ketchup

Dec. 19th, 2008 11:57 pm
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
So here's what I've been doing the last couple weeks: two weeks ago, caught a cold. Hasn't completely gone away yet. Tried taking pseudoephedrine to stop the snot, and got zapped by my ICD for my trouble. The day after that (last Friday) drove up to Philadelphia to see niece in high school play - she is a freshman, but got one of the front parts usually reserved only for seniors; the family habit of singing loudly in public at the drop of a hat has some uses. Came back Saturday afternoon; played holiday concert at CCBC-Essex with the BSB on Saturday night. Sunday afternoon, I played a holiday concert with the Montgomery Village Community Band, while [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet played one with the Bel Air Community Band, each 40 miles in opposite directions from C'ville. And at that, we missed two other performance opportunities we had for the same afternoon; since Thanksgiving was so late this year, the number of weekends available for holiday performances is scrunched down, so a lot of things were happening at the same time.

Monday, I slept. Well, woke up for meals, but otherwise slept. Tuesday I also slept, though I woke up for taking Chippy-chin to the vet for a follow-up; he is almost all healed up from Darwin's attack. Wednesday, let's see, I believe I actually woke up for a few hours Wednesday, and worked on the many homemade holiday presents I have not yet finished. Thursday we went to the library, and I finished buying the last few little things I needed to buy for assorted nieces and nephews. Then Thursday evening, Cindythelibrarian took us to see a show, as part of her Christmas present to us. The show was "Every Christmas Story Ever Told" presented by the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and it was great. A three-man show doing them all - Charlie Brown, The Grinch, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and (due to copyright issues) Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat. If you're in the area, it's playing through Sunday. My favorite part was the first act closer, The Nutcracker ballet. If you're on my flist, chances are you are familiar with Anna Russell's version of The Ring Cycle; imagine the Nutcracker condensed that way and you about have it. Complete with actual ballet dancing, done very well and very funnily. (Funnier for women my age than for men, because women of my generation, if we were anywhere above poverty level and even some below, we took ballet lessons when we were six years old or so; it was just one of those things. Ten years older and you probably didn't; ten years younger and you probably didn't, but all of us who are fifty-mumble took those lessons, whether at a dance school, or cheap group public school stuff on Saturdays in the gym, we all learned the five positions, and plies, and so on. Bit of cultural literacy there.) The second act was a merger of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and "It's a Wonderful Life" and then ended by singing every Christmas song ever written in about three minutes. We really enjoyed it.

And Friday, today (or yesterday, depending on how you feel about nights and stuff), I went to the doctor and got some stuff that's supposed to stop the nose drip without causing hypertension or arrhythmia; we'll see how that works. Also stopped at Jo-Ann's and got some yarn for one last teddy bear xmas present, and at Trader Joe's for freeze-dried strawberries; the chinchillas get VERY peeved if we run short on strawberries, and one really doesn't wish to risk the wrath of a peeved chinchilla. And now I am back to working on those presents - gotta finish place mats for Steph, potholders for Jen, teddy bear for Luke...

I have not had time or energy, outside of concerts and colds, to do any xmas shopping for anybody not part of my immediate family. If some of you normally get a Solstice/Chanukah/xmas present from me, well, this year, expect a New Year's present, or an Epiphany present, or maybe even a Martin Luther King Jr. Day present... There are a couple small things going out in the mail tomorrow to Texas, and a couple more small things on Monday, that might get there before New Year's.

One of the things we haven't done, either, is get up to NYC, which I wanted to do. Since the Museum of Natural History keeps their tree up through the end of the month, I am thinking we might go the week after Christmas; even though it'll be a little more crowded 'cause kids have off from school, a weekday should still be tolerable. Possibly Monday the 29th. (T, I'll call you about possible lunch!)

Now back to work.
bunrab: (alien reading)
Please forgive the several days without posts; I was having a little argument with my new defibrillator - nothing life-threatening, but it used up a couple days of my life to figure that out; it's just some odd neuropathy being triggered while the scar tissue inside forms around the device, and that nerve irritation merely happens to feel like daggers being stabbed through my shoulder. But all's well now that we know what it is, and as healing continues, it will fade - within a couple weeks.

Meanwhile, reading: a couple of books on the "you like this author, so try this other author" list I've been building from recommendations. The Fat Innkeeper by Allan Russell - a murder mystery, somewhat humorous; there were some elements of the writing style I wasn't crazy about, but overall it was OK, an adequate plot and reasonably fair solution. The characters along the way, particularly the car, Annette, and the sea worm from which one of the characters gets his nickname, are fun. Another author, Joseph Hansen, the last book in his Dave Brandstetter series (the title escapes me at the moment, but "The last book in the Dave Brandstetter series" is the subtitle) - it was OK, but a bit contrived for my tastes. A couple of mystery short story collections.

Currently reading: The Omnivore's Dilemma - this one's fascinating, and you'll get a few select quotes from it shortly, once I'm caught up on stuff.
bunrab: (bunnies)
Ya know something? I think I'm running out of cheerful on medical stuff. This morning, as I lay in bed, I found myself writing and rewriting a letter to my surgeon, telling him just how annoyed I was at him for violating the spirit of our agreement not to keep my incision open for extra poking. Actually, I was downright angry. His explanation, as best I can remember from talking to him before being discharged from the hospital, was that he didn't keep the incision open, just the catheter in the groin, so that they could look at the heart from that direction, and there was much less chance of infection from that. Well, that is true. BUT. He kept me under anesthesia for several hours longer than expected, giving me a much worse case of post-surgical amnesia than expected (which is especially upsetting to a control freak such as I am), as well as worrying the hell out of [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet, waiting out in the waiting area - and waiting, and waiting... Yeah, I am pissed off about that. I'm going to let the letter simmer in my brain for a few more days, refine it to shorter and more civil while still being firm and pointing out the negative consequences of his actions, so probably around next Monday I'll be ready to put it into hard copy and mail it to him.

Meanwhile, however, I will admit that I'm doing OK now. The incision itches, a sign of healing. The shoulder and arm don't ache too much; I haven't needed any aceteminophen (generic Tylenol) at all yet today, and I could reach my own seat belt in the car. Seems entirely likely that I'll be completely able to play the saxophone by next Monday's rehearsal. Just have to be careful on range of motion and weight lifting - I definitely can't carry the bari sax myself for a few weeks; such strain, even if my shoulder doesn't hurt from it, may pull one of the leads slightly out of position.

Other medical stuff on the horizon: starting an active discussion with my doctor and my insurance company over whether it's really safe and sane to stop covering the statin I take, Lipitor, just because one of the other statins is now available in a generic form. Not all statins are identical, nor have all been studied for their synergistic effect in heart failure treatment over and above their main purpose of lowering cholesterol. So I don't think they can be regarded as interchangeable. But, that will require some active intervention from my doctor to justify. Whee.

In other news, we returned some library books today. We have got everything into the new fridge, and reasonably well arranged, and accomplished some other small cleaning and rearranging chores in the kitchen which will make life a teensy bit easier. Things we did not do, which really need to get done soon:
  • pet store for rabbit and chinchilla food and chinchilla bath dust
  • hardware store for hardware cloth or chicken wire for enclosing porch for bunny exercise pen
  • finish Anita's poncho
  • get hair cut

    OK, that's enough.
  • bunrab: (chocolate)
    As in, discharge time Tuesday was supposed to be around 10 a.m., but I actually got let out of there around 5 p.m. So that was most of the day shot.

    And today I still mostly slept - even moderate sedation, as opposed to general anesthesia, leaves a person groggy for a couple days till it all gets out of the system. And also gives one *very* strange dreams.

    Right now, the refrigerator delivery guys are late. I guess late is the new on time.

    Anyway. As expected, they did not manage to implant the 3rd lead. They did spend a little more time looking for ways to do it than they promised, thereby alarming [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet and also thereby subjecting me to a bit more sedation than I wanted; I have amnesia for the whole day, although I supposedly woke up, ate, chatted with the doctors, etc. The extra exploration did give them a good picture for when, maybe six months from now, they go back in to do the third lead a different way. Apparently, the route to my coronary sinus is much tinier and twistier than normal, enough so to be interesting to a doctor who sees lots of them every week.

    It was never on my list of goals in life to be on a chatty first name basis with a bunch of cardiac ward nurses - people who see me and ask about the rabbits, people I see and ask about their due date, etc. But that appears to be the situation in which I find myself - well enough acquainted with John, Gerry, Cookie, Pelagie, etc. to even recognize them in other hallways.

    Since hospital food sucks, even at the great Johns Hopkins, I brought my own food with me, which everybody thought was funny, but which made me popular with my roommate, as she was finding the hospital food bland to the point of inedibility too. I brought low-fat yogurt, and low-fat chocolate pudding, and fresh fruit, and reduced-sodium cheese and low-sodium crackers, and good fresh-brewed iced tea, and just totally ignored the food the hospital served. And my menu was every bit as low-fat and low-sodium as their nutritionist-planned ones. There's gotta be a lesson there. Let's hear it for end-of-season nectarines and peaches!!

    OK, that's enough for now. Itching occurs, and also I've made myself hungry by talking about food!
    bunrab: (chocolate)
    Since after tomorrow's surgery* I won't be able to ride the bike for a few weeks, we decided to do a bit of riding today, so we went down to Laurel to eat at the Silver Diner. Lovely weather for riding. I'm the one who was singing "House of the Rising Sun" at the top of my lungs.

    Our bikes are "standard" models, the increasingly rare sit-up-straight-and-ride kind - not cruisers where you lean back with your legs stuck straight out in front, nor crotch rockets where you hunch over the gas tank. Sit up straight and ride is not actually quite perfectly straight, of course; for best control of the handlebars there is a very slight forward lean. What I've noticed is that on my particular bike, for my particular height and mass, about 75 mph seems to be the perfect speed at which the wind pressure supports me completely, no effort needed on my part to sit at exactly the right posture, nor to keep adjusting my shoulders and elbows. For all I know, 85 may do as well in a sheer physics sense, but that's fast enough that I would be tenser; wind support or no wind support, my shoulders would be stiff at that speed for more than a few seconds. I'm most comfortable in the 55 to 75 range when I'm on the highway (and frankly, 40 to 50 mph on a curvy back road, a leisurely scenic ride, is just fine with me, too).

    *Monday at 7:30 a.m. I get my new pacemaker/ICD - I have to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m., ugggghhhh. It's really simple surgery, should not be any complications this time. Just because of my history, they'll keep me overnight for observation, but I'll post when I get home Tuesday, to let you all know I'm OK. I have the doctor's solemn promise that if the third lead does not go in on one ordinary try, they will not keep trying; they will just do the rest of the device as usual, and sew me back on up, so that I don't have any extra exposure to hospital bacteria, nor will I worry anyone by having extra doctors come in and give it a try, taking extra time. (It worries a spousal unit when one is in surgery 2 hours longer than expected...) So, straightforward and safe. Usually, they only use a local anesthetic plus Versed to make one sleepy, rather than a general anesthesia; even so, Versed makes me a little less than completely alert for about 24 hours - awake but not alert, prone to doze off and to not remember conversations real clearly. So I don't bring any knitting that requires thinking with me to the hospital. Sort of the whole "don't operate heavy machinery while taking this medication" thing, except it applies to light machinery that happens to require very careful fine motor control plus concentration, as well. Stuff knitted while under the influence of morphine and related compounds tends to be good only as cat toys, and even the cats are a bit scared of those blobs at first.

    So, see you all Tuesday.
    bunrab: (chinchillas)
    Well, the stress echo shows that my ventricles are discordant - one side blobs out when it should be squeezing in; when I exercise, my EF DROPS from 20% down to the 10-15% range. (In the middle of the walk, my blood pressure started dropping because of this. Apparently, this is significantly abnormal enough to wind the test down early.) The bi-ventricular pacemaker would definitely be at least a partial fix for this, if they could get that bi-v lead in, and it looks like it would be worth a third try at it. So, my cardiologist called another EP (electrophysiologist, the pacemaker surgeon) and I go in to see him in a few weeks, and we discuss what we'd need to do to make sure that a third try at putting in a third lead would not be a complete waste of time and money; what can he do differently to avoid the stuff the other EPs ran into? Since the new pacemaker would need to go in a different spot, because the old location is all scar tissue now, where, precisely, would we put it? (And if I was freaking out airline security before, having a pacemaker when I'm not a little old lady, imagine if I have a pacemaker in some spot other than the upper left thorax!) And a few other questions. But anyway, there's no question but that my heart needs the help.

    whine )

    More stuff

    May. 2nd, 2006 02:40 am
    bunrab: (afghan)
    Which to discuss first: the finished socks, the tuna salad recipe, the band rehearsal, or the medical update? Well, that's as good an order as any, I suppose.

    Finished socks: the brown pair. If you recall, this was the pair where I did the rest of the cuffs after doing the foot. The pictures behind the cut illustrate that process. This is one of the self-striping yarns, in a sport weight rather than a sock weight, so it's already too warm outside to wear these; into a mothproof plastic bag they go till next fall.
    bigger pictures )

    The tuna salad recipe:
    2 cans tuna - depending on where you live, cans of tuna may be 6 oz., 6.5 oz, even 7 oz; doesn't matter too much for this. I use white chunk tuna packed in water.
    2 stalks of celery, sliced and diced into small bits
    1/2 white onion, sliced and diced
    4 ounces of fresh white "button" mushrooms, sliced and diced
    1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecan pieces

    Dressing:
    about 2/3 of a small jar of mayonnaise (reduced-fat or whatever kind you like)
    1 tsp yellow mustard
    2 Tbsp lemon-pepper seasoning (e.g., Mrs. Dash in the lemon-pepper flavor; you can use the kind with salt if you prefer)

    Mix everything together. Taste. If it tastes bland, add more mustard and lemon-pepper seasoning. If you want crunchier, add more celery and pecans.

    That's it.

    Band rehearsal:
    Sooner or later, someone is going to injure themselves in that overcrowded band hall... this was our last rehearsal before we go to Williamsport on Friday; we sounded pretty good! Not perfect, but the bassoons have it a LOT more together than they have heretofore. Some people did not show up for tonight's rehearsal, and did not call or email ahead of time; if I were the ruler of the universe, such people would be told not to bother to come to the concert either, but then, I'm mean.

    Medical stuff:
    Got some very expensive supplies covered by insurance and thence shipped to me, arrived today. Bandages that do not itch. That being the main problem now - the wound is healing fast, but it was reaching the point where all the skin around it was breaking into a rash or blisters if I so much as LOOKED at most bandages. So now I have some fake skin stuff called Primacol, and then foam sticky bandages called Mepilex (made in Sweden), and the foam bandages stick to the fake skin, which sticks to my real skin but in a much smoother manner, somehow, than bandages. What I'm calling "fake skin" is a "hydrocolloid dressing" and it's not really intended to be fake skin, but it is intended to rest on skin long-term, so that one does not have to peel off a bandage and then apply another one, and then peel off another one... Anyway, that's probably TMI, but if there are any medical trivia freaks out there besides me, I thought you'd want to know.

    Ingredients

    Apr. 8th, 2006 04:33 pm
    bunrab: (geek)
    Hydrogel, the wonder goo that we are soaking the gauze in to dress my wound, which doctors and nurses all swear is the best thing to happen to healing since sterile saline solution, is made of:
    Deionized water, aloe vera gel, glycerin, sorbitol, carbomer 940, triethanolamine, allantoin, methylparaben, disodium EDTA, and imidazolidinyl.

    That's right, it's basically aloe vera gel.

    I do wonder why the sorbitol is in there; that's one of the so-called alcohol sugars, frequently used as a sweetener in sugar-free candy and gum.

    For today's nice hot shower, instead of kitchen plastic wrap and plastic packaging tape to cover the dressing and keep it water-free, I used a purchased waterproof dressing; it works quite nicely. It's a 3M thing, their Nexcare brand, and as it notes on the packaging, it is used in hospitals, where it is called Tegaderm (TM)+ Pad. If one peels off the Nexcare label with all the consumer info, one sees the hospital labelling underneath, including a ruler in centimeters (the one on the consumer label is inches) for measuring the wound. The hospital stuff also includes a description of the product in a great many languages. Transparent Dressing with Absorbent Pad comes out fairly recognizably in most of the Romance languages, and in the Germanic languages, in which group I include the Scandinavian languages other than Finnish. I know people like to think of their own dialect as something unique, but people, those of us with our years of high-school or college German can read half a page of Swedish before realizing that the spelling is just a little bit off, and eventually noting some of the characters such as ø that give away that it's Swedish rather than German. Anyway, I can also read the Greek part of it - not just sound out the letters, because anyone who has enough math and science background pretty much learns the Greek alphabet, but actually READ it - because I can think of cognates for all the words. DiajaneV is easy, for example: diaphanous. The only two lines I can't read are the Japanese one, and the one that I am guessing is Finnish ([livejournal.com profile] elfbiter, is it?): Läpinäkyyä haavatyynyllä varustettu haavakalvo. Darned if I can find any cognates at all in that!!
    bunrab: (teacup2)
    All the messages I got from you while I was in the hospital were wonderful.
    I had just hit a temporarily whiny moment.

    OTOH, let me point out that a great number of LJ "users" are people who have gotten a name so that they can respond with comments to other people, not so that they can actually run their own LJ. I suspect that if one eliminated from the stats all those who have only 1 or zero postings to their own journal, indicating that they are not on LJ for their own sake, that the median numbers and those percentages would change drastically.

    My regular cardiologist, whom I saw Friday, says that I am handling all this with far more equanimity than anyone else he's seen in a similar situation. Well, I'm trying to. But I do have the occasional whiny moment, a bit of crankiness. I try not to let it get out of hand, as whining is quite pointless. One of the things I haven't found yet in our boxes is my little pocket copy of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations which I need to randomly flip through for a reminder dose of common sense. While I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a Stoic, an awful lot of Aurelius strikes me as a good way to lead a life. A good hearty dose of "this is the life you've got, now go out and use it and stop whining!" is what I need. Perhaps I'll go buy a different edition just to get a different translation and to have something until I find the other. (No, my Latin has never been anywhere near good enough to read him in the original.)
    bunrab: (schneider)
    Boots really is an idiot, even as guinea pigs go. Almost all guinea pigs are absent-minded enough that if they drop a carrot while they're eating it, they'll forget it's there, and go wandering off to steal a different carrot out of another piggie's mouth, because they have no idea where the carrot they just had, has gone to. Boots is worse than that. In mid-chew, he'll forget he has a bite of carrot in his mouth, stop chewing, and look around, and then suddenly, several seconds later, something will startle him, he'll notice he has carrot in his mouth, and go back to chewing that mouthful. Sometimes it takes him several tries to remember to finish and swallow. Sheeeeeee. Good thing he's cute.

    Recent reading )

    brief medical update )
    bunrab: (Default)
    The bad news is, nothing good happened either, which is why I am back at the keyboard on Thursday evening. After digging around and poking under my heart for a couple more hours than planned, the doctors still could not get through a bit of membrane that's not supposed to be there, to get the new lead into the proper spot. Damn!

    The upsides to this: I got to come home Thursday afternoon (although all I did once I got home was sleep). I'm not any worse off than I was before. I met some very nice people - the team of nurses was John, Joanne, and James, which has got to be confusing on occasion; had a nice conversation about motorcycle touring with John, and James has a peculiar sense of humor. Hari (whose full name I actually *can* spell and pronounce, but I'll spare you) told me stuff I didn't know about how Indians usually sign their names and why US counterfeiters/forgers/ID thieves always get it wrong. All in all, I picked up a nice amount of trivia to add to my stores. And the recovery people actually listened to me - when I woke up, there was a turkey sandwich and orange juice and cranberry juice waiting for me, which they let me gobble down right away.

    The downsides: well, many things are the same as if the surgery had been successful: there's an incision in my chest, it hurts like hell, I need to take the same painkillers and antibiotics as if we had actually accomplished something. Sitting up to get out of bed is difficult when one can't use one's left arm to balance on or push with. I can tell that the sedative hasn't quite worn completely off yet-I'm making far more typos than usual. I guess that's in part because instead of being out of surgery by 11 or so, they kept trying, and it was after 1:00 before they said let's call it a day before we poke through something wrong, so I've had a larger dose of the sedative than expected.

    And my shoulder is sore and I'm not going to keep typing for much longer, but I did want to give y'all this update. What the future holds: sometime in a few months, after this incision heals up, we discuss doing things the hard way - cracking open a couple of ribs so that the dr can peer right in at the heart directly rather than through fiber optics, and can actually push things aside if need be. That will be more serious surgery, requiring several days in the hospital and weeks of recovery, so I told him let's plan on after 4th of July- usually no band concerts from July 5 to the end of August, so if I can't play, that's the time not to. Although it will interfere with some nice bike riding weather. Anyway, not going to worry about it yet - sufficient unto the day is the wickedness thereof.

    Now I am going to lie back down and rest my arm. And do my best to keep Pickle from jumping on it to offer me sympathy.

    K AFK FAFD

    Mar. 1st, 2006 01:30 am
    bunrab: (schneider)
    Kelly will be away from the keyboard for a few days:
    I need to be at Johns Hopkins at 6-freakin-30 Thursday morning for prep for surgery, and will be in the hospital overnight; I'm getting a new lead added to my pacemaker; Wednesday I will be very busy trying to do RL things that I shouldn't put off till after surgery, such as paying bills, getting a new octave key linkage pin put in my bari sax, and assorted other errands in the Montgomery County, area such that I may not get a chance to post on Wednesday (other than this 1:30 a.m. post) and so probably won't sit back down at the computer until Saturday. Just so's y'all know why I am out of sight for a bit.

    The surgery is minor, but it's one of the reasons we moved up here - better technology, better doctors, so they can put in the third lead for bi-ventricular pacing that the doctors in Austin couldn't back when I got the ICD/pacemaker in 2003. Since it involved poking around just under the clavicle, it leaves the shoulder a bit sore for a few days, which may curtail both typing and knitting. Possibly even saxophone playing. Definitely riding - after I got the pacemaker in 2003, I wasn't allowed on the bike for 2 weeks, and I imagine this will be similar, since there will be stitches that they don't want rough pavement and a bouncy ride interfering with. There, that's more than enough detail, right?

    Squirrel Magnet will be at the hospital with me, of course, and will have my cell phone, if any of you need to contact me.

    Try not to do anything TOO newsworthy till I get back, OK?

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    bunrab: (Default)
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