Friday, May 17, 2013

Roderick's Story - A Lesson in Perseverance

World NF Awareness Day

Roderick's Story - A Lesson in Perseverance

Details: Diagnosed with a schwannoma tumor (schwannomatosis), Roderick Ball, Jr.,
and his family went to Johns Hopkins to have a tumor -that had grown through his abdomen, lower back and spinal column - treated. Treatment involved multiple surgeries with the goal of reducing the tumor, while preserving this patient's (a young boy) functions. His treatment and care was provided by a team of physicians, therapists and nurses in neurosurgery, neurology, orthopedics, plastic surgery, general surgery, and pain management.

Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, perseverance, and facing your fears. --Gillian Anderson  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not talking Burl Ives... Just Bridger, an oddball tree and me

Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. 
-Les Brown

I remember walking my dog, Bridger, some years ago in Moscow,* the small university town where I lived and worked almost a decade. I bought a house in the historical section of town away from keg parties, boisterous yells at 2 a.m., and motorcycle revs at dawn; the streets were calm no matter night or day. 

There was a time before my condition and its repercussions took over my life and I was able to walk my dog most every day without fail - sprinkle or shine. He loved it. I knew because of the swing of his tail and the big sloppy grin on his face. I miss that big slopping grin. During our walks we passed beautiful  Dutch-colonial and Craftsman-style bungalows in sweet traditional tones with carefully manicured lawns and gardens. It was much like walking through Sunset magazine. After moving most of my childhood, I could not believe I had landed in such a serene, often tranquil place. I wanted to pinch myself. Yet like any place, the new began to wear off after several years of living there. Of course, that's another story. I always did enjoy the walks.  I could always clear my head or come up with ideas for stories. I fondly look back on those dog + mom moments with fondness; it was one of my favorite activities while living in Moscow. 

On a stroll up Sixth St. one evening, Bridger was busy sniffing flowers and grass along the sidewalk and I was daydreaming. Nearly home, I started to think about the rest of the evening and what needed to be done before work the next day. We passed the neighbor's house. 
I stopped.
Bridger slowed in his tracks, turned around to meet me.
I had never seen THAT tree before.

 I lived next door and never noticed...

Why my sudden interest in trees? Well, for those of you that don't know I do like trees. I usually don't make my dog do an acrobat in order for me to see one. Poor Bridger. He recovered fine.

This tree its limbs arched into the sky...

The trunk spotted with large, round...  Should I say, growths?

I stared at the tree from different angles.

I realized THAT VERY TREE - I don't recall the species now - was significant. The tiny round marks and the big ones scattered the length of the trunk. I knew that it looked like me on the inside. My body in pain, riddled with ... Should I say it, scars? 

A tree you pass by every day is just a tree. If you are to closely examine what a tree has and the life a tree has, even the smallest thing can withstand a curiosity, and you can examine whole worlds. --William Shatner

Tree Wisdom
Scars. I used to worry about scars. Now I concern myself with what is akin to roots of a tree: day-to-day life. It's not easy. My condition, Schwannomatosis, is a genetic malfunction of sorts. It is a rare form of Neurofibromatosis (NF) that has only recently been recognized and affects around 1:40,000 individuals. The first symptom is almost always pain, which can occur in any part of the body. It often exceeds any neurological problems. I would eventually like to kick the pain pill regime all together. I struggle with daily life now bogged down by medications yet I need something to keep the nasty pain at bay.

The sun started to set in the small north Idaho town creating a softer lens on the landscape. Thanks to the fading sun the tree had a shadow that led into the crisp mowed lawn and white gravel area where my neighbor parks her car.
I stared at the tree a moment longer. 
It was then Bridger gave me a tug. 
Time to move on. 
It was like he was saying:
"Let's go already! Enough with the tree!" 
"Let's go!" 
He put it in gear and off we went around the corner into our own yard, full of smells. I didn't see the tree from this vantage point. 
"Huh," I thought.
Bridger looked up, a keen ear to my voice.
"Good boy," I pet him on the head. A stinging pain ruptures my back, spills down my right leg.
"Owwww! Let's go in! Gotta go in!"
I am bent over yet manage to raise up.
Bridger quickly leads the way to the door, a perfect gentleman.

Some time later I find out that what I saw on the tree is called a burl. It is a "disfigured, bulbous growth" that occurs naturally in nearly every kind of tree, according to 
Premiere Tree Services (PTS).

PTS web site:

 "Burls are formed when the cells that make up new bud growth begin to deviate, dividing in many different directions and forming a large bump instead of a branch or root. The grain spirals, twists, and knots, as opposed to normal growth."

"The underlying cause of this benign condition is unknown: despite the popularity and high value of this gorgeous wood, nobody has been able to induce or prevent burl development."

"Attempting to remove a burl growth will most likely kill even the healthiest tree. Unless the burl reaches an incredible size or starts to deteriorate, your tree will most likely live a normal life."

'Own corner of nature'
I still think about seeing that tree. A lot, in fact. For some reason it had a profound effect on me. I guess because I am such a visual person and that one tree put my condition in perspective. I could see what I looked like without the MRI scans, CAT scans, white coats, and gurneys in an environment I felt at ease -- my 'hood. I felt a mirror before me there in my own corner of nature albeit odd and self-reflective yet realistically most of my camping trips in the woods are like that anyway. Ha!

I don't want you to think I've gone too crazy. It's just that when I saw that tree with its - let's say marks - I felt a kindred spirit of sorts. Crazy again, I know. I can't help it. It happened. It was my crazy me-moment. We ALL have 'em.* I could see my life in nature. It seems that these trees lead "normal lives*" - for the most part. One web site painted a much bleaker picture for tree burls. 

I want the normal, good life for me... and the trees. 

As for my readers, here's the takeaway: 

It's not a burl finder or a free photo of me and the tree. You can "whew!" that one! But listen... Let nature or just life in general teach you a little something. Don't be afraid to stop a moment and just look. Take in a sunset, a tree, or a flower. Watch your children play outside. Don't film it, Facebook it, or Instagram it. Watch it. It's invigorating. Look for the out-of-ordinary, the unusual, the plain and simple and everything in between. 

Step back once and awhile and see what happens. 

Magic of life. 

It makes you get bumps all over... Goose bumps! 

What's not to love about that?

 ©The Healing Redhead

*Pronunciation: Ma's-co
*Patients  develop multiple schwannomas on cranial, spinal and peripheral nerves--but they do not develop vestibular tumors and do not go deaf. They also do not develop any other kinds of tumors such as meningiomas, ependymomas or astrocytomas. Patients also do not have learning disabilities.
*I'm not talking Reese Witherspoon crazy.
*Their words, not mine. 

Photos: Microsoft clip art; Wikipedia (burl)

Friday, April 26, 2013

When you are given a chance, take it!

I will be honest, this isn't easy. I haven't talked much about Bridger since he passed away. Bridger, my Chocolate Lab, was more than a dog. He was a confidante, an alarm system, a kitchen sweeper (tail & tongue), a hiking buddy, a date detector (is a guy good enough or not?), and a great traveling friend. 

As for CONS...
He didn't care too much for poetry or... Sex and the City episodes. Whenever the show's opening music started, Bridger shuffled off the couch or got up off the hardwood floor. It's like he knew it was his time to go to the bedroom or his pet cave/man cave, the basement. Girl SHOW! I'm outta here. I even watched "chick flicks" in his presence but that one show always seemed to be just a bit too much for his delicate canine senses. HA!

Back to his favorites: Bridger loved Christmas!
That boy sniffed a present before you opened it. "For me?" If it was for him, his tail shook wildly hopefully not near the tree full of ornaments or cups of coffee on the table. For those who don't know a Lab tail, it is swift, thick, fast, and can clear coffee tables in a single swoop, flip a collection of graduate school books from a temporary nesting spot, and much more -- as you will see. His tail actually did catch fire once -just once- early on as a young pup. He didn't even yelp! Good boy! He got his tail in the flame of one of my big jar candles. I was busy with something else and saw smoke... Smoke coming from his tail.

"Oh no," I thought.
I quickly patted him with the nearest towel.
Emergency averted. 
Lab pup smiling.  As if nothing ever happened. 
Tail still right next to pumpkin candle.
I moved the candle. Happy dog mom and safe pup!
For so long that is how
 I remember him: my boy! 
Even now a year and some months later with a new pup in my life-I adore my King Charles Cav-there is still a lab-shaped hole in my life. I still cry on occasion. I'm the type of person who sleeps with her dogs, doesn't count the dog hairs-probably a MAJOR fashion faux-paw (lol)- and even on occasion gets a peck on the lips. OK, a lot of kisses! I love my dogs. I considered Bridger my son. I just called him my "boy" above. I still do. He will forever be my boy! I had wonderful memories with him. He had a rebellious, protective nature that got him into a few problematic situations over the years but overall he was a GOOD BOY. His biggest crime: being a momma's boy! 
I'm telling you all this because the other day my mom and I were in our neighborhood coming back from one of my doctor appointments (imagine that!). It has plenty of walking paths, so people often jog, speed-walk, and go for strolls with their dogs. We see all kinds of breeds from short and fluffy to long and lean. Mix breed to any regal blend you desire.Dogs too. Ha! It is always interesting to ride home around 4-7 p.m. this time of year. It's a pet magazine on display! 
So the other day we are turning into our subdivision and mom and I are talking about the doctor visit. Mom slows the car down and says suddenly, "Don't look." But I already see IT. Lately, it has been so hard to look at any kind of Chocolate Lab hence the big message, "Don't look!" Even this many months later into my grief cycle, I'd just rather not see 'em. I know for some people it sounds crazy or ridiculous but it is what I have to do to make it through. As we get closer to the pair, I see it is definitely what I thought. 

"Oh boy," I think. Memories start clicking in my mind. Polaroids of the past come flooding back: hiking in the Idaho mountains, hogging the tent, playing with mom's dogs, enjoying our own walks in the neighborhood and the adventures we found ourselves in. 
Mom slows down to make the corner toward home.
I make an unexpected statement -- even for me.
"I want to go meet him."
"He sounds great."
Mom thinks I am referring to the surgeon the podiatrist offered as a possible option in town.
"No, Mom. The dog. Right now."
I know I probably sound like a child in that moment but I don't care. 
It was about getting outside of my comfort zone. It was about meeting one of Bridger's kin --another Chocolate Lab. 
I was ready. In think I was ready.
Mom turned the car around without question and drove down another street to catch up with the dog and his walker/owner.
The worry crept in. My worry about what someone else my think.
"This is too crazy, right? Petting someone's dog out of nowhere?"
"No. Go ahead," she says pulling up the pair. "I've already turned around."
I thought about Bridger and getting to connect to a Chocolate Lab again. Plus, the dog looked eerily like him.  
I'm doing it. 
Right NOW.

The window goes down. Somehow words roll out.
"Hi, my dog passed away about a year ago and he looks just like yours. Would you mind if I pet him?" 
"Sure," the owner says.
By this time I am out of the car, tears are forming. I can truly see just how close the two dogs are: rich, velvety brown eyes; broad, thick body, and a tail that could easily clean a coffee table. 
I immediately start to sob. 
Oh no.
"His name is Harley. He loves meeting folks, don't ya buddy? "
I tell Harley hello between sobs. Barely. I touch his head and back and realize it is like touching Bridger's smooth, almost silky coat. I quickly tell the guy thank you and how much it means to me. I get back in the car and the guy jogs off with Harley, the Chocolate Lab.

I just knew Bridger's spirit was alive in those few minutes. Petting this dog allowed me to remember different details with Bridger and I was able to connect AGAIN. It was a bittersweet. At the same time, priceless. Those few moments were like a rare jewel, a drink of an exotic flavor, or the conversation you've been waiting to hear. It puts moments on a pedestal. Little moments are indeed special. Don't ignore them as insignificant. A series of little moments might put you on the path to something rather LARGE.

I mentioned earlier that I worried before meeting the guy what he might think of my request. Life is one shot. Too short, my friend! It's like that one Pinterest poster that says Life happens outside your comfort zone. That made me nervous yet I wanted to do it and I did.

To go home, we had to do a U-turn and I saw Harley and his owner again. I waved and smiled big. Right through the tears. It was a small moment with a big reward. 

Isn't that what life is all about? 

These are the memories we keep.

 ©The Healing Redhead

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Cow, It's Easter! A Tribute to My Late Aunt Susie

Easter is always a time of year I think of my late aunt Susie. I remember one Easter in particular as a youngster in Arlington, TX, in particular, and my mom and I were spending time with my dad's youngest sister. I recall doing the age-old holiday egg dying at her small kitchen table as dogs scattered past, a feature of my life in my 20s. Minus the egg dunking. My small kitchen with green cabinets much like the ones you see on the Parenthood set & my dogs running about or napping one on top of the other keeping warm in the Idaho spring weather, the snow doing its best to melt before May. I kept a pot belly stove warm nearby but that wasn't enough for a pair of labs, one chocolate and one "vanilla," as I liked to say. Sierra seemed to enjoy the snuggle a tad more than my man, Bridger. 

Back to Texas and my aunt Susie who was beloved by the family for her personality, quirkiness, charm, and downright sweet nature. When I was little, I remember Susie at every holiday occasion in Arlington, especially Christmas holidays. She would be the first with a margarita drink in her hand
and all the other adults quickly behind. A lot of her high school friends stopped by to see her on Christmas Eves at her childhood home, a modest three-bedroom that - during the growing up years - housed seven children and two parents. When I was old enough to grasp the idea, I still could not possibly believe that the girls were in the front room, the boys in the middle, and the parents in the back in that small of a space! Every time I stayed there after my years waiting for Santa Claus I shook my head in wonder, How on earth did Daddy, Susie, and the rest of his siblings do THAT? Not to mention there was only one bathroom for five girls and two boys! That's a lot of patience. 

Susie's friends were everyone's friends. They hugged me every time they came by, exchanged hellos with my parents, and my other aunts and uncles. Susie always seemed to have a smile. Grinning ear to ear, she sang her kind of carols for the December holiday. These didn't involve Rudolph, Santa, or a sleigh of packages. It was more like a great big sleigh of songs from Texas troubadours Guy Clark & Jerry Jeff Walker.

The family sang Texas Cookin', Up Against The Wall Redneck Mother, and Pissin' in the Wind... YEAH, there was no Silent Night, for sure. And it was all off key. {Wink!} Poor neighbors. But everyone had fun. I was probably put to sleep before the real fun started. I so desperately wanted to be an adult back then and experience the shrill laughter, the stories, and more. I will never forget my two aunts, Susie and Nancy, kicking up their heels with drinks in their hands; I don't know if their eyes or grins were wider. 

An even quirkier side of Susie was that she loved to collect: cows. Not out in the field exactly... Memorabilia.  Cow ANYTHING! MOO-OVER, it's for Susie. This gal, my aunt, had cow kitchen towels, cow coffee mugs, a cow nightshirt,funny cow slippers,a cow refrigerator magnet collection, and the list goes on..

For Christmas one year, I found the perfect gift: a 12 oz. cream-colored mug with large black splotches all over it.  Of course, she loved it. I don't think I ever asked her why she loved cows so much. I wished I did. 

You know, it's funny looking back I don't remember actually talking a lot to Susie come to think of it. It was probably small chats here and there. I spent time watching Susie interact with family and friends. As an impressionable elementary school student, I wanted to soak up who she was as a person as best I could. Her traits were so likable. I wanted to be just like her. Little did I know then, we shared a trait already, a genetic one. 

On a Good Friday, one I will never forget, Mom, Susie and I went to The Stations of the Cross at a Catholic Church in North Texas.
Easter memories
For those of you not familiar, Stations of the Cross follow the story of Jesus carrying the cross to his moment of crucifixion. There are places around the church, plaques or artistic reliefs, that document each moment of Jesus' journey.*

Susie had to endure her own fateful journey, a battle of disease, of surgery, of personal struggle, of saying good-bye. I wasn't there but I am told she was a fighter until the very end. It doesn't surprise me at all.

When things get bad in my own chronic pain realm, I try to think of her bright smile, laughter, and great view of life. The genetic trait I mentioned earlier was Neurofibromatosis or NF1. It was a complicated road of surgeries, hope, the latests drugs, more hope, but in the end it was not to be. It more than cringes me to think she couldn't be with me today.

I have Neurofibromatosis or NF3, Schwannomatosis.* She was in her late 20s when cancer claimed her life. Yet, it didn't claim her spirit, memory, or sparkling attitude. I am still *always* recalling that trio of magnificent emblems, if you will. These will cradle me to my lasting day on this earth. 

What are your emblems? Is there someone in your life you hold dear? What are their sparkling qualities that you see? Write 'em down and let them know. What are lessons you have learned by way of them regarding  LIFE? 

Even though I didn't know her a long time, the time I did have with her was rich, full of lessons. Here's just a few I learned:
1) Always have another margarita! 
2) Party with friends and family! She loved being with both!
3) Go for the romance! She went to Kalamazoo to be with her boyfriend, Jerry. They later married and I was the flower girl! 
4) Animals are a great gift! Treat them with kindness, care, and cuddles. She always had 'em around -- all sizes! 
5) Music can lift up your mood! For Susie, Texas folk music could cure about anything! Here's Guy Clark's Texas Cookin'  for you to try!
6) Start a collection. Anything. Ladybugs.Antiques. I collected frogs at one point. Not real ones. Well, there were the handful of aquatic ones in the fish tank. Another time. Next. It tells something about your personality, maybe too much! Giggle. 
7) Sweet w/ a tad of spice - I think having a sweeter disposition can get you farther in this world than the harsh, hard-as-nails approach. Although, sometimes you do have to speak your mind. Susie did on occasion. A gal has to do what a gal has to do. 
8) Keep up with friends! Get an address book at the dollar store to keep tabs on all your favorite people. Your precious electronic phone needs a backup anyway. Put phone numbers, birthdays, addresses, and names of friends' and family's little ones. Your set. Then, have a margarita! Celebrate! Job well done.
9) Simple: Enjoy life. We are not here forever. Hug that husband. Remember why you went on the first date with him. Cuddle those kids. Call your parents. Sit back and take a deep breath. Take the dog for a walk. Play with the kitten. Exercise. Hear yourself breath. Too much? Meditation. Read a good book.Sit on the back porch and listen to spring... if it's arrived yet! Just ENJOY!

 Ahhh... Something smells good. It's LIFE! 
Or a slice of homemade pie w/ a fresh cup* of coffee

 ©The Healing Redhead

*The photo is provided by Facebook pal/high school friend Nathan Wolf. 
*The tradition as chapel devotion began with St. Francis of Assisi and extended throughout the Roman Catholic Church in the medieval period. It is observed in Lutheranism and within the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism. The Stations of the Cross may be done at any time, but is most commonly done during the Season of Lent, especially on Good Friday and on Friday evenings during Lent.
*Learn more about Schwannomatosis here
*The cup may or may not be cream and have black spots on it! {wink} 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Get Distracted & Help Your Pain Tips from The Healing Redhead

Dealing with the trials of chronic pain can get old ... FAST! Those of us dealing with the effects of tumor pain, migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other types of chronic pain can lead difficult lives. No doubt about that!

Stop a minute, right where you are. Relax your shoulders, shake your head and spine like a dog shaking off cold water. Tell that imperious voice in your head to be still.  
--Barbara Kingsolver
@Modern Dog Magazine via Pinterest

(Remember when you see a * GO to the bottom of the blog for more text/added details. The Healing Redhead: Sorry about the text, y'all. I think an evil gremlin lives under there. I tried every trick I know... except getting off Blogger. :( It wasn't intentional.) 

When your pain is on HIGH and your patience is finally on "E," you need ways to work the mind & body so that it feels even more energized when the pills kick in! If you don't take pills, distractions are even MORE IMPORTANT!  There's gotta be unusual, different and fun ways to distract yourself from the pain and we don't all have airline tickets to beautiful islands like every star and reality star on the planet! I've come up with The Healing Redhead's List of Distractions! But first, a quick interlude...below. 

A story. 

With our pain it's not like a cold or flu somebody gets once or twice a year. This is a continual cycle on-and-off through the week or it rides an unknowable flare schedule month to month or it's all about Al as in Roker & his weather patterns! I'm serious! 

A cold front came in last night and this morning I was contorted in my bed, heating pad on warm, and tried not to scare my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy cuddled next to me. My body, like so many times before, felt like metal, not muscle. My hands, especially my left, felt as though they were burning, metal bending into different shapes. An early morning art installation and the artist is Pain.

 My knee, an entire other formation, was a raging fire. Where's a handsome fireman when you need one? Wait, he would have to be especially skilled to get that fire out! Maybe a hot neurosurgeon/firefighter... Do those exist? LOL! I should look that up! {wink!} 

My ears hurt and have for months and months. I still don't understand their language.  Consider the ears the teenagers of this unit, this mysterious unit of my aging body. Misbehaving, lawless. Oh, don't even get me started. 

Luckily, most everything got under control by mid-morning that day. Except the ears. It's all day-long, all night-long trying to understand what is wrong. Just when I think I got it -- like that elusive mathematics problem - another eruption, problem begins. Talk about perseverance. Ears don't quit. 

Days later I'm editing & they're hurting and not a 1 or 2 on the pain scale. A four at least. Then when I think I have a break from it all, calm and even not a bark or snore from the pooches, the symphony of aggravation erupts: tinnitus. I guess it is too much to ask to be the conductor of my own body.


Sometimes when we have pain and/or when we are waiting for pills to work, we need a distraction. Or 10. A little something to take our mind off the sizzling pain, the grueling headache, or the numbing body aches, right? It might help. Why not try, right? 

If we have something say, in the vault, ready to go, then when this happens tomorrow, the next day, or even next week you AND I will be ready. 

(Sidebar: This won't take away the pain itself. It merely distracts you while the pain pill(s) work(s) or the pain itself subsides. I am not a doctor, I am a suggestor-logist! Keep that in mind. I make suggestions to help my readers, that's it.*)

OK, are you ready?

Lip service
Next time you are at the store, indulge. Get a fun gloss or a retro-fun one, i.e. Bonnie Bell. Think about getting a nourishing body lotion, too. When the pain strikes do a mini makeover. Add gloss & lotion. Be easy on yourself. Add slowly, perhaps close your eyes, and say comforting healing thoughts/mantras: "It feels good to be well." "Beauty starts on the inside." "Wellness is an act of love." Perhaps you can follow up with a glass of water. Sip slowly. Add gloss when complete.

Sports fever
For guys & gals who love the action-packed field, there are plenty of live and best-loved games of the past ESPN plays and don't forget sports-related movies are always worth the popcorn and couch-potato time even when just hanging out and pain is level. What about: Hoosiers, Rudy, The Natural & The Sandlot, huh? Have a few queued on your phone or TV when The Pain hits. Coaches and players have great inspirational books, too.

After-school Special
I'm a TV child of the '80s-'90s and I spent many fun-filled hours watching clever, often silly shows like Punky Brewster, Cheers, Family Matters & Mel's Diner. Anyone, remember these oldies, but goodies? HA! OK, OK they're not THAT old! It's interesting to watch the childhood shows from an adult context and see if these oldies but goodies could make it today given scripts and jokes. Are they timeless or tacky or just plain wacky? Given the number of cable channels, YouTube, Netflix,, etc. there's no reason not to check out M.A.S.H., Magnum P.I., The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Ally McBeal.* Saved By the Bell is still syndicated on some channels...But of course I haven't watched in... awhile! Nervous giggle. No really. It has been awhile. Oldie shows not only makes you smile but they bring back memories from a lighter, sillier time. Oh, youth. How I miss thee. Grab it back in 30-minute segments. The pain may or may not go away but you got a guaranteed blast from the past!*

Focus on Flowers 
My mom was sweet to surprise me with Valentine's Day/Birthday flowers. I am a February baby. I just loved looking at the bouquet. It sounds cheesy to say but the tulips were like a burst of cheeriness. Since I am unable to get out much this blast of color and vibrancy just filled me up each time I passed 'em. Ideas: You can post a photo of wildflowers on your computer, treat yourself to a potted plant or small bouquet, or think about gardening plans for spring and summer. Get this... I ended up buying a small bouquet of purple flowers after my birthday that have nearly lasted two weeks. I go near the flowers to get my pills AKA pain control. I try to remind myself to take a deep breath and soak in the view of the flowers. Each time I can remember this is like a mini-meditation. 

Be a Kid Again 
It can be as easy as rolling a few dice, spinning a plastic wheel or choosing a few playing cards. Sometimes distractions do involve a little effort but in the end the winner may be you! You can play Words with Friends on your iPad. You also can watch Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, and/or Family Feud and get a fun bet going among those watching nearby. If you have the energy and pain is not too much, Dominoes and Checkers are worth a round. Both were popular during my childhood and still fun today. I have fabulous memories playing those games. There's always GoFish and yet another goodie, the always fun, always exciting... MASH!* Gals, come on! You know it was "Mansion Apartment Shack House!" I know that will get a laugh!

Other Options

Dark chocolate Mmm... Sinful dark chocolate! Why NOT?
Walkin' - YOU better know how the song goes... or you better get off my blog! HA! Just kidding! A slow walk in the neighborhood or at a park might spark a funny story or let you be able to reflect in nature. It might certainly get your mind off PAIN!
CALM ohm... Tunes - Put some smooth tunes on your iPod or whatever current playlist technology you use. Sometimes it might not be calm tunes that allow you ease and comfort! Maybe it's rowdy '70s tunes or loud heavy-metal bands because it reflects how you feel on the inside. Whatever it is, cue it up for your next flare up and see if it helps!

What Would YOU PUT Here? Please keep it G/PG, PLEASE. Thank you. 

 ©The Healing Redhead

*Please read my "Disclaimer." There's a tab directly above this post.
*Even episodes of Punky are available online and at stores! ;)
*OMG, remember Charles in Charge? Ha! That theme song! 
*You  thought I was going to say Old Maid. I wouldn't... DARE. Not at my age & predicament! ;) Ha! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Things the TV Medical Shows Do/Don't Tell You... Take One

For those of you who don't regularly set foot in a hospital or even those who do, I have something to tell. Shhh.... I actually have quite a few truths to reveal about Antiseptic City. Given our love of hospital dramas, we might have preconceived notions about this place of gurneys & backward hospital gowns but I am here to tell you life is far different than on TV.

In a series of posts starting today I will let readers in on what I know and what I have experienced as a veteran patient. In and out of doctor offices and hospital rooms has exposed me to hours and hours AND HOURS of real-life "film" of MY OWN. This is what you could call real reality TV if I had a camera.

So, here it goes...


The Michael Jackson Rule 

Like I've said before on this blog I like to use humor to help ease into difficult and nerve-wracking situations, especially medical ones! So, when I go in to meet a new physician, go in for a follow-up visit, or have a pre-op (a day before an operation) appointment it's not to say I have a whole comedy routine or even a set ready but I have a few bits to ease my way into the conversation and relate to the doctor. I once scheduled visits with a neurosurgeon where I used to live and getting THAT man to cut a smile was as difficult as telling the Kardashian gals they weren't going to be on TV anymore.*

Anyway, this man returned to his office post-retirement, beyond SERIOUS in terms of personality, (in my book a dislike but for a surgeon it's still a good trait) he always wore a white doctor coat and khakis to deliver the latest medical news. It took my sheer comedic strength and still a half grin barely appeared across his face. This man could barely smile. With his white coat and boring plaid shirt peering through, he wore hiking boots to the office, a fact I might otherwise admire on other more personable Doctors of Medicine. As for the boots, I often wondered if the laces were tied too tight. Really tight.

Other reputable neurosurgeons were six hours away and over a snowy mountain pass. It was at this time doctors thought I had Neurofibromatosis-1*. My biggest concern then was my arm and hand pain I was having after a recent surgery. My hand was actually not functioning at the time. The surgeon who performed that surgery said the nerve must have stretched during the procedure. 

To see what might be going on Tight-Laced Boots, the neurosurgeon, sent me to get a nerve conduction study on my right and left arms and hands to get a comparison. A nerve conduction study measures how well and how fast the nerves can send electrical signals.

How a Nerve Conduction Study WORKS

When I returned to Dr. Tight Laces office he told me there really wasn't anything he could do for my right hand. At that time, my right hand was scrunched in a fist. Looking at the nerve conduction study results he recommended that I "put a glove on my hand when it gets cold."
 Who SAYS that? Apparently, THIS doctor.
I wanted to put a fist in the air... Or somewhere! 
How DARE he say that! Say it to me.
Does he call that his Michael Jackson approach to medicine? 
I don't even see that kind of careless doctoring on daytime or nighttime medical dramas. 
This is happening to me.
I am stunned.
"Put a glove it!" 
He thought he was pretty clever. 
I swore he grinned.


Whether a doctor can at least smile at my funny one-liners is my way of seeing what sort of bedside manner they have... Truly, if they can answer my questions without rushing out of the room... That all combines into the score: 
10- soft n' fluffy to 0- might as well sit on one of their own instruments

I mean come on it's part of the job just like knowing parts of the body, if you ask me. My toss of a joke here and there is a chance to see what kind of personality they have. After all, these are not knock-knock jokes.* I want to get a sense of who of he/she is and the reaction to a hospital-related funny. 

"I didn't want to come today for the visit but then I remembered the fancy gift shop. If you hurry up, we might make it out of here and get a chance to go shop!"

To the nurse: "Do you have a stamp program like the Subway sandwich shop? After like 10 visits we could get a free massage, a free visit, or... I got it, even better! On the following visit we get to walk right in & see the doctor!"

Laughter aside... 
In all seriousness, the delicate relationship between a doctor and his/her patient is rarely touched upon in a real way on television. It is exaggerated, sex-charged, and/or diagnosed within a 30-minute or 60-minute time-frame. I haven't seen every medical show out there but I would like to see one focus on the doctor-patient-family-relationship in a real way. One show taking an ice pick to that idea was Emily Owens, M.D. but it got canned for no good reason. It detailed in a multi-episode plot how one doctor's mother dealt with cancer. Her son had a hard time dealing with the reality of the situation. It is a shame a show with such potential wasn't given a second season. Shame on Hollywood!

All that said it would be cool to explore the true dynamics within a doctor's or nurse's family. It is something than hasn't been done before. The show, Providence, went there but didn't go deep enough.

Lights, Camera... Hospital?

How about a brand new well-developed character? Cast of characters? What about focusing 
more on the patient-side and have a solid supporting patient character for a dynamic, new
TV medical drama? Just remember this: the hospital, doctors, and nurses would not be there if it wasn't for the patients and their families. 
On TV. 
And in real life.

 ©The Healing Redhead

*Kidding, K-Dash, fans, only kidding! Kris wouldn't have it any other way! 
*I am now diagnosed with Schwannomatosis 
*No offense out there out to knock-knock jokes but a 30-something woman saying one and a cute kiddo saying one are quite different! Bring on the knock-knock jokes!

Images: Microsoft Clipart &