Entries Tagged as 'science'

ends & oddhealth & medical

There has to be a better way

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Catching up. I’ve fallen behind on my information dissemination. I don’t like to post that I have questions but not answers. I don’t like to call friends and say that I have taken tests without being able to give them results. I’m trying to keep up, though, and there are still some missing results.

When I had that infection and the doctor freaked out and biopsied my lymph node, I literally had three thoughts about it at once. My first thought was that my lymph nodes have felt electric (best way I can describe) for quite a while, so the cancer was probably there already. My second thought was that the node was just swollen because of the infection and this was just an overreaction biopsy that would prove everything is fine. My third thought was that the infection had somehow shoved the cancer up in that node like a bulldozer, but maybe it would ease back down when the infection was gone. All these opposing views are just constantly bouncing around in my head about everything that is going on with me. If you imagined that I overthought things before, well, old me’s got nothin’ on cancer me.

I went on with my life, as I do. I took my antibiotics, started feeling better, met with the plastic surgeon at Moffitt, left feeling confident that he could build me a bionic boob with my (just so tiny) leftover baby belly fat (for the record, he called me skinny), and went home to wait for the scheduler to call. That was on Wednesday the 15th. On Thursday the 16th I felt well for the first time in a week, like truly up an at ’em well. I felt like I had the first part of a plan and it was kind of coming together. (The missing piece was/is still finding a more integrative oncologist who will work with me on alternative or natural therapies in place of or in conjunction with the most targeting chemo for my type of cancer.) I’m not a “let’s throw all the poisons into my system and hope for the best” kind of girl. On Friday the 17th I started to feel like I had caught the house cold (care of daughter and husband), and that night I got a call from the doc that my lymph node came back positive for cancer. He said his team would call me on Monday to schedule a PET scan, and we would go from there. He mentioned starting chemo and postponing surgery. On Monday I called Moffitt and the nurse also said this would postpone surgery. She scheduled me an appointment with their oncologist on March 7th. The freaking wheels at Moffitt turn ever so slooooowly.

Well, the PET scan machine at the radiology lab broke down. I have been so sick this last week and a half. It was like I had the cold that froze time, because I can’t seem to get things going. I have now been scheduled for a scan with that radiologist every day for a week. Every day they call and reschedule for the next day. Yesterday was the last time they did that. Today the folks at CTCA said that when they called to inquire about the results of my PET scan, this broken down place actually told them that I canceled my appointment there myself. I’ve given up on them entirely. Moving on.

As I write this now I am in a lobby called the Peach Outpatient Center at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. It’s in Newnan, Ga. (Big sign in town reads: “Newnan, Ga, City of Homes.” No homes anywhere else, ya’ll! We’ve got all the homes!) I’m about forty-five minutes SW of Atlanta for a third opinion and to see what the oncologists here are like.  I thought it was closer to Atlanta, so that’s a bummer. You have probably seen the commercials for this place. It is definitely a for profit company, but they sell themselves as the more integrative and natural place to cure your cancer. I will be judging them on that, for sure. It’s the whole reason that I came all this way.

First impression is that everyone here is going out of their way to prove to me that they are nice. They keep telling me that I have made the right choice by coming here. People at Moffitt are nice too. My first doctor in St. Pete was also super nice. It’s not like I’m shopping around for the nicest people to treat me. If you are a total bitch with with least invasive, most effective, not so poisonous cancer treatment, one that you know will work on my cancer because you have done the genome test, then you’re my bitch. It is a little sad here, as it is at Moffitt. Big buildings full of sick people are sad, it doesn’t matter how good the buildings smell, or how nice the garden is. Luckily, a very good friend is getting on a plane right now to hang out with me here for three days. Leave it to us to figure out how to turn this into a slumber party. Love that woman.

I know that people are wondering why I haven’t started any surgery yet, or started some kind of chemo yet. I’m not doing nothing. I’m getting healthy in every other possible way. I’m studying my butt off (wishing I’d had an interest in this before, because I’ve learned so much). I’m approaching this in the most thoughtful and measured way possible. I want to live. I mean really live, like get past this and be healthier than before. It might feel to others like I’m dragging my feet or not moving fast enough, but I’m getting it done, I swear.

 

 

ends & oddhealth & medical

So that happened

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Last Wednesday was super stressful. Thursday was terrible and weird. Friday was worse than both. Today is almost normal, so I’ll write about it now. We’re all fortunate I was in too much pain to type on Friday.

I’ve been reading a lot about the mind body connection with breast cancer. I’m a believer. When I find myself getting anxious or stressed out I can feel the blood flowing to the tumor. I’m trying really hard to be mindful of what I am doing to myself physically when I go down my emotional rabbit hole(s). On Wednesday morning I was feeling great, then early in the afternoon I started to stress about something. It was a small thing, but then I picked up kids and they were both at their most intense. This got me really started up. By the time I was trying to handle the stress that showed up in the evening, well, let’s say all my coping strategies were used up. I felt blood rushing to my chest like a tidal wave. Then I started to feel pain. I tried to breathe my way out of it, but felt totally stuck.

Thursday morning I had a (previously scheduled) acupuncture appointment first thing. I thought for sure this would fix me. It did help, but by this time the pain was pretty intense. It was a chilly morning, so I didn’t notice that I just couldn’t get warm. I went home and took a nap. When I woke up, James was home for lunch and I had a fever of 101. Plus pain that felt like the worst mastitis ever possible (if you have not breast fed or have no boobs just take my word for it, this freaking hurts). I texted my go to TCM practitioner at TYM because I had just seen her for the acupuncture. She said she thought that, given the fever, it was an infection (why didn’t that occur to me?) and that if I didn’t want antibiotics she could treat me with herbs, but maybe I should call my boob doctor. I did call, and they put me on the books for 8:30 the next morning.

Friday morning at the doctor was not as I expected it would be. After the idea of infection was been brought up I had thought, “duh.” I figured I’d see the doc, get antibiotics for the week, and go back to my TCM for some probiotics next week (I would also like to say here that I avoid antibiotics like the plague and only use them for true infections. Because I would like them to be of some use to my children. You know, in future land.)

The doc and I chatted, I made boob jokes and she laughed. Then she took a look at the problem. Her whole demeanor changed. She started the ultrasound machine up. She took out her little tape measure. She used the word necrosis. She said she felt that the tumor was spreading (she may have said infiltrating, the oncologist uses this term), that one of my lymph nodes had also blown up, that she was going to do a biopsy right now. She said that I needed to stop thinking about what my plastic surgery options were because this was an emergency. She said I needed to start chemo immediately and have surgery sooner than planned and no reconstruction because there would be lots of radiation. I shook uncontrollably the entire time that she did the biopsy of my lymph node. I cried my eyes out.

In my car, after it was over, I called my husband and my mom. I told them both that I potentially had a very different diagnosis now, and also an appointment on Monday with an Oncologist. Obviously, I spread my worry all around and freaked everyone out. Of course, they want to know, but still.

I texted my TCM and she called me back. We talked about what the doc had said about necrosis. I couldn’t remember if the doc was saying it was necrosis or could be necrosis. Also, there was the fact that I never had time to ask if I should take antibiotics, just to rule out infection. I promised I would call the doctor with my follow up questions. To her credit, the doc responded by calling in the prescription for me. To my TCM’s credit, she sent me a message that she felt sure this was an infection, and told me to send daily updates. That made a huge difference for me, mentally.

By Monday morning my fever was finally gone. The oncologist examined me and agreed that it looked like an infection (at this point it was much less red, painful, and swollen), then he cancelled the order for my chemo. He also went over test results for my concern over rib pain. Everything came back normal. I even convinced him to order a mammaprint for me from my initial biopsy sample. It should tell me with a good bit of accuracy what my chances are for recurrence, and whether chemo will be a good move for me at all, like ever.

When the appointment was over I went to the beach and sat in the sun for 40 minutes, just breathing. Obviously, I need more of this type of thing in my life. Probably some better coping mechanisms as well, while I’m at it.

ends & oddhealth & medical

Some days

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On Thursday last week I got a second opinion. It was actually an identical opinion to the first one, so the only thing second about it was the order. I still have cancer (I wasn’t actually thinking that part would change). The tumor that is the nastiest is still oddly shaped, so taking even just that would mean losing the bottom 1/3, at least, of my right breast. The DCIS toward the center still makes surgeons want to take the whole breast. The tiny benign lumps toward the top still bring no one much joy or solace. Here we are.

I will say that I like this doctor very much. She strikes me as someone who has lived a life knowing that she is always the smartest person in the room. That’s my kind of doctor. Still, perhaps because she’s a woman, she did not dismiss any of my personal efforts at trying to get my health in order. She was not dismissive in any way. She answered all of my questions as though I was at least maybe the second or third smartest person in the room. I left feeling like she should be my surgeon person, which meant, of course, that there would be a wait to have her treat me. Dr. Smartest will not be free tomorrow.

I still felt okay. Actually, I felt a little lighter for the rest of the day. Maybe coming to terms with the very real likelihood that I will be under the knife soon, like it or not, settled something in my mind. I abandoned google and the Facebook cancer groups for two whole days. I spent a day playing activist with my daughter. I’d say, other than thinking about what to eat and drink and take, I barely thought of cancer for those two days.

Then Sunday I was trying to figure out how to get CBD oil (cannabis) and an MM card in Florida (I still don’t know), when I read a post by a woman dealing with bone mets in her ribs. She described the feeling in her ribs as an ache like a deep bruise. Ive been having intermittent pain in my ribs on the right, under the tumor site. At first, I thought I pulled something, but it didn’t really feel like a pull. I feel it more when I reach up high, it aches but doesn’t really pull like a muscle. On Thursday I didn’t bring it up with Dr. Smartest because I hadn’t felt it in days, makes sense that it would return on Saturday. So, now I have to call docs and see if anyone will do a CT scan or something for me.

Back to google we go. Back to the phone. I hate the phone.

Some days I’m just not laughing. I’m just not funny. I can’t go on and do the dishes and the laundry and make my smoothie and think about something else. Some days I’m just sad. Even though I’ve been told that my attitude is important here in Cancerville, some days are too hard. I can’t help but think about the worst possible outcomes. I can’t help but think every word I say to my kids this year should be carefully chosen. I can’t help but think I’m somehow wasting precious, precious time. It’s unreal and it’s painfully real at once. I don’t really know what to do with that today.

 

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingscience

Top ten statistics

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10. Six out of seven dwarfs aren’t happy

9. Fifty-one percent of Americans believe in love at first sight. The other forty-nine percent are men

8. Seven out of three Americans are bad with statistics

7. Nine out of ten dentists agree that that tenth dentist is an idiot

6. Three out of four Americans make up seventy-five percent of the population

5. Not a single person is in a relationship

4. Three and a half out of seven people overcomplicate things

3. Nine out of ten Americans agree that, out of ten Americans, one will always disagree with the other nine

2. In a recent survey of 100 respondents, sixty-five percent of people polled is water

1. Twenty out of ten schizophrenics love these Top Ten Lists
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

religion & philosophyscience

The invisible thread

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“We’re all connected.” It’s the ubiquitous mantra of new-agey types. Chances are if you’ve ever watched Oprah, were a fan of the TV show Lost, or have read just about anything I’ve written, you are very familiar with this concept. Along with its close cousin “everything happens for a reason,” it’s pretty much become a cliché that isn’t really given much thought. Yet, how exactly are we all connected? Sure, we’re all made of the same elements, live on the same planet, and are plugged into the same Internet, but the phrase usually refers to the idea that all of our minds are somehow connected, that our lives are intertwined, that actions taken by you, now, could somehow affect a struggling shoe salesman living in Uzbekistan. I think it’s about time we explored this concept and saved it from the nether regions of trite, hackneyed banality. After all, if the idea that “we’re all connected” is a given, why doesn’t anyone (with the possible exception of Oprah herself) really believe it? [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingscience

Top ten inventions I’m waiting for

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10. An alarm clock with a 12-hour snooze alarm

9. An artificial sincerity pill

8. A pair of socks that signal each other when one gets lost in the dryer

7. A looser straight jacket

6. A cell phone that blocks the signals of all other cell phones in the room, for when I go to the movies

5. A television with a built-in Adam Sandler filter

4. A negative-calorie cookie

3. A mechanical Mitt Romney (but then, how would you tell the difference?)

2. Self-cleaning underwear

1. The bus (please re-read title)
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

sciencetechnology

Is THIS the time for aerospace in West Texas?

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A lot of space and time in the local news of West Texas – and in discussion of said news – being devoted to a recently-concluded deal between a private aerospace firm, the Midland City Council and the Midland Development Corporation, to bring that firm’s headquarters and research-and-development operations to the Tall City. [Read more →]

religion & philosophyscience

The science of raising your vibration

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Anyone who travels within spiritual circles has probably heard about “vibrations.” The context is usually that someone with a higher vibration is somehow more spiritual or that the goal of the individual is to raise his or her vibration. But what does this really mean? Is it all just spiritual mumbo jumbo or is there actually a science behind vibrations? As you probably figured out from the title of this article, I believe that there is absolutely a science to this spiritual concept. And I believe I can prove it. [Read more →]

sciencethat's what he said, by Frank Wilson

The presumption that we are not alone

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I suppose most people have heard “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” sung by the drug dealer Sportin’ Life in George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. The song voices doubts about certain passages in the Bible. But the title phrase is applicable to a range of assumptions well beyond that.

It is, for example, widely assumed that Earth cannot possibly be the only life-bearing planet in the universe, given how vast the universe is and how many planets there must be. In fact, of 2,326 planets so far spotted by NASA’s Kepler space telescope, 10 are said to be about the size of Earth and orbiting their suns in what is called a “habitable zone.” Kepler-22b in particular looks promising. Temperature there seems to be around 72 degrees and it circles a star much like our sun.

I don’t really get emotionally engaged by this. It’s fascinating either way. [Read more →]

sciencethat's what he said, by Frank Wilson

Neutrinos and a flock of pigeons

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Have you heard the latest neutrino jokes?

Here’s one:

Neutrino.

Knock, knock.

And here’s another:

“We don’t allow faster-than-light neutrinos in here,” said the bartender.

A neutrino walks into a bar.

Don’t get them? Well, in a Wall Street Journal column, physicist Michio Kaku put it this way: [Read more →]

religion & philosophyscience

When ugly guys try to “get some” a.k.a. Richard Dawkins vs. the feminists

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A fun and exciting feud has erupted in the world of “critical thinking.”

The skinny: “Skepchick” blogger Rebecca Watson is at war with the world’s most famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, for remarks Dawkins made about sexual harassment.

Scott Locklin at Taki’s Magazine has the juicy details.

[Read more →]

politics & governmentscience

The War on Fire

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Hold that thought. And breath. And most especially that fart. You know good and well that you pollute the atmosphere with exhalations of any sort though what comes out of your body is nothing compared to what comes out of your tailpipe. Your auto tailpipe that is. Or your heater vent or the ductwork to your dryer but it all adds up. Burning is bad, you see. It warms up all the earth just as it warms your feet and while you may not have seen an open flame for days or weeks outside of an ashtray, somewhere some villain is burning in your name. He is burning gas, oil and even COAL for cripesake! And this warms the atmosphere. Which is bad. [Read more →]

creative writingscience

The erotic fiction of Carl Sagan

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I probably should have published the following post on Valentine’s Day, but since VD was only three days ago, I’m guessing everyone is still filled with tender emotions and the excitement of love.

Anyway, here’s a thought experiment:

What if Carl Sagan had written erotic fiction…”

 

[Read more →]

sciencethat's what he said, by Frank Wilson

Unsettled science — knowledge and certainty

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Mark Vernon recently posted three quotations on his excellent blog Philosophy & Life.

The first was from physicist Carlo Rovelli: “The notion of ‘scientifically proven’. Nearly an oxymoron. The very foundation of science is to keep the door open to doubt.” [Read more →]

science

NASA discovers new life form; I apologize for creating it

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One of my daily traditions involves laying down for a late morning nap.  It is not only energizing, but also a pleasant way to “skip over” a few hours of the day which would be spent in debilitating anxiety.  Normally, upon waking up from these naps, I go about my usual business of watching Wife Swap and waiting until the sun goes down so I can go to sleep again.  Yesterday, however, I clicked over to one of my favorite television news outlets, and was immediately guilt stricken.

As it turns out, NASA had discovered an entirely new form of life.  Much to my dismay, this life was found in Mono Lake, California. Okay, NASA.  I admit it.  I am responsible for this new life form you have discovered.  I’m sorry. [Read more →]

advicescience

Bed Bugs: Not So Bad!

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If you’re anything like my mother, you’ve been reading a lot about this impending Bed Bug “pandemic.” Heck, it’s even on TV. There doesn’t seem to be any getting around it.

“We are all going to die.” — Anderson Cooper

[Read more →]

science

Strep throat and teleportation

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So a colony of Group A Streptococcus bacteria made landfall on the back of my throat on Thursday evening, and has now erupted into a thriving settlement, planting corn and making friends with the natives. The resulting raw patch on the back of ye olde windpipe makes talking and swallowing difficult, and when a 300-pound man has problems swallowing his food, well, it’s time for a doctor’s visit.

[Read more →]

science

Claptrap about Climategate claptrap

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I just read an interesting article at The Nation.  It was posted by Johann Hari on April 15th, and is entitled “Climategate Claptrap, II“.

[Read more →]

sciencethat's what he said, by Frank Wilson

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

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Some weeks back I mentioned Robinson Jeffers’s poem “Science,” which is a meditation on the development of the atomic bomb. It ends thus:

A little knowledge, a pebble from the shingle,
A drop from the oceans: who would have dreamed this infinitely little too much?

This, of course, is merely a 20th-century gloss on something Alexander Pope said a long time ago: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” [Read more →]

politics & governmentscience

Jackie Gleason cheers as Obama ends moon visit

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“One of these days, Alice…  POW!  Right in the kisser.  Straight to the moon!”

Well, America’s favorite domestic abuser might have been a little more upbeat, were he alive to see these days.  While he never succeeded in putting his his wife on the moon with a killer uppercut, it seems as though the government is finally going to help simplify the process of placing Americans on our closest celestial neighbor.

[Read more →]

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