Thursday, September 29, 2011

Constipation Remedy

Constipation affects everyone but more specifically, patients who take pain medications or who are receiving chemotherapy may experiene bouts of this discomfort.

If you experience excessive pain with your cancer, then of course you are not eating properly. If you are not eating nutritionally, then constipation will occur as well.  If you have tried everything to remedy your situation but nothing seems to work, maybe this will help.

Thought I would share a tried and true remedy that is proven successful for my husband - Pitted Prunes !

Yes, pitted prunes are an easy solution!  You need to purchase the dried pitted (seedless) ones which seem to work more effectively than just drinking the store bought prune juice alone.  Put approximately 6 prunes and two cups of water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 min.  That's it - plain and simple!  Don't forget to not only eat the prunes but also drink the liquid - that is the solution!  I usually double the number of prunes along with the amount of water and then put the extras in the refrigerator for a another time. 

NOTE:  Adjust the amount of prunes you eat accordingly, based upon your weight and medical condition.

Such a simple solution to a problem, that if not acted upon, can make you feel very miserable.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

High Tech? More Cancer Connections & More Cancer Resources

My daughter insisted last week that I upgrade my cell phone so that I could send her longer texts messages in a much shorter time.  It was becoming painful for her to await my text replies which took forever for me to compose.  While my cell phone has endured many a harsh treatment by me from falling into a full pan of water, to being dropped at least twice on my paved driveway as well as having gone missing endless times (that will be another post one day), it has continued to provide me with the best service without fail!  But after a bit of persuasion, I was ok with at least going to the tech store to take a look at the latest gadgets that would make my texting faster.

It didn't take long for me to choose the one that seemed to offer the most features - an iPhone!  That was the one my daughter was not expecting me to choose, as she thought it was way to high tech for me!!! After all, I am only the mother, who I guess sometimes appears to their siblings NOT to be able to maneuver around today's tecky gadgets.  Anyway, I left with my new iPhone and I must admit, without my daughter's excellent instruction on just how to find my way around it, things would have taken a very slow road to using it.

I first started this blog back in 2008 to connect with other caregivers and cancer patients for support and also to learn more about my husband's cancer and what was available out there to help him.  It has proven to fulfill all of that and so much more.  I've met people right across the world, constantly keep in touch with many patients/caregivers via email, and have learned so much more about kidney cancer than I ever would have if my blog had never been developed.  So now with my new iPhone, I've decided to set up a Twitter account to connect with more people and more cancer organizations in a hopes to expand my present knowledge about cancer.  I've included my Twitter feed in the right sidebar, but now I need to try and include comments that others leave for me on Twitter (not sure how to do this, but I'm sure someone out there will give me direction).  Please feel free to leave a message right on the Chatroll blog at anytime.  It would be most appreciated.  Already I'm beginning to get Followers for my Twitter account so that is wonderful!  My account is @mckenziemoments

My purpose for writing this post however is not to advertise my Twitter account or my new phone "but" to relate the fact that I can't see for the life of me how in this high tech 21st century with all of the technological resources that are available within our health care sector, there still seems to exist such a lack of communication between and among cancer experts in the fight against this beast???  Why is cancer still so rampant?  Why can't the experts apply what works for some cancer patients to other cancer patients?  One such example would be when my husband had his nephrectomy back in 2001, he was told "we got it all - so go home and enjoy life"!  After all he has been through during these past 10 years, I shutter everytime I think about those words.  Just yesterday, I was speaking with another patient who just three years ago was told the exact words after his nephrectomy, and now is battling metastasis to several areas.  Why in the world are they not offered ADJUVANT THERAPY post cancer surgery to try everything possible to prevent the recurrence of their cancer?  If I had know such a thing even existed back in 2001, my husband would definitely have been a recipient of this therapy, but we were not even presented with this option.  Now, 10 years later, you would think just this particular topic would "always" be discussed with any cancer patient after they have undergone cancer surgery.  OK....don't get me started because I'm sure you can tell that I'm very adament about this particular topic when I read obituaries everyday in my local paper of those who have passed away after fighting a courageous battle with cancer.  I wonder immediately if they had ALL the facts about their type of cancer and if they were given every opportunity there was right from the start to beat their cancer.

Yes, this high techology provides more resources and more connections right around the world in an instant -  and my hope for today and always is that cancer experts use it to the BEST means possible to reduce cancer, to help those who continue their struggle everyday and to prevent earlier mistakes with cancer patients from every happening to anyone else again!!!

If you are a regular viewer of my blog and enjoy returning, please join my Followers gadget, leave a comment or just post a "hello" or a "comment" directly on my Chatroll chat forum at the beginning of the blog.  It's always encouraging to see that I may have provided some inspiration or knowledge to help you get through a difficult day!  Take care everyone!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What To Eat When You "Can't"

Those who know me, also know that I'm not a person who gives up when the going gets tough.  Recently my husband has had issues with trying to find foods that will encourage him to eat.  For the most part, even the smell of cooking some foods will automatically discourage his appetite, so that has become a challenge indeed.

After reseaching information on foods he needs that are high in protein and carbohydrates to regain weight,  the list seems to be quite long.  I have also realized just how unhealthy so many everyday foods that we all eat can be, especially those that contain tons of sugar.

My earlier post about drinking fully loaded shakes such as Ensure or Boost discusses the value of these supplements

Another great soure of daily nutrion is Carnation Instant Breakfast powders.  They can be purchased in different flavours such as vanille, strawberry or chocolate and you just add them to a cup of milk.  The main difference with this drink versus the Ensure or Boost is the taste. You can hardly taste the additives, and only the milk.  This same product offers a much higher protein and carbs supplement as well in the form of a liquid - Carnation Instant Breakfast Lactose Free VHC

This particular produce is great for those who have stomach or throat cancer and just one can will provide you with half of your daily requirements.

Sometimes it's best to offer those who don't have much of an appetite - very small amounts. 
One product that fits this category is Yoplait Minigo Yogurt
This product while it was manufactured primarily to appeal to younger children it is very nutritional to adults and more importantly, very easy to eat as it's taste is not overpowering for those with delicate stomachs.

My personal  advice is  cook a turkey!   This meal is timeless and of course can be served in so many different ways from it's original hot turkey meal to hot turkey sandwiches (always in small portions) and most nutritional of all, by making turkey soup.  I just finished making a LARGE quantity of it for my husband and of course put the excess in small containers which are now in my freezer.  I add pearl barley, carrots, parsnip, and lots of tomatoes to increase the soup's nutritional value.  This would be my best recommendation for a nutritous meal when your appetite is at an all time low.

One important thing to remember as well if you are having problems with your appetite or if you find you can't seem to keep much food down, is to eat is SLOWLY and in SMALL AMOUNTS - remember that slow and steady wins the race!!!  By the way, if you have eater solid foods and they have not stayed down, don't despair!!!  Maybe you did eat the way too fast and in pieces that were too large.  Go try those same foods again but in smaller portions and smaller pieces. Chew them thoroughly.  If you don't try to eat that same food again, then you never will because you will have that fear of vomiting them up again.  Remember when you were a child just starting to ride your first two wheel bike.  Did you do it the first time and probably fall off???  If you didn't get back on and try it again, then you would NEVER have learned how to ride that two-wheeler, now would you???  So, now you get my point!

Offer small helpings of fruit every now and then as well throughout the day.  It all adds up and oh yes, patients/caregivers should keep a journal of just what your patient ate today!  Why?  Because it will give you a better prospective on what works and what doesn't for another day.

Good luck with your appetite.  Some days are diamonds while others are rough, but keep eating and you WILL feel sooo much better! 

If you have suggestions as well on what works for your appetite, please send them along.  I'll write another post about them.  I'll also be adding more ideas as well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Too Many Meds Can Make You Sick

Just wanted to pass along something that my husband and I have recently experienced.  As I've mentioned earlier, he's been in hospital for most of August and upon getting released, I received a very long list of medications for him to take - some we already had at home while others needed to be filled.

After all of this time being his caregiver and after numerous discharges from hospital over these past few years, it never occurred to me that I should inquire further into this long list of prescribed meds upon his release.  So, he came home from hospital feeling terrible, I got the meds that he needed and since his requirements now were to take more than 20+ per day my daughter somehow managed to get a very nifty medicine case which held them all in perfect sequence. 

I continued giving him the meds four times each day.  Each day he continued to feel worse than the day before but again both my husband and I assumed that his increased illness was due to his medical condition and it never occurred to either of us that was not the case.

After two weeks of this constant medication taking we had some company one night.  My husband went to bed soon after feeling terrible.  He asked for pain meds which I promptly supplied and it was not until the next morning when I went to get his morning meds from the nifty medicine case that I realized his previous evening's meds were still there - I had forgotten to give them to him!!! Now being the diligent caregiver that I usually am, I could not believe I had messed up and instantly went on a guilt trip.

Once my husband was up and about that morning, he was amazingly feeling better!!!!   So we both came to the conclusion that he was feeling better due to NOT taking those pills the night before.  For the next two days, just before my husband's scheduled visit to his doctor for a follow-up from his hospital stay, we slowly decreased the meds that we thought he didn't need.  Slowly as well, my husband was returning more and more to his old self, with a little more energy, more appetite and an overall better feeling of wellness.

On the day of his apptment it was indeed determined that he did NOT need all of the prescribed meds!!!  He is now down to a little over 6 per day, versus 20+.  How did this happen?  Well after thinking about it, he was prescribed meds in hospital before a procedure that he to have completed their, and of course after he encountered enormous pain, many of the pain meds that he took while in hospital were to be continued upon his release. 

Lesson learned here though is that when you are in hospital you may have two or three different doctors from the time of admission to release.  While your prescribed meds may seem fine upon release, you should ALWAYS ask your doctor to review them carefully before you leave the hospital to ensure you really do need everything that is on the list.  If you don't need them all and you begin taking them, it will probably make you feel worse.

Just a word of caution here - thought I would share our experience with you but always check of course with your medical professional first of all before deleting any meds from your prescription.  I would definitely NOT recommend anyone to stop taking their medication - only upon your doctor's advice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Been Awhile

I've not posted here for quite awhile.  My husband has been in hospital for the mostpart during August but happy to report that is now back home once again.

Thanks to everyone for continuing to check in.

Health Care Accuracy is Vital

I appreciate the recent comment about my original post on the problems that exist in every health care system and thank you for taking the initiative to respond.  It definitely shows your organization is aware of what can happen and no doubt is acting on every issue that is presented.  I applaud you for this!

Yes, these problems do need to be acted upon immediately and should not be taken lightly by any health care institution.  Unfortunately though, complaints by patients/family about issues within our health care systems are not acted upon until something drastic happens and then it is too late for the patient(s) involved.

My husband has been a patient periodically within our present system now for over 10 years!  That is a long time indeed and during that time we have encountered many health care issues that, had I not been there with him, he most certainly would have passed away a long time ago - not because of his cancer, but because of negligent acts within the system. 

During his first ever stay in hospital back in 2001, the thought of my having to be diligent in his care during his stay never crossed my mind, as I always thought that any hospital patient always received the best care possible and to think that a mistake could happen was completely uncomprehensible!  That was my thought as well until during his second stay, but then the unthinkable happened and ever since, I'm very diligent in keeping a close eye.

I don't want to make it seem that errors in hospitals happen all the time.  I feel quite confident that in the majority of patient stays, the care and overall experiences they encounter there are very professional and always accurate, but it only takes that "one" error to make you more apprehensive about what could happen.  I totally agree that all such instances should be reported immediately and acted upon by health care officials so that the same errors will never be repeated again.  I wonder though, are they always being acted upon after they have been reported???

During the majority of my husband's many hospital stays, he has also received excellent medical care, for which we are both very thankful.  The devotion of his medical attendants has been exceptional and I applaud them for the care and treatment that they provide each and everyday to those in need.

For other health care organizations who may read this post, I would strongly encourage you to be adament about ALL complaints that are received from patients/families and investigate them thoroughly and act upon them immediately to ensure that every patient always receives the best possible care without incident.