Studyin'

I can't believe it's been so long since I've had a proper update. 

I had my third day in London half drafted, but I've other things to talk about so maybe I'll get it later.  Perhaps I'll have some sort of Lenten vow (on top of my "work out every day" and "eat less crap" vague notions) to post more and London can be recapped then. 

Today, though, I talk about school. 

Back in 1997, I started the classwork for a Masters in Public Health. That spring, I took Epidemiology and Biostatistics. I was halfway through law school, and I was overjoyed to be studying something that didn't make me angry and depressed and just plain miserable. My school was a hippie school. Grading was qualitative rather than quantitative.  Public health people are by definition do-gooders. And I got along with my classmates much, much better than I did with those at the law school. Granted, I was still taking two interesting courses over at the law school (as well as an internship with the Harris County Attorney's Office).  But, I could just breathe better at the School of Public Health.  

That summer, I took a healthcare policy course while still at the County Attorney's Office, but for pay! Pitiful pay, but pay nonetheless.

And the next fall was the semester that I look back with awe. I took 20 hours of classes: 17 at the law school (which included a research position with one of my professors) and 3 at the school of public health. Plus another 10 or so hours of work for the county.  How the fuck I did that, I will never know. But I was highly motivated because I wanted to get the hell out of law school a semester early. And I did.  I graduated from law school in December 1997. 

The next semester was all public health.   Four lovely classes: Administration and Public Health, and Social and Community Aspects of Behavioral Health and my awesome awesome awesome Overview of Environmental Health.  And a really cool seminar on Dialog, Deliberation and Democracy.  Oh, and the bar exam.  I loved, loved, loved my classes, but by the end of the semester I was truly burned out.  And I couldn't find a job.  I had three more credits to finish up, plus a thesis, and then I was done.  But I didn't have it in me.  I'd been to four elite institutions of higher learning from the fall of 1991 to the spring of 1998.  I'd written more papers than I can count. I'd studied and worked and labored and done everything I could to learn. But for some reason, I couldn't get this one paper out of me.  

I went through a year and a half of pretty awful depression.  I wrote a paper on healthcare compliance for credit somewhere in 1999, but I just couldn't get motivated to work on my thesis.  I tried a few times, but I just couldn't find a topic that worked for me.  Most of my efforts were spent looking for a job.  

And so, when I was offered a job in December 1999 and  moved to California, I always sort of thought, Ok, maybe I'll finish later on.  

I moved back to Texas in 2002.  And I tried again two or three times.  I got pretty close in 2007, but then a paper came out that covered everything my thesis was going to cover.  I got dejected. 

Somewhere in that year, I got a letter saying that I was going to be dropped all together if I didn't register that semester and if I wanted to come back, I'd have to reapply.  I decided to let it go. 

Fast forward the early part of this decade.  A few friends had recently gone back to school to finish up projects that had been started decades ago.   My brother leaving for graduate school had parted by daring me to finish my masters before he finished his.  At a Planned Parenthood event a year or so ago, I'd heard from a current MPH student that the thesis was now optional, and you could take a class instead.  Finally, my friend James restarted a degree he'd started in the early 90s.  Most of his current classmates weren't even born when he was last in the program.  My husband decided that he would like to go back to school too. 

In September, having seen all these signs, I made an inqury at the School of Public Health about readmission.  I got an immediate e-mail back telling me that I had four days to reapply.  Holy crap! I quickly got a hold of my old advisor, who retired last semester but is coming back to teach this semester. And he wrote a letter of support.  I got all of the other documentation in right in the nick of time.  

And the next thing I knew, I was back.  The requirements had changed. Instead of 36 hours of class, I needed 45. But they now accepted more courses from the law school than they used to.  I was four hours short, but I needed to take this culminating experience class and an ethics course anyways.  I met with someone in student affairs who helped me fill out the paperwork that I needed to demonstrate that I'd taken everything I needed to. 

I was in New Student Orientation on January 8. And I've been in class for the last five weeks.  

Today, though, was when I truly felt back.  

Public health is a really broad discipline.  It can be anything from data analysis to community intervention to policy development to working in a lab.  We generally choose an area of inquiry, while having a passing knowledge of the rest of the discipline.   The capstone class is supposed to be a synthesis of all of the learning that we've spent our Master's study on.  There are a number of projects that we work on in the class, but we also are tested on the five core subjects of public health: epidemiology, bio-statistics, environmental health, health promotion and behavioral sciences, and management and policy sciences.  We have handouts that are basic reviews of the courses, but our professors encouraged us to "review our notes from those classes" to prepare for the tests.  

Needless to say, it's been over 15 years since I've taken any of these classes. I honestly started to panic. 

Fortunately, I'm anal, and I have all of my papers from my previous masters study on my computer (plus all of college, all of Oxford and all of law school). Bless my environmental health professor who made us turn in summaries of the lectures after each class.  And apparently, I wrote nothing for Social and Community Aspects of Behavioral Health, because I have nothing.  

So though I barely remember what a Chi-Square is or how the hell to do regression analysis (or hell, even a standard deviation), I began to sort through stuff last week. I decided that since I do the management and policy stuff every day, I'd ignore that and hope I wasn't missing out on some new theory.  And I went through the environmental stuff pretty quickly, really remembering how much I loved that class.  It was when I got to the behavioral stuff that things started to click.  I remembered specific lectures, and I remembered getting excited about a variety of theories.  Then, epi started coming back to me. Of course I remembered the well and John Snow (not a Game of Thrones reference), but I also started seeing stuff in the review material that I deal with peripherally every day: Clinical trials and research methodology.  Various rates and cohorts and case studies and more.  I looked at biostats, but I decided to punt on that aspect for now.  I had enough other stuff to worry about. 

So I studied for the first time in 13 years. Really studied.  The last time I studied for anything was the California Bar in 2000.  

Our first quiz was today.  It was done on the learning management software (this is new to me) during the first 30 minutes of class.  And the results were immediate.  I was well above passing.  We have to pass two of four of these tests to pass this course.  I'm much more confident that I'm going to have my masters in May than I ever have been.  I still have a ton of work to do, and I have to pass my ethics course as well.  But, I'm feeling good about this.  

And my over-education will be complete.  


For now anyways.  

Fuck Cancer

When Graham told me about MCA's passing, I was genuinely pissed off. I mean, totally. I remember hearing about the cancer a few years ago. I remember thinking, "aw fuck," when I heard that the Beastie Boys were on hiatus for awhile, but I totally thought it was something that was beatable. I mean, salivary gland. How hard is that to pinpoint?

Apparently harder than I thought.

Fuck.

I remember when License to Ill came out. I was in seventh grade, and it was the first hip-hop that I was really exposed to, first time I ever really heard sampling. I loved it. Everyone loved it. We played "Brass Monkey" and "Fight for Your Right" and "Paul Revere" and "She's Crafty" and everything else in our school dances. A lot more fun to dance to, without the awkwardness of having to choose a partner. We had no idea what the songs actually meant, and they had NO application to our lives, but we'd sing along as if we were making some sort of profound statement to Catholic middle schoolers.

The Beastie Boys from that point forward were always around. I'm an anomaly in that I think that I was more profoundly impacted by Check Your Head than I was Paul's Boutique and Ill Communication (though like most people, I truly love "Sabotage"). But, because of those three albums, I became adamantly on the side of sampling. The production that went into those albums is so fucking amazing that I tend to judge most remixing/sampling/layering on the work done by the DJs and producers who made those albums possible.

It was weird, in the 2000s, when I discovered that the Beastie Boys, like myself, were becoming middle aged. Their music wasn't necessarily cutting edge or ground breaking anymore, though I still thought it was pretty awesome. I faithfully bought Hello Nasty and To The Five Boroughs, and I loved them.

And even a my music buying habits changed from listening to CDs to MP3s, I kept up with the Beastie Boys. I remember thanking them for fighting the good fight in the wake of the various wars we embarked upon in the early part of the century. In 2006, when I started running with an iPod, I would listen to Check Your Head straight through. I probably know it as well as I know any full length album. I probably have a dozen mashups featuring Beastie Boys songs. It is probably cheating to use the Beastie Boys in a mashup, because their music is such a combination of so many different generes, and in some respect is often already a mashup, taking it apart and putting it back together into something new isn't difficult to conceptualize.

I finally saw the Beastie Boys in August 2007 at VirginFest. I said this about their part of the show:
Anyhow, the trash situation started getting bad right around the time the Beastie Boys came on, but I didn't really pay all that much attention to the ground because I was so enthralled by the music. I have a running playlist on my ipod that is entirely Beastie Boys based, and I felt strangely compelled to start running while listening to their set. I settled with dancing. Everything sounded great, the production of the performance was top notch, and the three MCs played off of each other beautifully. The DJs were also amazingly good. They probably played for an hour and a half, but it seemed to fly by. Their new album, which I've heard once but haven't bought yet, is entirely instrumental, and they played a few songs from it. But they also managed to cover some material from most of their other albums, too. The crowd loved them, and they seemed to love the crowd. Because my sister has been so involved with putting on heavily produced DJ parties lately, I paid a lot more attention to stuff like the mixing and the presentation on the jumbotrons. All were top notch. They came out wearing suits, but pretty soon MCA muttered something about being as hot as a mofo and everyone was pretty stripped down by the end.
It was a pretty awesome show. I remember I knew someone at the time who had connections to the Beastie Boys, and she'd said that this particular tour was pretty much a mobile nursery rather than party buses: Everyone was having kids now.

The next year, I used the "Intergalactic" video as my inspiration for Burning Man prep. I probably watched that video several dozen times while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with our Future Space theme.

I heard about MCA's cancer shortly after he announced it. It sounded, though, that it was a fairly treatable, and it was clear that he was still working, so I was hopeful that it was something that could easily be beaten. Last year, I assumed that all was well with MCA when the video to Make Some Noise came out. I, like the rest of the internet watching universe (at least so it seemed, what with the nearly 5 million views of a 29 minute music video) had watched it on YouTube, laughing at the Beastie Boys acknowledging that their youth had moved on, but still putting out some awesome music. MCA directed the video. Later on last year, I saw AdRock on Top Chef Just Desserts, so I figured that Beastie Boys publicists were busy working on promoting the new album.

All was well, because the Beastie Boys were around, and they've always been around. And I am not the only one that thought so: I mean, "Sabotage" at the beginning of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek felt to me totally appropriate and fitting for the scene, even 200 years later. Clearly Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman felt that the Beastie Boys are timeless. And that remix of the video using Battlestar Galactica clips? Fucking awesome.

I really was shocked this morning when Graham told me. I've been listening to Beastie Boys all day-because I have 3.5 hours of Beastie Boys with me wherever I go on my ipod--and it just pisses me off more than anything else. Graham is 41 years old, just 6 years younger than MCA. That's way too young. Way fucking too young.

Fuck cancer. Just dammit, fuck it. Totally unfair, totally destructive and awful, and UGH.

Will attempt to find some Brass Monkey at some point.

Horoscope

I have a silly horoscope sent to me every day. This was yesterday's:

Slow down and do things your own way today. Think of it as a revealing test -- those who get too frustrated with you are the people you need to avoid working with as much as you can.

I tried as hard as I could to avoid that guy, but it wasn't enough.

We slept last night. I was worried that we wouldn't be able to, that I'd be thinking too much about what happened, but the day was so exhausting that I didn't have any trouble falling asleep. I don't think Graham did either.

It was hard to find a comfortable position, though. My left arm still hurts quite a bit with all the scrapes and bruises, and I have a bandage on it from my wrist up to my bicep. I can't bend at the elbow very well. My shoulder is pretty bruised, and putting pressure on it or moving it above my head is pretty painful.

My neck is pretty sore, too. And we both discovered that we hit our heads really badly on the roof of the car during the roll over, though neither one of us lost consciousness. I have a weird bruise on my left ear and the left side of my skull. I assume that it's from my sunglasses. I wonder if I'll ever see them again. As the night wore on, I think these bruises and sores started to manifest, and I'd occasionally roll over and wake myself up with pain and discomfort.

Graham woke up before I did, and he seemed to be in pretty good shape, though his neck and head hurt. He also has a pretty banged up right elbow.

It took awhile to figure out how to get out of bed, but once out, I started feeling a little less achy. I did take a vicodin soon after I got out of bed, and a lot of ibuprofen.

Celosa was bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning. It really seems as nothing ever happened to her. She's been amazing. We think that her fur saved her from any injury. It's so thick and protective. We're thinking of taking her to see and thank the firemen who took her after the accident when we're more able to get around.

Our friends Don and Amy stopped by to check in on us and make sure we didn't need anything. Jose stopped by to pick up something he forgot and make sure we were OK. Claudia came by with breakfast and coffee. She bought one of everything at Guadalupana. I think we have enough food for the next week.

Graham talked to both of his parents, and my mom called to make sure we were ok today. She and my dad will be coming back later this afternoon.

Every now and then I think about what happened and I start to freak out a bit. I remember most of the accident itself, and I remember flipping over. I remember crawling around my car, looking to get out the back. I remember sitting there and freaking out about Celosa. I remember the unbelievable feeling of relief that she was ok. I remember being so thankful that everyone was ok.

And the support from our friends and family has been unbelievable. I sent last night's post to everyone I could think of that would want to know that hadn't already checked in via facebook or calling. Dozens of people have asked us how they could help, and we are getting lots of people checking in on whether we need anything.

I also think about how much I love Graham, and how I think something like this really drives that point home. We gave each other strength through out this trauma. We were united throughout, and we were never very far from one another. Our first relief was knowing that the other was ok, and it felt really good to describe him as my fiance when I was talking to everyone who asked us questions. We're good at making it through something like this together, and I'm overjoyed that we can make it through the horrible, horrible, bad, no good things together.

A panel of one

There's a really interesting discussion on The Incidental Economist, which I think is one of the best health policy blogs out there. Austin Frakt sort of gave the general reading audience something to think about with regard to end of life care. Mr. Frakt is a healthcare economist, and he's the primary author of the blog.

I don’t give assignments (how could I?) but this is the closest to one I will suggest. Listen to the Finding Emilie segment of the most recent Radiolab episode. It’s about a young woman’s near death and recovery after being hit by a truck. More than that, it’s about how her family participated in charting that recovery. How she was nearly left for dead, nearly sent to the nursing home for life, but, miraculously, is recovering. It’s an amazing story, the feeling of which can only be conveyed with the full audio-magic that the Radiolab team excels at.

After you listen, think about these questions:

  • What would you do if the story was your own?
  • Did Emilie receive too much health care? Not enough?
  • Did her doctors work hard enough? Did they make the right decisions?
  • If you were Emilie’s boyfriend or mother or doctor, would you have considered the cost of her care, how it was financed? If not, why not? If so, how would that have factored into your decision making?
  • If, ultimately, decisions most of us make in health are from the heart, how do we navigate the system rationally? Should we?
  • If you don’t think this is part of the crux of the health care cost issue, what is? Why do we love to spend so much? Are we thinking or feeling?


I can’t think my way through end-of-life issues. That’s not because I can’t think. It’s because that’s not what it’s about. In health, and perhaps in all things, if one disconnects one’s head from one’s heart, one never gets the full picture. One is left wondering why some people behave so, well, irrationally. How can they make such decisions?

The problem is not theirs, but ours. They’re not being irrational so much as just being human. Until we understand that we can’t understand anything.


The Radiolab segment is about 20 minutes long, and it is worth listening to if you have the time. In general, it tells the story of a girl who was hit by a truck, nearly killed and the lengths her family and boyfriend went to bring her back.

Aaron Carrol is the other main author on the blog. He also works in health care policy arena, but he's also a physician. He very rarely talks about being a doctor, and sometimes I forget that he's been in the trenches when he talks about health care policy. But he had a response to Mr. Frakt's query in the form of a beautifully written memory of providing care in the NICU when he was a resident.

These two posts made me think of my own encounters with end-of-life situations.

When I was in high school and college, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I took all of the courses, I learned everything I could about health care, and I worked summers in a hospital as a nurse's aide. This is a grunt job, a dirty job that probably would be featured on Mike Rowe's show if personal patient information wasn't so intimately involved in the job. Low pay, lots of cleaning and other work that no one else wants to do, and the very bottom of the totem pole. I've had to clean up pretty much every fluid out of every orifice from the human body.

One summer, I was working in one of the ICUs, and I helped take care of a patient who was recovering from heart surgery. I think she got a new valve in one of her heart chambers. She was 92 years old. What struck me about her was how lonely she seemed. Every couple of hours I and a nurse would go in to turn her so she didn't get bedsores, and I'd check her vitals every few hours, and clean her up if she needed it. And every day, the doctors would come by to check on her. But other than that, her human contact was minimal. She must have been in our unit for at least a month, and I never saw anyone come to visit her. We had other patients who were pretty sick, and they always had family nearby, to the point that the some of the family members knew our shifts better than we did. My shift was from seven in the morning to seven at night, and I did work some weekends. But I never saw anyone come in to visit her. Maybe they came when I wasn't around, late at night or on some of my off days. I don't know.

She also seemed . . . absent. She had all sorts of devices and tubes attached to her because she couldn't do most things for herself. I only saw her get out of bed once in the time I was with her. And she could barely communicate with the care team. She didn't watch TV or read books or listen to music. She did sometimes sing to herself, softly. Mostly, though, she just lay in bed, occasionally moaning.

A few weeks after taking care of her, she seemed to me to be getting better. She asked to get up to go to the restroom. Her color was a little better, and she seemed a little more alert.

The next day, maybe a day or two after that, she took a turn for the worse, and I saw a family member for the first time. She died shortly afterwards. She was the first person that I ever took care of who died, though not the last.

I remember thinking--at 17 or 19 or 21 or however old I was at the time--that I would never want to have my last month on earth be like that. It wasn't so much the cost of open-heart surgery and the month or so in the ICU, though that was considerable and troublesome to me. It was the lack of dignity, the lack of being myself, the isolation. I didn't feel that way about the other patients who died in the hospital in the time that I was a nurse's aide. Just that one.

In the months and years that followed, I recoiled at the idea of any 92 year-old getting a new valve in her heart. And then I wrote my senior thesis on rationing health care for the elderly, where I came to the conclusion that a flat out ban on care at certain thresholds is both unethical and not particularly helpful to the discussion of divvying out scare resources in health care. It was an interesting exercise to go through, because I had to justify my gut feeling with data, and I ended up discovering that I was wrong in making decisions for other people.

But I still instinctively feel that were a decision to be made for me regarding that sort of situation, I very much wouldn't want to die alone in a hospital, unable to do much more than lay there. And I think that everyone needs to go through that sort of thought process to figure out what sort "life" one wants to live. I'm not entirely convinced that the lady I helped take care of went through that process.

Home again!



and



Crianza is home! We picked her up at about 5:15 today, and she was overjoyed to see us. She's still on the steroids, but so far, everything's looking good. She went straight to her waterbowl when she got home, and wonder of wonders, she drank and didn't throw it up! She happily wolfed down a treat that Graham gave her when he took off on an errand.

She's still way too small. She's at about 21 pounds right now when she was 29 at her regular check up in March. And she looks a bit like a Franken-puli, because both arms were shaved (for IVs), her tummy was shaved (for ultrasound), her butt was shaved (for cleanliness), and she has a bandage on her tail (for cleanliness). But she seems to have energy and spirits, and she gave me kisses. She's moving around the house with a bit of a spring in her step.

We're still keeping a very close eye on her. She never got a definitive diagnosis, so lord knows if this whole cycle can repeat itself. Maybe it was something she ate and she got into a bad cycle of throwing up after wards? Maybe her digestive system is really sensitive? Maybe there's some sort of underlying disease or condition? We have no idea. But she's vastly, vastly improved since I saw her last on Monday, and I'm just happy to have my sweet, pretty puppy back.

Thank you all, from everywhere, for your unbelievable support through all of this. She's such a sweet girl, and having all of you guys out there rooting her on certainly helped me through this period. Nine days in the hospital is a lot for anyone, and that she's home and doing so much better is something I'm not taking for granted.

Celosa, of course, wants everyone to remember that she was here for us and, most importantly, was a very good girl throughout this whole ordeal. And she feels she should get some credit.

Here are some photos of the pretty puppy and her happy family. And thank you all again for being so supportive.

Crianza update

(Crianza was 10 months old in the icon picture. Relampago was 11 1/2. I turned 31 that day.)

Yesterday morning, when I called the vet's office to see how she was doing, the vet tech said that she was more or less the same. I was starting to dispair. My father, when I'd given him the most recent update earlier that morning, started hanging crepe. I swear the man's patients adore him, but he sometimes has the bedside manner of a brick when helping is kids out through rough patches.

At any rate, I was pretty morose at lunch time. Then I got a call from Graham. He'd stopped by the clinic to visit her, and apparently our vet was just about to call me when he got there. Crianza came into the room to see Graham, and she immediately hopped up on her hind legs to throw herself on Graham. And she showered him with kisses. She hadn't kissed anyone since last Tuesday. Graham and Crianza sat together for a good ten minutes waiting to talk to the vet.

Crianza was apparently still having trouble holding down food and water, but her electrolytes had stabilized, and she seemed much improved spirits-wise. After consulting everyone under the sun and still not figuring out what was wrong, the next course to take would be steroids. Hopefully, the steroids would help jump-start Crianza's appetite, so she'd eat AND hold down food and get her digestive system working again. Graham oked the steroids.

I think Graham started guilt tripping the vet then. Up to this point--because of work--he'd not really been involved in communicating with the healthcare providers. He told her how much Crianza meant to him. He told her about the amazing book we'd just received where Crianza was the star (along with Celosa). Crianza showed her how much she loves Graham by not wanting to be separated from him. Graham had to walk her back to her kennel in "the back" because otherwise she wouldn't go. I think he got his point across that Crianza HAD to get better.

Even after hearing that there's a plan in place for what to do next, I was in a foul mood yesterday. My father's comments and just the duration of this whole thing put all sorts of doubts into my mind. I was so scared that I'd lose her.

I was afraid to call this morning. Graham had said something about trying to stop by again today. But he got caught up at work, and he didn't think he'd be able to get to her. So at around noon, I called, fearing that the news would be bad.

The receptionist said that she'd just seen Crianza out, but she didn't know how she was doing. She asked me to hold. I was actually surprised that her vet was on the other line when she picked up. Today was supposed to be her day off. But she was worried about Crianza and came in specificially to check her out.

In addition to the steriods, Crianza was also put on a different anti-vomiting drug. This one apparently was more expensive than the others, but they weren't working. And apparently it was. She hadn't thrown up since yesterday. And last night she ate a little. She also pulled out her cathater again. But this time they didn't put it back in. So long as she continues to not vomit, she gets to stay off the flids. The orders right now are to feed her and give her water every few hours. Crianza's staying over another night, in part to make sure that things stay on the same course that they're on now, and in part because the vet wants to keep her on injectible drugs so as to not upset her delicate tummy. But I think things are starting to turn. They've tied back her hair into a pony tail. I think they're going to give her a bath and clean up her rear a little bit. Here's hoping she's not like her her sister over a clipping on the rear.

Alice Ann emphasized that since we still don't now know what caused this, we don't know if the steroids are fixing the root cause or just the symptoms. But right now, my pretty puppy is keeping food and water down, which is the most important part.

My father was with me when I got most of this news. He was really relieved to hear it. He thinks so long as she can hold down food and water, she'll be ok. I think so too. Here's hoping that continues.

We're not out of the woods yet, but maybe we can see the clearing? Graham may stop by after work if he has time. I may also. The vet's closes at six, so we may not be able to pull it off.

We're going on a date tonight. We got a $50 gift certificate to a steak house a few weeks ago, and we decided to make reservations for after the film festival. I'm looking forward to it, and I think I may actually be a little relaxed there.

Crianza update

So, on Saturday, things were grim-ish. Crianza's leg was really swollen from the fluids, and she was having trouble walking and didn't like me touching her. But as the day went on, she started feeling better about things.

I was still giving her pedialyte via syringe, and she seemed to actually not mind that much. After cleaning her up a bit, I left her alone for the most part, and I think she sort of appreciated that.

Sometime around eight or so, I carried her outside to pee. She peed, and then she pooped, and then she told me that she was going to walk back in on her own. I was overjoyed to hear it, and then, joy of joys, she went to her waterbowl and drank water on her own! After that, she decided she was going to my bed and she hopped up on her own. I started feeling much better about things.

The closing night party for Graham's film festival was that night, and I wanted to go to support him. Claudia came over so we could all ride over together, and Crianza was happy enough to bark a little when she came and she even licked Claudia's hand.

She wasn't out of the woods, though. She'd moved on to a frightening "throw up water" stage. And it happened almost every time she moved. And it wasn't really throwing up as it was "allowing water mixed with a little mucus to fall out of her mouth". I think her stomach got so small it doesn't hold much right now, so the back up comes right on back up.

Still, I went to the party, and I had a good time, though Graham was in full festival mode and couldn't really talk all that much. I came home, and we went outside again to pee, and we went to bed.

When Graham came home at some ungodly hour of the morning, she threw up all over him. I never got back to sleep after that, because I kept on listening for her.

Sunday, I devoted to her. By and large, we spent most of the day watching football and movies. I gave her some pedialyte at various points throughout the day, and I think she threw up 3/4 of what went down. But we got into a routine. Jose and Claudia came over to visit. And Graham was able to finally get off work at a reasonable hour and spend the evening with us.

We all went to bed at around 9:00 last night, but I never really got any rest. At around ten, she got up and went to the waterbowl. Then there were various bouts of throwing up. Graham got up at 4:00ish, having had more sleep than the last few nights combined. He moved into the TV room so she'd have more room on the bed. I kept track of which pillow cases needed to be washed. I don't think she ever got a good night's sleep, either, as she seemed to move around quite a bit. At some point she joined Graham in the TV room. I think I slept from 6:00 to 8:00 am.

I called the vet when I woke up, and she said that we needed to get a better ultrasound to see what was going on inside. I called into work and said I didn't know when I'd be coming in.

So off to the Gulf Coast Animal Hospital for a radiologist consult. The last time I was in that building was when Athena died, and the last time Crianza was there was when she ate 17 of Relampago's heart medications. I'm very glad that this hospital is here, but I very much never want to go there.

Crianza was in fairly fair spirits this morning, all things considered. Though in the last 12 hours or so, she'd developed a snotty runny nose. Everyone thinks it's probably because of aspirated vomit and she's not coughing at all, but pneumonia is yet another thing to worry about. She hopped off the couch to get her leash put on, she hopped into the car to go to the vet. She had no trouble walking, though she was going a little slow. She waited patiently while I checked into the hosptial, and she hopped on to the chair next to mine in the waiting room. One of the other wait-ees told her she was pretty. The vet tech came and asked a bunch of questions about what was going on. I answered them as best I could, and then she went away and I went home.

I cleaned up the house a bit, washing a variety of pillows, blankets and pillowcases, and then took a nap on the couch with the phone nearby and Celosa on my stomach. Celosa has been ridiculously awesome throughout this. At around one, my vet called to ask if we'd heard anything. At around one forty, the hosptial called and said that I could pick her up.

I talked with the vet tech for awhile and got a copy of the discharge summary. They didn't find anything in the ultrasound that could tell us what was wrong. The pancreatitis from a few days ago was gone. There's a tiny nodule on her liver that could be something, but maybe not. A few lymph nodes are flared, but that could be just a result of all the throwing up. Her small intestines are inflamed. There's a bit of liquid but not much else in her colon. She's lost even more weight; she's about 20 pounds now, when she weighed 29 in April.

They recommended taking a look at her lungs to make sure there's no pnemonia, and they recommended re-doing her bloodwork again to make sure that the liver and kidney functions are still normal. There was talk about maybe doing an endoscopy for further examination of the inestinal track, and maybe taking a biopsy, but that's down the road. And there's a slight chance of maybe Addison's disease (though I don't think she shows that many of the symptoms based off a websearch.)

I took her back to my vet at around two thirty or so, and we talked over some of this stuff. She'll get the x-ray and bloodwork, and they're going to be a little more aggressive in feeding her, to try to get that system working again. She'll be back on fluids, and she'll probably get a new antibiotic for the respiratory thing. If there's inflammation, maybe steroids?

And we'll see.

Graham's insisting on my sleeping tonight. And honestly, it will be a little easier without having to worry so much about Crianza's every breath. I haven't really had a good night sleep since at least Halloween, in part because of Crianza and in part because of the crowings of a young, time dyslexic rooster that lives in the yard behind ours. I may have heard Graham arguing with the rooster at four this morning when he took Crianza out for a pee.

Geek night is also at our house tonight, and we're watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Celosa will be overjoyed to have all her friends come over to play with her, and I think it'll be nice for Graham and I to have the company and support of our friends, too.

I can't help but think that she's turning a corner soon. As grim as all the news has been and as frustrating as the lack of a diagnosis has been, she's not lost her spirits entirely, and she seems to want to do what she can to get better. I take heart in the fact she's seeking out water. I take heart in the fact that she's walking on her own. I know how weak she is, but she still wants to do things herself. These things tell me she doesn't want to give up.

So I won't give up on her. And hopefully by Christmas, she'll be insisting that we give her more food so she can put the weight back on.

Thank you all for the kudos and kind words and suggestions. It means a lot to us, and I tell her about each and every one.

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with the vet. Chest looks really good, but we're still not sure where the runny nose is coming from. She threw up, but she'd been force fed, so the vet's not that surprised. One liver element is up, so they're changing the antibiotic protocol a bit to account for that. Her electroyltes are a little out of whack but they should be stabilized soon. Otherwise, the bloodwork is pretty normal. There's one white cell line that's slightly elevated, but nothing exciting. Again, she's a medical anomoly. One of the vet techs at her clinic called her the Medical Mystery Dog when she came in this afternoon.

Things that have been eliminated as far as I can tell:
Obstruction
Something wrong with kidneys
Something wrong with heart
Infection
Something wrong with lungs
Soemthing wrong with blood
Most cancers in the intestinal system
Pancreas seems to have settled down
Maybe weird liver thing, but very small evidence of that
Something wrong with the spleen would generally be accompanied with pain, no evidence of that

They're putting her on another anti-vomiting medicine tonight. Hopefully she can keep food down and get the digestive system working again.

Crianza's trials

I have a little time now to focus, so I can write this all out. Most of you who follow me on facebook know that Crianza has gotten very sick over the last few weeks, and we don't know what's wrong. I just picked her up from the vet, and she's not particularly happy with life right now, but the vet thought she'd be more comfortable and less stressed here than she would at the clinic.

I'm not sure when this thing starts. Maybe it was the week before Halloween when she stole a cupcake wrapper and ate it. At some point in that week she threw up for the first time. We're not sure when exactly it started, because dogs throw up sometimes, and it's usually not that big of a deal unless they keep on doing it. She kept on doing it. Halloween day, I made French toast, and as usual, she and Celosa got the leftovers. She threw up French toast. I thought that maybe she'd eaten too much. I think she threw up a few more times that week, because Graham and I started keeping a very close eye on her, and on Wednesday, she threw up some chicken I'd given her to settle her stomach.

Aside from the throwing up, there was nothing else wrong with Crianza. She had plenty of energy for walks. She was excited when people came home. She was interested in food. Her potty habits were fine. She was just a puppy who couldn't hold down that much food.

Graham drove me to the airport on Thursday morning, and she threw up in the car on the way. My mom took her while I was gone because Graham's been working on the film festival, and we were worried that none of us were around to keep an eye on her. My mom made her some chicken stock rice, and she ate some of that, and otherwise her trip to my parents house for the end of the week last week was uneventful. She returned to us on the weekend, and we kept an eye on her. She threw up on the couch on Friday evening, and again on Saturday.

On Monday, when Graham was leaving the house and giving the puppies treats, Crianza refused. This was beyond not like her, and we decided that she needed to go to the vet. I was working, and Graham's film festival was starting in less than 36 hours so he was crazy busy and didn't have a car that could take her. So my mom picked her up and took her to the vet. Crianza was severely dehydrated, and the vet admitted her overnight to get fluids back into her. But otherwise all of her tests were fine. The blood tests were perfect, there was nothing in her stool or urine. Her physical exam was fine. And even an ultrasound didn't find anything particularly noteworthy. She ate for the vet at some point while she was there. Overnight, she chewed off her IV, but otherwise it was an uneventful stay.

I picked her up on Tuesday evening, and she seemed overjoyed to see me. She hopped up to greet me when I walked into the office, and she pulled me to the car, giving me kisses and love. Crianza and Graham greeted her at home, and she was happy to race outside to pee and poop. She even was interested in a small piece of Italian sausage that Graham had been cooking for dinner. We figured that our dog was back.

Drinking, though was worrisome. I offered her milk, but she refused it. I offered her chicken stock, and she had no interest. On Wednesday morning, I made consume and she turned up her nose to it. And I started worrying about dehydration. I took the second half of the day off to be with her since Graham's film festival started that day, and I bought a bottle of pedialyte and syringe. That was miserable for both of us. I even smeared brie on her nose and she let it dry there.

The vet agreed on Thursday morning that she needed to go back in, so I dropped her off early in the morning, occasionally calling for updates. At some point on Thursday, the ultrasound showed that her pancreas was flaring up. The vet wasn't sure if it was a symptom or the cause, but it was a new element. Since it wasn't an issue when she'd come in earlier, it probably wasn't what caused her to start throwing up in the first place. But she certainly needed to stay overnight.

On Friday morning there was no real change, and it was clear that she'd be staying for the rest of the day. When I called Friday afternoon to see if I'd be picking her up, the vet said that she'd had a pretty nasty bout of diarrhea (which thus far hadn't been an issue) two hours previously, and she'd like her to stay overnight. She'd been eating some, but her appetite is waxing and waning.

Also on Friday, I finally got the pooch's dog book that we'd won at the DiverseWorks auction back in February. It is unbelievable and goes well beyond our wildest dreams. It's extremely personal and captures both of the dogs perfectly. Graham and I are in it also, and it means a hell of a lot to me that someone was able to capture my family so perfectly. It immediately became a prize possession, even though I've owned it for less than 24 hours.

The vet called at about 10:30 this morning. Crianza threw up in her kennel last night. This was actually the first vomiting since the previous weekend. The vet, though, wanted her to come home for the rest of the weekend, because she thinks that Crianza's pretty stressed at the vet's office, and being home may be easier on her recovery. I was given some medicine for her diarrhea Crianza looked miserable when I picked her up, and she was limping. The arm with her IV was swollen, and she was having trouble with it. She winced a little when I picked her up.

Celosa has been awesome this whole time, by the way. I think Monday was the first time she's ever been by herself before, and since then she's had to spend a lot of time alone. She's ALWAYS had someone around, person or canine. And she's been great. She didn't mess up anything in the house for the many hours she was here alone. She has been super sweet to her sister, not bugging her or harassing her. She's been sweet to me and Graham, and otherwise, she's been an exceptional puppy while all of this has been going on.

I'm supposed to keep an eye on Crianza and try to get her to eat and drink. Drinking is more important than eating. I got the compression bandage off her arm as soon as we got home, and I think that once the fluids in her arm are absorbed, she will feel a lot better on that score. And now it's a touch and go/wait and see situation. I have the vet's cell phone number, and I can text if something happens, but right now, she's resting on the couch and I don't have the heart to make her any more miserable than she already is.

I'm supposed to call the vet on Monday with a report. There's a vet radiologist that comes in on Tuesdays at my vet's clinic, and if she's not doing better by then, he can do a more thorough scan to see if anything's up inside her. All of her tests are really good, which is why this case is so baffling. Obstruction has been pretty much ruled out. The pancreatitis is probably not the primary issue. Musculoskeletal-ly, she's fine. Liver issues would have shown up on the blood tests. Eating bad stuff would have shown up in stool samples. Infections would have shown up in the blood counts.

I've known her vet since we were both kids. Her dad and my dad went to college together. She and my brother went to high school together. I trust her implicitly, and I know that she's going to do as much as she can to take care of her.

Graham is worried sick, but he's got another two days of film festival. I have today and tomorrow off, so I can keep a pretty good eye on her.

And we'll see.

Keep her in your thoughts if you're into that sort of thing.

Xeno zombie cyborg tooth

Until this tooth was pulled, I had no idea how much I used it for every day chewing. I'm on day seven of soft foods now, and I don't really see an end in sight. Yesterday, I moved away from soup towards old fashioned Kraft mac and cheese. Anything else I've tried that involves actual chewing has not really rendered good results. My antibiotics stop tonight, and I have a follow up appointment with my dentist next week to see how things are going and to pull the stitches. It's been hell trying to avoid poking at the hole with my tongue. After that, it's a few months of waiting to make sure that the graft material took and then the attachment of a crown to the metal root that they implanted into my jawbone.

"Graft material" what a pleasant, clinical term for bone and cell structure taken from somebody else. I pointedly declined to ask from whom mine was derived. It could be synthetic. But it's more likely animal or cadaver derived. This would make my new tooth not only a cyborg tooth, but a zombie cyborg tooth, possibly a xeno zombie cyborg tooth. Cool. I hope whoever had this bone material first doesn't mind too much that I'm using it. I also hope very much that my own body doesn't mind that I'm using it.

In other news, there's not much going around the home front these days. We're anxiously waiting for next week to be over, because we're hauling ass to New Mexico for ten days. Partially because it's cheap, partially because I need to burn vacation time, partially because I love, love, love New Mexico and haven't been in four years, and partially because Graham wants to get the hell out of the summer swamp and into the mountain air. We're not going to make it to Burning Man this year, which sucks, but we'll get over it. And I think having a non-Burner honest to goodness vacation will be good for us. I know that I can't wait to sit around and do nothing in the mountains for ten days.

Toothy

My tooth broke today. I was innocently sitting there, chewing gum, and the next thing I knew, my top right tooth, fifth back from the front, was tangled in the gum. It was a crowned tooth, and my dentist is in my building. It happened around 5:00 today, and when I called, he asked me to give him ten minutes.

He took one look and said, "Oh no." That's never good.

Apparently it cracked entirely and there's not enough left to attach a new crown to. My options are toothlessness, a bridge, or an implant. The insurance company apparently won't pay for a bridge, because it'd involve having to take apart two healthy teeth first. Toothlessness isn't an option, so I'm going for cyborg tooth.

Which is expensive. Even with insurance. Apparently my employer didn't buy the "implant included" policy, so I'll be forking over quite a pretty penny for the pleasure of having a periodontist drill into my jawbone, screw something into my bone, and hope the graft takes.

I'm hoping the insurance company will pick some of it up, but it's apparently not a good prognosis. I'm calling them tomorrow to ask about it.

Of course, I'm near the end of the fiscal year, so that could be good or bad. In the "bad" it means that my flex account is pretty much dead--$6.80 cents left. In the good, I procrastinated to nearly the last day to make my elections for the next fiscal year, which starts on Sept 1. So I can still sock away up to $5000 in advance and tax free. My dentist made it pretty clear that this needs to happen in the next week or two, so I won't be able to use it for all of the procedure. But there's a second stage that happens three to six months after the first stage. And I'm hopeful that the insurance company will pick up some of the extraction, implantation part. And hopefully this fiscal year. Next fiscal year, I think they pick up a good hunk of my bill. Still, I imagine this is going to cost me quite a bit.

I'm of course kicking myself over this, though I imagine that if it didn't happen chewing gum today, it would have happened eating steak tomorrow or whatever.

And Hi. I know it's been awhile since regular updating. I'm trying to figure out how to amend that. I miss this place a lot.

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Mar. 21st, 2010

Thank you Congress. This is something I've been passionate about my entire life, and I honestly never thought I'd see you pull this off.

We are a better country for this.

I hate cliffhangers

This is the sort of shit that scares the hell out of me. The CDC decided to mix up the relatively mild, yet highly contageous H1N1 (the swine 'flu that scared the crap out of everyone last spring and will end up getting about 55% of my friendslist sick this fall and winter) with deadly, yet difficult to transmit H5N1 (the bird 'flu that scared the crap out of everyone a few years ago and kills 60% of the people who get it). And they don't know yet whether introducing these two bugs in a petri dish blind date results in super-duper badness.
The CDC scientists don’t have results of their lab experiments in ferrets yet, said Michael Shaw, associate director for laboratory science for the agency’s influenza division. While the experiments could produce viable combinations of the two viruses, the real question is whether any could create a virus that would spread, he said. “Viability is one thing,” he cautioned. “Whether it’s easily transmissible is another.”

Other experiments conducted so far suggest the new H1N1 virus isn’t terribly prone to doomsday changes. Viruses can change through either mutation of genetic material, or by reassorting with another flu virus. The new virus is lacking certain characteristics that would allow it to mutate to become more virulent, said Nancy Cox, chief of the CDC’s influenza division. “It would be difficult for this virus to acquire some of those known virulence markers,” she said.

As for reassortment, so far the new H1N1 virus hasn’t shown a penchant for mixing with other common flu viruses. In a research note published in late August on the Web site PloS Currents: Influenza, scientists infected ferrets both with the new H1N1 virus and common seasonal strains of H1N1 and H3N2 flu. The new H1N1 pandemic virus didn’t reassort.

“Co-infection of seasonal and pandemic strains did not result in the rapid selection of reassortant viruses that either improved replication or transmission or exacerbated virulence,” they concluded. The federally funded study was led by scientists at the University of Maryland.

Whatever any of the experiments show, CDC officials warn against drawing definitive conclusions. “Influenza is really unpredictable,” Cox said.

As a general FYI, if you get the 'flu shot in the next few weeks, be aware that it does NOT contain any protection against the H1N1. Those vaccines have been approved by the FDA, but they will not be out until October. Ever since the eyball pain of 2005, I usually get a 'flu shot through my gym, though I may go through work this year.

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Bubbly diversion

So day three of staying at home sick.

I probably have a low-grade fever, but I don't have a thermometer to check. Graham said I was warm. The coughing is a new feature that I don't really appreciate as it wakes me up and makes me feel like I may never breathe again. Stupid cold.

In an effort to feel better, I drew a bubble bath about a half hour ago. I figured warm water, silky skin, relaxation may help. Celosa decided that she would help too.

Most of the other pulik I've ever had the pleasure of knowing were anti-bath. Relampago had trouble even walking into the bathroom if someone else was in there. Crianza flees to other parts of the house as soon as water is turned on. Zapata gets violent. But not Celosa. She likes the bathtub. When we take showers, she puts her front paws on the edge of the tub and nuzzles the shower curtain out of the way and sticks her head into the shower, licking the air in the hopes of catching some water. She's usually sopping wet by the end of the shower.

Once I settled into my bath, Celosa came over to see what was going on. She hopped up to look into the tub and was utterly fascinated by the bubbles. I figured "what the hell" when she started licking the bubbles, thinking that she'd end up spitting them out when she tasted them. But no, she liked the bubbles, and soon, my nearly seven month old puppy's face was just covered in soapy foam. When she started drinking the bathwater, I put a stop to things, and sent her to show her face to her dad.

She returned, though, and next decided to get in the bathtub with me. Somehow or another she hopped up on the edge of the tub, sitting quite precariously, and then she started making a move for my submerged lap. I think that she got her front paws a little wetter than anticipated and decided to abort the effort before she truly was in the tub. But still.

I don't know if the bath helped, but Celosa vastly improved my mood.

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Jul. 16th, 2009

I've been sick at home for the last two days. It sucks beyond the telling, but there's not much I can do about it. It's just a head cold, but it's damned inconvenient.

Registration for the Houston Marathon opens tonight at a minute after midnight. I'll register for the half-marathon, and next week (assuming I'm healthy), I'll begin training at least three days a week. Real training starts in September.

The thought of running right now sort of leaves me with an "eh" feeling, because I'm feeling pretty crappy right now and it's hot as blazes outside. Most of my initial training, though, will be done on a treadmill at my gym.

Three years ago, I told myself that I'd get my lightning tattoo after I finished the half-marathon (I got it, but I waited a year and a half to do it). This time around I want to get the fireworks underneath. I am pretty sure that I want to ask either Michelle Wortman or Hannah Aitchison to do it. We'll see, though...

Not out of the woods

Mistress Meow, aka Fräulein Feline, aka Athena Cat is a pathetic little animal right now.

She came home on Saturday morning, and the vet made it very clear that she's not out of the woods yet. She'd pretty much slept the entire time she was at the vet's office, but they let us know that she'd eaten a little, with encouragement, while she was there. She'd been well rehydrated, having been on the IV for about 36 hours, but we needed to take her home. She's been off the antibiotics, and the vet thought that if they were going to kill the infection, they already would have by now. It's very likely that the antibiotics made her sick to her stomach in the first place. The vet told us that we could go back and learn how to administer subcutaneous fluids by injecting saline under her skin at home if the hydration issue comes back. We came home with two kinds of prescription cat food and some potassium pills. Still, she looked a little more alert than when we'd left her there.

We've gave her a room of her own. Fresh kitty litter in her box. Bowls of food and water on the ground, so she doesn't have to jump up. Graham even brought the scent diffuser from the other room into her room, so her area smelled nice. I opened one of the cans of cat food for her, and spooned out a little bit for her to eat.

She explored her room a little when we got home, and she checked out the litter box. And then she went to sleep. We weren't really expecting much from her, because this was a ridiculously stressful situation for her. Still, it was distressing to see that she's still a sick little kitty cat. She's so skinny now, when she used to be what Graham described "a nerf ball on stilts." Both arms got shaved at the vet's office, and you can really see how skinny she is. Her meow is a pathetic little sound that barely gets out. I assume it's because her throat is so dry and because she's so weak.

At any rate, we left her alone for a few hours so we could do the art car parade.

When we got home, she was under the coffee table, which is her new favorite place to hang out. I think she finds it to be relatively safe. She hadn't touched the food we left for her, and I was beginning to get worried.

We went to an art-car after party for a few hours.

Athena still hadn't touched her food, and I started searching the internet for recommendations on encouraging a cat to eat. I ended up going to the grocery store for some baby food, and I prepared her dishes of baby food, tuna fish juice, and two kinds of prescription cat food. Finally, after sending me into a near panic, she nibbled on the second variety of prescription cat food. She also drank some water.

Yesterday, Athena and I settled into a routine. I'd essentially force feed her a bit of the prescription cat food that she'd liked, and she'd decide to eat a little of it after having a bite or two. We did this three or four times over the course of the day, and I think she ate a little over a teaspoon total. It's not much, but she's not really capable of eating that much. Still, I'm hopeful that she'll get some of her energy back, and this particular cat food is the a/d food from Science Diet. It's supposed to be "for the Nutritional Management of Pets Recovering From Serious Illness, Accidents and Surgery." It's high calorie, and hopefully, she'll respond well to it over the next few days.

This morning, I found her next to a water bowl, and it looked like she'd been drinking quite a bit. I haven't seen any signs of her not being able to hold down her food. Athena and I went through our feeding ritual again. She wasn't particularly happy to see me, and I'm not too thrilled with the way we're having to do things now, but she ate a full half-teaspoon of food this morning. I think we'll be able to get her to eat a little more than she did yesterday.

Still, it breaks my heart that she can barely meow. It's hard to see her like this, when usually, she's wandering around, talking up a storm. She bugs Graham all the time, insisting on getting as much attention as possible from him, especially when he's on the computer.

We'll see. I suspect we'll know one way or another in a few days.

In other, "not out of the woods" news, I pulled something on Friday. Graham and I went to help out with the art car, and I chose the task that I thought was the least strenuous: stapling a cloth around the piano to make it look purty. I guess that was too much, because on the way home, I felt a twinge in my side that I hadn't felt in a few days. It persisted throughout the parade on Saturday and most of yesterday. I can still feel it today.

I think my healing will a lot easier than Athena's.

Athena Cat

So the AthenaCat has been a source of much concern over the last few months.

Her saga overlaps mine to some extent, but it really pre-dates it. Back in January, we took her in for a general health checkup, and she passed with a small caveat that she lose about a pound. She weighed in at 11 pounds, and the vet said that she could probably stand to lose one. Other than that, everything looked good.

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May. 6th, 2009

It's so weird not being healthy. I've always been healthy. I've never had any sort of problem with my general state of health, aside from struggling with my weight.

I know it takes awhile to recover from this sort of thing, but it's frustrating. Yesterday, I left a meeting and walked to the train stop to go back to my office. A train was pulling up to the station. Ordinarily, I'd just run to catch the train, but I knew I couldn't. It was frustrating as hell to watch the train pull up, empty, and pull away again while I was maybe half a train length away from it. Another train pulled up ten minutes later, and it wasn't that big of a deal, but it was one of those little things that reminded me that I'm not quite right yet.

On Saturday and Sunday, my friends got together to work on our art car. The parade rolls this coming weekend, and we had a lot of work to do on her to get her ready for the show. I didn't even go to the warehouse, because I knew that I can't do the stuff that's needed for the car right now. I can't lift more than ten pounds, and I can't really crawl around and get under things. I'm going to the warehouse tonight to help out a little, but I've been sworn to take it easy. That's not really in my nature.

I am going to try to go back to the gym next week. I don't know what I can really do, but this sitting around has been ridiculously frustrating. Especially because I was in such great shape when I got hit with this thing. I had just gone through a rigorous bootcamp, I was about to ride 180 miles on my bike, and I was feeling good about my increased endurance. I know that the second I hit the gym, I'm going to be back to huffing and puffing when I do cardio and I won't be able to do much in my core until I feel a little better.

But still, I guess this thing has sufficiently scared me to take my health a little more seriously. I'd been kicking around the idea of going for a full marathon next January, and I may still do that. Regardless, I'll start training as soon as I can for the half. Which means actually going to the gym every day and getting at least 45 minutes of good cardio in. I'm going to have to take it easy at first, until I'm fully healed from this surgery. But, I know that working out will increase my energy level and I'll feel better if I'm doing something active.

At any rate, this is all mainly whining about myself, but I've never gone through anything like this before, and it scared the living crap out of me.

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Apr. 29th, 2009

Today is my first day back at work. I'm a bit tired, and I'll probably leave earlier than I usually do, but I'm glad to be back to a routine. It sucks not having my pain medication, though. I'll take it when I get home and probably take a long nap to go with it.

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And more...

I'm still at home. Tomorrow I go to the doctor to find out what my fate is for the next few days. I think they'll probably let me go back to work, but I'm not entirely sure. I'm still in a bit of pain, but it's not nearly as bad as it had been. Progressively, I'm better every day. I'm supposed to go to Austin on Friday. We'll see tomorrow if I can still do that.

Yesterday, I went out for the first time since this whole thing started. My friends Michael and Stephanie threw a fried chicken party, and a good hunk of my friends were there. It was nice, though by the time we left, I was definitely feeling a little peaked.

Swine 'flu apparently is upon us. I'm not surprised, and I'm not particularly worried. I know that my great-grandfather died in 1917 during the 'flu pandemic in Galveston. But everyone else in his family survived, including my grandmother. And I studied epidemiology when I was working on my masters in public health. Hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze, and keeping abreast of your own health should keep things relatively under control. Panicking won't.

At any rate, there's not much I can personally do about it, and my exposure is ridiculously low since I haven't been anywhere in over a week. Still, I work in the medical center, so I imagine when I go back, they're going to be very strict about making sure people stay home when they get sick.

Revelation

For years now, I'm talking at least since law school, I've had this ache in my lower shoulder, right below my right shoulder blade. It's been a dull throb that occasionally got to be really bad and shot up my right arm all the way to my hand. I always assumed it was the result of the way that I had set up my computer in law school, so I had to turn my head to the right to look at the screen.

But now, it's gone. I sort of feel a phantom pain where it used to be, but the pain itself is gone.

So I think that the pain was the only real symptom of my gallbladder issues.

What's struck me about this whole mess is that I never felt bad. I never had any problems with my digestive track, I never had any issues that would have made me think gallstones before. But my dad said that he talked to one of the surgeons that performed the operation yesterday, and she said that she's never seen so many gallstones before. Obviously, this has been going on for quite some time, though since I don't know what kind of gallstones they were, I don't know what was causing them.

I think that my shoulder pain was related to the gallstones, and I think that I may never have to deal with that pain again. I also think that maybe a massage that I had two weeks ago may have sped things along. I told Oscar to really work hard on that shoulder, and I remember it hurting a lot more than usual after the massage. Maybe he moved things around such that one of the stones moved someplace where it started irritating a duct, things got inflamed, and all bets were off.

The start of this whole adventure was back pain. It was in a different location as my shoulder pain, but it was reminiscent of the shoulder pain.

At any rate, I'm going to be very interested to see how my shoulder is from here on out. And if that shoulder pain is gone for good, I'm going to be a very happy camper indeed.

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'stina

'stina is, surprisingly enough, a lawyer from Houston, Texas who rambles about quite a number of things.

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