bunsen_h: (Popperi)
I have finally found a configuration of pillows that gently pushes my mouth shut while I'm asleep.  This prevents me from breathing through my mouth, which dries it out during winter because of the dry air in the house, which makes me wake up.



I have a great deal of sleep debt to pay off.

ETA: I don't use a CPAP, but I know a number of people who do. Would something like this would allow one to sleep more-or-less on one's front, with the mask off the edge of the pillow?
 

Ad hoc

Feb. 26th, 2014 10:17 pm
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
My brain is still much off-line.  Yesterday evening, I remembered that I'd been sleeping poorly due to ongoing sniffles, and took a decongestant before going to bed.  Unfortunately, I did not remember until after a couple of hours of lying awake that pseudoephedrine is a stimulant.

There is some cognitive dissonance in seeing an ad for an upcoming pseudo-Greek-mythology movie immediately followed by an ad for a TV series called Sirens.

"Your Honor, my client was in her kitchen, in her own home, having a pleasant discussion with her mother-in-law about her dishes.  Suddenly they were confronted by a stranger, a house-breaker, brandishing threatening them with a package.  My client was armed, as was her right, and acted to defend herself, her home, and her family from that self-styled 'kitchen counselor'.  It is hard to imagine a more reasonable application of the 'stand your ground' laws."

Not that I approve of the "stand your ground" laws, but I am terribly tired of the spate of "kitchen counselor" ads.
 

Bleurghh

Feb. 21st, 2014 02:58 pm
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
This morning, I finally got hit hard by the cold that's going around.  I've had mild sniffles for a couple of days and had hoped that was as far as it was going to go.  No such luck.  I'm skipping work today, as my brain is mostly off-line.

I may try to take a nap this afternoon, though that trick rarely works for me.  I'll probably spend more time playing "My Singing Monsters"... or more accurately, watch the script I've written play the game on my behalf.  Maybe tweak the script a bit, if I can muster the energy and neurons.

(AutoHotKey is a powerful, flexible language for writing Windows scripts.  I do think, though, that its creators have sacrificed syntactic consistency in favour of flexibility.  Several times, I've had to do a lot of trial-and-error work to find "phrasing" that worked.)

I managed to breed a Riff on only my second try, much more quickly than I'd expected.  This gives me a slight chance of breeding a Schmoochle before they disappear until next February.
 
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
This afternoon, I asked [livejournal.com profile] mentisiterinvit's nurse if it might be possible to flush her drains with an antibiotic solution instead of just saline.  It's become clear that some of the antibiotics aren't getting around as well as they should.

The nurse told me "No."

I asked her why not.  She told me that it isn't done.

"But why not?"

"I've been nursing for more than thirty years, and I've never seen it done."

I didn't pursue the matter any further, just left a note on the whiteboard asking the doctors about it.  I forgot to raise the matter with the night-shift nurse this evening; often the doctors don't bother reading the messages when they do their morning rounds unless someone points them in the right direction.

"No" is not an answer to "why?".  "I've never seen it done" doesn't mean "it isn't done", and "it isn't done" doesn't mean that there's a good reason.  I've spent too much time reading screeds from cranks and crackpots to have much faith in the "brilliant amateur has the fresh perspective to see what all the experts have missed!" meme, but I have still less faith in the "there must be some reason, otherwise someone would have done it before!" meme.  We've been burned by the latter too many times, too badly, lately.  And sometimes there are reasons that just don't apply in some circumstances.

Added the following day: I asked the surgeon this morning.  He told me that some of the components of the antibiotic solution (e.g. preservatives) can be irritating/damaging if tissue is exposed to them for long periods.  Thinking about it later, it seems to me that that problem must apply to the solutions in the concentrations used for injection, so they're okay after dilution by mixing with all the blood in the body.  There ought to be a concentration that would work safely for flushing.  At the moment, the issue is moot.
 
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
Every so often there's an announcement over the hospital PA system, of (possible) relevance to everyone.  Most are about some problem, the "code" announcements.  "Code Red" means that there's a fire, "Green" is for an evacuation, "Blue" for a cardiac arrest; there's "Yellow" for a missing patient and "Amber" for an infant abduction.  "White" is a violent or other behavioural problem; that's for security people to deal with.  They've pretty much used up the available colours (though not purple/violet, for some reason) and have moved on to numbers -- "Code 222" is for a neonatal emergency and "333" is for an obstetrical emergency for the mother.

On Sunday afternoons, there's an all-hands announcement about a Catholic Mass to be held soon in the hospital prayer room.  When I hear it, I think "What, Code 666?"
 
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
Those of you who are familiar with... let's call it the "chakra model of human health".  Can you tell me if resting one's hand on the head of a sick person will cause harm by blocking the energy from the head?  I've been told that I shouldn't do this.  (And I really don't believe that more than 50% of the people in the world believe this, but are all afraid to talk about it for fear of being mocked, per the same person.  But that's a separate issue.)

ETA: I'm asking about the "chakra model", not about other reasons for not putting one's hand on someone's head.
 
bunsen_h: (Popperi)
I cried because the doctors mistakenly cut off my feet, until I met a woman who'd had the doctors mistakenly amputate her legs.

The guy from Patient Advocacy a week ago told me that they want to rebuild my faith in the hospital.  At this point, my "faith in the hospital" is that they're going to screw up, over and over again.

No, nothing new along those lines today, thank God.
 
bunsen_h: (Vortalds)
Another molar gone, victim to a raging infection.  I am hoping very much that it was the correct tooth; it was the only one with any reason to be suspect, after a filling two months ago.  "At least there is symmetry."

I am not very confident in my dentist any more.  This is the third filling of his that has "gone wrong" in some way.  I also am not terribly happy with the dentist I saw on an emergency basis last Friday, who gave me a prescription for an antibiotic that (as I learned later) is very effective on some infections of this kind but not very effective against a large proportion of such infections.  He also assured me that he was "sure we can save the tooth".  I admit that by the time I saw him, the infection was probably bad enough that even a more appropriate antibiotic prescription would probably not have let me keep the tooth... but still, he could have saved me some pain, swelling, consequent inconvenience, and recovery time.


Other stuff learned: )

I would like my health back, please.
 

bunsen_h: (Default)
Right after "oops" come one or more of: "Well that's weird!", "I've never seen anything like that before!", and "I have no idea what could be causing that."

At present, my left cheek and chin look somewhat as though — as my dentist's hygienist put it — I have a baseball stuffed in my mouth.  The dentist doesn't see anything unusual in the X-ray image of that part of the jaw and is baffled.  (I went to my dentist because the problem started a week ago with a sudden serious pain in a tooth I had a filling in a couple of months ago.  The problem seems to have migrated since then.)  I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon with an oral surgeon, referred by my dentist on the grounds that the surgeon is more likely to know about what might be going on in the areas around the jaw.

It hurts more than a bit.  I've been on a mostly-liquid diet for several days, because opening my mouth more than slightly hurts a lot.

I am very very tired of presenting medical anomalies.

(That being said, I do appreciate the up-front honest "I don't know" and prompt referral to a better-informed colleague.  It beats a lot of fumbling around and guesswork because someone won't admit ignorance.)
 
bunsen_h: (Default)
I have a serious allergy to sesame.  (Mostly, it seems, to the seeds rather than to the oil; as with many allergies, it's the proteins that cause the problem.)  I'm careful to check ingredient lists for sesame, and also for tahini (which is just sesame paste).


A few weeks ago, I bought a stack of heat-and-serve Indian food packets.  At 300g apiece, one of them makes a decent meal when combined with pasta or rice.  They're convenient to bring along to places where I can't get a good meal at a reasonable price, such as visiting a friend in the hospital, and have good flavour and reasonable nutritional value.  They're not very expensive, usually between $1.50 and $2, and have an unrefrigerated shelf life of a year or two.  And though sesame doesn't seem to be used much in Indian cookery (according to staff at Indian restaurants I've been to), I did check the ingredients before I bought them.


This evening, I was heating up the contents of a packet of a pineapple sweet and sour curry in the microwave oven.  Sounded yummy; I'd been looking forward to trying that one.  While I was waiting for the food to finish heating, for lack of anything else to read (and needing to be reading something, as usual), I was looking over the food package again.  And the word "sesame" caught my eye in the French ingredients list... as in, "Graines de sesame hydrogenee", between "Piment rouge" and "Moutarde".  I went back to the English version: "Red chilli, Gingelly, Mustard".  Then the German version: "Cayennepfeffer, Til, Senf".


It never occurred to me that "gingelly" wasn't... well, just some kind of spice I'd never heard of.  I thought it might be a misspelling of "galingale".  If anything, it reminds me of Allan McFee and "Mom Nifkin's jellied gin".  Who knew that it meant sesame?  Apart from everyone who speaks... Hindi, I suppose.


That "hydrogenated sesame seeds" in French just sounds weird.  But I don't know if they mean the oil instead of the seed, or if there was some other kind of translating error.  I decided that it wasn't safe for me to eat that dish — sure, a hospital is the best place to be when you're having an anaphylactic attack, but really, it's better just not to go there.  Instead, I got an overpriced slice of wilted substandard vegetarian pizza from the cafeteria and picked out as much of the onion and olives as I could.


Now I think I need to find all the possible translations of "sesame" in current use, so I can be more careful to avoid them.  I learned two more this evening: "gingelly" (and several spelling variants) and "til".  (I note that my German dictionary translates "sesame" to "Indischer Sesam", i.e., "Indian sesame", which is doubly weird.)

 
bunsen_h: (Default)
I have observed several friends, in recent months...  When you're excellent in some way, it's hard to convince people who don't know you that there's something wrong when you're reduced to being merely superior.  If you've normally got astonishingly-good balance and coordination, people may not accept that you've got a problem when your control is just well-above-normal.  If you're having hallucinations but are intelligent enough to recognize and discount them, observers may not believe that you're hallucinating.  If you're speaking coherently with a good vocabulary, those who don't know you may not realize that you usually function at a much higher level.

Also, some doctors are idiots.
 
bunsen_h: (Default)
I'm finally able to ride my bike again, and it seems that there have been a few changes in the past year: all of the local gas stations are now charging to turn on the air compressor to inflate my tires.  Anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar... some of them used to be free.  (And I used to buy gas at the stations that didn't charge me to inflate the tires, on the rare occaasions when I used a car.)  Are there any places around that will let me inflate my tires for free?  Preferably in the Merivale/Meadowlands area?

So far, I've been out twice on my bike — just short excursions.  It's still somewhat painful for me to do it; the pain seems to be connected with stretching and bending my back, not with bumps in the road or other things that jar my back.  Since the stretching and bending is stuff that I need to do more of to get better, I'm going to try to continue, within limits of the level of discomfort that I can cope with.

It's very nice to have even this limited amount of mobility again.  And nice to be out in the sunlight.
 
bunsen_h: (Default)
There's a big poster up on the wall beside the "shallow pool" at the Nepean Sportsplex.  I think it's created and distributed by the Lifesaving Society.

In 7 days, your child could ride a bike... because he learned.

In 4 hours, your child could tie her shoes... because she learned.
 

In 20 minutes, your child could say his ABCs... because he learned.
 

In 30 seconds, your child could drown...


The logical structure, and its conclusion, make me itch, metaphorically.

On the other hand, right at the moment, I'm feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

I had a follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon a week and a half ago.  The MRI shows distinct improvement in my spinal cord; the syrinx is much smaller.  However, I'm having increasing discomfort in my left shin and foot — very likely due to compressed nerves getting back into proper shape after all these months, and yelling at me about the state of things.  The surgeon recommended that I back off on my exercise somewhat for a couple of weeks, and also suggested that massage and acupuncture may help.

My stamina for sitting up, including in front of the computer, is still poor.

I'm still having a lot of trouble getting to sleep at night.  Part of this is due to that pain, part to gastric reflux, part to simple fretting about things.  On the other hand, I'm tending to drop off to sleep rather abruptly in the late afternoon, lying on my sofa reading or watching a DVD.  It's very odd for me to suddenly wake up, lying down, with a mouthful of food, and realize that I must have dozed off while eating supper.

My friend Phil Whiteside passed away early Tuesday morning.  I feel... odd.  Distant, emotionally flat.  It hasn't really hit me yet.  I didn't get to see him in the last few weeks, because of my own difficulties in travel and because I guess I kept hoping that he'd rally one more time.  About a week ago, I woke up in the early morning, utterly overwhelmed with grief, but without any clear focus for the emotion that I could identify.

Many of my friends are dealing with a lot of their own problems.  There's too much crap going on around here.
 

Mortality

Jan. 26th, 2011 08:12 pm
bunsen_h: (Default)
I finally got on my duff and started writing a note to the guy I shared a room with during my first stay in hospital.  My stamina for sitting at the computer is still poor; the blog that his family set up to inform his friends about his progress mentioned only that he'd started chemo and was having complications with his feeding tube.  I figured there wasn't any great rush.

Before I sent the note, I decided to do another search on his name.  I found his obituary; it seems that he passed away on January 5th.

I never really got to know him well, but he was a nice guy, and our conversations helped make a lousy time a bit less miserable for both of us.  RIP Gary Cybulski.
 
bunsen_h: (Default)
I'm still having a lot of trouble with insomnia.  For several weeks, I've been lying in bed awake for hours after I go to bed.

Initially, it's a matter of physical discomfort; it takes the pain medication a while to kick in.  But after an hour or so in bed, that's pretty much gone.  After that, I just can't seem to settle my mind.

Loneliness is part of it.  I'm a bit more mobile than I was before; the swimming is helping.  But I'm still fretting about my lack of contact with people.  My stamina for sitting upright is still poor, so my on-line interactions are limited, and I'm low-energy, which limits how much time I can spend socializing, especially with large groups.  The insomnia feeds the energy drain, of course...  but I really need more quiet face-to-face time.  Could use more careful hugs and quiet cuddling with trusted friends, too.

Then there's the temperature thing.  My thermostat is set to let the house temperature drop a few degrees at night.  With the foam mattress topper, the pillows, and the blankets, I'm comfortably warm in bed — except for the exposed part of my face.  My nose gets cold, which would be fine if I were a dog, but I'm not.  Depending on how I'm lying, at least one cheek also gets chilly.  And I can't think of any way of fixing that short of raising the temperature in the entire room (if not the entire house) and adjusting the amount of blankets.  Given that a lot of the "insulation" is stuff I can't take away (mattress and topper, pillows), I'm not sure if that could give me a comfortable temperature balance.

It seems to me that what I really need is a small infrared heater, aimed at my pillow from above.  The electric nose warmer is not an option.
 

bunsen_h: (Default)
I'll be swimming at the Nepean Sportsplex this afternoon, from about 1:30 (depending on the vagaries of Para Transpo) to 3:00.  This will involve relaxing in the "Swirlpool" (hot tub) and gentle swimming in the warm-water pool.  I'd welcome company, on the off chance that anyone's available.

I'm still low-mobility, and people-deprived.  Also low-energy.  If anyone is interested in quietly hanging out for a while this evening, I'd welcome visitors.  I doubt if I'll make it to midnight.  (If necessary, I've got a nice bed in the spare room...)  I don't have plans yet for Saturday.

I hope to go swimming at the Sportsplex regularly for the next month or two.  This will depend on their making the warm-water pool available for casual swimming.  At the moment, the on-line schedule shows almost nothing except for lane swimming, mostly in the big pool.  I called them yesterday evening, and the woman I spoke with was surprised — her supervisor had told her that the pools would be following about the same schedule this term as last.  She thinks that someone has neglected to update the on-line schedule, and was to leave a note for her boss.

At this point, I'd just like to get 2010 over with, or (more precisely) get all of the lonely, painful misery long gone.

Happy New Year, everyone.  May it be a damn sight better than the old one.
 

Mobility

Dec. 23rd, 2010 09:35 pm
bunsen_h: (Default)
I called Para Transpo this afternoon to ask about my application.  I gather there had been some telephone tag with my GP, and my call nudged the Para Transpo registration clerk to take another turn.  She called me back about an hour later: my application has been approved, and I've got my official user number.  They'll mail me a package of information, but I'm all set to use the service.

My primary interest in it is to get to the Sportsplex for swimming a few times a week, but I also hope to visit friends.  I've been registered to use it for three months, which should be long enough to improve my strength and flexibility significantly if I put consistent effort into working out... which I plan to.

At this point, one of my mobility limitations is that it doesn't take a very long trip in any vehicle before my back starts to hurt.  Comfortable seating and good suspension in the vehicle help, somewhat.  My Obus Forme and/or a soft cushion can help, a bit, though even the Obus Forme doesn't match the shape of my back very well.  I guess I'll be learning soon about what kind of seating is available from Para Transpo.

The ice/snow/slush on the streets and sidewalks have changed a brisk walk from something that relaxes me and soothes my back into something that stresses me and tightens my muscles.
 

Waiting

Dec. 17th, 2010 10:31 pm
bunsen_h: (Default)
I managed to get my MRI done last night.  Late last night, partly because the MRI people had had to do an emergency scan earlier in the day; this messed up their schedule.  I ended up having to wait almost an extra hour in their waiting room... which had no chairs that fit me well enough to sit in.  This didn't help my back any.  Today has been a day of moving slowly and wearily, and being very careful of my back.

According to the neurosurgical office, my surgeon will call me if he sees anything of concern; otherwise I'll have a follow-up appointment in February.  This is not what I was told before, i.e., that I'd have a follow-up with him once he got the scan results.  I'll have to call his office sometime next week to sort things out.

I sent in an application for Para Transpo.  According to a note I got back today, they "cannot, without further clarification," register me for the service.  I called to ask what the problem was, and they asked me to ask my GP to call them to confirm her assessment.  It seems that one of their official categories, "[...] difficult for them to use OC Transpo's regular fixed-route service in the winter", is not actually enough to make me eligible for Para Transpo.  I'm not quite seeing the point here.

bunsen_h: (Default)
I called the MRI scheduling office a bit earlier this afternoon.

The MRI requisition still shows the gadolinium contrast agent.

But there was a cancellation for early tomorrow morning; I could use that slot.

But... as the guy went through the booking process, it turns out that he needed details on the shunt before he's legally allowed to clear me to have the MRI (gad agent or not).  And those details aren't in my file.  So I can't get the MRI done until they can get those details from the surgeon or from somewhere else buried in the files.

<*bangs head*>
 
bunsen_h: (Default)
Marvin the Martian take note...

A month ago, I had a follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon who worked on my back six weeks earlier.  Among other things, he told me that he was going to schedule me for a follow-up MRI, to take a look at how things were coming along at this point.  He told me that he'd mark it as "medium priority", 3 on a scale of 1 to 5, and that it would probably take about 4 to 6 weeks to get through the queue.  I'd have another follow-up appointment with him when it was done.

A couple of weeks later, I called up the MRI scheduling office to ask if they could give me any idea when it would be happening.  All they could tell me was that I was in the queue and that yes, it'd probably take another few weeks for me to work my way through it.  Priority 3 meant that more urgent scans would bump me down the line.

On Tuesday, thanks to several people nudging me, I called the scheduling office to ask if my medium priority made me eligible to be put on the list for taking over someone else's slot in the event of a cancellation.  (This flexibility can get one's MRI done very quickly.)  I was told that the MRI requisition had been flagged as requiring "Gad" (i.e., gadolinium contrast agent), that those could only be done during the day shift because the technician requires additional expertise/certification, and that the queue for those is months long.  I could expect it to come up in 4 to 6 months, not weeks.

As you might expect, I was surprised, and disappointed, and puzzled.  The contrast agent is usually used if there's reason to think there might be a tumour: cancerous cells take up the agent rapidly, and a comparison of scans before and after the agent is injected can show if something nasty is lurking.  I had an MRI with the agent last November (at my own expense at the MRI clinic in Hull) and another one with the agent at the hospital in June.  Neither showed any anomalies.  The surgery itself didn't show any signs of a tumour.  So why was that option checked on the requisition?  I left a message for the surgeon to ask what was going on.

I got a call back this afternoon.  Apparently the surgeon didn't mark that option; it was added by the radiologist who processed the requisition.  The surgeon didn't know why.  His assistant who called me told me that the surgeon would "go down and talk with the radiologist" and sort things out.

My immediate reaction to that comment was to wonder why the surgeon seemed to have to track down the radiologist and sort things out in person.  But on further consideration... if communication between doctors is as bad as it is between doctors and patients, as it seems to be, that may be the only way of extracting a straight answer.

If I haven't heard anything further by, say, Monday (as I expect), I'll call the MRI scheduling office again and see if anything has changed.

If I hadn't decided to look into jumping the queue, I might still be waiting, many weeks from now.
 

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