Category Archives: Heart Disease

Only Child looks at stress facts and fables

Only child contemplates the ramifications of stress

Only child contemplates the ramifications of stress

Stress, stress – it’s making us sick. Too much stress can lead to heart attacks, strokes and now studies add dementia to the list. Stress-soothers claim stress is all in our perspective, as if seeing all the stuff shoved at us in life will not cause us any stress if we only see it all as what? Good happenings? Blessings?

I think not. No matter what your perspective on a stressful event or occurrence, it is still coming at you. Attitude won’t make it suddenly disappear. And the idea that God only gives us as many crosses as we can each bear is a myth. Look at how stressed out most people are. Look at all the problems in the world. Etc., etc., etc. You can change your attitude until cows come home on roller skates and the problems are still there until you solve them.

I am living (at this point in time) proof of that. Just when I was trying to learn to relax, lessen the load of work and other commitments I carry (the delete and delay method), I get hit with way too many more stressful situations. The worst part is I didn’t cause any of them. Never mind who or what is responsible. The point is all these problems have come at me and some keep returning. Here’s a partial list of what I’ve been dealing with since the beginning of 2015.

  1. The Rogers Cable TV service disruption business – on and off since Dec. 31 actually. It took eight service calls before a senior technician finally found the problem – a line problem on a cable outside on a pole. Something I had already figured out. But I’m not a technician; I’m only the customer.
  2. The life insurance premium problem – back again this year. The insurance company that took over the one that originally handled my life insurance has a weird way of dealing with premium increases. This policy was set up for increased premium payments as you get older. Yes, not the best type of policy, but I can live with that. I can’t live with the company’s procedure – instead of sending you a notice of payment increase a month or so before your new fiscal year (mine starts August 1) and then increasing the premiums afterwards (I pay quarterly) they send you a letter about it six months into your fiscal year and if you don’t pay the full increased amount for the rest of that year, your policy can lapse. So I made several calls to the company – the call centre person, Jennifer, was useless so I took it higher up. Unfortunately I was dealing with problem No. 1 and No. 3below, so there was a lapse of a few weeks before I did this. But supposedly it got all straightened, and as instructed I sent this next quarterly payment with the added amount. That was supposed to settle it. Yesterday I got a letter that my policy had lapsed. Another frantic phone call to the company. The officer there who supposedly fixed it said that once they received my payment (in the mail since Friday) my policy would be reinstated. It better be or I’m naming the company in a future blog post.

 

Isn’t that bad business procedure?

 

  1. The weather – January wasn’t bad – despite hating winter with a passion, I could live with it. Just a few days of somewhat cold weather and a bit of snow, most of which managed to melt. Not February – it will be the coldest February in southern Ontario since 1978. But also lots more snow. I know not as bad as the Maritime provinces, but bad enough with the extreme cold and snow combination to cause ice jams on one side of my roof and in the downspouts going down from that side, as well as water leaking and freezing out the join in the downspout extensions. I now have to get that fixed plus get more insulation put in my attic. So I will have to go into my meagre savings to pay for that. I’ve asked my ex to pitch in to help, but I figure after I also do my income taxes and pay that, my savings will be very close to non-existent.
  2. So financial worries – hey I’m a senior and most of my income is government seniors’ pensions with a bit of alimony and editing and writing income thrown in. The only upside here is my hydro bill at least has gone down down since I kicked the boarder out. And I don’t think the paltry amount she paid (she was on welfare so social services had her “rent” set at a fixed amount) would help with No. 3.
  3. Health and injuries –maybe should be up at the top of the list. My son fell – he missed a stair at the subway station last Thursday evening – and sprained his ankle. Friday he couldn’t walk, but thankfully the ankle is almost healed and he can now walk. Me? My on-and-off again phlegm in the throat has gotten worse. Because of other health issues I have a compromised immune system and each winter get some respiratory-related thing (last year it was two months of swollen glands – something I hadn’t had since I was a kid). And the stress makes some of these other health issues worse.

 

I could go on and on. But I’ll end with a link to the study that links too much stress in middle-aged women leading to more dementia when they get older. http://www.alzinfo.org/articles/midlife-stress-may-increase-dementia-risk/

I am past middle age but I had a long list of stress in my life then.

 

And I don’t think forgetting all your problems in dementia is the answer. Dementia has its own problems for those who get it and their family and friends.

 

Makes you not want to live a long life, doesn’t it?

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

 

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health, Heart Disease, Old Age, Only child, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Suicide, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child takes the middle road

Only Child's late Mom who had a streak of diplomacy

Only Child’s late Mom who had a streak of diplomacy

As a child I used to go for the happy medium in any crisis, problem, etc. I’ve since learned that I did so because I wanted to please everybody and not get into hot water. It didn’t always work.

Today, I often hit the middle road but the reason has evolved. Sometimes this sitting on the fence is the only way to go when it comes to your health or dealing with pushy people – clients or friends and family.

My late mom taught me well. Julia Langevin could often be tactless but sometimes she showed a streak in diplomacy. The Bully, the “girlfriend” I grew up with (to age 11) would alienate some of my other friends on the block. But one of The Bully’s younger sisters would have none of that. She would come over to play with me and we would do girl stuff with our dolls (yes, back in the grey ages, little girls played with dolls). On one of these occasions my mom let me continue playing with her even though I was supposed to come in and help with the dishes.

“You need to have one friend,” she said afterwards. “That’s why I let you play instead of calling you in to dry the dishes.”

Today, with all the conflicting research in heath matters often the only way to go is along the middle road. Take the issue with calcium supplements versus heart attack risk. The latest research shows that taking calcium supplements can be a risk to heart attacks, so the preference is to get your calcium from food – calcium-fortified orange juice, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. and only take supplements if you have a bone disease risk. What is a person to do if you are allergic to dairy (I’m not, that I know of) or if like me, you have malabsorption issues in your digestive system? Mine is partly caused by IBS but also by just getting old. Many people are going to run into the latter situation.

Do we have to choose between various arthritic conditions and heart attack risk? No.

Take the middle road. One of these studies (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/24/calcium-supplements-heart-risk) provides the pros and cons and other medical experts say that as long as your daily calcium intake is under 2,000 mg. you should be okay. I’m keeping my daily supplement dose just under 1,000 and hoping some of the dairy, etc. will actually get into my system. However, I am still back up to my 4500 UIs a day for Vitamin D now that the grey days of winter have settled in. I don’t want a repeat of my arthritic-like pains in my leg bone from last winter.

And my pesky clients, especially those who try for freebies long after the contract work is done and paid for? I follow the Julia Langevin method – be diplomatic. Let them know what’s what but do it nicely. Sometimes I have to wait a couple of days to answer their email so I don’t rush in and vent.

Check out more information on these calcium-heart disease studies at: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartHealth/calcium-supplements-linked-heart-attack-risk/story?id=16413252#.UMdgYqyUzFx

And check out my guest blog post (coming up December 15, 2012) on Type M for Murder at http://typem4murder.blogspot.ca/
An author friend, Shane Joseph, will be featured on Wattpad on Dec 14th at http://www.wattpad.com/8704102-lest-they-be-forgotten-foreword

Don’t forget my author blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Digestive disorder, Health, Heart Disease, Middle, Mother, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child looks at aging parents

Only Child's late Dad and Mom

My friends across the street had to rush her dad to the hospital again, the third time in as many months. Her dad is 87. My dad died at 66, my mom at 63. So I have no aging parents to look after but I have no living parents. Which is the better life scenario?

One thing I’ve found with any person I know – relative, acquaintance – anytime after age 82, you can go from living a good life (substitute “meaningful”, “productive,” whatever you want) to a life of hell – for you and your family. If you’re lucky, you make it into your early 90s before entering old-age hell. Oh sure, there are a few exceptions – you see them and read about them in the news – so-and-so is celebrating his or her 100th/103rd birthday. And they are relatively well physically and they still have active functioning minds. To them I say, “Great. You are very lucky.” But most of the elderly-elderly have to deal with some or all of the following: heart disease, aftermath of strokes, diabetes, extreme arthritis (including osteoarthritis of the knees and hips), blindness, cancer, and perhaps the worst of all – dementia.

It’s hard on the elderly person and it is hard on his or her family. I find myself flipping from both sides as to which has it worst. Sometimes I’m almost glad my parents died in their 60s (when I was 22 and 16) and then I want to shake myself because they aren’t here anymore (except in spirit and memory). I also have to remind myself that dying in their 60s didn’t guarantee them freedom from debilitating diseases. Most of you know my dad died from cancer, but it wasn’t sudden.  He had flare-ups of cancer off and on for almost seven years before he finally got out of his misery.

Mom’s situation was something else. After Dad died she fell apart and her health showed it. Suddenly arthritis flared up – rheumatoid arthritis in her hands and feet and scleroderma. She had to quit work because of these crippling diseases  when she was in her late 50s.  Both may have led to her death – she fell a couple of times and scleroderma makes the face so taut it can lead to pulmonary or cardiac complications and death. Mom “officially” died from a brain aneurysm.

Both deaths leave me ambivalent about when to die. With Dad I had a chance to say “goodbye,” but not with Mom. Her aneurysm came suddenly and when I found her unconscious in her bed I didn’t grasp the seriousness – perhaps out of panic. Despite surgery, she died five days later. During those five days while she was in a coma, in the “wisdom” of my 22 years, I grappled with “What if she comes out of it a vegetable? I can’t cope.” In my memoir in the  “Suddenly” chapter, I write

Where did going to church get her? Lying comatose while surgeons dig around in her skull to stop the swelling and maybe, just maybe, get her to wake up. I try to read one of the nameless consumer magazines piled on an end table, but my attention span is lower than that of an addict on speed.

If you let her just wake up and be okay, able to get around, I’ll… I’ll… I try to bargain with God.

You’ll what, Sharon? You don’t want to be a nursemaid. You’re 22 and that’s not happily ever after.

No, God, conscience, whatever, that’s not really it. If I’d have woken up earlier and caught her when she drifted off, if I’d acted sooner, if I’d called an ambulance immediately and got her into the hospital right away after I got up and found her. . .

If…If…if…if “guilt” were one of the seven deadly sins, I’d score a 100 plus on it.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

And guilt often plays a big part in the sons and daughters of elderly parents. Do I put Mom or Dad in a nursing home? Do I look after them myself? Do I?  What is the right thing to do – for both Mom and Dad and me (including spouse and children)?

Seems there is no right answer. Well, maybe if we lived in relatively good health until 90 and then our bodies just died during the night. But that’s sci-fi. With people living longer now (men 78.0 years and women 82.7 years average. (2005 Statistics Canada Mortality Report  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91-209-x/2004000/rprt-eng.htm#a3) and the rising number here (read “baby boomers”) the situation is in crisis. Sure, governments should provide more assisted-at-home living as well as more nursing homes. But these things cost one way or the other.

It’s Catch-22. I don’t have answers. Any ideas from my readers? Please comment.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Death and Dying, Eldercare, Elderly parents, Family, Health Seniors, Heart Disease, Only child, Seniors

Only child looks at weird heart disease risks

Only Child and son Martin sit this one out - for now

February is Heart and Stroke Month, so I thought I’d look at some of the weird risks supposedly linked to heart disease. Apparently, if you are short you are more at risk. According to a  recent Finnish study at the University of Tampere, short people have a bigger chance of getting heart disease – 1.5 times more than taller individuals (men 37 per cent and women 55 per cent).  The considered short heights here are under 5′ for women and under 5’5″ for men.This one may bother me (well, just a little) because I’m short but just scrape by the height requirements at 5’1″. My late Mom was also short (same height). She died of a brain aneurysm and although I blame that on her falls from her arthritis, I’m also wondering if her height (or lack of) had something to do with it. Consider: if she was taller, would she have still fallen off a bench, down a couple of stairs?

What bothers me more than a little is my son is 5’4″ – an inch below the male criteria. However, his dad is 5’8” so maybe that will help. Maybe not, as there is a history of cardiovascular disease  from my son’s paternal grandparents down to his dad. One of his maternal grandmothers died of a heart attack at 86. So, what do we have here?

Let’s see what that study and its lead author say.

The  lead author of this study isn’t too concerned with the height aspect.  Dr. Tuula Paajanen says short individuals shouldn’t worry – this is just one of the risk factors – but instead they should concentrate on lifestyle issues. Oh, that’s great. Now I don’t have to do extreme stretching exercises or eat eat eat. I’m to old for all this. However, I can’t help wondering if singer-songwriter Randy Newman had an inkling of all this when (years ago) he wrote the song Short People, where among other things, he says short people have little hands and little eyes. Check out the lyrics at http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/short-people-lyrics-randy-newman/3244f1d30051f75e48256a370048b6fa and see what you think.

But the weird list of causes doesn’t stop here. Some of the following are bogus, but for hypochondriacs, here’s something to get your worry warts around:

1.     Earlobe  creases

2.     Leg Length in women

3.     Ring Finger Length

4.     Male Pattern Baldness

5.     Gum Disease – truth in this one per several studies

6.     Clear skin yes – acne as teenager no per study

7.     Discoloured mucus (green)  per recent study pub in Biochemical Journal

8.     Earwax – per a 1966 Japanese study, since debunked as false

The whole list and information about each is at http://ezinearticles.com/?Cardiovascular-Risk-May-Be-Indicated-by-Some-Unusual-Factors&id=4094952

As for that shorty study, check out these articles at http://www.canada.com/health/Short+people+more+prone+heart+disease+Study/3131424/story.html and http://www.physorg.com/news195243612.html

Me, I’m headed for my Yoga class this evening. And when the weather warms up a bit, I’ll be out there walking, walking, and walking. And I’m being careful on benches and stairs.

Comments, please?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health Seniors, Heart Disease, Hereditary, Only child, Short People