Posts filed under Friendly Advice

So, I had a Colonoscopy!

This all started about a month ago. I went for a regularly schedule blood donation. Part of the donation process is they check your hematocrit level. Basically, they see if you have enough red blood cells per volume of blood. I failed my screening. The tech doing the test didn't seem concerned so I figured nothing to worry about. She said come back in a couple days and it should have come back up. Two days later, I started my day with a big breakfast and went to donate. I failed my blood test again. This time it was lower. This time she seemed concerned. On the way home I called my doctor and he had me come in for some tests and an exam. He did a physical, took some blood and took an oral history. Well, part of my history is I have been dealing with IBS-D for over a year now. Its been going on so long and I otherwise felt healthy so I just started living with it. My Doctor however thought that is a big red flag and should have come in much, much sooner. I'm sure he is right, but by this point, it was easy to deal with. Even before he had the results of the blood work back, he suggested I see a Gastroenterologist and start taking iron supplements to get my levels back up. There was a concern I had a bleed in my stomach or colon. I took the list of recommended doctors and picked a close one with good reviews. 

At the GI Doc, he reviewed the blood work and took another oral history. Thankfully, my hematocrit had come back up and everything else looked normal on the blood screening so that was a great sign. During my conversation with the Doctor, I mentioned I am a frequent blood donor. I go every 8 weeks like clockwork. Donating blood is easy, painless and is something you can do to help the community as a whole. Well, turns out, even donating at a safe interval, it can cause you to become anemic. Basically, you deplete your iron faster than you can build it back up and at some point, there isn't enough to make new blood so your red count goes down. Looks like I am a victim of doing too much of a good thing.

But...I still have IBS-D. Its still something that needs to be dealt with. The Doctor suggested we do an Esophagogastroduodenoscopy and Colonoscopy. Big words sound scary, but in reality, its just  putting a camera in both ends to take a look at the plumbing.

I know more than a few people that have had such a procedure and knew the part to fear is the prep, not the actual exam. Think about it, if they are going in to look at the plumbing, you need the pipes to be as clear as possible. That means flushing your entire GI tract. I am here to walk you though that process, let you know what to expect and give a few tips to make the process easier. 

A key part of that flush is you need to be on a liquid diet for 24 hours prior to the procedure. This is the part I was fearing the most. I absolutely hate feeling hungry. I am always thinking 2 meals ahead. I was sure this would be the worst part... I was wrong...

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This is a 3 step process.

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Step 1: The directions given say the day before the procedure, have a liquid breakfast, followed by a full bottle of magnesium citrate. So, I made a cup of beef broth and sipped it while staring down that clear bottle of Drano for humans. What magnesium citrate is is magnesium salts flavored with artificial lemon flavor. Think salty Lemon Pledge. My poor stomach did not like this stuff one bit. I tried to lay on the couch and watch some TV, but the churning going on within was like a tempest looking for an escape. The bottle says expect a movement in 30 minutes to 6 hours. Like clockwork, at the 30 minute mark, the event had officially begun. Im going to save you the horror of the play-by-play, but I will give you some tips. Get the best toilet paper money can buy. Spare no expense. Wet wipes. Get them. The medicated kind. Go ahead and get yourself a tube of diaper cream. I didn't do this, but knew I should. I was tempted to venture out and get some, but the thought of being away from my sacred bathroom sent chills down my spine. Now, this is the biggest, #1 tip I can give you. If you take one thing away from this it needs to be this. Do not, and I mean do NOT, eat spicy food for upwards of a week before the flush. That's all I will say about that. You are all smart enough to know why this is good advice.

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Step 2: At lunch I am to mix a full 238 gram bottle of Miralax with a half gallon of the clear beverage of my choice. I chose lemon-aid Crystal Light. I have had Miralax before, its not bad plain, but a half gallon of it is no joke. You will need to flavor it, chill it and drink it over ice. Oh, and you have to drink it all in the span of 2 hours. At this stage in the game, you might as well bring that laptop to the bathroom and pull up Netflix. You aren't going anywhere for quite awhile. You may think this is enough fluid, but its not. You need to be drinking water or something clear constantly. Both products so far work by pulling tons of fluid into your colon. You will start to feel dehydrated. 

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Step 3: 2 Ducolax tablets at 8:00pm. By this point I am hangry, cold and feel absolutely hollow inside. This phase feels like insult to injury. Seems sadistic to do this to someone with nothing left inside. But, oh no! You are not empty. Those 2 little pills somehow shake loose any remaining anything left on your gut. Its ruthless. The directions say no fluids at all after midnight so I attempt to go to bed at 11:30 or so. 

Sleep is an elusive vixen. I think I had about an hour of actual sleep before my 5am wakeup call. 

The procedure: I arrived at the GI center and signed in, filled out the appropriate paperwork and waited my turn. The pre-procedure stuff if standard. They take my vitals and ask the standard questions then lead me to a gurney where I put on the ever so stylish gown and start the waiting game. Soon, my nurse anesthetist came in and introduced herself and gave me some Versed to calm my nerves. It put me in a happy place. Once in the procedure room, I was given the sedation which was a cocktail of Propofol and fentanyl. Then, I woke up! I remember absolutely nothing. No pain, no discomfort whatsoever. Next thing I know I am in recovery and my nurse is taking my drink order. That was the best damn diet coke and stale saltines I have ever had. After about 30 minutes, my Doctor comes in, talks to me about what he saw and found and I was sent on my way. Thankfully, other that some gastritis, everything looked good. While that is a relief, I would still like to know what caused my IBS-D. I say caused because for whatever reason, I haven't had any issues at all since the procedure. Its like they reset the computer, or in this case, pooter!! Sorry, potty humor is never not funny.

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All in all, parts of this process weren't near as bad as I thought they would be and parts were way worse. I don't want to scare you off from getting this done if your Doctor recommends it. Colon cancer is a silent killer. You can have a terminal case before you have any symptoms at all. I just want all to know what really to expect. In real terms. Its rough, but necessary. Listen to your body, if you think somethings wrong, go see a Doctor. If they want to do some tests, even a colonoscopy, do it.  

 

Posted on September 7, 2018 and filed under Friendly Advice.

Friendly Advice: Hiring a Roofing Contractor

Picture this scenario, you are woken at 3 AM to what sounds like golf balls hitting your roof and windows. If you live in North Texas like I do, you know all too well its hail. Big hail. This exact thing happened to me early this summer. Thankfully, it wasn't too bad at my place. No broken windows and the truck was in the garage, but my roof took a beating. The second such beating in 3 years. I knew it was time to get the roof looked at before I developed any leaks.

 This was a kid brother of the bigger ones.

This was a kid brother of the bigger ones.

If you are like most people you don't have a roofer on retainer. Shortly after I moved into my house, I had another wallop of a storm and had to get a roof then also. When a big storm happens, roofer swarm the area like flies to a fresh turd and if you don't do your homework, that's exactly what you may get.

I got lucky and saw a neighbor about post Golden Rule General Contracting, his roofing contractor, on the Nextdoor community website. I decided to do my homework and check him out. They had great reviews on every platform I looked at so I decided you give them a shot. I was not disappointed.

In order to help anyone navigate the perils of finding a quality roofer that's stands by their product, I decided to site down with Randy, owner of Golden Rule G.C. and get some sound advice.

Doug- "So Randy, what are the first things you should do or check if you find a leak in your roof or experience hail damage?"

Randy- "First thing is to always stop damage from getting worse. Collect water, make sure it’s not going to damage the floor or cause your ceiling to collapse. Get an experienced roofing contractor to complete emergency repairs to keep leaks from getting worse."

D- "What are some good resources to use to find a good roofing company?"

R- "It is important to check references such as the Better Business Bureau, Home Advisor, Google My Business, Angies List, etc. The app Nextdoor can be a valuable place to find recommendations from people in your area who have had a good (or bad) experience with roofing contractors."

D- "Are there any you should steer clear from?"

R- "Anyone that has been in business less than a year. Our area experiences hailstorms on a pretty infrequent basis, so the person who was cutting your grass last week could be installing your roof the next. Anyone who is from out of town or doesn’t have a track record of doing business locally. We call them storm chasers in the roofing industry, and it’s important to hire a reputable company so if there is a problem with your roof in the future you can call them to honor their warranty."

D- "When talking to an roofing company, what are some key things to look for?"

R- "How long they have been in business. Their reviews. If they’re insured and bonded or not. Do they pull permits in municipalities that require permits. Do they have a Jobsite Foreman who stays on the job to oversee the work during the entire process? Do they take pictures to document the work? Does their warranty cover labor and materials, and damages caused by leaks. Do they have a pre, during and job completion checklist to ensure quality of work?"

D- "What are some red flags you should avoid?"

R- "Take a look at the vehicle they arrive in. Does it look professional? Ask how much experience the representative has, is he/she a salesman, or do they know the roofing industry. Pushy salespeople. Did they thoroughly inspect your entire home or just take a quick look at your roof? If they didn’t have time for you prior to you signing the contract, chances are they won’t have a lot of time for you after. Never give a roofing contractor money upfront. First checks should be given when materials are delivered and the job has commenced, with final payment upon your complete satisfaction of completion."

D- "Is there any type of maintenance you can do to keep your roof in top condition?"

R- "Leaves and debris should be kept from piling up on your roof and/or gutters. Tree limbs should be kept from rubbing/brushing the shingles. After the first five years, boot jacks should be inspected to ensure they’re not cracking around your plumbing pipes. After that every two years they should be inspected as the average life expectancy of these flashings is around 6 to 10 years, and are frequently the cause of leaks on roofs."

D- "What sets Golden Rule GC apart from the other?"

R- "We focus on providing top-notch customer service. Our job is never complete until the customer is 100% satisfied. Upfront, we do a thorough inspection of the entire home, not just the roof. After inspecting the roof, we inspect the exterior of the home, from paint to windows, rotten wood on soffits and fascia. We check the windows for proper seals. We check the foundation for issues and erosion. We check that the home is properly ventilated. We check the soffit and roof vents to ensure proper attic ventilation. We check dryer vents, whether roof or wall mounted to ensure these vents are not clogged with lint and present a fire hazard. After a thorough inspection we advise customers on the pros and cons of filing an insurance claim as if it were a claim on our home. Once a claim is filed, we make sure that the claim is properly paid for and that the insurance company didn’t miss anything that should be paid for. We document everything with pictures and negotiate the claim with the insurance company on the customer’s behalf. We check local building codes to ensure all work is completed meets that minimum standard. Upon finishing negotiation with the insurance company and prior to starting work, we inform the customer of all changes to ensure complete transparency. We provide an English/Spanish speaking Jobsite Foreman on all of our jobs to ensure communication between the roofing crew and the customer will be facilitated. We take pictures during the entire process, and take great care to install proper underlayment and flashings on all roofs. We install Ice and Water Barrier in all valleys, low slope areas, walls, and flashings to help ensure there are no leaks which is backed by our Best-in-Industry Five-year warranty on labor, materials and any damages caused by our faulty workmanship."

D- "Do you have any other advice you could give someone with a leaky or hail damaged roof?"

R- "The best piece of advice I can give you when dealing with a roofing contractor is – go with your gut. If you don’t feel completely comfortable with the person you’re dealing with, don’t sign anything. Roofing salespeople can be as bad as used car salespeople sometimes."

Speaking from experience, I have dealt both both the "storm chasers" and a top quality contractor. Believe me, you will sleep much better at night using a seasoned professional. For my money, Golden Rule G.C cant be beat. If you are in their area, I suggest giving them a call. If not, take heed to Randy's advice. 

 

Posted on August 31, 2018 and filed under Friendly Advice.

Congratulations Highschool Class of 2018

Congratulations Class of 2018!!! You all have a bright future ahead of you, but it's going to take hard work. Let me give you some unsolicited advice.

You are not done learning. Not even close. Learn a trade. Going to college is typically the best route to take and I suggest going for it. I know it's expensive and only getting worse year after year so go after the free money. Grants and scholarships take a huge burden off your back. If not college, go to a technical school. You can fast track your way into a career.

You don't know everything. Truthfully, you don't know much of anything. You may be an adult in the eyes of the government, but most of you are still living at home and have no idea what it take to be self sufficient. Life. Is. Expensive.

Eat your vegetables.

Find a mentor. It could be a parent, but it doesn't have to be. Look at the adults in your life and think about who you want to be like in 20 years. Who most represents that person. Reach out to them and ask for advice. Be specific and listen, but it's up to you to follow it.

Read books.

Get a job. Not necessarily a career. You are young and need to figure out what you want in life. Any experience is good experience. Just don't get tied down and forget about reaching for more. Remember, you aren't done learning.

When working, always do your best. People will notice. Your work ethic is something you develop now. Every job is important to the person you are doing it for. Remember that.

Call your mother.

Save for the future. Start now. Get use to it. If your employer has a 401k and matches contributions, DO IT!! Its free money! The goal is for retirement to be enjoyable, not month to month.

Don't be afraid to fail. If you miss the first time, keep on shooting. You will get better with each attempt. You will succeed, but it's up to you to try. In the end, regret is worse than failure so whatever it is, go for it.

Use protection.

Be respectful. Respect is not earned, it is lost and it is damn hard to get back. You may find people you don't like or disagree with and that's ok, but respect them. The Golden Rule still applies.

Don't pass judgement on  people. Don't assume you know someone. Don't be prejudice. Don't judge the book by its cover. 

Stay hydrated.

I realize so far adulthood sounds like nothing but hard work, but it's so much more. It's an adventure that your hard work will allow to be possible.

Have fun and enjoy life! Find a passion and pursue it. If you like to paint, then do it! Like hiking, then go! You're an adult now, you don't need permission. Find something you love and do it!

Exercise.

You only get one life and it's up to you to make it as great as you want. No one is going to do it for you. Yes, it will be hard sometimes. There is no formula for the future and yours is not written in stone. At your age, everything is possible. Don't let anyone tell you its not. Surround yourself with people that want to see you succeed. A good support network can get you through most anything. Negativity is like a virus. Don't get infected.

The seeds you plant now will grow into who you become. The future sounds like a long time from now, but just remember tomorrow is the future. Always live today, for a better tomorrow.

Good luck to you all,

Doug and the Geeks

Posted on June 1, 2018 and filed under Friendly Advice.