Thursday, November 28, 2013

Current and Future Reading, post 1

I think I will make weekly posts regarding what I've been reading, with summaries, for articles that don't inspire more through research. Hopefully, I will be able to use labels to help catalog and easily find them, should I need them later. 

Without further ado...
Kokomo, IN woman volunteers a meal and feeds 600.  
Melody Kegel in IN was asked by her pastor to see if the Red Cross needed meals. He thought that his church would be happy to provide a meal. But, as the need grew, so did Melody's willingness to serve.  She ended up feeding people all week.  

Researchers Block Replication of HIV Virus
At universidat Catolica de Valencia, they have created synthetic molecules called terphenyls, block traction between protein and the HIV virus's RNA receptor by binding to the virus's receptors. Amazing! So exciting! 

In future reading, I have come across quite a few articles and podcasts about fluids in sepsis care in the last 24 hours, so I will probably write a larger post once I have read, listened, and digested those. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cancer and Heredity

This does not exemplify what I expect my future posts regarding research into medical sciences and nursing to be.  This is actually an extra-credit assignment for microbiology.  I had to write to a prompt that I didn't feel fit the information given in the presentation, so please don't judge.

I attended the Science Friday presentation on the 22nd of November about cancer, genetics, and heredity.  The flyers for the presentation themselves were informative and thought-provoking: Cancer is always genetic, but when is it inherited?  I would wager that many people, like me, have never thought about this important differentiation.  The speaker, Kerry Crandall, gave an informative presentation regarding the causes of cancer and genetic testing.  I learned quite a few things, some of which actually had a surprising impact on some things I once thought. 
One of Ms. Crandall’s first statements was that when she started working in the field [in 1988], nobody was talking about hereditary cancer.  She went on to say that this came up seven years later [in 1995].  This was surprising to me, but it makes sense in light of the percentage of cancers that are actually hereditary.  One thing that I learned about cancer and heredity that was quite central to the presentation was that only about 5 – 10% of cancers are hereditary.  If I had been asked to guess prior to this experience, I may have guessed that about 75% of cancers were hereditary.  Conversely, it is about 70% of cancer that is believed to develop due to acquired changes, which include exposure to carcinogens, the aging process, and chance.
Secondly, I learned about the characteristics of hereditary cancer.  These characteristics are that multiple individuals on the same side of the family are affected with the same or related cancers, over multiple generations, with the cancer occurring at a younger age than usual, and no known environmental risk factors.  The other types of causes are acquired changes (which are sporadic) and familial.  Ms. Crandall stated that family history is that best tool for differentiating between sporadic, familial, and hereditary cancers. 
Finally, I learned that testing of multiple gene mutations is sometimes done in a sort of “panel” test.  This testing looks for sequencing differences, deletions, and duplications of various genes, and can take anywhere between a few days and a few months to return results.
Ms. Crandall stated that federal and state laws protect against discrimination based on results of genetic testing when it comes to searching for health insurance.  She also said that laws are not so helpful when it comes to life insurance. 
Relating these facts to microbiology in three different ways is a bit more difficult.  Obviously, information about mutations in genes relates to microbiology as we look at the processes through which cells divide and acknowledge that mistakes sometimes happen in that process. The fact that there are 1000 or more mutations of BRCA-1, some of which are “just mutations” that have no dangerous implications that we know of, is just a point of interest.  Secondly, when we think about some of the environmental factors that might make up some of the 70% of cancers created by acquired changes, some of those causes in the category of “chance” might include microorganisms like viruses (for example, human papillomavirus and its link to cervical cancer).  Finally, a question from the audience about Factor V Leiden clotting disorder piqued my interest.  This condition is caused by a gene mutation that causes the clotting protein to deactivate more slowly than it should. 
So, how does this affect the way I think?  As previously stated, I was completely surprised by the low number of cancers that could be considered genetic.  Without having done any research, I thought that my grandmother’s bout with breast cancer automatically meant that I was at a higher risk for breast cancer.  However, being that she is the only member of my mother’s family who has had breast cancer, and the only member of my mother’s immediate family to have had any cancer at all, that her cancer occurred at age 72, and the fact that my grandmother was exposed to carcinogens for decades in the form of heavy secondhand smoke while my grandfather smoked cartons of cigarettes per day, it is unlikely that my risk of breast cancer is elevated due to any genetic factors.  So, this has had an important impact on my thought. 
Secondly, because Ms. Crandall indicated that genetic testing is not indicated for people with no elevated risk, and because I could face discrimination if I was found to carry some gene mutations, I have come to the conclusion that I am very unlikely to ever seek genetic testing to rule out possible inherited cancers.  (I might be interested in having testing to determine my genetic origins, however, as my paternal grandmother was an orphan and I’m very curious to know her background.  It would be awesome to find some relatives to visit in some faraway land…)
Finally, the 30% instance of familial cancer that is not necessarily related to genetics, but more linked to commonalities in habits and environment, inspires me to pay careful attention to what may be working well in my environment and upbringing.  We are a very healthy family – low instances of cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.  It seems to me that we may be doing some things right, worth continuing as tradition.
In conclusion, I am happy that I attended this presentation, and found it informative.  While I did have trouble linking it solidly to microbiology in three different ways, I do think that there is a very solid link between this information and microbiology as we remember the processes of cell division and the ways that that can be impacted. 


This is supposed to be a rough routine.  It won't be followed to the letter, but its purpose is to provide a general framework for our days.  I will have to work up to the 5am wake-up call - both because of my own habits and because of Maggie's desire for extended morning nursing sessions.  It looks like there is almost no play time for the kids, but for right now, that happens where things are not scheduled - where I am doing chores.  I mean, it is their work, so I think it should be on the schedule, but it becomes redundant.  I think when we move into warmer weather and can go outside, it would make sense to put things on the schedule since we would be moving locations.

5 am - wake up. stretch. shower. make up. get dressed. put in load of laundry. eat high-protein breakfast. make coffee. read inspirational materials. plan day.
6 am - tidy downstairs. work on chore of the week if it takes place downstairs. listen to podcasts, read news, read journal articles, or blog.
7 am - make breakfast for everyone else. help get everyone up. stretch.  sing songs. feed. get kiddos dressed. put laundry in dryer. wash breakfast dishes.
8 am - get kids headed toward school if a school day.  if not a school day, extended time-in with both kids/kindness activity.
9 am - time in, then put laundry away, then start dinner (possible start of playdate)
10 am - mwf - time in, then chore of the month. t - extended time in, which could include fun lessons th - Pack storytime - or playdate
11 am - mwf - little lesson, then go pick up Nico, t - long lesson, or several lessons (fun ones), th - Pack storytime and library - or playdate continued
12 pm - lunch, time in. kids help clean up. dishes.
1 pm - nap or quiet for kids, quiet time for me, nap if needed, planning time if not
2 pm - nap or quiet, quiet time for me, chore of the week if not completed before
3 pm - time in. little lesson, cleanup.
4 pm - time in, finish dinner prep, clean kitchen, time in.
5 pm - time in, little lesson, cleanup.
6 pm - kids set table for dinner. dinner. time in.
7 pm - kids help clean up after dinner, then can watch TV or play.  we do dishes.
8 pm - clean up toys in all rooms, baths, storytime (time in)
9 pm - storytime, cont, bed
10 pm - Read, bed

Small Things

"Be faithful in the small things, because it is in them that your strength lies." - Mother Teresa

Now this blog will become my record of my journey.  I have been dealing with the feeling of being discouraged.  Setting goals and working towards those goals, and, just as importantly, having records of my progress, is my self-prescribed way out.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time, of course.  But when it seems like the elephant is some sort of cancerous tumor that just keeps on growing, well, you get tired of eating.  You get full.  I can't help it.  Right now, my elephant is growing beyond the rate at which I can chomp.  But not taking bites is not making it stop growing.

And, really, it's not helpful to view your life as a cancerous elephant, even if it doesn't fit nicely into boxes.  To be clear, I do not really see my life that way.

Because I like for things to fit nicely into boxes, I have a few tools to help me try to do that.

- For goals - which I'm thinking of as medium-to-long-term goals - I'm going to use 43 Things.  I do not have 43 goals.

- For disciplines - by which I mean daily or weekly habits that I want to integrate - I'm using Joe's Goals:
Julia's Personal Score Badge

So, this blog will be used as a gratitude journal, somewhere to chronicle my journey, as well as a place to file reports about the things I am learning as I go.  I might add our lesson plans, I might talk about applying to nursing school, and I might tell you about Mother Teresa or Jewish customs.

It's really for me, and I doubt anyone else will read it, but I hope someone else who might be a little discouraged finds it helpful.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I needed to use the greens that we picked in the fall that have since been in my deep freeze.  I love Central American food, and the summer sun inspired this dish.

I don't have any pix right now, but next time I make the dish, I will come back and add some.  It is only pretty for a minute after serving.  There's so many colors in it, but then they kind of ... fade.

This is the first recipe I am posting.  My recipes will almost always make a bunch.  I always cook enough to serve for two dinners and two lunches when I cook.  The sides listed below are to serve for only one dinner and one lunch.

Sweet Potato and Turnip Greens
Main dish:
2 tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil if not available)
3 Sweet Potatoes, in chunks
4 Carrots, Chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chile powder
1 tbsp diced garlic
1 small package fresh portabello mushrooms, diced
2 green bananas, chopped
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 small can mild diced green chiles
1 lb turnip greens
2 green onions
10 ounces frozen mango
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste

2 cups rice
4 red potatoes
1 green onion
1/2 tsp diced garlic
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 roma tomatoes
1 avocado, chopped

1.  Cook rice as directed.  Set aside.
2.  Bake potatoes and cut into large chunks. Set aside.
3.  Toss garlic, sweet potatoes, and carrots in oil and saute over medium heat (if using coconut oil) or high heat (if using olive oil) for about 2 minutes.  Coconut oil will cause a lot of smoke, so if there is too much smoke, reduce heat and stir.
4.  Add spices and stir.
5.  Add all remaining ingredients except for greens, stir, and bring to boil.
6. Add greens, do not stir, cover.  Do not reduce heat until mixture has returned to boil.
7.  Simmer over low heat for at least 20 minutes.
8.  In a small bowl, mix diced green onion, garlic, cilantro, and tomato.

To serve, plate rice, then red potatoes, then the main dish, topped with the cilantro salad and avocado.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Not absent

My phone, which also serves as my camera, will not receive a proper burial because it will be sold for parts. But it is dead.
Therefore, I cannot take pictures.
Therefore, I probably won't post much until my new-to-me phone comes.

I will tell you that today is an absolutely gorgeous day and I'm trying to figure out how to enjoy the park when Maggie has no way to play where Nico wants to play.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy Today Una

Leelo en Castellano Why did I start a new blog?  Why didn't I pick up the old one where I left off shortly before things got really chaotic?
Well, because I just couldn't pass up the chance to pick a more personal name for our family blog/newsletter.  And because I haven't really made the blog all that public, so everyone who might read this is probably just following a link from facebook to do so.  I'm also planning on actually writing this one in English and Spanish, and if you want to help me better my Spanish by correcting, please do.

What does the new blog title mean?

Nico started saying "Happy Today" several months ago.  He means "Happy Birthday," but he says it multiple times per day, so I feel like it's something of a mantra.  Let's make today happy, or let's make it a happy today, or something like that.
Happy Today, Una!
Well, happy2day was taken on blogger, though, so I tacked on "una."  That is cute, too, because if Nico wants something that he knows I am reluctant to give, he says "una" (meaning, "one," of course).  He can even have una cereal or una ranch dressing or una ketchup.  He even usually says it like that, with una at the end.  "Piece of cake, Mami, Una!"
I'm not reluctant to give out happy todays, but we just get una at a time, right?

So, here we go again.  Maybe I'll be better this time.  I've tried to start taking pictures already.  I also want to send a monthly summary newsletter to my grandparents, who do not have the internet, but I am having trouble finding something that is free and that makes desktop publishing as easy as I feel it should be.  I will not buy Publisher, and Word is making things more difficult than they should be.  And no, I'm not going to get a Mac.  It's not in the budget at the moment.  I tried and did not like Scribus.  Other suggestions?

If you note a bit of weariness in the tone of this post, it is because I wrote most of it at 3 am after having taken my Anatomy & Physiology final.  I got a 96!
Next on my list of courses is Microbiology!

Porque empece una blog nueva?  Porque no sigui con lo que ya empece, lo que deje cuando la vida se puso loco?
Bueno, es porque quise tener un nombre para el blog mas personal.  Como no muchos estaban leyendo y los que si siguen links que pongo, asique nadie se da cuenta.  Ahora voy a empecar a traducirlo tambien.  Los que quieren corrigir mi castellano pobre puedan para ayudarme a mejorar mi Castellano.

Que significa el nuevo nombre?

Nico empeco de decir "Happy Today" (Feliz hoy) hace unas meses.  Quiere decir "happy birthday" ("feliz cumpleaƱos"), pero sale asi.  Lo dice tantas veces (por lo menos una vez por dia) que me parece una mantra.  Vamos a hacer hoy feliz, o algo asi.
Bueno, "happy2day" ya esta usado en Blogger, asique use otra dicho de Nico.  Si el pide algo que sabe que yo no realmente quiero que tiene, me dice "una," con mucha enfasis, como decir que solamente quiere una.  Puede ser cualquier cosa - una salsa, una pedacito de torta, una historia mas.
No es que solo quiero dar una feliz hoy, pero tenemos una a la vez, no?

Bueno, vamos de vuelta con blogging.  Capaz que lo hago mejor esta vez.  Ya empece de sacar fotos para usar.  Tambien, quiero hacer un newsletter para mis abuelos, quien no tienen internet, pero no encuentro ningun programa que lo hace tan facil como pienso que debe ser.  Word no me gusta, Scribus tampoco, no voy a pagar para Publisher (ni hablar para una Mac).  Ideas?

Si notas que me parece cansada, es que escribi la mayoridad de esta a las 3 de la maƱana, despues de tomar mi examen final para la clase de Anatomia y Fisilogia.  Saque una 96/100!  Ahoro sigue con microbilogia.