A Healthy Dose of Medicine for the Soul

A large segment of the human population takes things way too seriously for their own good. The strange anomaly is that most people laugh at the wrong thing and fail to laugh at the right thing. This serious incongruity has robbed people of a healthy attitude towards life in general.

Those who take life too seriously are in danger of missing the great joys of living in a crazy world like ours. I am not sure about the scientific research but I would guess that for every sad moment it takes one hundred laughs to balance the books. Some people are about ninety-nine laughs short of a real sane moment.

I like the old English proverb that says, “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.”

From my perspective, if you cannot laugh with someone you will not be able to cry with him or her and have it mean anything.

According to some medical advice, it takes more facial muscles and energy to frown than it does to smile. Of course, the only exercise some people have is frowning and who am I to take that away from them.

I am determined, no matter what, to exercise my right to smile and laugh and enjoy the world around me. I must confess that I get this attitude quite honestly.

My paternal grandfather was a Past Master in the area of practical jokes. No amount of time was too much to spend preparing for one of his famous practical jokes. His favorite holiday was April 1 and began preparing for this holiday right after Christmas.

The fact that his practical jokes at times got him into trouble did not seem to affect him at all.

Once while in the hospital for an extended period he had somebody smuggle in to him a can of snuff. For some reason he liked chewing snuff. It is the most disgusting habit I know of on earth.

He no sooner received his smuggled goods then he began chewing it. If you know anything about chewing snuff, you know it is accompanied by a lot of spitting. As usual, his timing was impeccable. Just as the head nurse passed his door and looked in, he leaned over and spit in to the garbage can he had next to his bed. The nurse, not knowing about the chewing snuff, thought he was spitting blood and immediately went into emergency mode. Immediately my grandfather was rushed into the operating room and the surgeon and medical team were assembled.

My grandfather was very sick at the time. Some did not think he would get out of the hospital.

Just as they got him situated in the operating room he pulled from under his sheet his can of chewing snuff and smiled at them. The only person in the room that thought this was in any way amusing was my grandfather. The doctors were so angry with him that they refused to see him for three days and confiscated his can of chewing snuff.

My aunt and uncle lived right next to my grandfather. My aunt was hyper clean when it came to her house. Dirt in any form was not welcome under her roof. She had a broom that was always within reach because she never knew when a piece of dirt would try to invade her domicile.

That year my grandfather found something new. I am not sure where he found it but he probably spent a lot of time looking for something like this. It was a rubber facsimile of a very nasty looking piece of vomit. To him it was a prized possession.

Most of his practical jokes were executed on April 1. Whenever we saw grandfather coming on this particular day we usually ran for cover.

He went over to visit my aunt and was sitting on the couch in the living room. They chatted for a little while and then my grandfather began to cough a little bit. He said to my aunt, “I haven’t been feeling good lately. I really don’t know what it is.” Then he started to cough a little more seriously, to which, my aunt got up and went to the kitchen to get him a glass of water thinking that might help him.

When she got back, she was shocked to see on her new coffee table a very horrible sight. My grandfather was bent over the coffee table hacking and coughing as though he was in the process of dying. On the coffee table was a very nasty looking piece of vomit.

My aunt went into hysterics. She whirled around and within a moment had grabbed her broom and started towards my grandfather. My grandfather was laughing but not for long.

Suddenly he realized that the flailing broom in my aunt’s hand was aimed at him. She chased him out of the house, down the driveway and for at least three blocks yelling obscenities at him that I dare not repeat in public society.

Surviving Bone Surgeries

In the past 2 years, I have had four bone and reconstructive surgeries. In previous years I have had other types of surgeries, but from my own personal experience, I would love to share my experiences with others in hopes to help those going through the same experiences to feel more at ease and perhaps help those who have family members experiencing surgeries to understand what their loved ones are going through. The moments up to surgery are worrisome and emotional. There are ways that I will discuss on how to be reassured and keep calm. As well as before surgery, I will discuss the day of surgery, right after surgery, and recovery at home.
Let’s begin with being told you need surgery and you being ready for it. Most Doctors are more willing to help you with your issues of broken bones or pain if you yourself admit you need their help and want it. When I was diagnosed with ruptured discs in my neck, I honestly did not want surgery and wanted to find any other way possible to fix it. I went to chiropractors, therapists, home remedy therapists and to my avail, I waited too long until it was SO bad that I said, “I’m done.” I was finally ready. Our emotions about surgery sometime get the best of us and we are not willing to admit our issue is bad enough until the fact that much more damage is done. Sometimes, yes, it pays to be stubborn and wait it out, but many times over, it does not. In my case, my neck was much worse ten years after the fact than when I started. The idea of surgery and being “put out” under anesthesia frightened me, but much more, the “what if’s” that went with it. What if I died, was I ready? What if I was paralyzed, what would happen to me and my family? What if, what if, what if? I was worrying myself sick!
I am a very religious being, but the emotions did creep in. I knew I had to take a step back and trust God to help me. I started thinking of the verse in The Bible in Philippians 4:6-7 that tells us to be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which
surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Matthew 6:34 reads to not be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. And other verses about worrying started to fill my brain. I knew I had to get back into perspective that God has this. Of course, I still worried some.
In my worrying, I turned things around. I had to get prepared. Even though I hurt profusely and paid for everything I did that night or next day, things had to get finished. I knew that they told me after surgery that I wasn’t going to be able to do ANYTHING for a while and that included not getting into a vehicle for a month. I had to get my home in tip top shape and game on! My husband was going to be able to take off for a week after surgery, but he had to go back to work so I concentrated on meal planning and putting dinners in the freezer for later dates.
Some things beside the home and food may include things like the bed and where you will sleep. For neck and shoulder surgery, I recommend sleeping elevated as much as possible. You will be required to do so for some surgeries. If you do not have a lift bed, buy a wedge pillow or two. You will be limited on regular household chores. To bend and pick things up off the floor, nah, don’t plan on it. If you can find a cheap enough hand gripper that reaches to the floor and you can squeeze from your hand to open and close on the object, that would be a pretty good idea. Picking up a gallon of milk or other objects of weight will be an issue as well. Try freezing drinks in empty water bottles that you will be able to lift appropriately. Bringing pillows and a cover for the ride home may be something to keep in mind. This will help alleviate the bumps or curves in the roads. Keeping your mind set on prayer and preparation will help the worry disappear. Be sure to follow all of the surgery instructions faithfully so you are prepared for that day. So my advice to anyone emotionally worried about your upcoming surgery, give it to God and just breathe. Prepare your home however you need to. Occupy your brain with what will help you after surgery.
The day of the surgery, I have learned from my neck, lower back, left shoulder, and right knee surgery that it is a whirlwind. Of course, you will sign all kinds of permissions and forms and sign in to the hospital. This is normal and can be lengthy, but it must be done. Patience on your part may wear thin, but you got this. You will have the opportunity to speak with your Doctor and the anesthesiologist before surgery. If you have ANY concerns at all, DO NOT hesitate to ask them. Remember, they are being paid by you to do a service for you. Do not be intimidated by the fact that their job may seem more important. You are just as important and your needs and concerns must be met. I have seen many rude patients who have no care of concern for their caregivers and remember to be nice and respectful when asking questions or concerns.
You will be poked for blood and pic lines and what nots, but be prepared that it may hurt just a little, but soon it is over and once the IV’s are in and the proper drugs start pumping, you should will be properly monitored. The special someone with you may not be allowed to be with you during these blood processes, but they are usually allowed with you after and up until they take you back for surgery. I had the desire for prayer and my husband and family with me prayed. It is a comfort for myself and may be for you as well.
After surgery, they will have you in a recover room where they will monitor your blood pressure and any other issues that may come up. They will keep a close eye on your progress coming out of your anesthesia. Usually, you are in great shape and a lot loopy. At this time, the Doctor usually goes to your family member or whomever brought you in for surgery and give an account as to how things went. They will know ahead of you what went down and had to happen. When they see fit that you are ready, they will usually bring you back into the same room you were in when they put the IV’s in. Here, you will be able to be with your loved ones again. If your family is anything like mine, they will try to have a bit of fun with the idea you are “loopy” and ask you strange things or tell you oddities. Just smile and humor them!
And finally, if you do not have to stay in the hospital, they will send you home. For my neck surgery, I did have to stay overnight in the hospital, but for the others, they were all out-patient. The one thing I stress the most is BE SURE TO FOLLOW YOUR AFTER-SURGERY INSTRUCTIONS!! Read them yourself and have the individual/s read them as well. Be sure to pay attention if there seems to be anything wrong at all! Usually your gut will let you know and don’t ignore them. For example, and this is not to scare you, but I know someone not long ago who had surgery and a few days after he was home, he was filling up with his own feces because his colon was accidentally severed. The ER sent him home after just an IV of antibiotics. Some things do happen, just be sure to know your body and listen to it. Do exactly what they tell you and if you are sent home with the appropriate drugs and instructions for pain and infection, be sure to take them on a regular basis until you feel yourself that you are ready to stop taking them. If you let the pain get too far out of hand, it can be a big issue. With each surgery I had, each was very different with the affects of nerves and other issues. Be sure to contact your Doctor if they are not helping you or if you are having issues with anything!! Stay on top of everything!
It is okay to ask for help. Do not be stubborn because it can cause yourself unnecessary pain and set you back. If you need help doing some simple chores, please call on a family or church member and even perhaps a close neighbor who can get to you quickly. More than likely, they are seeking to help anyway and would love to help. Keep an ice pac on hand because that will be a go to after surgery. Have someone get it for you if you need it. Having a phone by your side is also a must. It is good to call out and answer a call instead of beating yourself up trying to get to the phone. DO NOT OVERDO IT! You may feel like you are feeling so good one day that you think, “I can do this and that today,” but just be slow and little by little or you will pay for it. I had a note pad near me and wrote a lot of notes, especially for marking down who visited or brought me gifts or food. I was SO thankful for those individuals.

Cancer Immunotherapy Use on Cancer Patients

Recent advances in treating cancer patients have resulted in the development of biological therapies that can prove to be a promising alternative to conventional cancer therapies. Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s immune system to identify and fight effectively against cancer cells.

Immunotherapy works by attacking the growth of cancer cells or stimulating the immune system to kill cancer cells. Contradictory to the standard cancer treatment regimes such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, which act on both normal and cancerous cells, immuno-therapeutic treatments are highly specific. A wide range of cancer immuno-therapy approaches exists such as immune checkpoint blockers, cancer vaccines, immune-modulators, monoclonal antibodies and cell based immuno-therapies have demonstrated to be effective against cancer patients.

The most commonly targeted form of cancer chemotherapy is the use of monoclonal antibodies as they can be tailor-made in the laboratory. They have unique antigen specificity thereby allowing themselves to attach to specific epitopes on cancer cells. This flags the cancer cells and makes it more visible to the immune system so that it can find and destroy those cells. Currently, most of the monoclonal antibodies are undergoing phase 3 clinical trials or awaiting FDA review process. Unlike monoclonal antibodies, non-specific immuno-therapy approaches such as administration of immuno-modulatory cytokines are also being used to treat melanoma. Cytokines are hormones that are endogenously produced by the body to enhance or suppress T-cell response against cancer cells. IFN-α and IL-2 are most commonly characterized cytokines used in cancer immuno-therapy.

The primary cell-based immuno-therapy strategy which is successful these days is the use of T-cell therapy, wherein cancer T cells removed from blood are modified with chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and is then infused back into the patients to treat metastatic cancer. Another form of cell-based immuno-therapy used is tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) therapy, wherein TIL is surgically removed from tumor tissue and is considerably increased in the laboratory by adding cytokines to it and is then re-infused back into the patient.

A promising treatment that has emerged in recent times for treatment of melanoma is the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors. They act by inhibiting the checkpoint receptors on T cells that act as brakes to the immune system thereby mediating anti-tumor responses. Some of the commonly used antibody inhibitors that have been commercialized are PD-1, PDL-1, and CTLA-4. Another more focused approach to cancer immuno-therapy is the use of vaccines to encourage the immune system to generate antibodies that can target tumor specific antigens, thereby eradicating cancerous cells. Cancer vaccines include peptide-based, dendritic cell-based, tumor cell-based and DNA cell based. Cancer vaccines can be broadly classified as preventive or therapeutic. Preventive vaccines are commercially available for against cervical and liver cancer causing viruses such as human Papillomavirus and Hepatitis B virus, respectively.

However, in spite of these advances, limitation such as tumor heterogeneity, unpredictable efficacy and identification of potential markers still exist in the field of cancer immuno-therapy. Therefore, new more targeted cancer immuno-therapies and preventive strategies are being developed and tested, which will deliver novel efficacious therapy against relapsed or refractory cancer patients.