Remember, the old saying - When you have your health you have everything?
Those words could not ring more true, but we are usually so caught up in the demands of life we forget how important that phrase is.
Recently, my mother was hospitalized for "routine" gall bladder surgery. Looking back, I wonder what exactly they mean by "routine". Her surgery turned out to be anything but...and it's been a most stressful time.
Thousands of people across the U.S. suffer from gall bladder related problems each year. Most have "gall bladder attacks" that are brought on by gall stones, those sometimes large and sometimes small stones that can collect in the gall bladder. There are times when a stone or two will move and get caught in the bile duct between the liver and gall bladder creating a LOT of pain.
Since this isn't a Biology lesson, I won't get into what forms the stones, etc. You can research that on the Internet if it interests you. However, if one of those stones gets lodged in the duct you risk infection and a multitude of complications. If nothing else you never know when one of the "pain attacks" will come upon you and affect your quality of life. Some people get only one attack in the their entire life, while others have many.
So, as I was saying.... most GB surgeries are termed "routine", and I never realized how untrue that can be until my mother had surgery. Her GB was not inflamed or infected, but it was sick with multiple stones and needed to be removed. The day of came and the surgery was performed and she was sent home to recover.
As older folks sometimes can suffer complications, after surgery she developed a stomach blockage from the anesthesia, and she had to go back to the hospital to see what was actually happening. Point A - the stomach blockage was located via a CT scan, but Point B was a complete shock. Guess what? A tiny gall stone was showing up in the bile duct. What? Don't they scan for such things before they send a patient home? Doesn't the surgeon cover himself and the patient and hospital making sure nothing is left behind? Guess again. It is not considered "standard procedure" to do so. The surgeon may or may not have this checked out. After all, procedures are in place by the American Surgical Board, and the Hospital Administration. Insurance may or may not cover such a procedure depending on the carrier. Lots of red tape.
I was in shock when I met with the hospital Risk Manager to ask many questions, and also to ask WHY? Why would you send a patient home from surgery like a ticking time bomb, never knowing if stones were in the bile duct? It seems a no brainer to me, but not to them. I have known three people now who lost loved ones to infection from lodged stones in the bile duct. It seems much closer to home than the percentages I've read about.
My mother had a minimally invasive procedure called and ERCP along with dye injection to located and obtain all of the stones for removal. It's an endoscopic procedure and no surgery is required. With that being successful and the stomach blockage breaking up, I thought she was out of the out of the woods and then the pancreas became irritated and swelled, and bladder infection set in, along with a tiny blood clot in the foot. Again, some of these infections might be brought on by older age, but not all. One thing can lead to another regardless of age.
The lesson here is that you need to be sure that before you consent to a gall bladder surgery, discuss the possibility of bile duct stones prior to the surgery. Make sure the surgeon, insurance and hospital agree to scan, or do some type of procedure to locate stones left behind prior to you leaving the hospital.
Approximately, 600,000 gall bladder surgeries are performed across the U.S. each day. 10-20% develop complications as a result of stones left in the bile duct. Some have no complications whatsoever, and others are not so lucky. More than 5,000 die each year from gall bladder related surgeries and complications. It may be a small number when you look at the percentages, but who wants to be the dead guy?
My mother is now home recovering from her 11 day ordeal, and I feel blessed, because it's the 2nd surgery she's had the last five years. The other surgery also had complications, so this was not the first time around for her.
Research, know your options, know your surgeon and the hospital procedures before you sign consent for surgery. Be sure you have a family member or a good friend to be your advocate and voice in the case that you're too sick to do that for yourself. It could one day save your life!
***All opinions expressed are strictly those of the writer.
This made me cry today. In a world where there is much pain, there are miracles of joy. This is one of them. Enjoy!
WELCOME BACK EVERYONE!!!
Because I love these little furry-licious creatures, I am always excited to see a new "Simon's Cat" video. There are currently three on YouTube. Enjoy!
It’s a rarity that I find a band I am truly fond of, but when I found Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies I got lucky! And, now the time has come for me to share them with you too. How did I get so lucky? Well, it’s a well known secret that a friend of mine, whose name goes unmentioned, is to be attributed with blessing me. Have Mercy!
Shane Tutmarc hails from Seattle, WA and is best known as lead man for the now defunct band, Dolour. A very bright and ingenious songwriter, Shane, his brother, Brandon, and their cousin Ryan have formed a tight family band, and the Mercies are just oozing with talent. It’s like a fresh breath of air to hear them play. And, the topics that Shane Tutmarc writes about have certainly hit home with me as I’m sure they will with music lovers all over. They pull sounds from many different music genres to keep it fresh and progressive. The instrumentations only add more color to songs about life and love. It’s the "next best thing in rock and roll", and I know you won’t be disappointed.
With their recent release "Hey Lazarus!", Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies are a band to keep your eye on!
Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies
You can check out Shane Tutmarc and the Traveling Mercies at:
Also check out Dolour at http://www.myspace.com/dolour
The Beatles make it (literally) across the Universe!
The Beatles have yet again, made music history, but this time in a bit of a different way...okay, a real different way. Last week, The Beatles song "Across The Universe" was literally catapult across the the Universe by NASA!
Scientists are continuously discovering things about the Universe they didn't know before. I will never say that there is not life on another planet, because there is too much we don't know. Every time I truly think of our "big" blue planet floating out there in space, it blows me away. We don't stop often enough to think about how miraculous that is. We're too busy trying to earn a living, take care of our families, etc. But, thought is infinite and the imagination can take us far in our journey. Who knows, maybe someone, somewhere far, far away will be listening and trying to make sense.
To read more (click on the link below):
Engineers at JPL's mission control initiated a signal telling the NASA's Deep Space Network to send the song into space. Image credit: NASA/JPL.
Best Out of State Roadtrip: Grave hunting in haunted Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, TN.
Best CA Roadtrip: Pala Mines in San Diego County
Best restaurant: Savannah, Costa Mesa, CA - great food and love those all class red walls. http://www.culinaryadventures.com/restaurants/savannah/info_costa_mesa.html
Best Chiropractic treatment: Dr. Chan - accupressure is wonderful!
Best Find: Turtle Wax Express Shine Spray Wax - works awesome
Best Convention: Gem Faire Southern CA.
Best Resolution: Only enjoy live music once in a while. Objective: appreciate favorite artists more, instead of hanging out in a music scene week after week.
Best Concert: Donny Osmond in concert after "who knows" how many years.
Best Class: Forensics - Criminal Justice
Best Intentions: Helping repost Animal Rescue info on the net.
Best Outdoor Adventure - bike riding on fresh ocean air beach trails
Best Celebrity Meeting: Tyson, the skateboarding Dog - Huntington Beach, CA
Best Hobbies: Jewelrymaking and Painting
Best Internet Purchase - The Zune by Microsoft
Best Prediction: From a Psychic in TN - Marriage is in your future whether you want it or not. (ha)
Best To Come: Positive energy prayer that 2008 will be the best year ever!
Yesterday, on the edge of my chair, I listened to a favorite radio show. Special guest, Dr. Gary Ridenour spoke about the coming Pandemic flu (H5N1 virus), otherwise known as Bird Flu. We've had meetings about this at my place of employment and it is definitely a part of our Disaster Recovery Program. It's no joke. Most people are unaware that the great Spanish Flu of 1918 that killed 50-100 million people was a form of bird flu. In this generation we can't fathom losing that many people within a short time. I'll spare the details, because the journey through a Pandemic is grim until it burns itself out. Metropolitan areas are unprepared because we rely on electricity, public transportation and shipped in goods. Again, as a nation we're unprepared for another possible travesty. So, it's a good idea to stock up on foods to have in your homes that will last 10-15 days. When a Pandemic hits you can stay indoors and away from people until it's safe to go out. Sounds like something out of a horror flick, I know, and I thought about not writing this....being labeled paranoid. But, I find it's better to be aware and do what you can prior, so I do believe in having some food stock on hand.
H5N1 (Avian flu) is seen to your immune system as being the biggest invasian to your body that the immune system has ever seen. In layman terms, the T cells will attack the virus in groves and in such overkill fashion that the body basically attacks itself. You wake up one morning sick and start coughing, then coughing blood from your lungs, and by late afternoon you are gone. It's that quick. The body burns itself out. Grim, yes....but I don't like to stick my head completely in the sand and since we've had meetings on a Pandemic outbreak, I like to hear the facts.
Mutation is the key factor. Dr. Ridenour noted that the pig flu and bird flu have already adjoined forces and infected pigs. Pigs are closely related biologically to humans, and so Scientists are closely watching the mutation process.
So, with that, maybe you'd like to educate yourself as well. Virus and Bacteria are the biggest threat to mankind, and yet it is fascinating to realize that these minute micro-organisms can in but a few minutes determine the fate of the human race.
The good news is that scientists are working on a Pandemic vaccine for all types of Influenza A. Let's hope they are successful very soon!
Identity theft has gone high tech. Everyone is at risk. Read about one of Orange County's biggest and most diabolical ID Theft Rings.
Orange County Weekly
A Little Saigon identity-theft ring pounded OC businesses until one cop saw a tear in its veil of secrecy
By R. SCOTT MOXLEY
If anyone had watched Tina Thi Tran open the front door of her nondescript rented house on Forrest Lane in the heart of Little Saigon at 12:15 p.m. on June 14, 2005, they wouldn't have guessed they were looking at an undisputed giant among Orange County's criminal masterminds.
Why should they? Standing at 4-foot-8, Tran might have appeared like a slightly lost Vietnamese immigrant.
But police detectives hidden from view were watching 45-year-old Tran as she drove away in a battered, blue 1997 Dodge van that day. Or was her name Thuy T. Huynh? Or Liz? Or something else? She had stockpiled hundreds—if not thousands—of fake identities, cops would later allege.
Although officers conducting Tran's surveillance didn't know her real name at the time, they were sure she was tied to a brazen Vietnamese-American criminal organization that routinely burglarized stores at the county's ritziest shops in South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island, according to law-enforcement records.
Because of the electronic nature of today's commerce, Tran's group didn't need to use guns, knives or threats of violence to steal. These thieves relied on warm smiles and chatty demeanors, coupled with counterfeit driver's licenses and credit cards, to calmly walk out of Southern California shops with perhaps more than $1 million per year in high-end merchandise, police say. Among their favorite targets were plasma televisions, Rolex and Movado watches, Gucci handbags, gift cards, laptop computers, and anything by Cartier or Louis Vuitton.
Success bred confidence. So convinced of their infallibility, ring members even gave tips to shop clerks if they'd help carry the stolen products out of stores and into getaway vehicles. In many cases, it wasn't until weeks later, if ever, that employees realized they'd been duped.
Tran's identity-theft operation—which had elaborate safeguards against detection—might still be ripping off stores today if it weren't for a momentary tear in the veil of her organization. Tran wasn't aware of the gaffe, but a dogged young police detective hadn't missed it.
* * *
Damon Tucker, a fraud investigator with the Orange County district attorney's office, sits in a small fifth-floor cubicle with a north-facing window overlooking Santa Ana and the distant San Gabriel Mountains. Tucker doesn't have a very sexy title, but he's no unkempt desk jockey counting the days until an Idaho retirement. He's a tall (6-foot-1), lean (180 pounds), blue-eyed athlete (world-class swimming and track) who wouldn't look out of place on MTV's The Real Orange County: Newport Harbor High—except he's in his thirties.
In Spain in 2003, he was a member of the four-person OC team that won the World's Toughest Competitor Alive games, which include runs, rope climbs, bench presses and an obstacle course. Two other years, he was instrumental in the team winning second place.
Tucker is guarded about his own life. For example, he's from the Midwest, but he won't say which state. A shoulder shrug is his answer to what city he lives in. His age? He volunteered a ballpark figure.
But our own probe found that the detective balances all of his wholesomeness with a hint of rebellion. He's a bassist and vocalist in a Huntington Beach-based U2 tribute band. In 1992, he also started the band Parkaimoon with guitarist Tony Howell. Their success earned them a spot on KDOC's Buzzz Television show.
But it's Tucker's skill in tracking white-collar criminals that has earned him frequent tours as an expert lecturer on identity theft to other detectives, store security professionals, college students and even community groups. Cal State Long Beach employs him as an instructor in its criminal-justice program.
Tucker's ability became apparent while he worked as a detective for the Irvine Police Department in the late 1990s. EBay-related Internet crimes were skyrocketing, especially in that city's well-to-do neighborhoods. While some older detectives were baffled in their attempts to solve these new types of high-tech scams, Tucker proved adept at catching such crooks.
White-collar crime wasn't his first choice of assignments, though.
"I wanted to be like Martin Riggs [Mel Gibson's character in the Lethal Weapon series]," he recalls. "I wanted to be working homicides and narcotics. But somebody thought I was good at solving computer and high-tech cases. I guess it was fate."
Though it would take half a decade, Tucker's career turn put him on a collision course with Tran and her crew.
* * *
Police detectives say there are two types of white-collar-crime conspiracies: roundtable and hub-and-spoke. In a roundtable scheme, most, if not all, of the criminals meet and plot strategy as a group. In a hub-and-spoke arrangement, a shot-caller gives directions to a supporting crew whose compartmentalized roles prevent them from knowing the identities of most of their accomplices.
According to Tucker, Tran built a hub-and-spoke ring that maximized efficiency and limited risk. Even if one person in the ring was arrested, he wouldn't know enough to lead cops through several layers of the chain of command. Certainly, Tran—as the unlikely ringleader—couldn't be touched if everything went as planned.
"If you look at her on the street, you'd never know in a million years what this little lady was up to," Tucker says. "She was really smooth, and she ran a good organization. It was a corporation, really. It had a human-resources department. It had management. It made investments. It had recruiting. It had a raw-material section. It kept detailed records. It had everything a corporation has—but they didn't pay taxes or obey the law."
In short, these people knew what they were doing.
"ID-theft rings don't randomly walk into your shop," Tucker says. "They've given it a lot of thought. For example, they're looking for places where employees get a commission and maybe won't question a suspicious situation."
Work in Tran's ring was divided into three roles, according to police: collectors of stolen identities, converters of the stolen data and passers (or runners) who hit the stores
Click below to read more: