Thursday, October 18, 2007

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I got squished tonight.

In other words, I went in for my annual mammogram.

This to me is a no brainer. It takes a few minutes, is very uncomfortable while it is being done, but once it is done, you are good to go.

Breast cancer runs in my family. My mother had it, my cousin, Lavetta, died from it and my cousin, Peg, is a breast cancer survivor. My grandmother (on my Dad's side) also had breast cancer. When I was 25 I had a benign tumor removed from my right breast. From then on, I haven't missed an annual exam.

Funny thing is that my little dog, Gracie, just had surgery for breast cancer a week ago. Now you may think, "A dog?" But, yes, it's possible. One of her nipples was red and swollen. It was removed and the pathology report was Stage I breast cancer. Fortunately, the tissue that was removed around the cancerous tissue was clear. And, in 24 hours Gracie was back to normal. Both the vet and I will watch her carefully, but she should be just fine.

Men can also have breast cancer. Tonight, I asked the technician who performed my mammogram about it. She said she has done several mammograms on men. They are very embarrassed about it, but it is more common than people realize.

I have several women friends who are breast cancer survivors. They are all strong women - as anyone is who survives cancer. I'm proud of them as I am of my cousin, Peg.

My sister recently had her mammogram as well has the new ultrasound test for breast cancer detection. I asked the technician about the possibility of the ultrasound for me as well, since I am considered a high breast cancer risk (due to family history). She stated I should talk to my doctor, but it would probably be a good idea. When I go in for my yearly physical in a couple of weeks, that will be discussed and I will push to have it done.

All is this being pro-active when it comes to my health and well-being. A mammogram is quick and easy and bring me peace of mind.
If you are a woman and you are reading this, I hope you, too, have been "squished" this year! If not, you still have time! And, don't forget the monthly self exams!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Just Breathe

I have sleep apnea. What this means is that periodically during the night I stop breathing. For more information check out:

I noticed the problem myself, as well as Phil. So, last July I went in for a sleep study. After being hooked up to wires on over 20 different places on my body from my head, arms, chest, legs and neck, I was expected to fall asleep while being monitored by a sleep technician. Funny as it may seem, I did fall asleep and slept pretty well. The technician told me that if I exhibited signs of sleep apnea, she would come in during the night and hook me up to a CPAP device. And, sure enough, I was woke up in the middle of the night and a CPAP was placed over my mouth and nose.

CPAP's come in different sizes and shapes. Most cover your nose and mouth and force air into you. This air forces the breathing passages to stay open while you sleep and you don't stop breathing.

Two weeks later I returned to the doctor for the results. According to the sleep study results, I stopped breathing while sleeping an average of 24 times per hour for more than 10 seconds at a time. I have a mild to moderate form of sleep apnea. The doctor told me of one patient that stopped breathing while sleeping over 84 times in an hour.

So, I now have a CPAP or breathing machine. It sits next to the bed and I hook myself up every night. It doesn't cover my mouth, as it fits into my nostrils. It's been an adjustment, but if I can keep in on all night, I do wake up feeling better, more refreshed and awake.

I was pretty shy about letting Phil see me wearing it for the first time. But, being the loving and supportive man that he is, he suggested I fall asleep with it on alone and he would come to bed later. It worked. We were still able to snuggle and he said it hardly makes any noise - a lot quieter than my gasping for breath during the night! He also teases me about sleeping with a scuba diver. Between my CPAP machine and my restless leg syndrome (for which I am on medication,, I must be a real "joy" to sleep with!

Oh, well . . .

I'll see how this works, how difficult it is to haul on trips, etc. But, if it puts an end to my constant tiredness then it will be worth the long adjustment period.