was D-Day; the day of my bone marrow biopsy results. The day I would FINALLY have a definitive answer as to whether or not I had leukemia. I wanted this appointment to be over with quickly.

Someone wheeled a woman in a wheelchair near the seat next to mine. She stood, walked a few steps and plopped down into it. She was thin, pale, shaking, and was wearing a scarf that didn't fully cover her bald head. I figured that she was having chemotherapy treatments, or had just finished.

Another lady came over and sat down to my right. She had good color in her face, but less than an inch of hair growth on her head. She smiled easily and had a spring in her step. I surmised that she probably had finished chemo treatments with favorable results.

I sat between these two unique ladies wondering if I would be joining their exclusive club that day; a club that my mother had once belonged to. My mother suffered with cancer for 9 years. I'm approximately the same age that my mother was when she died of cancer. This was all too real to me.

Time passed. Both ladies were called before I was. 45 minutes after my scheduled appointment I was finally called into the clinic. I followed the aide inside. A quick right turn, sat in the chair, stuck out my arm for the B.P. cuff, all before she could finish her instructions. I hated that I knew the routine by heart. I was weighted. Yay, another half pound lost! Then I went on to the examination room. The examination room was the same one that I had been in several times before, but it seemed so much smaller now.

I was a bit nervous, but not nearly as much as in the past several days. A relative who sometimes accompanied me couldn't make it that day. I was glad. I wanted to hear the news alone. In the beginning I didn't tell anyone that I might have cancer. Eventually I told a relative who has cancer and could relate. I guess I just didn't want to be pitied or regarded differently. Cancer or not, I am still me.

15 minutes later my oncologist entered the room. She blurted it out. "Your bone marrow biopsy was negative." "No leukemia? I asked. "No leukemia and it looked normal. No disease. You may have had an infection which elevated you WBC count. It has reduced, but still is slightly high. I believe that you have a high normal." she explained.

Fortunately I no longer had to see my oncologist. I said good-bye to my oncologist forever and hoped that I would never see the inside of a cancer clinic again. It seems that leukemia's little dance with me was finally over. I was one of the lucky ones, but I was painfully aware that it could have gone another way. The older I get the more random things like this seem.

You'd think that I'd feel happy, or relieved, but I didn't. I felt angry. Very angry! This all started with flu like symptoms including a wheeze and fever. When I went to my Dr. Homer Simpson during the H1N1 outbreak he refused to test me for it. He said I wasn't "sick enough". He should have at least given me a checkup. Apparently I did have some kind of virus that affected my lungs. Later it showed up on my CAT-Scan as cloudiness in both lungs. The conclusion note said that it was probably an "infection or asthma". It also showed up as a high WBC count. If my doctor had been on the ball, he would have diagnosed it and I would have avoided 10 months of hell. D'OH!

I can't even talk to my counselor about my anger. My counselor has worked with my doctor in the past. Every time I say something negative, he defends my doctor. I canceled my next session. Repressed anger in me tends to turn into depression. What do you do when you're angry or frustrated? How do you let off steam?

Currently I'm dealing with many feelings that I'm trying to sort out. I'm trying to get some prospective on things. I also still feel a connection with leukemia patients that I don't want to quickly disconnect from. I wonder if there is some purpose for this connection. In the next few months I have to follow-up with some doctors concerning medial crap including a few exams. I'm not really concerned. I figure that if the average person my age had all the tests I've had, they would probably find a few things wrong with them too. Hopefully nothing significant will be found.

So that's a synopsis of leukemia's little dance with me. It's been odd, eye opening, heartbreaking, frustrating, all too real at times. But it hasn't been fun.

Again, I want to thank all those who have left me kind comments, sent prayer, good thoughts/vibes. Thanks so very much for caring! I appreciate it!

By the way, a good book on the subject is, "100 Questions and Answers About Leukemia" (second edition) by Edward D. Ball.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Bone Marrow Biopsy Results

I've been meaning to post something; I have just been so emotional that it's been difficult. Also so much has been going on medically for almost a year that it's difficult to put into words. I've written 3 drafts to a post and they are all a bit different. I just have to wait until my emotions settle down a bit and until I can put it into some proper words. But for now I just wanted to get back to you with the good news. My bone marrow biopsy/aspiration was negative! They didn't find any disease. I no longer have to see that specialist. I'll tell you more later once I get my head together. My sincere thanks goes out to each of you who has cared, prayed, set out good thoughts/vibes, and left a kind comment. It has met a great deal to me! It's been a very difficult year. I'll explain more soon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Election Day Changes

Have you heard of the voting day changes? I'm not sure why they changed things at the last minute. Confusion city!

Here are the changes in a nutshell. If you'r a Democrat then you should vote On Tuesday Nov. 2 as previously told. If you are Republican show up 24 hours later on Wednesday, Nov. 3. If you belong to another party, but are voting primarily for Democrats, then vote with Democrats on Tuesday Nov 2. All the rest report on Nov 3.
Get out the vote! ;)