03.28.05

Those of you who have read my ramblings over the last couple of years may remember that awhile back I was going through everything in my home to be rid of the excess and pack up only the things I plan to keep.

Next weekend is the "big sale". It is a multi-family bazaar type sale that literally draws hundreds of people due to the advertising.

Last year was Mom's sale. This year ... mine.

I was going through boxes (and boxes and boxes) of stuff that I had stored at Mom's and found my childhood Barbie Doll case.

I did not open the case at Mom's but instead put it in my car to bring home. My intentions were to go through it, make it tidy and sell the whole 'kit-n-caboodle' since I knew that the stuff in there is in excellent condition.

So, a couple of days ago ... I opened the case. Inside was Barbie, her best friend Midge, her little sister Skipper, Skipper's best friend Scooter, Barbie/Skipper's littlest sister Tutti ... and of course, Ken.

The memories of the hours and hours I spent playing with those dolls came flooding over me. I played "Barbies" with my friends. I played "Barbies" by myself in my bedroom. Hours spent dressing those dolls in the glamorous evening dresses, swimsuits, playwear, etc. More hours spent combing the dolls' hair.

Here I am, a grown woman in her 40s ... yet I decided to undress all of the dolls and bathe each. There was no dirt, stains or marks on any of the dolls ... just dust. Ditto for the clothes.

In fact, I carefully hand washed all of the washable clothes. Dried them safely in the shade. Then, very carefully, ironed each piece with obsessive perfectionism.

Two things became somewhat embarrassingly apparent:

(1)   Grownup hands with long fingernails do not easily undress and dress these small dolls.

(2)   I am not ready to let go of that part of my childhood.

I packed the now freshly cleaned dolls, clothes and accessories in a new, sealable (dust free) plastic box and smiled to myself as I put Barbie (and Company) away.

Nope, not ready to let Barbie go.

Perhaps some day. Not now.

[02:00PM MST] [Permalink]

03.24.05

Are you old enough to remember Claudia Taylor Johnson? Doesn't sound familiar?

Perhaps you would better remember her as Lady Bird Johnson? She is the wife of the late President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Well, when I was a little girl, I remember seeing Lady Bird speaking on commercials (which were actually Public Service Announcements) about littering in a campaign entitled "Keep America Beautiful".

That was way back in the 1960s and although I was a young child, I remember that campaign clearly. I remember that it was etched into my brain (not only by the PSAs but by teachers and my parents) that you should not be a "litterbug".

In the 1970s, Keep America Beautiful released another campaign, "People Start Pollution, People Can Stop It". It featured an actor, dressed as a Native American Indian, who stood looking at rivers and open land that revealed pollution and litter ... with a (glycerine) tear coursing down his face.

Although the actor (who went by "Iron Eyes Cody" but was actually born Espera DeCorti of Italian-American descent) was not a Native American and the tear was not real ... I remember being heavily influenced by that commercial and becoming more "ecologically" aware.

I can remember when the highways around Arizona and the main streets of Phoenix were clean ... really clean. It looked like someone came out in the wee hours of morning and swept the sides of the thoroughfares to make everything pristine and beautiful. The roadsides were very clean and all you noticed was the incredible desert, the vast vistas, and the clean sidewalks/gutters in the urban areas.

People did their part to Keep America Beautiful. People did their part to "stop pollution".

What in the Hell has happened?

Everywhere I go ... on highways, parkways, interstate, and urban roads ... litter and trash prevail. Diapers, plastic grocery bags, cans, paper, plastic bottles ... you name it, it lines the thoroughfares in Arizona.

I am sure every city has those signs posted along streets and highways that read, "This next mile adopted by [insert business/individual name here]". The implication is that the entity adopting that mile will fund the cleanup of that stretch of roadway.

Many people think that the company or individual is responsible for the actual cleanup but that is not the case due to the dangerous aspect of picking up trash along a busy roadway. Here in Arizona, the funds allegedly go to the Streets/Highway Maintenance and they are supposed to keep the areas (road sides, medians, gutters) clean and litter free.

So, again ... what in the Hell has happened?

Sure, I realize that the population (especially out here in the western states) is growing at an unprecedented rate. I also realize that miles and miles of new roadway are being constructed daily.

What I don't understand is the fact that most of these miles of roadway are already "adopted" and presumably the funds come in to pay for the cleanup and litter maintenance of these roadways ...

... so again ... what gives?

There have been many generations of drivers since the full out "Keep America Beautiful" campaigns were so prevalent ... and it is up to us to remember ...

Don't Be A Litterbug.

Give A Hoot - - Don't Pollute.

People Start Pollution (and litter) ... People Can Stop It.

[08:20AM MST] [Permalink]

03.16.05

Yes, once again I am watching this season's "American Idol".

I thought the 6 male / 6 female concept was foolish. Especially this season when the talent of the male competitors far exceeds the mediocre skills of 99% of the women.

In keeping with the 6-to-6 ratio, they had to let some guys go that were far more talented than the girls that remained.

Sure, I think Nadia Turner is entertaining to watch (although she does have some odd facial expressions when singing).

Carrie Underwood has a great voice but she is so "countryfied mellow" that she may not stay around because America is looking for a "pop" star.

I am not sure what to make of Jessica Sierra. She can sing but she lacks stage charisma.

Vonzell is (as Simon alluded to last night) ... riding right down the middle. Nothing stands out, nothing memorable.

Lindsey Cardinale just "is". I have yet to be impressed.

The only female of the remaining six that I simply cannot stand to listen to (and would like to have seen leave the competition long, long ago) is Mikalah Gordon. The combination of her "Jersey" accent and her inability to sing without sounding nasal (ala Barbra Striesand or Fran Drescher when they are playing a character) has left me wondering where her fan base came from and if they all having hearing issues!

When R-P-S (Randy, Paula, & Simon) spoke positively about Mikalah's previous performances, I thought they were all three smoking crack. Or perhaps her voice simply did not transmit well in the electronic medium of television but sounded better "in person".

Regardless, she is not my cup o' tea. Nope. No way.

The men? There is a lot of talent in those guys ... each has a different appeal and qualities.

Last night's only male performance that I thought was sub-par was Nikko. His dancing and crotch grabbing did not entertain enough to surpass the fact that he sounded bad - - - way bad.

Tonight should be interesting.

Meanwhile, tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. If you plan to go out and celebrate, please remember that drinking and driving are a dangerous combination ... please have a designated driver.

Have fun, be careful and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

[01:30PM MST] [Permalink]

03.09.05

First and foremost, a hearty and sincere "thank you" to all of you who visited my site and read my 03.03.05 journal entry (below).

To those of you who left comments and/or emailed me directly, I am most sincerely and deeply touched by your kind words and generosity of spirit. To those of you who linked either to my site and/or to the Coalition to Prevent DVT ... I thank you for bringing your readers the information that, perhaps one day, may save their lives.

My DVT/PE experience happened over three years ago and I have not had a reoccurence. Yes, I will admit that I will get a calf pain or maybe a slight pain behind my left knee (reminiscent of the pain I felt prior to throwing the clot) and the alarm in my head prompts me to make an expeditious visit to the cardiologist to have my ProTime checked.

I take a medicine daily called Coumadin. Its generic name is warfarin and oddly enough, warfarin is a rat poison; it terminates vermin by causing them to bleed to death internally and they die. Ugh. Not a pretty picture, eh?

It is a slight challenge to keep my Coumadin levels in the safe range (2.0-3.0 INR) because it is easily affected by the food I eat, the stress I may experience, the exercise I get, additional medicines I may take, and if I become ill (general everyday sickies that we all get).

As I said, I get my ProTime (or clotting ratio) checked regularly. This used to require going to a lab and having a vial of blood drawn but nowadays most "Coumadin Clinics" have small meters that can test the ProTime/INR through a simple finger stick (much like how those with diabetes test their glucose levels).

Living with unusual clotting factor and post Pulmonary Embolism is not difficult; a challenge perhaps, but not difficult.

Do you sit for long periods of time? You know ... like driving, flying, at your job or perhaps in front of the computer? Are you "off your feet" a lot due to illness?

If you can answer "yes" ... it may be a good idea to seek the counsel of your doctor or at least learn the symptoms and prevention of phlebitis and DVT.

Okay, okay ... I know I have beat this subject to death, but I just want you all to be aware and prevent something that could be life threatening.

Meanwhile, thanks again to those of you who wrote, commented and spread the word!

[05:55AM MST] [Permalink]

03.03.05

January 2002. I was rather exhausted. I had been "on the road" for what seemed like days and days.

Sure, they were short "day trips" ... an all day round-trip to Yuma in southwest Arizona and later that week, a drive to Tucson to give a presentation.

Time spent sitting in the car driving mile after mile across the Arizona desert. Sitting ... mile after mile.

I had a slight pain in the back of my left leg but attributed it to unstretched muscles and too many hours in high heels.

At the week end, the exhaustion had taken its toll. I simply was spent. Sure, many times before I returned home tired after these sales trips ... because, as I have said, I am not as young as I used to be.

However, I was not prepared for the next few days.

Every time I attempted to walk, even a few feet, I became winded and horribly fatigued. I would cough. I could not, for anything, "catch" my breath.

Finally, after the urging of my mother, I went to see a general care physician. Just getting to the car, from the car to the elevator, and then into the doctor's office was such an ordeal and struggle ... that even now, I get tears in my eyes thinking of the terror I was feeling.

I did not know this man. He did not know me. I presented to him with extremely low blood pressure and low pulse oxygen levels yet he diagnosed me with pneumonia and sent me home with a super-strength antibiotic saying that if I was not feeling better in a couple of days, to come back.

Coming back did not become an option.

My breathing became more and more shallow. I could not lay down as I could not catch my breath. I sat at the edge of my bed, head hanging to my chest ... struggling for my next gasp of air.

I knew I was in trouble but I was afraid to admit it.

Finally, due to the tears coursing down my Mother's face and the graven look of my friend Ray, I agreed to call "911".

While waiting for the paramedics, I asked my Mom for a hairbrush and a hand mirror.

Dear God, I was deeply cyanotic. My lips were blue, my face was paled to a grayish blue and my eyes were sunken deep with dark circles that even Max Factor could not disguise.

I was dying.

I am not being dramatic. Simply stating a fact.

The paramedics took one look at me and sprung into action. All my veins had collapsed and they stuck me time and time again attempting to get a line started. The lights-n-siren record pace ride to the Emergency Room did not help them "get the stick".

The activity in the ER became a blur ... oxygen masks, IVs in my ankles, EKGs, portable Xray machines, and the doppler on my legs that revealed a blood clot (DVT) behind my left knee.

Finally, the spiral CT confirmed the Emergency Room doc's suspicions: I had "thrown a clot" ... I had a Pulmonary Embolism.

Before they wheeled me to ICU, I heard the doctor tell my mother to call my family as probably I would not make it through the night.

I have had cancer and was told I may not survive. Twice. But at no time did I have the fear that I felt that afternoon in the elevator ... on a gurney, unable to breathe ... with nurses and a doctor as a support system escort.

I spent 3 days in Intensive Care and 13 days in Critical Care.

I learned that due to an existing medical condition, I am the "poster child" for unusual clotting and it was a miracle that it did not happen prior to this.

I surprised them all.

On my last day in the hospital, one of the phlebotomists (the lab techs who came to draw my blood literally every hour due to the heparin dripping into my veins and the introduction of oral anti-coagulants) told me that in the middle of the first night when she came in to take my blood, she knew she would never see me again. She was sure the PE had taken my life and it was just a matter of time.

My brother had flown in from Washington to be at my Mother's side. My family and Phoenix friends came to the hospital's waiting room to lend support. And pray. My internet friends S., N., and J. called the Critical Care Unit to check on my status. And pray.

Oh yes, I am a miracle.

But sadly, I am one of the very, very few who do survive a Pulmonary Embolism. Quoting Melanie Bloom, the wife of NBC correspondent David Bloom who died on April 6th, 2003, in Iraq from DVT/Pulmonary Embolism:

"I have learned that DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a large vein, usually in a leg. A potentially fatal PE happens if the blood clot breaks loose, migrates to the lungs and blocks a pulmonary artery or one of its branches. It has rightly been called a silent epidemic. DVT affects up to 2 million Americans per year and PE causes up to 200,000 U.S. deaths annually more than AIDS and breast cancer combined. While some call it the "economy class syndrome," it in fact casts a far wider net."

You see, David did not have the luxury of time ... he did not lose his breath and seek treatment. His death was quick and nothing could be done for him in the dusty deserts of Iraq. He had sat for hours and hours on end in the cramped spaces of his "Bloommobile". He had leg pain but wrote it off to unused muscles.

March is DVT Awareness Month.

Take it from someone who has been there ... and by the sheer grace of God, survived ... you need to read about and learn the symptoms.

Don't let it take your breath away.

Read About Preventing DVT                                         

[[PostScript: I now take Coumadin (anti-coagulant) daily and will for the rest of my life. I have my INR/ProTime checked every two weeks to see that my blood is neither too thick or too thin. Even on the meds, I do not sit for extended periods of time. My DVT/PE experience left me with permanent pulmonary/coronary issues.   I learned.   The hard way.]]

[11:10PM MST] [Permalink]


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