Category Archives: Health

Remission 12th anniversary

Photography by Miriam Hurdle

I was diagnosed with a rare melanoma cancer in July 2008. None of the doctors who treated me had seen it. It started with stage I or II but turned into stage IV within a few months. I completed the year-long bio-chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation on August 1, 2009. Today marks the 12th anniversary of remission. I’m thankful to be alive, enjoy my family and have the joy to watch the grandchildren grow. I have been writing about my cancer journey since 2016. The distance from the event allows me to have reflection and a proper perspective. It will be a part of my legacy to pass on to the generations to come. This was a one-day-at-a-time journey of faith, hope, and strength. It was a journey cheered and supported by family and friends.

To celebrate the 12th anniversary of my remission, I wanted to share an excerpt with you. The working title of my legacy is The Winding Road, and I’m working on the tagline.

Chapter 2

The hysterectomy surgery was on July 31st, 2008. I wanted to rest for two or three weeks after the surgery before returning to work when the new school year began. 

My husband, Lynton, drove me to St. Jude Medical Center which was 3 miles from home. He stayed with me until the hospital attendant transported me to the surgery room. After the attendant and nurses lifted me onto the surgical table, the anesthesiologist called my name and introduced himself to me and said Dr. Gray was on the way. Before I smiled at him, the blackness came upon me. 

I woke up in the hospital room in the afternoon. There was no pain in the abdomen. Perhaps the anesthesia was not worn off yet. Lynton came with a bouquet almost the same time I woke up. He stayed with me until dinner time and said he would call me early in the morning. It was a relief that the fibroids I had for years were out for good.

At 10:00 p.m., Dr. Gray came to the room and greeted me with a smile. I returned a grin with apprehension because no doctors would visit patients late at night unless there was an emergency. He sat down by the bed. “The surgery went well,” he said, “and I wanted to share the pathology result with you.”

My puzzling grew but nodded and kept smiling.

“The pathology result shows that the vaginal mass was melanoma. I’ve never seen it before, not in vagina, so I did some research. The research shows that melanoma is the most aggressive, invasive and dangerous cancer.”

He detected the perplex on my face, and said, “It looks like it’s in stage I or II, the beginning stage and the cancer has not spread into other parts of the body yet.”

I wanted to ask questions, but my mind went blank. What questions could I ask? The moisture saturated my eyes.

“I have lined up the referrals for you to see the specialists for treatments. Call my cell phone if you have questions. I’ll start my vacation tomorrow.” He handed me a note with his phone number. It seemed like he did a lot of homework that afternoon.

“But you’ll be on vacation,” I said, still tried to find words.

“That’s what a cell phone is for.” he smiled. “I’m glad God put you in my care.”

His visit transported me to the thickest fog in the dark.

~ ~ ~

The next day, I still had no pain after the anesthesia was worn off.

Lynton called me around 9:00 a.m. to let me know he was coming to see me later that day. He told me his dad passed away, and he was on the phone with his siblings. His dad had been in Loma Linda ICU since last Wednesday with a heart-attack and a kidney infection. The infection went into the blood and his condition went downhill. After the infection was gone, he was on dialysis to give the kidney a break to see if it could be reversed. Lynton and I went to see him last Wednesday. He was unconscious when we got there. The entire family of twelve people were there talking to each other about the latest progress. Lynton’s dad heard our voices and opened his eyes. We went close to his bedside to hold his hands and spoke to him. His eyes sparked a little and then went back to unconsciousness. That was the last time I saw his dad.

“Would you ask your family to schedule the funeral service after I get home from the hospital? I want to be there.”

“Don’t worry. My family will consider that when they plan for the funeral service. I’m on my way to the hospital to see you.”

When he arrived, I gave him the news. He faced me with the brooding look and said he would research on melanoma as soon as he got home.

“How are you feeling?” the nurse came in to check on me.

“I’m feeling very well with no pain. Can I go home today?”

“The attending doctor is not here yet. Let me check your incision and change the dressing. I’ll let the doctor know of your condition. He has to authorize the discharge.”

The doctor came in an hour later. After checking my progress, he authorized the discharge.

“Thank you, doctor,” I said to him while my mind spun at a record speed, miles into the search engine, chasing the meaning of melanoma.

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The Covid Effect – Vaccinated or Unvaccinated

The US President Biden announced on Thursday, July 29, 2021, that people will get $100 in payment to get vaccinated! Here’s the story leading up to the current news.

The IMF and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The Covid-19 Devastation

The first announcement of pandemic and lockdown in California was March 2020. In the following nine months, Covid cases and deaths throughout the nation spread like a plague. The entire world was in a helpless and desperate state as the scientist wasted in no time to find a solution. I developed a spreadsheet to track the numbers and paid attention to the cities, states, and countries where I have family and friends.

I canceled my trip in March 2020 to be with my daughter for the birth of my younger granddaughter, Nora. My husband and I didn’t go to my niece’s wedding in October 2020 in Hong Kong. We didn’t go to my husband’s niece’s wedding in November 2020 in New York.

We watched the news and waited. Then Pfizer and BioNTech announced on December 11, 2020, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the emergency use of the mRNA vaccine against Covid-19. The authorizations of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson were issued early in 2021. The news highlighted President Biden and Vice-president Harris received the vaccines.

Source: Pfizer

The Hope

People lined up for miles waiting to get the vaccination. Some even drove from New York to Florida to get their shots. In the months to come, individuals and organizations volunteered to make appointments for the folks who couldn’t get through the busy phone lines. Again, individuals and car rentals stepped up to give rides for many to the vaccination sites. Mobile clinics delivered vaccines to some hard-to-reach neighborhoods.

The Relief

After the spring break for schools in 2021, the cases and deaths declined steadily, showing a sign of recovery in the society. There was such a relief of hope that life will become normal again. President Biden promised that there would be a July 4th Independent Day celebration. There was!

We watched the Washington D.C. spectacular fireworks with such excitement. I made up the lost time in visiting my daughter’s family. We have visited them and enjoyed the granddaughters in March, May, and June 2021, and have scheduled at least the next trips in August and September. Our church met in person on June 20. The adult fellowship and women’s groups scheduled different small group gatherings. I’ve attended almost two meetings a week. I also attended my chorale rehearsal held in a member’s backyard.

 Déjà Vu

The month of July has seen Covid-19 cases in the United States increase at the fastest pace since last winter, marking the start of the latest wave of infections to afflict the nation. A new STAT analysis of Covid-19 case data reveals this new wave is already outpacing the spring and summer waves of 2020.

Source: Statnews July 26, 2021

“The current COVID-19 surge in the U.S. – fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant – will steadily accelerate through the summer and fall, peaking in mid-October, with daily deaths more than triple what they are now.

“In that scenario, at the peak in mid-October, there would be around 60,000 cases and around 850 deaths each day. Each scenario also includes a range of how bad things could get – the very worst end of the range for the most likely scenario shows about 240,000 people getting infected and 4,000 people dying each day at the October peak, which would be almost as bad as last winter,” says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina.

Lessler notes that there’s a lot of uncertainty in these projections and that how things play out depends on lots of factors.

Source: NPR July 22, 2021

The Skepticism of Vaccination

Rochelle P. Walensky, Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointed out that the new surge became a pandemic of the unvaccinated. The outbreaks of cases in parts of the country are higher because of the high percentage of unvaccinated people who are at risk. And the communities that are fully vaccinated are generally doing well. The news reports showing that those being hospitalized or dying of covid-19 are overwhelmingly unvaccinated.

NPR reported that the vaccine rollout reached a critical stage in which most adults who wanted the vaccine have gotten it, but many others were holding out. There were 12 influential social media users have impacted the outcome. These 12 individuals are well known to both researchers and the social networks. They include anti-vaccine activists, alternative health entrepreneurs and physicians. Some of them run multiple accounts across the different platforms.

Source: NPR May 13, 2021

Vaccine Incentive Programs

As of July 28, 2021, at least 189,494,180 people or 58% of the population have received at least one dose. Overall, 163,588,042 people or 50% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

On Thursday, July 29, President Biden called on state and local governments to use funds from his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offer $100 payment to individuals as incentive to get vaccinated. The payments would be offered to newly vaccinated Americans.

Source: ABC News

Do incentives work? Yes… and no. Some people are motivated by cash incentive but some are not.

On May 27, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom launched the $116.5 million vaccine incentive program – the biggest in the nation – to boost vaccinations as California prepares to fully reopen the economy June 15, $100 million in $50 prepaid or grocery cards for the next two million newly vaccinated people, and $16.5 million in cash prizes for all vaccinated Californians.

Ohio’s Vax-a-Million lottery program, which offered $1-million prizes and full-ride four-year college scholarships to vaccinated people. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests lottery incentive programs do not increase the likelihood that individuals will become vaccinated.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and winners of the “Vax for the Win” lottery in Los Angeles last month.

Vaccination Mandate from Employers

President Biden announced Thursday a strict new vaccine requirement for US federal workers, the nation’s largest workforce with some two million people. The order requires employees to show proof of vaccination or be subjected to mandatory testing and masking. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying, and will die, who don’t have to die,” Biden said in the East Room of the White House.

After months of encouraging employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19, companies are beginning to roll out mandates – a dramatic escalation of Corporate America’s approach to halting the spread of the virus.

On Wednesday, Google and Facebook became the first two Silicon Valley giants to issue mandates of their own.

Here are the companies that have announced Covid-19 vaccine requirements for at least some of their employees:

Google, Facebook, Twitter (TWTR), Netflix, BlackRock (BAAPX), Morgan Stanley (MS), Delta, Disney, Saks Fifth Avenue, The Washington Post, Ascension Health, Lyft, and Uber. The list is growing.

~ ~ ~

What do you think about vaccination?

Do I enjoy being poked by the needles? No, I don’t. I’m allergic to some unknown medications to me and my doctors. The allergic reaction caused inflammation to my entire body and I ended up in the hospital in March 2018 and November 2019. Yet, I signed up on three scheduling sites to line up for vaccination. I only got a sore arm from the first shot and a mild rash from the second shot.

My son-in-law is one who fears needles since a kid. My daughter and he signed up to fill the spots when individuals failed to show up for the vaccine. At the time they signed up, only the folks 65 and above were eligible. They received notification for the availability and went from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver, Washington to receive the vaccine. I was there visiting them when they had the second shot. My son-in-law rode his bike for more than an hour from his home to the clinic to take his mind off the fear of the needle.

During the sixteen months lockdown, the one frequently asked question was, “When can I go see my grandchildren?” I asked the same question many times. I only visited my granddaughters twice during the first twelve months of pandemic. My daughter and I had several discussions on this matter. We had the same understanding that I might be at risk of virus and could pass it on to the babies. For the benefit and well-being of everyone in the family, it was not wise for me to go.

Going to visit my granddaughters became my motivation to get vaccinated. I was so excited to receive the second vaccine several days before my trip to Nora’s first birthday. I had an allergic reaction after the second shot, but my daughter said one of her friends also had rash. After taking ibuprofen for several days, my rash went away.

Some people do not take the vaccine for medical reasons. A long-time friend suffered from the collapse of both lungs. One lung is nonfunctioning, and the other lung has 22% breathing capacity. The doctor didn’t recommend him to take the vaccine in case he had an allergic reaction which might worsen his breathing.

The vaccine incentive may not motivate all the unvaccinated people to take the vaccines. I hope that when large companies step up to require their employees to prove the vaccination status to return to work. This mandate plays a heavier weight on motivating people to take the vaccines even though it’s not their preference.

In the meantime, I wear the mask when going out to protect myself and others. Stay safe, my friends!

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #91: Simplicity

Patti Moed invited us to focus on the theme Simplicity this week as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads and intensifies, many of us around the world are spending a lot of time at home, following governmental regulations to shelter in place.

As of April 6, 2020, California has 15,221 cases reported and 351 deaths, according to a New York Times database. The government issued the rules of wearing masks outdoor and when shopping.

 

We have tried our best to stay home and keep things simple. We set up a home gym with workout bench, dumbbells, and treadmill. Hubby has a manikin to practice boxing. He runs in a nearby park. I walk around a nearby lake or in the neighborhood.

1. morning walk

2. morning walk

 

We eat simple food with eggs, avocados, tomatoes, and fruits for breakfast, vegetables and alternate chicken and salmon for dinner. The shopping list is simple, so Hubby only goes once a week for a quick run. I rarely go to the stores.

3. breakfast

 

To increase physical activity, I do more gardening when weather is clear. I planted some seeds for gladiolus several years ago. They multiplied, and some flowers grew under a grapevine last year, not getting enough space and sunlight to grow. I dug them up last week and transplanted to another area to grow better.

4. flowers3

5. gardening5

 

My daughter has a Tinybeans.com account where she posts photos of her kids and family activities. I checked the account every day to look at the photos and videos. They give me much joy and I look forward to them every day. The daycare is closed, so Autumn stays home. She plays in the backyard, rides her balance bike or skateboard in the nearby park or on the street.

6. Autumn skateboard2

 

Stay safe and please share with me in the comment how you maintain simplicity yet keep your life interesting.

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #91: Simplicity

 

 

Merry Christmas

It has been a challenging time for me since the beginning of November. I have an allergic reaction toward something, possibly medications. After having gone to the Urgent Care twice, Emergency Room twice, hospitalized for five days and seeing eight doctors, no doctor could pinpoint what happened to the constant inflammation of my skin. All they could say was to ask me to discontinue this and that medication. I will discontinue ALL my medications in less than a month. What a motivation for me to get rid of all the medications I have been taking. They gave me some treatments such steroids and antibiotics. I spent Thanksgiving in the hospital and was hoping not to miss all the celebrations in Christmas.

 

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Messiah Performance

3.IMG_5776 (2)

Messiah Performance

With great effort and determination, I gathered my energy and ensured a pleasant appearance; I managed to sing in one of the two performances of Messiah. I couldn’t sing in the first one because I was still miserable. Laying in my bed, I could hear the choir singing. My disappointment was no greater than my motivation. I quietly plead for good health the next day so that I could sing. Oh, what a miracle! I woke up feeling the coolness of my body. It was a great joy for me to spend hours to prepare myself. The photos showed my red face (with no make-up) from the inflammation. My friends in the audience were happy to see me.

 

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Retirees singing to the retirees

I also got to sing in one of the two chorale concerts. I missed the first one when the group sang in a retirement home. The second one was as fun when we sang to the fellow retirees.

 

4.Bible study2

Precious group of ladies at the Christmas dinner

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Joy to the World celebration

There were two Christmas parties I was delighted to go and had fun seeing my friends of thirty years. One was the ladies Christmas dinner, and the other was the adult fellowship Christmas party.

I haven’t seen the end of the tunnel yet. I’ll still must take a blogging break until my health is fully recovered. Until then, I wish you all

A Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

SoCS 2019.10.05 – Healthy Taste

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “-tast-.” Find a word that contains “tast” and use it in your post. Enjoy!Linda G. Hill

For health reason, Hubby and I are on a low carbohydrate but tasty, healthy and balanced diet. When he retired in 2016, he said, “You have been cooking for me for twenty years. From now on, I’ll do all the cooking.” He has kept his words literally. We eat two meals a day. He makes a tasty and colorful brunch with eggs, fruit and vegetable. For dinner, he makes tasty salmon and different vegetables. Once in a while, he makes thin crust pizza and continues to improve on his secret recipe. Two or three times a year, we have barbecues with lean meat.

For dining out, I usually have seafood and he has steak. Basically, we stay away from fat and starchy food.

 

 

brunch 2017.08.28

Brunch – Hubby’s portion, half size for Miriam

2018 pizza 1

Thin Crust Pizza – Pepperoni for Hubby, Veggies for Miriam

2017 BBQ

Barbecue dinner with homemade potato chips

Crusted New York Strip

Dining out – Hubby’s dinner

Cedar Planked Salmon

Dining out – Miriam’s dinner

 

 

SoCS 2019.10.05 – Healthy Taste

 

 

 

 

 

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