Archive for Ease and Disease

Limbo lower now

In which I wonder how low I can go.

(Fundraiser continues.)

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Lessons from life (one in a series)

(Medical facility) + (new computer system) = two-hour delay, minimum.

In this specific instance, the new appointment handler overbooked by a factor of 1.5, maybe worse.

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Not at all perky

And I never, ever will be:

Get well soon.

Balloons and cards offer — or sometimes command — this well-meaning sentiment to patients in the hospital. Gifts of stuffed animals and flowers are showered upon people to provide comfort and cheer. But for some patients, nothing can help them feel better after leaving the operating room. Even as they recover physically, their mental health suffers as they experience sadness, fatigue or anxiety — all of which are symptoms of post-operative depression, a commonly experienced but little-known condition.

Depression following surgery is a frequent occurrence but not nearly as frequent a topic of conversation in the medical community. It can be credited to a number of physical factors after an operation, including reactions to anesthesia and narcotic painkillers, pain and discomfort, or an undetermined biological process. The type and severity of the depression can vary depending on the type of surgery performed, but according to HCPLive, post-operative depression is reported to occur more in coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) patients who smoke, are single, experienced anxiety before the surgery, have high levels of cholesterol and angina or more severe heart disease or are undergoing another CABG. Emotional triggers of post-operative depression can be credited to disappointment in the outcome of the surgery and a response to physical changes such as stitches or scars as well as resulting feelings of vulnerability and fear.

And believe me, I know from vulnerability and fear. I technically don’t have a life-threatening ailment, so far as I can tell; but the life I used to have was threatened, and now it’s evaporated.

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What was done

In case you were curious:

For the record, I had three screwy laminae plus one herniated disk. Prognosis, to me at least, seems unclear.

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Rehab: day fifteen

There is no day fifteen. I have left the hospital — they approved — to face an uncertain future.

Scared spitless, or something similar.

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Rehab: day fourteen

Uneventful, except for an apparent hallucination circa 1 am.

I’d explain that if I could. I can’t.

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Rehab: day thirteen

As I should have suspected, I have not lost 30 pounds while in confinement. (More like 15.) Never trust a single scale if you can possibly avoid it.

The profession is apparently hiring some damnably attractive women these days.


Gut reaction

This isn’t quite the British equivalent of “Here, hold my beer,” but it’s close:

A man was rushed to hospital, suffering from severe stomach pains, after eating three chicken wings doused in sauce made from what is thought to be the world’s hottest chili pepper.

Mark McNeil, 36, was hoping to be able to eat ten of the chicken wings to win a competition.

Despite being given advice at the University Hospital of North Tees for severe stomach pain, he is looking to try again in the competition which is held at The George on Stockton High Street.

The pepper in question?

The Carolina Reaper, originally named the HP22B, is a cultivar of chili pepper of the Capsicum chinense species. It is currently the hottest pepper in the world.

On the Scoville scale, where the jalapeño rates somewhere below 10,000, the Reaper checks in well beyond a million.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)


Rehab: day twelve

The committee met this morning, and they’re pretty much in agreement on Adequate Progress.

Brief encounter with a Therapy Dog, a friendly poodle of standard size and kindly demeanor.

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Rehab: day eleven

Tested out a bench for the bathtub. Easier than standing up under the shower, I suppose.

I suspect the existence of actual readers among the staff, and possibly even among the patients.

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Rehab: day ten

“Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be.” — Paul McCartney, “Yesterday.”

“I’m eight-ninths the man I used to be.” — Me, after weigh-in.

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Rehab: day nine

I’m still perplexed by the idea that knocking out 60 yards with a walker is somehow relevant to going to the fridge to fetch a beer.

On the upside, the Cardinals, with a big lead on the Brewers, said what the hell and gave a ninth-inning pinch-hitter slot to a chap named Alberto Rosario, who’d floated around baseball for a decade and more without so much a single at-bat in the majors. Seemingly glowing as he came to the plate, Rosario swung for the right-field fence, and was rewarded with a base hit and an RBI. This is the sort of one-shot brilliance that I always seem to need and never seem to have.

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Rehab: day eight

Made it from my room to the gymnasium with a walker. We’re talking somewhere around 200 feet.

No institutional kitchen can justify chicken tetrazzini.

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Rehab: day seven

Progress report reports progress. (My concerns were noted.) The kitchen does one vegetable very well: broccoli. And the owner of a nice pair of stems (55-ish) walked out of here today.

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Rehab: day six

Various reassurances from the staff. And finally, the disconnection of my dual-exhaust wound drain, which has finally quit spitting up 100 ml a day.

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The bane of my existence

Unfashionable change purse

It’s gone now. I think. I keep looking behind me to see if’s it’s hiding back there.

(Photo by Infiniti125 – I just took a photo of it, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Unresolved issue

Definitely a wet summer, this. It will be nice when I don’t have to whiz like a two-year-old.

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Rehab: day five

Lost one of two games of Pente. Also, got a target date for the Last Day. Subject to change, of course.

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Rehab: day four

Twelve hours: zero to, well, not hero, but certainly some sort of positive integer.

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Rehab: day three

Ah, blessed, blessed showering. Never know how much you miss it until you can’t take one anymore.

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Rehab: day two

You’re grateful for the soul-sucking routine; but you’re also grateful for the occasional absence of soul-sucking routine.

And, once so far, Cheerios.


Rehab: day one

Things learned:

  • I did 15 minutes, not all that fast, but still: 15 minutes on a stationary bicycle. You’d think with this much leg power I’d be able to walk or something.
  • Hospital tools for, um, bodily functions are not optimized for one’s street clothes.

Oh, and Dear Google: Delete key. Learn it.


Gloom, despair and agony

What can I say? I’ve had ’em. In fact, I’ve had ’em just assembling this piece.

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Rehab: day zero

I think the decision was made when I worked myself into a walker, and then promptly dropped to the floor. (Hey, gravity works.)

Physical therapy, industrial strength. Nobody knows how long it will last.

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Technical difficulties

It is extremely difficult to run this place off a Chromebook; no respectable FTP clients, and Google of course thinks it knows what you want in a keyboard. (They don’t.) I had major problems with the next Vent, because CHROME DOESN’T HAVE A GODDAMN TEXT EDITOR and HALF THEIR APPS ARE FUCKING AD-DISTRIBUTION DEVICES. It will be very short, and mostly video.


To my surprise and delight

Who knew?

From the text:

I remember when he took time from his World Tour ’05 to visit me. I can barely believe it’s now over 10 years ago.

He’s been having some spinal issues. Look up “spinal stenosis.” It’s certainly not pretty stuff.

This is a guy who has always been independent. He’s taken his paid days off and now … well, let’s rally around him.

Chaz is not a guy who would ask for help. He’s too proud but just a little will go a long way. Help him with some bills. Let him relax and take the time he needs to get better.

To have such friends…

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On the table

About the time this goes live, I’ll be on the operating table, getting my nerves realigned. (Literally. Look up “spinal stenosis.”) I have been given no reason to think this is a particularly complicated procedure, and I expect to come out of it no worse than I went in.

Saturday I sprung this idea:

I still hate the idea. Then again, I’ve burned up the last of my paid days at work as of this afternoon, so “subsequent expenses” are still something of a worry. (I have, I think, enough on hand to cover the annual out-of-pocket on my gold silver bronze zinc health-insurance plan.) I don’t plan a formal fundraiser or anything like that, largely because this requires setting an official goal, which sort of rubs me the wrong way. (If you’re curious, I was thinking in terms of $4,000.) That said, I would be grateful for anything anyone feels like stashing into my PayPal account (chaz -at-

Any posts I have in the can will be dribbled out over the next day or two. I expect to be released Tuesday, maybe Wednesday at the latest.

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Gonna send you back to Walker

Johnnie Mae Matthews, the Godmother of Detroit Soul, once wrote a song called “Gonna Send You Back to Georgia”; singer Timmy Shaw recorded it in early 1964, early enough for the Animals to put out a cover version, though since Eric Burdon and friends knew nothing about Georgia, they replaced the word “Georgia” with “Walker.”

Of course, “walker” to me these days is a made-in-China medical device, with which I can get around a bit easier. There is, of course, one exception: the walker is 1.5 inches too wide to get into the bathroom unless I remove the bathroom door. I am not removing the bathroom door; I’ll leave the device parked in the hallway and stagger the three or four steps to whichever bathroom function I require.


This is spinal tapping

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You may wait here in the sitting room

This is not the least bit heartening:

By the time a new patient hears the words “the doctor will see you now,” it may have taken weeks or even months to get that appointment. Need to see a dermatologist in Boston? The average appointment wait time is a staggering 72 days, according to a recent survey.

“It’s often said what sets apart the American healthcare system is that if someone encounters a problem, they can schedule an appointment and be seen by a doctor at any time,” said Daniel Ehlke, an assistant professor of health policy and management at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center School of Public Health. “But if you look closely at the local level, it usually takes a considerable amount of time to see a doctor.”

Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare consulting firm, conducted a survey [pdf] to determine the average time new patients have to wait to see a doctor in 15 metropolitan areas. The survey focused on five medical specialties: cardiology, dermatology, family practice, obstetrics / gynecology, and orthopedic surgery.

The average wait time was over 18 days. Orthopedic surgery was the only specialty that averaged less than 14 days.

And that was 2014. There’s no reason to think things have improved since then.

Unless someone cancels between now and then, I have a 33-day wait to see the neurologist. By then, I might be dead. (And right now, that looks like the preferable outcome.)

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