Friday, July 22, 2011

Me and the Machine

It all started in February 2011 when I attended a Red Dress Affair sponsored by Duke Raleigh Hospital. The event featured a health fair, heart-healthy cooking demonstrations provided by Kroger, free advance lipid profile test provided by LipoScience, screenings by Duke Heart Center, healthy lunch, and presentations from Duke experts.

As the youngest of seven siblings who have various forms of cardio-vascular disease, I thought I knew it all. I manage my hypertension with medication, keep my weight down, eat healthy meals, and exercise regularly. I was just going for the fellowship with 20-some women from church, and free lunch.

Then, as I was finishing up my lunch of grilled salmon and green salad, a doctor started his presentation on sleep. He said, "I bet every time you go to the doctor you don't have any problem talking about your blood pressure, your blood sugar, your weight, and if anything hurts you talk about that too. But do you ever talk about how well you sleep?"

He asked five questions about sleep, from a slide that I didn't copy down. He said if you answered yes to any of these five questions, maybe you need to talk to your doctor about sleep apnea. I had answered yes to all five questions. I snore; I fall asleep when somebody else is driving; I have trouble staying awake when I'm driving; I fall asleep in the movies!! I fell asleep on Transformers, even with all that action and crashing and banging of machines.

My next 6-month checkup, I discussed it with my doctor. He didn't seem convinced that I have a problem, but he referred me to a neurologist for a sleep study. When I started talking to online friends about having a sleep study, over twenty people volunteered their own experiences, and it seemed that half the world has a CPAP machine. I don't have trouble falling asleep; my trouble is staying asleep. The study determined that I have mild sleep apnea...enough to benefit from having a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

I named him Argoyle. We've been together for two weeks now. I can't say that I get any more sleep than before, but I am getting better sleep. It's quiet enough, and the mask is unobtrusive enough that I forget I'm wearing it. I still wake up at four or five AM, but I feel refreshed.

I'll be taking Argoyle with me on a trip next week. Medicare won't pay for him unless I'm compliant, using it at least four hours per night for 30 days. Argoyle has a memory card to record my usage. So he and I will have fun going through airport security. I hope we don't make the news.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

State of Wonder

State of WonderState of Wonder by Ann Patchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Although my blog is called "Checking off the Bucket List," I don't have a list. I know when I do something extraordinary, I decide that was one. And there are some things I know will never be on my Bucket List. Going down the Amazon River is one. A few years ago, my husband and I cruised South America, starting at Valparaiso, Chile, around Cape Horn, and ending in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We had stops along that route, including Rio de Janeiro. And as close as we were to the Amazon River, the only Amazon on our lips was dot com.

I think the Amazon has been taking out its revenge on me since then. After I read John Grisham's Testament a few months ago, I thought I had learned all I ever wanted to know about the Amazon River. And now comes State of Wonder with its Lakashi tribe whose women bear children into their seventies. Dr. Annick Swenson has made it her life's work to study the elements of tribal life that make this phenomenon possible. After she presents her case to Vogel Pharmaceutical company, they fund her research with the hope of patenting a drug which will make late-life pregnancy possible for all the women who want it. (HAH!)

After Dr. Swenson has spent years with very little communication with Vogel, they send one scientist to investigate and get an update on the project. When he is reported dead, they send another pharmacologist who happens to have done a residency in obstetrics under Annick Swenson as attending physician. (Why is this sounding like my pastor's sermon this morning on the parable of the tenants, Mark 12?) Have I digressed enough?

State of Wonder is a fascinating story of love, deceit, manipulation, disease, cultural much stuff that when I finished reading last night, my brain kept processing all the threads way past midnight, thinking about the characters I had come to care about, wondering how they could return to their lives in Minnesota after they've seen the Amazon.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Larry Crowne

The Movie "Larry Crowne" answers the question, "Can a man find happiness after he loses his job, his wife, his house, and can't afford to put gas in his SUV?" Of course he can, in Tom Hanks' latest movie, written, produced, and directed by Tom Hanks.

The bigger question is, when did Tom Hanks become one of the old guys? He still looks good, but he's getting a little saggy under the eyes, and doughy around the middle. Don't get me wrong, Tom Hanks is one of my favorite actors. I have seen a lot of his movies. That's saying a lot when you consider there was a time when I would refuse to watch him in anything. I absolutely hated "Bosom Buddies," which I consider the first of the all-time-worst stupid white guy shows.

He redeemed himself with "Big." He made a believer out of me with his convincing portrayal of a little kid trapped in a grown-up body. I got on a roll with Tom Hanks after that.

Larry Crowne is a "nice" feel-good movie, with a stellar supporting cast. Julia Roberts, of course. But then Hanks gives work to a bunch of my favorite black extra star for that. Cedric the Entertainer, and Taraji P. Henson are Larry's neighbors. Where did Taraji get that housewife voice? Girlfriend has so much untapped talent. And Gugu Mbatha-Raw...remember Kodjoe's wife from "Undercovers" the series that Kodjoe couldn't save. Gugu really found her element as a flaky free spirit in this one. And Pam Grier!!! Foxy Brown herself!

With the extra star that makes four stars for Larry Crowne.