by Dennis Townsend, Contributing Writer
Do we take life for granted? When you’re young you have the feeling of invincibility and you see yourself living for a long time and retiring at an age where you can still enjoy the fruits of all your labor. You expect your health to be at a point that while you may feel the early stages of arthritis, it’s nothing that’s going to incapacitate you. But what if life throws you a curve ball and right at the time you were ready to retire, you have a stroke? My sister-in-law was the unfortunate victim of a "apoplexy", better known nowadays as a stroke, at the age of 67. On November 21, 2013 the person that we all knew, the person that was so full of fun and laughter, the person who kept us amazed at the way she could emulate Patsy Cline at her impromptu concerts at the kitchen table, was unable to communicate.
Sandra Kaye Lambdin was the last person we thought would become a total invalid and as a matter of fact, we thought she would be the one rocking on the front porch telling the old stories to the grandchildren long after most of us had gone.. There were no signs of heart trouble prior to the stroke so needless to say we were all caught by surprise. Truth is, more than 200,000 Americans die of strokes each year and hundreds of thousands are incapacitated by this sudden “striking down” affliction. It’s times like these that we really come to grips with our vulnerability and realize just how fragile the human brain is. Each part of the brain is involved with a different part of human activity; one part controls speech, one part controls the arms and legs on one side of the body, another controls the muscles in the mouth and so on. A stroke is the stoppage of blood to certain parts of the brain and it can be caused by a number of disorders or malfunctions in the blood vessels. There are different kinds of strokes and they go from mild, little strokes, to massive in which it may not be fatal, but it will immediately be reflected in some parts of the body. It is said that a non-fatal massive stroke patient has a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years of unrecognizable faces, lost memories and constant seizures.
Sandy was the one spoiling all the grandchildren and knew exactly what each one wanted for Christmas. Grandchildren who now are just shadows in her mind. She spends her days straining to understand what her daughter Tina is trying to tell her, but after a while she becomes so frustrated that she lashes out in what can only be described as a damnation of her solitary confinement inside of a now irreversibly damaged brain. She cannot speak and for us to see someone who spent her life as a saleswomen, and who possessed the proverbial “gift of gab” with a singing voice that could give Dolly Parton a run for her money, it’s heartbreaking. And even though it looks like Sandy’s brain is permanently afflicted, there is the thought that she can think clearly but she just doesn’t have the ability to communicate. That could be the main reason for her bouts of anguish and despair that has become her constant companion. Recovering from a massive stroke sometimes requires months or even years of intensive physiotherapy to prevent the deterioration of muscle. Sandy now requires constant care which required moving her out of her home where she lived alone and into her daughter’s house where she could be easily cared for. That officially gives her daughter Tina the title of caregiver and we all know, especially military families, the gamut of difficulties that goes with that title.
Are there warning signs that a stroke is imminent? They say that many of us have warning signs in the form of unnoticed “little strokes”. Dr Walter Alvarez, an authority on these little strokes once stated ; “One of the commonest diseases of man, is that in which, over the course of 10 or 20 years, a person is gradually pulled down by dozens or scores of thromboses (clots) of little arteries in the brain .” In reality these little strokes are common but physicians are not familiar with all the peculiar things that happens to individuals who have these little strokes, and therefore they go unnoticed. Little strokes are an indication that all is not well inside the blood vessels that feed oxygen to the brain. Recognizing little strokes and acting swiftly could prevent the “big stroke”, the one which leaves the permanent injuries including paralysis.. Strokes do not discriminate and age makes very little difference so everyone should be familiar with the warning signs of a possible stroke. The American Heart Association uses the acronym F.A.S.T., Face drooping, Arm numbness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911. Time is the enemy here, and you want to get medical attention immediately if you feel any symptoms that you think is associated with a stroke.. Whether one recovers from a stroke depends on the severity of the stroke and how long the brain was without oxygen.. Sandy survived the stroke in the sense that she is still breathing, and her heart still beats, but how do you define her quality of life? We are all happy that she is still with us, but it shows in her face everyday that she is not. We may call it a blessing, but knowing Sandy as I do, she’d be quick to call it a curse. And I would have to agree with her.
Alzheimer's and dementia prevention is a continuous learning process for medical researchers. While some prevention methods for these diseases show positive results, there still are many factors to consider. Below are some possible ways to help prevent Alzheimer's and related dementia. While Alzheimer's Disease and dementia are two different diseases, dementia can sometimes be a symptom of Alzheimer's. Improving memory and brain function can aid in prevention of both.
Exercise the Body
Studies have shown that physical movement, such as exercise can help with memory and cognition. Activities such as playing basketball, swimming, hiking, yoga, and bike riding all are forms of exercise class. Other options include taking fitness classes, going for walks, playing at the playground with children or grandchildren, or even just strolling around the wall.
Exercise the Mind
Exercising is not all about physical movement either. The main needs constant stimulation as wel. Reading, writing, math problems, board games, card games, and word puzzles are several ways to keep the brain working. Consider going to school or taking an educational class on any point of interests. This could mean either hobbies, possible career ventures, or even both.
Taking the classes mentioned above is one way to stay social. Also think of going to events, get-togethers with family and friends, group camping, and more. Any time spent interacting with others in a positive way may aid in the prevention of Alzheimer's and dementia.
Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Eating a healthy balanced diet consistently has also shown to be a prevention method for both Alzheimer's and dementia. Talk to your doctor and nutritionist about the types of foods you should be eating and stick to the plan. Maintaining a regular and healthy diet is a great way to aid in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's. It's a also a great way to take care of your body and health in general. Omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, and fruits are all especially good for this purpose.
Take Vitamins Regularly
Taking the appropriate vitamins daily as directed can aid in disease prevention. Alzheimer's and dementia are no different in this regard. Folic acid, B6 and B12 are extremely helpful, as they help lower homocysteine levels. Lowering homocysteine levels may help slow down progression of Alzheimer's Disease.
* Note that the author is not a licensed medical professional. The above is intended for informational purposes only. Always speak to a licensed medical doctor about your health.
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*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Breast milk has long been the best way to nourish an infant. However, can it also play a role in providing nutrition and guarding against disease in adults as well? It would seem that if it prevents breastfed infants from contracting certain diseases and illness that it just may do the same for others as well. In fact, there are people who are using this controversial form of nourishment to help guard against certain illnesses and even to help fight certain diseases and conditions, like Cancer and Crohn's Disease. So, is there a real benefit?
While there is no documented evidence specifically on using breast milk in adults, there is however, a real possibility that breast milk compounds could cure cancer. In 1995, scientists at Lund University used a compound found in breast milk called human alpha-lactalbumin to kill brain tumor cells in a test tube. It seemed to have worked. The same research team, in 2004, used the breast milk compound to destroy many warts caused by HPV, creating the possibility that it could be used to treat cancer caused by HPV.
Howard Cohen, diagnosed with prostate cancer, drinks breastmilk in smoothies and believes that it has helped put his cancer into remission. A woman named Patty uses breast milk to help treat her 15 year old son for Crohn's disease. She claims that using the breastmilk has helped to control her son's dietary habits and other symptoms, so that he could again return to a normal weight. Many Crohn's patients suffer weight loss from frequent bowel movements and other dietary symptoms.
Many believe breast milk can heal or help conditions such as cancer, Crohn's disease, infections, rashes, and more. Breast milk is already used by many as a topical agent for many different skin ailments, however drinking it beyond the infant stage is not widely discussed.
The main risk that comes to mind for the use of breast milk by adults is that if the milk was used from an unknown source, there might be a risk of catching a disease if the woman who supplied the milk had a disease. There could be other risks, but since little to no scientific study has been done on adults using breast milk, it would be impossible to say for sure what other risks may be present.
Another problem lies in the fact that even if an adult has the need for breast milk and knows someone who is lactating, they may not be comfortable asking that person and if they do ask that person, she may not always be willing to donate her milk for that purpose. That's when the adult has to seek out alternatives like milk banks, which may or not provide breastmilk to an adult with or without a prescription. Also, if they do get the breast milk from a milk bank, they do not know the source or whether she had diseases or not. Milk banks will screen their donors. However, as with any test, there is risk of inaccuracies.
That said, the main possible risks regarding health is the fact that risks are unknown, coupled with the fact that some diseases might be undetected and be spread through the breast milk.
Why Not Try It?
Some people might be hesitant to do this for many reasons. Fear of ridicule could cause a hindrance for many people. Fear of the unknown could be another possible reason for people not wanting to try this. Still others might just be grossed out even by the thought of it. They may think it is either unsanitary or just eerie. There could be many reasons a person might not want to try this. Also, there is the lack of convenience, as there are very few breast milk banks willing to provide breast milk for adults with prescriptions. Most breast milk banks supply only to preemies or infants with otherwise weakened immune systems.
When deciding whether or not this is an option for you, all factors must be considered. Think about whether this will gross you out, whether what your family and friends think will matter to you, and weigh all the risks associated with doing this. Also, a medical professional should always be consulted in your decision. Not only will the medical professional tell you if it's needed and whether it's right for you or not, but in most instances, you cannot be supplied with the breastmilk without a prescription. Whatever decision you choose, be sure you are comfortable with it and any situation that may arise from the choice you have made.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Thousands of women are diagnosed with Cervical Cancer every year. Some may live to tell their stories. Others may not. I dealt with this frightening condition twice and I feel grateful that I was able to move on and remain healthy and alive for my children.
The Struggle Begins
It all started out on a good day that would eventually turn bad. My (then) husband and I were going about our normal weekend routine. He was watching television and I was playing with the kids. All of a sudden I felt this excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. It was so horrible that I could not stand straight.
I was pregnant, so I thought it was related to the pregnancy. Boy, was I in for a shocker. The pain just would not subside after resting and other attempts at relief. It did fade away some, but by nightfall, I realized it wasn't going anywhere, so we headed to the ER, leaving the kids with my mom.
Receiving The News From The ER
At the ER, I explained that I was pregnant, but not too far along. I hadn't even seen an OB/GYN yet because we just found about the pregnancy not even a week earlier. After numerous blood tests, an IV drip (in case I was just dehydrated), and the dreaded pap smear test (an uncomfortable vaginal swab test given to women routinely in detecting abnormalities and STD's), I expected the results to reflect something about the pregnancy. It didn't happen.
The doctors came back to reveal my results and I instantly knew something was wrong. The look on their faces said everything. The male doctor revealed my results to my husband and I. He said that the pap test came back abnormal. "What does that mean?", I asked with concern. Well, basically he told me it meant that some of my blood cells could be either precancerous or cancerous, but further tests would need to be done.
I had to schedule an appointment with my regular physician for that. I asked what this meant for the baby and he gave me a vague answer, only telling me that depending on the outcome of any future tests, my doctor and I would have to discuss it. He wouldn't go any further than that. I had a feeling it wasn't going to be good, but still I pressed on, awaiting the day I saw my doctor.
The Doctor Visit and Colposcopy
During the visit with my doctor, he explained to me about the colposcopy, the procedure they would be doing on me that day. Basically, they use an instrument called the colposcope to look at the cervix and detect any abnormalities. This procedure can cause a miscarriage, being that it is slightly invasive. I went on with the procedure anyway, knowing I needed to have it done.
Unfortunately for me, it didn't take long before they saw it. They commented that the mass of pre-cancerous cells they found was so large and so pronounced that even when they looked at my cervix without the colposcopy magnification, they could see it easily. I was scared to death, but being a mom and a master at holding in feelings to mask them from others (mainly children) in hard times, I did not show my fear.
Instead, I asked the doctor to explain to me everything about the next step to be taken and to be honest with me about the predicted outcome. I told him he didn't have to leave out the medical jargon. I was very interested in hearing it in its entirety. Medicine has always been a subject I studied up on regularly, so I wanted the honest, clear, naked truth, with nothing missing.
The doctor proceeded to tell me that this mass must be removed at the soonest possible appointment availability in the cancer clinic upstairs. If it was not removed, it could spread and become much worse, possibly threatening my life. He put it into much more technical words, as I had requested, and let me know all the risks and why I should have it done.
Of course, I scheduled the appointment that day from my doctor's office. The doctor also told me that the baby I was carrying was at risk of being lost by the procedure and may even have been lost due to the colposcopy procedure, which I had a feeling about from the beginning.
Being the curious person that I am, I had already looked up all this information in my medical books and also on medical websites. I pretty much knew what was coming, but I still felt the need to hear it straight from my doctor. Maybe some part of me had hoped what I read was wrong. It wasn't.
Getting The Pre-Cancerous Mass Removed Via LEEP
Once it got to appointment day to have the mass removed, I thought I was prepared for what awaited me, no matter how horrible it might me. I was more concerned about the baby inside of me, if it was even still there. I had some minor cramps and a small amount of spotting shortly after the colposcopy and hoped it was nothing.
As I walked into the cancer clinic, all I could think about was this poor baby inside of me that had to endure all of this, as well as what my other kids would do without me, should something go wrong and the procedure failed. Something was telling me either my baby wouldn't make it or I wouldn't make it. I'm not sure where the thoughts were coming from. I just knew something was going to happen.
So, fast forward to the procedure, and there I was, lying uncomfortably, with a hospital gown on and three doctors working on burning a pre-cancerous mass out of my cervix.
The procedure was called a LEEP, or Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure. The instrument used is a wire device with a loop at one end that is called a wire loop electrode. It is attached to a generator used for this and other surgical procedures. This causes the wire to transmit an electric current that when placed on the affected area, it cuts quickly to remove the affected tissue. This procedure is very invasive, so there is a high risk of losing a baby if you are pregnant.
The area is numbed beforehand, however, I did feel a sharp pinching on the inside, as it was doing its duty. My affected area was a rather large area, so someone with a smaller affected area may not have such pain, or the pain may be short-lived.
The doctors talked to me throughout the procedure, explaining all the medical terms, as well as discussing other medical-related themes. This is not what they normally do, however, I initiated the medical discussions, as I am highly interested in medical matters.
Anyhow, aside from the pinching, the procedure was not as bad as I expected. It was fairly quick. I seemed to be finished in no time at all. The doctors then, once again, warned me of the things that might occur as a result of the procedure. I might be having some slight bleeding, so I was directed to wear a sanitary pad home, just in case.
Tampons are not allowed after a procedure such as this, due to the risk of infection. Also, my baby might be lost, which would cause abnormally heavy bleeding (heavier than my menstrual cycle). Since the pregnancy was in the early stages, bleeding may be the only symptom I'd experience and I would likely not notice anything else releasing, as the baby might be too small to see at that stage in development.
There were other risks rattled off as well, such as hemorrhaging and a myriad of other complications. I left the clinic with an information packet in hand, should I forget anything they had warned me about more than once. I was relieved that the cancer was likely gone, and that a follow-up appointment would determine that for sure. However, I was overly stressed about my poor baby growing inside me.
The Following Days
Over the next few days (or maybe even a week or so), I experienced heavy cramping and bleeding. The first two days were the worst, as far as the cramps and bleeding went. After those first couple days, I felt somewhat drained inside, energy-wise as well as physically.
To make this horrible part of the story short and less painful, as you might have guessed, I lost my baby. That was likely the cause for the drained feeling. Something (or someone) was no longer there.
I knew somehow that this would happen, however, no matter how much I prepared for this, I still was very upset. It wasn't fair for this poor baby. My follow-up appointment not only determined that my baby was gone, but that the pre-cancerous cells were gone as well.
Moving On To The Happy
There was a positive side to all this. I went on a whole 3 years without any further pre-cancerous or cancerous developments. I got pregnant again and had a happy healthy little girl. One year later, I gave birth to her little brother.
Cervical Cancer Strikes Again
Following her little brother, I felt extremely tired, but chalked it up to having a baby and thought nothing of it. When my youngest son was merely 5 months old, I again found out I had pre-cancerous cells in my cervix. But, the worst part was that I was pregnant again, as well.
I know by now you've got to be thinking that I must have the worst birth control method out there. The truth is, I have tried many different methods (and all good ones) and nothing seems to work for me. The doctors say I'm just extremely fertile - lucky me. Anyhow, here I was in the exact same boat as before, only now it was worse because I knew what to expect.
A Different Method For Destroying The Mass
This time the doctor suggested I go through a different method of ridding the pre-cancerous cells. He was to freeze them, which would kill them off. The basics were about the same as before. I laid onto the gurney in stirrups. The freezing probe was placed onto the affected area.
The difference between this method and the other is that instead of a sharp, pinching pain, I felt a horrible cramping pain. Recovery from this procedure was worse than the last one. The symptoms were the same, but for the first couple of days, I could barely move.
The Outcome and Accompanying Feelings
As you likely predicted, I lost that baby as well. But, I have had no pre-cancerous or cancerous cells since, so I still feel lucky. I do still think of the poor innocent babies, but I feel comfort in knowing that they are at peace and that had the pregnancies come to term, these babies may have suffered health issues or been born too early.
That last bout was about two and one half years ago, so that's two and one half years free of cancerous cells.
My current husband also had a run-in with another form of cancer. Read our story and a little bit about that here:
"Stay Positive - Someone Special is Out There for You"
2017 UPDATE: It has been about twelve years and still no more recurring issues with cervical cancer. I am glad to be here for my children. I've also given birth to another healthy girl (in 2016) and have another on the way. So, for those wondering if kids are possible after cervical cancer, yes they most certainly are.
2018 UPDATE: I'm still free of pre-cancerous and cancerous cells and it has not yet returned and I gave birth to another beautiful girl who was a preemie (but is no longer) in 2017 and one year later, she is thriving, as is our whole family. Though the cause is unknown, we do not think her being a preemie had anything at all to do with the prior run-ins with cervical cancer.
NOTE TO THOSE DEALING WITH CERVICAL CANCER: You are not alone and it is very possible to go on living your life afterward and even to have children afterward. You are strong and you can get through it. Tell cancer that it will not win.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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