Posted in Issues, Science, Self Care, Tech

An Advert: SonoCine

We now move to the medical arts, where things quite simply aren’t as they should be.

Dr. George Papanicolaou first presented his findings that cancerous cells could be found in a vaginal smear in 1928. Despite the efforts of the American Cancer Society to promote the use of Dr. Pap’s screening tool, it took until the mid 1960’s for the test to become part of a routine check-up.

I recently went for a routine mammogram.  The results came back with phrases like: “questionable central nodularity right cc view and axillary portion left breast MLO view.”  Since my previous mammogram results were not available to this radiologist, he suggested “spot compression views and ultrasound if necessary” for further evaluation.  My nurse practitioner called me to follow up.  I told her that I wasn’t coming back for spot compression, but that I was going for SonoCine screening.  (Here’s their website.)  She hadn’t heard of SonoCine, but agreed that more radiation probably wasn’t a good thing.

SonoCiné is an automated breast ultrasound system that has been cleared by FDA as an adjunctive examination to mammography. It is a complimentary examination and not a replacement for mammography.

Early studies indicate that, when used as an adjunct to mammography, SonoCiné may find smaller cancers than may not be found by mammography alone.

SonoCine isn’t covered by health insurance plans.  As far as I can tell, it hasn’t been embraced by the medical community on the scale that it deserves to be.  So, dear consumer, it is up to you to be informed and make some noise about this.

I don’t have breast cancer.  I do have a couple of fibroadnomas.  You can read about what they are over here.

For those of you who have had breast cancer or have a history of breast cancer in your family, I recommend SonoCine.  For those of you who have ‘dense breasts’ – I recommend SonoCine.

To the medical community: It’s time you embrace a tool that works.  To the insurance companies:  Do the right thing.  Besides, this might save you some money.

SoCal folks, you can get your SonoCine at the Hall Health and Longevity Center in Venice.  (Here’s their site.)

YouTube video here.

Special thanks to Nancy, whose cancer was found by SonoCine early.  Thanks for hoisting and waving the SonoCine flag.

Posted in Self Care, WTF?

Mother’s Mania

I have spent quite a bit of time in the mental health units of a couple of Oregon hospitals. Not as a patient, mind you, and not as an employee either. I like to call it ‘patient advocate.’ My mother is 73 years old and is bipolar. She has been in the hospital multiple times, with the frequency increasing during the past decade or so. My brother and I are the chief witnesses to these events. Continue reading “Mother’s Mania”

Posted in Let's Get Visual, Self Care


Well, it’s late August, and my legs still aren’t tan. I haven’t been trying, so no wonder. The arms get tan on their own while the legs remain pasty. For the most part, my legs are not on public display. I know I’m the kind of white that blinds in bright sunshine. I keep my offending limbs under wraps much of the time.


The other day while watering my front yard wearing a droopy pair of shorts that expose me from the knee down, my next-door neighbor Steve pointed out that “my legs should be tan.”

Steve is an older (but not old) gentleman who says, “Hello, beautiful!” everytime he sees me. He’s a chatty, friendly neighbor who says if he ever sees anyone breaking in our house, he’s got a shotgun and he’ll use it. He’s given us camera equipment that he was no longer using, and a few weeks ago brought over a hunk of beef for us to barbeque. Once in a while, Steve will say something slightly bawdy, like “When I see you, I think twins, because I wish you had one.” I think he even asked me about my mother’s sex life the other day–I’m not sure. I instantly repressed it.

One can’t choose relatives or next-door neighbors, so one must learn to drop the hot potatoes when they are thrown. But Steve’s comment about my legs really irked me in that classic “men blurting out opinions about women inappropriately” kind of way. First of all, I was hand-watering the yard, and long pants are not the appropriate attire for that activity. Can’t I look schlumpy and white in my own front yard during a 20-minute babying-the-dead-grass session before scurrying back in the house to protect the public from my bleached-out gams?

Do I EVER tell Steve to put a shirt on when he wanders around shirtless in his front yard? No. Perhaps I should. Perhaps I should just bust right out and say, “Steve, I don’t want to see your nipples ever again. Please put them away.”


All this brings to mind what women endure every day. Looks, stares, eyeballing, whistles, comments, whispers, statements, yells. Have you, woman reader, ever crossed the street to avoid a construction site? Have you dreaded walking into a bar? Crossed your arms as eyes kept drifting downward? No wonder Hilary’s cleavage was national news.

Here is where I am supposed to say something wry and witty and feminist (insert your own comment here, or better, comment on this post!). All I can summon is that Steve is a good old boy, and he will continue to say good old boy (inappropriate) things. I will learn how to think on my feet, offer my objections to his comments without petulance. And my white legs will continue to make unscheduled appearances in the front yard. They really glow at twilight.


Posted in Grindstone, Self Care

Jury Duty: ‘The Secret’ is Out

Jury duty is emotionally exhausting. Wait a minute, I wasn’t impaneled. Voir dire is emotionally exhausting for potential juror #15 (that’s moi in voir dire). The case involved two defendants, both on drug charges. One of the defendants is homeless and admits that he is an addict. He sported an ivory-colored rosary to make his relationship with recovery clear.

The judge asked us to talk about family or friends who have substance abuse problems or who have been to rehab. I have stepdaughters who’ve battled methamphetamine addiction, so I had to recount this for the other 64 potential jurors, all the court personnel, the defendants and their counsel, and even the family/friends of the defendants who were there to witness the proceedings. Ouch. So ouch that I didn’t even want to write this post.

The judge was very compassionate, and acknowledged the difficulty of the situation. The behavior of these family members has had a huge impact on me, and that impact rolled right on into a new situation, this jury selection process.

The Secret would have me believe that I attracted this situation, that my negative thoughts led me to be part of a family with negativity. Among the myriad results of that negativity, at the bottom of the pile is that I was not chosen for the jury as I hoped I would be.

The best lies have a little truth in them, and The Secret fits the bill. Yes, positive thinking often yields a positive attitude, which may yield positive results in the 3-D world. But not always.

Here’s an example: I have written proposals to help non-profit organizations raise money. You do your best and you hope real hard that the funder likes what you’ve said. Sometimes they do, sometime they don’t. Can a mess o’ my positive thoughts change what the funder thinks? If I don’t think positive thoughts, am I to blame if the funder responds negatively?

The Secret wants us to believe that we have negative thoughts, conscious and unconscious, and those thoughts control our situations. The idea that the victims of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina had thoughts that attracted them “to being in the wrong place at the wrong time” is simply horrendous.

It’s easy to see how this quickly becomes “blame the victim” mentality. It creates a “them” and an “us” which is antithetical to community building. I think we all lost something on September 11, 2001, whether we were personally acquainted with any of the victims or not. Any of us could have been on those planes or in those buildings. We all lost something when our government botched the rescue of, and assistance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The funny part is that I was introduced to The Secret by a friend who had a bootleg copy of the film. So did author Rhonda Byrne think a negative thought that resulted in the unauthorized copying and distribution of her film? Or has she “attracted” so much money at this point that it doesn’t matter?

More on The Secret here and its history here.

Posted in Self Care, Uncategorized

Bad News Blues & A Palliative

Things that are bugging me:
1. Bush’s policies on torture
2. Things the Pope has said
3. Fires that keep on burning

Today’s antidote? A water aerobics class at my gym. It’s tough (but not killer) and it’s fun, which are the two main ingredients for a good workout. We run in a circle, everyone going in the same direction, and then the instructor says “Reverse!” We collapse into laughter at how difficult it is to turn around and go the other way, because the water is churning in the direction we were just going. The first couple of movements after “Reverse” basically help you stay in place, not move forward. It’s a feeling of helplessness, and we all laugh.

I feel helpless about the things that are bugging me. Thank God for water aerobics to keep it in perspective.

Posted in Green & Pleasant Land, Self Care, Uncategorized

My Genes Have Bad Teeth

As my dental hygienist said this morning, everyone’s got a weak spot in their body. Mine happens to be my teeth. I’m less than half British, but I’ve got British teeth. You can’t tell that I have British teeth right away because some of my crowns are enamel on the part that shows when I smile (and gold on the inside where it can’t be seen).

But in addition to my rather nice crowns, I have some big old fillings that were installed in a dental surgery in Mildenhall, England, ca. 1975. (It’s not a serious as it sounds…”dental surgery” is the same as “dental office.”) If you make me laugh hard and my lower jaw drops, you will see these works of dental excellence. British dentistry in 1975 wasn’t too far ahead of British dentistry in 1875. The office equipment looked to be right out of a 19th century painting. I know that one day these old fillings, one of my most lasting souvenirs from living in England for six years, will have to be replaced.

Until then, I’m engaged in a pitched battle (this link is not for the faint of heart) to keep my gums healthy. I’ve moved beyond regular maintenance to periodontal maintenance, which means a new little brush to be used post brushing and flossing to get things back in shape.

In the “new, scary things to know” category, a firm link has been established between periodontal disease and heart disease. Those crazy bacteria leave your mouth via your bloodstream and end up dancing their jig in your heart. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US…or not. Let’s just go with heart disease kills a lot of people.

My visit with my new hygienist, Carol, went well. Toward the end of the visit, it was time to polish my teeth. “Close your eyes, ” she said, “the paste has a tendency to fly.”

I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in my bathroom tonight.