Christmas Conflicts in Parts

Christmas Conflicts in Parts

Regenerating the Elders: Stemming the Tide

The Platelet Rich Plasma is the yellowish substance. The stem cell is the clear liquid.

My husband and I have gotten into regenerative medicine big time. Both of us just had stem cell therapy.

Regenerative medicine is defined on Google as: “the branch of medicine that develops methods to regrow, repair or replace damaged or diseased cells, organs or tissues. This field holds the promise of regenerating damaged tissues and organs in the body by replacing damaged tissue or by stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms to heal tissues or organs.”

I damaged my left knee this past summer. The MRI showed three tears in the meniscus, plus osteoarthritis and inflammation.

“Get a replacement,” my husband ordered.

I’d just nursed him through a total hip replacement and wasn’t anxious to become the one in the hospital bed. So, I started with SynVisc injections. SynVisc is made of hyaluronic acid that helps cushion and lubricate your joints, (which in my case had become as dry as the Sahara).

“If SynVisc doesn’t work, the next step is PRP. Then stem cell therapy,” the orthopedist said.

“What’s PRP?” I asked.

“It stands for Platelet-Rich Plasma therapy. You can look it up on Google,” he said as he injected my knee.

So of course I went to Dr. Google. “PRP is a form of regenerative medicine that can harness healing abilities and amplify the natural growth factors your body uses to heal tissue. Plasma is the liquid portion of our blood. Platelets, also called thrombocytes, are blood cells that cause blood clots and other necessary growth healing functions.”

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy uses injections of a concentration of a patient’s own platelets to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. In this way, PRP injections use each individual patient’s own healing system to improve musculoskeletal problems.

So there, I knew what PRP therapy was. I had a feeling I was going to need it although over a ten-week period, the SynVisc improved things. I could sleep without too much pain and I could walk again—almost two miles. But I was definitely not perfect.

Meanwhile, my husband had had pneumonia and was mistakenly prescribed Levaquin, a super antibiotic with an unfortunate side effect in people over 65—it can damage the person’s tendons. And it did. Moe could barely walk because of the damage, let alone play golf.

This is what brought us limping into the doctor’s office in Kona, Hawaii.  The doctor examined us and went through our health histories and blood tests. On the next visit, he suggested PRP and a stem cell for my knee. For Moe, he suggested stem cell therapy in the blood stream.

“It’s experimental, but we’re having phenomenal results,” he said.

Last Friday, the doctor drew my blood (I have stingy veins—he said something about a turnip) then put it in a centrifuge. After about 45 minutes, he injected PRP in my right knee. Then he injected my left knee along with a stem cell.

All was super easy in my right knee. In my left knee—so painful!!

“That’s because you have so much inflammation in that knee,” the doctor explained as I moaned.

My husband and I have been having intravenous vitamin infusions every couple of weeks since September. We have a “Myers’ Cocktail” that contains magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium. After, there’s a small infusion of Glutathione. These infusions enhance the immune system, reduce fatigue, and help with seasonal allergies plus other benefits. Since my husband was already hooked up, the doctor injected the stem cells for him right into the IV—no pain for him!

No problem!

“When will we see results?” I asked the doctor as we left his office.

“Your knee is working day and night on a microscopic level to improve tissue health. Most patients can see more significant improvements at weeks 4-8 and 12+ weeks post injection,” he said.

Four to eight weeks!!!!! OMG!!!

Now, it’s only a week later. (I’m sure it’s been a least a month). I’ve been under instructions to rest my damaged knee. Tomorrow I can start a mile walk every other day. For someone who’s used to walking at least three miles a day, it’s taken a lot of patience to stay away from my Nikes. But I want to give this procedure a chance. I’ll let you know what happens.

Senior Class: Shape Shifting

Where does the time go? It’s really throwing me. My oldest grandson will be 22 next month! It seems impossible that he has been around that long! I still think of him as that towheaded toddler that I could carry in my arms. Now I need a grocery carrier cart to bring in a bag of groceries. Also, I can’t believe the last time I wrote in my blog was October 19! Not only are the years rolling along at warp speed, so are the weeks. Thanksgiving is around the corner so I better write a little bit right now.

First, I want to check in with my hair buddies, especially those who had alopecia effluvium like I did last fall. My hair came back strong with the use of products like Rogaine and the Nutrafol supplements. But I recently have seen some thinning again. It may be just a shedding time of year, but my hair follicles aren’t that plentiful so it shows!

I’m trying hard to be copacetic with all the bodily changes overtaking me but the shape shifting is becoming more pernicious. One good thing–I have a waist again. I was without one for about 20 years. I noticed this the other day when I got out of the shower. “Wow,” I said aloud to myself. “That’s cool.” Then I saw the reason why. My hips have gotten very hippy. As in “you can grab a handful” on either side. So it’s all perspective. Which I don’t have that much of.

When I commiserated with a friend she said, “But that’s not so bad. At yoga this morning when I was doing downward dog, I saw that my arms had been replaced with my mother’s arms. How did they get so crepey?”

“It is creepy when that happens,” I said. “But if you think about it, you’ve been lucky to have collagen in your arms for so long. You haven’t seen my arms for fifteen years.”

“Come to think of it, you’re right about that,” she said.

“I think we need to learn to accept ourselves at this age,” I said. “Otherwise, we’re going to be constantly in mourning.”

“You’re right again,” she said.

“I want to be happy with myself at this age,” I continued. I was on a self righteous roll. “But I’ve decided not to have my cataract fixed. I really don’t need to see everything that clearly. And I don’t drive at night anyway.”

Senior Class

Hello again. On my way to writing about the pluses of getting older, both my husband and I were knocked over by a bunch of ailments so my days got filled up with doctor appointments, etc. We’ve both had so many blood tests it’s amazing we haven’t needed blood transfusions. We also have been X-rayed, CAT scanned, ultra sounded, scoped and MRId. My husband says Medicare is going to send a hit man after us—we’re skewing the whole system.

We’re both feeling better right now so there’s some time for analyzing the aging process. On the good side, we’re pretty happy most of our days. We’re able to do less and enjoy more. We get a lot of pleasure from our five grandchildren and are lucky they keep in touch with us. We’re fortunate to live in places of natural beauty too. But that old saying, “If you don’t have your health….”

My husband, whose middle name is GOLF, couldn’t play for four weeks this summer. Instead he was having his third bout with pneumonia in a year. Those of you who know Moe, know that almost nothing can keep him from the golf course. It was grim, let me tell you. And the only thing that could stop his cough was hot tea with honey. For three weeks at all hours of the day and night, I was making tea and lacing it with honey—sometimes I added whiskey.

Now here comes a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT. We’d just changed primary care doctors and weren’t established at the new office so instead of seeing the doctor, we saw his PA. I have nothing against Physician’s Assistants as a whole, but the one we saw was the same one who missed my pneumonia two years before. Unwisely, I decided to trust her this time. She prescribed my husband Levaquin. Now I know it should be used only for infections that cannot be treated with a safer antibiotic. It’s unsafe especially for people over 65. It gave my husband hallucinations, which passed but it’s caused tendon damage, which may not be reversible. It makes it impossible for him to walk very far and it’s affected his golf. He is not a happy camper.

As for me, I’m trying to deal more wisely with my health issues while I help Moe with his. I’m also learning to be less of a perfectionist. Who really cares if our bed is made perfectly? (My mother, yes, but she’s been dead for twenty years.) Who cares if the walls aren’t perfectly painted? (After last year’s flood that wiped out half our house, those walls seem like nothing.) Who cares if the summer is hot and humid or cold and gray? (The seasons pass so fast now that summer was over and fall begun before I even knew it.) Who cares if I’ve gotten kinda chunky? (Well, I do, but I’m working on changing my attitude about that. I can’t fight gravity or aging or genetics. They all win so I need to give up the idea of being thin. That ship sailed.)

One thing I learned this summer is that we elders do need to be more careful about our health.  I’ve always been one to push myself past my limit. Can’t do that anymore. And we can’t delude ourselves into thinking that our bodies haven’t aged. The truth is they ain’t what they used to be. I did that, walking four miles a day, and tore my meniscus in the three places in June. I’ve been suffering ever since. I couldn’t walk for two months—and walking is my favorite thing. I had five injections of SynVisc over the summer, which provides artificial synovial fluid in the knee to give some extra cushioning. I’m back to walking two miles a day so my sanity is restored. I’m going to investigate PRP and maybe stem cell therapy—I’ll let you know what happens.

Writing for me is another sanity restorer. I started writing this a month ago and got swept up in the chaos of life—both good and bad. Sitting here at the computer today, I feel I’m regaining my Self. It’s like a reunion.

The Wreck of the Hesperus

I’m going to start a new series on my blog entitled SENIOR CLASS. You have to be a senior, no pre-Medicares, thank you. SENIOR CLASS will be blogs that have the positives about being a senior. SENIOR CLASS will be blogs that have the negatives about being a senior.

The Wreck of the Hesperus

This first one is negative….

I’m beginning to feel like the Golden Gate Bridge. The workers just finish one end and they need to start over at the beginning. With me, I just get one body part functioning when another goes on the fritz.

Last fall, I had hair fall-out. Not pretty, but at least the only pain was emotional. With the help of Nutrafol and the dermatologist’s Rogaine Plus treatment, my hair had a come back.

So I was doing pretty well…except for the 8 pounds I gained, calming myself with comfort food and drink.

When I realized the truth—that all my clothes had not shrunk in the dryer—I started working to get back in shape. I signed up for Weightwatchers on-line, keeping track of what I ate. That was good, but nerve wracking. There’s never enough points for my double martini.

What got me in trouble was the exercise component. I read an article that said interval training was the only way to go—that I should add running into my walk. Like the Girl Scout I’ve always been, I added the run, along with hills. I increased my steps to 13,000. And I started working out with a trainer.

All went well for about two weeks. My shoulders hurt from doing the plank, but it was bearable. Then I got plantar fasciitis. (Now, we’re talking painful!) I could barely walk to the bathroom. The podiatrist made me a brace, gave me a cortisone shot, prescribed Aleve and a physical therapist.

I got better. Feeling invincible, I went back to my routine. A week later, my left knee and hamstring started to hurt. I ignored the pain even though it woke me up at night. Watching me limp up the stairs, my husband started yelling at me that I needed an MRI and surgery.

I wanted to try alternative methods: rest, ice, physical therapy, chiropractor, acupuncture, meditation. When I went to the physical therapist, she kindly explained interval training for a senior. “Cindy,” she said, “your joints are in their seventies. Leave them alone. At your age, just getting mad at your husband can raise your heart rate enough.”

Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation

For four weeks, I didn’t do any exercise, not even gentle yoga. Meanwhile, I tried making a deal with my Higher Power. “Okay,” I said. “I know I’ve over done it. I get it now. Please, if I can just get better, I won’t do it again.” I became the sedentary couch potato I was afraid of, but slowly the pain lessened.

I even took a short walk. When I came home, I washed my face and realized my right eye was painful. “Oh come on,” I said to the Universe, “what next?” The answer was a stye. Who knew a stye was so painful? And disgusting? Again I was prescribed Aleve along with an antibiotic eye drop.

Ten days later, my eye looks almost normal. My knee is better, too. I’m walking again and doing yoga. All the Aleve is giving me terrible indigestion, but that’s par for the course.

I don’t know why I find myself singing, “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” in my head.

Gadget Mania

Gadget Mania

I’ll admit it—I love gadgets. I might even be addicted. It started in junior high when I saw my first eyelash curler. My friends and I would hang at the corner drugstore, checking out the makeup paraphernalia. We couldn’t wait until we were old enough to buy it.

Later on, my gadget addiction focused on kitchen items. My daughter says that I’m not safe in Bed, Bath and Beyond. (I just bought the Core Bamboo bottle cleaner yesterday. I used it this morning and it worked well.)

My kitchen drawers are filled with kitchen gadgets that I must have when I first see them. Now I only see them when I open the drawers they’re stored in.

I don’t want you to think I love all gadgets. I hate remotes. Ever since they came on the scene, I haven’t been able to watch television. Why can’t I have that simple on and off button?

In today’s world Amazon and Apple feed my addiction. Sometimes the two A’s work in tandem: I have several gadgets I’ve bought from Amazon for my iPhone.

Speaking of iPhones, it’s the Mother ship for a whole host of gadgets, otherwise known as Apps. Many are fabulous but I’ve got a ton of those I don’t use either.

Since I’m a weather freak, I love the Dark Sky app. It tells you what the weather is exactly where you are.

And then there’s the health App that connects to the iWatch. It measures all kinds of things.

By the way, since this day, my knee has hurt like hell.

One thing I don’t have is the wireless earbuds. (I think some techno geeks brainstormed how they could get people to walk around looking nerdy with white tubes sticking out of their ears.)

For us seniors, there are some fabulous new gadgets made just for us. My husband is walking great after having one of these replace his arthritic hip.

But the latest and greatest by far are our new hearing aids. Not only are they not visible when I’m wearing them–they actually work.

And they have the niftiest gadget accessory ever. It’s an adapter that connects to the television and then plays the sound through Bluetooth to your hearing aids. We now can even understand some one from Scotland when they talk!

I’m guessing that the days for gadgets will never be numbered. I’m just hoping I’ll be able to keep up with the newest innovations. I’ve finally gotten fobs mastered. What will be next?

The Story of My Life

The Story of My Life

I have been very busy trying to take care of my husband who is recovering from total hip replacement surgery. At first he was on a walker and needed help with just about everything. But he became ambulatory and more self sufficient as each day went by.

My problem in these situations, is that I think I need to be Super Woman and do anything and everything 100 per cent–for the patient, for me, for the world. That’s all well and good until, like a spinning top, I wear down. I’m still going in circles but in a slower, more erratic path. I also depend on coffee cake and pie to see me through.

A week ago, on top of my extra duties, I decided I needed to get back into shape. I attempted to walk 10,000 steps a day. I scheduled an appointment with a trainer. I cut up apples, oranges, carrots, celery and cucumbers for quick snacks versus cookies.

The morning for the workout with the trainer came. Before I went, I wanted to make sure my husband had a good breakfast. Full disclosure: I don’t normally make breakfast. It’s a do-it-yourself meal . . . along with lunch. But, during his recovery, I was doing three meals a day. (He’s very happy this week that he can make it to the fridge on his own so he can get back to grazing.)

All was going well. I’d gotten up early so I could help my husband with his shower, etc. And with getting the dreaded compression stocking on. That, in itself is a workout! I was dressed in my work-out clothes and in the kitchen, getting eggs out of the fridge, by 8:30. Then I stopped breakfast preparations to take the dog for his walk. Outside I noticed a lot of weeds in the front yard, which I felt needed pulling right then and there. By the time I’d fed the dog, it was 9:15 and I knew I had to hurry up.

I cracked the eggs into a favorite bowl and beat them with a fork. I turned to check that the pan was ready, and that’s when it happened. Somehow, the bowl tipped and most of the eggs landed on the floor, dripping their way down the cabinets.

I just stood there for a moment, looking at the oozing mess. When I was younger, I think I would have cried. As a senior citizen, I weighed my options. Might as well take a picture of this mess, I thought. It could be the basis for a blog.

After doing an initial cleaning that at least got the surface mess up, I opened the egg carton to find only one egg. Oh well, I thought, so I don’t eat breakfast. No big deal.

I beat the last egg into the remaining egg mixture, checking the time. It was now 10:00. My workout was at 10:30. As I poured the eggs into the pan, I could hear my husband clumping towards the kitchen.

Okay, back on track, I thought. I turned away from the stove to check on the rolls warming in the oven. When I came back, I noticed the eggs had cooked nicely in the pan. It looks almost like an omelet, I thought and decided to give the eggs a flip. The result was the best looking omelet I’ve ever made.

And yes, ladies and gentleman, that is the story of my life. Sometimes from the pits of a disaster, I’ve rescued the situation to create a success. I never give up. I just keep on keeping on. Why not?