Category Archives: Health

Test Results In The Time Of COVID

It’s one thing to see that everything’s fine. That’s good.

It’s another to see that all of that clean living, healthy diet, a little exercise, and one previous result that the doctor had been bugging me about was now MUCH better. That’s great!

So I sent a message to the doctor about how that means that I don’t have to change meds like he’s been pushing, right? And I got the usual “this stuff is great” and “in the long run” and so on, but in the end I got my long sought after “ATTA BOY!” and his consent to leave things as they are. Which I’m happy about.

Now if I could just get rid of this rotator cuff (old age, threw way too much batting practice a couple decades ago) issue which is annoying as hell. The worst part is when I’m not thinking about it, like when I picked up the newspaper and threw it up toward the garage without thinking. It can make one scream like a stuck pig, sink to one’s knees in the driveway, and have the neighbors wondering if there was a drive by shooting that they didn’t get invited to. It can make me use words that my mother would not approve of! (Not that that particular bar was ever set real high…)

If someone tells you they’ve got a chronic pain condition – cut them some slack. This shit isn’t fun.

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Tests In The Time Of COVID

It’s that time of year when a whole slew of annual tests were due to convince my doctor that I’m not on Death’s door. I managed to group them all together with a bit of time left in between to get my flu shot. All’s good.

Of course everyone’s fully masked up. I got several complements and inquiries about mine. I also had my eyes dilated as part of the final test and they gave me those cheap temporary sunglasses to use. The combination might not have been my best look, but it was unique.

Probably a good day to try going into a bank…

The mask is printed to show a standard Visual Flight Rules (VFR) sectional map from the FAA. There’s a small company started by a teenager in Florida that will print them with whatever location you want – mine show Camarillo, where the CAF SoCal Wing is based. I bought them as a lark (through Sporty’s catalogue if you’re interested) but they turn out to be the best fitting and largest masks I’ve gotten. And it is a conversation piece.

One of the folks who was checking me in for one of the appointments was quite taken with the mask (I hadn’t gotten the glasses yet, so I looked a little less like a “Watchman” extra) but she filled out part of the initial patient intake form without getting my input.

I’m not saying she’s WRONG, mind you. Some assumptions are pretty solid. But it is 2020…

 

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Worth It

Checking my blood glucose after dinner, I was surprised at first. I didn’t know the numbers went that high…

Then I remembered the shrimp jambalaya that I had for dinner – and it was all okay. It was worth it.

Tomorrow I’ll be good again. (And, for the record, checking it before I went to bed, it was fine. As it’s supposed to be.)

Moderation in all things. Including moderation?

No, especially moderation.

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Ridiculous

As in, “From the sublime to…”

SpaceX and NASA and Dragon and Falcon didn’t launch today because the weather pretty much sucked in Florida today. They’ll try again on Saturday. Or maybe Sunday. Or maybe some time next week since the weather forecast for Saturday or Sunday isn’t much better than it was today.

This isn’t a problem, just a frustration, especially in our society that expects instant gratification. But they’ll fly when they’re ready and when it’s safe and meets the established launch criteria. As has been pointed out, it’s much better to be on the ground wishing you were flying than flying and wishing you were on the ground.

So that’s not what I’m here to entertain you with tonight.

Last night, you see, there was some genuine hysteria. As in laughing so hard I could barely stand. Self-inflicted. Stupid.

Because when you’re in your 58th day of self-isolation, despite the fact that you have sufficient food, shelter, entertainment, and so on, SOMETIMES you just need to do something really stupid to see what happens.

First of all, it had been five weeks since this little slice of insanity. And while I wasn’t all that shaggy, especially compared to April, the places where it was bothering me were a result of me doing a half-assed job back then, so those spots that tickle and annoy me WERE shaggy.

It was time to try again.

So out to the backyard I went, doing my best to basically just go evenly all over everything, concentrating this time on the odd spots behind the ears and at the nape of the neck and places where I can’t reach well and can’t see at all. I was trying to do better than last time, to learn from my previous experience.

It didn’t totally suck. (But jeez louise, those eyebrows! Anyone have any suggestions? Aside from, you know, nuclear fire?)

But this, like last time, was with the “#1 guard” on the clippers. If you’re not aware, when you’re getting a buzz cut of some sort, with the number indicating how close you want it cut. Smaller numbers are shorter. The clippers I bought came with attachments for #1 through #8. When I would go to the SuperCuts or Fantastic Sams or Great Clips or whatever, my normal was a #2. A #1 is shorter, but I figured I would give it a try.

And I thought to myself, for reasons I can only chalk up to advancing age, diminished capacity, or being cooped up too long, “What happens if you take that guard clippy thingie off completely? Do you get cut? Does it hurt? Or does it just cut your hair really, Really, REALLY freaking short?”

It’s that last one. And while it doesn’t hurt, the buzzy feeling goes right into your skull and makes your head vibrate. It’s a weird feeling. (The first of many for last night.)

Essentially this is a “#0” cut and it leaves your hair at about 1 to 2 millimetres, tops.

Well… If you’re going to do that, and then be still finding those little spots you missed that are going to be tickling, why not just go all the way?

So I shaved it.

But that’s not what caused the hysterical laughter. Granted, every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror I’m surprised all over again, but not hysterically.

No, it turns out that there’s one thing that no one has EVER mentioned about shaving your head.

First, as I expected, it’s stubbly and rough. I guess somehow I was hoping for it to be much smoother, more Uncle Fenster-like, but it’s more like fine grit sandpaper.

Secondly, I expected it to be colder than it is. That may have something to do with the temps in the 90’s here in LA right now, but inside where the A/C’s going full blast it still should feel colder than it is. It doesn’t. However, going out into the sun definitely feels hotter. I can see where I’ll have to be careful to not get sunburned, or make sure I’m wearing a hat.

Third, even being really careful, little knicks from shaving a place that’s never been shaven before hurt like a son of a gun. Doing some research online I see that sites that talk about head shaving recommend shaving it two or three times a week to maintain it – that might not be happening here. I’m sure the skin would toughen up and get used to it sooner or later, but that’s too damn much work. The reason I don’t grow my hair long is because I want to spend an absolute minimal amount of time on maintenance and care – this is even worse than long hair. No thanks!

Fourth, since I don’t really see it unless I pass a mirror, it just feels weird to my hand every time I touch it without thinking. Remember, sandpaper.

But I knew those things in general and while the specific details and sensations are no, they’re not completely unexpected. And none of them cause hysteria.

No, what caught me completely off guard and caused hysteria was the fact that it’s like freakin’ Super Velcro.

When I was getting out of the shower after cleaning up and I start to rub the towel across my head, it stuck. A full 20-G emergency stop. And I was howling.

Normally, even with short hair, there’s a decent coefficient of friction. (There’s a reason that shampoo uses “silky” as a selling point.) Rubbing your hand or worse, a cloth across your hair will generally be easy because the towel or cloth will glide across the hair smoothly.

With sandpaper-grade stubble and a big fluffy towel, it’s completely different and completely unexpected.

When I finally calmed down enough to finish drying off and I went to put on a T-shirt – same thing! Pulling it over my head was like dragging the shirt backwards through a paper shredder. And the hysteria resumed.

And then I tried to put on a sweatshirt, and it was even worse. That fluffy, warm interior lining of the sweatshirt practically glued itself to my head. Plus, it’s hard to pull it loose and pull it over my head when I’m laughing again.

There was a concern that when I lay down on my pillow and then sat up, the pillow might stick. It turns out not to be the case because the force there is normal to the surface of the pillow case, but when I try to simply turn my head while my stubbly scalp was in contact with the pillow – scrrraaaaaaaappppeeeeee!

So there you have it. You’ve heard it from me. If you ever shave your head, not only will it feel funny, look funny, get sunburned, take a lot of maintenance, leave you with little painful knicks all over, but you will have the equivalent of high-grade hooks all over your scalp and every piece of cloth out there will look like a sea of hooks.

I can’t judge if you’ll look good or bad like that, but you’ll be prepared. You can still laugh when you see yourself in the mirror. And that may make you hysterical as well.

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Planning Ahead

Given ALL that’s going on right now, you know, that whole “worst case it’s the end of the world” sort of thing, it’s often a serious roller coaster of emotions. It’s also tough to tell when you’ve come up with a truly funny idea or if you’re just borderline hysterical. (And about to slip over the border.)

Tonight, talking to a dear friend (as opposed to a “deaf rriend”) on social media I mentioned the new NEJM ethical guidelines that came out today. In short, when this COVID shit hits the proverbial health care fan in a few days (see Italy and Spain for example) there are going to be X number of ICU beds and respirators and X*Y dying patients, where Y could be a very, very large number.

It’s called “triage” and it means that the doctors and nurses will literally have to decide on the spot who lives and who dies. You. Can’t. Save. Everyone. So you have to figure out how to best utilize your available resources (time, ICU beds, respirators, drugs, medications) to save as many as possible as efficiently as possible.

It’s horrible. It’s not fair. It’s obscene. And it’s coming soon to an emergency room near you.

Having reached a certain middle age, I’m in a gray area at best when those decisions get made. To be blunt, if I’m a 64 year old with grown kids and I’m in a bed next to an otherwise healthy 24 year old who has young kids, the 24 year old is going to get a respirator and I’m going to get morphine to make me feel better, or not care.

(Time to really hop on that old hand washing routine with some enthusiasm, eh?!)

These thoughts and discussions in turn lead to filling out advance directives “just in case.”

So my thought was, “Where’s the box that says ‘either give me a fucking respirator and drugs or aerosolize me and spritz me into the HVAC system at the White House’?”

Maybe it’s the word “spritz.” Maybe it’s just been a really long couple of days. But that line is hilarious!

I’m not planning on going anywhere. But if I get dragged off by fate, I’m going to go kicking, screaming, and (hopefully) laughing. And wishing I could take a few of those evil GOP MFers with me.

No more fucks to give.

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“It’s Not The Years, Honey…”

“…it’s the mileage.” – Indiana Jones

Yes, that is my toe starting to stick out of the left shoe. Running shoes do that after enough miles.

We were reminded at the beginning of the week that:

  1. The COVID-19 virus situation was getting worse (based on the situation in Italy and how little was being done in the US)
  2. The stock market was expected to dive even further (based on the futures market over last weekend)
  3. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was still in the White House (which explains a LOT about items #1 and #2)
  4. We had the freakin’ time change to Daylight Savings Time to mess with our heads.
  5. There’s a Friday the 13th today! (I’m 100% ***NOT*** superstitious, truly, but hey, sometimes an omen is an omen, know what I mean?)

CONGRATULATIONS! We all survived it!

With all of that “doom and gloom” on the horizon, no one was even warning us that the NBA, NHL, MLB, NCAA, NASCAR, MLS, and every other capitalized sports acronym on the planet was going to pull the plug.

Hell, Disneyland is shutting down! I believe that’s actually mentioned in the Book of Revelations as one of the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse.

There might not be toilet paper in the stores (there probably is if you just bother to go to the smaller stores instead of Costco) but there are a gazillion alternatives – if you don’t believe me, read the words of someone much more erudite than me.

Let’s be smart as a society, even if we have a world class moron as a “leader.” Ignore what he says and listen to the actual doctors say. A key is going to be “smoothing the curve,” spreading out the growth of COVID-19 so that people who get really badly infected and need ICU beds will have them over four to six to twelve months instead of all needing them at once in four to six weeks. It’s not rocket science.

Wash your hands.

Stay home if you’re sick.

Help others in need.

Then wash your hands again. Seriously.

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Waiting Room Observations

There are a LOT of hungry, cranky folks in the gastroenterology waiting room.


Snake, garden hose, and alien probing jokes are not so funny here. At least, no one’s laughing and this is some of my best material. Where’s Dennis Wolfsberg when you need him?


On the other hand, being decked out in full Chiefs gear is a great conversation starter. Especially great is one older, shy, Hispanic lady. I suspect limited English, but I catch her glancing over at me and she finally says only, “Mahomes,” and gives me a thumbs up. GO CHIEFS!


As always, the television in here is annoying as hell. At least they’re not playing one of the those truly horrible and soul sucking talk/reality shows that litter daytime TV, but this home renovation thing on cable is no bargain. Why can’t we get cartoons, like some Looney Tunes or something? This place could use some cheer.


Oh, god, they could have the Impeachment coverage on! I love this home renovation show, it’s fantastic, great, engaging, enrapturing! Don’t EVER change that channel!



In recovery: Apparently there was a memo that any staff who wanted to could relax the recommended dress code a bit for today if they wanted to wear purple and gold or something Kobe Bryant related. They’re everywhere!


And we’re good! Mission accomplished. It’s been a year (not me, I’m just on chauffeur duty) and with luck it will be another.

Back to the salt mines!

 

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Before You Freak Out Over The Coronavirus…

…get your flu shot!

It’s indicative of how we’ve lost all ability to do any kind of sane risk management. The new Chinese coronavirus has killed 170 people, which could actually be ten times that – but it’s in a country of over a billion people. There are five, maybe six people in this country who have it and it’s front page news. They’re cancelling flights to China for weeks. Every news hour shows folks coming into US airports and being screened and quarantined.

Five, maybe six people.

And yet the flu kills, on average, over 8,000 people a year in this country.

Not five people. Or six. OVER 8,000. And in a bad year that can double.

Not sick. Dead.

Did you get your flu shot this year?

No?

Then STFU about coronavirus.

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Flu Shot

Get one.

If you have a legitimate, scientific, medical reason to not get one, such as you’re allergic or you have a compromised immune system, then of course, you don’t have to.

But if you’re one of the 99.9999999% of the population who don’t have a legitimate, scientific, medical reason to not get a flu shot, then GET A FLU SHOT!!

If you don’t know why you should do that, aside from the fact that having the flu really sucks and you’ll feel terrible for days, or the fact that the flu still kills almost 80,000 people every year in the US alone and you could be one of them, then read this about how your getting a flu shot will also help everyone out there not get the flu.

And if you’re truly foolish and clueless enough to be reading my site and want to bring any anti-vaxx bullshit in here, well…

(Image “liberated” from somewhere on the Internet sometime in the past several months from someone I’ve never heard of because I really liked it. Isn’t that what the Internet is for?)

(P.S. – yes, I googled the image, found thousands of folks who have used the background image, a few dozen that have this version with the text, but NO ONE who has any clue who took the original image or made the text version. If your google-foo is stronger than mine and you can find a reliable credit for either version, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to acknowledge it.)

P.P.S. – now that we’re done with that, go get a flu shot!!

I got mine yesterday. Lots of places, like Kaiser where I was killing time, have them for free. Your arm will hurt of about 1/3 of a second. It might be teeny, tiny bit sore in the morning.

GROW A SPINE! TOP IT OFF WITH A BRAIN! GET A FLU SHOT!!

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The Wisdom Of “Dune”

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert, “Dune”

I distinctly remember reading “Dune” for the first time. I was a high school senior and took a college-level night English literature class that focused on science fiction classics. I remember being just totally blown away by the scope and sweeping story line, but also with some of the more philosophical concepts and the detailed politics and strategies between the different factions.

The quote above was always the best and most memorable of all.

These days, fifty-four years after publication, you can get it on T-shirts and memes – in high school you could order posters of it to hang next to my Led Zeppelin posters.

Fear has its place. There are lots of things in life that are worthy of fear – hopefully most of us don’t encounter them on a regular basis.

Irrational, unnecessary fears are a problem. Too many of us (myself included) can get slowed down, even paralyzed into inaction at times, tied up in knots over fears of what might or might not happen in the immediate or near future.

Courage and confidence can be overwhelmed by such fears. The mind can believe us to be helpless when we are not. The gut can get twisted into knots when there’s no immediate danger, or even true danger in the short term. Problems? Yes, up to our asses in alligators some times. Danger and crises? No, they’re not real alligators, it’s just a figure of speech.

There may be problems at work, at school, with our health, with our families, and they may be serious. Are they an actual “DANGER” this minute? Today? Next week? If not, why be tied up and wasting all of that nervous energy today?

And we’re usually not without resources, not without alternatives, not without options. Sure, getting from here to a better place might well involve a gauntlet of truly torturous ordeals – but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get there. And if we’re already being tortured on a daily basis just dealing with our current day-in, day-out shit, isn’t the better long term plan to be working through those ordeals toward a better place.

The gut doesn’t always agree or understand. But the head needs to remember. Don’t let fear dominate. Let it pass through you. And then move on, with the head in control, not the gut.

At least, that’s the plan and good advice!

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