May 26, 2015
May 23, 2015
This morning I felt lucky to be seated between two amazing women. I thought to myself “better lucky than smart” then tonight I ran across this infographic from Alex Cornell and you know how I dig this stuff. Interesting that someone has studied this and has the good sense to share it in such an approachable format. Is it not just dumb luck after all?
May 22, 2015
Even if you have done everything to communicate your own end-of-life wishes, you may find need to take the initiative and have the discussion loved ones who have not shared their end-of-life wishes with you. Here are pointers to keep in mind:
Select an Appropriate Setting
Find a comfortable place that is free from distraction to hold a one-on-one discussion.
Ask Permission to Begin this often Tender Conversation
People cope with end-of-life issues in different styles. Ask permission to discuss the topic, this assures your loved one that you will respect and honor all of his or her wishes. Here are a few suggestions:
- “I would like to talk about how you would like to be cared for if you got very sick. Is that okay?”
- “If you ever got sick, I would be afraid of not knowing the kind of care you would like. Could we talk about this now? I would feel better if we had the conversation in advance.”
What To Expect
Keep in mind that you have initiated this conversation because you care about your loved one’s wellbeing – especially during difficult times. Allow your loved one to set the pace. Focus on maintaining a caring manner throughout the conversation, show your love and concern:
- Nod your head in agreement, acknowledge them with kindness
- If appropriate hold your loved one’s hand
- Offer a hug or comforting touch
A few questions you may want to ask about end-of-life care include:
- If you were diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, what types of treatment would you prefer?
- Have you named someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so?
- How would you like your choices honored at the end of life?
- What can I do to best support you and your choices?
You may well encounter resistance the first time you bring up this topic, sadly death and dying is not spoken about in our culture. Don’t be discouraged; instead try again at another time.
Be a Good Listener
Be sure to make an effort to hear and understand what the person is saying. These moments, although difficult, are important and special to both of you. Some important things you can do are:
- Listen for the wants and needs that your loved one expresses.
- Make clear that what your loved one is sharing with you is important to you.
- Show empathy and respect by addressing these wants and needs in a truthful and open way.
- Verbally acknowledge your loved one’s rights to make life choices – even if you do not agree with those choices.
Having conversations with your loved ones about their end-of-life wishes can be a sensitive discussion. These conversations matter and are needed to learn about your loved one’s wishes so that those wishes can be honored at the end of life.
May 21, 2015
May 20, 2015
THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND
Our colleagues at CANOE, the Committee to Ascribe a Nautical Origin to Everything, have been hard at work and, to their great pleasure, they can add this phrase to their list. ‘Three sheets to the wind’ is indeed a seafaring expression.
To understand this phrase we need to enter the arcane world of nautical terminology. Sailors’ language is, unsurprisingly, all at sea and many supposed derivations have to go by the board. Don’t be taken aback to hear that sheets aren’t sails, as landlubbers might expect, but ropes (or occasionally, chains). These are fixed to the lower corners of sails, to hold them in place. If three sheets are loose and blowing about in the wind then the sails will flap and the boat will lurch about like a drunken sailor.
The phrase is these days more often given as ‘three sheets to the wind’, rather than the original ‘three sheets in the wind’. The earliest printed citation that I can find is in Pierce Egan’s Real Life in London, 1821:
“Old Wax and Bristles is about three sheets in the wind.”
Sailors at that time had a sliding scale of drunkenness; three sheets was the falling over stage; tipsy was just ‘one sheet in the wind’, or ‘a sheet in the wind’s eye’. An example appears in the novel The Fisher’s Daughter, by Catherine Ward, 1824:
“Wolf replenished his glass at the request of Mr. Blust, who, instead of being one sheet in the wind, was likely to get to three before he took his departure.”
Robert Louis Stevenson was as instrumental in inventing the imagery of ‘yo ho ho and a bottle of rum’ piracy as his countryman and contemporary Sir Walter Scott was in inventing the tartan and shortbread ‘Bonnie Scotland’. Stevenson used the ‘tipsy’ version of the phrase in Treasure Island, 1883 – the book that gave us ‘X marks the spot’, ‘shiver me timbers’ and the archetypal one-legged, parrot-carrying pirate, Long John Silver. He gave Silver the line:
“Maybe you think we were all a sheet in the wind’s eye. But I’ll tell you I was sober; “
May 19, 2015
May 18, 2015
Think that you are too busy to volunteer your time? Consider how many older people live in your neighborhood who would value a visit or a homemade something brought to brighten their day. Send a funny cartoon to someone who is housebound. Write a letter to someone who is incarcerated, many of whom haven’t heard from their family in years. These simple things will brighten someone’s day who is compromised and make you feel good too.
If you have regular time available go on-line and get matched!
May 17, 2015
May 15, 2015
Raising Awareness of a Silent Killer: Pancreatic Cancer
What do Margaret Mead, Count Basie, Rex Harrison, Henry Mancini, Irving Wallace, Marvin Beli, Patrick Swayze, Michael Landon, Donna Reed, Dorothy Dunnett, Joan Crawford, Steve Jobs, Phillip Levine, Jack Benny, Dizzie Gillespie, and Frank Zappa all have in common? They all died of Pancreatic Cancer, as did former President Jimmy Carter’s brother Billy, and their mother “Miss Lillian.”
Pancreatic Cancer is the #4 cancer killed in the United States amongst both men and women. It is often referred to as the “silent killer” as it is rarely diagnosed in time for treatment. It has the #1 fatality rate of all cancers. Only 4% of the patients will survive beyond five years.
According to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network approximately 32,180 people will be diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer this year. Yet, “despite the especially lethal nature of pancreatic cancer, the research spending per pancreatic cancer patient is only $1145, the lowest of any leading cancer.”
Why is this? Perhaps because most people don’t even know where their pancreas is located or what role it plays on our body’s good health. It works in the production of enzymes for digestion and the production of hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. It is a gland located deep in the abdomen between the stomach and the spine.
Every 17-minutes someone in the country dies of this lesser known disease that has a 99% fatality rate.
Although it is the fourth cancer killer in the country most people do not know the risk factors or the symptoms of this type of cancer. Hence, November has been designated as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.
Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer include:
Pain in abdomen or back
Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
Fatigue or Weakness
Nausea and Vomiting
Significant Weight Loss
Risk factors include:
Smoking: 2-3 times increased risk for smokers vs. nonsmokers
Family history: 2-3 times increased risk if first degree relative diagnosed with PC
Only a small percentage of people who are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are able to have the tumor surgically removed. More often than not, by the time the diagnosis comes, the cancer has spread and there are not at this time many treatment options.
The NW is home to one of the country’s highly-respected Pancreatic Cancer researchers, the UW’s Dr. Teri Brentnall whose work has been nationally recognized.
Thank you for reading this article and for taking a moment to be aware of some of the symptoms of these lesser-known but grave forms of cancer.
If you know someone with pancreatic cancer, or a friend who is caring for someone who has this form of cancer, I urge you to lend a hand —it is a horrible disease. This posting is meant to raise awareness and urge you to support the quest for additional research dollars to help find a cure.