No guarantees

One of the main worries I have had over not having children is that there very well might not be anyone to take care of me when I’m old. Most of us rely on our children or grandchildren to make important decisions regarding our health and well being when we are physically or mentally unable to do it ourselves. This is the best case scenario, and like everything else in life, things don’t always go as planned.

I have written about Mrs. J’s son a couple of times over the past few years. He wasn’t exactly my favorite person when he moved in with her several years ago, but I have learned to like the old fart over time. He’s grouchy, selfish, and lazy, but he also has an excellent sense of humor and good math skills. Surely that counts for something!

My cell phone rang last Friday afternoon, but I didn’t answer since I didn’t recognize the number. I googled it a few minutes later to see if it was someone familiar. It turned out to be some medical alert company, so we immediately suspected Tommy was in trouble. Honey started trying to get him on the phone to no avail, so we jumped in the car and sped towards his home, which is only a few miles away. I called the alert company back and confirmed that they were indeed calling because Tommy had pressed the button on his necklace, and soon Honey and I were flying down the highway at over 80 mph with our flashers on.

As we turned into Tommy’s driveway in the quiet little subdivision that we moved out of a few years ago and jumped out of the car, I was startled to hear, “Keep your hands where I can see them! And, you, come here!” I glanced over my shoulder to see a state police car sitting behind us in the driveway, and a uniformed officer glaring at us with one hand on his gun.

It only took a split second for me to get angry. They say no good deed goes unpunished, but it should have been pretty clear that someone up to mischief wouldn’t be driving around with their hazard lights on. I yelled back that we had a medical emergency, while Honey tried to explain why we were there.

“What are you, a medical professional?” the cop sneered. “No,” Honey explained, “but for all we know, there could be a dead man inside this house right now.”

It finally seemed to register with the police officer that we needed to go inside, so he followed us through the door where we found Tommy slumped in the floor, bleeding and incoherent. Honey picked him up, then we carefully walked him to his recliner where he collapsed like dead weight. The officer went outside to call an ambulance while we tried to assess the situation.

When paramedics finally arrived, they checked his blood sugar. It was high. They checked his blood pressure and couldn’t even get a reading it was so low. His mouth was drooping on one side and his speech was slurred, so they began having him raise his arms and legs. It was very evident that something was wrong with the left side of his body.

Because none of Tommy’s four sons live in this part of the country, his wife is dead, and his mother is in the nursing home, there was no one to go with him to the hospital except us. We drove to the emergency room and sat for the next several hours while they ran a multitude of tests. When they finally got him into a room upstairs, it was nearing 10 o’clock and we were tired and hungry. I was also still fuming over our incident with the cop, even though he did apologize to Honey before he left, explaining that we “exited the vehicle in a manner consistent with suspicious behavior.” Whatever the hell that means.

I had called two of Tommy’s sons on the way to the hospital. One didn’t answer, so I informed the one who did of the situation with their father and asked him to call his other brothers to let them know. Another son called my phone for an update while we were in the emergency room. I explained that he was very sick with poor vital signs and was exhibiting symptoms of a stroke. He said he would call back the next day.

Although Tommy’s blood pressure and oxygen levels improved over the weekend, by Sunday evening he was moved into the Cardiac Care Unit due to a very fast heart rate. The doctors also think there is a blood clot in his left leg, and because he is having problems with mobility, they want to send him to the same nursing home his mother entered last year. Despite all of this, all four of his sons are still nowhere around.

So, what I have learned from this whole experience is that having children is no guarantee you won’t be left to the kindness of strangers in your old age. And I’m sure when I’m old and decrepit, cops will still be assholes.

Agony inside the dying head

When I look at these photos of Michael, I am convinced he was mentally and physically unable to perform the 50 concerts AEG had scheduled for him in London. He looks so exhausted and emotionally wounded. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, this poor man was in an incredible amount of pain. I can’t help but remember the words to one of his songs… I am the damned, I am the dead, I am the agony inside the dying head.

Bless you, Michael. I hope you are resting in eternal peace.



Another reason to support gay marriage: Married men live longer

Gay-Marriage1According to researchers at the University of Louisville, married men live an average of eight to seventeen years longer than unmarried men. This is due to better health benefits and higher income, as well as pressure from their spouses to have routine checkups and seek faster medical treatment after heart attacks.

It would stand to reason that the same would be true for married same-sex couples. My partner and I certainly look out for one another. He reminds me to get my cholesterol checked and to exercise (although I usually don’t listen), and I nag him about eating a whole box of Girl Scout cookies.

All joking aside, when something happens that needs medical attention, we each make sure the other gets what he needs. That’s what you do when you care about someone.

As more and more of the arguments against same-sex marriage are proven to have no merit, maybe this is a good argument to use for gay marriage. Why deny people something that might provide them with a longer, healthier life?


What happens to your body after you drink a soft drink?

On the John Tesh Radio Show this morning, Mr. Tesh discussed the effects that drinking a single can of Coke can have on your body. I was mesmerized. I couldn’t find the topic on his website, but I did find the following source that I think he might have also been using. If this isn’t enough to make a person stop drinking the stuff, I don’t know what is. And, yes, that includes me.

Here’s what happens after you drink a can of soda/soft drink/pop…

  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system (100% of your recommended daily intake). You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.
  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat (there’s plenty of that at this particular moment).
  • 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your liver responds by dumping more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked, preventing drowsiness.
  • 45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
  • >60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds with calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • >60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play (it makes you have to pee). It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.
  • >60 minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You have also now literally pissed away all the water that was in the Coke, but not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

Scary, huh?


2010 in review

In 2010:

  • We sold our existing home and bought a new one
  • We bought a ZTR mower
  • Honey suffered a concussion and spent a few nights in the CCU
  • I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas at his parent’s home for the first time
  • We went to Holiday World again
  • We toured Springfield, IL – hometown of Pres. Abraham Lincoln
  • We began extensively remodeling our new home, which included a new roof, HVAC unit, and tankless water heater
  • I met Honey’s sister, brother-in-law, and niece for the first time
  • I talked to Jim on the telephone (!)
  • I bought my first truck
  • We finally got a storm shelter
  • I got my first smartie-pants phone – the Droid Incredible
  • We had a white Christmas!!
  • I saw David Gray and Ray Lamontagne in concert
  • This blog has its highest number of page views in a single day (11,539)

Plans for 2011:

  • Go somewhere fun for vacation (maybe Washington, DC)
  • Get a lot more done on the house
  • Pay off my car loan
  • Save more $$

Taking a proactive approach

I have decided to start going to therapy for my constant hypochondria. While it is easy for me to poke fun at myself here and in real life about my anxiety over imagined medical misfortunes, the reality of the situation is far from humorous.

Case in point: While eating lunch last Friday, I felt something lodged in the back of my throat. I assumed it was a bit of food that had failed to go down properly, so I tried to wash it down with a few swigs of tea. No luck. When Honey and I got to the car, I stuck my finger into my throat and felt a lump on the right side. My mind started racing as I tried to figure out what was wrong. I imagined that I was having an allergic reaction to something that I ate and that I might wind up in the emergency room because of an obstructed airway. I wondered if it might be something more serious like cancer, and started pondering all the disfiguring treatments and surgeries I might need to endure.

All of this worrying made me very anxious, and when I get anxious, I shut down. I stopped responding to Honey’s questions, which he understandably didn’t appreciate. It didn’t seem to matter that I realized my thoughts were illogical; I was unable to quell my anxiety. Once we got home and my panic subsided a little, I decided that enough was enough. While I may not be physically ill as often as I imagine, I am sick and tired of worrying about my health.

So, I’m hoping to learn some coping mechanisms. I know I could probably take medication to control my anxiety, but that would just be treating a symptom instead of the problem. Maybe an experienced counselor can get to the bottom of why I overreact to every ache and pain. We’ll see.

Do I need medication for this?

I might be the world’s worst hypochondriac. Every pain, every twitch, every ache is something serious, something so terribly dire that I am sure to meet an untimely death. I’m not sure how I got to be this phobic, but I am sure the internet has added to my problems. It is far to easy to google a common symptom and find all kinds of horrific diseases associated with it. It’s also easy for me to read a news story about something terrible and then begin worrying that I have the same affliction.

Case in point. When Natasha Richardson fell, hit her head, and subsequently died several days ago, the press were on the story 24-7. It was impossible to access a news page online without seeing stories about how minor head injuries can prove fatal, or how doctors refer to the condition as “talk and die” because patients often experience no symptoms for hours before deteriorating quickly.

chickenhypoFast forward a few days. I’m out in the yard removing some branches that had fallen during our winter storm and one of the larger branches hits me in the side of the head. Not real hard, but enough to give me a headache. And right over my ear, which is where the news story had pointed out as the most dangerous spot to get hit. I panicked.

I wondered if I should go to the emergency room, but felt like I was probably overreacting. I went inside and laid in the recliner, trying to calm myself down but distressing over the possibility that I might be dead in an hour. Honey noticed that I had stopped talking, so he inquired what was wrong. I filled him in, knowing how crazy I sounded as I explained – something he was quick to confirm. An hour later, after realizing I was probably not going to die of a hematoma, I relaxed a little.

The internet isn’t all bad, though. I helped me figure out what was wrong when I had appendicitis and has helped me research many of the issues that I’ve discussed with my doctor – like high cholesterol. I think it has even helped me figure out another health problem that I’ve been having recently (real, not imagined).

Yesterday morning, my screaming bladder forced me out of bed around 4am. I had been drinking alot of water the evening before, thinking that the headaches I had been suffering daily for the last couple of weeks might be related to dehydration. As I stood over the toilet, I started feeling terribly weak and lightheaded. Then my hearing started going out. This, of course, caused panic and made my heart start racing. I quickly stumbled back to bed, where I laid for several minutes before my hearing returned to normal and my heart stopped pounding.

I figured this was related to some other symptoms that I’ve been having lately. I often get a rush to the head when I stand up after sitting for a long time, so much so that I can hear my heart beating in my ears and feel like I’m going to pass out. My headaches have been terrible, usually right along the back of my neck and top of my shoulders. I bent over to get something out a cabinet the other night and saw flashes of light for several moments after standing back up.

So, true to form, yesterday I turned to Dr. Google to find out what might be causing these problems. I suspected high blood pressure, but was surprised to learn that low blood pressure is normally the culprit in these situations. Apparently, in some people, the blood flow isn’t that great when seated or lying down, so changing positions causes the blood that has pooled in the lower extremities to be quickly forced into the upper body. This causes lightheadedness, headaches in the exact locations I mentioned earlier, and sometimes fainting while urinating.

The causes can be varied, but the two that stood out to me where dehydration and malnutrition. I already know that I don’t drink enough fluids. Two or three sodas each day just isn’t cutting it, and my diet usually varies somewhere between chocolate and hamburgers.

So, once again, I’ve decided that I have got to make some changes. I was already on the right path with the increased water intake, but I figure that I need to eat better and start taking a multivitamin. Hey, I know I’ve talked about this diet thing before, so I understand if you aren’t buying it.

Anyway, how funny/ironic is it that a self-diagnosed hypochondriac might also have self-diagnosed orthostatic hypotension? I’m pretty sure I don’t need medication for the latter, but am no longer so sure about the former.