WARNING: Possibly boring blog catch up of the past nine months of miscellany.
I've been rather quiet on the blog for a number of months now. There are many reasons, the primary one was that I did not want to have an Eeyore thing going looking for sympathy. The down side of that decision is that I isolated myself from my blogworld fiber friends, an empty spot was so created.
Back in late summer, I was found, quite by accident, to have a protein spike of a single type of protein on my lab work. Lots of blood work later, a 24 hr urine collection later, and several angst weeks later, it was determined I had a monoclonal homeopathy. What that means is that I might have Multiple Myeloma (not a good cancer to have - less than 2% survive 10 years), or I might have a number of plasma cell cancers, or "monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance." It meant I had to wait six months for repeat labs, and see if the spike was stable or increasing. Increasing would mean cancer, stable would mean the MGUS. As it turns out, I have MGUS. My spike is stable, not increasing. I will have this same lab work repeated every six months for life, and have a 1-4% chance/year of it going on to develop a plasma cell cancer. Yay. But it is stable.
Now this MGUS brings me to a total of one malignancy (melanoma) and two pre-malignancies (adenomatous colon polyps - get your colonoscopy done, ladies - and the MGUS) in the past five years. The melanoma was in situ, the earliest stage, and I found it very early because my father told me when I was six years old if any of my freckles ever changed, I needed to have it removed. That advice at a tender age possibly saved my life.
I am now five years out from the melanoma, and have graduated to only seeing the dermatologist annually now. The adenomas mean I get the colonoscopy every three years instead of ten, but it sure beats having a colon resection and ostomy bag! And I can deal with lab work every six months. I needed to work out my reactions to my body telling me that it wasn't happy and seemed determined to do me in one way or the other. I have one child with issues that will probably make him dependent on me for life, and probably not allow him to live totally independently. To make matters worse, he isn't able to participate in treatment sufficiently to get him plugged into services that could help him should anything happen to me. So, that added on to my worries about my health issues.
Then, my darling puppy, Samson the Spanish mastiff destined to weigh 210 or so when fully grown (he's still growing), had orthopedic issues. His tibia (the weight bearing larger of the two lower leg bones) is twisted outwards, which pulled his patella (kneecap) out to the side. He had one surgery trying to get that stuff aligned properly so the patella would be in place. That worked for about eight weeks, then he was limping again. So, he got a bigger surgery on the tibia involving plates and screws. He's still healing from that, and we have another set of x-rays under sedation next week to check on that. He may also have to have a hip replacement on that side from the torque he's getting from the twisted tibia. He is still young - under two, and has a life expectancy of 14 years (very long for a giant breed dog), so it is all worth it. I've been camping on the sofa for six months to keep him from going on the stairs. He comes up to me when I'm sitting, rests his muzzle on my shoulder and nuzzles into my neck - he is an awesome goober dog, and my love.
The other major issues of the past several months that kept me from blogging are the work issues. Economics for hospitals are really bad - not only the economy, but rate changes legislated, etc. My hospital can't get a loan to cover the new ORs we desperately need (ours are grossly out of date) because it hasn't been paid by the state for Medicaid patients in over five years. They can't even afford new time clocks. There are layoffs, which fortunately haven't impacted my department yet, but it sounds like within a year, there will be major impacts in our department staffing model also. We have lost seven anesthesiologists in the past nine months, and more to follow. We have lost all of our pediatric fellowship trained anesthesiologists, which has caused the hospital to lose its pediatric surgeon (the third one in four years). We cannot recruit replacement anesthesiologists as quickly as we are losing them, which translates to longer days, more call, more work, more stress, less time off to restore balance in our lives, etc.
All these stressors impact my health adversely. Moving doesn't really change things, as all hospitals have issues, and at least where I am, I know the players, and know the issues. So, I am working on how much I allow outside stressors to impact me, and my health. Specifically, I am working from a shamanic point of view, and working on maintaining an attitude of gratitude. Keeping anger, frustration, etc out of our lives keeps our DNA strands from over twisting and allowing genetic predispositions to certain diseases from manifesting. Ten minutes of exposure to anger, frustration, negative energies has been proven spectrophotometrically to cause DNA over twisting and these effects are seen for six hours. Conversely, exposure to gratitude, appreciation, love, positive energies allows the DNA to unwind and ten minutes of THAT has been demonstrated to achieve the DNA relaxed state for six hours. So, it seemed a simple leap to focus on practicing gratitude in my daily life. I am working on that, acquiring some small visual reminders for that, and doing better. (If you are further interested in these concepts, there are two folktales - one from India (Indra's Net) and one from the Native Americans (Spider Woman) which metaphorically delve into these concepts.)
In addition to working on gratitude, I am also making the time to take care of myself. I can't control my genetics. I can, however, control my weight and get off the excess that years of taking steroids for asthma have put on, and my age, cardiac and diabetic issues have precluded my being able to remove. I have so far this year, lost over 20 lbs, and my BMI is below 35 for the first time in five years. I feel better. My sugars are greatly improved. I am off insulin. I have energy. I am motivated to get and stay active, to exercise - it is not drudgery to me now. It is an optimism that I can positively impact my health and my life expectancy. And for that optimism, I am extremely grateful.