Sunday, September 30, 2012

# 136 - C. diff Danger - Protect Yourself

I am a writer, a blogger, a simple woman. What is it that has been said of blogging? That it is the graffiti of writing? Well, I've probably put out some graffiti in this attempt at what I call "Reality Writing," and my opinions are personal opinions, but my sharing is always a heartfelt effort mingled with a desire to be informative. This week, I have been reading some of Peter Eisler's writings. He is an investigative journalist with USA TODAY, and the recognition he receives for his work is for good reason.

I look forward to reading more of his work, even if it makes my skin a good way. I often have to pause while reading his work because each sentence is a powerpunch to the has to be absorbed with a chill-wiggle before I proceed to the next sentence. You can bet that I'll be following his reports, and I suggest you do the same.

I'm passing this particular topic along because having a broad international readership provides a great spider-web opportunity to help spread information. One little thread of knowledge leads to another, around and round it goes.

Since many support boards and groups read this blog, I am hoping you can do your part to spread the word about this bacteria I have just learned about in one of Peter Eisler's articles. It's called, "C. diff" which is short for Clostridium difficile. This bacteria could be a danger to any of us, especially those of us with known chronic medical conditions. Understanding C. diff might be vital for each of us to have an added edge to avoid this bacteria and the complications it could invite into our body. I say, face the eye-popping truth revealed in the article that I am providing via an attached link. As for me, I cannot turn my back on potentially life-saving research; I must pass it along.

Since I have had my fair share of hospitalizations and have another one fast approaching in November, the information I've recently read on a hardy bacteria called "C. diff" has apparently awakened my brain to new dangers at many different kinds of medical facilities. Yet, it seems that many of these medical facilities do not want to fully address. C. diff as a sinister bacteria making an impact upon their controlled environments. It appears that many medical facilities are learning that C. diff is not so easy to shoo away with the squirt of standard anti-bacterial cleanser.

In Peter Eisler's article, he provides in-depth research to bring awareness about the seriousness of bacterial enemies, such as C. diff, and their wiliness to escape destruction. While reading Mr. Eisler's article, I could only imagine this bacteria to be the foundation for horror sci-fi movies, its ability to cling to the cracks and crannies of hospital equipment and beyond is terrifying. The way this bacteria manifests itself in the human body is no less unthinkable except that is is thinkable. C. diff exists and the realities of it being in a hospital near you is likely.

This bacteria has proven to have deadly consequences. Just as we carefully strive to be dutiful in locking our doors at night to protect ourselves and our families, it would be wise to know what is on the other side of that locked door. And who hasn't had to made an occasional trip to some kind of medical facility? Sooner or later, most of us have to make that trip, dreaded or not. Are you thinking that you are safe because of that hand-sanitizer you carry around? Think again. Do you believe all hospital-strength cleaners and hospital-strength hand-sanitizers installed every 3-5 feet will be your first-line of defense against this bacteria? Think again.

That mop that the maintenance crew is swiping down the hall might not be doing anything but tickling this bacteria.   

For me, Peter Eisler had me thinking, first and foremost, about the disinfectants and cleaners used by many hospitals...once you learn about C. diff bacteria, it is quite amazing to discover many hospital disinfectants currently used are not able to kill this bacteria. Changes in cleaners is a simple administrative decision that could be the start in saving lives. However, for a change to occur, acknowledgement of a problem must first be admitted. Unfortunately, hospitals are like the rest of society after a problem is discovered...too many think that the problem won't hit their doorstep, so the foot-dragging toward change often results in disaster.

More than anything, Peter's investigative reporting demonstrates a direct link between awareness and resulting action.

I suppose there will be many hospitals who will avoid Mr. Eisler's investigative works as if it were the plague itself. Facing it might mean accountability. His article embraces hard-hitting information which would demand an end to blind-bliss that creates lethal ignorance. However, one nurse, one patient, one resident in town can do their part to pass along Mr. Eisler's article to promote change. If questions aren't asked, everyone keeps their mouth shut, cover-ups continue and denials remain in place.

Life has continual lessons, avoiding a problem or pretending it doesn't exist won't work. Only by educating ourselves, confronting the issue and following through with an evolving plan can the problem be erased or minimized.

And the C. diff problem is ALL of our problem because bacteria is not a selective enemy, especially when you look around and believe a medical facility appears sparkly clean. It's hard to imagine that deadly bacteria can still be hiding in the midst of a sterile environment, but C. diff proves that to be the case.

However, I urge my blog readers to digest this informative article while remembering that bacteria knows no boundaries, bacteria does not require a passport to travel. This bacteria is likely to impact whatever country you reside in, and it would be prudent to at least be aware so you can question your hospital about their protocol regarding this bacteria, especially if you are a health care worker.

Regardless, remember that most hospitals are run the same as large corporations with liability as their main concern, so the downplay of C. diff statistics is often conveniently shifted with pass-the-buck techniques in an attempt to keep the bacterial "source unknown" and this gives the excuse for patient stats linked to such bacteria the lack of a papertrail. Why would a hospital want to test their patients for C. diff and take accountability for their contamination when a patient may have just been transferred from another facility already infected? If the already-infected patient is counted as testing positive for such a bacteria as C. diff, then the hospital that did not originally cause the infection might be held to the fire. Of course, this blame game comes with a high price, often paid in full by unsuspecting patients who will become infected because of this contagious bacteria being swept under the rug, so to speak. Just remember, this bacteria will happily live under the rug, it can't be swept away so easily.

Blaming another source as a possible excuse for a patient being exposed to C. diff is an obvious ploy to keep distasteful record-keeping from sticking to name of a medical facility. However, this is one problem that proves that denial is not a viable option. C. diff causes deaths that are hard to explain.

Would it really matter where the original source of contamination came from if all medical facilities were required to keep their own records to reflect each and every patient that has tested positive for such bacteria infections? Perhaps strict record-keeping protocol would lead to a better understanding of which facilities have the bacteria invasion under control and which ones need to get a handle on such serious problems.

Peter has shown that some hospitals do indeed record each and every patient diagnosed with such bacterial infections, regardless of the possible original source of contamination...simply keeping record of the number of infected individuals in their facility is giving power to the movement toward controlling contamination. It is refreshing to see some hospitals at least taking ownership for patient stats regarding this bacteria and others, while still acknowledging that the original exposure to the bacteria might have come from another facility.

Read the article and let me know what you think. I know some of you prefer to email, but just know that I am often slow to open my emails. I am very confident that Peter Eisler's work will make a positive difference in the world because his writing has brought focus to a bacteria that is apparently not as insignificant as liability-protecting entities would have us believe.

Far more could be done to stop the deadly bacteria C. diff
By Peter Eisler, USA TODAY
Aug 15, 2012

Learn more about C. diff, spread the word, click on the link below and arm yourself with the power of knowledge.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

# 135 - Being Steamrolled

To be "steamrolled" is defined by the wide-web's Urban Dictionary as to be wiped out very quickly without any pause in the attack and to face rapid or continuous destruction.

Sometimes we can feel as if life is steamrolling us.

Life is full of challenges. I am going through several simultaneously. Isn't that the way it goes sometimes? Yes, I'm stuck in a place of feeling as if I am being steamrolled. Of course, it would be easier to deal with certain things if there were more time in between each event, but all of it is rather jam-packed into the same time-frame, and that's how it is going for me these days. I come up for air every chance I get.

Regardless, I will keep moving forward while knowing that dark days will soon give way to light. I'm an eternal optimist, so I know things will end up better than ever, as long as I hang in there.

One problem I've been encountering is serious nose bleeds. In the past 24 hours alone, I have been battling nose bleeds that make my surroundings look like a crime scene. I will be completely unsuspecting, perhaps reading a book, and all of a sudden I will feel a warm trickle going down my face. My nosebleeds are so serious that I have to cup my hands to catch the flowing blood and run to the sink. Usually, it stops as fast as it began. My nose is free of any sores or irritation, the blood is coming from higher...from somewhere that is obviously under pressure and needing release.

I was supposed to get an MRI of the brain this past summer, but I never went. Actually, the diagnostic imaging place was constantly back-logged and having trouble fitting me into the schedule, then I let life get in the way. Anyway, I think it's time to get it done.

Last night, as I laid in bed, sound asleep, I woke up with my throat full of blood and I reached my hand to my face, in the dark, and felt the warm wet sensation. Are you serious? Well, that my was first thought in frustration. In my sleep? This is ridiculous!

In a hurry, I turned on my nightlight to find my hand covered in blood. Fortunately, I had my tissue close by and was able to catch the blood as my head tilted forward off the pillow. I realized that this can't keep happening. Something is going on. Plus, the wobbly head sensation I've been having lately sure doesn't put me at ease. But, I have so many other things going on that it's hard to tackle each separate problem, which makes it overwhelming to decide which area to focus on first. Then, I remember to keep taking step after step, working to slowly diminish my list of problems with special attention to the most immediate issues.

I tried to think of what I have done differently to perhaps cause these nosebleeds --- all I can think of is that I've over-done it in the house this week to get it ready for showings, trying to get it sold. Today, I am forcing myself to stay in bed. If a vessel is under pressure, I'm giving it a break today.

On top of this most recent problem and is reoccuring and demanding my immediate attention, I have been forced to face the fact that I'm about to be admitted into the hospital, and if you are a regular reader, you KNOW how much I detest being in the hospital, for anything.

For the family members who do their part to stay in touch with me and who are interested in me as well as me being interested in them, they know that I have a hospital admission already planned for the first week of November. My doctor wanted to admit me next week, but I refused because my daughter is getting married in about two weeks. I don't want to take the chance on having something go wrong and me end up not being able to walk out of that hospital and be well enough to attend the wedding. I won't chance it. So, I asked him to push it back. Of course, he thinks I'm nuts, but it's not every day that your daughter is getting married. Also, I don't want to have anything done until she's returned from her honeymoon; if something were to go wrong, the last thing I would want is for my daughter to have her honeymoon tainted by a dreaded phone call.

If I have a choice in the matter, I will put myself on hold until after the wedding excitement and honeymoon is over. It might be the wrong choice, I realize that, but for me, it's the right choice for the time.

This wedding is more important to me than I can express. Even though I am struggling, I am determined to be present and without additional worries for this wedding. Afterward, I can be admitted to the hospital and hope everything goes well. Perhaps it will all go so well that I'll be able to breeze through everything and come right back home, but my doctor is taking extra precautions. If it doesn't go well, I won't have the added stress and pressure of feeling as if my situation is causing my kids heartache during a time of expected joy.

My sister knows of my hospital admission date and she will be by my side to make any decision necessary. My youngest daughter might be available as well and she'd be my first choice for necessary decisions regarding my health, if I happen to be knocked out and needing representation. My doctor has made it clear that I need to make sure that arrangements are made for a person to be able to act on my behalf, so I am ready. I'm doing my part. However, my youngest daughter is going through her own problems and so my sister is ready to step in and be the one to help, if needed.

For now, I am concerned that my nosebleeds might interfere with the anesthesia that I will be receiving while in the hospital. Even if I am knocked out, just like last night, a nosebleed might start and I am concerned that no one would know about it until I am in distress, especially because of the amount of blood that is involved. All I can do is make them hyper-aware of this potential problem and hope they stay alert enough to handle it, if it should happen at the most inopportune moment.

As for my hospitalization and upcoming procedures, this is following an amazing Baylor doctor taking my previous CTScans from this past June, scans of my abdomen, and he ordered a second-opinion radiology report. I'm glad he did because it cleared up some wrong assumptions by the first radiologist, but also revealed some definite issues that need to be explored further. Last week, this doctor called me directly. I can tell you that when a doctor is picking up the phone to call you on their own to discuss your radiology report and upcoming procedures and telling you that he hand-picked your surgeon, you know you better listen closely.

I got the call last week as I was heading to mediation for a lawsuit involving our house that had been destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Turns out, we had hired schemers who we were led to believe were Public Adjusters, so now I am dealing with that on top of everything else, plus a marriage that is disintegrating with threats to take away the things that mean the most to me. First, there are threats of doing what he can to prevent me from attending my daughter's wedding and next are threats to do his best to keep me from getting our acreage as part of the divorce, even though he doesn't want it, he wants to take steps to keep me from having it as well.

Then, to know that my youngest daughter is dealing with her own health issues and I cannot even make the trip to be with her during this time is pure agony.

Things seem to be pouring down, but I keep my faith and know that all of this external chaos cannot touch the peaceful joy within me that is still breathing and looking forward to better days.

I've been around the block enough times to know that better days are usually ahead, so it's good to never give up. Never!

It is regretful that so much is happening at once, but there is great joy mixed in the middle of it daughter getting married is something that I have to cling to as other areas are a struggle. Getting to see her be married is one of my greatest delights, even though there is someone who would love to yank that possibility away from me. I've never had that kind of hateful thinking, so it's hard for me to understand. However, I will not let their sinister intentions interfere with my capacity to still experience joy in the middle of heartache.

I've already been able to make it past massive hurdles, so these in front of me are of little consequence to what I've already faced and conquered. In fact, a few of these hurdles in front of me now will soon be behind me and never able to present itself as a problem again.

Even though I am not looking forward to a hospital admission and am feeling a bit nervous about all that I will be facing, I am glad to be given the chance to get the worries of any potential problems behind me...the doctors will handle anything they see and I am hoping their expertise will only contribute to my increasing good health.

As for today, I better get back on top of that MRI of the brain that I was supposed to have so long ago. The nosebleeds are here with a vengeance and I don't want to go through more days of having to rush around trying to handle an internal busted pipe that is creating a mess. I hope it is simply a vessel irritated and that the irritation is not a chain reaction of something else --- I always opt for the most simple explanation!

For those of you out there who are facing your own hurdles that seem to be piling up on you, remember that you can get past all of them by facing them straight on and just doing what you can, day by day, to make a dent into the situation. It might be too overwhelming to deal with it all at one time or it might not be possible, but set your eyes beyond the hurdle, to the time when it will eventually be a part of your past. New hurdles will always come and that's why it is good to handle them as soon as you can, to prevent the pile-up. If I had done the brain MRI when it was ordered, I would have one less pile on my plate to scrape clean. As it is, I will do my best to do some catching up and to even get ahead of the game so I can be more prepared to enjoy each good day to the fullest.

And for good news, as I close out this post that is taking me FOREVER to write...I just got a confirmation that my brain MRI is scheduled early tomorrow morning, so that part will soon be finished and might help to find the source of these serious nosebleeds that catch me completely off guard. I'm taking my steps, bit by bit, to pass more hurdles!

I am wishing all of you the blessing of contentment with spurts of joy that will be so strong as to overshadow all else. To me, that is the best that life can give us.

This past Sunday, on my way to a memorial for
an old friend. Treasure life while you can!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

# 134 - Be Who You Are

Lately, I have been searching for inspiration to keep going through the ups and downs of life, and the great thing about inspiration is that it is everywhere, you simply must be open to receiving it.

This past week, I came across some writings by Joseph Campbell, and I thought I'd share because every word is striking me with such depth that I cannot pick and choose which words to discard.

Mr. Campbell had me at the first sentence, "The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are."

Oh, if only all of us could truly accept the privilege of being who we are...not pretending, not lying, not allowing duplicity. It would be such a gift to ourselves and to others to be able to embrace ourselves by living with authenticity combined with compassion for others and for ourselves.

Anyway, read on. I hope you take something away from it that you need right now as well. After all, inspiration is there for the taking, we only need to grasp it and hold tight.


The Hero’s Journey (On Living in the World) by Joseph Campbell
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
What you have to do, you do with play.
Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it.
The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.
Being alive is the meaning.
The warrior’s approach is to say “yes” to life: “Yea” to it all.
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.
When we talk about settling the world’s problems, We’re barking up the wrong tree.
The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess.
We are not going to change it.
Our job is to straighten out our own lives.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
If we fix on the old, we get stuck. when we hang onto any form, we are in danger of putrefaction.
Hell is life drying up. The Hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed.
If we are hanging onto the form now, we’re not going to have the form next.
You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.
Destruction before creation.
Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth new life. If the seed does not die, there is no plant.
Bread results from the death of wheat. Life lives on lives. Our own life lives on the acts of other people.
If you are lifeworthy, you can take it. What we are really living for is the experience of life, both the pain and the pleasure.
The world is a match for us. we are a match for the world. Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging. Negativism to the pain and ferocity of life is negativism to life.
We are not there until we can say “Yea” to it all.
To take a righteous attitude toward anything is to denigrate it. Awe is what moves us forward. As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. don’t bother to brush it off. Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance. Having a sense of humor saves you. Eternity is a dimension of here and now.
The divine lives within you. Live from your own center.
Your real duty is to go away from the community to find your bliss. The society is the enemy when it imposes its structures on the individual.
On the dragon there are many scales. Every one of them says “Thou Shalt.” Kill the dragon “Thou Shalt.” When one has killed that dragon, one has become The Child.
Breaking out is following your bliss pattern, quitting the old place, starting your hero journey, following your bliss. You throw off yesterday as the snake sheds its skin.
Follow your bliss.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

# 133 - Super Bug --- WHAT THE HECK?

This past weekend, reading online news updates gave me a shocker.. I was skimming an article with a leisurely attitude, yet with a tad bit of wariness, because the article was about a "Super Bug." First, as I read, I felt a tad bit of relief that the location of the Super Bug outbreak is quite a distance from Texas, not that our state-line boundaries would protect any of us with today's high transportation level, but frankly, the distance was one of my first thoughts of self-protection. Then, with more reading, I felt so bad for the little boy in the article who had obviously been battling massive health issues, only to be randomly hit with this Super Bug. I stopped reading for a moment to consider the unfairness of life, poor child.

Then, my attention sharpened along with a slight ringing in my head as the name for the Super Bug jumped at me. Klebsiella Pneumoniae (KPC). This is the very diagnosis that I had been given a couple of months ago, it had been found after direct testing of my bladder, and it is still an ongoing battle.

It would seem that the location of this bug in your body is critical, but after reading the below article, I wondered if I should be a little freaked about about my own tests confirming I have Klebsiella Pneumoniae. Needless to say, this article prompted my jaw to hang open a tad. Is my version of it contagious?

Indeed, I had been told that this would be an uphill battle for me, especially since my immune system is suppressed due to having Addison's disease and due to the treatment for Addison's being steroids, which hampers healing. No one mentioned that I might be contagious or even wanted to discuss it further, other than the doctor's office calling me to give me the diagnosis. I had to tell the nurse to hold on a second, this long weird word needed a pen and paper to make it more understandable. As the nurse said each letter so I could spell out the words, I could not even understand what she was telling me. I'd never seen those words before. And no, I was not impressed with this doctor's office handling of the matter. She pushed me back to my Internal Medicine doctor and told HIM to treat this diagnosis. So sweet.

But, I do know that if this germ hits the lungs, then death is mostly likely to occur. I am still very confused about this germ/bacteria and how it could be in my body, isolated to one area? If you know of any answers, please share.

There is no doubt that I will be calling my doctor tomorrow to find out more about my own situation. I certainly need to pin down the facts about the potential for this germ to spread. In my situation, the initial explanation is that it is contained within my body. But, after reading this article, I will not take a brush-off answer, I want details because my oldest daughter is getting married in October and I want to know exactly what I have been dealing with. I will probably go back and be unpleasant as that had been, I will do whatever is necessary to combat this Super Bug. In fact, I will probably stick with Baylor Medical Center that I have recently found to be excellent at replacing my other doctors and have them do their own tests and treatments, as they see fit to combat my own KPC.

The article I read over the weekend, released via Yahoo online news, is posted below...


Superbug kills 7th person at Md. NIH hospital

Associated Press – 8 hrs ago

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — A deadly germ untreatable by most antibiotics has killed a seventh person at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland.
The Washington Post ( reported the death Friday. NIH officials told the paper that the boy from Minnesota died Sept. 7. NIH says the boy arrived at the research hospital in Bethesda in April and was being treated for complications from a bone marrow transplant when he contracted the bug.
He was the 19th patient at the hospital to contract an antibiotic-resistant strain of KPC, or Klebsiella pneumoniae. The outbreak stemmed from a single patient carrying the superbug who arrived at the hospital last summer.
The paper reported the Minnesota boy's case marked the first new infection of this superbug at NIH since January.

# 132 - Modified Yoga

This past week, I went to see a new doctor to replace another Dr. I have seen for the past decade. These kinds of switches are hard to do, especially when you have been through the wringer with one doctor and do not want to start all over with guinea pig testing.

Best of all, this new doctor's location is much closer to me than the other doctor which saves me a lot of time, it saves me money on gas, and I do not have to travel across three different highways to get there. Basically, she is close by and we hit it off instantly. As you know, not all doctors are likable.

In fact, she asked me if I had been able to do any kind of exercise with my mobility issues and I explained that I do like being on my land, walking, being in nature and that I had enjoyed doing Yoga a long time ago. Her eyes lit up. She said, "I want you to join me in Yoga next week, no charge. It's a modified Yoga class for people who have had joint replacements or other issues, and it will be unlike any other Yoga class you've seen before. I'll be there and think you will really enjoy it."

I accepted her invitation. Which she gave me a real invitation that she wrote out; she told me to call a certain number, to tell them the doctor had invited me and they will reserve a spot for me. It's a class that is available for attendance by invitation only, so I also do not have to worry about the Yoga perfectionist critiquing the rest of us.

I'm going to try it out.

In fact, I still have my Yoga mat. It's been a long time, but I am willing to tackle a modified Yoga program so that I can stretch these muscles of mine and give my joints some exercise under the guidance of someone who has seen MRI images of my body that has been put back together by human-engineering.

Also, this is a phase in my life that is finding me making new friends, trying to get out of the house more often and re-building my life in a better way. One meaningful outing I had yesterday was to see my grandmother. Since my mother has died from breast cancer, it is especially important for my grandmother and I to have time together, we both miss my mom so grandmother had to lose a child and be so lonely to have her daughter still, but at least we have each other. She's 83 years old now and has had a rough time of it, but she still laughs and wants me to be free of any suffering. Unfortunately, for all of us, life includes the bitter with the sweet.

I made both of us dinner and we talked for hours. Nothing feels as good as being with her and getting to see the strong stock I am made of!

Also, I look at her and realize how my oldest daughter and my grandmother are nearly identical in body type. My daughter even has my grandmother's a carbon copy. They both are the exact same height, tall women, and they both have full figures. Yes, my oldest daughters takes very much after my grandmother who could still wear a bikini in her mid-40's and wear it very well. My grandmother used her tallness to exude gracefulness and that is my daughter...even their arm and hand movements are so similar. It is a striking resemblance and I'm glad to see it so clearly.

The great thing is that the positive changes in my life are bolstering to my physical state, my emotional state, and it lifts my spirit. No matter what anyone says to me to be destructive, I am full of light and can see the beauty of life all around me. I'm so thankful to share that side of me with others who appreciate me for the person I am, the good and the bad. A grandmother is the perfect person to share your love with...I am blessed to have her for as long as I can, especially since my mom had to leave us all too soon.

Life is not always as we wish it to be, but it can be beautiful just the way it long as the right perspective is maintained. I'm doing my best, day by day, that's all we can do, strive to do our best with what we are given.

Monday, September 3, 2012

# 131 - West Nile Virus - Getting Serious

I am a Texas resident and there have been several huge reports over the past few weeks of people contracting the West Nile Virus from mosquitoes. In fact, several people have died. I believe the first two people to die a couple of weeks ago were in the Dallas area, near where my oldest daughter, Heather, lives.

It is difficult to put this in the back of your mind when it is coming on the news constantly. I do not get overly concerned about many news stories because of sensationalism, but I know this virus is a real threat. I now hear the mosquito trucks racing down our street most every night and that is a reason to be concerned because our area rarely has the mosquito trucks running. I guess the virus is spreading so much that each city is in desperation mode to not have an outbreak linked to their city-name.

However, it became more difficult to live normal, as usual, when I catch a government-promoted commercial that was aired this evening, filmed with David Lakey, M.D., the Texas Commissioner of Health as the featured speaker. The title next to his head on the screen is, "West Nile Virus: Protect Yourself."

Dr. Lakey starts out by saying, "The West Nile Virus is threatening Texas, but you can protect yourself."

The commercial goes on to list a number of four "easy tips: to protect yourself from contracting this virus that is transmitted via a mosquito bite:

1. Always use insect repellent.
2. Wear long sleeves and pants outside
3. Stay indoors at dawn and dusk
4. Drain standing water (they show a tire in the yard being lifted so water can be drained)

The commissioner then says, "These tips are your best defense. People older than fifty or with underlying health problems are most at risk for getting ill from the virus."

Finally, he gives a suggestion to "learn more about the West Nile Virus at," which has the website also displayed on the screen. Then, the commercial comes to a close.

After seeing this commercial, I am starting to realize that this virus is much more serious than I had been thinking; it seems to have spread so much that the state government is intervening. If any of you have worked for the government, you kind of know that this is a sign that things are probably going much worse than the general public realizes.

I do admire the Commissioner for speaking straight-forward and no one can say he did not try to warn Texans to protect themselves. However, we just left the month of August by a couple of days and it's a pain to keep spraying insect repellent on your body after you just stepped out of the shower with clean skin and the suggestion to wear long sleeves and pants when outside is something few Texans will consider. At this time of year...most are wearing cool clothes so they do not suffer a heat-stroke. So, I think #2 on the list will be most difficult to convince people to do.

As for #3 with staying indoors at dawn and dusk, I am doing that already. However, I do step outside early in the morning to feed the chickens, so I guess I should put a can of insect repellent at the door and spray a quick burst of mosquito repellent on me before heading outdoors to spread chicken feed. Since I rarely go out at dusk, this one is covered for me, but for so many others, they are enjoying their evenings out without thinking about becoming seriously ill from this virus.

Regardless, this commercial has been a wake-up call.

As of August 30th, in Houston and Harris County combined, there have been 30 confirmed West Nile Virus cases and three deaths. The news says to wear a product with DEET as it is more effective in preventing mosquito bites. I believe the overall death toll for the West Nile Virus, as of just a couple of weeks ago, had reached approximately 17 people...I don't know exact stats, but for my metropolitan area, for there to be three deaths and then two that I know of in the Dallas area, it appears to be making its round. Supposedly, this is becoming widespread more quickly than anticipated.

I will do my best to protect myself and hope that I can convince my daughters to be wise and heed the warnings of the state commissioner for this health issue. It would be better to be safe than sorry.