Airport Security Scanners Leave Lingering Worries – NYTimes.com

For those worried about radiation risks – and the science is still unclear on the extent of scanner-related risks, but is clear that radiation exposure is cumulative and reduced exposure is better than less. Some good practical suggestions for frequent travellers (with the risk that overzealous personnel may ‘touch your junk’ as part of the security theatre that we are forced to endure). Quote:

While the risk to the average passenger may be low, here are some suggestions for those who wish to reduce their exposure.

  1. Get to the airport early. That gives you extra time to opt for a pat-down if you want.
  2. If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell a T.S.A. agent. You may be allowed to pass through a metal detector without additional screening.
  3. The younger children are, the more sensitive to radiation. T.S.A. employees have been known not to require children under 13 to go through an X-ray machine, although the agency denies there is any policy on this.
  4. If you have any concerns about medical conditions, you have the right to opt for a pat-down by a T.S.A. employee.

While these are written for the US, where scanners are ubiquitous, we also have scanners in Canada so I opt for the pat-down given all the other radiation I have received from my various CT and PET scans, along with chest X-rays, during my treatment over the past years.

Airport Security Scanners Leave Lingering Worries – NYTimes.com.

Week 38: Uneventful equals good

Another uneventful week, all good. A bit too wet for biking but some good walks. While I can and do drive, given a choice, will walk instead, and seem to be averaging about 2 hours a day.

I had the usual charming jack hammer MRI and will get the results at my next clinic visit May 14. Funny that even if, as noted earlier, I do not expect any alarming news, lying in the ‘tube’ for 45 minutes is a sober reminder, and does bring back some worries. Hopefully, I will have confirmation at my next clinic visit in just over a week that my condition remains stable or, even better, that there has been some improvement. We shall see.

I am also looking forward to sharing my Prezi and related slides with my haematologist, to get his feedback and see how else he wants to challenge me. My other think pieces are either done (‘What we call ourselves’, or cancer terminology, will be posted this week) or in good shape (‘Letting go and accepting’). And I now have an ISBN for my forthcoming book and a workplace to complete it around the time of my one year anniversary this August. Now I just have to do it!

I continue to read Among the Believers, and have just finished his section on Pakistan. Reading his book 30 years later, and seeing some of the same issues repeat themselves, when so many other parts of the world have shown real progress. One of his milder quotes:

The Islamic ideal was the theme of a 1951 book, Pakistan as an Islamic State, which he (Nusrat) had brought as a gift for me. It would help me to understand Pakistan, he said. And the book showed me that thirty years before, the Islamic ideal had been as vague, as much a statement of impracticable intent and muddled history (with interim worldly corruption), as it was now. The Islamic state, I read, was like a high-flying kite, invisible in the mist. ‘I cannot see it, but something is tugging.’

April was a high readership month, perhaps because my posting frequency increased a bit. Here are the 5 most popular posts from April:

  1. Life, Interrupted: A Young Cancer Patient Faces Infertility – NYTimes.com
  2. Lessons
  3. Is The United States’ High Spending For Cancer Care Really Worth It?
  4. HealthcareNo, a Universal Cancer Vaccine Was Not Just Developed – The Atlantic, and Life and death battle with OHIP | Toronto Sun
  5. Dualities

I will be travelling and largely disconnected from our electronic world next week – good quiet time – so will not be able to respond to comments or ‘contact me’. I have scheduled a number of articles for next week so we will see how that works. Back to my usual schedule the following week.

Fighting Illness and Germs on the Road – NYTimes.com

For the frequent flyers, and even those who travel less frequently, a reminder of the risks and some suggestions to mitigate them. Before getting too paranoid (except for those like me with a compromised immune system), the following quote is helpful:

Before you shut your windows, lock your doors, cancel your Expedia account and download videoconferencing software, remember that all these risks can be mitigated. Unless you have an open wound, the germs you collect on your hands cannot enter your body easily unless you touch your eyes, nose or mouth. That is easier said than done; we touch our mouths and noses about 200 times a day. A good cleaning with soap and water — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands for about 50 seconds, the time it takes to hum two choruses of “Happy Birthday” — or a drop of hand sanitizer does the trick in most cases. But that only wipes the slate clean, providing little protection after that moment. Seasoned travelers sanitize early and often. (Researchers pooh-pooh the idea that too much cleanliness will weaken an adult’s immune system. The bottom line: That which does not kill me can make me sick.)

And yes, I travel with masks in case needed, and am fastidious about hand-washing and reducing the number of times I touch my face.

Fighting Illness and Germs on the Road – NYTimes.com.

And some additional tips:

For Health, Drink Water (but Don’t Drink the Water)

Week 31: A Break

It has been a good week, with our break in Toronto, doing some university tours for our daughter, seeing our son, a brother and some old family friends, and enjoying life in the big city.

Feels a bit strange to be in a big city again. The crowds, and my natural apprehension about being in crowd scenes given immunity concerns, made me cut short some visits (e.g., seeing an exhibit on the Maya during March break was probably not a good idea, so I walked through more quickly that I would normally). And one look at the crowds taking the subway (metro) made me realize better to walk!

As a result, walking more than usual, and so feeling my leg muscles more. Good conditioning opportunity.

The other thing is given the background noise of a city, my hearing loss (going on for some time) is more noticeable, and I tend to search out for quieter side streets. The aging process at work!

While fun trying new restaurants and food, more stomach burbles, interestingly that manifest themselves when walking, that crimped my plans a little bit.

We saw High Life, a play by Lee MacDowell, very cleverly written about an attempted heist by four down-on-their-luck drug addicts. Some incredibly sharp and funny dialogue, well acted, credible characters. A very enjoyable evening that also passed my test of keeping me engaged and awake throughout – my energy level is weakest in the evening!

Overall, a really good test, in a way, of how I am doing some 7 months out from transplant. Not at pre-transplant, obviously, but well and strong enough (assuming I have picked up any infections) to be able to get out and about, and enjoy. Reassuring and encouraging, as is overcoming almost the fear of climbing out of the shell of my Ottawa routine. That fine psychological balance between being prudent and paranoid about risks!

Next week is clinic week so the usual check-in, more than check-up. Assume will have the go ahead for the final phase-out of Prednisone, one less medication and side effects.

For my Iranian readers, an advance Eid-e-Mobarak for the Persian New Year this week.