Saturday, June 21, 2014

surgical aftermath

I've been intending on writing an update for several weeks.  What's been the cause of the delay?  Mainly, I've been exhausted a lot.  Also, since I didn't really have leave to use, I've trying to work in spite of the exhaustion.

To organize my thoughts, I'll break the experience down into time periods

  1. Inpatient - Three days in the hospital, increasingly miserable because it was impossible to get a good night's sleep there.  
  2. At home, with brother in town for several days.  Finally sleeping and figuring out how to get the body working again.
  3. First week trying to work - pretty much impossible to do more than a few hours of work per day.  
  4. Second week - energy level still well below 100%.  Tried to do a small amount of running but just didn't have the energy.
  5. Third week - exercise time aside, energy levels pretty close to 100%.  

So I'm three and a half weeks out, feeling pretty tired for a Saturday.  Did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine last night, which felt fine.  

Back to the hospital.  Being in a hospital sucks.  More than I thought it would.  For starters, the bed just isn't comfortable.  Hospital beds bend and fold to help patients sit up, but they fold in the wrong place.  And when you're coming off abdominal surgery the last thing you want to be doing is a lot of sit-ups adjusting your body.  Also, the food was dreadful.  Being on a liquid-only diet sucks, but it turns out that their solid food is awful, too.  About the only thing they do well is administer pain-killers, but that's counter-balanced by the endless blood tests.

Going home was great.  Finally got some sleep, though the mobile feline heating unit made it a challenge to find a combination of blankets and comforters that would keep me warm without waking up in a sweat.  I gradually figured out the pain  issue - during the surgery the doctor pumped up my intestine with air to make it easier to see what was going on.  The gas was unpleasant.  Also, it felt like my entire abdominal wall clenched during the surgery and wasn't going to relax any time soon.  Things only started picking up when I switched from Percoset to Alleve.  Alleve is the best at relaxing muscles.  

The resected colon seems to be doing fine.  In retrospect, I'm wondering if this surgery was overkill, if it was disproportionate to the risk of whatever was left of the polyp.  (Which might well have been nothing.)  But I'm fine with the decision-making process, even though I suspect it will be viewed as wasteful in the future.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Losing a friend

Several months back, it may have been more than a year, I noticed that one of my Facebook friends, a guy I had met through playing Diplomacy, didn't seem to be participating in on-line discussions as often as he had.  I asked a friend we had in common what was going on, and I was informed that this person had cancer.

Well I just found out that the Duck has passed.  Really liked the guy, more so than most people.  The Duck was the kind of guy who was easy-going and naturally seemed to get along with everybody.  I didn't know him particularly well, but in another sense I did.  The nature of the Diplomacy-playing hobby is that you see people seldom, but when you do meet, the interactions are fairly intense.  The people involved are often very socially aware and we can make friends that last a long time.

Anyway, my own operation is coming up in less than two weeks.  I delayed it a week so I could go to a gaming convention.  I asked the scheduler if it there was an urgent need to schedule it ASAP and she said no.

In the aftermath of the positive colonoscopy, I've decided to also see a dermatologist to get him to look at all my freckles and moles.  Worried about melanomas now.  Am I becoming a hypochondriac?  I don't think so.  Having decided that I'm missing at least one anti-cancer allele, this puts me in a weird frame of mind.  I'll probably have to have regular colonoscopies for the rest of my life.

Meh.  Will miss Duck at DixieCon.



Sunday, May 04, 2014

Best of Bond, Part V

The Timothy Dalton Years

And the series moves forward at its glacial pace.  Today we consider the two contributions by Timothy Dalton.  Personally, I enjoyed both The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, but neither did particularly well at the box office.


The Dalton films moved away from the increasingly comic (and increasingly ludicrous) themes of the later Moore films, and tried to bring back a more serious tone, as had characterized the earlier Connery offerings. They succeeded to some extent, but moviegoers didn't respond to Dalton's darker tone.

Let's recall the criteria in this series of evaluations again:

  • Bond – who the actor is, how good he is, and what he brings to the role
  • the Villain- Mr. Big, Scaramanga, etc.  I judge the films on how compelling the villain is.
  • the Bond Women – some films have few, some have many, but I’m pretty sure all have at least one. The quality ranges from Denise Richards’s absurd nuclear physicist to, of course, Mrs. Bond herself, not to mention Pussy Galore
  • the Good Guys – M, Q, Moneypenny, Felix Leiter in his many incarnations and other sidekicks
  • the Henchmen on the other side like Jaws, Oddjob, and Nick-Nack.
  • the gadgets – not just judging how neat the gadgets are, but whether they were unwisely allowed to take over the film (as often happened with the later Roger Moore filims)
  • whatever else I happen to think of

And now we move to

The Living Daylings


Thursday, April 17, 2014

bounce in my step

Good News

So the pathology report is back.

Two small polyps: Fragments of tubular adenoma. Negative for high-grade dysplasia or malignancy.

Large polyp ("mass"): Tubular adenoma with small foci of superficial high-grade dysplasia. No high-grade dysplasia is seen t the cauterized margin in the plane of sectioning, but it is not possible to fully evaluate all of the margins.

Translation:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

shit just got serious

Will I owe my life to President Obama and John Roberts?

Since roughly my 40th birthday, I've been feeling an increasing pressure to get a colonoscopy.  My family has a history with colon cancer on both sides.  My father had a polyp removed about 12 years ago, and on my mother's side, her mother and an aunt or two all ended up with colon cancer.  It actually took out my Nana, the first family death I dealt with at the age of 11.

So when Obamacare was implemented, I made it a priority to finally get a colonoscopy.  I thought it would be a wise precaution, given the family history.  But even though the family has a history, we don't have a history of early onset cancer.  So I was pretty much assuming I'd get a clean bill of health.  And when I met the GI specialist, he said that there was a 20% chance of finding something.

Well, we hit that 20%.  And three times, to boot.  Two polyps: one 9 mm and the other 5 mm in size.  Both were removed. Also, and most worrisome, there was a 25 mm "mass".  And, worse, the doctor didn't think that he got all of it when he removed it "piecemeal".  

So that's going on.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Health care costs are weird

So I recently had my first physical in a few years.  I'm a bit unfamiliar with how this works, since it's been a while.

No cost to me for the physical - I thought it might be $20, but I'm fine with that.  But it's free.

Today I got an invoice for the lab tests on blood and urine samples.  Now this gets weird.

11 different tests were done, with costs for each ranging from $33.27 to $234.30.  But CareFirst says that the "allowed costs" for these tests range from $0.62 to $8.20.  Apparently LabCorp would charge $234.30 if I did not have the clout of Blue Cross Blue Shield on my side?

LabCorp wanted to charge $1,135.85 for the tests.  CareFirst is paying them $43.53.  I pay nothing (other than my premiums.)

This whole thing baffles me.  What's up with the rest of the $1100+ of the bill?  Is this just some kind of game that everybody plays?  My insurance pays for 3.8% of the bill, and the lab writes off 96.2% of the bill?

This is a bizarre system, to say the least.

Should get to the Bill Murray reviews soon.  The Bond series is in limbo until I can find a way to re-watch the Dalton films, but they're not on cable much, and not to be found in the library system.  Bodes poorly - they are apparently the least popular.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Harold Ramis 1944-2014

We lost a great comedic mind today.  Harold Ramis is most famously known as Bill Murray's straight man in "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters", but he was much more than that.  He was the first head writer for the legendary show Second City Television, and writing was always his strongest talent.

Let's run through the films he wrote or co-wrote: Animal House.  Meatballs.  Caddyshack.  Stripes.  Ghostbusters.  Back to School.  Groundhog Day.  The funniest movies from the late 70s through the early 90s.  I could link to all of them, or you could just go to the Ramis page and go from there.

I've been watching a lot of Bill Murray movies this month.  So I'm going to go over his body of work in the coming days, and that will include many of the movies listed above.

But for now, enjoy a couple clips from Stripes.



Great stuff, and it's aged well.