Trader Joe’s is worth the trip

Trader Joe’s is sort of new to North Carolina, so it might not be a name you’re familiar with. TJ is a unique grocery store chain.

Trader Joe's Cary Location
Trader Joe's Cary Location

Each store stocks a variety of organic produce and other items, including meats and dairy. If you’re looking for high quality without the high prices, you can find it at Trader Joe’s. After hearing my California friends brag about what a great store this was, I was glad to finally get to experience it myself. I visited the Cary Trader Joe’s near Cary Parkway.

Trader Joe’s Cary
1393 Kildaire Farm Road
Cary, NC 27511
Phone Number: 919-465-5984
Trading Hours: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm

Trader Joe’s Chapel Hill
1800 E Franklin St
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Phone Number: 919-918-7871
Trading Hours: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm

Trader Joe’s Raleigh (746) – Coming Soon
3080 Wake Forest Road
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone Number: tbd
Trading Hours: 9:00 am – 9:00 pm

Web Site: http://www.traderjoes.com/

H1N1 Flu prevention

Gov. Bev Perdue on Tuesday called on North Carolina residents to re-dedicate themselves to following good prevention practices as the number of influenza cases are expected to rise with the beginning of the school year and the arrival of flu season.
“Parents, students and teachers can help prevent the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu from spreading by getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene and keeping themselves healthy,” Perdue said. “I don’t want folks to be scared about the flu, but I do want every North Carolinian to be vigilant and prepared.”
Everyone should follow standard health precautions as a first line of prevention;

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from making them sick.
  • Get the seasonal flu vaccine now and the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available.

For more information about influenza in North Carolina, please visit www.flu.nc.gov.

Message from Pat & Pattie Killingsworth

Hi Beth-
I attended IMF conference in Twin Cities last weekend. Some interesting opinions and exciting news about maintenance therapy with or without a transplant. Go to www.multiplemyelomablog.com and follow my reports. How are you feeling? Hope all is well- Pat

Pat & Pattie Killingsworth
Pat@HelpWithCancer.Org
St Croix Falls, Wisconsin
Toll-Free 866-336-1696

It looks like an ant, but it’s a wasp

Red Velvet Ant Dasymutilla magnifica

This is a Red Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla magnifica) that was wandering around in the yard.  They’re actually not ants though.  They’re wasps! When I got back in the house, I googled “read and black wingless ant” to find out what she was. What I found out is that they have a painful sting and are pretty tough creatures.  They’re also known as “Cow Killers.”  They’re not actually capable of killing cows though, so no need for dairy farmers to be hyper-vigilant.

Big Medical Bills

My nephew called last night to tell me that he’d had a trip to the ER Monday from work, by ambulance. He became really dizzy, and wasn’t even able to walk.  His manager called for an ambulance, and he was taken to the nearest hospital.  The ride made him feel even worse, causing nausea and vomiting.  After several hours at the hospital, he was told he had vertigo and was allowed to go home.  He saw a doctor the next day to make sure there wasn’t anything more he needed to do.

One of his concerns was the bill.  As someone who’s been paying medical bills on a continuous basis for over 6 years now, I offered some advice.  My advice to anyone who incurs hefty medical bills is to negotiate payments if you’re not able to pay the whole thing at once.  I’ve never been turned down by any hospital for a payment schedule, and they have never charged interest. Whatever you do, don’t put the charges on a credit card.

I do have pretty good insurance, but the annual out of pocket expense is up to $3500, depending on how much treatment I have, how many doctor appointments there are, what medications I’m on and if there were any hospital stays. In addition to the maximum out of pocket expense ($3500), there are drug and doctor copays.  There are also parking fees and driving expenses.  It can add up to a lot, believe me.  If I’ve made a trip to the Mayo Clinic or Dana-Farber or someplace, there are even more expenses.

I’m lucky that I have insurance that’ll cover the major stuff. Our plan has no lifetime maximum, and we have good prescription coverage. I don’t think anything I’ve ever done has been challenged by them.  I can see specialists when I want to, and only the really big stuff, like the stem cell transplant, has to be pre-approved.

There’s one problem with my insurance.  It’s tied to my job.  Should anything ever happen to cause me to lose my job, I’d be in big trouble.  I’m not old enough to be covered by Medicare and not poor enough to be covered by Medicaid.  I’m not elligible for disability, either. I’m an insured middle class person who, like most other working Americans, could easily become uninsured.  It’s a situation that can cause worry, because there’s nothing much I could do, except for exhaust my savings and sell my belongings to raise money for treatment if it was needed if, for any reason, I were to find myself uninsured.

I believe we do need to find a solution to address the need for affordale health care for all Americans.  I don’t think it’s something that we can keep putting off.  The way things are now, the very poor and the elderly get decent health care, and the middle class is left to fend for itself.  If employers provide group plans, that’s great, but there are a lot of people who have to pay for their own insurance or have none at all.  If you have insurance through your employer and lost your job, how long could you afford to pay the premiums?

I would ask that the people who think we should ignore the problem a while longer try to imagine yourselves jobless and without health care coverage. Then imagine that you have a chronic health condition or serious illness or injury. How will you manage to pay for your treatment or care?  What if you can’t even get insurance because of a pre-existing condition?

I usually don’t write about politics, but health care is a hot button issue here. I can’t imagine how any human being can want to deny another person the right to decent, affordable health care. Any of us could find ourselves in need one day.

Piles of stuff to do

UNC Hospitals Chapel Hill
UNC Hospitals Chapel Hill

This has been a busy week.  On Thursday, I took a friend to UNC in Chapel Hill for surgery and spent most of the day there. UNC is an impressive facility.  I used to spend a lot of time at UNC when that was my home base for treatment.  It’s not a terrible place to have to spend several hours.  On Friday, I was able to go back to pick her up to take her home.

This week I’ve been feeding some feral cats for someone who’s on vacation.  There are three small colonies in Southern Pines that rely on this person for daily food and water. Some have been trapped, spayed or neutered and released.  Tomorrow is my last day for doing that, I think.

I have a friend’s yard to mow this weekend.  I should be doing it now, before it gets too hot.  I have to do my own, too!

On top of that, I’m watching someone’s dog while their family takes a short trip before school starts. He’s an old timer, so he’s no extra bother.  He gets along well with my dog and the cats. He’s jumped into the pool before, so he does have to be supervised when he’s out in the yard.

On Tuesday, we went to the National Night Out Against Crime event at Memorial Park in Southern Pines.  Jacob had a lot of fun watching the canine unit demonstration.  I have some pictures of that I can post later.

Balloon Kyphoplasty for Spinal Compression Fracture

I got this alert last night, and it may apply to myeloma patients who have had spinal compression fractures.

Balloon Kyphoplasty for Spinal Compression Fracture

At 1 month, kyphoplasty patients had significantly greater improvements in global quality of life, back pain, and function than did controls.

In vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, two minimally invasive procedures for spinal compression fractures, cement is injected into damaged vertebrae to prevent further compression and to alleviate pain. In kyphoplasty, a balloon is inflated within the vertebra to restore normal height and shape, and cement is injected into the resulting cavity. Although both procedures have been in use for longer than a decade, few data support long-term safety and efficacy of either one. With funding from a kyphoplasty instrument manufacturer, researchers randomized 300 patients with one to three acute vertebral compression fractures (average duration, 6 weeks) to receive supportive care alone or supportive care plus balloon-assisted kyphoplasty.

When the groups were compared after 1 month of follow-up, kyphoplasty patients had significantly greater improvements in global quality of life, back pain, and function and reported significantly fewer days of restricted activity. During the next year, these differences between groups narrowed, with some (but not all) losing statistical significance. Adverse events were similar in the two groups, apart from two reversible perioperative complications and a nonsignificant trend toward more new vertebral fractures in the kyphoplasty group.

Comment: This nonblinded study provides additional evidence that kyphoplasty improves symptoms and function more rapidly than supportive management. Although short-term pain relief and earlier resumption of normal activities are important outcomes, more data on the long-term efficacy and safety of the procedure are needed. The authors of the current trial will collect another year of follow-up data, and other groups are conducting randomized studies to compare vertebroplasty to kyphoplasty or to sham procedures.

— Bruce Soloway, MD

Published in Journal Watch General Medicine April 7, 2009

Citations:
Wardlaw D et al. Efficacy and safety of balloon kyphoplasty compared with non-surgical care for vertebral compression fracture (FREE): A randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2009 Mar 21; 373:1016. [Medline® Abstract]

Kallmes DF and Jarvik JG. Spinal augmentation research: FREE at last? Lancet 2009 Mar 21; 373:982. [Medline® Abstract]

Copyright © 2009. Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved.

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