JaniceHeck

My Time to Write, but The Cats have The Last Meow!

Archive for the tag “cancer”

F is for F.A.S.T- Know the Signs of Stroke: It Can Become Personal in An Instant

a-to-z-letters-2013A to Z post for Day 6-Letter F

While my theme for A to Z is writing and grammar, I thought this F.A.S.T. topic was important enough to pass on to you. It’s a topic that in one instant became very personal to me.

I’ve seen ads on TV and heard bits on the radio about what to do when a person has a stroke, but I haven’t always paid attention. I did know that if a person who had suffered a stroke got medical attention quickly, they could avoid permanent brain damage and disability.

My eldest  sister, Ms.Joanne (her nickname), lived alone and did not like us (her younger sisters) checking up on her. We would call to see how she was doing on a fairly regular basis, but Ms.Joanne didn’t answer the phone when she didn’t feel like it. Consequently, if we called and she didn’t answer the phone, we fretted about whether she was just being ornery or whether something had happened.

Even after several falls, several 9-1-1- calls, and several hospitalizations, she still played the phone game with us. She had been in an assisted living facility after her last hospitalization, but one day she just packed her rolling suitcase, called a taxi, walked out, and went back to her home. (Because she had signed herself into the facility, she could also sign herself out.)

Ms.Joanne’s sons travel for work and are rarely home during the week. I live thirty minutes away, so driving over to check on her is a bit inconvenient at times. Bev, my other sister, lives closer to Ms.Joanne, but sometimes she is taking care of her grandchildren so can’t run and check on Ms.Joanne either.

One Monday morning, I called Ms.Joanne and got the usual no answer. What should I do? I decided to drive over to check on her on the pretext of seeing if she needed groceries.

I rang the doorbell. No answer. I tried the door, and it was unlocked. I walked in and called her name. No answer. I walked to the family room at the back of the house, and there she sat in her favorite recliner in front of the TV. At first, I was relieved. But when I called her name again, she did not turn to look at me.

I called her name several more times, she finally turned her head in slow motion, ever so slightly, to look at me. Her eyes were wide and somewhat unfocused. I asked, “Are you okay?” She said, “Yes,” but clearly she was not.

Somehow I knew she had had a stroke. She could talk, but she didn’t say very much, and she remained in the same position as when I had entered the house. From the odor in the room, I guessed that she had been sitting there for more than a few hours. She told me two days. I was not sure if that was the correct answer or if she was disoriented. Regardless, I told her I needed to call 9-1-1. She told me, “no” in an adamant tone, the strongest and loudest of the day.

It was clear to me that she needed medical attention, so I told her again that I needed to call 9-1-1. Again she refused. Finally, I just called 9-1-1. When the EMTs arrived they asked her to smile, to move her arms, to speak. When she had difficulty with smiling and moving her arms, they told her she had to go to the hospital. Of course, she refused. She wanted to stay in her home. The EMTs were very patient and kind to her and explained what needed to be done, and finally Ms.Joanne relented and allowed them to take her to the hospital.

But for Ms.Joanne, it was too late to stop or reverse the damage from the stroke. She was weak on the right side of her body and paralyzed on the whole left side of her body. Within days, because of complications (swelling, lack of circulation), the doctors advised that her left leg had to be amputated. Now, five months later, she is in a long-term care facility and requires almost total care. She can feed herself, but she can’t bathe, dress herself, or do any personal care. She will never be able to walk again. Because of her paralysis, she is not a candidate for a prosthetic device.

Kroey sisters. back row L to R  Joyce, Joanne, Shirley.Front row L to R: Beverley, Judie, Janice

Kroey sisters. back row L to R Joyce, Joanne, Shirley.
Front row L to R: Beverley, Judie, Janice

My family is aging, and health issues now take much of our time. These are my sisters. Ms.Joanne is the tallest one in the back.

Sister Shirley, back right, is also in a rehab facility in California. Several months ago, she was hit by a car while she was in a crosswalk on a busy street. The driver of the car was paying attention to her dog and not to her driving. My sister, Joyce, back row left, passed away of heart disease (a family trait) several years ago. I also have three brothers. The youngest, Robert, passed away three years ago of Sarcoma (cancer).

Strokes

Strokes are the 3rd leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in adults.

Every minute counts when someone has a stroke. The sooner the stroke victim receives medical attention, the better the prognosis. This acronym, F.A.S.T., can help you remember the signs of a stroke:

stroke6

Keep these steps in mind. Be ready to help when you notice facial or body weakness and strange speech in a family member, friend, acquaintance, or anyone. Act F.A.S.T. I pray that you have better results than Ms. Joanne.

Cats comfort a sick family member.Picture: E-Cute

Cats comfort a sick family member.
Picture: E-Cute

The Last Meow

Cats just seem to know when someone needs some special attention.

http://janiceheck.wordpress.com

Saturday Sampling: Meandering through the Blogosphere

As I meander through the blogosphere, I copy and paste blog post titles that appeal to me into a blank post. At the end of the week, I sort through these titles and choose my favorites. Here is this week’s sampling.

Books:

Anita Ferreri at the Nerdy Book Club, Retro Review: Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

Anita Ferreri, literary specialist in Winchester County, NY, reminds us of the excellent qualities in the Winnie-the-Pooh books.

Milne’s books are classics that teachers can read to children in the early grades. His lovable characters (Christopher Robin, Pooh, Tigger, Owl, and Eeyore) express wisdom that stays long in the hearts and minds of children and adults.

Grammar:

Sharifah Z. Williams, Dems da Rules: Adverbs

Williams, writer and and self-proclaimed word-eater, reminds us that unneeded adverbs, the “most sinister of writing faux pas,” don’t necessarily interfere with a good story line. In fact, if you are engrossed in the story, you will not notice the adverbs. Still, it is wise for good writers to use adverbs with care.

Spelling

Judythe Morgan, Spellcheckers and Pullet Surprise Work

Judythe Morgan reminds us that our spelling system is not perfect by quoting a 1992 poem by Dr. Jerrold H. Zar. Our spellcheckers are not perfect either; they do not check for context when doing their thing. Here’s a clip to prove the point.

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Hashtags

Tom Whitby, How Does #Edchat Connect Educators?

The #edchat hashtag connects teachers for Twitter chats on Tuesdays at noon and 7 p.m. each week. Interested Tweeters carry on a running conversation on pre-selected education topics. What a neat way to keep up with changes and trends in education.

I have used the #edchat hashtag on Twitter a number of times to pass on articles/posts worthy of an educator’s notice. This post tells more about this useful tag and how it came to be.

Health:

Michael King, A Cancer Story: Thoughts of Death

Cancer has hit my family hard, and it may have hit yours, too. The emotional impact of this horrible disease is deep but not always talked about openly. Michael King shares his physical and emotional pain in dealing with his own cancer. This is a good blog for cancer fighters and cancer care-givers to follow. Michael is fighting back at cancer by writing about it. My family fights back through Relay for Life.

Recipes:

Anderson Cooper, 7 Recipes for $7 (Charles Mattacks, The Poor Chef)

I love food blogs so I follow a number of them and look for recipes to try out. This post features Charles Mattacks (The Poor Chef) who shares recipes that cost about $7.00 each. I am going to try out this featured “Granny’s Chicken Curry” sometime soon.

Cats:

And now…*drum roll*… two cat posts for the week. You didn’t think I would skip the cats, did you?

Derek Perry, On the Subject of Cats and Poets, at WORD SALAD: Stories from the Savage Pen. Cat owners will love this post! Nuff said.

B.F. Kazmarski, The Creative Cat, Daily Sketch: On The Edge. Check this site for a delightful charcoal pencil sketch of Mimi and Jelly Bean.

YOUR TURN:

What was your favorite post this week?

Have You Lost a Family Member, Friend, or Acquaintance to Cancer?

Photo: Opening Ceremonies for Relay for Life

If you have lost a family member, friend, or acquaintance to cancer, you may want to join a Relay for Life in your area. These Relays are held all over the country and world with teams of people raising funds for cancer research. Find a Relay team in your area here.

Relay for Life gives a unique opportunity to remember those family members, friends, and acquaintances who have lost their battle to cancer; to pray and hope with loved ones who currently battle cancer; and to celebrate the lives of those whose cancer has been cured or is in remission.

Our local Relay will be held on June 22, 2012 at the Ocean City (NJ) High School track. Last year approximately 75 teams participated in the Ocean City Relay for Life, and we hope for that many teams or more again this year.

The opening ceremony sets the tone for the Relay (an all-night event with people walking the track from 6 pm to 7 am, only taking time off for short naps in tents on the field). It is a night of sadness and joy; a night of walking, talking, and bonding with family and friends; a night of music, games, challenges, contests, and outrageous silliness.

The cancer survivors’ walk, one of two most poignant events of the evening, comes first. Cancer survivors, wearing purple survivors’ shirts, walk the first lap, giving proof that cancer can be beaten. Relay participants stand along the side of the track and cheer, recognizing the sheer determination and courage it takes to fight cancer.

The second poignant event occurs after dark when luminaria (brightly decorated white paper bags with battery powered candles representing all those family members and acquaintances who have lost their battle with cancer) line the perimeter of the track. These luminaria stand in memory of and in honor of moms, dads, babies, children, teens, grandmoms, granddads, aunts, uncles, friends, and other acquaintances. The stadium lights dim; the crowd stands in silence in memory of loved ones lost. Memories and tears flow.

My extended family has four Relay for Life teams: The Krewe du Kroey (the original team in Texas); NJ Krewe du Kroey (my team); the South Carolina Krewe du Kroey; and the hardest working team, Kroey’s Teens against Cancer of Burleson, TX, led by my great niece 13-years-old Phoebe Chambers.  The TX and SC teams have already completed their 2012 Relay. (You can read more about the origins of Krewe du Kroey here.)

We participate in Relay for Life because we have lost family members to this terrible disease:

my late husband, Victor Patrick Hall;

my great niece, nine-year-old Joanne Theresa King;

my younger brother, Robert Kroelinger (“Texas Bob”);

my nephew, Darrel Varnam;

my brother-in-law, Don Millward;

and several of my mother’s sisters and brothers.

Friends, too, are battling cancer or have lost the battle.

This year, the Queen Bee of the Texas Relay for Life, Miss Phoebe Chambers, my very talented and charming great-niece, will rejoin the NJ Krewe for the 2012 Ocean City Relay. Pheebs will do anything for attention to raise money to fight against cancer. Her grandfather, Robert Kroelinger, my brother, lost his battle to cancer two years ago.

This year Pheebs will do a grand repetition of  2010 Ocean City blueberry funnel cake fiasco fund-raiser. This event should not be missed. Aunt Patty (cancer survivor) certainly enjoyed smashing Phoebe in the face with the blueberry funnel cake helped the last time Phoebe got stuck with this job volunteered to do this particular fun and tasty fund-raising event. So it was messy. So what?

Just throw some of that folding green stuff in Phoebe’s beach bucket and watch the humiliation fun begin. This is a quiet fundraiser other than the laughter and catcalls, so no coins!

I think it’s my turn this year…to manhandle the funnel cake, that is. HeeHeeHee. Watch out, Pheebs, I’m gonna getcha!

Oh well, Phoebe is a great sport, as well as an enthusiastic fund raiser for Relay for Life. Together with her Kroey Teens against Cancer she helped raise over $10,000 for cancer research. That’s a lot of funnel cakes in the face!

If you want to support this on-going cancer-fighting effort, come join us on Friday night, June 22, at the Ocean City (NJ) High School football field, or look for a Relay for Life in your area. I can guarantee you will laugh, and you will cry. The emotional impact that cancer creates when a loved one is lost to this horrible disease is high, but together we can work towards a cure. The Relay provides a bit of catharsis for all of us.

YOUR TURN: Have you lost someone to cancer? Have you found a Relay for Life near you? What was your Relay like? Did the Relay help you cope with your loss?

K is for Krewe du Kroey

It all started as a joke.

It was a rare reunion when all of my siblings and their spouses boarded the Holland America Lines’ (HAL) MS Zuiderdam for a Caribbean cruise ten years ago. This cruise brought together long-separated family members from New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas, California, and Oregon.

Of course, we joined all the silly onboard games and entertainment activities on the Big Z.

Sister-in-law, Patty, and I donned ridiculous giant raisin costumes and joined a few other foolish spontaneous nerds talented individuals in a wretched an unequaled rendition of the California Raisin’s, “I heard it on the grapevine.”

Not to be left out of the hysteria fun, Brother Bill, wearing only a beach towel wrapped around his middle (okay, so the towel hid his bathing suit),  joined an elderly ravishing group of beauties ladies singing, “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair.” Turns out, Bro was the one they wanted to get rid of! At the end of the song, they had had enough of him, so they took their own towels and swatted him off the stage.

Some of this was just too funny for words. Really. You just had to be there.

But the piece de resistance was the build-a-ship contest.

For this contest, each team had to build a ship that would float in the ship’s swimming pool.  We gathered stuff, and I mean stuff, from everywhere on the ship: plastic bags, wire hangers, empty wet-wipes tubs from the hand sanitizing station, and any other floatable items that we could finagle from the HAL crew. The competition was stiff, but we knew we had a winner. After all, we had two ex-Marines, Brother Bob and Brother Bill, to construct our winning entry masterpiece.

The rules specified that you had to name your ship, make up a song, perform a skit, and do other embarrassing funny things to make people laugh and cheer. The teams that got the loudest boos cheers got bonus points in the competition. We were all for that, because we were never known to be a quiet, normal family. Ha, far from it!

We decided to name our ship the Kroey Dam, a shortening of our German-Alsace-Lorraine-Swiss-French family name, Kroelinger. The Kroey Krewe cheer became “Caw, Caw, Caw.” And we sang a song that is way too embarrassing long to print here.

We had it made in the shade. People (well, at least our family members) stomped, cawed, clapped, and yelled, making enough noise to awaken alert the captain at the helm that a winner would soon be chosen.

Here’s the Contest:

Test One. The Float Test. How long will the ship float?

Each team launched its duct-taped mess ship in the pool.  One by one, ships sank. Of course the Kroey Dam passed with flying colors, along with two other lucky abominations contraptions ships.

Test two. The weight test. How many cans of beer soda pop can each ship carry without sinking? Can by can, the weight increased on each ship, until….

There was no joy in Kroey Ville that night. The mighty Kroey Dam sank at three six-packs, out-canned by one solitary beer soda pop can.

At least we did get a consolation prize: a blue coffee mug with a big white Z on it. And people did laugh at us.and cheer.

And that was the end of the Kroey Dam and its infamous Krewe. We retired to the pool for the rest of the trip, cawing quietly to ourselves.

Little did we know that within a few years we would resurrect the Kroey Krewe for less than happy purposes.

When my younger brother Bob, aka Refrigerator Bob or Texas Bob, was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma, we rallied around him and fought back against cancer with him.

The Texas Krewe du Kroey formed to walk in an all-night American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Burleson, TX. In 2009, the NJ Krewe du Kroey formed, and we (well, some of us) walked all night in Ocean City, NJ. The following year, the South Carolina Krewe du Kroey team walked all night in Summerville, South Carolina. Daughter Lisa joined a Relay in Folsom, California.

We relay because we want to see a cure for cancer in our lifetimes. We relay for TX Bob, for 9-year-old great-niece Joanne King, for my late husband Victor Hall, for my brother-in-law Don Millward, for my nephew Darrell Varnam, and for other family members, friends, and associates who have fought bravely but lost their fight with cancer.  We cannot forget them. So we relay each year to show our solidarity as family and friends in fighting against this truly evil disease.

If you have lost family members to cancer, Relay for Life provides a forum for you to remember, celebrate, and fight back. Consider joining a Relay for Life in your area.

  • The Burleson, Tx Relay for Life  April 13-14, 2012 Kerr Middle School 7 pm-7am
  • Summerville, SC Relay for Life  April 13-14  Summerville High School 7 pm-7am
  • Ocean City, NJ Relay for Life  June 22-23 Ocean City High School 7pm-7am

Watch this video to get a sense of what Relay for Life is about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esdA6RMpm3I

YOUR TURN:

Have you participated in an ACC Relay for Life? What were some of your impressions?

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