Saturday, April 20, 2013

Happy 420!

I don''t favor recreational drug use, but this is genius:

"The Smoke-Off" by Shel Silverstein (yes, the same guy who wrote The Giving Tree)

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (4/17/2013)

Haven't done one of these for awhile....

Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness.

A Yemeni man live-tweeted a US drone attack on his village. Highlights include: "#USA taught me English 1 day & took my life frm super miserable 2 very promising. 2day, it droned my village. The most divided feeling ever".

The elusive "good war".

"Neurotics are conscientious team members and should be appreciated and used more effectively in organizations." People should hire them.

Amazing self-portraits by a photographer with depression.

Bouncing from link to link in the usual fashion, I ended up on the Tumblr of a magnificent woman who calls herself the Goddamazon. I read some of her "sexcapades" posts (NSFW, of course), and now I kind of feel that my life has been a waste.

Much of my youth was spent listening to songs by people who hated Margaret Thatcher. Here are 21 of them.

Hundreds of Thousands of Rat-Sized, House-Eating Snails Invade Florida.

Ever wonder what you'd get if you crossed a duck with a horse? Or a lion with a guinea pig? Or a killer whale with a penguin? Now you can find out.

"Can someone please Photoshop the Sun between my fingers?" There are a lot of smartasses with Photoshop on the interwebs.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

In which I have a stroke (Part 3: Beautiful Nurse B-- is beautiful)

Not Beautiful Nurse B--, but in the same ballpark
My first morning in the ICU after my stroke, I awoke to find in my room perhaps the most beautiful woman I've ever met. "Good morning," she said with a beautiful sunny smile, "I'm your nurse this morning. My name is B--."

Of course, I couldn't answer with what I really wanted to say, which was (since the "drafty" hospital gowns left me waking up cold every morning I was in the hospital), "Good morning Nurse B--. I'm cold. Would you please snuggle under the covers with me until I feel warm?" Instead, I just said, "Good morning Nurse B--." Then I thought I should express some personal interest in her, so I asked her if "B--" was short for something, like the name it's usually short for. She said it wasn't short for that name, it was short for something else, a name I'd never actually heard before.

In my mind, I had already christened her "Beautiful Nurse B--." And this song kept running through my head:

I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.
I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.
I don't wanna be a pinhead no more. I just met a nurse that I could go for.

I guess if you're a straight guy and when you meet a beautiful woman, mainly you think about the Ramones, you may be overly immersed in popular culture. Or, I guess it means I really am a pinhead.

Well, next Beautiful Nurse B-- took my vital signs and went though the standard stroke patient tests to check for hemiplegia and weakness, which are "Squeeze my fingers" and then (with me still holding her hands) "Now pull me closer" and "Now push me away."

When she got to the "Push me away" part, I managed to come up with, "I don't want to push you away," for which effort I was rewarded with a patient smile, rather than what I deserved, which probably would have been something more like, "Stop trying to flirt with me from your hospital bed, you elderly1 ass-clown!" Of course, that actually wasn't very cool of me to do, because I'm sure she gets that kind of stuff all the time, and she's probably pretty tired of it. So I was kind of sorry afterwards, although she was so nice about it. And I left the nurses and other female personnel alone after that.

But they didn't leave me alone. Because, the next day, one of them (not Beautiful Nurse B--) came into my room to give me a sponge bath. Which can be a little embarrassing. Or a lot embarrassing, in some cases. Obviously, if you're a heterosexual male, when a kind woman gently ministers to your body with a warm sponge, there is a certain natural reaction that threatens to take place. Which, if it did, would be quite embarrassing to everyone involved.

In order to avoid that natural reaction, one therefore attempts to distract one's mind from physical sensations by deliberately thinking about things that are horrifying and repulsive, for example, "Rotting, dismembered corpses!" or "Drowning in a pit of raw sewage!" or "Ann Coulter!" Those thoughts turned out to be quite successful, and in the end I was left clean and without serious embarrassment (and admiring my own self-control a little bit). Of course, that was probably only because it wasn't Beautiful Nurse B-- who was doing the washing. If it had been, the effort would likely have been futile. I doubt even "Ann Coulter!" could have saved me then.

Anyway, for me it was kind of a positive sign that in the ICU the morning after I had a major stroke, I could still try to flirt a little with a woman half my age (although it was a little hard on her, and I'm sorry). It was proof that I wasn't that far gone. On the other hand, I think I must have actually been pretty far gone after all. Because my speech therapist2 said we met while I was in the hospital, but I didn't really remember her when we started outpatient therapy. Which is weird, because she's really great, and I would have expected to remember her quite well.

She's super positive and helpful, and gives me lots of useful mental exercises and stuff to do. Plus, she seems very insightful. I really feel like she gets me, which a lot of people don't. She does a great job of keeping the mood light (and even kind of laughs at me sometimes), which is exactly what I need, because I can be such a gloomy fuck sometimes. I deeply admire competence in a woman; I love a woman who's good at her job, and she sure is. Not only that, she's insanely cute too; absolutely adorable, with the most amazing infectious smile (complete with dimples) and beautiful brown eyes. And -- Oops! I better stop there, 'cause there's actually a pretty good chance that she's going to read this sometime, and I guess I've already embarrassed myself enough for one post. Sorry.

1Technically, I'm not elderly yet, but since I'm about 25 years older than Beautiful Nurse B-- is (and she's beautiful, of course), she'd be entitled.
2It's called "speech" therapy, but it's not actually that much to do with speaking per se, since I don't have any big problems in that area. It's actually more like cognition therapy, because it's all about getting my mind working right again.

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Image credit: redav / 123RF Stock Photo

Sunday, April 14, 2013

In which I have a stroke (Part 2: I am hospitalized)

After my wife called 911 and we went through the stroke questions over the phone, the paramedics came and examined me. They asked me the same questions again. The answers were still bad. They seemed to spend a long time on asking what happened and stuff like that. My nine-year-old daughter was able to fill them in pretty well. I thought I was doing OK with the narrative, but they seemed to prefer her version. They referred to her a couple of times as "our best historian." I was kind of proud of her, but kind of annoyed at the paramedics at the same time, because I thought I was doing fine telling the story.

Then it was finally time to get me into the ambulance. I worried for a second if they would have trouble getting me down our front steps (at 270 pounds/122 kilos; I've lost 25 pounds/11 kg since then, although I can't really recommend stroke as a weight-loss method), but it was no problem. I tried to raise my head to look at my wife and daughter before I left, but I couldn't. I thought for a second something else was wrong, but I'd seen enough football players on TV get carted off the field with head injuries to know that they always strap your head down when there's any kind of head or neck problem, and I could feel a strap across my forehead, so I quickly figured out what was going on.

I have no memory at all of the ambulance ride itself. I don't know if I was unconscious, or maybe I even fell asleep. It was pretty late. We got to the hospital, and I remember going inside and all because it was kind of a bumpy ride. After a few minutes in the Emergency Room, somebody took me to the scanning room to get a CT scan of my head. The technician there introduced herself by saying, "Hello, my name is Destiny." I thought that was a little weird. I knew there are people named Destiny, but I'd never had anyone say, "My name is Destiny" to me before. So, of course, I thought (but didn't say, because I wasn't that into her), "I suppose this scan must have been inevitable, then."

Well the CT scan found my right internal carotid artery was blocked. A neurosurgeon inserted a catheter through my thigh and pulled a blood clot out of the artery. Then he gave me a clot-busting drug. When he was done, I could move my arm again. I was left, though, with possible damage to the right basal ganglia, right temporal lobe, and right frontal lobe.

So, I was hospitalized, for the first time since my birth.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sunday, April 07, 2013

In which I have a stroke and thus come closer to dying than I ever have... (Part 1)

Not my head
Update: title change.

I had a stroke in late January, only a few days before my 51st birthday. I'm kind of young for a stroke, but I couldn't just have a heart attack like everyone else, no I had to go and be different again. FML.

It all started in the early afternoon. I was jumping rope, when I felt this weird, painful popping sensation high in my neck on the right side. At first, I actually thought it was my ear popping, but the pain wasn't in my ear (though it was pretty close). Then I thought maybe it's some kind of TMJ pain, because I have some serious TMJ clicking on both sides anyway. But I figured out that the popping had nothing to do with my jaw.

That was followed by the worst headache I've ever felt. I had no idea what was going on, but I decided to persevere and finish my workout (only had a couple of minutes left anyway). And I did, still noticing no symptoms except the headache. So I ate something, swallowed a bunch of ibuprofen, and laid down for a nap. Those three things -- food, ibuprofen, and sleep -- had always cured any headache I've ever gotten, so I was pretty sure the combination would work on my super-headache.

Well, this time they didn't. I got up about four hours later, took some more ibuprofen, and decided I'd try going in the hot tub for awhile and seeing if that would relax me and get rid of the headache. That didn't work either. Through that point, I still hadn't noticed any symptoms except for the really bad headache. I'd been able to finish jumping rope, which requires considerable bilateral coordination, I'd walked around the house just fine, I'd changed into my bathing suit, had no trouble getting the big, heavy cover off the hot tub, got in and out just fine, put the cover back on, and got dressed again. Still no problems except the headache.

Then the weirdness started. I was in my kitchen getting ready to do the dishes, when I felt an arm bumping my back. "Whose arm is that?" and "Who's pushing me?" was what I thought. It seemed to me that the kitchen was suddenly very crowded, even though in reality my nine-year-old daughter and I were the only ones in the room. And the arm that was bumping me was actually my own.

My torso felt an arm bump it, but my arm didn't feel a torso. I didn't know where my own left arm was. I didn't realize it yet, but I had no feeling and no proprioception in my left arm. But I still needed to wash the dishes, so I kept at it. Since I was wearing long sleeves, my first task was to push my sleeves up to my elbows. I pushed up my left sleeve with no problem. Then it was time to push up the right. For that, of course, I needed my left hand. I could still bend my arm at the elbow, so after a couple of tries, I managed to get my left hand onto my right wrist. But I could only do it by looking. I couldn't tell where my left hand was unless I looked at it.

That was my first realization that something was wrong. I thought, "My proprioception is out of whack!" Then I watched in growing confusion and fear as I moved my hand to my wrist, and, unable to grasp the sleeve and push it up, watched my hand slip off again. I don't know how many times I did that, but it seemed like dozens. It's hard to describe what it's like when part of your body suddenly completely stops functioning. Even after I lost hope that my hand would work, I just kept trying to do the same thing over and over again. I was scared. I didn't know what it was, but I knew something was very wrong.

Then I collapsed. I still don't really know why. I felt a little dizzy. Did I lose consciousness? I don't think so, actually. Because I didn't topple over, I sank straight down with a big "Thump!" I heard the sounds very clearly: "THUMP!" I hit the floor. "Thump-rrrrrrroooolllll!" I knocked over a two-liter bottle of soda that we were keeping on the floor by the fridge, and it rolled across the floor. I think probably my left leg went numb and stopped being able to hold me up, but I don't know.

After that, I just stayed on the floor while my wife called 911. I don't think I even tried to get up. The operator started giving her questions to ask me. At that point, I realized that they were asking me stroke questions and that most of the answers were bad. That's when I knew I was having a stroke.

It actually was kind of like this (although less ridiculous, since I didn't shout, shouting not really being in my nature):

It's been two over months, but that's actually still pretty uncomfortable to watch. Kind of gives me flashbacks.

I'll talk about what happened in the hospital in Part 2 (and beyond). And I'll address my current condition later as well. I'm pretty OK, actually, pretty much intact. People keep telling me how lucky I am. Whenever they do, all I can think is "Lucky people don't have strokes." But among people who did have a stroke, I'm one of the luckier ones.

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