Saturday, August 29, 2009

What Am I Scared Of?

Above all things I think Cancer has to be the scariest thing in existence. You can't see it, taste it, touch it, or smell it. With exception of cancer caused by smoking, it appears without warning and without reason, seemingly random, and recs havoc on the body. Over the years, I have known several people to lose their life to cancer. In most cases, there is no real known cause, it just happens. It affects young, old, men, women.

I have a friend at work who has a friend diagnosed with Leukemia fighting for her life at this moment. She is about 40 years old, married with two young sons. I don't know her and I have never met her. But yet, I have been affected by her story. She was diagnosed last summer, under went a bone marrow transplant, went into remission, only to find 6 month later cancer was back, in full force. Now she lays in a hospital bed, basically waiting to die. On Thursday, the doctors didn't expect her to live through the night. She is still holding on, still fighting, but it is just a matter of time before her body gives in.

While I don't know this person, I think one of the reason her story is so powerful is it leads me to ponder the question: Why? Why does this person have the disease? What was she exposed to that cause it? She seems to be just your average person in society, which leads to the second could be anybody. That is what makes cancer so scary to me. No one is immune, not even the most healthy person around. It's out there, just lurking around, waiting to strike the next victim. Anyone could be next, including me or you.

I remember once when I was younger thinking AIDS would be the epidemic of my life time. I don't know anyone with AIDS...but it just seems cases of cancer keep popping up.

This is also why I feel my job has such an important place in society. By helping keep California's water clean, hopefully we can eliminate the exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in drinking water.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Does Anyone Actually Like the Dentist?

I had to visit the Dentist yesterday to have a *small* cavity filled. While this is a pretty routine, not-a-big-deal procedure, I still managed to have a panic attack during the first few minutes of the drilling. Here is what I think happened.

I am a pretty nervous person in general, but when it comes to medical tests, I can be...well lets just say sensitive. Most procedures make me nervous. From having blood drawn to sitting through an MRI, I just can't ever seem to be fully relaxed, or even a little relaxed for that matter. I usually manage to get through my nervousness because I know these tests/procedures are to help me and I get through them one way or another. And when they are over I almost always say "there was really nothing to be nervous about!"

Besides by-annual routine cleanings, I don't have a lot of experience with dental work. I did have my wisdom teeth pulled several years ago and I have only had a cavity filled one other time. So, at least I knew what to expect when having a cavity filled, but of course I was still rather nervous. To make things easier for everyone, I requested the "laughing gas." I though if I could be placed in a more relaxed state, I could relax and the Dentist would have an easier time.

This was problem #1. As the gas started to kick in, I felt like I was weightless. Is this normal? I asked myself. Because I really felt like I was going to pass out. Maybe the Dentist was giving me too much? Maybe I was going to have some sort of negative reaction? I could tell my heart beat slowed down, what if my heart stopped? As all these thoughts raced through my head, I was now more nervous about the side effects of the gas, opposed to procedure it self. I shared these thoughts with the Dentist. He adjusted the dose, stating I was probably just getting too much in my system at once. I starting feeling better. Until problem #2: the rubber dam.

The Dentist explained that they would be using a rubber dam during the procedure. I was pretty sure the devise was used with my previous cavity, so when they asked me if I had a problem with that, I simply stated no. As they started to connect the devise to my mouth, however, I quickly realized I was definitely NOT familiar with this devise. Oh well, what could be the big deal anyway?

With the rubber dam in place, Novocaine shots taking affect, and the laughing gas in my system, the dentist began drilling. At first I found myself in a very relaxed state and then something in my mind just started to panic. I felt the instant need to rip the rubber dam off my face. It was constricting and I suddenly felt like I couldn't breath. Then I realize I couldn't speak to the dentist with this thing on my mouth. More panic set in, not only about having this thing on my face that I couldn't get off, and not only about feeling like I couldn't breath, but I was back to thinking about the gas: what if I had a reaction to the gas and I couldn't tell the Dentist there was a problem? And how do I tell him all of these fears I am having at this moment? Then I felt like I was spinning. I raised my hand and the Dentist stopped. I'm guessing he could sense something was wrong and he asked me if I could breath and swallow. I said yes to both. At that point the assistant took my hand and said everything was fine. The procedure would be quick and it would be over before I knew it. They also cut me off of the gas, which I guess was for the best.

Having the assistant talking to me really helped. It helped me calm down. I just closed my eyes and it really was over rather quickly. It didn't hurt, I was fine. All that and it was all really no big deal. I wish I could train myself to realize these things are no big deal BEFORE the procedure, but the nervousness is involuntary. It's like trying to stop your heart beat, you just can't control it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Up My Nose

This post is literally about going up my nose; well actually into my sinuses. Last June I started to get headaches everyday. After an exhausting experience convincing my doctor that there was really something wrong with me, she sent me for a sinus CT scan. At the discovery of all of my sinus cavities being nearly 100% impacted, I was (finally) referred to an Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor. It took nearly two month to get the referral, and then another 4 weeks to get an appointment.

By early November, I was in for sinus surgery. The procedure was nearly four hours. The goal was to open up the drainage ways so the mucus getting stuck in my sinuses would drain better. My sinuses are really affected by having CF. I just always feel stuffed up and I cannot smell scents very well. While that is still the case, the surgery really helped, at least in terms of the headaches. Although I still had headaches after the surgery, I have been headache free since March. Suppressing the headaches was due to not just the surgery, but finding the right maintenance for my sinuses, post-surgery. This includes sinus rinses twice a day. Every-other-month, I mix an antibiotic (TOBI)into the rinse. I think this has been key to keeping things in order.

I also go in for a check up once a month with the ENT. I just went in about a week ago. Recently he invested in a technology that allows the patient to see the sinuses as he is performing the examination. He uses a scope with a camera on it, puts it up the nose (way up the nose) and the image is displayed on a screen. During my last visit, I took a picture of the screen showing my sinus cavity. The pic is included below. You can see where the mucus is getting stuck still. But between the success of the surgery and keeping up with the rinses, it is moving through my system, as opposed to sticking there, causing an infection, followed by inflammation, and leading to a headache. I'm so glad to be feeling better, but it was a long road to get there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Worst Parking Job Ever

Not sure if the pictures does this justice, but this is the saddest parking job I have seen in a long time. Not only did this person take up two spots, they are sticking out of the spot by 3 feet. Maybe they had their eyes closed?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sonoma County Fair

Ethan and I never miss the Sonoma County Fair. This year was really busy, but we still managed to spend an evening at the fair. The weather was perfect, the food was great, and the entertainment was super. Highlights this year include Fido 500 and The Pork Chop Review. We also like to spend time looking at all the arts and crafts. I won a carnival game. Below are a few pics.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

John Hughes

John Hughes was the mastermind behind some of the greatest 80's films. His passing is with great sadness. I give you my top 10 John Hughes films (as the Writer, Producer, or Director):

10.101 Dalmatians (Live Action)
9. Weird Science
8. Uncle Buck
7. Home Alone
6. The Great Outdoors
5. Vacation
4. Sixteen Candles
3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
2. Christmas Vacation
1. The Breakfast Club

All of these movies are part of my home movie collection.