You’re Up Next, After the Dead Dude: a Medical History Out of Monty Python

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In the course of my life I have sort of drawn the short straw as far as physical robustness goes.  I’ve had bronchitis and pneumonia so many times I’ve lost count.  I’ve had sinus infections from hell- even after sinus surgery.  I got rheumatic fever from an untreated case of strep throat when I was ten years old which has led to countless joint sprains and strains.  Any time an orthopedist looks at any x-ray of mine, they anticipate the repeat business.  They see dollar signs and drool.   I’ve had ongoing female issues ever since the illustrious birth of the POMC – severe pelvic pain and other unmentionable nasties- that culminated in a hysterectomy almost four years ago (which hindsight being 20/20 I wish had been done right along with the Childbirth From Hell and saved me the years of hassle.)

To add to the fun, I’m also diabetic.  Yay.

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One of the several surgeries I’ve had was memorable for the humor involved.  About 13 years ago I had a funky, mole-like growth on the side of my head about the size of a dime.  I really didn’t care about it much because my hair covered it up nicely, but I made the mistake of mentioning it at a Dr.’s appointment when he asked me if I had any funky skin issues.

Of course, that meant a trip to a dermatologist and then a plastic surgeon, because said funky growth was right on top of an important facial nerve.  If it caused a problem (i.e. if it was melanoma or some other horrible cancer thing like that) or even if it was removed incorrectly, I’d end up drooling out the side of my mouth, and my speech would be incoherent.  Forever.  Oh, what fun to be a drooling imbecile, should this guy cut through the wrong thing- but should it be melanoma- well, let’s take the risk and get rid of that.

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The good news is that the plastic surgeon was comfortable doing this surgery with a local anesthetic (oh, dammit, Lidocaine burns…) so they set me up at one of those outpatient surgical centers where people go to have stuff done that would have been done in the primary care Dr.’s office back in the day, but that they’re too afraid of lawsuits to do in the office now.

I got to the center about 15 minutes early.  I was supposed to have this done at 7:30 AM, be done before 9, and back to work in the afternoon.

One really sucky thing about even an outpatient, local-anesthetic surgery is they won’t let you eat a damned thing for hours and hours ahead of time, because they’re afraid you’ll ralph on them.  By 1:30 (PM)  I was getting pretty pissy from not eating, and highly annoyed from enduring the barrage of torrid daytime TV garbage cranked up in the surgical waiting room.  I had already finished both my word-find and my crossword books, and was actually thinking about reading the three year old copies of such lovely periodicals as Urology Digest, Hemorrhoid Monthly and Sports Illustrated.  I was so perturbed that I almost didn’t notice all the activity going in and out of one of the operating rooms.

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There is boredom, and there is waiting room boredom.  It’s excruciating.

Apparently the guy who was on my surgeon’s schedule ahead of me dropped dead on the operating table while having some sort of minor surgery, like an ingrown toenail removal or something.  Only he took his time dropping dead, because they had the freaking trauma team running in and out of there for about three hours.

At 2PM the surgeon finally comes out to get me, and frankly, I’m somewhat rattled by that time.  I hadn’t eaten all day (or the night before) and I was not in a very nice mood.  He asks me if I want to go ahead and get it done. I told him hell yes, because I had only taken one day off work, and knowing the ass-clown paper pushers at that hospital I’d be 90 years old before they would see fit to schedule me in again.

 

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So I get wheeled in and the surgeon starts in with the Lidocaine- with what I thought was a bit of unnecessary roughness, but I figured I better not comment because I know what happened to the last guy.  As my head is burning from all the Lidocaine shots, he comments,

“Just don’t die on me like the last guy.  It sort of makes me look bad when my patients drop dead.”

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Five minutes later the funky growth was on its way to pathology, and I had about 8 stitches in the side of my head.   In spite of his roughness with injecting all that Lidocaine, the actual repair was done very neatly, and I’m happy to report he left me vocally articulate and drool-free.

Thankfully whatever the funky growth was, it never came back, and it wasn’t melanoma or anything else that would have killed me. It probably could have stayed there forever and not been any kind of big deal- but- Murphy’s Law being what it is, if I’d left it there it would have turned into something nasty.

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What scares me is that the way that the healthcare industry is going (and especially with the government gravy train and the abominable, evil Obama being involved in it) is that people like me with chronic conditions are going to be hurried along to die.  Part of me sort of goes along with that- and there is a time when medical intervention is pretty much pointless, but part of me wonders why it’s so hard to get just basic, necessary care.  Every time you go to a doctor they want to send you for this or that test or this or that specialist or this or that study, when they know that a.) nothing you have can really be cured, just managed somewhat, and b.) you don’t need to see 14 different specialists for every stupid basic problem that a primary care Dr. should be able to (and allowed to) treat.  The entire medical industry is geared toward how much money they can shovel in.  The doctors are more afraid of lawsuits than anything, and they can’t really afford to care much about actually getting people better.  They care more about not getting sued, and I can’t blame them.

How about tort reform?  Get rid of the bullshit lawsuits, and let doctors do what they’ve been trained to do.  Unfortunately that would make too much sense and save too much money, so nobody’s going to do anything to derail the gravy train.

If I could I’d go to the dogs’ vet.  She went to school longer and has a lot more actual sense than a lot of medical doctors, and she charges a whole hell of a lot less.

My Playlists are Awesome, and Planned Euthanasia Really Sounds Sucky- When You’re Old

Some people (like me) absolutely adore it, the rest of the world (even some Journey fans) absolutely hates it, but Dream, After Dream isn’t your typical rock album.

I was thinking about it this morning, what an awesome collection I have of music that doesn’t suck on MP3.  Most music (with a few notable exceptions) written after 1985 sucks major ass.  That’s OK because most of the good stuff is readily available on MP3 if you know where to look (Amazon…), which means no farting about with vinyl records, cassette tapes or even CDs.

This morning started off with Don McLean’s “American Pie,” “A Girl Like You,” by the Smithereens, the amazing live version of Journey’s “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin'” from the Greatest Hits Live album, and “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” by Night Ranger.  I’ve got the good stuff.  I  have some choice rarities- all on MP3- such as Journey’s Dream, After Dream, Journey, Look Into the Future, and Next, and Gregg Rolie’s album simply titled Gregg Rolie, (these are sort of obscure) as well as some more recognizable 70’s and 80’s fare such as REO Speedwagon’s Hi InFidelity, Supertramp’s Breakfast in America, Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell, and Rush’s 2112. 

The album art was a lot more interesting when record companies had all that surface area to work with and actual artists designing the covers.  I must say Journey’s Departure album is the greatest cover art ever:

Multi-colored motifs are not just for gay pride.  Remember that.

I have to say my favorite pic of Steve Perry on a Journey album cover is the one from Evolution:

It was 1979.  Steve Perry was wearing Spandex.  All  was pretty much right with the world.

It disturbs me at times just how archaic I am becoming.  It’s pretty bad when half the population can’t get most of my reference points.  I was thinking about the whole idea of how our society views older people.  I’m not a total fossil yet- at 43 I have not quite made it to the “ancient” category, but I’ve lived a year longer than Elvis.   (If you don’t know who Elvis was, click on the previous link.)  Elvis died in 1977.  I remember that.  A lot of my friends’ mothers were brought to tears over that one.  I wasn’t really much of an Elvis fan (I was only 8) so I wasn’t as devastated by his death as some other people were.  Of course, there are those who speculate that Elvis is still alive- but then Jimmy Hoffa might be alive somewhere too.

In 1975 there was a movie released called Logan’s RunI am generally not a fan of science fiction, (in fact, normally I rather loathe the genre) but I remember watching this movie back in the 80’s and thinking that it wouldn’t be so bad to be spared the indignity of living past age 30 and being “old.”  From today’s perspective (and having passed that milestone over a decade ago) that’s some scary shit.

Guess what?  Your time’s expired!

Humans have a little something called a self-preservation instinct, and it’s a pretty intense drive.  If not for this instinct, suicide would probably be so rampant that nobody would make it past puberty.  All those people who tell you that “man, if I had to live like that just shoot me,” have a totally different perspective after the open heart surgery or colonoscopy or course of chemo.  People hang on just as tenaciously- if not more so- to life at age 80 with a laundry list of catastrophic health issues than do healthy young people.  They have looked death in the face and it scares the hell out of them.

 Yeah, you’re old, but just not quite ready to die right now.

In Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail, we get to see a wonderful example of the self-preservation instinct in action.   “I don’t want to go on the cart!”  No shit.  Nobody does, and I don’t care if you’re 8 or 80.

Steve-o is always telling me if he had to give himself shots he would rather die.  Yeah, right. He might say that now but if it’s a choice between shots or death, I’m pretty sure he will acclimate himself to the shots.  I’m diabetic and on insulin.  Believe me, I am the first one to go and fill that insulin script.  Needles?  Who gives a royal hang?  Once you get used to giving yourself the shots- which really doesn’t take long- it’s just something you do, like brushing your teeth or putting on shoes.

Get used to it, you wuss.  I can think of much worse things- like being subjected to bad country music at 11 PM.

Of course, because I’m diabetic and have a nice little list of chronic illnesses I’ll probably be targeted for Obama’s death list sooner or later.  I can see it now: This one is just too expensive to maintain.  What scares me about the whole idea of rationed health care is that necessarily some people are going to simply be denied the treatments and medications they need to live.  As the program costs more and more,  fewer people will be deemed “sustainable,”  and those with expensive chronic illnesses will be the first to be assigned to die- first by neglect (hell, just make sure the diabetics can’t afford their insulin!) and eventually by force.  Maybe I’m being paranoid, (and I should never watch science fiction anyway) but I see Logan’s Run as an eventuality should socialism be played out to its objectives.

On the bright side, the old people have all the money, at least right now.  As the population ages, perhaps we won’t have such a negative view of the elderly and/or infirm.  Hell, we are almost hip. Notice that Lawrence Welk is not included in my playlists.  I’m not that ancient- yet.

Lawrence Welk, not so much.

But Ozzy’s cool.

Things to Add to the Bucket List, 30 Years Ago Today, and Simplicity is Complicated

On with the February funk, including the whole death theme, because it just plain fits.

I’ll put it this way.  At the end of this month I will be 42.  I have no illusions.  At least half of my life is most likely over, because I honestly don’t anticipate being able to make it to 84, barring extreme advances in medical science and some pretty serious Acts of God.  I know that if God wants to keep some poor sucker lingering about far beyond what we perceive to be his/her useful life He can and does, but I hope and pray I don’t outlive my purpose.  This being said, I still have no clue why I’m taking up valuable oxygen, other than (maybe?) to keep a few people entertained.  It’s not my place to know and I understand that.  I also understand that there have been at least three instances in my life where I narrowly escaped the Reaper:

1. I spent the first week of my life in the hospital with pneumonia and my entire childhood battling various respiratory ailments (as well as getting regular beatings from my sisters, their friends, and kids at school.)

2. I had rheumatic fever when I was 10 years old.  Save for a  two week long series of painful penicillin shots in the butt, and a year-long course of penicillin pills, I’d been worm chow over 30 years ago.

3. I understand first hand why at the turn of the 20th century 1 in 4 women died in childbirth.  In spite of an eleventh-hour c-section, (the whole Murphy’s Law as it applies to childbirth thing, believe that) I was almost one of them.  That was the closest I’ve ever gotten to the Dirt Nap, and at that time I was ready to go ahead and take it.  Some days I’m still very open to the possibility, though I believe the length of my time here is God’s decision not mine.

Again, somehow, I am still remaining vertical almost 20 years later, so there must be some reason why I continue to display vital signs- though said reason continues to elude me.

Before I go take the Final Trip, there are a few things I’d like to do.  Of course the Cougar Cruise is one of them, but I’d be happy just to go on a regular cruise with all the other geezers and so forth.

I’d like to do some international travel.  Granted, I’ve been to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls which was pretty cool, and I was in Windsor, Ontario for an afternoon as a little kid. Windsor is more or less Detroit’s French speaking quarter, and not much to write home about.  I did learn that Dad does not speak French.  I would caution that one does not go to Canada for the cuisine.  Everything we ate in Niagara Falls tasted like greasy Clorox.  It might simply have been the establishments we had the bad luck to choose, but from what I experienced it seems Canadians use grease like Cajuns use spice- and apparently Clorox is the spice.  Acck.  Then again, I believe the national entree of Canada consists of French fries smothered in gravy.  I don’t think I’ll be going for the gravy covered fries any time soon.   I still remember those nasty bland Cloroxy, greasy, slimy, luke-warm chicken wings we had for dinner one night, but even in the States, Hooters’ is not renowned for their culinary acumen.  There wasn’t even any hot sauce on the side to give them a hint of flavor.  It was as if they had never heard of Tabasco or habanero sauce.  Leave it to Jerry.  We had to eat there because Hooters’ was just across the street from the hotel, and they had American beer.  I hope it tasted like Clorox too, but even that would have been an improvement over Natty Lite.

I’d like to go to Europe, even though Grandpa said he didn’t lose anything there and there was no way in hell he would want to go back there.  When he went there, it was during the war.  It makes sense not wanting to go back to that. 

Australia sounds interesting too.  Aussies speak English so that’s a plus already.  The only thing that might not be so fun about Australia is all the venomous critters that seem to live there.  Perhaps I watch Animal Planet and Discovery Channel too much, but I might have to take a pass on the deadly spiders and the box jellyfish.

In a way I’d like to go to the Holy Land, but with all the foreigners fighting over there, I think I’ll have to settle for the shows on History Channel and so forth.  I’m not afraid to die, but I am afraid of torture and rape.

30 years ago, one could get a coveted ticket to see Journey on the Escape tour, which would be the one and only reason why I would like to see time travel made a reality.  I never got to see Steve Perry with Journey, live and in the painted-on jeans.  I’ve seen video with Steve Perry, which is sweet, but it’s not quite the same as being there live.   I’ve gotten to see Journey-which was awesome- once with Steve Augeri, and once with Arnel Pineda, but I never got to see them with Steve Perry, and barring a miracle, I probably never will.  I can’t blame him.  If I were 62 years old and had the life he did, I’d be happy to be retired with my memories and cats.

Today we get a lame-ass half-time show by the Black Eyed Peas, who never really impressed me to begin with.  New music absolutely sucks and no it’s not just because I’m old.  They’re trying to substitute sleaze and special effects for no-talent losers.  Give me a band who can actually play, and singers who can actually sing, and screw the costumes, the sleazy dancing and the light shows.

I’d love to get my life down to being more simple, but that would mean in some ways it would have to be more complicated, which doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface. 

All I can say at this point is that if I have 40 years or four seconds left, I can only pray for the strength to get through it- and to make something worthwhile of the time.