About Me

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I was employed at Cozen O'Connor, an international law firm. I worked at the largest office in Philadelphia when I had my stroke on April 8, 2009, in the middle of the night. It took me a year to realize I could never go back there. It also took that long to realize I was disabled. I don't embrace the stroke -- not now, not ever -- but I accept it because I have two options: live with the stroke or... well, you know the alternative.

Jan 20, 2015

The Geek Squad and a Stroke Survivor: It's Like Apples Communicating with an Orange

I was desperate. The whole building had a wi-fi outage, meaning that FIOS knocked out my triple play: the television, the Internet, and the phone. And when it came back on, the television, the Internet, and the phone all worked, but the printer was off the network, aka offline. I knew because the blue light was blinking. I had a speech to give in 3 days at a local hospital and I had to key-in my notes and, consequently, print them. So I, in the current vernacular, was fucked.

I texted my son in Boston who works for Google as a network admin.

"How do I get printer back online," I whined.

"Um, who is this?" my son inquired. I thought he was joking. He was not.

"It's your mother, damn it. How could I get my printer to work? It went offline in the wi-fi outage." Frustration comes to me so easily, now that I'm a stroke survivor. 

"Nothing I can do. Call your Internet provider. Or Google it." Google it. He always ends the conversation that way.

So I texted my other son who works for IBM, here in my city, as a programmer with the same question.

"Everybody thinks [and by everybody he meant me] that I'm supposed to know everything about computers," he lamented.

"I just thought--." I couldn't even finish the sentence.

"I'll take a look when I come over on Sunday," he said because he knew that I really, really needed that printout for my speech.

One son in Google. One son at IBM. All 3 of us in IT, and nobody knew how to fix the wireless printer. Huh.

So Sunday rolled around and he took a look at the printer,  sitting himself down on the rocking chair placed strategically, for my benefit, in front of the printer that was 30 feet away from the laptop. He got the password from the router, yet no luck. He left and I called the Geek Squad.


The Geek Squad, originally independently-owned, was bought by Best Buy in 2008, and fixes your technical what-have-you--computers, printers, home theaters, for example--starting at $250 if you're interested in a one-time home repair and in a bind, emergently speaking, less if you could wait longer. They also have phone support which you could pay an initial fee of pennies short of $100 and $10.95 a month. You could cancel the monthly service fee at any time, but the $100 is theirs. They call themselves agents, like the CIA or FBI.

So I elected for the phone support. I mean, how hard would it be to get the printer online, you know? I called, and just so I wouldn't get anyone in trouble who's probably making close to minimum wage, the names I'm using have no connection to reality. Having said that, Richard was my agent.

"Hello. My name is Agent Richard. I know that problems with technology can be frustrating. [C'mon. He was reading off the script]. What kind of problems are you having?" the agent said in a monotonous tone, as if one problem a day was all that he could handle. I told him the story.


He didn't have to tell me that he was a member of the Geek Squad. I could just picture him. You know the kind, where if his house is on fire and flames are shooting through the roof, he might ask you to wait a minute because he has to finish the algorithm. And that ho-hum, flat voice slayed me.

"I'll have to charge you a fee first." [Of course].

After he accepted my card and the initial subscription fee, he took over my computer, after I approved, by his moving the cursor around. I carefully watched, but these guys were good. After he opened ten windows quickly, including 2 with code, I was lost. 

"You need to get a secret code," he said, adding a little intrigue to the mix, "and I'll type it in for you." A bunch more windows opened, and by now, we were thirty minutes in. "I'll transfer you to an engineer who knows about printers."

"Wait  a minute! I thought you were going to fix my printer," I implored, ready to explode from the passive voice. 

"You'll have to wait for the engineer," he said. So besides agents, they now had engineers, too. "You really shouldn't wait more than 40 minutes."

"Forty minutes," I screamed and I was exploding. "Do I have to be on the phone or can he call me back? Do I sit at the printer or the computer?" I was running out of power, on my cell phone, I mean. Two bars. But he had already gone and left me asking the questions to myself and listening to promos for the Geek Squad, over and over, that were playing in the background.

Richard returned 15 minutes later. "It should take a little longer."


"How much is a little?" I asked.

"Well, you don't need to be on the phone. He'll call you back."

I gritted my teeth and hung up. Three hours passed and I needed to get my mail in the lobby. So I stood up, left, and in the distance as I was halfway down the hall, my phone rang in my apartment. When I returned, I got the message the engineer left.

"Hello. This is Myron. I heard you wanted your printer fixed. I won't be here any longer today, but I'll pass the message on." I never got a return call. So the next day, I decided to write to the Geek Squad about the blue, blinking light. Here is the response I got from Phil:

"Sorry to hear that.  The blinking light indicates that the printer is no longer connected to the network – this can be due to a change in the network (a new router or Wi-Fi password), or increased network traffic causing a conflict with the printer’s IP.   Generally, the easiest way of getting a printer back on the network is through a temporary USB connection.  If you don’t have a USB cable, there should be other options for getting the printer online if the printer has a screen with menu options.  If you are available, please let me know so we can create a new session to get your printer back on the network and working with your computer."

I understood the message, but I just couldn't do a new session. Now, I was out of power, but I agreed to the session anyway because I am tenacious. My speech is tomorrow, but I haven't heard from Phil yet. I sent the text of the speech to my son and he's going to print it for me. 

The Geek Squad didn't come through, but geeks are like everybody else. It doesn't take much to just fuck up. And my printer? Don't ask.



Jan 1, 2015

Why I Still Have a Flip Phone, aka How I Missed the Smart Phone Era

"I want to put a ding in the universe." ~ Steve Jobs

And ding it was, partly because of the I-Phone which Jobs helped create, which led to more Smart phones manufactured by a slew of companies. I'll give you a visual history of cell phones leading to the Smart phone, beginning with the first cell by AT&T in 1946:


















(that's the kind I have)

 




And finally....the Smart phone pictured with the genius, the  smug Jobs.


I don't have an I-Phone or any other kind of Smart phone and here's the reason why: When the Smart phones became really hot in 2007, I changed jobs and ended up at Cozen O'Connor international law firm in Philadelphia with a Blackberry which is a kind of Smart phone, but it belonged to the firm and I didn't mess around with it by learning how to install apps. It simply wasn't mine and I didn't want to rock the boat.

Then I had the stroke in April, 2009, and I had to return the Blackberry by mail in exchange for my shoes and make-up that were in my cubicle. I got a flip phone that served as my lifeline in case anything happened--a fall, a slip, a seizure. But post-stroke, after the first year, I didn't bother to change it. The flip phone was good enough.

But now, 6 years later, I want more. Here's a rundown of the highlights:
--By the 2nd year,  I started to write a book and this blog, both named "The Tales of a Stroke Patient."
--By the 3rd year, I started to go shopping in my wheelchair or walking with my quad cane, depending on my mood which wasn't great. 
--By the 4th year, I wanted braces because the medics, at the time of my stroke, shoved an endotracheal intubation tube  down my throat so I could breath, and in the process, knocked some teeth out. 
--By the 5th year, I was searching for support groups to invite me to their meetings as a public speaker about strokes.
--And now, I desperately want a Smart phone.

So I got in touch with four manufacturers of devices that could help stroke survivors use a Smart phone with only one, operable hand or anybody who drops or loses or uses the phone constantly. For survivors, the phone or case with device could go on your bad hand which leaves your good hand to do all the work. Or the phone with device could go on your good hand leaving your thumb to do all the work. You'll  just have to judge for yourself.  

The ratings of the devices were done on the following: ease of use, comfort, durability, and cost, with 5 being the highest. I refer to the devices as they are known: the FLYGRIP, the goStrap, the LAZY-HANDS Phone Grip, and the Universal ring, all available on Amazon. The search term I used on Amazon was "cell phone [name of device]".

They all come with very strong adhesive backing to stick directly on your Smart phone or the case that encloses it. And you can buy extra adhesive in case the adhesive wears out. Clean your cell phone or case with a dry eraser like Mr. Clean before applying the adhesive backing. Or you can use an antiseptic towelette like Lysol, but leave it dry before applying the device. If your case is the glossy kind, the adhesive stick is "iffy." If you decide you don't want the device, use a credit card to break the seal. 

I had four used cases that were donated by providers and affixed them each with magnetic weights to equal an average 6 ounces for each phone. I used each device for 2 weeks, 2 hours each a day. Now, I was ready to evaluate.


The FLYGRIP:
Ease of use--5
Comfort--5
Durability--5
Cost--$29.95
The FLYGRIP was the best rated in every category. After 5 minutes, I couldn't even detect it on my fingers. It comes in 3 sizes and the only one of the 4 devices that comes with a 60-day, money-back guarantee! It's the most costly, but the guarantee makes it worth it. 


The goStrap:
Ease of use--5
Comfort--4
Durability--5
Cost--$10.20
I found the goStrap the second best. It accommodates everybody because you fit only two fingers through the strap. During 2 hours each day, I was aware of the strap the whole time. It's do-able, but again, I was aware.


The LAZY-HANDS Phone Grip:
Ease of use--5
Comfort--3
Durability--5
Cost--$11.99
The finger grips were easy to put on, but I was aware of them the whole time. My fingers are slender and they just about fit. So if you have exceptionally fat fingers, this product may not be for you.


The Universal Ring:
Ease of use--3
Comfort--3
Durability--5
Cost--$3.92 reduced from 21.99
This ring doesn't have the stability of the other 3. It's awkward in only having one finger through the ring. And if it's really cold weather, the ring would be equally cold because it's the only one made of metal. It's no wonder that it was reduced! The ring serves as a stand for your Smart phone. But seriously. Is that necessary?

So there you have it. At last, I'm going to get a Smart phone with the FLYGRIP! And I'll enter the Smart phone generation quietly, as if I didn't miss anything.




Dec 28, 2014

It's Time for New Year's Resolutions...Again


Last year, at the very same time, I wrote 10 New Year's resolutions for 2014. I referenced the top-10 list that David Letterman, a talk show host for all my foreign readers, uses occasionally, like "The Top Ten Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas"or "The Top Ten Things That You Wouldn't Want to Hear on Christmas Morning." Always creative. Sometimes funny.

So inspired by Letterman, here I go again, "The Top Ten New Year's Resolutions for 2015, Not All Having to Do with Stroke Survivorship": 


10. I'll attempt to find out, from the before and after pics, why I see Marie Osmond's 50-pound weight loss via NutriSystem not seem like 50 pounds. Photoshopped, maybe?




9.  I'll do research on GEICO, the insurance company, and figure out why the ads make no sense whatsoever to me. Maybe it has something to do with the strok.... Nah.


8.  I promise to smile at everyone who insults me, just like Don Keefer in The Newsroom, to throw 'em off the track, like I have something "up my sleeve."



7.  I'll try to not become frustrated when somebody looks at my caregiver, instead of speaking directly to me in my wheelchair, and says, "Does she want to give us her height and weight?" as if I'm invisible. I used to want to knock them the fuck into next month. I still want to smack them.



6.  I'll read the dictionary. My son has done it twice. Remembering is the trick.



5.  I'll figure out an invention for the brain injured, and that includes stroke survivors. Eventually, we fall and lie there, sometimes for a long time, until someone comes to rescue us.


4.  I'm going to stand and walk around once an hour (except when I'm sleeping, but you knew that already). http://stroketales.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-5-ws-and-h-of-getting-up-and-moving.html



 3.  I'll donate more. I have a lot of "stuff" that I just don't need, like watches and books. The time is on my cell phone and I have a Kindle? And do I need 20 pairs of shoes?



2.  I'll find out whether Sony just invented the hack as a publicity stunt for The Interview.


1. And finally, I'll continue saying that it was my right frontal lobe damage to my brain that accounts for my having no filters. So all of you who were offended, get over it.


 Happy New Year, goddammit. See? No filters.

Dec 7, 2014

Speech Therapy Is Done, aka I Graduated from Talking School

I still have the remnants of dysarthria, the speech condition that makes talking tough after the stroke and affects the muscles in the face, particularly the mouth, and respiratory system. But I went to a speech therapist to get help and who I didn't like at first. She was all grim and business-y. Like when she corrected me when I called her a speech therapist instead of the more la-de-da-sounding speech and language pathologist. Drama queen, I said to myself.

Slowly, after two months, she got around to cracking a smile. When she and I were done a month later, she told me that her husband was an egomaniac, that her partying son flunked out of Harvard, and that her stressed-out daughter couldn't get pregnant. I sat there calmly, but I had my own problems.  

Anyway, there were four things I had to remember from the speech wizard: "HOSE." Permit me to explain.  


I started to develop that habit in 11th grade to be sure I could remember all the chemical symbols. When I was in college, and then when I started to work as a professional--a professor, a columnist, a technical trainer--I made lists of words to remind me what should be on the final or what was up for the day. The words didn't have to be in the dictionary. My only job was remembering what they were.  


For example, on the final exam in Sociology, "BIDS" meant sociology was the study of Behavior,  Interaction, Development, and Structure of organized groups of human beings. Or if I were going to teach a beginner class in Microsoft Word, I'd remember "NOPS" which stands for how to open a New file, Open an old file, Print, and Save a current one.  

It was the same way in speech therapy. Thus, "HOSE."


The H stands for Hydration. Make sure your water consumption has been sufficient after you sleep. Your tissues are dehydrated after sleep, naps as well, so it is important to sustain the water in our system. Aside from flushing out waste and and keeping other body parts lubricated, you'll need more water to hydrate your voice if you sleep with your mouth open, if you're sleeping with air conditioner or heating, or if you are allergic to dust particles.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends about 91 ounces of water per day for women and 120 ounces for men. You may need more if you're exercising, so if you are, Gatorade is good for replenishing the electrolytes in your body, but if you have none available, good ol' water is fine, too, in the meantime. Most people struggle to even come close to IOM's recommendations, so you have to focus on drinking, even if you're not thirsty.

Nov 18, 2014

My PT and the Marathon, aka I Want to Be a Contender

I was watching On the Waterfront the other day when Marlon Brando laments and, dare I say, whines, "You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender." 

Coulda been a contender. Huh. Brando's lines were about boxing, but my brain works funny now. I started to think about marathons (I was a runner, but never ran in any races) and that started me thinking, why not? My brain was going into hyper speed with the thought of being in a marathon and I missed the rest of the movie.

Anyway, I had a new physical therapist who used to be a fitness trainer and wasn't used to my weird questions, so I asked: "I want to be a contender," borrowing that line from Brando, "so could you train me to run in a marathon?" 

And surprisingly, she said, "Yes."

I made it clear. "Without a wheelchair, I mean." It could be my imagination, but I think she was sorry she replied so quickly.

The marathon is a running event with a distance of 26 miles and change. The Greeks had the first one back in the day when there were Olympics but no TV. 

Some runners do not participate in a marathon to be victors. Their personal time to finish the race is key, and some runners just want to finish the godforsaken race. Ten years ago, for example, the average marathon time in the U.S. for men was 4 hours, 32 minutes, 8 seconds, for women, 5 hours, 6 minutes, 8 seconds. I might do it in around 3 days, give or take. 

The PT still looked uneasy.  "I'll have to train you for a year," hoping, I think, that I would change my mind.

Of course, after her physical therapy session, I researched and found out that two weeks before the race, I'd have to load up on carbohydrates without increasing caloric intake to enable my body to store glycogen, an energy source, aided by carbohydrates, like potatoes and rice.

After the marathon, the recommendation is to eat carbohydrates for glycogen restoration and lots of protein to prevent muscle failure. So basically, fish and steak, potatoes and rice. I could live with that.

 And after the race, it is also advisable to soak your legs in cold water to get the blood flowing again.

Cold water. That was how Alfred Hitchcock got Janet Leigh to shriek in Psycho. Unbeknownst to her, he directed his assistant to turn off the hot water while she was positioned in the shower, and Janet let out a blood-curdling scream. Cold water does that. I'd do the same thing.

Staying hydrated during marathons is advisable, but over-consumption of water during marathons is not. 

"Drinking excessive amounts of fluid," one article in the New York Times said, "during a race can lead to dilution of sodium in the blood, a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia, which may result in vomiting, seizures, coma, and even death." 

I barely survived the hemorrhagic stroke, which is not a small achievement in itself, but a year of training, frigid water, and possibly death. Nah. I didn't hear enough yet to change my mind. And I didn't finish my physical therapy sessions yet. So I'll let you know.

The big question is, why would I take the time, and a risk of cold-water shock and death, to run a marathon. The hip and flip answer is, it's on my bucket list. Flying in a hot air balloon over the Loire Valley, going tandem skydiving, or riding a mechanical bull are not. They were but not now.

But when I think more deeply about it, I want to spread stroke awareness so other people affected by stroke in the world could run the race, too, and I'd collect money for every mile I ran, preferably all 26 and change miles, and donate all the proceeds to stroke research. Running a marathon would do that.

Nov 17, 2014

Interlude: My Book, "The Tales of a Stroke Patient"

My book about strokes--"The Tales of a Stroke Patient"--was published September 26, 2012, and is not only for survivors but for caregivers, family, friends, health professionals, and anybody who loves to read. The facts are still the same because when you come down to it, strokes suck!

If I could get a stroke, anybody could get a stroke. I had low cholesterol, low blood pressure, no diabetes, a non-smoker, not obese. So WHY? My book offers theories. But more than that, it shows how stroke survivors could re-gain their dignity, self-esteem, and empowerment that somehow was lost in the process. 


Here's my promotion:
“The Tales of a Stroke Patient” making lemonade from lemons….

I just wrote a book about my stroke, all from the patient's—that is, my—perspective. How about taking time to read it!

from the publisher, http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0115053049/The-Tales-of-a-Stroke-Patient.aspx, 

or from Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/The-Tales-Stroke-Patient-ebook/dp/B009J9QC64/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373898600&sr=8-1&keywords=tales+stroke+patient, 

or from Barnes & Noble, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-tales-of-a-stroke-patient-joyce-hoffman/1113052852?ean=9781479712496. 


Don’t want to use a credit card? Message me at hcwriter@gmail.com or Facebook to see how you can get a copy!

Here's the press release from the publisher:

New Book Recounts the Arduous Ordeals of a Stroke Survivor
Author Joyce Hoffman discusses the long and difficult road to rehabilitation 

According to the Center for Disease Control, cardiovascular accidents, commonly known as strokes, account for at least 128,842 deaths annually in the United States. They are not only the third leading cause of death in the nation, they are also the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Joyce Hoffman recalls her own experience as a stroke survivor, and her struggle to recover from disability, in The Tales of a Stroke Patient.

Hoffman begins with the symptoms that preceded the sudden and unexpected cardiovascular accident that left her paralyzed and unable to speak. She then recollects her time in the hospital, the hopelessness, fear and frustration she felt, and the slow journey towards recovery she had to undertake. Hoffman recounts her difficulties and misunderstandings with the overworked staff of her rehabilitation center, the long hours of therapy she had to endure, and the progress she made despite her disabilities. In her book, Hoffman also shares important medical advice, as well as a variety of other stories from her life.

With The Tales of a Stroke Patient, Hoffman hopes to help other stroke survivors re-gain the dignity, self esteem, and empowerment that was taken from them. Her work is a sincere depiction of the disabilities and difficulties countless Americans have to live with on a daily basis, and serves to raise awareness on one of the nation’s most important health issues today.   


Nov 1, 2014

I Triple Dare You to Take The Cleveland Clinic Stroke Risk Calculator, aka When Is Health Ignorance OK?

This situation is purely hypothetical. So here goes. You don't have a crystal ball that will predict the future, and if you knew, really knew, that you had a 50/50 chance of having a serious condition, like a stroke, for example, would you live your life differently?

Think about it while I'll  have you meet Katrina Walker, a woman with a 50 percent chance of having Huntington's, a disease that could cause her death in the next 20 or 30 years. 

She's 28--active, healthy, content, working as an activity assistant at a senior center.

But Walker's mother has Huntington's disease, a degenerative disease that gives Walker a 50 percent chance of having the Huntington’s gene. Jon Fortenbury covers the story of Walker in The Atlantic when he writes, "Huntington’s causes nerve cells in the brain to break down, and typically hits between the ages of 30 and 50, starting with mood changes and depression. In its latest stage it can cause an inability to speak or make voluntary movements. Most people diagnosed with Huntington’s die from complications of the disease, such as choking and pneumonia." 

There's a test for Huntington's, but Walker won't take it, at least not at 28 years old.

"Knowing isn’t going to prevent me from having it. At this point in life, I don’t need to know," says Walker
who agrees that "knowing" would make her anxiety go through the roof. So she prefers to be, according to the myth, an ostrich, putting her head in the proverbial sand and not hearing the outcome of the test.

Fortenbury cites one study in which 15 percent of college students paid to avoid a free herpes test. 
“Unnecessary stress or anxiety” was the #1 reason many college students gave for not wanting to be tested.

There were other studies, too, that Fortenbury offers, like the 2011 study that says "knowing" is more likely to lead to divorce, early retirement, and carefree spending. 

He says, "Knowing your life expectancy is cut by 20 to 30 years is bound to cause some urgency."

For Walker, she doesn’t plan on having kids so she’s not worried about passing on the Huntington gene.

“Right now, I feel like my future is wide open and if I got tested and found out I have Huntington’s, I’d feel like, ‘Well, there’s my future, there’s my fate,’” Walker said. “Right now I have more time and freedom.”

That argument got me to thinking, as I said in the beginning on this post, if you had a test and knew for certain that you had a 50/50 chance of having a serious condition, like a stroke, would you live your life differently?

The Cleveland Clinic has developed a Stroke Risk Calculator with the caveat: "The stroke risk calculator below can be used to assess your risk of having a stroke within the next 10 years. Please note that this calculation is an estimate only - please see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis as there may be other contributing risk factors." 

To try it, if you dare, go to this link: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/tools-quizzes/stroke-risk-calculator.aspx

I achieved a total of 6 out of 27 points with a 10-Year Stroke Probability of 3%. The average 10-year stroke probability is 7.2% for women in my age group. (I am 66). 

But then again, I got a stroke because of medications: http://stroketales.blogspot.com/2014_07_03_archive.html

My bottom line? With only one go-round at life, if my 10-Year Stroke Probability was 50 percent or higher, would I want to know?

It's like the country song by Tim McGraw, "Live Like You Were Dying":
------------
I was in my early forties with a lot of life before me
When a moment came that stopped me on a dime.
I spent most of the next days, looking at the x-rays
Talking 'bout the options and talking 'bout sweet times.

 

I asked him when it sank in
That this might really be the real end.


"How's it hit 'cha when you get that kind of news?
Man, what'd ya do?" He said,

 

"I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin'."

 

And he said, "Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'."

 

He said, "I was finally the husband that most the time I wasn't
And I became a friend, a friend would like to have,
And all of a sudden goin' fishin' wasn't such an imposition
And I went three times that year I lost my dad.

 

"Well I, I finally read the good book
And I took a good, long hard look
At what I'd do if I could do it all again.
And then


"I went skydiving, I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin'."

 

And he said, "Someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'."
------------

I would want to know.

Oct 19, 2014

Enough about Ebola. Get a Flu Shot!

The CDC and the Dallas Hospital are in deep doo-doo. Unlike Vegas, what happened in Dallas didn't stay in Dallas.

In an article by Christina Coleman called "5 Mistakes The CDC and Texas Health Presbyterian (THP) Hospital Made While Handling Ebola," she wrote just a few days ago that 1) Thomas Duncan, the man from Liberia who had Ebola, was sent home from THP the first time despite his fever and his telling the nurse he came from West Africa, 2) improper protective gear, like for Nina Pham, the first person and a nurse in the US to contract Ebola, who attended to Duncan, 3) inappropriate disposal of waste, 4) lack of response by the CDC in regard to the training for nursing staff, and 5) the CDC's endorsement for Amber Vinson, the second person and a nurse who contracted Ebola and who also attended to Duncan, to board a jet packed with132 other people, all contributed to the possible exponential spread of Ebola.


Figure it like this, taking one of many examples: Vinson traveled from Dallas to Cleveland on a plane while she may have been showing early symptoms with Ebola. While in Cleveland, attending to her bridesmaids and their gowns, she may have been sweating or coughing or sneezing and she touched the gowns. 



The bridal shop closed after it was revealed that Vinson had been there and it was confirmed that she had Ebola upon Vinson's return to Dallas. The owner said that no bridal shop workers would go to her store for fear they would catch Ebola and their families would be at risk. In addition, the TSA agent in Cleveland who patted down Vinson was put on administrative leave as an Ebola "suspect." And there it is--the exponential part, or if you don't know what exponential means, think of it as the virus multiplying out of control. Remember, that's just one example. What about the people on the plane and other people in the airport who may have had bodily contact with Vinson?

"The only way that a person can contract Ebola is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is showing symptoms. In other words, if they don't have symptoms, they're not contagious," said President Obama, quoting the CDC.


But could Obama's words change? Maybe, like the government could decide it is airborne. Stuff like that always happens. Remember Saccharine and cancer? 



But take a simple thing like a flu shot. The CDC says, "While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the main flu viruses that research suggests will cause the most illness during the upcoming flu season."

You may ask, why am I quoting the CDC? That is a fair question given that they f---ed up with Ebola in Dallas. I'm giving them kudos because despite what happened in Dallas, the CDC has done wonderful things over time, like this sampling since the CDC's inception in 1946:
 

1949: The US was declared free of malaria as a significant public health problem.
 

1957: National guidelines for influenza vaccine were developed.
 

1964: The first Surgeon General’s report linking smoking to lung cancer was released. It stated that “cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action.
 

1978: Alcorn County, Mississippi, reported cases of the first outbreak of tuberculosis resistance to formerly effective drugs.
 

1982: CDC advised of the possible risk of Reye syndrome associated with the use of aspirin by children with chickenpox and flu-like symptoms.
 

1994: Polio elimination was certified in the Americas.
 

And these more recent ones:
 

2005: Rubella was eliminated in the United States.
 

2009: CDC identifies the novel H1N1 influenza virus. The H1N1 flu pandemic dominated CDC activity for the year, and demonstrated CDC's unique ability to assess and explain the risk.
 

2010: In the aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti, CDC response efforts helped prevent 7,000 deaths from cholera.
 

So if you have had a stroke or any condition where your immunity is compromised, you need to take steps to fight the flu. First and foremost, get a flu vaccine. Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine. Look around. In case you've been in hibernation, they're offered at pharmacies, health centers, and many local colleges, too.
 

In case you did get a shot and still contracted the flu, the antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious health problems that can result from the flu. You might consider getting a pneumococcal vaccine to protect against pneumonia. Pneumonia is an example of a flu-related complication that can cause death. Pneumococcal vaccines may be given at the same time as flu vaccines.
 

The height of the flu season is from November til March. November is two weeks away. There's still time.

Oct 6, 2014

Selfie Helped Woman Who Was Having a Stroke: She Captured the Whole Thing

One of the many dictionary-type websites defines selfie as, "a photograph that one takes of oneself with a digital camera or a front-facing smartphone, tablet, or webcam, especially for posting on a social-networking or photo-sharing website." 

I have done so myself in a moment when I wanted to capture myself with a new hairstyle or a new outfit, albeit without posting it anywhere. Selfies are pure vanity moments, but so what? Everyone is allowed. And hardly no one takes one selfie. It has to be right. The least I took was three--I won't tell you the most--and I was on break and had nothing to do but photograph myself. 

Thanks to one woman's stroke selfie, she has put a "face" on the symptoms. Back in April, 2014, Stacey Yepes, from Ontario, Canada, started experiencing stroke-like symptoms. Her docs from the ER told her that her symptoms were just stress and sent her home. Later, it happened again on the way out of the hospital's parking lot.
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During that second attack, Yepes recorded a selfie on her Smart phone. When she arrived at the ER again, doctors saw the picture and knew for sure she was having a stroke. (I believe the correct interjection here is "duh").

One vascular neurologist, Elizabeth Carroll, D.O., serves as South Austin Medical Center Stroke Medical Director who saw Yepes stroke selfie. Dr. Carroll says when Yepes initially experienced stroke-like symptoms that went away, she probably had a transient ischemic attack (TIA).

"They come and they go," says Dr. Carroll. "People are visual a lot of the time. When they actually see something happening it's much more effective potentially than if they read about or if they had a friend who had it. But that actual visual seeing it I think is very potent for a lot of people."

Yepes had it all: face numbness, slurred speech, difficulty walking. And yet the doctors dismissed her as being stress-related. That proves my point, shared by many: Doctors don't know everything, especially about strokes.

“It’s hard to say why there was an incorrect diagnosis initially, but things like that can happen,” Dr. Markku Kaste, of the World Stroke Organization, said. “Still, the quicker you go to the hospital, the higher the likelihood of a good outcome.”

Dr. Kaste is right, but Yepes had to go to the hospital twice, to give the doctors a chance to issue the correct diagnosis as a do-over. Couldn't they tell from her classic symptoms? The doctors probably missed the lecture on strokes in medical school. Good grief. There's no excuse.