We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, February 22. 2024
Setting aside my day with my brother on Tuesday for four hours. I'll just start with it was great walking and exercise, lunch at a diner that was great, and just 4 hours of talking about his experience with people who have had what I now have and what we felt was good to cover. Personal. Religion. History and Podcasts. Sports in depth. But mostly about my situation and logical outcome which will be reached at some point. All really nice to have and will share some another time.
My visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering on 53rd St in NYC was expected to just be a part of one conversation and possibly 2 others with one at Duke and one in Florida. After four hours, we made a decision and I will explain a bit.
First, my current group will handle radiation and chemo here near the house. That was set - and 2 weeks before starting. Now the radiation will continue here, but the chemo we learned and signed for at MSK is slightly different and will involve a new test with several options and groups and some information completion. It's a new trial and the doctor said they could collect my data and health and potentially (slim possible rejection) sign me up. As of now - high probability to join and take part. Mostly needing to see results and my ability to share, speak and keep notes. So it's engaging. That does need a level of intelligence they tested (I scored really high with their process and engagement) and a willingness to engage. I was all for trying things, which they smiled about. My current doctor, who has several potential tests but several weeks off, will be sidelined while I join this. Both groups work separately but share information and conversation as necessary. This is a learning chance!
Second, doctor and nurse were blatantly open. What is the reality. My best shot for now - I have a non-Methylated Glio Blastoma which is one of several different kinds of the same issue. Mine is very specific with a lot of downside potential over time when it comes to opportunity. They were very open to "enjoy life and get the most out of what you want, even if it includes cutting out of testing or trials." They support travel, learning, having fun. "Enjoy your life and get the best you can." I said I will, but I want to learn more, too and potentially help others. They smiled and loved my engagement and willingness.
Third, health and intelligence top notch! Nurse kept testing several times. No issues. Now approved to drive if I want. She recommended sports and gym again. Just got to let the surgical swelling on the left brain continue to decline which is slowly happening but maybe 2 more weeks. It doesn't hurt much. Just swollen and feels odd.
Fourth, GREAT BURGER at PJ Clarke's in NYC. A CLASSIC. Always has been. I don't know why but man that was so darn tasty. Food is still REALLY delicious.
Fifth, had my new mask for radiation set today at the hospital. After six weeks I get to keep it - kind've new artistic item. See attached!. It's a pin which radiates different parts of the head over 20-30 min each day starting 3/1.
Today, just lots of sleepiness. Got 6 hours last night. Got 3 hours today. Will probably get another hour before bed. LOL. No idea why just really dragging suddenly.
Still having lots of texts and phone calls, though - so all 100% positive and looking for fun.
Friday, February 16. 2024
Was suddenly and surprisingly called to the oncologists a week earlier than they had planned. 4 hours with 5 different doctors and the surgeon who removed the staples from my head. Pretty good overall after 9 days.
He was very happy and positive with that. Says my speaking was excellent. I was surprising him well for health - recommended I go back to the gym regularly already. My intelligence? Very, very high since his surgeries on this topic often have far more concerning outcomes from the people treated. I was said to be shockingly good. But he did recommend some realism and expectations. Realistic is 18 months of probability. That's the likelihood. Not essentially how it will happen. Just pretty standard.
I mentioned I had 2 friends who i have - Glio Blastonoma - which both lasted 18 months. It's not assured, since there are now several things we can try and test. I said "I'm 100% in for anything immediately and I expect the best!" They like my attitude! But they also asked me to be a realist. I said fine - I've done that already. But I'm not going to just give up too easily. I'll expect more and try more for whatever can happen and expect!
But the doctors, as happy as my push for happiness, positiveness, openness and anything good - they loved that I wasn't crying or upset. They were also "Let's just be open too about what reality seems to indicate."
I replied "fine - my brain is actually talking to me - and I'm fine with reality." They asked what I was being told by the brain. For the first time I repeated things that it keeps saying. They said it's correct - and that it's not terrible to expect even if the brain speaking may be driven by medication....doesn't mean the brain is wrong.
It rarely has been, of course, which is why I always loved writing and pushing attitudes some people even today are disgreeing with me about (incorrectly mostly).
Boys came home, we've had some talks. We are being open and realistic. It will all be very, very hopeful and I am pushing myself hard already!
Wednesday, January 31. 2024
Tuesday, January 30. 2024
Monday, November 20. 2023
I've had a couple of surgeries in my life, but had never spent a night in a hospital until last week: 5 days in there. Even in a very attentive and kind hospital it is a strange, unpleasant - and disorienting - experience. Feeling like a pin cushion is the least of it.
I'd be interested in other peoples' experiences.
Things I learned:
- Rules about your restaurant doggy bag: Heat to 165+ degrees before eating it, and throw it out after 24 hrs. Our new rule: No more doggy bags at all (except steak) which is a drag for me because I have not finished a restaurant meal in a decade. Typical food-poisoning is Salmonella, but I got Campylobacter (which is typically minor but not in my case). Besides fatigue and constant diarrhea, my electrolytes became dangerously imbalanced which is what concerned the docs: Potassium mostly. Plus IV saline to combat the dehydration.
- When you are sick as s-, you don't necessarily appreciate how ill you are because it affects your mental clarity. I had to fall on the floor from weakness + dizziness due to dehydration to realize this was not nothing.
- Being in hospital feels like confinement (is confinement) unless you feel too terrible to get out of bed. Plus the hospital gown makes you feel (and look) like an invalid: "How are we feeling this morning? Did we have a BM?"
- The BBC Planet Earth series has stunning videography. Also I read 2 books. I highly recommend Empires of the Sea: The Siege of Malta, the Battle of Lepanto, and the Contest for the Center of the World
- A "Clear liquid" diet is the worst thing. 3 times/day: Decaf tea, jello, ginger ale (which is ok), lemon ice (which I hope to never see again). Finally got a nice nurse to sneak me fresh coffee from the nursing station.
- How to fix an IV pump yourself when it beeps an obstruction.
- A regular Med/Surg floor at my place had 4 units, about 20 patients/unit. A unit has a Charge Nurse, 4 RNs, 4 CNAs (Certified Nurse Assistants) and a clerk. The RNs work 12-hr shifts for 3 days (7 -7), then 4 days off unless they want to fill in for others. I had a private room, thankfully. The hospital docs make rounds any time before 1 or 2 pm.
- When a patient dies it is dealt with discreetly. Happens all the time, too.
- Can you sleep normally in a hospital? Nope, even with sleep meds.
More about Med/Surg routines below the fold -
Continue reading "Already like a bad dream"
Wednesday, November 8. 2023
It is normal for you to produce nearly 100 billion white blood cells each day. How the Immune System Works
That book is written for the general public. Mind-boggling. It is a wonder that it all works so well most of the time. Nothing man can make works as well, for so long. With health, I tend not to be overly curious about why things go wrong, but to be amazed about how anything ever goes right.
Tuesday, November 7. 2023
I once laughed at a M*A*S*H episode in which a British fellow was commenting on his military's focus on foot hygiene. It was amusing at the time, but over the years I've largely ignored my feet. To my dismay.
I was just over 30 when I had both feet operated on for bunions. That was a vast improvement, but it more or less ended my competitive volleyball days.
I was just over 45 when I suffered severe back trauma which I learned was related to tight hamstrings, and recently learned that was related to my feet.
At any rate, I had one bunion operated on again, it was a big operation, when I was 55. Today, as I inch closer to 62, I have a host of foot problems. Not good for someone planning on hiking the Camino de Santiago in the next few years.
My new podiatrist had nothing good to say about the previous operations. He explained to me they were improper diagnoses of the situation and now there's not much chance any additional surgery will provide relief. He also pointed out something I'd known about but never took seriously. I don't use orthotics.
He did a scan, got me some, and I've got to say my feet feel much better. Not 100%, but at this point I'll take any improvement.
I also now spend a lot of cash for properly-fitted sneakers. I always figured if they fit, they're fine. Over the last year I've learned to take that a little more seriously. Hokas are the new brand - I'll let you know when I get them if they're "all that". At least you can get them sized for width, which is critical for me.
Take care of your feet. Don't ignore them or put off any care the way I have. Big mistake, and fixing what's messed up isn't easily reversible at my advanced age.
Tuesday, September 5. 2023
Interesting, possibly controversial topic. I do not trust Dr. Google, but one of my two hernias became visible after deadlifts. Maybe it's been brewing for years.
I also know that I often err in holding my breath with heavy weights. Wrong technique, I know. I try to do it all correctly but sometimes forget, or just strain to my max to get it done like any ordinary foolish person.
Surgeon is going to fix them sooner. He says it's a myth about weights and hernias. He's a smart, experienced, and pleasant guy. Whatever. I'll do whatever he says.
Monday, September 4. 2023
Sunday, September 3. 2023
Those EMS people taught the 30 pumps, then mouth-to-mouth, and repeat. They made a good point which is that, if somebody doesn't need it, they will resist. When somebody goes down it's not easy to know for sure. As they said, forget about looking for a pulse because you'll only feel your own.
This Youtube is pump only.
Saturday, August 26. 2023
For one thing, the numbers mean nothing for us as individuals, because our life chances depend on weight, fitness (a tiny bit), genetics, luck, etc.
If you go back a few centuries, it is surprising to see that, at least in the Western world, life expectancy has not increased much if you discount infant and childhood mortality from infectious diseases. In 1700, if you made it to age 25, you had a goodchance to make your 80s barring farm accidents. There is also the factor of maternal mortality from Puerperal Fever. Many women died from that.
My main point is that the bimodal death rates in the pre-antibiotic era skew the life expectancy data. Antibiotics have saved plenty of adults too, along with immunizations against infectious diseases. George Washington's life could have been saved with a shot of penicillin.
Every journalist should study these books (but they won't cuz it's math-ish):
Thursday, July 27. 2023
Babesiosis was on my mind because a pal recently got sick after a tick bite. I've had countless tick bites, but never got ill after one.
And I see that AVI just got it too. Sheesh. Like Lyme, same darn kind of deer tick (not an ordinary dog tick. We're all used to dog ticks).
Anyway, Babesiosis is a nasty consequence if you get bitten by a bad tick.
Thursday, July 13. 2023
That might not apply to 8 hours on the Appalachian Trail or a day job as a lumberjack, but it is certainly true for me with my 1-hr daily exercises. The more consistently I exercise, the less interest I have in food and the smaller the portions I can handle. This effect is most pronounced with demanding cardio and calisthenic exercise, not much with strength exercise or with sports. There is a theory that the effect has something to do with Peptide YY.
Nobody wants to eat anything after a hour of tough cardio exercise and that suppressive effect tends to last 24 hrs.
Maybe it makes some genetic sense. If you need to move yourself vigorously and frequently, the less fat you have on you the better you can avoid becoming part of a Tiger Dinner Party. Hunger is an interesting instinct and only recently has it been studied biochemically. One thing we know for certain is that subjective hunger or attraction to food is not a signal for a need for nourishment for most adults in a food-rich environment.
Overweight people seem to have the strongest subjective hunger, and sedentary people tend to have stronger appetites. Cause or effect? Chicken or egg?
Friday, June 23. 2023
The article entitles it "Who's in charge of your health -Your Doctor or Your Insurer?" but "health" is a more complex question because lots of health has to do with luck, and some to self-care.
Nobody is entitled to health.
And nobody wants to need a doctor, but we all do or will. It can be expensive and always will be. Either we pay it, or other citizens pay it for us. Any kind of insurance makes sense.
Saturday, June 17. 2023
Lots of people have, let's say, interesting nutritional habits.
To each his or her own, I guess. Luckily for me, nutrition gives me little joy - unless beer is nutrition. (One thing that gives me joy is leaving the damn gym after a workout.) I'm not skinny, but fit for age. Wait - that's a lie because I do enjoy a few slices of a rare ribeye.
Zero carb eating is not especially about losing fat (altho it works for that). Jordan Peterson only consumes steak and bubbly water for some wacky reason. Lex said he is sort-of similar. Whatever, but they should do a daily or weekly multivit. That's fine despite being a little idiosyncratic.
Fortunately, we have learned that dietary fat is harmless, and also necessary.
Lots of people find too much eating makes them less sharp and more lazy. I'm like that. My trainer, who pushes me to eat more, always notices that I am stronger after a day without food, like, after some GI problem.
My nutrition has been mainly Thai take-out lately. Convenient. One $11 take-out meal is 2-3 meals for me. I tend to eat once or twice daily, not by discipline but for lack of interest and because food makes me tired. I am also a very slow eater and tend to stop the minute any hunger goes away.
So people are different, but food is not medicine. Again, not talking about getting rid of surplus body fat even though that's a good idea for life fitness and vanity.
Tuesday, May 2. 2023
Just as a precaution, and because my fitness trainer wants me to, I get one every year or two. They have always been normal and I have never had any heart symptoms.
This year my cardiologist recommended a Nuclear Stress Test. Apparently the regular test is only 60% effective at finding arterial problems, but the nuclear test over 90%.
Yes, angiography is 100%, but generally needs to be justified by symptoms.
I haven't had blisters from either urban hiking, wilderness hikes, or hunting, for many years. I used to get them mostly from urban hikes, and they ruin the enjoyment. I use liner socks and the right shoes or boots for the purpose.
For the mountain hikes around Sedona, I could have used my Meindls, but did not anticipate the rockiness.
Tuesday, April 18. 2023
The varieties of presentations under the umbrella of Schizophrenia worldwide is around 0.3 %. Not rare. There are no cures, but there are things than can help these people somewhat, if they want them. I do not know what % of the street people they represent.
In the old days, non-functional and irrational people were kept in the attic or basement, or situated in asylums and sanitariums. With modern medicines, people can do somewhat better if they accept treatment and reasonable support for a lifetime. In the US, that is voluntary.
Like the author of the article, a good pal in my freshman year in college descended into psychosis. I watched the darkness and dysfunction descend until his parents took him home. Tragic. I wonder what happened.
Thursday, March 23. 2023
Thursday, March 9. 2023
This is more relevant for men than women (they are not medically-equal). If over 45-50, never a bad idea to get an echo stress test on some sort of regular basis. I've seen many trim, athletic guys drop dead, or almost drop dead, with cardiac events which could have been dealt with semi-ok for years.
While it is a fact that almost half of male Western humans (Asians too) will succumb to arterial disease (and almost the other half to some cancer - something will take us down), there is no reason to speed up the former death. (Less civilized areas have people of all ages dying of infection, accidents, war, etc.) Can treatments for cadiovascular disease keep you going? Yes - just ask my 90+ year old overweight, wine-loving father-in-law who has had stents, bypass, pacemaker, and ongoing treatment for congestive heart failure, and is still truckin' and loving life.
Sheesh, it's only arthritis that really limits him now. Too many sports.
Tuesday, January 3. 2023
People have been asking me about Damar Hamlin. Cardiac arrest or, sometimes termed "Sudden Cardiac Arrest", occurs at all ages. It is only newsworthy when it occurs in young, otherwise healthy athletes. Still, it happens enough that many states have rules about medical check-ups for athletes. I suspect that it occurs more often than reported.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is usually associated with a heart arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation. The heart stops. These have a long list of possible underlying causes, but it seems possible, if rare, that even a blow to the chest can set it off. The risks are that you die, or survive with brain damage. First aid is CPR (all of our readers should know how to do that), then shock from a defibrillator. The brain begins to die after a handful of minutes without a functional heartbeat.
In youth, arrest is hardly ever related to a "heart attack," which refers to a Myocardial Infarction.
Friday, December 30. 2022
Tuesday, December 27. 2022
Anecdotally, it looks likely. But the catch is that it's the most fit people who do an hour or so most days, so is it causality? Statistically, fitter people are best prepared to deal with the attacks of nature: better disease-resistance, better healing, etc.
People with physical jobs do not need to think about it, but most of us do. In a way, daily exercise is an attempt to recreate a bit of what humans were built to do.
I feel that exercise (The Maggie's Fitness for Life program, especially) has the main goal of maintaining functionality and vigor for as long as possible. Sure, looking good matters too, in life. Nutrition for weight, exercise for strength.
Tuesday, December 13. 2022
(Page 1 of 22, totaling 532 entries) » next page