Category Archives: Blog Admin

Caregiving Has No Borders!


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Join us on Thursday August 1st at 8:00 pm (EST) for ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver’ as we cross the Canadian border to visit with best-selling author, Rick Lauber from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada!   To listen to our show live, simply click here!

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Rick’s book Caregivers Guide For Canadians’ is masterful and great read, no matter what side of the border you live. Our conversation on Thursday will focus on Rick’s book, as well as how do we best care, for the Caregiver.

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 There are no geographical boundaries when it comes to Caregiving. While there are difference in health care between Canada and the United States, there are plenty of commonalities with Caregivers in our two countries. On Thursday’s show, we will discuss many of these important issues as well as how Rick’s Caregiving, led to his book, ‘Caregivers Guide For Canadians.’  We will be taking your calls as well during our second segment! Your questions are welcome  during the second segment of the show at 646.487.3716

From our conversation with Rick, we will all learn how to ‘Be A Healthy Caregiver.’

To visit Rick online, simply click here! 

To listen to our show live, simply click here!

Can’t listen to our show live…NO Worries!  All our episodes are archived for your listening convenience by clicking here! 

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November – National Care Givers Month


November is National Care Givers Month!

 We all know some one who is a caregiver, whether we find ourselves taking care of a loved one, know someone who takes care of a loved one, or even if we have heard an inspritational story on the news.

 In today’s busy world it can be easy to forget to show our appreciation to those who make a difference in our lives and the lives of others everyday. As we prepare to celebrate another Thanksgiving, let us give thanks to those who choose to spend their days serving others.

“Appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts.”
Alan Cohen

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Downsizing


While we know that the tumor has been downsized by the radiation and chemotherapy treatments, we have taken a long look at our personal belongings and have started the process of downsizing in this area too.  So far, the experience has been quite cathartic.

How much ‘stuff’ does one really need to be comfortable in life?  China that has never been used, kitchen gadgets (well, except for the Tumor Extractor!), glasses, roasting pans; yikes where did all this stuff come from?   And better yet… what really is the need?

Funny as it seems, when I was in the seminary those little rooms we lived in seemed so small…now as I look back at that experience, living austerely has its benefits.  Thomas Merton does know what he is talking about!

Cancer is a life changing experience for all who are involved in it.  We have grown closer because of the disease and have I have come to a reality check with my life.   You see, what is important is not how many items you collect, rather what is important is how many lives you touch.   The last few years I have lost touch with my own reality; cancer does have its peculiar benefits.

As the green leaves transition to beautiful autumn colors, we are in a transition mode as well.  What we do for ourselves dies with us.  What we do for others will ever be immortal.  I am honored and proud to be a caregiver, it is one of the most remarkable experiences in life.  I am also grateful for the reality check that our downsizing has provided to us.  May the ‘Little One’s’  health continue to improve; let the downsizing begin!

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The Paper in Hand or the Words From Your Lips?


Medical Directives, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxies are all important documents to have readily available when you or your loved one is working through the health care system.   These documents are equally important for non traditional families in order to establish communication between health care service providers as well as securing  visiting rights  for their partners and loved ones.

I was recently told of a story of a women who had enlisted her sister as her health care surrogate.  The health care surrogate did not agree with her sisters life style, denied her access to all her friends, instructed the staff to dress her  only in the clothes she had purchased for her only because the surrogate did not approve of her life style.   This cliff note version of this story is one of the saddest stories that I have ever been told in regards to heath care directives.

Imagine spending your life with someone only to be denied access to them because of someone’s bigotry? 

 

In my book, advocacy does not mean control, rather it means to stand up for your loved one in the manner in which they want to be represented

As ‘The Little One’ and Imuddle through the legal jargon in order to get him the best care plan possible,  these documents are critical to have in place.  I bring this topic up today to remind all of us for the need to have ‘all our ducks in a row’ because you just never know when you are going to need your medical directives, health care proxies and living wills.

However, it just makes sense that when a patient is of sound mind and body, a simple verbal permission by the patient should be sufficient to ensure communication between the patient’s advocate and the health care staff.  That is not always the case, which is way having the legal documentation in place is critical at these times.  Dealing with a critical  illness is difficult enough, having to worry ones advanced directives just makes it even worse.

 I am so proud of ‘The Little One’ as he fights to rid this disease from his body.   His determination to see this through is admirable; I am not sure that I would have the same strength and courage that he has demonstrated these past four weeks.     With just seven more treatments to go of radiation and one more treatment of chemotherapy, we are in the home stretch of this first and hopefully last round of cancer treatments.  There is indication that the tumor has shrunk, yet we will not know the results of the treatments until 30 days past the completion of the radiation and chemotherapy.

We will make it through these next 10 days and point to Wednesday October 5th…When ‘The Little One’ returns to our northern home

 

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Filed under Advocate, Blog Admin, Caregiving, Chemotherapy, Esophagus Cancer, Medical Office, radiation, Senior Housing, Uncategorized

What is Cancer of the Esophagus?


The esophagus

The esophagus is a hollow, muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach. Food and liquids that are swallowed travel through the inside of this tube (called the lumen) to reach the stomach. The esophagus is usually between 10 and 13 inches long. The normal adult esophagus is roughly ¾ of an inch across at its smallest point.

The wall of the esophagus has several layers. The layer that lines the inside of the esophagus is called the mucosa. The mucosa has 2 parts: the epithelium and the lamina propria. The epithelium forms the lining of the esophagus and is made up of flat, thin cells called squamous cells. The lamina propria is a thin layer of connective tissue right under the epithelium.

The next layer is the submucosa. In some parts of the esophagus, this layer contains glands that secrete mucus. The layer under the submucosa is a thick band of muscle called the muscularis propria. This layer of muscle contracts in a coordinated, rhythmic way to push food along the esophagus from the throat to the stomach. The outermost layer of the esophagus is formed by connective tissue. It is called the adventitia.

The upper part of the esophagus has a special area of muscle at its beginning that relaxes to open the esophagus when it senses food or liquid coming toward it. This muscle is called the upper esophageal sphincter. The lower part of the esophagus that connects to the stomach is called the gastroesophageal junction, or GE junction. There is a special area of muscle near the GE junction called the lower esophageal sphincter. The lower esophageal sphincter controls the movement of food from the esophagus into the stomach and it keeps the stomach’s acid and digestive enzymes out of the esophagus.

The stomach has strong acid and enzymes that digest food. The epithelium or lining of the stomach is made of glandular cells that release acid, enzymes, and mucus. These cells have special features that protect them from the stomach’s acid and digestive enzymes.

In some people, acid escapes from the stomach back into the esophagus. The medical term for this is reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In many cases, reflux can cause symptoms such as heartburn or a burning feeling spreading out from the middle of the chest. But sometimes, reflux can occur without any symptoms at all. If reflux of stomach acid into the lower esophagus continues for a long time, it can damage the lining of the esophagus. This causes the squamous cells that usually line the esophagus to be replaced with glandular cells. These glandular cells usually look like the cells that line the stomach and the small intestine and are more resistant to stomach acid. The presence of glandular cells in the esophagus is known as Barrett’s (or Barrett) esophagus. People with Barrett’s esophagus are much more likely to develop cancer of the esophagus (about 30 to100 times normal). These people require close medical follow-up in order to find cancer early. Still, although they have a higher risk, most people with Barrett’s esophagus do not go on to develop cancer of the esophagus.

Esophageal cancer

Cancer of the esophagus (also referred to as esophageal cancer ) starts in the inner layer (the mucosa) and grows outward (through the submucosa and the muscle layer). Since 2 types of cells line the esophagus, there are 2 main types of esophageal cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.

The esophagus is normally lined with squamous cells. The cancer starting in these cells is called squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer can occur anywhere along the length of the esophagus. At one time, squamous cell carcinoma was by far the more common type of esophageal cancer in the United States, making up to 90% of all esophageal cancers. This has changed over time, and now it makes up less than 50% of esophageal cancers in this country.

Cancers that start in gland cells are called adenocarcinomas. This type of cell is not normally part of the inner lining of the esophagus. Before an adenocarcinoma can develop, glandular cells must replace an area of squamous cells, which is what happens in Barrett’s esophagus. This occurs mainly in the lower esophagus, which is the site of most adenocarcinomas.

Cancers that start at the area where the esophagus joins the stomach (the GE junction) or the first part of the stomach (called the cardia) used to be staged as stomach cancers. But because these cancers behave like esophagus cancers (and are treated like them, as well), they are now grouped with esophageal cancers.

 

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Hello World…Welcome to ‘The Purple Jacket’


It only seems fitting that the birth of my new blog, “The Purple Jacket” should begin on my 54th birthday! You might ask “Why the ‘Purple Jacket?

The Purple Jacket” signifies a time in my life that was… and still is…”a life changing event.” We have all had life changing events. Those events often forged from a life crisis are the types of events that fundamentally change our outlook on life and cause us to pause and reflect on our true values. At the time, these life changing event are or can be extremely traumatic. However, these events test our values and often have a cathartic or cleansing effect whereby we emerge from these events stronger and more focused on our values.

The Purple Jacket” will focus on living life in a calm and peaceful manner. It will focus on the individual and about how Seniors can live a full life on their own terms. The conversations will often include discussion of our personal networks of family and friends. These conversations will often be about developing long-lasting relationships based on honesty, sincerity and personal integrity consistent with our values.

In “The Purple Jacket,” we will often talk about the role of the caregiver in maintaining the independence, dignity and quality of life of the Senior. We will discuss how the caregiver can be a more effective advocate for the Senior and will deliver information that every Senior, caregiver and family needs to know when discussing these issues. The blog will also discuss how fellowship, the community and even the arts assisted me with my life changing event. In the end, “The Purple Jacket” will share my experiences and insights as a caregiver.

This blog will attempt to translate and build upon my caregiving experience. You will not be inundated with mundane statistics. Rather, this blog will focus on every day issues we face in our lives and the need to develop honest relationships and a holistic approach to good health and spirituality.

I am happy to have you share in this journey and hope that you regularly return to read “The Purple Jacket.”

Keep in touch with me at Chris@thepurplejacket.com

Best wishes,

Chris

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February 18, 2011 · 6:51 pm