Thursday, July 31, 2003

These nurses are going to be the death of me.

I called my doctor's office to find out what I'm supposed to do when my Vicodin runs out. Should I have the prescription refilled? Should I try Ibuprofin? I got transferred back and forth between three people who were of no help at all.

"do you want a refill?"
"I don't WANT a refill, I want to know if it's OK to try something else or if I have to worry about side effects."
"Hold on.... Just get the prescription refilled."
"OK, I can't drive, so if I can use Ibuprophin that would be easier."
"There's no one who can pick up the prescription for you?"
"That's not the point. The point is that I don't know what medication I'm supposed to be taking. I don't know what I'm supposed to be worrying about. You guys are the doctors, you're supposed to be telling me what I need to do."
"Hold on.... You can try Ibuprophin."
"And if that doesn't work?"
"Then you can have your pharmacist call us to approve a refill."
"Are you open during the weekend?"
"So I'll need to switch to Ibuprophin now, to see if it works by tomorrow, in case I need to get the Vicodin refilled?
"I guess."

I don't think I'm asking for too much. All I want is for people to DO THEIR JOB. I'm their patient, you'd think they want to at least give the illusion of caring.


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3:30 in the morning

I've been trying to wean myself off the Vicodin because a) strong painkillers can be addictive and b) I only have 4 pills left. I'm down to taking just 2 pills a day: one in the morning and one at night. I actually feel pretty good for a couple of hours after popping the pill. I'm able to walk around pretty well and can sit and stand with just some mild discomfort. But then later in the day it's just a slow and steady decline. In addition to the pain coming back when I move, I'm starting to get really bad headaches, a little dizziness and even some nausea. The last few hours before the next pill I pretty much have to just lie still on the couch. Even if I turn my head too quickly it makes me dizzy.

It's a constant cycle. At noon I'm thinking "I feel great, I'll be back on my feet in just a couple of days", then just a couple hours later I get reminded that I'm only feeling good artificially. My post-operation doctor's appointment isn't until Monday. I'll pop my last Vicodin Friday, which means I have to make it through the weekend on Ibuprofen or Excedrin or Jack Daniels.

I am aware of these things:
It takes time to recover from surgery.
I don't have any known complications, so I should be thankful that everything went smoothly.

I just want the swelling to go down and the headaches to stop and have everything back the way it was. Except for the guts spilling out part.


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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Lisa "Bob Hope is Dead" from work isn't completely crazy... she gave me a wicked-awesome get-well bag before I left. I didn't even know you could get Mountain Dew racing cars. Suh-weet.


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Tuesday, July 29, 2003


Q: What's 5 inches long and can only be seen when I pull down my pants?
A: My scar.

Yes, it's big and ugly and purple and swollen and I hate it. I know it won't look quite as bad once the swelling goes down and the skin coloration goes back to normal, but still... yuck.


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Monday, July 28, 2003

What About Bob?

To recap: I'm on a 5-6 hour cycle with my pain medication. Waking up is the worst part of the day because it has been up to 10-11 hours between pills. I leave a Vicodin and a laptop on my nightstand; when I wake up, I take a pill and then fire up the wireless internet connection so I can surf for about 20 minutes while I wait for the pain-killer to kick in, and then get out of bed. This morning, I went online and learned that Bob Hope was dead.

Side note: there is a crazy lady in my office, I'll call her "Liza", who plays a perverse game with her brother to see who can be the first person to call their mother whenever a celebrity dies. Hey, I didn't make the rules, that's just what they do. Bob Hope has always been the Brass Ring, the Golden Snitch of the game. Whenever someone died - Buddy Hackett, Katherine Hepburn, Mr. Rogers - we would hear about Bob.

Back in bed, at this point I didn't know if Mr. Hope had been dead for 5 minutes or 5 hours. My Vicodin hadn't kicked in yet, but I knew I had to call Lisa - I mean Liza. I climbed out of bed and staggered to the phone. Ow. Ow. Ow. It was sort of like a horror movie where the hero gets slashed by the monster and then struggles to get to the gun to save himself. I made it to the phone and called the office, and her assistant answered. I'll call him "Curtis". (and why wouldn't I? That's his name.) This was no time for pleasantries, so I just yelled into the phone "Bob Hope! Bob Hope! Bob Hope!"

Alas, I was not to be a hero today. Curtis just laughed and said "you're way too late." Liza had already spoken to her mother, and won the Golden Snitch. I crawled back to bed, secure in the knowledge that this Morbid Madness had finally come to an end.

Yeah, right.


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Saturday, July 26, 2003

I'm Alive

I had my hernia surgery Wednesday - I mean for my "himnia".

Bill Cosby has a classic stand-up routine where he explains the pain his wife went through during childbirth. He describes it like this:

"Imagine taking your bottom lip, and pulling it up over your head."

I hate to compare my experience to the miracle of life, but with all due respect to Mr. Cosby perhaps I could describe how I feel this way:

"Imagine taking your scrotum, and pulling it up over your head."

I'm on about a 6-hour cycle with my Vicodin, so if I get a good night's sleep it could be 8 or 9 hours between pills. That's far too long, and I become almost completely immobile. I feel OK lying down, but when I try to walk it's like I can feel the internal stitches tearing apart. In the back of my mind, I was sort of thinking that I'd be mostly back on feet within a week; not even close.


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Tuesday, July 22, 2003


Last night in bad I had my first real panic attack regarding my surgery. The recovery is going to be the most painful part, but I'm not worried about that. The slicing and dicing is going to be the most gory part, and I'm not worried about that either. The big thing that worries me is the anesthesia. I've never been put under before, and I just don't get it.

The way I see it, there are 4 primary levels of consciousness:

Awake Asleep Unconscious Dead

Every day, we all slip smoothly and effortlessly between the first two stages. (well, it may be effortless for YOU; it takes a bit of work for me.) But with anesthesia, the doctors want to instantly jump from stage 1 to stage 3. I don't understand how they know how to do this. Everyone is different; if I skip my Mountain Dew today, won't my body chemistry be different than it was when they did my bloodwork, and shouldn't the anesthesia dosage be different? If they don't give you enough, you'll wake up during surgery. That would be bad. If they give you too much, you're dead. That would be worse. The whole thing just seems too much like voodoo for my comfort.

Try spelling "anesthesia" without looking. Even after looking it up I can't do it.


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Monday, July 21, 2003


I go into surgery on Wednesday. On one level, I'm actually looking forward to it. It's like having an annoying roommate who causes nothing but trouble, and then having him move out.

On another level, my stomach is already getting queasy. I'm less nervous about the actual surgery than I am about the waiting time beforehand, that I might throw up or something in the prep room. That would be tacky.

Maybe that's why they give people tablecloths.


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Sunday, July 20, 2003

One little, Two little, Three little Native Americans

Another scorching day in Los Angeles. The perfect time to lounge around in the sun, catch up on the latest summer movies, or make offerings to the Spirit Guardians of the Four Directions who watch over the sacred lands of our ancestors. What, like you've never done that.

Long story short, I'm involved with an environmental group that trying to stop a development project in the Los Angeles wetlands. This area was also once the home of a local indian tribe, so their people are also trying to stop the project. They held a vigil Sunday afternoon, and invited the community to join them

There were about 50 of us standing in a circle just outside one of the gates of the already-plowed-over work area. The elders led the group in traditional songs, prayers, and offerings to the Spirit Protectors. Although technically it's a sacred ceremony, it wa svery casual and open. Some sort of smoking ember was passed around for each of us to smell and cleanse our spirits with. The ember was placed in a seashell in the center of the circle, and we were all given a handful of tobacco to offer to the makeshift shrine. It is their way of calling upon their ancestors who are buried in the land the developers want to build upon. It sounds a little hokey, but it was kind of cool to experience the tradition of another culture.

I enjoyed seeing the Indians give tribute, but I wasn't too thrilled about some of the white environmentalists who all of a sudden seemed to get spiritual and do little dances in the smoke. I was thinking "hey, YOUR ancestors are buried in Laguna. You wanna be cleansed? Drive down the coast and suck on the tailpipe of your SUV."

Following the vigil (which lasted probably 90 minutes) there was an open discussion regarding what was having with the development. The Indians seem to have a pretty good grasp on the reality of the situation and how they needed to work within the system to make changes (Spirit Ancestors not withstanding.) But every now and then one of the environmentalists would go off on a little rant about how it's all the government's fault and we have a leader who wasn't elected Blah Blah Blah. White Man first takes land from the Indians, then White Man takes discussions from the Indians.


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One in a million shot

Well here's something that doesn't happen every day. I have an old AC car adapter I wanted to try - the kind you plug it into your cigarette lighter and it gives you an outlet to use. Now if you're like me, and who isn't, you don't have cigarette ashes in your ash tray. Instead, it is filled up with change, candy wrappers, and other assorted trinkets.

I removed the lighter plug from the ashtray, and somehow a thumbtack from the overfilled ashtray fell into the socket. As I try to remove it, a dime fell in and managed to slide underneath the thumbtack and land flat on the bottom of the lighter plug. Then as I tried to remove both of those, a metal wrapper from a Cadbury Cream Egg fell in. Mmmm... Cadbury Cream Egg... I don't know if it was the dime or the thumbtack or the wrapper, but something completed a circuit somewhere and ZAP! There was a bright spark and flash of light, and I blew out the fuse to my radio.

The socket for a cigarette lighter is only about 1/8 inch wider than a dime. You'd be amazed how difficult it is to remove a dime from it.


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Thursday, July 17, 2003

News Flash

Last year, the big rage in the media was to publish photos of airport security screeners stoping little old ladies and babies. Personal Liberty Activists started screaming bloody murder, mocking the procedure and saying "do you REALLY feel threatened by this little boy?!!" Well as it turns out, yesterday in Orlando airport security found a loaded gun hidden inside a 10-year-old's teddy bear. Had they simply waved the precious child right through the checkpoint, as the Freedom Blowhards wanted, we could have easily had a plane crashing into Disney World. I'm sure the kid would have loved returning to the park, but probably not inside a 500 mph fireball.

Our safe and cozy lifestyle no longer exists. Get used to it. If being delayed an extra 5 minutes - or an hour - at an airport means my plane isn't going to smash into the Sears tower, well I'd say that was time well spent. Flying is a privelege, not a right. If you don't like the security procedures, stay home. The airports are crowded enough as is.

Story with Killer Teddy Bear pic


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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

DMV trip

The world does not need another blog entry about how awful the DMV is. So instead of just complaining, I'll offer a solution. They should have a $10 express window that guarantees service within 30 minutes. Of the 200 or so people waiting with me at the DMV today, there is no doubt in my mind that at least 20 would gladly pay the fee. The money would easily pay for additional staffing, people who pay the 10 bucks would be thrilled they don't have to wait 2 hours, and those people would be removed from the line of people who would rather not pay. Everybody wins.

Also, the DMV had a posted wait time of 30 minutes. It took 45 minutes for me just to get a number that would let me wait in a second, 1 hour holding pattern. By extension, I think that the posted speed limit of 65 mph means we should be able to do about 120.


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Car trouble brewing

I'm getting a new car. Really.

I first announced I was getting a new car in 1998, when my current car was "only" 10 years old. But then a friend of mine told me "are you sure you don't want to wait a year until you can buy a 2000 model?" He was so right! I would have hated getting a car that was SOOO last century. (remember, this was back when we thought the new millenium was cool. Boy, were we suckers.)

In 1999 I spent all my money on a condo. Stupid mortgage companies. Then in 2000 I lost a lot of money in the stockmarket burst. Stupid dot-commers. Then in 2001 September 11th depressed me. Stupid terrorists. So year after year I had one excuse after another why I didn't get a new car. Now my car is 15 years old, has no air conditioning, and makes all sorts of strange noises.

I finally started to move forward with getting the car. I picked a model, and yesterday I called a dealer to make an appointment for a test drive. As I was getting my things together to go out for the test drive, I noticed my drivers license has expired (another birthday surprise). No valid license, no test drive. Fortunately I discovered it before I left and not at the dealership.

Off to the DMV.


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Monday, July 14, 2003

Second Opinion

A friend from work (I'll call her "Rhoda") told me something very interesting. It appears that my medical condition has been mis-diagnosed. Women get hernias. What I have, is a himnia.

Stupid doctors.


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I'm Sorry Dave

My poor TiVo is going to explode.

I had some people over Firday night, and one of them asked if I would be able to TiVo Sluts In The City for her, because she didn't have HBO. When I went to set it up, on-screen it displayed that I had already given the show "Three Thumbs Down." I'm basically telling my TiVo "I hate this show, make sure you record every episode".

Isn't that what made HAL go crazy in 2001?


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Friday, July 04, 2003

Under attack

The view of fireworks from my balcony.


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Thursday, July 03, 2003

I turned 35 today. I am now closer to my 40s than to my 20s.

Your birthday is supposed to be the one day of the year that you get to do whatever you want. Some people go out to fancy dinner. Others go to a club, or a movie, or bowling. As for me, I go to the hospital for a consultation about my hernia surgery.

My mechanic treats my car with more care than people in the healthcare biz treat patients. The waiting room was a cross between the DMV and a McDonalds Drive-thru. Rather than a nice open recpetion desk, they had this claustrophobic 2-foot window in the wall that you walked up to. If you weren't standing directly in front of it, you couldn't see anything on the other side. Pretty much the only thing the receptionist said to me was "Name?" and then handed me a bunch of insurance forms to fill out.

The nurse brings me into the exam room and tells me that I'll need to change. I assume she'll give me a hospital gown to put on. Instead she hands me - a tablecloth. You know those disposable paper tablecloths you buy for picnics or birthday parties? I swear, that's exactly what she gave me. How the frak am I supposed to change into a tablecloth?! I give her a strange look, as if to ask "how the frak am I supposed to change into a tablecloth?" She looks back and says "um, I guess maybe you can just cover yourself with it or something." And leaves. Well, I was not about to sit in an exam room for 20 minutes wearing nothing but a tablecloth, waiting for a doctor to show up. I defiantly refused to wear the tablecloth, and stayed dressed. The doctor would just have to wait for me to take my pants off. Ha. (there's a strange sentence I never thought I'd say.)

The doctor comes in, starts the exam and is asking me general health questions. He asks how old I am, and I say "well, today's my birthday and I just turned 35". I expected maybe a little "Happy Birthday" or the obvious joke "gee, what a great way to spend your birthday, in the hospital." Instead I get "uh-huh... so you're generally healthy?" Thanks doc.

The good news is that most hernia operations today are done laproscopically. That's where they just make small incisions and insert teeny-tiny cameras inside you so the surgeon can disturb as little of your guts as possible. The procedure is quick, relatively painless, and has a short recovery time. The bad news is that I have a large hernia, so I need to have the traditional chain-saw surgery. It will leave a much larger scar, will have a much longer recovery time, and will be much more painful.

Happy Birthday me!


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Wednesday, July 02, 2003


What is this object?

A) A promotional give-away from the X-Men movie
B) A targeting scope for a paintball gun
C) A movie theater cup holder

If you guessed C, you're correct. What am I doing with a movie theater cup holder? Funny story.

My Old Friend Travis invited me to see Terminator 3 after work with him and My New Friend Kim. Of course, I started stressing out over what time to get there, how to get good seats, etc. I got in line 90 minutes early and had a pretty good position, but still not ideal. So once they started letting us in I bolted past as many other people as I could and got us some decent seats. My Old Friend Travis thought I was a bit far back, so by the time he and My New Friend Kim came into the theater they took the row in front of mine.

I had to climb over the seat to move up a row. There are good ways to do this, and there are bad ways. When climbing over movie seats, the armrest is a good location to place your foot. As it turns out, the cup holder is not. I stepped on to the cup holder and CRACK! it snapped off under my weight. I collapsed into the next row, and on my way down smashed my forehead on Travis' still-intact cup holder. I stayed on the floor for a few seconds, waiting for the rush of seething pain to come over me. That never happened; instead I had a slow, growing throbbing sensation over my eye.

From My Former Friend Travis' perspective, he saw me fall to the ground and heard a loud snapping noise, and logically thought that I had broken my ankle. He reacts by bursting into laughter.

What is this?

A) An infected mosquito bite
B) A popped zit
C) A movie-theater-cup-holder-induced welt

Travis doesn't understand why I stress out when he invites me to the movies. They're dangerous.


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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

In Your Face Dr. Atkins

I'm going to write my own diet/health book; I got my results back from Starfleet Medical.

For starters, there's the low blood pressure of 102/70.
Cholesterol level 176 (200 is normal)
LDL ("Bad") Cholesterol of 111 (under 130 is good)
HDL ("Good") Cholesterol is 47 (over 40 is good)

So my diet of Mountain Dew, Oreos, and chocolate frosting is paying off.


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