Tag Archives: stroke

Lab rats

For the past 18 years I have been part of a research group on teachers and cancer. I signed up at a meeting that was held at our school one day, not realizing how long the study would go on. There were a number of female teachers I knew who had been diagnosed with cancer. Many had died. The idea was that there might be a correlation between the profession and the disease.

Over the years there has been an assortment of questionnaires to answer, usually arriving during the summer vacation months, when teachers would have plenty of time to fill them out, asking about our lifestyle, the conditions in which we teach, the foods we eat, etc. I’ve really lost track of the whole thing except when a newsletter would arrive, filling me in on what was going on. That happened a few months ago where I saw a notice that the study was looking for participants who would be willing to provide a blood sample for the research. I emailed that I would do that and received an email saying that the study had not yet reached the San Joaquin Valley, but would be here soon. Yesterday, the phlebotomist called to set up my blood draw in a few weeks. She told me the blood will be stored at one of University of California campuses, but I forget which one. She asked about medications I take, mainly if I’m on any blood thinners, and if I had recently undergone surgery or chemotherapy. Having no health issues, we set a date and time for her to come to my house and take the blood. She also told me I would  receive $10.

Terry is also involved in a long-term health study. His is on stroke and is out of the University of Alabama. He has lost track of how long he has been in the study, but it’s over 10 years. Like mine, he gets a yearly questionnaire as well as a phone call to see how he is doing. When Terry signed on for the study, a doctor came to the house and examined him. A few weeks ago he received a phone call asking him about all sorts of ailments, surgeries, diseases, etc, to which he could answer in the negative for all of them. There was, in addition, a list of medications which he answered no to all of them. The researcher, on the other end, was a bit surprised that a man his age was on no medication and had no ailments. They didn’t ask about hearing. I know Terry doesn’t hear as well as he used to.

my mom journal part 3

Another entry from the journal I kept during the month my mother lay paralyzed in a convalescent hospital after a major stroke.

12/1/00

Betty (my sister) was here when I came, Jen (my daughter) had just left.  So, Mom has had lots of company.  She ate 75% of her breakfast, but she didn’t eat much of lunch.  Jen helped her with it.

Betty brought a TV so she can watch the news tonight.  Her eyes were open when I arrived.  But her speech is not as good.

Betty brought the paperwork she had to sign out @ Kaiser.  She and I both think Kaiser put her out too soon, but she is getting better care here than she probably would have gotten at Kaiser.

Again today she breathe so hard and then more shallow.  Makes me wonder what the hard breathing is all about.

Mom moves her good foot more.  That’s probably good.  I sat and rubbed her feet for awhile until the nurses come to check on her.

from the mom journal, part 2

From the journal I kept while my mother lay in a convalescent hospital after suffering a major stroke.

11/30/00

It’s a sunny fall day.  Here I sit, light filtering in.  I don’t know if Mom can enjoy the sun.  She coughs some.  She talks some.  We talked about food she used to fix.  I think she’s slipping away.  She told me it was OK if she died.  I explained how we weren’t trying to keep her alive, that it is up to her.  If she eats and drinks, she can keep living, but if she doesn’t, she will slip away in her sleep.  Her question had been, “how long does this illness last?”  Good question, Mom.  God knows, but he’s keeping it to Himself.  It’s kind of like a baby, when you don’t hear anything for awhile, you check to see if she’s still there.

We just talked about the birds and bird feeders that are outside Mom’s window.  She remembers feeding the birds.

She keeps saying there’s nothing she likes to eat at mealtime.

She picks at the blanket as if she’s trying to take it off.  She breathes heavily and then less so, more shallow.  She’s twitching.