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Thread: Whew! I dodged the bullet on THAT one...

  1. #1
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Whew! I dodged the bullet on THAT one...

    In the month since the surgery on my esophagus and stomach March 1st I'd been getting weaker and more fatigued and getting more short of breath, finding it very difficult to walk the 20 steps from my bed to the bathroom. The last time I had been this weak was when I was diagnosed with multiple pulmonary emboli (blood clots) nine years ago.

    Fearing the worse I had a neighbor drop me off at the ER last night about 7PM. When I arrived I had trouble walking just a dozen steps without having to rest, supporting myself with my walking stick. They ran blood tests and with my history of PE's took a special CT scan of my lungs.

    The results of the CT scan came back negative at 1AM but the level of the heart enzyme troponin in my blood was at the high limit which could indicate an imminent heart attack so they had to retest it (they had been giving me a saline IV.) The results on that came back negative at 2AM so they drew up my discharge papers.

    I thought I better use the bathroom before leaving and was surprised to find that I could walk the 100+ feet with little trouble. Hallelujah, I've been cured!

    It turns out that I had become extremely dehydrated from not eating or drinking well since my surgery March 1st, something I thought might be contributing to my problems but I did not realize the full extent.

    I had a list of friends to call for a ride home... but not at 2:30AM in the morning! Plan B was to call a taxi which turned out to be only $18. Damn, I thought of all the times I didn't want to drive to the ER but didn't want to pay the $200 Medicare copay for an ambulance either... $18.00 would have been a real bargain!

    Steve A.

    P.S. The taxi driver wasn't too happy about having Uber move in to his territory and I learned that he works for a percentage of the fares... and has to return the cab with a full tank of gas at the end of his shift.

    P.P.S. The first nurse had trouble putting in the extra large IV necessary for the CT scan contrast injection so they brought in a second nurse who was trained to use an ultrasound to locate veins. High tech!
    BTW when they put in an IV on the back of my left hand awhile back they used one of those instant heat packs to enlarge the blood vessels. Worked great!

  2. #2
    Old Timer tedmich's Avatar
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    You gotta stay hydrated and fed Steve! Look to the Supper thread for inspiration or just have some Ensure or a Muscle milk shake! Gotta get the raw materials it to heal effectively!
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  3. #3
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    They had me go through clear liquids for a week, all liquids for a week and soft foods for a week or two. With the sphincter between my esophagus and stomach removed soft foods seem to go down okay but liquids act like they want to come right back up...

    My doctors have always been telling me to lose weight and I did figure that losing 35 pounds in a month might have had something to do with my being so weak...

    Steve

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Man, I wish you the best Steve.

    A friend of mine was torn up at an early age. A dog mauled her as a child, and a drunk driver all but killed her, she lost part of a leg and other damage. Visible scars. Every day of her life spent with pain. Hard to walk, etc. We are good friends, and while I have my problems, they pale next to hers. One day we were at the hey how are you today point in the conversation, and I mentioned something to the effect that I didn't want to say anything about my ache and pains, because her situation as so much worse than mine. She said to me, "Enzo, who better to understand your pain than someone who has some?" Hmm, I never thought about it that way. So ever since, we seem to more freely discuss the physical and mental when it comes to being beat up.

    I hope you have someone like that who can relate to what you are feeling, assuming you want that, and you can talk about it without triggering a lot of fawning and "oh you poor dear".

    When someone asks how I am doing, I have to think, there are always people worse off than I am. Hate the BiPAP? At least I am not on dialysis. Can't stand up without fainting? At least I am not comatose. Can't get a cheerleader to go to the prom with me? At least I haven't been arrested. SO I hope you can focus on the brighter aspects of this difficult journey.

    I hope my clumsy words are taken in the spirit intended.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  5. #5
    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    A good friend of mine decided to take up skydiving.

    First big jump was from 5000 feet.

    Her chute didn't open.

    They taught her to tumble head over heels, curled in a ball.
    The idea is to 'pick a position' by chance.
    Land on your head, your feet or your stomach and your chances of survival are slim.

    Down she went.

    Right into a freshly plowed corn field.
    Landed on her back.
    Left an 18" hole in the ground.
    Every bone in her body, except her skull, was broken.

    After years of PT she walked out on her own.

    I saw her the other day & asked how she was & she replied "I know that it's going to rain soon".
    And then she laughed.

  6. #6
    g1
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    don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    That's amazing Jazz. A lot of people would never have had the perseverance to come back from that. Shows how much attitude can affect things, "chin up" and all that.

    Glad to hear the lung CT was good Steve. I have one coming up in about a week. They didn't tell me about the "extra large IV" though! I have to close my eyes for that stuff, then I can take it.
    "there's another kind of party lights that I can't stand to see,
    when there's a man in that patrol car and he don't wanna party with me"

  7. #7
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that one of my symptoms was the pain in my back where the drain hose from my chest cavity had been (something that had bothered me from Day One.) The pain had been getting better but over the past week or so had gotten worse again so I was back on Vicodin. Plus the front rib in the same area was now sore, something brand new.

    I never would have associated any of that with dehydration but here it is a day later and I feel good as new. Which is a pleasant surprise. It took me maybe 6 years for my lungs to recover from PE's from 2007 and I really wasn't looking forward to going through that all over again.

    Steve

    P.S. The extra big needle was specifically for the CT scan to check for pulmonary emboli. I've been having the regular CT scan with contrast several times a year to check for new tumors in my lungs (still clear after 2 1/2 years!) and it is just a regular IV usually put in by the CT tech for outpatient scans.

  8. #8
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    I used to get dehydrated often, thanks to Diabetes which made me pee a lot, but worst is that I did NOT feel thirsty, so didn't make up for losses, since I felt nothing wrong.

    Then I learnt a sure fire tester: rub my lips side to side one against the other: if skin is dry (easy to notice), I drink NOW at last 2 glasses of water, like it or not.
    In some 20 minutes lips are soft again which means rehydration is working.

    Try it, it's simple, might help.
    Thirst by itself is not a realiable indicator.
    Jazz P Bass, g1 and frus like this.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

  9. #9
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    Steve, glad to hear you came out of it OK!
    My wife took care of both her sick folks, (as did her sisters), but dehydration seems to be a common problem, (there were close calls with both). She would fight with her mom to take even a small drink of water, finally found a way to doctor the "ensure" to make it taste more like a milkshake, (she also would hardly eat), and got her to get something down.
    Try to make yourself eat, (and drink), even though you don't feel like it!
    eschertron likes this.

  10. #10
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Update: I am back in the hospital so that my thoracic surgeon can figure out why liquid is not passing freely between my esophagus and my stomach. I believe that they first want to do an endoscopy to see what is going on and I think that they will be able to deal with the blockage going through my mouth (no need for more abdominal surgery I hope.)

    I love to drink water so it's not like I'm forgetting to stay hydrated. I guess I was hoping that everything would work itself out on its own but that just isn't happening.

    I talked to my thoracic surgeon at 2PM today about these problems and by 4:00 he had a hospital room reserved for me. Can't complain about the service I get from Kaiser (with me being on Medicare I believe that they are reimbursed for my hospital stay here whereas if it was just under their own health plan they would be paying for it out of their own funds.)

    I'd been feeling pretty weak the past few weeks- its like I am a brand new person when properly hydrated with the saline solution so it should be smooth sailing from here on out! I can't wait until I can drink my favorite concoctions again (my favorite is 3 oz orange juice mixed with 10 oz diet Squirt over ice!)

    Steve A.

  11. #11
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Man, I wish you the best Steve...

    I hope you have someone like that who can relate to what you are feeling, assuming you want that, and you can talk about it without triggering a lot of fawning and "oh you poor dear"...

    When someone asks how I am doing, I have to think, there are always people worse off than I am.
    Enzo:

    I hope it doesn't sound like I'm complaining- I consider myself to be the luckiest person on earth because I'm still alive. I did not value life so much before going through my various life-threatening experiences (heart attack, pulmonary emboli twice, bacteremia, Ludwig's angina, lung cancer, esophageal cancer.)

    As for the cancers I consider myself very lucky in how they manifested themselves. The lung tumor blocked the airway causing the lower left lobe to collapse, something that I noticed right away. And the esophageal tumor made it difficult for me to swallow, once again something I noticed right away. Compare that to all of those people whose cancer isn't discovered until it is too late.

    Steve

  12. #12
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Take Care my Friend!
    T
    Technicians Run the World, but Bankers, Lawyers, and Accountants, Take All The Credit!
    Keep Rockin! B_T
    Terry

  13. #13
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    Good luck, Steve!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    NAh Steve, I didn't think you were complaining, I just know from my own relatively limited experience that it can be hard to have an intelligent adult discussion about serious health issues, pain, death, etc. I have to face the very real likelihood of my death at this point in life, but I am not allowed to even bring it up around my one sister. The other sister understands, but the one somehow thinks if you don't talk about it, it won;t happen. I find too often, if I just mention pain, the conversation escalates to "Oh you poor dear" rather than just having a discussion about pain and its issues. Those are the fawners I refer to.

    Even my wife does that, drives me nuts. If i am having pain, I tend to want to push it from my head and go about my daily activities. I want to do my best not to sit there focused on my discomfort. My wife though wants to bring it up every 10 seconds, "Oh that must hurt." or "Oh, I am so sorry you are hurting." Well, I was OK until you REMINDED me again.

    Sometimes even doctors will launch into some automatic responses. I just find a very few people around me I can count on to just have a nice chat about serious things. Don't get me wrong, I am always up for joking about it, but no one ever wants to talk about "what brand catheter do you prefer?" "WHich pain meds work for you the best without making you dopey?"
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    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  15. #15
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    I do bring up my medical issues a lot, not complaining about them but just amazed what I have gone through and seem to have come out the better for them. Go figure!

    Today's update: the thoracic surgeon did a endoscopy this afternoon to see what was going on and performed an esophageal dilation , which was like a balloon inflated to enlarge the passage to the stomach. I asked him what was to prevent it from shrinking back down and he explained that there is often scar tissue inside the esophagus near the surgery site and the dilation opens it up a bit, in most cases precluding the need for a stent. And that explains why the "plumbing" was working okay for a few weeks but then started to get sluggish.

    I remember nothing of the procedure... one minute I was talking to the anesthesiologist and the next minute I was in the recovery area with the nurse asking me if I was awake. It is amazing what modern medicine is able to do today thanks to- pardon the graphic obscenity- science.

    ASGE: Understanding Eso Dilation Updated

    Steve Ahola

  16. #16
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    I'm amazed what all you've been through too.
    Maybe we can attribute it to your determination, and to modern medicine!
    Hang in there!
    pdf64, g1 and gui_tarzan like this.
    Technicians Run the World, but Bankers, Lawyers, and Accountants, Take All The Credit!
    Keep Rockin! B_T
    Terry

  17. #17
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Steve, you are a guiding light for us in the middle of a dark storm; your incredible prowess dodging the bullet gives everybody strength, and faith in medicine, through real examples of somebody we know.
    How reassuring!!!!
    Thanks for posting

    As of the "poor dear mentality" I also HATE it, it's fully counter-productive and destructive.
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    Juan Manuel Fahey

  18. #18
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    As I've said before, I've gone through some of what Steve has with acid reflux surgery and have had a few endos. Every time I do they give me Versed which not only knocks me out quickly but apparently it also has some sort of memory-impeding qualities so you don't remember what goes on even if you don't go out fully. The upcoming surgery I mentioned a while back is now just shy of three weeks away. They're going to use a Dacron graft to replace sections of my Iliac (groin) arteries that have aneurysms and fix the one in my abdomen. The destructive blood clot that almost ended me up in emergency surgery should dissolve on its own being on a blood thinner so as the guys have said, when you have things like this crop up it really makes you stand up and notice and realize you are in fact human, and in our cases extremely lucky and grateful to still be alive. No complaints here either, it's amazing what the body can go through and with assistance of modern medicine, still keep going.
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  19. #19
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Glad you're feeling better!
    Lots of activity lately, that's a good sign!
    T
    Technicians Run the World, but Bankers, Lawyers, and Accountants, Take All The Credit!
    Keep Rockin! B_T
    Terry

  20. #20
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gui_tarzan View Post
    As I've said before, I've gone through some of what Steve has with acid reflux surgery and have had a few endos. Every time I do they give me Versed which not only knocks me out quickly but apparently it also has some sort of memory-impeding qualities so you don't remember what goes on even if you don't go out fully.
    Just reading your post makes me wince in pain! I have been very fortunate in not having a lot of pain myself...

    Steve

    P.S. A link to info on Versed...

    http://www.drugs.com/cons/versed.html

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve A. View Post
    I do bring up my medical issues a lot, not complaining about them but just amazed what I have gone through and seem to have come out the better for them. Go figure!

    Today's update: the thoracic surgeon did a endoscopy this afternoon to see what was going on and performed an esophageal dilation , which was like a balloon inflated to enlarge the passage to the stomach. I asked him what was to prevent it from shrinking back down and he explained that there is often scar tissue inside the esophagus near the surgery site and the dilation opens it up a bit, in most cases precluding the need for a stent. And that explains why the "plumbing" was working okay for a few weeks but then started to get sluggish.

    I remember nothing of the procedure... one minute I was talking to the anesthesiologist and the next minute I was in the recovery area with the nurse asking me if I was awake. It is amazing what modern medicine is able to do today thanks to- pardon the graphic obscenity- science.

    ASGE: Understanding Eso Dilation Updated

    Steve Ahola
    So happy to hear of your progress and will power! Stay strong Steve, glad to have you as a part of this community!!!

  22. #22
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    I met with my oncologist today... good news! For 3 upcoming 21-day chemo cycles I will be getting different meds- the same ones I took with minimal side effects in Sept 2013. Thank God... the first 3 cycles this time around turned into pure hell. I'm not quite ready to restart chemo yet but that is between me and the scheduler so I can postpone it a bit.

    I sure as hell was not looking forward to another 3 cycles like the first set. The drugs are related but the earlier one could cause problems with kidney functions but that should not be an issue for me. (The drug I took earlier this year has neuropathy side effects which when added to my own neuropathy problems got pretty nasty.)

    Steve Ahola

    P.S. On the bright side I've lost around 75 pounds in the past year (65 in the past 6 months.) I went shopping for some new pants today. Last time I bought jeans they were 50x29... my size is now 44x28. Looking at the BMI chart at the doctors office I am right on the border of Normal. Hot damn... the Big C diet!

  23. #23
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big_teee View Post
    Glad you're feeling better!
    Lots of activity lately, that's a good sign!
    T
    My recent activity here is actually not a good sign because I've been stuck in bed after overexerting myself last week running "must do" errands while still under the after effects of the anesthetics administered last Tuesday.

    I felt great lying in bed but getting up was a different story so I pretty much just stayed in bed.

    I'm almost back to normal- actually even better since I picked up some more anti-nausea meds the other day which have allowed me to eat better. And a friend told me about Aleve (naproxen) the all-day pain reliever, something I wasn't able to use before during the 10+ years I was taking coumadin (warfarin) blood thinner. Which is great since I just finished up the vicodin prescribed last month.

    I started working on electronic projects again the other night... now that is good news!

    Steve

  24. #24
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    That is about as "glass half full" as it gets. Good to see your mood is still good, Steve and keep fightin' the fight!
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    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

  25. #25
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    When you can drink what you want, try to find L&A (brand) Pineapple Coconut Juice. This is the tastiest stuff I've ever had. It does not have a bunch of other juices in it like the other brands I have found. (My local Meijer had it, then replaced it with crap offerings. I can't find it elsewhere. Grrrr.....)

  26. #26
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Frontier laparoscopic surgery?

    News of the weird!
    • India’s Orissa state has established “health camps” to facilitate mass sterilizations to help control the booming population, but procedures were halted in November when Dr. Mahesh Chandra Rout matter-of-factly told BBC News that camps routinely used ordinary bicycle pumps to inflate women’s abdomens.
    • A senior health official ended the practice and ordered sterilizations only in hospitals.
    — Chuck Shepherd
    Steve Ahola

    P.S. I saved that article from the paper in December 2014, a full year before I had even heard of laparoscopic surgery in which the abdomen is inflated with CO2. And now I is one...

  27. #27
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    My doc used laproscopic surgrey on me in 2000 for the GERD surgery. I guess he was one of the first in Michigan to use that technique but it sure was nice not having to spend weeks recovering. He used the same on my gall bladder and I was walking around the local cigar shop a few days later.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve A. View Post
    P.S. On the bright side I've lost around 75 pounds in the past year (65 in the past 6 months.) I went shopping for some new pants today. Last time I bought jeans they were 50x29... my size is now 44x28. Looking at the BMI chart at the doctors office I am right on the border of Normal. Hot damn... the Big C diet!
    That's awesome to hear Steve! Keep up the good work Always a good feeling HAVING to buy new clothes from all of your positive changes!

  29. #29
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GroovyJohnny View Post
    That's awesome to hear Steve! Keep up the good work Always a good feeling HAVING to buy new clothes from all of your positive changes!
    I get to clean out my closet... yea! Lots of 4XL shirts I never did wear but wasn't quite ready to give away.

  30. #30
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I lost a bunch of weight a few years ago. I was tempted to hang on to some of my nicer shirts that were too large "just in case". I opted to get rid of them. I figured it would be a bit of extra incentive to keep the weight off.
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    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

  31. #31
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    I lost a bunch of weight a few years ago. I was tempted to hang on to some of my nicer shirts that were too large "just in case". I opted to get rid of them. I figured it would be a bit of extra incentive to keep the weight off.
    I still have shirts my Mom bought me 50 years ago - can still hear her say "you'll grow into it." Suuure.... and I still haven't. What. was. she. thinkin'? I could hoist 'em for sails, fer pete'sakes. Drop 'em off at Sal Army? No, some other kid will hafta go thru the same thing.
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  32. #32
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I guess I have a little different take. I donate most of my usable clothes to Goodwill or Salvation Army despite my unwillingness to wear them. I figure there are those less fortunate who, given the choice of having no clothes or ugly clothes, would take ugly clothes any day. If I deem things unworthy of even charity, they become shop rags.
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    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

  33. #33
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Yes, I have been posting "like a madman" here over the past few days but it has been a good sign medically: I am basically feeling great but my body has been weakened from losing 30+ lbs during March because of extreme nausea from chemo and surgery- overall 90+ lbs over past year. (I think that I might have lost a lot of muscle mass.)

    I started going to the Health Center Gym again on April 18th for maybe 30 minutes of light exercise 5 days a week and am getting stronger, slowly but surely. My back is still very weak so I need to lie down much of the day, and as I've gotten very tired of reading digital newspapers and inane Facebook posts I've been spending a lot of time here at MEF where I learn things that interest me.

    Better yet, I am finally getting my sense of hunger back (my appestat had stopped working around the beginning of February, undoubtedly a result of chemo.)

    Steve Ahola

    P.S. One more "cloud silver lining" observation: because of my weight loss I no longer think I have sleep apnea and am not chained to my c-pap or oxygen machines anymore. As they say when they finally find the spitoon, H-h-hallelujah!

  34. #34
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    I guess I have a little different take. I donate most of my usable clothes to Goodwill or Salvation Army despite my unwillingness to wear them. I figure there are those less fortunate who, given the choice of having no clothes or ugly clothes, would take ugly clothes any day. If I deem things unworthy of even charity, they become shop rags.
    I give my nice clothes to a local thrift shop that supports youth homes, down the street from Goodwill and Salvation which get my crappy stuff. I gave them a heavy coat with a $120 price tag from JCPenney's a few months ago because I never did wear it (I doubt that I paid more than $30 or $40 for it on clearance.)

    I live in a 4-plex condo and each unit used to have a big 33-gallon garbage can but we now have tiny 20 gallon cans plus one big recycle bin which encourages recycling... and many trips to Goodwill!

    BTW your junky clothes do not usually end up on store racks for sale but they do contribute to their work load, thus keeping more people employed as sorters. For Goodwill most donations do not end up in the local store but are sent in huge trucks to their central processing plants in Pittsburg and Oakland.

    Steve Ahola

  35. #35
    Supporting Member Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TimmyP1955 View Post
    When you can drink what you want, try to find L&A (brand) Pineapple Coconut Juice. This is the tastiest stuff I've ever had. It does not have a bunch of other juices in it like the other brands I have found. (My local Meijer had it, then replaced it with crap offerings. I can't find it elsewhere. Grrrr.....)
    My favorite beverage is V-Fusion from V8 with an 8 oz glass containing a full serving of both fruits and vegetables. (I used to LOVE mixing a few ounces of OJ with 12 oz of Diet Squirt but carbonation is not good after esophageal surgery, or so it seems!)

    Steve

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