RE-BLOG and UPDATE: The Bronze Killer and Me

POST ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 7/03/2010. I am re-blogging it along with a new section as part of the national campaign for:
HEREDITARY HEMOCHROMATOSIS AWARENESS MONTH

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Still trying to catch up to where I left off before my trip. Too much to do but my body and mind just refuse to cooperate for more than a half-hour at a time. I am truly thankful for the fact that I don’t suffer from the huge mood-swings or periods of sudden rage that often accompanies Hereditary Hemochromatosis, at the same time though, I’m really frustrated by the increasing inability to focus both my mind – and my eyes. It’s like I’ve suddenly developed ADHD at the age of 56 and someone keeps moving my monitor closer than farther away then closer then… Well, you get the idea. HFE is such an odd disease in that it can have so many manifestations and it seems that no two people have the exact same combination of symptoms and the mix changes constantly.

Read More about Hemochromatosis Awareness Month

I’ve got great doctors – but none of them have HFE so they can’t really relate to what I’m going through, and I’ve been searching for other who have HFE to compare notes with. Through those searches, I came across a reference to the book “The Bronze Killer” by Marie Warder and on Amazon.com there were a ton of reviews of the book that were all just raving about how it’s considered the BEST book on the subject of HFE and more specifically, on the experience of the author’s husband and both children having it and how it’s affected all of them. Marie’s husband is like me in that he was not diagnosed until after he had already suffered permanent damage to his liver while her children were fortunately diagnosed before the disease had advanced that far. I ordered the book on Tuesday and received it Thursday. I used to read at least 1 book a day but those days are long gone and so I’m only on page 11. I’ll fill you in as I get farther along.

UPDATED INFO:

The importance of sharing medical records and information with your immediate family members must not be taken lightly or ignored. People rarely feel any significant symptoms of Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HFE) until it’s too late to avoid permanent, life-threatening harm. But unlike an unexpected car crash, broken spine, or burst appendix, the majority of cases of HFE CAN be predicted, tested for, and even prevented IF there is a known family history of a combination of certain risk factors (even where there’s no family history of HFE having been diagnosed). If a patient is found to have any of the genetic defects that can lead to Hereditary Hemochromatosis, from one or both of their parents, and before they have suffered any permanent damage to their organs, there are easy steps to take that can prevent most or possibly all of the debilitating and dangerous effects of the full blown disease and allow that patient to live a “normal” life and have a “normal” life-span.

Most people think that because they personally were never diagnosed with HFE then there is nothing in their medical records that could possible be of help to their family. WRONG! That’s because, despite being the most common of all genetic diseases, HFE is very rarely diagnosed. Before 1996 there wasn’t even a test that could positively identify it! But our medical records contain much more than a list of diagnosis and treatments. Doctors keep notes of symptoms you complain of, what they have tested you for, the raw results of those tests (meaning just the numbers without interpretation), and what the doctor suspected as well as ruled out as the cause of your symptoms. These are the most critical parts of your records because it is not a single number that is too high or too low that would indicate you MIGHT have Hereditary Hemochromatosis – rather it is the combination of which numbers are low, which are high, and which are “normal” – and how consistent those numbers remain or whether they steadily increase or decrease over the years and in combination with what other symptoms and diseases or conditions. So the judgment of which records are needed cannot be made by someone with either a conflict of interest and/or a lack of the specific medical training to understand the interplay of such information.

Yes, we each do have the right of privacy when it comes to our health records – but PLEASE consider the fate of your family: siblings, children, parents, grandchildren, and 1st cousins. Carefully weigh what is really more important: that none of your family ever find out you once had Herpes or an abortion or whatever else may be embarassing or even shameful – OR – that you can actually help save your loved ones lives or atleast allow them to have a better quality of life for a longer time simply by sharing your un-edited medical history?

A good way to start the dialog with your family members on the importance of being open and sharing, the Surgeon General of the United States has launched a public health campaign and has provided tools to help you create a Family Health Portrait. Access the My Family Health Portrait Web tool at https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/.

Now, back to the original blog post:

Completely off-subject but appropos for this weekend when those of us who are blessed to be Citizens of The United States celebrate our Independence Day on the 4th of July, I’ve created a few patriotic icons as well as a Desktop Picture (in 3 different screen sizes) for you. Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons & Wallpaper of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

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Freedom Flag

Organizize!

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A very short post tonight to deliver up a 2nd serving of my “Organizize!” Icon Series. Tonight I present for your pleasure, four well-used oak file drawer images for your Accounts, Medical Records, Shopping Lists and Receipts, and Desktop or Scrapbook Wallpapers. Hope you enjoy them! I’ve got more coming over the next several days, but if you have any special requests, just leave a comment to this post and I’ll give it a whirl.

Sometimes I get asked where do my ideas for clip art, icons, or paintings come from. This particular series was created originally for my cousin, Flora Spector, who developed and maintains a few different websites (including several of her own) geared to fans of Sherlock Holmes. A couple of years ago, when she was looking to update one of the sites, I designed a few different concepts that I thought would be perfect. Alas, Flo didn’t feel any of my artwork fit what she had in mind. Normally, I would simply try to get a better understanding of what a “client” is looking for and try again, but this happened just at the time when I was undergoing a particularly grueling round of chemo and was having a hard time even sitting up or focusing my eyes. So – I put that artwork on the back-burner and forgot about it, while Flo went ahead and either created the artwork she wanted herself or hired another graphic artist. The site came out quite nice – but very different from what I had in mind, so I see why she didn’t find my designs suitable. A couple of weeks ago, when I was cleaning up my digital archives, I came across that artwork again. Seemed a shame to let all that work go to waste, and so, hopefully, now it won’t!

By the way, if you’re a “Sherlockian” or know someone who is, you might want to check out my cousin’s two related websites (or any of the other Sherlockian Web Ring sites that link to hers). One of Flo’s websites is a blog she maintains for her alter-ego “Mrs. Hudson” (yes, THAT Mrs. Hudson!) at: The Musings of Mrs. Hudson. Another of her websites is for one of the Sherlockian groups she belongs to, The White Rose Irregulars, which holds their meetings in and around Reading, Pa.

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered in the “Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day” section are free for your personal use, subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for Terms of Use) For commercial or any other use, please contact me for directly.

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WHAT’S NEW ON ZAZZLE

Justice Watch – Day 4,762

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Oh Nooooo! Not Again! – Well, it’s actually not “again” but rather “still”. Same case – new phase, as the legal process drags on and on… But still praying that soonit will finally be really over. As my regular readers may recall, the last time I posted on this topic, I had won on my opposition to my adversary’s appeal and won on my cross-appeal, and won on my objection to my adversary’s attempt to have the appellate, but rather than accept her defeat with some measure of professionalism, dignity and grace, my adversary filed a motion to have her appeal reviewed by Florida’s State Supreme Court. That was way back in October 2010 and to date, there has been no word from the Florida Supremes as to whether or not they will even accept the case. I’ve been told that could take as long as 2 years just to find that out, at which point if they do accept the case (a long shot at best) only then will it be time to prepare and file briefs on the merits of the issues before that court.

In the meantime, no “stay” on the 4DCA’s mandate has been granted by that appellate court, which means that once I file a motion detailing all of the legal fees and costs I’ve had to pay as well as providing argument and legal support for the additional sanctions that I’ve asked for, the trial court (Broward County’s infamous 17th Circuit) is required to hold a hearing to determine the $$ amount that my adversary must pay me and issue a final judgment accordingly. The good news is that my attorneys filed that motion yesterday! So progress is being made, slowly but surely, and I continue to pray and have faith that justice will prevail.

In keeping with the theme of the above post, tonight’s serving of free clip art, are a variety of law-oriented images I created as Part II of my “Brass Balz” series. Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

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WHAT’S NEW ON ZAZZLE

Criminal
Criminal Law (iPad Case)
Whether you’re a prosecutor, criminal defender, or just a Law & Order fan, this original tongue-in-cheek original design in subdued shades of grey on black for your iPad case will make your day. Customize with your name.
More gifts & accessories for lawyers can be found at: zazzle.com/IconDoIt*
Quilt ‘n Glass Mogen David (card)
Quilt ‘n Glass Mogen David (card)
For Passover, Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitvah or anytime, the rich and beautiful original artwork on this greeting card will garner attention and appreciation. Customizable text inside.
More Judaica themed cards, gifts and accessories can be found at: zazzle.com/IconDoIt*
Easter Dawn (card)
Easter Dawn (card)
Gloriously bold, original design in jewel-toned colors on this Easter Card are a great example of why the works of artist Leslie Sigal Javorek are already becoming collectibles.
More Easter cards and gifts can be found at: zazzle.com/IconDoIt*

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The Cat’s Got My Tongue

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For the last six weeks or so, I’ve really had a hard time putting my thoughts into words (written and especially spoken). It’s one of the symptoms (or side-effects?) of both my epilepsy and leftover vestiges of the three rounds of chemotherapy, wherein I know in my conscious mind exactly what I want to say but for some reason can’t get the message to my mouth or hands. It comes and goes without warning and can last for anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, and has on occasion lasted for several days. It is incredibly frustrating – especially when it creeps up on me in the middle of a sentence! Something in my brain diverts the message from it’s “normal” pathway to who knows where. I think that if I can discover that location which holds all my lost words, I’ll probably find the missing mates to my socks and mittens there as well. ;=)

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

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Dot's The Cat!

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July 4, 2010 – In Memoriam: Gerald P. Sigal, Esquire

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This is not the post I had planned for today but life never seems to turn out the way we planned. My paternal Uncle, Gerald P. Sigal, passed away today, approximately one year after he was diagnosed with cancer. Jerry is survived by his lovely and dedicated wife, Norma; their two sons, Peter and Ivan; and Jerry’s lone-surviving brother, Dr. Roland Sigal (my father.) Jerry had been the youngest (by 14 years) of the 3 sons of Philip and Nancy Sigal of Bethlehem, Pa.: Roland (my Dad) was the eldest, Michael (who passed away at Thanksgiving 2002) and Jerry. I did not know either of my Uncles very well, having met Michael only once and Jerry only 3 times in my life. That is a tragedy in itself that plays out in many families where members are estranged for one reason or another, but one which I tried to remedy.

Ivan, Norma, Jerry & Peter Sigal

(l-r) Ivan, Norma, Jerry & Peter Sigal. (May 2010). Photo Credits to Joi, Oso and Clempage,. Composite by Leslie Sigal Javorek.

The last time I saw my Uncle Jerry was almost exactly 7 years ago (July 2003), just a month before I began my first round of chemo. Very conscious of the rather dim odds for survival and having lost the opportunity to get to know my Uncle Mike due to his very early death due to a rare form of Leukemia in 2002, I felt driven to go and meet with members of my family whom I hadn’t seen in years, hardly knew or in many cases, had never met. So I packed up my car and drove myself the 350 miles to Reading, Pa. It’s a small town high up in the Pocono Mountains and while suffering from a distressed economy, it is a showplace for what money can’t buy: incredibly beautiful views of the mountains and valleys, forests and streams that surround the town. While there, I stayed with one of Uncle Mike’s 4 children, Andy Sigal and his enthusiastic, pretty wife, Sandy. This was my first time meeting ANY of my first-cousins and was a real treat. Andy and Sandy not only opened their home to me, but showed me around the town and took me to meet his step-mother (Barbara Sigal), his youngest sister (Flora Spector), and our mutual aunt and uncle (Norma and Jerry Sigal). I was invited to dinner at Jerry’s home (a really fantastic century (actually, I believe it was close to 200 years old) home on the crest of one of the mountains with a flowing stream at the bottom of a ravine on one side and a delightful flower garden in back. We had dinner under a trellis covered patio in the back and afterward, I first got a tour of the house where they had done a considerable amount of work restoring it, making it inhabitable for 21st century living, and making it truly their own, and then had the opportunity to just sit and talk in their cozy little den.

I don’t know if you’ve ever sat down with someone whom you are closely related to but had lived 40+ years essentially being complete strangers. It is both exciting and scary and awkward at first. I knew relatively little about my uncle beforehand, other than that he was an attorney who enjoyed sailing and flying small planes for a hobby (just like my grandfather and father), that he was 6 ft. -4 in. tall with the classic good looks of all the Sigal men, and that his wife was a Hebrew School Teacher and Administrator. Oh yeah, I also knew that when he was a teenager, he had once stolen a sign for a cave that was a big, local tourist draw. (I knew this last fact only because when I was 10 yrs. old, I slept up in a loft bedroom at my grandmother’s farm where that sign was hung on the wall.) My visit with Jerry and Norma was for only a few hours but I found them both very open and easy to talk to and that we had a number of mutual interests. I learned a lot about their sons, whom I had never met, and we even visited their websites so I could see some of their blogs, published articles, news releases, bios, photography, and videos. Jerry and Norma were beaming with obvious (and well-deserved pride. I learned my uncle’s “side of the story” about the family in general and his relationship with my father at various times in his life, and I was surprised by the vehemence (fiercely proud) with which he spoke about my father’s military service and business acumen. There was a 14 year difference between Roland and Jerry and it was clear that my Dad had been his hero while growing up, but unrealistic expectations grew into resentment and clashes with my Dad’s 2nd wife created an excuse to grow distant. I also learned their plans to move to Ocracoke, North Carolina the following year after Jerry retired. I left there that night with a warm and positive feeling and felt that the door now opened would lead to a continuing new relationship.

Unfortunately, my life took a detour I had never expected, and while by the grace of G-d I managed to survive not only that round of chemo but 2 more subsequent rounds and have thus far managed to outlive the original prognosis I was given, the years between 2003 and March of 2010 were devastating to my body and mind and for most of that time, I could not even sit up, feed, or bath myself. What little energy I had been zapped by this lawsuit I’ve been trapped in and so I had nothing left in me to follow-up with my Uncle, Aunts, and cousins, and now I’ve yet again lost my Uncle Jerry and my opportunity to have been a “real family” with him. I’ve no idea whether he felt a loss in those regards but I’d like to believe that he would’ve really liked my husband and son and that we could have helped bring him and my Dad closer together. I guess that will have to wait for our next lifetimes, if such miracles occur. In the meantime, “Fly High, Uncle Jerry! I’ll be looking towards the sky hoping to see you there.”

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save a zipped file to your desktop that contains all images in each preview group (each image is 512px X 512px in .png format) or, in the case of the individual icons, do your clicking on each one you’d like to download. As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Innerds

DNA Wheelchair-Accessible

We Speak ASL (American Sign Language)

Telephone Volume TTY

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Nope.

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And the answer is? I haven’t the foggiest idea. The 4DCA didn’t post their opinion on my case yesterday, so I remain on justice watch. Even more frustrating is a “FAQ” I read today that was recently posted on the Appellate Court’s website that advised anyone wanting to know, that the average time between the judge’s conference on a case and when their written opinion is published is 180 days. That’s six full months!! And that is for “average” cases (which I suspect mine is not). So it sounds like I may have to stay in the dark until sometime in September – or even longer. And that may not be the end of it in the event they send the case back to the trial court for more determinations (such as the amount for legal fees and/or other sums. While I am glad they are taking the time to do a thorough job in reading the record and researching the applicable law and whatever else they do during this process, it is very nerve-wracking in general, but especially given my health.

Way back in 2003, just as I was starting on my second round of chemo, I was told that if it wasn’t successful, then I had a statistical chance of being able to survive only another 5 years. Well, while that round (which I was on for 12 months) and then a third round (which I was on for 15 months) did give my liver a reprieve while I was on the chemo, they both failed to get rid of the Hepatitis C virus which has been turning my liver to stone. And the genetic disorder (Hereditary Hemochromatosis) which put me at high risk for Hep C in the first place (and may actually have caused it) is wreaking havoc with my body in roller-coaster fashion, as it shifts from one problem to another and the intensity of the effects likewise rises and falls to extremes from one day to the next – and sometimes from one moment to the next.

If I didn’t have my artwork to bury my consciousness in, I don’t know that I could stand it. While I have somehow, miraculously, been able to survive this long (2 years past the original prognosis I was given) there is no way to foretell how much longer before my body gives out. Because the severity of the side-effects of the chemo (which are particularly severe in my case due to the combination of diseases and conditions I suffer from), my team of doctors feel that it is far too risky to put me through yet another round because, at this point, the side-effects of the chemo would probably kill me even faster than the diseases. So my only hope now (beyond a miracle) is to try to stay as calm as possible since stress is known to accelerate the disease process and weaken the immune system), until, hopefully, modern medicine comes up with some alternative “cure” or treatment. Whether or not I’ll still be alive when the court finally issues its opinion – or when this case is completely over on every possible level – only God knows and time will tell.

Now, as I’ve indulged myself in negative thoughts far beyond my allotment, forget I said all the above and let’s get on to something far more interesting and pleasant. Like… this morning’s freebies! What I’ve got for you today is somewhat hard to categorize. It is purely art for art’s sake – don’t know whether it’s the least bit useful for anything – but it was fun to create. My inspiration for this, believe it or not, was the cover art for a box of French cigarettes you may or may not be familiar with: Gitanes. I hope you enjoy!

Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Against-The-Sun

Photos

AgainstTheSun

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Damn the Facts and Full Speed Ahead!

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My little family tends to be rather irreverent. All in fun, of course. It’s our way of not only laughing in the face of death, but getting the Reaper himself reduced to such peals of laughter, that he wets his pants and then melts in his self-made puddles. Does this really keep death at bay? Most Actuaries, Religious Leaders, Doctors and just about everyone else would say “NO!” At the same time, there is a dearth of credible research suggesting that laughter and optimism are the only common denominator for those who have recovered from grave circumstances and extended their ability to survive beyond any other medical explanation.

I can surely testify to that enigma. The quantity and complicated mix of diseases and conditions that have kept myself and my doctors jumping hurdles and running in circles for so many years should have killed me long ago; yet here I lay in my bed tonight, writing this blog. Where science leaves off in it’s ability to explain that which is undeniable, is where Faith begins. Yet while I have a very deep and rich spiritual faith in a “higher” power, I have a just as deep need for rational thought and logic. So I ask myself, what good would it be to have God looking over your shoulder with his grace and blessings, if you either didn’t want to go on living or were so wrapped up in self-pity that you didn’t even notice He was there by your side? And that’s where I figure optimism and laughter come in.

If having the compulsion to draw “Happy Faces” or rolling on your heels guffawing has the potential to be so powerful, does this mean we can one day achieve the ability to be immortal? Some folks believe it and some scientists are even trying to make it happen. Personally, as much as I’ve always wanted to live to 200, I’ve come to the conclusion that immortality is probably not a wise thing to strive for. Just like a successful farmer doesn’t try to get corn from stalks left untouched after last year’s harvest, nor plant oats in the same field year after year without rotation, people need to be rotated as well to ensure our species remains strong and able to adapt to the changing physical world around us. Evolution didn’t end when the first human placed his feet on earth. If it had, mankind as a species would’ve become extinct thousands of years ago. So in a way, I figure it’s kind of our duty not interfere too much with the natural order of things. … But not today. Heck, I’ve still a couple thousand e-mails in my in-box from people who’ve sent me the latest jokes, silly photos, or ridiculous news stories to keep me laughing and a life filled with a handful or two of dear and loving family and friends that keep me smiling, and too much left on my list “To Do”. I just haven’t got the time to give up now!

Free Icons of the Day

Tonight brings an eclectic mix of images related to life, death and what makes it all worthwhile. Enjoy!

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). Create Commons license applies (see sidebar for details)

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