Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beyond years

Tomorrow I have a date for lunch with two ladies who live at my Guava Gardens Apartments. They are Dora and Rosalie who are best friends with each other.

These two are unusual women. They both have a spectacular outlook on their lives. Happy and optimistic are both these ladies. I like them both a lot!

Our date begins at 11am, tomorrow. The three of us will travel in my car to the nearby City of Santee where we we have a Hibachi reservation at the Okawa Japanese Steakhouse.

Why beyond years?
I have titled this blog, "Beyond years".  Because when I first got to know these ladies, the thing that stood out about them was their years, their age. However, after a short time I began to see behind their eyes. Dora who is 104 and Rosalie who is 83 are not old women.

They are both young ladies. They just happen to be living in the bodies of old women. What a good time the three of us are going to have!

Photo explanation
I take responsibility for this photo. Rosalie and Dora who are always smiling, did not get a chance to smile. In fact, they did not get a chance to even swallow their food before I took their pic!

For some reason, I snapped this pic without saying anything to them. Luckily, they were observant and saw me readying to snap their pic and they both turned toward the camera.

We all had a swell lunch at Okawa Steak House & Sushi. Neither Rosalie or Dora had ever eaten at a Japanese hibachi. They really got a kick out of it.

Rosalie is in the background and Dora in the foreground


Monday, May 25, 2015

Big Change

It is incredible the change that has happened to my life, since I began to go to the Kaiser Sleep Well class only four weeks ago!

When I attended my first class, one of my fellow students showed me an electronic device that she was using to keep track of her sleep. When I bought one of these devices for myself, I got encouraged to go to sleep at 10pm. That 10pm change made a huge change. For years I had been going to sleep around 2am! Now I am sleeping about 5 hours each night instead of only 2 hours.

That electronic device also kept track of foot steps. I was encouraged to walk about 6,500 steps each day. This is quite a bit of walking for me. About 3 miles each day.

Remarkably, that amount of exercise has done wonders for my health. My golfing friends commented to me that I am now walking on the golf course much faster than before.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Better sleep

Several weeks ago when I began to be concerned about how little I was sleeping, I assumed incorrectly that I had a huge sleep problem that could only be helped by taking sleep medication. I asked my Kaiser doctor for an Ambien prescription, and my doctor refused to give me Ambien. Instead my doctor enrolled me into Kaiser's "Sleep Well" class.

The Sleep Well Class consists of four weekly meetings. Right now I have one weekly meeting to go. At my first meeting, one of the other patients showed me an activity tracker that she wore on her wrist. I wrote about that activity tracker [called Jawbone UP24] in a prior blog post. That Jawbone thing looked pretty neat, so I bought one at Best Buy.

The Jawbone had some "built in" sleep suggestions. One of those suggestions put me on a path which led to changing everything about my sleep problem!

That suggestion was for me to begin my bedtime at 10pm. For years my bedtime had evolved to be around 2am. Sometimes 3am! I had let my watching movies at night and messing with my computer keep me awake.

My sleeping schedule had become completely undisciplined! After I began to go to bed at 10pm, quickly my nightly sleeping time jumped to four hours. Then five hours. Last night I actually slept for six hours, which is more sleep than I have been getting for decades.

Presently, I am continuing to go to bed at 10pm. I'm only taking Melatonin to aid sleep. My brain does not feel all sleepy anymore during the day. And as a consequence, I've stopped falling asleep in the middle of the day.

I feel much better now than I've felt in years!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Jawbone UP24

After several days of using my Jawbone UP24 activity monitor that I wrote to you about before in my blog titled "Sleep Monitor", I've decided to keep on wearing it! Because this device actually serves a useful function!

For example, today my golf buddies decided not to golf because of the rain. So, I was not as active as I usually am. Instead, I drove to a nearby Armstrong Nursery to buy some flowers.

When I returned to my apartment at Guava Gardens, I noticed that the Jawbone U24 showed that I only accumulated 490 steps today. I am supposed to take 6,500 steps in a day. I am really way behind!

I decided to take a walk down Guava Avenue to the place where the road gets really steep. Then, I turned around and walked back to the apartment. When I got to the apartment, I sat on the bench seat at the front entrance and looked at the Jawbone step reading for today on my iPhone. It read over 1,500 steps!

When I went upstairs to my apartment, I made the decision to keep walking all around the hallway on my third floor. When I got back to my apartment and took another Jawbone reading, it was at 1,960 steps!

Wow! From now on I'm going to take a walk around the apartment hallways about once each hour!

8:20pm walk
After watching the evening TV news, I took another walk around my apartment house's hallways. This walk started at 2,549 steps. The first thing that happened is that I realized that I did not know where the entrance to the stairwell is located on the opposite side of the building from my apartment!! Had to search around a bit for it.

I walked on each floor from one stairwell to the opposite stairwell. When I ended my walk, I was at 3,463 steps. That's 1,260 steps on this walk,

Since my goal is 6,500 steps each day, I have 3,037 steps to go in order reach my goal.

9:20pm walk
I believe that this will be my last walk today. My Jawbone bracelet just buzzed me that it is now time to begin to prepare for 10pm bedtime!

This walk brought me to a total of 4,212 steps today!

It may be my imagination, but it seems that I am walking better now than I have walked in months! Hmmmm?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Robots take jobs

 Some years ago I recall seeing a "self-checkout" machine in a supermarket. The sight blew me away! There was one clerk attending four of these automated checkout machines.

I went up to that clerk and asked if her wages went up when these self-checkout machines were installed. I remember her laughing at my question. "No!", she answered. "We are still making the same wage."

A terrible wrong!
Employers not sharing the efficiency increase of self-checkout machines is a terrible wrong! And look where this terrible wrong has led us! We have had a revolution in computerization since the mid-1980s. Nearly everybody has benefited from computerization.

  • Have employees whose jobs have been eliminated by computerization received compensation?
  • Have employees whose jobs have been made more efficient by computerization had their wages raised accordingly?  

An automated World
A world where nearly every job and task is automated is in our future. It's coming.

Isn't it better that we phase into that World with intelligence and understanding instead simply stumbling into it?

Or would you rather see your job eliminated by a robot and then starve to death because you no longer earn a living?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sleep monitor

Because I was having trouble sleeping, my doctor at Kaiser enrolled me into a "Sleep Well" class. It's part of Kaiser's "Health Education" program. I attended my first class last Tuesday.

I quickly figured out that the focus of the class is on getting patients to become tuned into being disciplined about their sleep habits. We students were told to fill out a "Sleep well, live well sleep diary."

During the following week as I filled out my diary, I began to think about my sleep habits. It appeared that my problem was not sleep, it was actually about being undisciplined about my sleep. Over the years I had become so loving of messing around on my computer, that I did not go to bed unless I was barely able to keep my eyes open. Apparently as good sleep habits are no longer followed, they are replaced by bad sleeping habits.

I got used to only having about two hours of sleep each night. Of course, two hours sleep is not enough if that is all I am getting over a long period of time. I have now begun to go to bed at llpm every night. My daily total sleep has jumped to four hours!

Do sleep monitors work?
One of the women in my Sleep Well class had bought a sleep monitor and she showed it to me. This monitor was sold by a company called Jawbone [weird!] Their monitor was named "UP24".

I bought one of those Jawbone UP24 tracking devices for myself because the ads showed graphs of a user's sleep activity which were amazing! These graphs showed when the user got in bed, how long it took to fall asleep, when deep and light sleep occurred, how many times and when a user awoke.

I used a Jawbone UP24 for a period of four days. The reports were impressive! Then I began to wonder how this device was able to report all these kinds of data. After all, the UP24 was just a bracelet device on my wrist.

It turned out that all these tracking devices really do is measure movement. It is the manufacturer of that device which takes the movement data and "creates" the impressive reports.

It's very much like a device that reads the movement of a car's odometer and from that odometer data interprets everything that the engine does.

In my opinion, this is just nonsense. But because it looks good, users believe that the reports and graphs are real.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Lung spot

When I had heart surgery last year, Kaiser had a radiologist look at my X-rays. That radiologist found a 2+ cm spot on my lung. A PET scan was ordered to check that spot out.

There are several kinds of scanning machines that medical people use. Two of those machines, an MRI and PET Scan are long machines where a patient's entire body is inside the machine during the test. For a guy like me who is subject to claustrophobia, I have to be pretty well knocked out with medication in order to go thru either an MRI or PET Scan without freaking out.

Some doctors are simply NOT understanding of what kind of medication a claustrophobic patient needs. My primary care doctor at Kaiser apparently is one of those "NOT understanding" type doctors. When I went for my PET Scan, I freaked out and got out of that machine and refused to take that test. The medication was nowhere near strong enough for me!

This week I changed my Kaiser primary care doctor. My old primary care doc made too many mistakes with me and I got fed up with him.

My new primary care doc immediately picked up on my NOT completing that PET Scan! He insisted that I complete that test. However, he changed the test from a PET Scan to a Cat Scan. A Cat Scan is a much shorter machine than either the PET or MRI. I have had many CatScans before, and never had a problem with claustrophobia.

This afternoon I went to have that CatScan done and had no problem doing the test. The scan results will be delivered to my new primary care doc in a couple of days. Those results will determine if I need to have anything else done.

Not too concerned
I am not too concerned about a 2 cm spot on my lung. I underwent chemotherapy for 4th stage Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer in 2002. That cancer came very close to killing me. The chemo treatment disabled many of my muscles for more than five years after treatment stopped! Especially affected were my leg muscles.