Sunday, May 31, 2009

Veteran's Memorial in Rochester MN

We just got home from visiting the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial in Rochester MN. I've not been able to see the one in Washington DC, but I can tell you that this memorial in Rochester is very moving.
My son, DIL, and grandson (Austin, who's 15) went with us, and my son had planned on staying in the van while we went to look at it. When we got there, he decided to get out and look at it too. My grandson took one of our digital cameras (we have 2 and I took them both along) and took pictures for me while I was taking pictures (he's good, let me tell you). He stopped and read all the little sections that listed each war the United States has been in, starting with the Revolutionary War and ending with the Gulf War (which still isn't over).
There is a wall which is inscribed with the names of servicemen/women who have perished of injuries sustained in service who lived within a 50-mile radius of Rochester MN. The names are inscribed on both sides of the wall, and will be added to as names are received.
The outside of the 4, curved, graduated-height walls have scenes engraved from all the wars, and the insides of those walls have short descriptions of all the wars (some with maps) the US has been in, with additional things like information on the national anthem, Gettysburg Address, and other historical information. All branches of the service are represented, with engravings of the seals for each of the academies. Flags from all six branches of the service fly, along with the POW/MIA flag, the MN state flag, and the US flag.
There are pavers in the sidewalks that have the name, branch of service, and date of enlistment or war served in on them (DH wants to get one for his father, who was in the Navy for 20 years, and one for himself [he was in the Navy for 20 years too]). There are seats spaced through the memorial, and each seat has something of significance engraved on it (one that I remember had several locations in Viet Nam listed, I'm assuming those were places where American soldiers saw action, as some of the locations sounded familiar).
All in all, it was a very moving, and sobering, experience. You can view the memorial's website here and here are a few of the pictures I took (the ones my grandson took on the other camera will have to wait until I get a card-reader to take the pictures off the memory card):

You can see how reflective the wall is, that's my reflection there when I was taking a picture of it.

I managed to get a picture of Austin as he was taking a picture...........

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Orlistat and liver damage?

Is this another instance of rushing a drug into production before finding out if it has dangerous side effects? Probably, after all, we have past examples of the same thing happening with phen-fen and Vioxx, just to name two.
And everyone "knows" that it's much better to suffer with any/all side effects/complications of anything that will make fat people thin because being fat is a fate worse than death, right? Right? Sorry, I'd rather be fat and as healthy as I can be with the problems I have (yeah, I know, hindsight is 20/20 and if I knew 11 years ago what I know now about WLS, I never would have done that either) than take whatever pill the doctors/pharmaceutical companies are pushing today to make me thin, simply because those pharmaceutical companies don't actually give a rat's ass if I have quality of life as long as they get my dollars for every so-called "cure" they have for being fat (and as successful as they've been in the past, I really don't think they're going to come up with anything better any time soon). After all, if their pills cause damage to your body in any way, they can sell you more pills to take care of that too, and make even more money off you. No thank you.
But of course, according to them, liver damage isn't caused by taking Alli/Xenical. After all, if fat people didn't take these drugs, they'd end up with liver damage anyway simply because being fat causes liver damage (in their opinion, and you know what they say about opinions). I want to see the studies showing that fat people who haven't taken orlistat in any form end up with liver damage in the same or greater numbers than fat people who have taken orlistat. Somehow, I don't think there's a study out there that shows that (I wonder why that is? Hmmmmm...........).
So, for my money, if a diet or a pill promises results that sound too good to be true, those results are probably unattainable by the majority of fat people, and should be taken with the whole of the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Thank-You

Thanking all of our Armed Forces members, past and present, those living and those deceased.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Fluff

Okay, I have to admit, I like Ray Stevens, and have been listening to his comedic songs for more years than I care to remember.
Mississippi Squirrel Revival is one that DH and I laugh about every time we hear it (and we have it on a comedy CD of Ray Stevens that I keep in the van, and DH has a copy of it in his truck).
Enjoy (and thanks to my Aunt Jackie for sending me the link to this).

MRI successful

Okay, I had my MRI yesterday for my migraines. I'm not sure what the dimensions on the open upright MRI are, but you can see pictures of it here. From shoulder to shoulder, I'm about 22" wide, and my hips take up 22" when I'm seated, and in order to fit my shoulders in that space, I had to raise my arms straight out in front of me and cross them. Not much could be done to make my hips narrower, and it was a tight squeeze getting me in there when I was seated. But once I was in there, and tilted back a bit, and they lowered the seat, I was fine (well, other than the fact that raised, crossed arms pushed the rack of doom up around my neck). I had to take a lot of short, shallow breaths while I was in there, but it wasn't anything I couldn't handle, once I got used to it. Yeah, I was still squished, but it wasn't painful like it is when you sit in one of those doctor's office chairs with the arms and the seat is too narrow (maybe the fact that it had solid sides and was squishing me evenly on the fat and not hitting my bones had something to do with that). Most of the scans only lasted 3 1/2 to 5 1/2 minutes and I could move my feet and hands between scans if I had to (and I found out that if my foot moved, even though my head was still perfectly still, it showed up as head movement, they had to redo one scan when my leg spasmed once). They told me I did very well.
My doctor should have the results by Monday, so I should know some time next week what they found out. DH went with me, and when I came out, the first thing he asked me was if they had confirmed that I have a brain (he's such an ass sometimes....LOL).
All in all, it was a pretty good experience, and I have to say that their waiting room is awesome. My ass actually fit in their chairs with room to spare (and all of their seating was like that), and the chairs were comfortable and easy to get out of even with arthritic knees. So, if I ever have to have another MRI, that is definitely the place I want to be referred to. The staff are friendly and really accommodating (and the one who started my IV, she was good, I never felt a thing when she put the needle in and then flushed it).
So, for anyone who has been told that they won't fit in an MRI, that's not necessarily the truth. CDI has locations in Washington state, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, and Florida. I don't know if all of the locations have the open upright MRI, but if you need an MRI and don't fit in the regular sized machines, it's certainly worth checking out (and in Minneapolis locations, they also have the open-sided MRI that can handle people up to 500 lbs, and they do sedated MRIs if need be).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Y'all have said it better than I ever could

I haven't blogged much lately, even though I've been reading all the blogs I follow and commenting once in a while. Everything that I would have blogged about has been covered by most of you and y'all have done quite well, so anything I would have said would have been along the lines of "What she said!"
I'm getting an MRI done tomorrow (Thursday, 21st) for my migraine headaches (finally), but my doctor won't order an MRI for my lower back pain. She says they only do those in the case of a pinched nerve that needs surgery, but that's not what my knee doctor told me (no way do I want to have surgery on my back). She seems to think it's muscle spasms (even though flexeril doesn't even begin to touch the pain I have in my lower back when I have to stand for more than 5 minutes). She poked along my spine, from my neck to below my waist, and while it didn't hurt until she got to the middle of my back, when she poked my spine from about 3" above my waist to 4" below my waist, I almost cried because it hurt so bad. I told her I can't sleep on my back because I end up in so much pain, I have trouble getting out of bed. I can't sleep on my right side for the same reason, so 95% of the time I'm stuck sleeping on my left side (and at that, I still only sleep for about 4 hours and then I have to get up for a half hour or so and sit in my chair, then go back to bed and hope I can get another couple hours of sleep). If I stand for more than 5 minutes, the pain hits me and if I don't sit down right away (or, if I'm walking, don't find something to lean on, like a shopping cart), then my legs get numb and I get weird shooting pains in my buttocks (yeah, probably TMI, there), then I practically collapse when I can sit down. Funny thing about it all, though, is that once I'm sitting down (or leaning, bent over at my waist), the pain goes away almost immediately. That doesn't sound like any muscle spasms I've ever had before (like the charley horses I get in my calves or my feet). So she's referring me to physical therapy for exercises to strengthen my back muscles. I'm hoping that will work to fix this back pain, but I'm just not sure how much it will help, if it's not a muscle problem to begin with. And then if it doesn't work, I've wasted my co-pays and the insurance companies' money on something that didn't work (but if it's not a pinched nerve, then I'd waste that money on an MRI, maybe). I don't know, I guess I'll go to physical therapy and see what happens.
I did go in for the cortisone shots in my knees, but the doctor I saw for that said that he thought the rooster comb shots might be a better way to go, since the cortisone shots only worked for a couple of months when I got them last year (the rooster comb shots are supposed to last for a year). It's a series of 3 shots, I got one last Tuesday, one this Tuesday, and the last one will be next Tuesday. DH is getting them for his knee too, but his doctor isn't so sure they'll help him much, his knee is bone on bone, no cartilage left there at all. If the shots don't work for him, he's looking at a knee replacement. One of the doctors he saw said DH is too young for that at 53, that the replacement will wear out and have to be done again. But the doc he saw today said that knee replacements last about 25 years now, so DH would be almost 80 before he'd need it replaced a second time, and he doesn't see a problem with doing it now if these shots don't work (don't you just love how doctors see eye-to-eye on treatment options? And these are doctors that work for our government, at the Veteran's Administration Medical Centers, tell me again how government running health care is going to be really good for us).
So that's what's been going on with us the last couple of weeks, and one of the reasons I haven't blogged about anything lately. Right now, I'm feeling too old, too fat, too tired, and in too much pain to really give a shit about much of anything. Hopefully, that will improve soon. It can't last forever, can it?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dead and Gone

This is so not fair. I finally got my copy of Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris and it just left too many loose ends. I certainly hope there are going to more books about Sookie and her life with the vamps/two-natured/witches/etc. I want to know what Niall meant when he told her "the vamp loves you" (which vamp?) and I want to know how she helps her nephew with his mind-reading talent. I also want to know if Dermot was really killed or did he get away and is he going to come after Sookie and Jason? See what I mean, too many loose ends, I have to know what happens next. I've never gotten this involved with a book series before, but I have to say that this one is addictive in the extreme (to tell you how addictive, I read D&G in less than 3 hours and couldn't put it down even to get another soda when mine was gone).
I had thought I would want to watch True Blood on HBO because it's based on the novels, but now, I'm not so sure. I've seen movies made from books I've read and the movie is never the same as the movie I saw in my head when I was reading the book. Too much gets left out, too much gets changed, and it's just not the same.

Fat kids more likely to suffer lower body injuries

Okay, now this is just too fucking much, people. All these researchers sit around and bitch that our kids are fat, lazy couch potatoes who do nothing but stuff their faces with junk food. But get this:
The study analyzed the weight and injuries of kids who visited a children's hospital's emergency department over a three-year period. Sprains, such as to the ankle or leg, were the most common lower body injuries, and sent more than 23,000 children to the emergency department at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center between 2005 and early 2008.

Now, I don't know about y'all, but I've never seen a kid who got a sprained ankle, or a broken bone, by sitting on hir ass all day on the couch, in front of the TV/computer/video games. So, which is it, asshats? Fat kids are couch potatoes, or they're out doing these things that cause them to have sprains and broken bones in their legs? Personally, I was a fat kid, and I sprained my shoulder giving my brother (2 years younger than me) a piggy-back ride, I fell out of a treehouse when I was 6, I sprained my ankle that same summer (when I was 6) when I jumped out of a swing, and I got scrapes and bruises when I fell off a pile of wooden apple crates. I don't know how many times I wrecked my bike as a kid and ended up with scrapes, bruises, and sprains.
Pomerantz noted that obesity is likely to also lengthen a child's recovery time from an injury, as the added weight and stress to the body can cause more damage.

Um, no, that's not always the case. In fact (yes, I know, anecdotal, but this is probably true for more fat kids than these assholes think), when I broke my ankle the day before school started (in 8th grade, and I walked from the rink to the car on that broken ankle and didn't get taken to the ER until the next day for x-rays, Mom didn't believe me when I told her I broke it until she saw how swelled it was the next day), I got a walking cast two weeks after the first cast was put on. I walked from our junior high to the doctor's office 3 blocks away for my appointments, and I walked around the school all day long, up and down stairs, carrying all my books. The cast came off after 8 weeks, and I was back at the roller rink, skating 3 to 4 hours at a time, 3 to 4 times a week.
Hell, I slipped on the ice getting out of a car and broke my other ankle when I was a sophomore in high school. It was broken so badly that they thought they were going to have to put pins in it (they couldn't because there was an open wound where I had scraped my ankle on some gravel in the ice). They ended up letting it heal, saying they would have to see how well it healed before deciding to pin or not to pin. It healed well enough that I had a walking cast 3 weeks after breaking it, and the cast came off for good in 9 weeks. There again, I was back rollerskating as soon as the cast came off. And they ended up not pinning it, it healed well enough on its own.
Exercise and diet, she said, remain the best ways to combat the growing obesity epidemic in the world. "Parents of an obese child who want the child to exercise but [are] afraid of the child getting injured should work with a specialist to get a tailored diet and exercise regimen to help them lose weight," Pomerantz said.

Yes, exercise and diet work just so well to keep kids from getting fat, or, if they're already fat, to get them thin.............FUCKING NOT!!!! And how many parents can afford to pay a specialist for a specialized diet and exercise routine? Especially with the economy the way it is right now, most parents are probably lucky to have jobs and be able to afford those luxuries of food, clothing, and shelter, let alone necessities of diet and exercise for their fat kids. Give me a fucking break from the moronic researchers who think fat is a bad thing (not to mention a break from the doctors and pharmaceutical companies who think they have to "cure" us of being fat).

Monday, May 4, 2009

C R A P may explain rising health care costs?

This is just my take on this informative article at Junkfood Science. But could it actually be the nocebo effect that has millions of people thinking they are sick, running to the doctor, and demanding that doctors test and test and test to find/rule out every disease/risk of disease that's reported by mainstream media and that is raising the cost of health care across the board for everyone?
A financial publication isn’t a place you might expect to find an insightful article on health, but Financial Times proved the exception. Last weekend, Stuart Blackman explored how seemingly helpful educational health messages can be bad for our health. In fact, they can lead us to believe we are unhealthy and to actually feel quite unwell.

I've known people who, the minute they hear about a new disease/condition, start looking to see how many of the symptoms for that disease/condition they have. Then they run right out to their doctor and demand to be tested for it and then medicated for it, whether they actually have said disease/condition or not. They used to be called hypochondriacs.
His article, “Why health warnings can be bad,” began by describing the nocebo effect. That’s the powerful phenomenon of developing the most extraordinary physical symptoms when we believe or fear that something is bad for us. It’s the negative stepsister of the placebo effect and the full significance of both isn’t understood by many people. The nocebo effect is behind the confirmation for most food fears, for example. People who’ve been taught to believe certain foods are bad for them actually feel sick, experiencing such things as headaches, chest pain, nausea and indigestion, rashes, cough, congestion, weakness and fatigue, and even paralysis when they believe they’ve eaten them. It’s the stepsister of the placebo effect, at work when we feel healthier after eating foods or taking dietary supplements we believe are healthy.

How much of the blame here really lies with the patients and how much of it can be laid at the feet of the medical and pharmaceutical companies? After all, if researchers weren't out looking for more ways to use more drugs on more people to make more money, I would venture to say that most of the people who are diagnosed with this, that, or the other disease (in order to cover the doctor's ass in this litigious society of ours) would do perfectly fine without those drugs.
As Arthur Barsky, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said, when “you induce negative expectations – whether it’s through a pill, a health warning or advertising by a drug company – you set in motion the same process of symptom reattribution, which then amplifies the symptom, which further solidifies the reattribution.”
According to John Adams, professor emeritus at University College London and Britain’s leading risk expert and author of Risk, a major contributor to our negative expectations is the popular trend among health professionals and health agencies to issue precautionary advice concerning health risks, even when there is no evidence for any credible risk to people’s health. He labeled it a “syndrome” he calls C.R.A.P.

Yeah, living is risky all right, everything we do on a daily basis has some element of risk to it. Hell, just getting in and out of the shower can cause severe injury and/or death if you slip and fall just right. You risk injury/death every day when you leave your house, get in your car, and drive to work/school. You risk injury/death every time you play sports, exercise, take the stairs, take the elevator, or even eat a meal (choking on a piece of food can be deadly if no one around you notices or knows how to do the Heimlich maneuver). Life is a risk, from the cradle to the grave, and none of us get out of it alive or in perfect health.
You really should go give this article a read. I'm not saying that there are people who don't have things like chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia/severe back pain/etc that they deal with on a daily basis and don't go away after a couple of days or a week. Those things do exist and do need diagnosing and treatment, and not blame. But because of this cover your ass mentality and unrealistic expectations of perfect health that everyone is supposed to have, medical costs are rising and it's not the created "obesity epipanic" that is causing those increases, but all of the media hype about all of the so-called "dangerous" foods/additives/diseases that are going to kill us if we don't do something about them soonest. Doesn't matter that we're living longer lives, and are able to do more in our "golden years" than ever before, or that more people are living to see those "golden years". In addition to all of that, no one must ever get sick from anything, never have any kind of physical problem with their bodies, and must maintain for the rest of their lives the optimum level of health that the ideal 18 year-old has. Talk about unrealistic expectations, especially in the face of researchers finding all kinds of genetic markers for diseases we may never get, but are at risk of getting (even if it's a snowball's chance in hell) and must be medicated for, just in case. Add to all of that the lowering of diagnostic standards for things like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, and you have a health care system running roughshod over you, demanding that you treat these diseases, even when you don't have any symptoms, demanding that you make lifestyle changes that may or may not do any good, demanding that you take medications that may or may not do any good (and whose side effects could be worse than the disease you're trying to treat that you might not even really have) and that sounds like a recipe for disaster. Are we there yet? If not, I think we're pretty damned close.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Stillwater Sightseeing

We just got back this afternoon from a weekend spent in Stillwater MN. We went down there to take DH's step-daughter and family out for dinner, and they brought the kids back to the motel so they could go swimming with us (kids are 7, 12, 13, and 14). Wore them out, they had so much fun in the pool. That was Friday night. Saturday, DH took me sightseeing (he used to work at the Wal-Mart there) around downtown Stillwater. Got to see all of the antique shops, checked out the riverboats on the St Croix River, saw the trolley car that does tours of the downtown area, and made plans to go back and take that tour, and check out the dinner cruise on one of the riverboats. We also went by the Minnesota Zephyr and got a picture of it. It's really too bad that the Zephyr won't be running its trips anymore, I would have liked to have gone on one of those. We also saw where the caves are that house a brewery, DH has been there and said it was a really neat place (they also have tours, we may go back for one of those too).
One of the smaller riverboats.
Another of the riverboats on the St Croix River.
The largest of the 3 riverboats, this one has the dinner cruise.
Downtown Stillwater.
More downtown Stillwater.
Neat mural on the side of one the buildings in downtown Stillwater.
The old sawmill, has a couple of shops on the bottom floor, didn't go inside to see the rest.
The Minnesota Zephyr engine at one end of the train (there's an engine at each end).
A couple of the bigger boats in drydock by the Zephyr on the St Croix River.
St Croix River and part of the lift bridge to Wisconsin.
A much better picture of the lift bridge.
A small pavilion down on the St Croix River, they have the fireworks there on the 4th of July (or did, the last time DH was there).
St Croix River