Another friend has been diagnosed with breast cancer. That's the fourth one I can think of off-hand. Fortunately, all of them have been diagnosed relatively early and treated (all very differently) and other than this latest diagnosis (fingers crossed), all have been free of cancer since then. But I know that's not how it always goes.
That said, these stories of my friends are living proof that what the professionals say is true: get those annual mammograms because early detection is key. All of these women had their breast cancer caught early, which meant all of them had excellent chances of survival. Which is also why I had my annual mammogram last week, like clockwork, and while I often have to go for follow-up ultrasounds (cysts), it should be obvious if anything abnormal shows up and it should be in its early stages.
But back to my friend…
She's currently living across the country from most of her family and friends so it's been a difficult time for her, I'm sure. I imagine she feels pretty alone at times as she prepares for her treatment. (Yes, she'll be fine, but not without some very serious action first.) But I'm proud of how she's handling everything, at least publicly (assuming you consider posting experiences for your Facebook friends public). She's visited places she's always wanted to see, tried new/old activities she hasn't done before or in a long time, and she seems to be facing this all head-on. She's embracing the carpe diem mentality and I applaud her for that. (Thankfully, she has family coming out to be with her when she has her surgery.)
The other day she posted something interesting from a friend. She's had trouble coming to terms with the "m" word, as she put it ("mastectomy"). Her friend instead suggested that she's having a "cancerectomy." After all, isn't that what it is? She's getting the cancer removed, the bad stuff destroyed...this is not her breast's fault, so why blame it? Don't blame the messenger, blame the cancer! Out, out, damned spot!
[Source: a friend of a friend]
While talking to my best friend of many decades last weekend (she lives a few states away), I gave her my usual life updates, and then she proceeded to tell me what seemed like a wild story, but apparently isn't all that uncommon, at least in some respects.
Her sister, who is a few years older than us and lives across the country, was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night with severe abdominal pain. Turns out she had kidney stones, which I understand is incredibly painful, but what else she found out was the real surprise: she only has one kidney. But that's not all. Her one kidney is in the shape of a horseshoe and is not where either of one's normal kidneys should be. What??? (I might add that her sister, my friend, became a registered nurse a few years and she had never heard of this either.)
This woman is in her mid 50s and she's never had any kidney or abdominal issues of any kind, which was the true surprise for the doctors. Apparently her condition is not all that uncommon, though. The disorder is a result of the two kidneys not fully forming in utero, they don’t completely split like they should, each moving up to its appropriate place in the abdomen. Since it doesn't split, it can't move, so the single horseshoe-shaped kidney sits in the "wrong" place.
"Horseshoe kidney," also known as renal fusion or super kidney, is a congenital disorder affecting about 1 in 400 people, more common in men than women. Although often patients are asymptomatic in life (it doesn't get discovered until/unless an autopsy is done), the condition may increase risk for kidney stones (a-ha!), kidney obstruction, kidney infection, and kidney cancer (although risk is still very low).
Learn something new every day.
Check out our kidney-related pre-printed charms.
How to keep from pigging out at that barbecue:
You may not get want to go for a run or make it to the gym, but try these physical activities:
Enjoy the holiday. Stay safe and stay healthy!
[Source: Time Magazine]
Need a medical ID? Why not a smart medical ID. Check out our Fourth of July "flavored" Squid IDs!
June is Men's Health Month, and Men’s Health Week ends on Father's Day. (No, it’s not a coincidence.) So why is it necessary to have such an awareness month? Because seemingly healthy people are sometimes the worst at making sure they stay healthy.
Why not do something for your father's health this Father’s Day? Sure, you can still run out and buy something, even something that's not too expensive (e.g., pedometer, weights, gym bag, water bottle), but here's a better idea: plan an activity that's good for his health. Give him a coupon for a hike, or ask him to go for a walk. How about a round of golf or a game of tennis? How about a bike ride. If your father isn't active or has a medical issue, why not give him an IOU to take him to his next doctor's appointment? Men's health is important. Spending time with your father, if you're lucky enough to still have him in your life, is just as important.
To quote Congressman (and former governor of New Mexico) Bill Richardson from 1994 when Men's Health Month was proclaimed: "Recognizing and preventing men's health problems is not just a man's issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men's health is truly a family issue."
Good point. We all need to look out for each other.
If you do have a medical condition (and even if you don't), consider wearing (or even just having) a comprehensive medical alert ID bracelet or medical alert dog tag - that links right to whatever medical information you want to store. Check out our Squid Squares or Squid Tags so you have all of your crucial medical information with you at all times.
There's a reason why so many medical conditions have months focused on their awareness. Have you ever heard of scleroderma? (hmmm, maybe) Do you know what it is? (nope) And this is what we have to do to make people more aware of rare diseases.
Scleroderma IS NOT:
It's important to know that scleroderma is very complex: it can cause almost no symptoms or it can be life-threatening. While doctors and researchers are doing what they can to learn more and find more effective treatments (and a cure, of course), awareness and sharing of information is crucial. One "share" or "post" or "retweet" can reach hundreds or thousands of people who might not otherwise even know about rare diseases and conditions like scleroderma.
For more information, check out The Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center.
Patients with scleroderma may not feel the need to wear medical IDs, but given that the condition is uncommon and not always recognizable or easily diagnosed, medical professionals need to know what they're dealing with. Consider wearing a Squid Square or a Squid Tag so you have all of your crucial medical information with you at all times.
Memorial Day is a national holiday in the United States for remembering those who died in the armed services. Originally created after the Civil War, it was soon extended to commemorate all Americans who died while serving in the military.
But Memorial Day weekend has also become the unofficial start of the summer season in the U.S. and with that comes sun, swimming, beach-going and barbecues. Oh, and mosquitoes. And sunburn. And too much eating. So here are some suggestions for staying safe and healthy this Memorial Day weekend...
So have a great holiday weekend and take care of yourself! (And please, take a minute or two to remember those who lost their lives to serve our country.)
If you have existing health problems, a holiday weekend doesn't mean a holiday from taking care of yourself and your medical needs. Make sure you wear your medical ID and if you don't have one, consider getting one; in an emergency, medical personnel need to easily identify your condition(s). Some items to consider for summer...
My apologies to George Gershwin.
As you may know, David Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey and a big name among the Silicon Valley set (and the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer), passed away earlier this month while on vacation with his family in Mexico. The cause of death is listed as blunt trauma (he fell off a treadmill and hit his head), but in an autopsy last week, it seems he might have had a heart arrhythmia that contributed to his death. That is, perhaps his heart gave out first, then he fell.
In either case, it was a horrible, unexpected tragedy and at best, we can only try to learn from such an event. While this may be a good time to discuss safely using treadmills (e.g, use the safety key), let's focus on Goldberg's possible arrhythmia and what that condition can mean for you.
Arrhythmia literally means "lack of rhythm." According to the American Heart Association, the term arrhythmia refers to any change in the heart's normal pattern--too fast, too slow, or erratic. "When the heart doesn't beat properly, it can't pump blood effectively."
So what can you do to prevent something like this happening to you? Talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program no matter how old you are. (David Goldberg was only 47.) Make sure you're healthy enough to begin a program and have your doctor do any tests that might be necessary beforehand. While there are sometimes symptoms of arrhythmia, that's not always the case. Why does it matter? Because arrhythmia can lead to, in worst case scenarios, cardiac arrest (a heart attack) or stroke. If your doctor does determine that you have any medical conditions, such as arrhythmia, that need to be monitored, always wear a medical ID, like a Squid ID, so if tragedy does strike, paramedics will be aware of your condition right away and know how to deal with it properly.
It's that time of year again...allergy season! Even those of us without allergies can be bothered by all the pollen and allergens in the air (the downside of being a contact lens wearer), which makes me even more aware of the difficulties associated with truly being allergic...to anything.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has declared May to be "National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month."
Of course, you seasonal allergy sufferers don't need to be made aware of that! Did you know more than 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergy? In addition, almost 26 million Americans are afflicted with asthma, a condition that in some cases arises as a result of allergies. Asthma and allergies alike can have serious ramifications, including hospitalization and even death. By bringing more awareness to these ailments, the hope is that people will take early action to deal with symptoms. Early identification and preventative care can make living with allergies and asthma much less difficult.
Keep an eye out for symptoms, especially in children. Asthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tightness in the chest. Allergy symptoms can vary in severity: mild allergy symptoms include congestion, skin rash, and itchy or watery eyes, whereas moderate symptoms may include difficulty breathing, and itchiness. Clearly difficulty breathing can become a very serious emergency situation.
While severe asthma symptoms can begin with itchy eyes and face, they can soon progress to swelling, causing breathing difficulties, cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Confusion and dizziness can also be severe symptoms of asthma.
Allergy and asthma sufferers may find it necessary to wear a medical ID, especially if they tend toward more moderate or severe symptoms. Consider getting a pre-printed dog tag or charm to protect you in an emergency situation...or a custom-engraved charm or dog tag. Even better, check out our Squid IDs so that all of your medical information is stored and easily accessible at all times.
Here are some of the pre-printed asthma and allergy items we have available...
I don't know about you, but when I first started hearing about celiac disease and wheat and gluten allergies and intolerance, I assumed they were all the same. Well, I was wrong. They're all treated essentially the same—remove wheat from the diet—but the ailments are actually quite different and it's important to know how they differ because of the ramifications if wheat isn't removed from one's diet.
Here's the basic difference...
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition. The body's immune system starts destroying normal tissue in response to eating gluten. As a result, sufferers are at risk of not absorbing food correctly which in turn can lead to nutritional deficiencies that then cause other serious ailments such as anemia and osteoporosis. Celiac disease is an inherited condition so it's also something to keep an eye out for if you have family members who suffer from the condition.
A wheat allergy is like any other food allergy. The body reacts to wheat because it thinks it's trying to hurt the body even though it isn't. The body's response is usually relatively short-lived and doesn't cause lasting harm to the body. Wheat allergy symptoms can include hives or rash, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, sneezing, headaches, asthma or anaphylaxis. While anaphylaxis is less common, it is a potentially life-threatening reaction that can making breathing difficult and send the body into shock. Most children with wheat allergy frequently outgrow it by age 3 to 5.
Gluten-sensitivity or gluten-intolerance is more similar to an allergy, but not quite as severe. The body reacts to the gluten as if it's being stressed, usually in the form of gastrointestinal symptoms. No fun, but not life-threatening.
Celiac disease sufferers and those with wheat allergies can benefit from wearing medical IDs, especially in an emergency, since these patients shouldn't be given medications with gluten. Take a look at our pre-printed charms and dog tags and see what works for you!
This was going to be a post about the controversy concerning vaccines and autism, but instead, I'm happy to report, there really isn't a controversy at all.
According to the Autism Society, there is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Though researchers do not know the exact cause of autism, there are a number of theories that they're investigating. There is no theory that autism is caused by vaccines.
Not surprisingly, yet another study reports that there is no link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. Yea! We knew that, but isn't it great to hear it again? (And again...and again...) This particular study followed more than 95,000 children. Think that's enough? I'd say that's a pretty good sample.
And don't forget, the original study from 1998 that suggested there was a link between vaccines and autism was completely debunked. The doctor who published the study even was even stripped of his license.
Let's hope this latest report helps put the vaccine-autism link to rest once and for all.
Unfortunately, we still don't know what exactly causes autism so in the meantime, we need to create awareness and support those with autism. It's also important that people with autism wear medical IDs for their own safety, especially in the case of an emergency. If you're looking for medical IDs for a person with autism, consider some of My ID Square’s pre-printed charms and dog tags to create your own medical bracelets and medical necklaces. There are plenty of options and they can serve as standalone identification or as a supplement to a traditional medical ID.
Take a look at our pre-printed charms specifically for ASD:
Here are our pre-printed dog tags specifically for ASD: