Friday, September 29, 2017

A Visit to a Neurologist

Our Slidell oncologist sent us to a Neurologist in Lacombe, LA.  Dr. Becker at the Northlake Neurological Institute.

Went to see him on Monday.  He spent about 40 minutes checking out Dom's neuropathy.  Really NICE guy.

He had us return yesterday for some testing of his legs and feet:

Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) Test

What is it?
A nerve conduction velocity test, also called a nerve conduction study, measures how quickly electrical impulses move along a nerve. It is often done at the same time as an electromyogram, in order to exclude or detect muscle disorders.

A healthy nerve conducts signals with greater speed and strength than a damaged nerve. The speed of nerve conduction is influenced by the myelin sheath—the insulating coating that surrounds the nerve.

Most neuropathies are caused by damage to the nerve's axon rather than damage to the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve. The nerve conduction velocity test is used to distinguish between true nerve disorders (such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease) and conditions where muscles are affected by nerve injury (such as carpal tunnel syndrome).

Why should I do it?
This test is used to diagnose nerve damage or dysfunction and confirm a particular diagnosis. It can usually differentiate injury to the nerve fiber (axon) from injury to the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve, which is useful in diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

How is it performed?
During the test, flat electrodes are placed on the skin at intervals over the nerve that is being examined. A low intensity electric current is introduced to stimulate the nerves.

The velocity at which the resulting electric impulses are transmitted through the nerves is determined when images of the impulses are projected on an oscilloscope or computer screen. If a response is much slower than normal, damage to the myelin sheath is implied. If the nerve's response to stimulation by the current is decreased but with a relatively normal speed of conduction, damage to the nerve axon is implied.

How will it feel?
There is generally minimal discomfort with the test because the electrical stimulus is small and usually is minimally felt by the patient.

Electromyography (EMG)

What is it?
An electromyogram (EMG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of a muscle. It detects any signs of blocking or slowing down of responses to nerve stimulation. The test provides information about the muscle itself and shows how well it receives stimulation from the nerve. A nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test is often done at the same time as an EMG.

Why should I do it?
An EMG is often used to evaluate unexplained muscle weakness, twitching or paralysis, and to find the causes of numbness, tingling and pain. EMG testing can differentiate between true weakness and reduced use because of pain or lack of motivation. It can also determine whether a muscle disorder begins in the muscle itself or is caused by a nerve disorder.

How is it performed?
In an EMG, a physician or technician inserts a very fine needle, which serves as an electrode, through the skin into the muscle. With the electrode in place, the patient is asked to slowly contract the muscle—for example, by bending the arm—with gradually increasing force, while the electrical activity is being recorded. The activity can be displayed visually on an oscilloscope or screen, or played audibly through a speaker. The results can provide information about the ability of the muscle to respond to nerve stimulation.

How will it feel?
The patient may feel some minor discomfort, similar to an injection, when the needle or needles are inserted. Afterward, the examined muscle may feel tender or sore for a few days, and there may be a small bruise.

Doc performed the above tests and concluded that Dom had severe acute neuropathy from his chemotherapy, as well as atrophy from loss of movement.

The Good News is that nerves will come back at the rate of 1 inch per month.

As far as the muscles, his Physical Therapy is helping.

Dom is also taking 900 mg. of Gabapentin per day.  He's starting to get back some feeling (pain) in his feet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Can It & Ferment It

I was tickled to receive this book from the publisher.  I've always been too intimidated to can.  This publication has built my confidence!

When things finally return to "normal" around here, I'm going to start canning!

Welcome to the world of produce preservation. In Can It & Ferment It, blogger and preservation enthusiast Stephanie Thurow brings the canning and fermenting communities together by offering recipes that work for both canning and fermenting. From a first-timer to the advanced preservationist, Can It & Ferment It shows canners and fermenters alike how they can have the best of both worlds.

Stephanie explains the differences between the canning and fermentation processes, emphasizes the importance of using local and organic produce, describes canning and fermenting terminology and the supplies needed for both methods, and offers more than seventy-five fun and easy recipes for every season. Readers will learn how to preserve each fruit or vegetable in two different ways; each can be enjoyed water bath–canned or as a healthy, probiotic-rich ferment.

Recipes in this helpful guide include strawberry chutney, the perfect garlic dill pickle, spring onion kimchi, cinnamon-honey apple butter, and more!

This is a nice hardback book with full-color photos and EASY instructions.

I especially like that recipe pages have a "NOTES" section.

It's Been a GREAT 2 Days!

We're finally starting to see light at the end of this dreary tunnel.

Yesterday we had an appt. with Dr. Becker at the Northlake Neurological Institute.

Nice, nice guy.  He spent probably 40 minutes with Dom.  Checked his reflexes, etc.  We're going back on Thursday for some type of "nerve testing".  I believe that it will entail electricity, pins, rubber mallet, etc.

He reassured Dominic that he's had plenty of Chemo patients in the same boat.  We're very hopeful!

Later, we went to Physical Therapy.  He's really busting his ass and performing better each session.  He finally realizes that he's getting stronger.

Which leads us to today:

He got out of his wheelchair and got into his Silverado truck!  Took it for a spin around the property with NO PROBLEM!

That did wonders for his attitude!

So..... we're feeling GREAT today!  Thank you for the continued prayers and thoughts, gang!

Thursday, September 21, 2017


I was sent a copy of this cookbook from the publisher.  It's a lovely, heavy, spiral bound publication with gorgeous full-color illustrations.

The timing of this was wonderful, as Dom and I are unable to travel until we get him out of the wheelchair/physical therapy/stem cell transplant-  So, this will be my go-to weekend cookbook!
Quick and easy meals will always have a place in our kitchens (and in our hearts), but sometimes it’s nice to take your time and put a meal together with a little extra care and love. This all-new collection of recipes will tempt family and friends to the table for Sunday supper, or for a home-cooked dinner any day of the week.

Whether you want to prepare an elegant feast for a special occasion or need some simple ideas for meals that will entice your family back to good food, good conversation and laughter at the dinner table, these recipes celebrate what’s on the table – and who’s around it.

Elizabeth Chorney-Booth is a blogger and food writer with 15 years of professional writing. Sue Duncan grew up cooking and eating at every opportunity with her best friend Julie Van Rosendaal, who is a regular CBC radio food columnist, food writer and editor. The three of them grew up enjoying Best of Bridge recipes so they're absolutely thrilled to be carrying on the legacy. They are authors of Best of Bridge Home Cooking and Best of Bridge The Family Slow Cooker.

I HIGHLY recommend this cookbook.  Get it here: BEST OF BRIDGE

Or Here:

Spiral-bound: 324 pages
Publisher: Robert Rose; Spi edition (September 19, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0778805751
ISBN-13: 978-0778805755
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.5 x 10.5 inches

It's Nice to be Loved- Such WONDERFUL Friends

We were stunned at the outpouring of help and love from our small social circle.

Firstly, Richard McM appeared with a wheelchair for Dom and built a wheelchair ramp from our Kitchen down to the Living Room.

He returned the next day to "tweak" the ramp and remove our Master bathroom door and knocked out the door frame.  Such a great help.  We love you, "Big Rich"!!!!
Secondly, a family friend from Newbury, Ohio insisted on sending us a Transport Chair.  Someone had done it for her, and she wanted to "Pay it Forward".  (I promised her that I would do the same).  Wouldn't you know it-  Amazon delivered a beautiful new transport chair just 2 days later! I'm able to lift it easily.  I'm keeping it in the hatchback of my Eclipse.

So very thoughtful.  We LOVE YOU, Rondi!
Shortly after this, Dom ordered a Burn Barrel.  Dennis and Cheryl picked it up, cut the bottom off of it and set it up for me.  THANKS, guys!  We LOVE YOU!
Then, last week, Wendy and Bubby literally FILLED my refrigerator and freezer with oodles of food.  Red Beans/Rice with Sausage, White Beans with Ham, Chicken and Dumplings, Dirty Rice (better than Popeyes!!!).  Into the refrigerator went Crawfish Pasta Salad and delicious Potato Salad.

Bubby is returning soon with a friend to remove the cap off of Dom's pickup truck.  I can't see out the rearview mirror and don't trust myself driving that big thing with side mirrors.  What a GREAT help you have been to us!  Many THANKS!

WHAT WONDERFUL FRIENDS WE HAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Busy Few Weeks- Hanging in There!

Hi gang-

Dom is just finishing up his 3rd week of Physical Therapy.  We love the entire team and are hopeful that he'll strengthen.

Each visit (3 times a week), they're introducing new exercises and he's outdoing himself.  The man is driven!

We had a busy day yesterday.  Slidell Oncologist at 10:30.  A long lunch at the great Mexican joint next door.  They back to the Cancer Center for a Zometa drip.  His hip is killing him today, so the stuff is "doing it's thing", happily.  Our last stop was Physical Therapy, which went well.

Our Slidell Oncologist has referred Dom to a well-known Neurologist in Lacombe, LA.  We have an appointment on Monday morning.  We're hopeful that this guy will figure something out.

Dom is still in a wheelchair and gets around with a walker with the help of his therapists.

We're headed to Tulane during the first week of October.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Physical Therapy

Well, Dom started Physical Therapy on Monday.  Three days per week.  So far, so good.

He's still in a wheelchair, but they've got him strengthening his ankles and knees and walking with a walker.

His neuropathy is horrible.  He cannot feel his feet.

Our next appointment is with his Slidell oncologist in about 2 1/2 weeks.  Then Tulane Cancer Center the following week.

We're also back to weekly blood work.  He got a little "kooky/confused" on Wed., so we had blood work done today.  I pumped him full of salt Wed. afternoon, and he snapped out of his daze.

Low Sodium in Blood (Hyponatremia): Definition, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

I never realized how dangerous this can be!

While many of us are trying to reduce the amount of sodium we ingest, there are some people who need to boost their intake. Low sodium in blood is medically referred to as hyponatremia and can lead to serious consequences if left untreated. As we need sodium for proper functioning, it is important to understand what causes low levels and to be aware of hyponatremia symptoms.

We need sodium to help maintain blood pressure, regulate fluids, and aid in the function of our nerves and muscles. The official hyponatremia definition is the lack of sodium in the blood necessary to regulate the water used by our cells. Once the sodium level drops, our cells expand from the abundance of water present in the blood. This can cause mild symptoms of nausea and headaches and eventually lead to rapid brain swelling and death.

A normal sodium level is between 135 to 145 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). Hyponatremia is present when levels drop below 135 mEq/L. We will next investigate hyponatremia causes.

What Causes Low Sodium in Blood?

Hyponatremia causes can be linked to direct and indirect factors. As our blood sodium levels drop, it is important to take note of recent lifestyle changes, any existing or new health conditions, and possible effects of prescribed medication.

1. Excess Water Intake

The sodium levels in our blood become depleted as we sweat, and we may overcompensate by drinking too much water. Strenuous exercise such as running can cause us to sweat profusely and replenishing with water may dilute our sodium content.

2. Dehydration

On the flip side, we can easily become dehydrated by not drinking sufficient amounts of water. This stage causes us to lose electrolytes such as sodium and other fluids.

3. Hormonal Changes

Health conditions affecting our hormone balance can also cause hyponatremia. Our adrenal glands produce hormones to help balance the water, sodium, and potassium levels. Low functioning adrenal glands and an underactive thyroid will cause sodium levels to drop.

4. Drugs

Over-the-counter and prescribed medications may have an adverse effect on the sodium levels in our blood. These can include antidepressants, pain relievers, and diuretics. The recreational drug known as ecstasy can lead to a rapid drop in sodium levels that may result in death.

5. Severe Diarrhea or Vomiting

We may lose valuable nutrients, electrolytes, and fluids through severe bouts of diarrhea and vomiting.

6. Chronic Illness

Certain health conditions can create an environment within our body where fluid retention is a major factor. The buildup of water will quickly lower sodium blood levels. This can include heart, liver, and kidney disease.

7. Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone (SIADH)

SIADH leads the body to produce the antidiuretic hormone, also known as vasopressin, in excess. The resulting water retention can cause sodium levels to decrease.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hyponatremia

There are several symptoms that indicate the sodium levels in your blood have dropped too low. Initial stages of low levels may not present any symptoms unless they drop rapidly.

Weakness  DOM
Fatigue   DOM
Confusion  DOM
Cramping or muscle spasms  DOM
Loss of consciousness

If you seek medical advice for any of these symptoms, you can expect a thorough examination by your physician. Based on your symptoms, the physical examination, and details of your medical history, you may be required to undergo a series of tests. A diagnosis of hyponatremia may result from an osmolality (chemical) blood test, a urine osmolality, a comprehensive metabolic panel, or a urine sodium test.

How to Increase Sodium Levels

Hyponatremia treatment starts with increasing sodium levels in the blood as determined by the cause. Under a doctor’s care, or as an existing hospital patient, you may receive a prescribed dose of diuretics, a sodium solution through intravenous injection or pill form, for the symptoms.

There are some suggestions for low sodium treatment at home, which also may help to prevent levels from dropping.

1. Sodium-Infused Juices

Drinks enriched with sodium such as vegetable juices can boost your blood sodium levels. An eight-ounce glass of the popular V8 brand may contain up to 500 milligrams of sodium, so be mindful of your daily intake. You can balance sodium levels with a low-sodium vegetable juice if in need of a smaller boost.

2. Maintain Adrenal Glands Production

You can keep your adrenal glands working properly by maintaining a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, coconut products, seaweed, and foods enriched in B vitamins. Our adrenal glands also need appropriate sleep, rest, and exercise to produce sufficient hormones to balance the electrolyte levels.

3. Replenish Electrolytes

Not just for athletes, sports drinks can help to replenish sodium levels, especially after a strenuous workout or run. The best sports drinks will have 100 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and 28 milligrams of potassium in an eight-ounce serving.

4. Limit Certain Drinks

When looking for high-sodium drinks to increase levels, limit beverages that do not have any nutritional benefit. Drinks such as hot chocolate, flavored coffees, and fruit juices may have high sodium content but do not offer essential nutrients.

A low sodium in blood level can lead to scary outcomes if ignored. Although the American Heart Association estimates 97% of Americans consume too much sodium, hyponatremia is a common condition. We rely on sodium for the proper functioning of many organs, including our skin cells. Blood sodium levels can drop gradually or rapidly, depending on the underlying cause. Symptoms and the condition of hyponatremia may be treated and possibly prevented with lifestyle choices and remedies.