Other VanOrden Posts

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.