Simply ordinary observations from an ordinary person - sometimes having to do with health care issues, sometimes not. Topics will change as my attention wanders. Yours probably will too....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Car Whash

While stopped at a red light this afternoon, I noticed a dusty van in the next lane over with a message written on the back window: Whash Me. The license plate frame was extolling the greatness of Jesus, and that's exactly what I thought..... Whash Me - "Jesus! Are our schools really that bad? OMG, the kids can't even spell wash?!" Or maybe this is an example of home schooling? Well, not only was the van not whashed but the parents apparently didn't notice the spelling of the message either. Or maybe it was just an honest mistake by a really young child. That's probably whishful thinking on my part though.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Good Vibes

According to my latest DEXA bone density scan, I'm in danger of becoming a spineless wimp. It seems my osteoclasts are more active than my osteoblasts, or the demolition crew is more efficient than the construction crew. Something like that. The result is that I now get to sit and stand on a vibration massage pad for 15-20 minutes per day, much to my amusement. It's perfect for blogggggiiiinnnnnggggg! And I've been entertaining my women friends with the statement that, "My doctor told me to go buy a vibrator." That's been good for about 3 days of laughing.

I believe someone famous said that it takes courage to grow old. I would add courage and a sense of humor. In the end of course, I will lose the battle anyway but if I keep on with the good vibrations, at least I'll go down with strong bones.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

For My Mom

I was 28 and my mother was 57 when she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. That was 29 years ago and I am now 57. It's odd to try and visualize the two of us in 1979. I can easily picture myself - young, slender, long hair, not too many years away from my hippie days and still trying to figure out what I wanted to actually do with my life. It's more difficult to picture her - not because my memory has faded but because she seems ageless, like most moms do to most kids. And it's very strange to think that if I live to 60, which I fully intend to do, I will be older than my mother. Her life stopped at 59 - much too young, much too early.

Because of her, I am very conscientious about my annual check ups. I also have access to screening tools and tests which were not available to her. If cancer ever does develop in my body, my doctors and I will know about it in time to start early treatment. By the time hers was discovered, "treatment" was just a way to slow down the relentless death march of her own cells. The surgery and agonizing chemo gave her two extra years but, of course, that wasn't long enough for her or her family. I'm still surprised when I talk with some of my nieces and nephews and realize that they were born after her death. It's wrong that she didn't get to meet all her grandchildren.

I don't dwell on the bad memories from that period of time, but I do still harbor many questions: why didn't her GYN detect a major problem when she went to him complaining of weight loss, fatigue and a general feeling that something wasn't right? Was she treated as just another menopausal woman with vague complaints? How did he feel when she ended up in the ER 6 weeks later with cancer cells crowding the bladder and stopping urine flow? Why did the surgeons/doctors meet with us in the hallway to give news that would change our family forever? Weren't there any private waiting areas in the hospital? Would she have had better medical care or optimal treatment if she had lived in an urban area, rather than our small, isolated home town? Would her death have been easier and more peaceful if hospice had been available? Why wasn't I a better daughter, more present, more supportive, more caring, more aware?

I don't have answers to any of those questions and I can't go back and change anything now. But I can do things in her memory and so I will be walking in a 24 hour Relay for Life on July 26th, for the American Cancer Society. It seems like the perfect thing to do for the woman who taught me how to walk and who bought me my first shoes. Maybe the funds I raise will make a difference in someone elses' life, maybe not. But if you are reading this and want to make a pledge towards my goal, click here! It's not for me, it's for my mom.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

On a Roll

Ma'am, Step Away From the Unagi.

Japan Wants People to Slim Down: "Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. .... To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years...the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets." San Francisco Chronicle, 6/13/2008

So to be overweight in Japan is not only unhealthy, it's illegal.

The CA company I work for has been owned by a large Japanese corporation for almost 20 years. During that time, we've had several sets of "interns" sent from Toyko. They each stay for about 4 years, improving their English and gradually absorbing some American culture. They arrive in suits and ties, drop down to Dockers and button down shirts, and carry slang dictionaries so they can understand their goof-ball American co-workers. None of them are overweight. If they stick with a traditional Japanese diet, they go home looking just like they did the day they arrived. If they adopt an American diet, they go home 10-20 lbs. heavier. According to this article, that could spell trouble.

I'm trying to image a law like this being passed in the USA. First of all, it's age and gender discriminatory. (Men must conform to a stricter waistline than women.) Second, it requires companies to be involved in personal health care. Try writing that into an employee handbook! Then, would we need an additional court system? Traffic fines, building code violations, and waistline non-conformance. "What do you do for a living? Oh, I'm in Waist Management." If you take an on-line nutrition course, can you have the violation taken off your record? If you are a repeat offender, are you sent to minimum security diet facility and kept until your waistline shrinks?

Of course, Americans would take to streets in protest - well, probably drive-by protesting or sit-ins, because we wouldn't want to walk all day carrying heavy protest signs. But a sit-in would be OK. "Keep Government Out of My Closet!" "American 4 Choice - Cheeseburgers are My Right!" "Watch Your Own Waistline, Not Mine!" "Overeating Is Not a Crime" ....

The article does mention some protest in Japan, but only because "there's no need at all" for the population to lose weight. Unlike here. Oh well, gotta go meet some friends for lunch. A California Roll or Tempura sounds good!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That Feels About Right!

I'm HOT - and that is so not good.

Global warming is a reality in my house. The south facing windows which are so attractive in the winter, flooding the house with light and warmth, are not so attractive during a CA summer. My 1950's house turns into a convection oven and nothing except the return of blessed, cooling nighttime fog reduces the heat inside. Unfortunately, that cooling nightime fog has not been making a regular appearance this year - climate change I guess.

Today I stayed home from work to get estimates for installing central heat and A/C. I don't care anymore about energy conservation or being environmentally correct! I want to turn a thermostat to 68 and blast cold air through the house! Experiencing hot flashes in the middle of the night in a 95 degree bedroom is primitive and it sucks!

So, I got the first estimate from Andrew, a "Heating and Cooling Specialist". The second one came from Bradley, a "Comfort Advisor". Yes, I need a comfort advisor - don't talk to me about btu's or SEER ratings or ducting, condensors, coils, or drain pans. I only want COMFORT!

Unfortunately, Bradley's estimate wasn't very comforting. I might have to stick with the heating and cooling specialist after all.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Ballot Box

I'm voting for a woman in November, even if it is considered an irrational, emotional, "female" decision. I'm a caucasian, middle class, college educated Baby Boomer and I've never been given this chance before and might never have the chance again. So, I'm taking it while I can. I know she's ruffled a few feathers here and there but I think she's articulate, educated, hard working and professional, and a master at prioritizing work & family. So what if her husband has had a more visible career so far? She's certainly very accomplished in her own arena and capable of achieving much, much more if given a chance. If she does end up in the White House, we'll be in for an interesting four years. I'm quite sure of that.

And yes, I know her name won't be on the ballot but I'm checking the Democratic box anyway. I want my vote to count. In January, I want to see Michelle Obama standing with her two young daughters on the inauguration podium - proud, beautiful, smart, and black. Theirs will be the faces of hope and change that America presents to the world. I'm voting female.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Terminator

A co-worker called me this morning with a basic question about our health care insurance. My stomach instantly pulled tighter than a surgeons knot. Not because I couldn't provide the answer which was very easy, but because I know this person will be terminated from his job tomorrow. In fact, I was working on the termination papers at the time he called. It wouldn't matter if I gave out incorrect information because he won't have health insurance in 26 days. Yes, he will be offered COBRA but at $925.00 per month to cover his family there is zero-zero-zero chance that he will enroll. At the end of June, there will be 40 million and 4 uninsured Americans.

This isn't the first time I've been in this position but it doesn't get any easier over the years. Sometimes I know several weeks ahead of time that terminations are coming but can't acknowledge that in any way to other employees. Because of the threat of lawsuits, even (or especially) with blatantly poor performers, the employer must make certain that all protection is in place before the news is handed out. That's my job - to prepare the documentation, to consult with the labor attorney, and to present a business-as-usual face to those on the short list, up until the time that the conference room door closes. And sometimes I feel really awful about the fact that I'm good at doing this. Tonight this particular employee feels that I helped him out today. Tomorrow he'll know it was false help as I ask him to sign the severance papers. And that's what it's like working in human resources.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Swimming with a dog? Personally I think that's just asking for trouble.....