Category Archives: Health

Scanned

I spent a chunk of Saturday morning getting a CT scan on my head, which was cool!

I have no results, nor do I have any clue what they wanted to look at, although my sense of it was more of a “Well, let’s eliminate this just on the off chance that it might be an issue” for whatever they’re fiddling with.

So, for now I’m going with the old joke – “Results Negative – NO BRAIN FOUND!”

Funny until proven wrong!

What I was REALLY hoping for was superpowers, maybe even the newly acquired superhero skill set of Zoey in one of my favorite shows of the last couple of years. Nothing yet.

Getting old is not for the fainthearted.

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Pizza

Left to my own devices, I would eat a LOT of “comfort food,” full of carbs and sugar and fat. Ice cream, bread, doughnuts, candy, margaritas, cookies, grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate, chocolate, and then more chocolate, PB&J sandwiches, cheeseburgers, mac and cheese, clam chowder, french fries, burritos, rice, chili, sushi, kung pao chicken, tacos, wine… You get the idea.

And I would weigh 300 pounds, barely be able to move, would have a lifespan from here on that’s measured in weeks, be shooting insulin to stay alive, and be generally incredibly unhealthy.

Thus, the “adulting” shit I do and the highly different diet from that described above.

It’s a question of balance – I do not want to live like a monk, and I won’t. Nor do I want to live like a candidate for a Discovery Channel reality TV show, and I won’t.

Moderation.

Intelligence.

Making mature, responsible decisions.

The tricky part is where to set the balancing point on that spectrum. Sometimes my doctor and I disagree. Particularly in terms of carbs and comfort food.

The measure of success or failure in this ongoing battle is the A1C measurement, a blood test that says how much sugar you’re retaining in your blood from your diet. This can vary as you age and can also vary from time to time as the medical powers-that-be change their mind on what’s acceptable and what’s not. The short version is that for me now I need to be between about 5.0 and 7.0. If I’m over that, my doctor is really going to push hard for me to start insulin to treat borderline Type 2 diabetes. I am really going to push back on that, preferring to control my A1C and blood glucose levels with diet (see above!) and exercise.

It’s a long running “discussion.”

I get my A1C tested routinely twice a year, and with one or two exceptions over the past fifteen years or so, I’ve hit those targets. One of the way I do that, while still maintaining a lifestyle balance that leaves me with the will to live when I finish dinner, is to have periods when I have an A1C test coming up (where I have an extremely restrictive diet) and periods where I’ve just “passed” my A1C and can be a little bit less restrictive.

(To be clear, “less restrictive” is not code for going totally off of the deep end and eating like a lunatic. It more means that once or twice a week, if I have dessert or some pasta or something “bad,” I’m not going to beat myself up over it or lose sleep. Moderation, remember?)

Today, I passed my “spring” A1C test. And tonight I celebrated by having pizza for the first time since December. Nothing fancy, just Dominos.

It was sooooooooooooooooo good!

And yes, I feel like I ate a bowling ball, and no, I did not eat the entire medium size pizza by myself. There’ plenty of leftovers for tomorrow or Thursday.

But the cheesy, saucy, thick crust Carb-o-lisciousness tonight was indeed a celebration.

Tomorrow I will have a banana and egg for breakfast, fruit and raw veggies for lunch, and something reasonably healthy for dinner with veggies and salad. (And some dessert! Maybe wine!)

But tonight, it’s a wonder that this got written and posted before midnight, because I am warm and snuggly in the bosom of a carb coma.

Moderation.

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Pollyanna

In my pre-teen days the latest and greatest was COLOR TV! NBC had “The Wonderful World of Disney” (not to be confused with ABC’s “The Wide World of Sports”) which was good, wholesome, family fare for Sunday night. It also helped sell more than a few of those color television sets.

One of the “classics” that we got repeatedly was “Pollyanna.” If we saw it in the theaters in 1960 I don’t remember it (I was only four) but I remember seeing it a couple times a year by the mid-60s. Which was fine – my pre-pubescent little hormones knew something was going on whenever Hayley Mills was on the screen and I was still in Catholic school and a couple years away from the start of my rebel, “they tried to teach me WHAT??!!” phase, so Pollyanna’s upbeat attitude no matter what happened went in one ear, rattled around a bit, and came out the other side none the worse for wear.

(What I didn’t like was my many siblings calling me “Pollyanna,” which came from their usually calling me “Pauley,” which I hate to this day. But what are siblings for if not torturing their older brother?)

This morning I was thinking about one of the themes of the story and one of the related plot devices, the Glad Game. I was having my teeth cleaned and examined (AGAIN!) with more things being found wrong and more poking and prodding and asking, “Does that hurt?” as I levitate three feet above the chair, sort of like Linda Blair with a little paper bib. In addition, laying there with that spotlight they use shining in my eyes, the “temporary” floaters in both eyes now were swimming around like a Busby Berkeley routine, and when trying to hold still my legs were cramping to remind me that they were still there. In that environment, it was tough to find a reason to be glad, just because. But I tried anyway.

I decided that while getting older might be a better alternative that the primary other option (i.e., death) it was starting to get to be a real pain in the ass. And all of the treatments I’m having rammed down my throat (eating better, exercising, losing weight, patience) are not in my wheelhouse. I keep getting told that they’re going to work eventually and the effort will have been worth it, and Pollyanna would no doubt believe that and be on that Peloton bike or climbing that hill every day while eating a granola bar and drinking pressed milkweed juice and singing the whole way.

Pollyanna needs to get real. This sucks.

I’m ready to go anti-Pollyanna. AP. Maybe pronounce it as “ape.” I’m going to “go ape.” The main aspect of which will be that I will be cranky every single day.

I’ll probably keep on doing the eating better, exercising, and losing weight. But I draw the line at “patience.” Enough is enough. Substitute in “cranky” for me.

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Until Six Months After I’m Dead

How do I get my gut to “understand” what my head knows, that I need a break and some actual relaxing and down time?

You’ve all been harangued for a couple months about my schedule and workload and deadlines. I’m sure you’re as tired of it as I am, and I’m freakin’ exhausted.

We’ve now reached a short time when there aren’t any “FULL SPEED AHEAD, ALL HANDS ON DECK!” deadlines in the immediate future. Just the usual grind on about four different fronts, including work, the CAF hangar, home, and so on. Yet even when I have a day like today where I got rid of the “required” and “urgent” tasks for the weekend by 14:00 or so, I just had a pain in the ass time getting my gut to let me relax.

I need to be working on this, or that, or maybe I should try to get ahead on this other thing! And then there are all of those OTHER THINGS that I haven’t even considered working on for so long and they’re so far onto the back burner that you need Hubble to see them – maybe I can do some of those today!

What’s up with that? What part of my upbringing makes it so hard to let go, relax, and not feel guilty about it?

AND HOW DO I STOP USING ALL CAPS AND BOLD AND ITALICS SO MUCH?

Yeah, let’s get to the important questions!

Where’s an Ambien or Valium when you really need one?

Humor. Right. That’s not going to happen, nor are the 100% legal alternatives. I blame the Midwestern conservative upbringing in the 60’s where we saw “Reefer Madness” as a propaganda weapon of terror on a regular basis.

I hope whoever and wherever you are, you can get your brain to cut you some slack and let you just breathe a bit.

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No Context For You – October 01st

How much of what we see, or a better term might be “perceive,” is “real?”

In a historic context, we can travel to ancient lands and see ruins or magnificent architecture that’s 2,000+ years old, or we can go to Disneyland or Las Vegas and see something almost exactly like it, in many ways even more magnificent. “Real” or “fake?”

If you ever have any eye issues you’ll start to see just how personal that distinction can be. I’m dealing with a little issue with floaters and flashes of light, which I’m told is normal and harmless and it will go away on its own soon. How? How will it “go away?” Are they going to give me some pills, or do some sort of surgery, or should I put warm compresses or ice packs (or both) on my eyeballs? No, my brain will just learn to ignore them, they say.

So far all my brain is doing is screaming, “SPIDER!” or “FLY!” or “LIZARD!” or “LOOK OUT!!” about every fifteen seconds, which is not nearly as much fun as it sounds.

Many years ago as my vision started to deteriorate I had laser surgery on my eyes and ended up with “EAGLE VISION!” It was great! I went from being unable to read or see anything at a distance without glasses (“Bats use me as a role model,” to quote a line from a long forgotten 1986 Jeffrey Tambor sitcom that lasted only eleven episodes) to being able to read “Copyright (C) 2004 Acme Eye Chart Company” at the very, very bottom of the sign.

This is sort of the reverse of that and it sucks. Painless (fortunately, ’cause I’m a wussy boy) but annoying as all get out. And they aren’t kidding – “just be patient” is the #1 piece of advice, unless it gets so bad that they put you on the list for an eyeball transplant.

“Just be patient” – HAVE THEY EVER MET ME??!!

So, my eyes might be lying to me, just a bit. It’s like my very own, personal optical illusion, 24/7/365.

But then I start asking questions and trying to troubleshoot it. For example, the flashes of light… I get that I don’t really see them in normal lighting or daylight, but if I go wandering around the yard after dark to try to look at the stars (and boy, take a look around this site for the past several years and look at all of the astrophotography and astronomy and space related stuff there is and you’ll know just how PISSED I am that I’m having real problems with THAT manifestation of this issue!) I’m seeing flashes every time I blink or move my eyes. It’s dark there, the relatively dim flashes stand out. Uh-huh. So why when I close my eyes do I never see flashes. Or when I just cover my eyes with my hands? Only when my eyes are wide open and I’m in a dark location?

Or not when I lay down at night? Maybe it’s a horizontal-vs-vertical thing? Nope, go outside at night, lie down on the sidewalk (it’s okay, the neighbors already know I’m a little odd) and I still see them.

So I ask the nice eye doctor folks about it. And they just smile, and nod, and put notes in my file, AND NEVER ANSWER. Because they don’t know.

This further supports the theory (and just to be clear, I’m joking here, I don’t want this to be the accidental start of another bullshit theory for the anti-vaxxing, science-denying, conspiracy-theory whack jobs to run with) that medicine and science aren’t real at all and this eye thing is a personal punishment from God just to piss me off.

It’s working.

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My October 2021 Wish List

And so we’re officially 3/4 of the way through 2021. I will say that, at least for me, it’s better than 2020, but that’s relative, not absolute. It hasn’t been a great year so far, or even a good one. But it’s slightly less horrible than 2020, and the four years of horror that preceded.

Sure, The Former Guy is gone. At least, gone-ish. We still have to deal with all of the monsters, fascists, and subhuman slime that are today’s GOP in the Senate, House, Supreme Court, a thousand lower courts, and so on. And TFG is still spewing BS on a regular basis. But at least he doesn’t have his finger on the nuclear missile button.

And I do have a great job now with people I really like working with, which was not always the case four or five years ago. So I’ve got that.

And while we’re still eyeballs deep in COVID and the unspeakably insane, evil, and psychotic anti-vaxx crowd, so far all of us in the family are in good shape.

But again, that’s all a case of, “Cool! We personally have only a 72% suckage rating, while last year it was 82% and for many folks even now it’s in the 98%+ sucakage range!” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

So I have a wish list for October. I’m not going to wish for the statistically ludicrous (yes, winning the Lottery is always a given, I would love a nine-figure bank account, thanks!) or any fantasy-based  ridiculousness (i.e., having that whole GOP crowd vanishing off the face of the Earth and being transported physically to the deepest depths of Hell by an Act of God) but I do have a few changes, simple and not-so-simple, that I wouldn’t mind seeing.

In no particular order:

  1. Can the Chiefs pull their collective heads out of their collective asses and start playing like a team that’s been in the last two Super Bowls and would like to be there again this year?
  2. Along another sports line, while the Angels have again broken my heart by playing so below their expectations, can the Kings, just starting the 2021-22 NHL season, return to their Stanley Cup form and bring joy to my soul?
  3. Can I never again see one of these spam ads online? I’ve lost track of how many HUNDREDS of them I’ve seen (and deleted and blocked and muted and cursed to Hell) over the past two months or so. It’s always the exact same video and always the exact same text, even though the “sponsoring” account is always different. “blumbergfamilydentalcare” is selling these kinetic art pieces instead of, you know, doing family dental care? (Sorry, might be some funky HTML formatting there)
  4. Can we get a ton of “back burner” items taken care of at work (which got pushed there after two months of “OH GOD, we’re all gonna die!” priority items) and also not have any more of the latter pushing them back onto the back burner? I’ve got a feeling the year-end is going to get hairy, and it would be nice to have a basic level of accomplishment and a clean slate going into that.
  5. Ditto for the CAF hangar work
  6. Can I please get this string of minor, non life threatening, annoying as hell medical and dental things to just stop and leave me alone? This “growing old” thing sucks and I would like to talk to a manager.
  7. Can the juncos return soon? Instead of Solo Junco I’ve now seen two this week, but I miss having a couple dozen every day, fighting the finches over the bird seed.
  8. May I please get a little bit of time every now and then (maybe even every day?) to just sit and read a bit?

I’m thinking if the Universe is in a good mood, I might get at least bits and pieces of four of the eight wishes. We’ll see. (And I’ll take that Lottery thing as a bonus – I’ve earned it.)

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SPICY!!

I eat lots of broccoli, not because I like broccoli, but because I eat a lot of crap that’s “good” for me in my old age, and very little stuff (like ice cream and chocolate and bear claws and cheeseburgers and pizza and… you get the point) that I want to eat. Often to make it taste a little bit less like green, semi-crunchy cardboard, I’ll put a few drops of Sweet Baby Ray’s HOT sauce on it.

A couple nights ago dinner consisted of the aforementioned steamed fresh broccoli, plus a bunch of shrimp. I do love shrimp, and yes, it’s on that list with ice cream and pizza.

But we had no cocktail sauce. An error in my shopping calculations. So I improvised. I already had the Sweet Baby Ray’s out…

Double up the hot sauce on the broccoli, and then really lay it on while coating the shrimp in it.

Thinking about all of that hot sauce on something that my doctor would not approve of to begin with got me thinking. (Which is often not a good thing.)

See the source image

I won’t tell my doctor if you don’t! (And it wasn’t bad – I would have preferred the cocktail sauce, but it beats using ketchup!)

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Adrenaline Junkie

So the times and schedules come and go and overlap as they will, and sometimes all of the bits line up and you end up with multiple massive, major, critical deadlines all coming due within a day or two.

So it is with me, as you can tell by the increasingly frantic tone of my posts. The annual audit, this meeting, that review, this update, and payroll (which everyone agrees should NOT be pushed off onto a back burner…).

And then, after busting your butt for WEEKS on the audit, today’s the day to get the final draft, but after bugging the auditors repeatedly they say, “Wait, we’ve sent this four times, why aren’t you getting it?” So you check with your IT guy and he finally says, “Oooh, something happened, I don’t know what or why, but our email system decided to delete without notice all email from that domain.” WHAT??!! (Say that in the same voice & tone as Princess Leia when Grand Moff Tarkin decides to blow up Alderaan anyway, even after she gave him the location of the Rebel base.) Fix that, please – instantly will be fine, sooner would be better. What do you mean, 24 to 48 hours?

And then that wicked pain from what you suspect is a worsening ear infection goes from “Wow, that’s really getting sore” to “Shit, who shoved the freakin’ ice pick into the side of my head?!” So when you finally get a chance to take a breath you end up spending two hours in Urgent Care, and the 45 minutes of care to clear it out and clean it up (yep, that was a mess) turns out to be absolute agony, the kind of pain I haven’t experienced since I first had kidney stones.

So, the good news is that I’m a FREAKIN’ SUPERSTAR and the four simultaneous huge deadlines (plus payroll!) HAVE BEEN MET. Everyone’s happy. And the ear thing has been cleared without my head actually exploding and I have some drugs. Not the really, REALLY good drugs, but some pretty okay drugs.

But coming down off of all of that adrenaline? Wow! I’ve been abusing the adrenal gland 25/8 for about a month and now that I have a moment to breathe, I’m going to just stare off into space , maybe get caught up on a few episodes of “Ted Lasso,” or rewatch “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” and eat some ice cream that I’m not supposed to have. I’ve earned it.

There’s an excellent plan for you!

(P.S. – had the ice cream, got WICKED BAD brain freeze, almost as bad as the ear thing. God hates me.)

 

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Long Valley Flowers

Last Saturday we were in Palm Springs. One of the things that I love to do but don’t do nearly often enough is hiking out in the woods and getting out into the wild a bit.

Outside of Palm Springs is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which goes from the desert floor (at about 2,600′ elevation and 110ºF+) to the top of San Jacinto Peak (at about 8,500′ elevation and 65ºF). At the station on the top there’s a fairly steep ramp that goes down about 100′ to the floor of Long Valley where there are a couple of short (0.75 miles and 1.50 miles) day hike trails. I took the longer, “Desert View Loop” trail.

Along the way I saw these flowers.

They really stand out!

No clue what they are. A Google image search found a lot of African flowers that are bright red and growing out of pine needle ground cover, but the closest I found for a southwest US setting was captioned “scarlet gilia, also called skyrocket.” That ‘s probably not quite correct, but it might be close.

Anyway, when I eventually go out on what I thought was going to be a 30 minute day hike over flat ground and instead spend two hours going 2.5 miles at 8,415 feet including two fairly steep trails going up a couple hundred feet and thin air with (STUPIDLY!! 🤨 Yes, I do know better 😫 ) no water at my age thinking in my poor, pathetic brain that I’m still 25 instead of 65, when that day comes and it finally kills me (I hope that day will be far in the future, but…), plant some of these on my grave. 😁

 

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On The Side Of Caution

I’m never sure if it’s me or the machine that’s failed (actually – it’s me) but I don’t want to find out that I’m slightly dead if the machine is working just fine, so generally I’ll re-take the readings.

Fortunately, it’s a known issue and the recommended workaround is just to take the reading again. It turned out fine, I’m no more dead than I am most other days.

What a relief!

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