Archive for the 'Health' Category

Strokiversary Pt 2

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

So like I said yesterday, May 3, 2013, is probably when I actually had a stroke, but the first round of symptom checks — Droopy face? Nope. Can’t hold both arms outstretched? Not a problem. Can’t hold a big exaggerated smile? Nope. — came out negative.

what is strokeThe next day, though, I did a little more reading, and found a whole new set of symptoms: Numbness/tingling on one side of the body, severe headache, double vision, loss of balance. Check, check, check, and check.

My cousin Sherilyn is a nurse, and I noticed that she was on Facebook, so I got a quick consultation, and she told me to call 9-1-1 “NOW!”

And thus began my “voyage of discovery”.

This voyage included a week in the hospital — completely miserable — followed by two weeks in physical therapy rehab — much more comfortable, and even enjoyable, as I re-learned to stand again.

On my intake interview, one of the therapists asked what I do for fun, and I told her that I like to play guitar, and she told me I could have a guitar in my room! Also, they let me play video games — mostly Wii Sports Resort — as part of my therapy. So: I had to weeks of playing guitar, playing games, sleeping, watching the first Hobbit DVD on my laptop, and getting pudding whenever I wanted it. I had my birthday halfway through my stay there, but my wife brought me a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, so all in all it was a pretty sweet way to pass the stroke-time.

Bonus points: Bristol got to visit me in the lobby.

Anyway, now it’s three years later, and I still have numbness, tingling and double vision, plus loss of balance and sleep apnea, but hey: Everybody has problems. Mine are pretty minor in the big scheme of things.

My Strokiversary!

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Today is the third anniversary of my stroke, as documented by photos here and here (granted, that last one is mostly about the food in the rehab hosptial — but in my defense, it was pretty good food).

It was actually on the fourth that I was hospitalized, but the stroke was well-established by the time I went to work on the third — and yes, I worked all day under the effects of a stroke — take THAT, calling in sick to work for just “not feeling good”.

All in all, I was very lucky: A friend of my mom’s had a stroke ten years ago, and she still can’t talk. My only lingering effects are nerve pain and numbness, double vision, diminished balance, and sleep apnea. That may sound like a lot, but it’s balanced out by all the slack it buys me when I play the stroke card. “Gee, I’d LOVE to help you move, but hey, the stroke and all …” I even took a cane to the DMV and get escorted to the front of the line!

I figure, we’re all on the path we’re on, and there’s no sense bemoaning it. I’m where I’m at in life for a reason.

Sleep? Study!

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

So I recently completed a sleep study — which is to say, I spent two nights at a clinic, hooked up to wires and hoses, watched by an attendant by way of a night-vision camera, and it really wasn’t too bad. I was surprising uncomfortable with the wires stuck all over me, but once I turned off the lights, I was able to get right to sleep.

The reason for all this dates back to the stroke I had almost exactly three years ago (Details to come in the next couple of days! I’m sure you can’t wait!): Ever since then, I’ve experienced extended periods of light-headedness, and pretty much every afternoon or evening I go through a period of just not being able to stay awake. It’s more than just fatigue, but once I get past that couple of hours, I’m wide awake.

And no doctor, not even my neurologist, have been able to figure it out.

But then, about a year ago, when a dental assistant was asking me general health questions, and I told her about the late-day drowsiness, and she said that she was recommending a “sleep study”.

I don’t think I had ever heard that term before, and I just wrote it off as the dentist’s office being under undue influence by the sleep industry.

But then my doctor retired, and the doctor who replaced him (which is a long rant in itself, remind me to rant on it sometime!) recommended a sleep study.

Then my wife and I switched doctors again because we didn’t like the new one (again: it’s cool rant! Remind me!), and the new new doctor recommended … guess! Go on, guess what she recommended!

And about that time, the upward-curving line of medical professionals harping on sleep studies happened to intersect with the downward-plummeting trajectory of my patience with dropping like a freaking rock all the time, so I broke down and signed up.

MIKE & MOLLYAlong the way, friends and relatives told us that I would be amazed at the difference being on a CPAP (a sleep-apnea-fighting contraption) would make in my life. Around the same time, I began noticing that several TV shows (The Last Man on Earth, Mike and Molly, Modern Family) had main characters with sleep apnea and having to sleep hooked up to machines — but it didn’t help that the CPAP was always shown in the context of helping make life a living hell for the person sleeping nearby.

Then, last week, I did my first test-sleep on the machine, and I have to say, I slept really well, and seemed to manage reality better then next day. Also, the machine they had at the clinic was fairly quiet — much quiter than the blaring TV that my wife falls asleep to every night.

So maybe this will work out.

At any rate, I’m getting sick of being on the verge of passing out almost every single day, so I’m willing to try anything.

I go to my doctor tomorrow (and no, not the new-new doctor — she left the practice suddenly and under mysterious circumstances) to get the results, so hopefully new-new-new doctor will be able to, literally, hook me up.

And who knows — maybe the treatment will help me keep my act together enough so that I will go back to posting regularly on here!

Perspective …

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

You probably don’t remember what you were doing exactly 6 years ago, but that’s because you weren’t lying in a hospital ICU bed freshly missing half a lung — which is what I was doing on this night in 2006. My wife also remembers where she was: In the emergency room of that same hospital, because she fainted at my bedside just moments after being allowed in to see me, and had somehow broken her leg in the process. We’re both better now, but it was touch and go at the time.

My gallery of memories of that time of my life is here.

Unfinished Business

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Okay, I need to post about my visit to this year’s Irish Festival, but first I need to post a watershed moment that happened back in January:

Remember back in December when I had the pneumatic retinopexy in my eyeball? Long story short, it didn’t take, and surgery was required. Here are pictures of the enviroment surrounding that event here.

Oh, and it was exactly five years ago last Thursday that I had my tumor surgery in which I lost half my right lung (I’m better now). I don’t have time to look up my blog posts from that era, so here are those pictures.

Four Years

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Remember what you were doing exactly four years ago tonight? I was lying in a hospital bed recovering from having a tumor (and HALF OF A LUNG) removjed.

And my wife was in the emergency room, because she collapsed of exhaustion while coming to visit me in ICU and somehow managed to BREAK HER ANKLE.

Because we don’t do anything the easy way.

The recovery was pure misery, mainly because the surgery wreaked havoc on my ribs and back, but never before in my life have I gone four years without severe bronchitis, so it definitely paid off in the long run.

I have also been able to spend the last four years with an enlarged perspective on life: No matter what happens, I can shrug it off, because I had cancer, and I LOST HALF A LUNG.

Makes everything else seem petty.

My 7th Blogiversary!

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Yes, it was seven years ago tonight, back in that medieval year of 2002, that I first started a blog, back when 80% of the country had no idea what a blog was.

Oh, those were heady times for us brave pioneers! Networking with other foolhardy cyberdiarists, catching a glimpse of our blog names in a screen shot of a blogroll on local TV news, trying to explain to clueless coworkers and family just exactly what a blog is, posting every stupid little thought that popped into our heads (but without the competition of half the country like on Twitter these days).

Yes, it was almost exactly a year after I started my blog that ABC News named Bloggers their Person of the Year; coincidence? Oh, sure, keep telling yourself that.

My blog was originally on Blogspot, which apparently got hungry and ate the thing, but you can still download my archives in their entirety from a link in my sidebar on the right.

But of course, blogging is passe now, replaced by “tweeting” and “status updates” and “life”. Even I have my Twitter & Facebook & posts funneled into my sidebar here, but I still keep this blog as a central hub for my domain name and blogroll, and of course my “content network”: Original music, photography, video, t-shirts, etc etc etc, plus my own Twitter posts (“tweets” will someday be looked upon as one of the most idiotic words of the early 21st century) and Facebook updates.

Still, it was extremely worthwhile for me to have a blog. It finally gave me daily practice in writing and web page creation skills (HTML and graphics, for instance), opened up several new friendships and networking opporunities, and provides me with a written history of my life for most of that time.

Bonus points: It also gave me a nagging sense of superiority for the first time in my life, as well as bragging rights and a notch on my resume.

One of the most interesting things about blogging was that most of the people reading my personal little blips and rants were all over the country, and even the world. My own family and coworkers were never that interested in my blog, and most of them only read it after they deliberately did something stupid that they knew would tick me off.

THEN they would read it, to see if I was griping about them, but only temporarily.

But seven years is a long time, and the MantraSphere (i.e., my life) is a vastly different place that it was back then.

Probably the biggest event in those intervening years was the discovery, in early 2006, that the bronchitis and pneumonia that I’ve suffered from all my life was caused by a neuroendocrine tumor in my right lung — a tumor which began before I was even born and had grown to 5 centimeters in diameter.

So, long story short, after teetering on the brink of death from pneumonia and losing half a lung to surgery to remove the tumor, and after a long recovery process (mostly because of the havoc that the surgery wreaked on my back and ribcage), I’m now in better health than ever, and haven’t even had bronchitis or a serious sinus infection (much less pneumonia) ever since.

piratedaysposter1smThe second biggest change from back then is that I have finally made good on my long-time threat to compose and record music, even being one of the winners of a local music contest this past October! (Did I fail to mention that? Hey, I announced it on Facebook and it showed up in my sidebar. Keep up.)

But you can listen to my music on AloneTone (for free! And get free downloads and ringtones! For free!)

So do that, won’t you?

And there are more changes, but for now, I have to cut this short so I can go DJ in Second Life (another change! Huzzah!).

More later.

On Weight Loss, Tornadoes & TV

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Okay, so it’s not March any more, but, rebel that I am, I’m trotting out the shamrock icon one more time for this miscellaneous stuff:

I wanted to post this while the posting’s still good: As of last Sunday, I’m below 190 pounds (189.8, to be exact) for the first time since the months following my surgery two years ago. At any rate, my size 36 khakis are fitting nicely, and maybe even a bit loose. That means I’ve now got about 12 pairs of khakis that fit, and three really loose ones.

The amazing thing is I’m losing weight while unemployed — that is, while having too much time on my hands, time that could be used sit around and stuff my face. I’m also surprised since the past four months were not only the coldest of the year (when it’s toughest to get outside) but also the most fattening.

But I’m managing to keep to my walks almost every day, since we’ve had lots of warm days lately, and I’ve been keeping my daytime meals small, so that seems to have done the trick.

The only problem is that my wife reminded me that she doesn’t like skinny men, so I’d better not overdo it.

So I had some ice cream and she feels better about it now.

Yesterday morning we discovered that the TV in the computer room was totally dead (probably a dead power supply).

And what’s a computer room with a TV? NOTHING, that’s what! A BIG FAT GOOSE-EGG-LIKE ZILCH!

So anyway, I went out to check prices on TV. But since there were storm clouds rolling in, we checked the local news stations for the weather. The local CBS weather guy said, “We’ve got a few little clouds up in Denton county”, that’s where we live, “but what we’re really concerned with is down here in Burleson” (60 miles to the southwest) “where this situation could easily spawn tornadoes”.

So I went on to WalMart, and as soon as I was back in the TV department, my wife called on my cell phone and told me that the tornado sirens were sounding. “You don’t hear them?” she asked. “I hear about 40 TVs, and piped-in music. I’m toward the back of the store!” Nobody else in the store was panicking, so I wasn’t going to perform solo. I just figured stick close to the sturdy looking shelving, and the second anything hit the building, I’d have an edge on ducking under it.

As soon as she heard the sirens, she grabbed her purse and the phone and a flashlight, and herded Bristol and Molly into the bathroom, then called me to see if I had pulled a Dorothy yet.

Anyway, nothing happened, but I learned I can’t trust the local weather wizards to know what’s going on.

Anyway, enough about life and death matters, back to what’s really important: Replacing the TV in our computer room. I found a passable small Samsung at WalMart, but we wanted to check at our local resale store before spending the big bucks.

Long story short: I found a fairly recent model 20″ Panasonic for $9.99.

It’s a combo TV/VCR and the VCR part doesn’t work, and they didn’t have the remote …. but hey, NINE NINETY-NINE!

It actually took some work to get working — and in this case the tech support guru was my wife, who sacrificed a fingernail to freeing the VHS tape (Star Trek, The Original Series) that was stuck in it, and then stopping the tape ejector mechanism from making a constant clattering sound — and more work to get it programmed — again, it was my wife that found the solution on the internet, and without losing a fingernail this time — so there was indeed some “sweat equity” involved …


We got an $8 remote at Dollar General — again, my wife’s doing (this could give a geek a complex) — and now we’re back up and running, entertainment-in-the-computer-room-wise, so we’re happy.

Yes, we’re partying like it’s $9.99.

I was supposed to bring this up on Monday, but better late than never: Go to Renny’s site to see how they celebrate April Fool’s Day in Norway.

Too busy musicking …

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

… or rather TRYING to be musicking, and failing miserably.

But still I need to post, so here’s a picture I took yesterday of my exercise buddy, Gracie:

Gracie is a sweet little doggie on my walking route, a couple of blocks south of my street. I met her just less than two years ago when I had to start my walks to rebuild my lung power, and now she usually runs to the fence when she sees me coming, so I can pet her through the links (she’s too short for me to reach her over the fence).

I got to see her again today, since it was extra-warm again (record heat for this date! 84F!) and it might be the last warm day for a walk for a while. This time when I stood up after I petted her, she stood up too, and whined for more petting, and leaned against the fence so I could scratch behind her ears.

Yeah, I’m a sucker for puppies. But look at those beautiful brown eyes! Isn’t she sweet?

(BTW, I’ve talked to her owner a couple of times, that’s how I know Gracie’s name. I’m not going pet psychic or Dr. Doolittle or anything.)

Anyway, that oughta hold ya; now I’m going back to not being any good at doing music.

UPDATE: Welcome, new visitors from Pam’s Carnival of the Canines! Please bookmark the main page here and keep coming back!

News, from Glad to Sad

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

Three news items from friends, ranked from gladdest to saddest:

1. This isn’t actually news, but I had mentioned that Yay Kim was participating in National Solo Album month, and, for a limited time, you can download and listen to her finished work!

I listened to it last night, and it’s great — you wouldn’t know (if you didn’t already) that she knocked the whole thing out in just a month.

2. I don’t know if I’ve told you about my friend Nick back home. He and I had been friends since we were babies together in the church nursery, then I moved away, and for the last 20 years or so I’ve only seen him when I go home to see my mom.

Ten years ago last April, he was diagnosed with Multiple Myaloma and given six months to live. He eventually beat the cancer through a combination of chemo, radiation, and bone marrow transplant.

Then the cancer returned, so he beat it again. Six months has turned into almost 11 years now.

Still, not everything is totally peachy; something unexpected has happened:

Early this morning, his house burned to the ground, and he and his family escaped with only the underwear they had on.

Bet that’s not what you thought I was going to say, is it?

But anyway, my mom says they’re all okay. His parents have a big house, and lots of people in town are pitching in to help.

First order of business: Getting everybody some pants.

Then, shirts.

Seriously, though: He’s taking it all in stride, and compared to two bouts with cancer, this is probably nothing to him.

Dodging death is his specialty, it seems.

3. Our good blogging pal Pamibe‘s sweet chubby little dachshund Zoe passed away late last month, and she wasn’t even ten years old.

And you know us: Somebody losing a pet, even if we’ve never met the person or canine in question, is often sadder than when a close friend loses a family member, especially for my wife.

Because let’s face it, dogs are better than people. It’s a proven fact.

Anyway, go check out little Zoe’s pictures, read her memorial, and grieve with the rest of us.