Deciding to seize the day

       

October 9, 2019

BY NORBERT RUG

The day I decided to live my life to the fullest, to seize the day, and stop coasting through life was the day I was diagnosed with cancer over ten years ago. When my doctor informed me that I had cancer I told him to “get it the fark out”, although these weren’t the exact words I used (This is a family newspaper after all.) I wasn’t about to let a few rogue cells define me or restrict my joie de vivre.

I feel that time is the greatest gift we will ever receive and waking up each day is a blessing to be cherished.  You can always get more money, you can’t get more time. However receiving this diagnosis is not the only brush with death I have had. In the 60’s I was driving on Niagara Falls Boulevard when a person coming the other way crossed over the yellow line and strafed the entire driver’s side of my car, from bumper to bumper. My car came to rest in a gas station, about three feet from a gas pump where the attendant was filling up a car with gasoline. I had to exit my car via the passenger door as my door would not open.

I should have known then that I was destined to lead a charmed life. I totaled another car several years later by hitting a large tree, head on. In the last ten years, there have been so many times I have eluded Death that I can’t count them all. I don’t think Death wants to see me again for a while. I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Embolisms.  They were so many that my doctor said he had never seen someone as bad as me that was not the subject of an autopsy. I’ve beat cancer two other times and have been thrown across a room by 440 volts.

I keep checking the bottom of my foot for an expiration date but haven’t found one yet. I really don’t think I want to know though as it might diminish the joy I feel every day just to be alive. 

Knowing that a loved one’s time may be ending soon might actually be a gift that gives us a deeper appreciation for them and the time we have together but I don’t want to know when I am scheduled for my final exit. As research for this article, I recently took an online test (fatefulday.eu) to see when I would die and, God’s honest truth, they told me I died in 2015. Dang, nobody told me!   

Worrying about tomorrow and lamenting the past is a total waste of time. Each day is a gift. Carpe Diem! People don’t call their friends and families or spend time with them anymore, but squander their valuable time looking at Facebook, checking thier messages or watching videos on YouTube. You can hear people mumble I haven’t got the time while they rush home from work to go online. 

I was parked outside the high school recently, waiting to pick up my granddaughter and was watching the children file out of school. Although they were walking in groups, the vast majority had their noses buried in their phones. Here they were, walking with their friends, but no one was talking to each other.

Probably many of our thoughts and worries involve problems and situations in the past or the in the future and the closer we examine them, the more we will realize that only a very small percentage of our thoughts involve the present. 

It takes an honest effort to live your life in the present. This may sound rather simple but not understanding this is the key reason that stops people from living their lives to the fullest. People certainly aren’t lazy or afraid, they are merely trapped in their daily routines. You cannot live your life to the fullest if you don’t dare to try new things or take risks.

Worrying about the past or the future can be a huge problem when it comes to living in the day you have right now. We have to accept that the past is not alterable. Spending a single second regretting your past takes away the chance to enjoy the present. Worrying about the past can be a vicious circle. It not only takes away the time you have to enjoy this moment but it gives you with another reason to be troubled in the future. Thoughts about why did I spend so much time worrying about yesterday in the past. 

Accept the past for what it is. Let bygones be bygones and make the best of your situation today. Don’t lose sleep about the future either, you have little control of it. Deal with life one day at a time. Bottom line is, it depends on you and only you. If you spend your time whining about the past or fretting about the future, you will miss living in the present. Make the best of today. You will never get this day back. One day you want to be able to look back at your life with a smile on your face and recognize that you did the best you could.

My experiences with peripheral neuropathy lead me to CBD oil

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BY NOBERT RUG

I have peripheral neuropathy from chemotherapy. This is customarily associated with symptoms like numbness pain, and tingling but there are other symptoms as well.

The peripheral nervous system is composed of three different types of nerves. They are the motor, the sensory and the autonomic nerves. Each of these nerve systems controls different functions. I have both sensory and motor peripheral neuropathy. 

Damage to my motor nerves makes walking difficulty. My legs feel heavy like I am trying to move a 25-pound ham and are difficult to move especially on waking up. I sometimes feel off balance.  Since damage to the motor nerves disrupts the signals from your brain and spinal cord to the muscles telling them what to do even something as simple as walking can become a difficult task. I require a cane while walking to maintain my balance. 

Also, I need to see the floor or ground, or I lose my balance. If I shut my eyes, I start waving around like a willow sapling in a wind storm. A doctor tested for this damage using a pin. They repeatedly pushed it against my flesh on my foot and I could not feel anything. 

However sometimes if I step on a coin I swear I can tell if it is heads or tails. Then I have electric shocks. It feels like my toes are getting shocked and the feeling moves across the bottom of my foot.

Because I suffer from symptoms related to this motor nerve damage, I must exercise extra caution when walking on stairs or other areas where my risk of a fall is greater. This is the primary reason I had a first-floor addition put on my house, so I wouldn’t have to climb stairs. Allowing myself extra time and not hurrying can also help me limit my risk of falling. I now walk like a two-year-old. 

I also find it difficult to pick things up off the floor due to a lack of balance. I sometimes try to hook then with my cane or use my cane to push them close to something I can grab on when I bend over. My wife bought me a “Picker Upper” as I call it so I can retrieve things from the floor. 

Because damage to your motor nerves affects the ability of your brain to transmit messages to your muscles I find myself limiting the use of my legs and feet. Unfortunately, this decrease in physical activity results in me having muscle deterioration and weakness. This is often referred to as muscle atrophy and I found it hard to get up from a chair. I had a box built to raise my chair to assist me in getting up. 

Muscle weakness further contributes to my loss of balance and difficulty walking that I previously mentioned. While exercise is often difficult and painful for me there are low-impact exercises that I do to help retain muscle mass and prevent muscle deterioration. I am now attending Physical Therapy to help with this and have exercises I do at home to try and rebuild my strength like stepping on and off a step stool every time I leave the living room to try and build up my muscles.

The disruption of signals from the brain can also lead to cramps, muscle spasms and twitches. Sometimes it feels like my toes are overlapping each other. They aren’t, it’s just my nerves playing tricks on me. Most of the time, the cramping strikes at night and ranges in severity from mild to terribly painful.

While most common symptoms that are associated with peripheral neuropathy are a pain, numbness, burning or tingling they are not the only symptoms. When the motor nerves fall victim to neuropathy the symptoms can go far beyond pain or numbness. They affect my ability to control muscles and perform otherwise simple physical tasks. Though you may not be able to completely reverse these negative effects, alternative therapies like exercise can help you build and maintain muscle mass. This helps to minimize the impact of motor nerve damage.

There are other therapies I use though to help me mitigate the peripheral neuropathy symptoms. I take the controlled drug, Lyrica twice a day. Other things I use are homeopathic treatments. I treat my feet with a Frankincense and Mir oil every morning.  Finally, I use a CBD tincture twice a day. Every time I need a refill, I search the internet for the best price because there are now so many players selling this that pricing is all over the place. I have also moved from 300 MG to 1200 MG and the price increases proportionately. I can buy the 1200 MG for less than some people ask for the 300 MG. 

CBD has been called safe for almost everyone. This is according to a new article from the World Health Organization. But you should check with your own doctor before you begin using any CBD product. Research has shown several CBD oil benefits, ranging from alleviating social anxiety to improving rheumatoid arthritis. CBD could also decrease chronic pain although your mileage may vary.

Health: September is Prostrate Awareness Month

As a three time prostate cancer survivor that is battling it for the fourth time now, I wanted to let you know that September is prostate cancer awareness month. It is estimated that over 31,620 deaths from this disease will occur this year, a 7% increase from 2018 according to The American Cancer Society. Most prostate cancer is preventable with proper screening. A simple blood test and an exam by your primary care doctor is usually all you need. I am hoping that by telling my story I can help save at least one life.

In June of 2009 I went to my doctor with food poisoning and casually mentioned that I was going to the bathroom frequently at night. He gave me an exam and said he didn’t like what he found. He suggested I have a biopsy of the prostrate, despite the fact my PSA was within normal range. I went under general anesthesia and they took 12 samples. Seven of the 12 samples came back positive for cancer. I was quickly scheduled for surgery to have the prostate removed.

About 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States.

The surgeon who removed my prostrate told me two things. First off, he said if I had come to him first, he wouldn’t have recommended the surgery as my PSA was lower than his. Second, he told me that I had a very aggressive, fast spreading form of cancer and if I had waited 2 to 4 weeks, he wouldn’t have been able to save me. Even with the surgery I still needed radiation. My recovery was not easy and I was off work for almost 7 months.

Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy (other than skin cancer) diagnosed in men. Research shows that men with certain risk factors are more likely to develop prostate cancer. Talking with your physician about your risk factors will help the two of you build an appropriate plan for future prostate cancer screening. These factors can indicate the need for screening at an earlier age or the need for more frequent testing.

The past 10 years have been filled with ups and downs. I’ve had 1 surgery that required hospitalization and 4 ambulatory surgeries. I’ve had 2 biopsies, have been to 3 different hospitals, and have been treated by over half a dozen new doctors. I’ve had CAT scans, PET scans, MRIs, X rays and sonograms. I’ve had 5 cycles of chemo, three rounds of radiation and hormone therapy. I’ve had 2 deep vein thrombosis, 2 pulmonary embolisms and had a mediport in my chest and a permanently installed Greenfield filter. I had so many procedures and have taken so many drugs I keep a small notebook.

In 2012 the cancer metastasized in the fatty tissue below my liver which was eliminated with radiation. Then in 2014, I was told I had stage 4 cancer, this time in the lymph nodes in my lower abdomen and in my chest near my windpipe. We began chemotherapy. The spring and summer of 2014 was a scary time. The chemo weakened me immensely. I would have one week where I was either bedridden or in the hospital, then a week where I was barely functional. I would then have a third week that I was kind of OK before I had chemo again. My medi-port caused further complications with blood clots.

It seemed like I was either bed ridden or in the hospital from complications for most of May and June of 2014 and was actually admitted to the hospital 3 times in June. Even with the chemo we weren’t making the progress we were hoping for. Dr. Yi from CCS said that I should try more radiation to treat the hot spots because I always responded well to it. Thankfully I did. It cleared up the cancer.

I am now fighting cancer for the 4th time. They tell me I have tumors in both lungs and two in my bones for a total of four cancers. Unfortunately, I am told that all of them are “Untreatable”. Chemo won’t work and would probably put me into the hospital again and they say they can’t give me any more radiation.

I have been to so many doctors, had so many procedures, so many surgeries and taken so many drugs that I carry a notebook with me when I go to a doctor’s appointment. I can’t possibly remember them all.

Bottom line is I am still here fighting for my life. I know that I am not going to live forever but I am not ready to give up yet. Sharing my story is important to me so I can let others like me know cancer is just one word not a sentence, that winning against the impossible is possible and that they are not alone in their fight. I implore every man young or old

As a three time prostate cancer survivor that is now battling it for the fourth time now, I wanted to let you know that September is prostate cancer awareness month. It is estimated that over 31,620 deaths from this disease will occur this year, a 7% increase from 2018 according to The American Cancer Society. Most prostate cancer is preventable with proper screening. A simple blood test and an exam by your primary care doctor is usually all you need. I am hoping that by telling my story I can help save at least one life.

In June of 2009 I went to my doctor with food poisoning and casually mentioned that I was going to the bathroom frequently at night. He gave me an exam and said he didn’t like what he found. He suggested I have a biopsy of the prostrate, despite the fact my PSA was within normal range. I went under general anesthesia and they took 12 samples. Seven of the 12 samples came back positive for cancer. I was immediately scheduled for the surgery to have my prostate removed.

About 1 man in 40 will die from prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most prevelent reason for cancer related deaths for men in the United States.

The surgeon who removed my prostrate told me two things. First off, he said if I had come to him first, he wouldn’t have recommended the surgery as my PSA was lower than his. Second, he told me that I had a very aggressive, fast spreading form of cancer and if I had waited 2 to 4 weeks, he wouldn’t have been able to save me. Even with the surgery I still needed radiation. My recovery was not easy and I was off work for almost 7 months.

Prostate cancer is also the most common form of cancer (other than skin cancer) diagnosed in men. Research has shown that men with specific risk factors are more apt to get prostate cancer. Talking with your doctor about your risk factors will help both of you build a plan for prostate cancer screening based on your risk factors in the future. These factors may indicate the necessity for screening at a younger age or the call for testing more often. I currently get my blood tested every month.

The past 10 years have been filled with ups and downs. I’ve had 1 surgery that required hospitalization and 4 ambulatory surgeries. I’ve had 2 biopsies, have been to 3 different hospitals, and have been treated by over half a dozen new doctors. I’ve had CAT scans, PET scans, MRIs, X rays and sonograms. I’ve had 5 cycles of chemo, three rounds of radiation and hormone therapy. I’ve had 2 deep vein thrombosis, 2 pulmonary embolisms and had a mediport in my chest and a permanently installed Greenfield filter. I had so many procedures and have taken so many drugs I keep a small notebook.

In 2012 the cancer metastasized in the fatty tissue below my liver which was eliminated with radiation. Then in 2014, I was told I had stage 4 cancer, this time in the lymph nodes in my lower abdomen and in my chest near my windpipe. We began chemotherapy. The spring and summer of 2014 was a scary time. The chemo weakened me immensely. I would have one week where I was either bedridden or in the hospital, then a week where I was barely functional. I would then have a third week that I was kind of OK before I had chemo again. My medi-port caused further complications with blood clots.

It seemed like I was either bed ridden or in the hospital from complications for most of May and June of 2014 and was actually admitted to the hospital 3 times in June. Even with the chemo we weren’t making the progress we were hoping for. Dr. Yi from CCS said that I should try more radiation to treat the hot spots because I always responded well to it. Thankfully I did. It cleared up the cancer.

Like I said, I am now fighting cancer for the 4th time. They tell me I have tumors in both lungs and two in my bones for a total of four cancers. Unfortunately, I am told that all of them are “Untreatable”. Chemo won’t work and would probably put me into the hospital again and they say they can’t give me any more radiation.

I have been to so many doctors, had so many procedures, so many surgeries and taken so many drugs that I carry a notebook with me when I go to a doctor’s appointment. I can’t possibly remember them all.

Bottom line is I am still here fighting for my life. I know that I am not going to live forever but I am not ready to give up yet. Sharing my story is important to me so I can let others like me know cancer is just one word not a sentence, that winning against the impossible is possible and that they are not alone in their fight. I implore every man young or old to undergo prostate cancer testing by having a blood test and an exam by your doctor. Don’t be one of the 31,620, your family and friends need you. Norb is a writer that lives in Lockport and grew up in Buffalo.

Vaping

Even though it was said that vaping products presented fewer health risks than regular cigarettes, there is not any evidence that they are in fact safer. The first e-cigarettes arrived on the scene about 15 years ago. This technology was invented in China in 2004 and then popularized worldwide.

considerable amount of research shows that vaping might in reality lead to undesirable health effects much like smoking including include brain, heart and lung damage, cancer, early deliveries and stillbirths and adverse consequences on brain and lung development when used during pregnancy or during the teenage years

E-juice, as it is called, contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug with known health risks. Vaping products contain nicotine, according to The National Center for Health. The nicotine in cigarettes makes smoking very addictive and this is also true for vaping.

The use of nicotine, no matter how it is supplied will increase the risk of addiction. Addiction to nicotine is as hard to quit as cocaine or heroin addiction and the use of e-cigarettes often leads to the use of other nicotine based products like cigarettes or cigars.

Vaping devices such as E-cigarettes appeared to be a safe alternative to cigarettes when used primarily as a replacement to smoking. However, there is little evidence that they actually reduce tobacco smoking. As a matter of fact, the nicotine content in e-cigarettes and vaping products may actually lead to increased addiction which could make it even harder to quit smoking.

However, E-cigarettes and other vaping gadgets are not just used by people who are trying to quit smoking. Instead they are more and more trendy and likely to be used by today’s youth, including people who never smoked cigarettes and never wanted to. Research has shown that some people begin to smoke cigarettes only after they use e-cigarettes.

Smokers will be inclined to use these products along with traditional cigarettes, often when smoking is not allowed. The result is an increase in an individual’s exposure to nicotine and its harmful effects.

When I was the safety director I banned smoking in the plant in compliance to New State Law. When people tried to circumvent this rule by buying e-cigarettes. I had to add them to the no smoking rule.

Vaping devices and E-cigarettesdo not need approval by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), in fact, until quite recently, the producers and sellers of these devices weren’t even required to comply with the FDA standards that they set for smoked tobacco products. In spite of the new regulations, e-cigarette manufacturers are still able to advertise them as risk free. They also offer appealing, tastes that attract children, adolescents and young adults alike. They have flavors like banana and strawberry, cinnamon, mint (or menthol), buttered popcorn and vanilla that are listed as among the most toxic vaping flavors according to bustle.com. These remind me of Lucky Strike cigarettes that had a large amount of licorice flavoring in thier cigarettes.

There is a sizeable variation in the type and strength of the vaping fluids. This, includes nicotine among other things.

There is no proof that these products are safe. As a matter of fact, there is an increasing concern about the possible long-term health effects of the vaporization of the chemicals in e-cigarettes like nicotine, heavy metals and the other ingredients like toxins and possible carcinogens.

This uptick in the popularity of smokeless nicotine devices and their widespread accessibility is undoing the decades of progress made to reduce cigarette smoking, especially among young people. I have smelled the odor of increased smoking myself, like people, including staff, standing outside of the Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport smoking.

Electronic cigarettes were theoretically able to give smokers a dependable way to fight their addiction in a comparatively easy way. Since they were introduced, the smokeless devices have turn out to very popular. By 2016, around 3.2% of adults in the US were already using electronic cigarettes on a regular basis according to the centers for disease control and prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/index.htm).

The problem is that not only adults have adopted the new technology. The devices have become all the rage with minors. Between 2011 and 2015, the attractiveness of e-cigarettes amongst younger people in the United States has increased by an unbelievable 900 percent according to the American Lung Association. Electronic cigarettes are now more fashionable with youth than regular tobacco cigarettes.

The result of all this is that if you have been a long time smoker and are having a hard time cutting back or quitting smoking by using the accepted ways to quit, vaping devices like e-cigarettes appear to me to be a safer choice to cigarette smoking, even if they don’t reduce your nicotine intake. But and this is a big but, if you never have smoked or used tobacco or nicotine in other ways, stay away from e-cigarettes and vaping devices. The possible hazards to your health could outweigh any enjoyment you might have.

In the interest of full disclosure, I started smoking at 16 and quit after 45 years. I now suffer from COPD due to this I rue the day I started, I spent thousands of dollars on cigarettes so I could ruin my health. I now need to use a nebulizer a few times a day to deliver a bronchial dilator to my lungs. Norb is a freelance journalist and blogger from Lockport.

Growing older

People my age are so much older than me.

When I think of old age, I to think of my maternal grandfather. When I was a kid, I considered this white-haired, 65-year-old man as old. I can still vividly remember his vegetable gardens at 101 Bickford Avenue, Buffalo and how he taught me how to trap yellow jackets.

He sold Watkins products and aprons to women around his own age. I recall going on sales calls with him in his dark blue 1948 dodge. This was a treat for me because I got to ride in the front seat of the “Blue Bird” as he called it and every client he had invited me in for milk and cookies. Instant grandmothers!

Now that I’m in my early 70’s, my concept of old age is substantially different than it used to be and I suspect I’m not alone. I am positive that everyone else is growing older and that person that I see in my mirror each morning is somehow aging at a slower pace. I frequently ask my wife how come everybody we know is getting older and we’re not, ala Dorian Grey.

If you’ve been pushing yourself for many years by working, raising a family or both, it feels strange to have time to yourself once you have retired and the kids have all flown the coop. One good thing about getting older is that you’ve been there, done that. Now you can take the time to impart what you’ve learned over the years. I try to do this by writing.

Baby boomers seem to be having a hard time admitting to the inevitability of growing older. Granted, we are all mortal, but I never imagined this referred to me. Sure, I am in my seventies and have been married for fifty years. Yeah, my children are in their forties and have grandchildren in their twenties. Indeed, I have been retired for four years and have been fighting cancer for ten. But those are only numbers to me, not an indicator of how old I feel.

When I take sum of my life, everything I’ve created, experienced and collected, I can count more positives than negatives. More than anything else I learn with each and every passing day the importance of appreciating what I have and choosing to be happy. Taking time to laugh with my family and friends becomes more important. Of all the good things about getting old, the best by far, according to older adults, is being able to spend more time with family members.

My 8 year old grandsons will yell “Papa run over here.” I have to explain, Papa doesn’t do run anymore.  There’s a lot that Papa doesn’t do anymore. Papa doesn’t drink anymore. Papa doesn’t go to the basement or attic anymore. Sure I move a bit slower, but that’s just my body that’s acting it’s age, my mind and my spirit are still in their twenties. The great irony, in this, say the experts on aging, is that this could be a healthy thing. Believing you are younger can actually make you feel younger.

“People, particularly older people, usually say they feel younger than they are,” said William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State. “People who report feeling younger actually tend to live longer and healthier lives and they don’t tend to have as much of a pattern of decline.” says Chopik. In most circumstances, people state that they feel around 20 percent younger than they actually are. This is according to a Michigan State study of over than 500,000 people.

They say when you are older, you heal slower but my innate ability to recover from injuries is well known among my friends and family. Recently I hurt my ankle but I thought I could just walk it off. After 8 days of walking on it, I discovered I had broken it. I was in a boot for six weeks after that and still wear a splint. The orthopedic surgeon I went to said “The x-ray revealed that your bones are, and I going to use a medical term here, crap.” (I love a doctor with a good sense of humor). He said he wasn’t sure just how long it would take me to heal but he suggested it would take months.  I surprised him by how quickly I healed. I have had cancer three times, and managed to spit in death’s eye each time.

So, at my age, I’m on a low salt diet, do Physical Therapy, quit smoking, and have to take an assortment of meds to control my blood pressure, cholesterol, edema and pain. I wear bifocals and hearing aids and But I still don’t look into the mirror and see an old man looking back and I definitely do not see a septuagenarian gazing at me. I see someone that is much younger and more vibrant than that. Then again, I never put my glasses on before I look in the mirror. You remember the age old adage “You are only as old as you feel.”? I believe this to be true. In my mind I am still only 25.

It’s kind of funny how being old doesn’t seem so old now that I am old.

Norb is an independent journalist from Lockport.

Peripheral Neuropathy

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I have peripheral neuropathy  from chemotherapy. This is customarily associated with symptoms like numbness pain, and tingling but there are other symptoms as well.

The peripheral nervous system is composed of three different types of nerves. They are the motor, the sensory and the autonomic nerves. Each of these nerve systems controls different functions. I have both sensory and motor peripheral neuropathy.

Damage to my motor nerves makes walking difficulty. My legs feel heavy like I am trying to move a 10 pound canned ham and are difficult to move especially on waking up. I may constantly feel off balance.  Since the damage to the motor nerves interrupts the signals from your brain to the muscles, telling them what to do even doing something as easy as walking could become a difficult task. I require a cane while walking to maintain my balance.

Also I need to see the floor or ground, or I lose my balance. If I shut my eyes, I start waving around like a willow sapling in a wind storm. Damage to my sensory nerves has made this problem worse. The pain or numbness usually associated with damage to these nerves has affected my feet. A doctor tested for this damage using a pin. They repeatedly pushed it against my flesh on my foot and I could not feel anything.

However sometimes if I step on a coin I swear I can tell if it is heads or tails. Then I have the electric shocks. It feels like my toes are getting shocked and the feeling moves across the bottom of my foot.

Because I suffer from symptoms related to this motor nerve damage, I must exercise extra caution when walking on stairs or other areas where my risk of a fall is greater. This is the primary reason I had a first floor addition put on my house, so I wouldn’t have to climb stairs. Allowing myself extra time and not hurrying can also help me limit my risk of falling. I now walk like a two year old.

I also find it difficult to pick things up off the floor due to a lack of balance. I sometimes try to hook then with my cane or use my cane to push them close to something I can grab onto when I bend over.

Because damage to your motor nerves affects the ability of your brain to transmit messages to your muscles I find myself limiting the use of my legs and feet. Unfortunately, this decrease in physical activity results in me having muscle deterioration and weakness. This is often referred to as muscle atrophy and I found it hard to get up from a chair. I had a box built to raise my chair to assist me in getting up.

Muscle weakness further contributes to my loss of balance and difficulty walking that I previously mentioned. While exercise is often difficult and painful for me there are low-impact exercises that I do to help retain muscle mass and prevent muscle deterioration. I am now attending Physical Therapy to help with this and have exercises I do at home to try and rebuild my strength like stepping on and off a step stool every time I leave the living room to try and build up my muscles.

The disruption of signals from the brain can also lead to cramps, muscles spasms and twitches. Sometimes it feels like my toes are overlapping each other. But they aren’t, it’s just my nerves playing tricks on me. Most of the time, the cramping strikes at night and ranges in severity from mild to terribly painful.

While most common symptoms that are associated with peripheral neuropathy are pain, numbness, burning or tingling they are not the only symptoms. When the motor nerves are affected by neuropathy the symptoms might go far beyond pain or numbness. They affect my ability to control muscles and perform otherwise simple physical tasks. Though you might not be able to reverse these negative effects completely, alternative methods like exercise could help you build and retain muscle mass therefore helping you to reduce the effect of motor nerve damage.

There are other a few other therapies I use though to help me mitigate the peripheral neuropathy symptoms. I take the controlled drug, Lyrica twice a day. Other things I use are homeopathic treatments. I treat my feet with a Frankincense and Myrrh oil every morning.  Finally I use a CBD tincture twice a day. Every time I need a refill, I search the internet for the best price because there are now so many players selling this that pricing is all over the place. I have also moved from 300 MG to 1200 MG and the price increases proportionately. You can buy the 1200 MG for less than some people ask for the 300 MG.

CBD has been called safe for almost everyone. This is according to a new article from the World Health Organization. But you should check with your own doctor before you begin using any CBD product. Research has indicated there are several CBD oil benefits, ranging from improving rheumatoid arthritis to alleviating social anxiety. CBD could also decrease chronic pain although your mileage may vary.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Western New York. His blog is at WhyWNY.home.blog.

Beards

Young Man Adjusting Hair BunGetty Images

You’ve most likely noticed that beards are in and the plaid shirted, beard wearing male is now fashionable. I have sported a variety of beards, side burns and mustaches over the years and I am now finally in style. Woo hoo!  I have had my current beard for over 10 years. These days, the unshaven look once saved for mountain men and lumberjacks is seen everywhere from boardrooms to billboards to fashion magazines. I have lived through several cycles of beards and can tell you beards are not going to dissapear soon.

Growing a beard will transform the way you look. Just like dying your hair purple and yellow might raise a few eyebrows, having a beard also defines people’s impression of you. People will look at you differently and you will also feel different. When I met my wife I sported a counter culture, bad boy, Hippy Dippy goatee. That was a part of my look, a part that would soon change. She asked me to shave before I met her parents. What we do for love.

Just like the hair on your head protects your scalp from getting sunburn (ask any bald guy), facial hair provides protection for your chin, cheeks, and upper lip. If you get a tan and then shave you could have a paler “beard shadow” which is the reverse of a five o’clock shadow. This shows that your beard protects your skin from sun damage and could protect you from skin cancer.

A study by researchers at the University of Queensland shows that having a beard reduces your facial UV exposure by about one-third, compared to a clean-shaven face, and the ultraviolet protection factor ranged from 2 to 21. This means that a beard protects you from ultraviolet rays that would hit your face. Free sunscreen!

I now am back to the goatee I wore as a teenager when I met my wife. It’s white now without any red in it and it is a little less thick. I call it my “cancer beard” and vowed to not shave it off until I was pronounced cured of cancer. Trim it, sure but not shave it off.

The average male spends 3,350 hours standing in front of a mirror, scraping a sharp, metal blade across his face during their lifetime according to the New York Times. No matter how close or how often, you shave, your beard grows back a little bit every day.

When it comes to tracking trends, research has shown that a good, healthy beard makes a guy seem more attractive to the majority of women right now. According to Psychology Today, studies have shown that men with beards are generally regarded as more masculine, dominant, and socially mature. They are also usually regarded as more responsible, older, fatherly figures.

The next time I grew a beard was when I was in the navy. We were on a Mediterranean/North Atlantic cruise. We were allowed to grow beards on this 6 month cruise. As I think back on it, it probably was a morale builder. We would hold “Longest beard” contests and “Ugliest Beard” contests. We would also hold a “Best Moustache” contest.

Men who live and work in cold environments like Western New Yorkers do, frequently seem to grow big, bushy beards. That’s because having the extra layer of insulation that a beard provides helps keep our face warm. I appreciated that extra layer of insulation while my ship was in the North Atlantic.

If you are terrified of making it through your next Western New York winter without freezing your face off, then fall and winter is probably a good time to grow a beard. The best time to sport a bushy beard would seem to be in November. Sprouting a beard at this time will help promote cancer awareness and will support all your “No Shave November” friends.

Unfortunately, researchers have discovered that beard growth tended to hit the highest point in the late summer, predominantly in August and September, by November it is decreasing, reaching its slowest speed in January and February. Even your beard doesn’t like to go out in the winter

Beards might make you look all rugged and rough, but under their crude surface there is frequently a smooth, silky baby face. This occurs because growing a beard can actually protect the skin underneath from aging, according to the tabloid Metro. A beard, by blocking sun exposure, results in fewer wrinkles, fewer liver spots, and so on.

The other thing that keeps your face so smooth under your beard is your sebaceous glands, which are always at work keeping your skin moisturized and oiled up, according to Business Insider. People touch their face a lot, so you’d normally be rubbing this oil off pretty regularly, but not if you have a thick beard protecting your face and thus preserving your skin’s oils. So having a beard today might make you look older, it could also make your skin look younger in the future.

I now am back to wearing my teenage goatee. However it is white now, not red and a little sparser. I call it my “cancer beard”. I vowed not to shave it off until I was pronounced cured of cancer. I will trim it, sure, but not shave it off.

Norb is a freelance journalist from Western New York.