Other VanOrden Posts

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013 --- VanOrden FAMILY FUN

We were able to be together with 4 of our 5 adult children for Christmas.  Our daughter Heather and her husband Miguel are stationed back East near Wilmington North Carolina. Skype helped us feel close to them for about an hour on Christmas afternoon.   The wonders of technology making the world smaller all the time. 

In the picture below from left to right are: Dan, Mike, Amara, Jeannie, me, Jason.  We are so blessed to have wonderful children and proud of the good they are accomplishing in their lives.  We hope the new year will bring many opportunities and successes for all of our friends and extended family.  Onward to 2014...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Retirement Brings an Increased Awarness of Health Needs and Worries about Obamacare

I haven't been able to write for some time.  My right arm has been "disabled" due to Ulnar nerve damage that required surgery.  That took place 6 days ago on November 15.  Turns out my Ulnar nerve was badly pinched.  My doctor was able to "release" the nerve without having to relocate it. 

Currently, I am in a soft cast that immobilizes  my right elbow while the incision heals.  The pain will subside as time passes and the Ulnar nerve heals now that it is no longer compressed at the elbow joint.  The pain is bad, but I am on the path toward healing.   

If I had not retired and moved from Alaska to a more reasonable health-costs area we would have been spending way too much on getting my body up to snuff so we can enjoy retirement.  We have saved $1000's simply by being able to use network providers for all of our aliments. 

 I can't swing a golf club right now so I go with my wife Jeannie as a spectator/coach.  She prefers the spectator more than the coach but is getting used to constant scrutiny as she makes her way around the course.  I have to say she has made three years progress in one years time.  Her golf game is becoming quite savvy.  We really enjoy getting out on the course in the fresh air.

In the past few months I have been through three surgeries.  Even though it has been a real ordeal for my body, it has all been essential for future quality of life.  Thus far Obamacare has not impacted our health care decisions.  However, I am a bit worried about potential increases in premiums.  I also worry about the possibility that fewer providers will be available to us on our network.  My final concern is how we will be impacted when we go on Medicare in a few years. 

From what I am hearing, it has been hard to find any part of the U.S. population that has been benefited by Obamacare.  My hope is that our elected officials can make necessary changes to the law so we can rest assured we will be able to access and afford the care we need during our golden years.                  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

BabyBoomers as Entrepreneurial Wizards --- A Generation that Knows how to Think for Themselves

BabyBoomers make pretty dang good Entrepreneurial Wizards --- A Generation that knows how to think for themselves, has the money needed, and the nerve to step out and take action.  Click below for more:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Baby Boomers Worry About Health Insurance in Retirement

The link is to a good article about issues Baby Boomers are thinking about as they prepare for retirement and some interesting statistics about how they wish to have their healthcare during their senior years.  This is a good article for the children of baby boomers to read so they know what their parents may wish and need.  Click below: 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

THE SWEET SCENT OF WELLBEING: Coconut-Lime by Jeannie Snow VanOrden

I have reached an important six year anniversary.   Oddly, I was reminded of this vital milestone while cleaning out the guest bathroom. The bathroom needed to be cleaned in preparation for our next visitors scheduled to arrive sometime in November. My daughter, having left for graduate school at Appalachian State University, abandoned a number of bottles of lotion, body wash, conditioner, and shampoo.  Some bottles I just tossed others I sniffed to see if they were worth keeping for my own use. 

There it was a near empty bottle of Coconut-Lime Shampoo.  The scent struck me with a vivid array of sensations and images.  I realized that it has been six years since I finished cancer treatment and a series of biopsies showed that the tumor was gone.  My youngest sister’s gift to me just as I was starting cancer treatment in the summer of 2007 was a set of bathing products including Coconut-Lime Shampoo from Bath and Body Works.

Because I would not be able to get adequate treatment for my particular brand of cancer in Anchorage, Alaska I had to leave behind my home and family so I could be treated at Huntsman Cancer Center.  During that summer my husband and children pampered me and worried over me. My two older sisters housed me, cared for me, and watched over me as I endured chemotherapy and radiation treatment for a tumor in my tongue (a saliva gland gone wrong.)   

Daily I was bathed in coconut-lime.  It is remarkable how powerfully a scent can infuse and even give more significance to our memories.  The scent of coconut-lime brings to mind the loving care I experienced from so many people and the relief I felt over the next six years as I gradually recovered from the devastating side-effects of radiation.

Cancer treatment was wretched. But mostly I don’t think of the awful times at all.  I catch a whiff of coconut-lime and I feel a sense of wellbeing that comes from being carried along by powers above and beyond me. I’m also reminded of the importance of gently and aggressively caring for myself so that I can have the energy and wellness to enjoy life and help others enjoy life.  

This is a crucial reminder for the “retirement” phase of life.   I have been an active person: dancing, hiking, water-skiing, yoga, biking, boating, golfing and more.  I want to keep being active well into my old age, to stay as young as possible for as long as possible, able to enjoy activities of all kinds with my children and grandchildren.  However, I have realized in the last couple of years that I have a stubborn resistance to getting to the doctor in a timely manner.  With health issues great and small this can easily lead to crippling or even life threatening problems

In the spring of 2012, I had a two month bout of bronchitis that I neglected until it became pneumonia.  I finally got to the doctor and was treated with antibiotics but it was too late.  Within a week the pneumonia exploded in my lung.  I ended up in the hospital with a high temperature, racing pulse, crushing pain in my chest and sepsis; all because I was just too busy to take time to get to the doctor early on.

We don’t need to be hypochondriacs but we do need to take better care of ourselves.  We all eat too much, move to little, and wait too long to take care of symptoms that would be much easier taken care of early.  Thank goodness I didn’t do that with cancer, if I had, I would be dead.

Many of you may have followed my husband’s experience with carpal tunnel surgery.  It is a condition that is pretty common. I don’t know when exactly the right time for any one individual to have carpal tunnel surgery is, but I do know that once it starts eroding your quality of life it is not going to get any better without serious treatment.   Interestingly, Ralph has now found that he has a pinched ulnar nerve in his right arm and this very likely could not have been discovered without first resolving the carpal tunnel problems. 

Much of this first year of retirement has been spent addressing a number of health issues that have been a drag on our quality of life.  I am so grateful for the excellent healthcare professionals we’ve found who have compassionately and aggressively addressed our needs.  I’ve also learned to be more articulate and assertive when discussing my health issues.   In the long run prevention, early treatment, and good communication with our healthcare providers reduces our suffering and saves us money.   

There is nothing noble about suffering unnecessarily or stubbornly avoiding doctor visits. 
I’m going to restock my supply of Coconut-Lime bath products to be a sweet and vivid reminder of how good it feels to take care of myself, to be cared for, and to care for those around me.   Whatever inspires a sense of wellbeing for you, get it, and get as well as you possibly can as soon as you can.  It will make you and everyone around you happier. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Starting a Retirement Business Can be Risky and Rewarding

Some BabyBoomers are using savings nest-egg funds to finance their own retirement business.  It's pretty risky and a huge dose of due diligence should be used before going forward.  Diligently do research separate from celebrity or friend's endorsements.  The best question is to evaluate whether you can manage in retirement if the business venture fails. 

Click on the link below for a great article about BabyBoomers starting their own businesses.      


New Post at my Weight Loss Blog

New Post at my Weight Loss Blog---It's time to make serious progress toward my goal to get to 199 pounds from my peak of 280.   Click below for the story: 


Friday, September 20, 2013

BabyBoomers Finding Good Jobs After Retirement

Sometimes BabyBoomers get bored with retirement.  I have to admit I have frequented employment websites for the Boise area. Occasionally I have been tempted to send in a resume for positions that would give me a fun challenge, like City Manager for McCall Idaho, or CEO of YMCI in southwestern Idaho. Yep, big bucks in both cases.  But I am pretty picky about what I want if I do go back to work.  Our first year of retirement has bust with our own health challenges and family needs.  Things are settling down so my anxious-to-do-something thoughts are starting to dream.   

We are not wealthy but we are comfortable in retirement.  Going back to work would only be for a few years doing something that would give me a project to get my teeth into.  I am sure Jeannie wouldn't mind me being off her home turf a bit more often.  Other reasons BabyBoomers consider going back after retirement are as numerous as the retirees.  Here are a few reasons:

1) need the money
2) depression sets in after retirement and getting a new purpose helps alleviate the pain of feeling unneeded
3) marraige suffers because of too much time together
4) need better health benefits
5) being productive is still a personal necessity 

The link below is to an article about a job fair for BabyBoomers.  It gives interesting insights to a new trend.  It appears there is great value for employers from experienced BabyBoomers.  Score one for our generation.     

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Staying Healthy Along the Way

Getting old is complicated.  My dual carpal tunnel surgery was successful but has unmasked another problem in my right arm.  The numbness and pain from the Median nerve has dissipated but the little and ring fingers on my right hand are numb and pain goes up through my arm on the opposite side from the Median nerve; the left side when my arm is turned palm up.  So now I know I have an Ulnar nerve problem which was masked due to the pain from the Median nerve running through the carpal tunnel in my wrist. 

I was diagnosed during my visit to the doctor to removed stitches from my wrist incisions.  I said “you got to be kiddin me” and then “can it be fixed”.  His response, “yes but let’s wait a few months and see how your arm heals for now”.   When at home I googled Ulnar nerve surgery and was shocked by the photos and diagrams.  Six inch incision next to the elbow…yikes.  I won’t post a picture here since I don’t want to gross anyone out.

So here’s my point.  Take care of your arms while you can and they may last until you don’t need them anymore.   I was a drummer for 6 years during my youth, I pole vaulted in high school, played most sports to abandon, lifted weights until last year when I went through successful physical therapy for my back (“no more weights that put any pressure on your lower back”, I’ve done the mechanical work on my cars, I golf to excess, and use remotes/computers/mice with gusto.  I don’t just touch keyboards lightly; I pound on them as though they were drums. 

The only activity I would change is working on my cars.  Perhaps I could have learned to touch keyboards, remotes, and the mouse gently.  There are exercises and stretches you can do along the way to help your arms and hands stay healthy longer. Sure wish I had known that.  Here are a few links to help prolong the usefulness of your arms and hands.  Take good care of yourself.   




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Recovery Room----Ready to Go Home

Surgery started yesterday (September 8, 2013) at 3:45PM and this is me at 6PM in the recovery room ready to go home.  As I write this post  I am at 20 hours since my bilateral carpal tunnel release surgery.  I woke up every two hours last night but was able to get a total of 12 hours of sleep. 

My wrists really hurt when pain medication starts to ware off after being on board for about 6 hours.  On the upside, my whole arm no longer feels like it is on fire with the nerve pain I was suffering due to an inflamed median nerve which runs through a tight little tunnel under a tendon in the wrist all the way up the arm and into the neck connecting at the C6 vertebrae.  

For the past five years there were times I would wake in the night with pain up into my shoulders.  My fingers are no longer numb after years of progressive loss of feeling.  Recovery and rehab are going to take longer than I thought so I may not golf until spring 2014...bummer.  But I am so happy to have this done and the end of hand and arm pain in sight.  

My doctor is George Nicola who practices in the Treasure Valley (Boise, Nampa, Caldwell) Idaho area.  He's done over a 1000 of these surgeries and I am so please we found such a competent and experience orthopedist.   

Monday, September 9, 2013

Health Issues after 60 can be Time Consuming

My Ears, Nose, and Throat specialist ordered a CT Scan on my sinuses.  Blockage, polyps, and gunk everywhere.  I never really knew we have so many sinus cavities.  Looks like surgery will be necessary if I wish to stop having 3 or more sinus infections every year.  90 minutes to clean out the infected areas and open up drainage passages so I can breath and get rid of that ugly stuff by natural drainage processes.

I am on Immune-Therapy to build up my defenses against the allergies which contribute to the sinus swelling that leads to my chronic-sinusitis problem.  It turns out I am allergic to sage brush, cats, various tree pollens, etc.  Sage Brush covers most of our 3 acre homestead.  Wouldn't ya know...

In the meantime, while waiting for my sinus surgery, my carpal tunnel problem in both my wrists has finally inflamed to the point where the agony made me go to the orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation.  "Classic carpal tunnel" said he.  Surgery this afternoon on both wrists will leave me a bit gimpy for a week or so.  Then a few days later I go in for the sinus surgery.  I figure by mid October I should be golfing again, without sinus agony and wrist pain that certainly accounts for my poor scores of late (tongue in cheek).

Good thing I retired so I have time to go to all the doctors.  Good thing we moved from Alaska where it would have cost us a fortune to do all these surgeries.  Good thing my wife Jeannie doesn't seem to mind helping me through all these challenges.  She is a very patient woman.  So off to my surgery...wish me luck.                            

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sinuses---the Entry Point of all those Germs and Other Airborne Crap that can Put You Down for the Count

Up front I want to say in my best preacher intonation, CAN I GET A BOOHOO PLEASE?

It's starting to push 4 months of constant debilitating aches and pain. I have never been this sick---other than when I had gall stone attacks prior to having my gall bladder removed and a ruptured appendix emergency surgery followed by 10 days in the hospital.  I just can't believe how sick my sinuses have made me.  

Here's the story and a little of what I’ve learned about sinuses misery.

In March and April we started opening most of our windows after winter was gone and spring had sprung.  Right outside my home-office window is a beautiful Birch tree with our hummingbird feeder swaying in the mountain breezes.  I love sitting at my computer “working” and writing while I can look out at the marvelous mountain scenery and wildlife.  Little did I know that the tree pollen season was in full crescendo here in the high desert Idaho countryside.

Unbeknownst to me I was bathing in deadly dust and pollen every time I inhaled.  Well, deadly to me at least.  I started to feel like I had constant headaches and flu like symptoms. Most days I was bedridden by 2pm.  My primary care doctor put me on an antibiotic and Flonase nasal spray to no avail.  I just kept getting worse. 

Next my wife Jeannie took me to an allergist to see what might be causing the problems. We found out I am allergic to Birch and Juniper trees.  Remember that Birch tree right outside my office window? 

I was put on different broader range antibiotic for 14 days, added and addition nose spray, and began a 2 time per day ritual of irrigating my sinuses with a NielMed saline system. It aint pretty (check it out on U-Tube) but it did start to flush ugly bloody green gunk out of my head and provided some temporary relief for a few hours each time.

We closed up the house which meant we had to use the air-conditioning more.  We also added and humidifier in our bedroom, an air cleaner, a Merv 12 filter on our furnace/air-conditioning unit, and regular steam inhalation sessions with eucalyptus and boiled water.  

After finishing the antibiotic and flushing my sinuses for three weeks I was still a sick puppy so I set up an appointment with an Ears, Nose, and Throat specialist who also does head and neck surgeries.  Yep, you got it---I was worrying about polyps or a tumor hiding up in my nasal crevasses.  He scoped the nasal passages which looked “inflamed” but no obvious polyps. There is some dark colored “mucus” hiding in the upper reaches.  I got to watch all this on a monitor.

The doctor said we should take a closer look by having a CT scan, which is scheduled for this coming Friday.  Hopefully we don’t find some menacing mass that needs surgical removal.  But this I do know, something has to change cause being this sick all the time has really gotten old.   

So bottom-line:  Take care of your sinuses.  Look it up online and you’ll be amazed at how many good things are available to help keep sinuses healthy.  Baby them and you will avoid all kinds of misery and expense.  OK---I guess I could use that BOOHOO one more time.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

In Search of Hot Springs Near Our New Home in Idaho written by my wife Jeannie Snow VanOrden

Last Sunday my husband Ralph and I drove a scenic byway north of Boise in search of hot springs. Drive in any direction from our home in Emmett and there are developed and unimproved examples of these volcanic remnants along the roads and rivers.  Last Sunday we were hoping to find a new, picturesque place to take a soak. A quick check of the internet gave us some ideas of places to search, quite a few not marked on a map but shared word of mouth by die-hard enthusiasts.  My family has a tradition of visiting hot springs.  We've searched out bathing spots from Wyoming to Alaska.  Our family's first hot spring adventure and favorite bathing spot is along the Alaska Highway in British Columbia.

First, a little family history:  In 1976, my husband and I sold most of our possessions, bought an old Volkswagen bus, and drove the Alaska Highway. It was September, our oldest child was six months old, and the Alaska Highway (or Alcan) at that time was a serpentine length of mostly dirt and gravel fraught with myriad dangers for the unseasoned motorist.  We suffered two flat tires, two broken fan belts, and blew up one engine along the way. In the deep woods of British Columbia when we were weary and grimy and still had a long drive ahead, we came upon Liard Hot Springs along the Liard River. Liard Hot Springs is quite simply a paradise. Steaming jade pools veiled in mist are surrounded by stately birch trees, dripping ferns, and wild flowers. Our road-weary bodies and spirits were refreshed in its gentle currents of hot and cool water.  We have visited it in the full bloom of summer and when hemmed in by thick banks of snow. Our last visit there was in late May of this year. The decks and dressings rooms have been nicely remodeled the pools still natural and even more magical. 

Our next hot springs encounter was in Wyoming as we traveled between Riverton and Cody for meetings related to Ralph’s profession.  On several occasions we stopped at Thermopolis, home of "the world's largest mineral hot springs".  At Thermopolis the hot springs are piped into a series of plaster lined pools adjacent to dressing rooms and showers. Not as picturesque as Liard Hot Springs but a welcome respite in the midst dry sage-covered hills.

When we lived in North Pole, Alaska we made several visits to Chena Hot Springs nearly sixty miles northeast of Fairbanks and home of the Aurora Ice Museum.  Back in the 80's it was a humble spot with a small swimming pool and a few wood tubs.  Now it has expanded into a resort of some renown, boasting geothermal energy to keep the Ice Museum chilled year round.  

Second only to Liard Hot Springs, our next favorite soaking resort is Lava Hot Springs, Idaho about four hours from where we live.   The hot mineral pools are beautifully landscaped and formed of rock.  The two largest pools have black gravel bottoms. The spring water at Lava has no sulfur odor. Best soaking times are during a rain storm.  Soak until you are too hot then lie out in the rain and cool off.  Lava Hot Springs is accessible and the town has many charms: float the Port Neuf River which flows through town or swim in the Olympic size pool.  Be sure to try the Bleu Burger with sweet potato fries at 78 Main Street Eatery.  It is the best burger I ever had. 

In 2007 when I was recovering from cancer radiation treatment, my son and his wife and children guided us to Kirkham Hot Springs alongside the South Fork of the Payette River near Lowman. Falls of hot water tumble into unimproved natural pools above and beside the river.  It was October and the air temperature was uncomfortably chilly but the water was deliciously warm.  Clearly this was a good time of year to avoid crowds at this popular bathing spot along Highway 21.

Our Sunday Drive did not reward us with a Sunday soak.  We explored Middle Fork Road along the Middle Fork of the Payette River.  The river is pretty gentle here and easily accessible. Rafters and swimmers were out in force, camping and swimming sites easy to spot.  But the hot springs were illusive.  Boiling Springs lay 1/4 mile beyond the road's end near a public use cabin behind a forest service gate. Since expectations of its condition were low we passed on the hike and headed back the way we had come.  We also passed on the extra eleven mile loop up to Silver Creek Hot Springs, a small mountain resort popular with snow-machiners.  

As we headed back toward Crouch we were able to pinpoint the location of Rock Canyon Hot Springs as being across the river near Tie Creek Campground, but were unable to pinpoint the location of Fire Crew Hot Springs, a popular soaking spot for forest fire fighters.  As we drove the highway toward Boise along the South Fork of the Payette River, I found the trail head for Skinnydipper Hot Springs four miles from Banks. This hot springs has a devoted group of "guardians" whole improve and maintain the pools fed by volcanic waters. 

We found great camping and swimming spots, enjoyed dramatic views of deep boulder strewn canyons, and pastoral views of rural farming communities.  Unfortunately, we had to go home for a hot soak in our large master bedroom tub.  Or rather fortunate for us we have such a luxury.  We will try again to add another soaking spot to our collection of hot springs adventures.  A few suggestions for when you are out doing your own exploring for bathing spots, be a responsible steward of these natural wonders. Don't use the isolation as an excuse to misbehave:  don't trash the wilderness, and wear a swimsuit!