Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday, June 01, 2007

Introducing Dan, Dan The Surgery Man

Here is what you do when you have nothing interesting to post. You find someone else interesting and point folks to their blog. You may have noticed the new link to your right (my left). It is the blog tracking the recovery of my dear old friend Dan who, in the prime of life, suddenly found his brain host to an aneurysm. The story of his hand-to-hand combat for survival is enthralling, but the story of how this insipid symbiote was discovered will leave you amazed.

Before you go dashing off to this new blog, read the following, the text of two emails received from Dan in mid-April, reprinted here with no editing (including the misspelling of aneurysm), except to remove some identifying information:

Some of you hear from me quite frequently, some of you rarely hear from me, others of you hear about what is happening with us from Kathy...but in any case....whomever you may be....I wanted to bring you up to speed on the interesting Spring my family has been experiencing mostly because of my career and my genetic composition. I apologize if some of this is old news to some of you; others of you are hearing this first hand, and I apologize for not letting you know sooner.

So...first....the "bus" incident....You'd think after 30 years of school field trips, vacations and "...stay in your seats until the ______ stops moving..."'d just think someone would get it! Well, I got it...

We were calmly returning from our annual 5th grade pilgrimage to our state capital on Friday, March 30, moving at a missile-like 3 mph, in the Elementary School parking lot about 100 feet from where we would unload the kids, when I thought to myself, "Self, why don't you get the DVD out of the player, and position yourself to say a few last words of thanks to the kids, chaperones and driver before we disembark?" Smugly, I set about doing just this, (after all I've been doing this for 30 years!), when apparently a parent decided it would be a good day to pull out in front of a loaded 18-wheel tour bus. The bus driver slammed on his brakes and before I could do anything, I was airborne in the direction of the windshield, and the drivers console 4-feet below me. All I could think was, "Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap...this is gonna hurt"...and I was right. I busted the windshield with my shoulder or something, and then fell flat on my back onto the console, bending the wrong way, and knocking the wind out of myself...and doing some righteous damage to said console in the process.

By the time I could speak again, someone had already called 911, and the troops were on the way. (I want you to know that you would have been proud of the way I did not use any inappropriate language in front of the children and parents, even though I was confident there was a new GPS device installed in my left kidney) Long story a little shorter, the medics arrived and determined that neither was I dead, bleeding, or in danger of paralysis, so they asked me to get up and walk into the infirmary with them, which I did. (It was either that or watch as 35 fifth graders exited over my body which was now bridging the gap between the aisle and the top of the stairway.) Once in the infirmary they did some more prodding and questioning to determine that I was still not dead, etc. Strapping me onto a backboard, they then proceeded to haul my mangled carcass to Valley Medical Center where I spent the remainder of the evening being examined by human an d inhuman medical experts.

It was determined that the only fracture I had was "fairly minor". I cracked one of the little "rib wannabes" on one of the lower vertebrae. (Think of a vertebrae with tiny little of the wings has a crack in it.) So the prognosis is good, it's just that the muscles haven't got the word yet. I was released from the hospital that evening (Friday 3/30) These muscles are still spasming and asking "why?" So, I am on some friendly medicines, and I am about to receive physical therapy. I visited an orthopedic doc last Thursday, and he said I'd pretty much be out of the woods in two weeks or so, and be good to go for our big state testing, the week after Spring Break. (oh joy)

Now...Chapter 2...because I knocked out a windshield, the doctor wanted to be sure my brain was intact, so they did a CT scan of my cranium. In the process they found a brain aneurism, unrelated to the trauma of the day, and I've been following up on that as well. My primary care doc doesn't think it is too serious, in fact he thought I was quite lucky that this was discovered. He wanted to be sure it was really there, so he had an MRI done this last Thursday. I survived the MRI, but it did confirm that there is indeed an aneurism there. So, kind of a second layer to my concern that I don't know what to think about as of yet.

It's sort of a good news/bad news scenario. The good news is that my back is really improving nicely, and I'm counting on being back at school on Monday. The bad news is that the MRI showed a particularly difficult sort of aneurism. My primary doc had led me to believe that I had several options: 1.) We could just watch it and see if it got's pretty small, he said. 2.) It could be treated with "gamma/knife radiation". And although this appealed to me because of the cool name as much as turned out to not be an option either. 3.) Option 3 involved ..."a more invasive" form of treatment. (note to self: words you never want to hear from your doctor). Apparently because the aneurism is right at a point where another artery branches off the only to deal with it is to "manually" go in and clamp the aneurism off. It is imperative to do this before the aneurism bursts.

In other words, I am seeing a brain surgeon so that he can do surgery on my brain. I'll try to keep the graphic descriptions to a minimum here, but basically my neurosurgeon will need to get to the aneurism which is on the right side of my head, find the 5mm aneurism and clamp it off, so it is no further problem. Data shows that not doing this is a very bad idea. However data shows that doing it is hardly risk free, either. He would like me to do this sometime in the next 3 months. It will involve about a 1/2 day of surgery, 3-4 days in the hospital, and then about a 4-week recovery period at home with Chloe, our yellow lab.

Honestly, this is a little scary for Kathy, the kids and myself. We would really appreciate your prayers. Just the little things right now are a little puzzling to all of us. When is the right time to do this? Is this doctor any good? Should we get another opinion? Is this going to determine that I need to retire now? Why me? On and on... It is showing me that while our lives may seem stable, things can occur to knock them off balance rather quickly. We have a wonderful network of supporting family and of other friends at work, in our neighborhood, and at church. Thank you all for your support and encouragement as we got through Chapter 1. We'll keep you posted on Chapter 2.

Pretty exciting, huh? Okay - now you can go to the DDTSM blog!

Full Employment without the Carbs

Well, I for one enjoy a story with a happy ending. Betsy has accepted a job with the competition, with an office close enough to join Tom, Patrick and me for coffee once in a while. I expect her to call any day now asking for the return of her refrigerator which continues to emit its high-pitched whine under my desk. It will be hard to let go, I am actually using the little guy.

I have eliminated all processed foods, along with all carbs with the exception of fresh fruits and vegetables from my diet. After all, there's only 5 more years until my 35th college reunion!

I trust that this modest post will spur my more verbose brethren to resume their often entertaining and usually interesting contributions if for no other reason than to make up for my banality!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Au Revoir, Elizabeth

All afternoon I though there was lightning in the sky outside. It turns out that one of my ceiling lights is beginning to die – a process that begins with an occasional flicker, advances to a nausea-inducing strobe and then to utter darkness only after which building maintenance may replace the bulb.

There is a damp patch in the carpet where Betsy’s refrigerator, evidently not house-broken, has left it’s defrosting. I am now a foster caregiver to this battered little appliance. I will keep an eye on it until Betsy finds another position, either here or at another institution.

This is Betsy’s last day. The four of us made what may be our final coffee run this morning at 10:00. In about 90 minutes, many of us will leave the floor for a nearby establishment where her exit interview will be conducted. This, of course, is not the real farewell, only another excuse for her many fellow employees to cadge a free drink or two or three out of our employer.

The real farewell was yesterday. The four of us, Tom, Patrick, Betsy and I, climbed into a cab and directed the hack to Taylor Street’s “Little Italy” where we dined at a restaurant whose name I cannot remember. Although a farewell, the mood was festive, made even more so by two bottles of wine, the second of which was a 2001 Tedeschi Amarone della Valpollicella Classico. It is a simply marvelous red, and I understand that Sam’s Club carries it for $50 a bottle. I must commend Tom on his restraint; having given up wine for Lent he permitted only Diet Coke with lime to elevate his mood. The food was excellent; of particular note were the calamari, the duck-stuffed ravioli and the wild boar with wide noodles. There was much laughing and camaraderie, all in all a fitting send off for our coffee bud. Needless to say the rest of the afternoon was somewhat of a blur.

The little white refrigerator makes an annoying high-pitched whine that can be heard only by dogs and anyone sitting in my office chair. I may have to find a closet in which to store it until Betsy reclaims it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Winter Wonderland

My next-door neighbor, Jim, just went for more gas. The steam rises off my peppermint tea and, looking over the top of the monitor, I see that the snow has painted the sidewalks white again. There are few things I find more meditatively centering than blowing snow. To think that I was almost 50 before I discovered this noisy, yet calming activity.

Jim has a larger 2-stage rig, but I am perfectly content with my Honda Harmony. My HS520AS has the ability to move up to 12 inches of snow up to 26 feet and the capacity to move up to 55 tons per hour. This evening, Jim cleared the sidewalk on our side of the street, so once I finished our driveway and front walk, I crossed the street to blow some other neighbors' snow.

Sure it is white, fluffy and beautiful in a starkly cold way. But it has its drawbacks - when I arrived at the train station this evening the vestibule was full of people dumbly staring at the tracks where the trains were supposed to be. Not to be outdone, I joined them. I have a Dean Koontz book going on the mp3 player, so it was not hard to put a blank look on my place and wait with everyone else.

Although I have not posted for some time, it is not for lack of trying. Once I spotted the "nasty links" comments on my last post I knew I had to be more diligent about maintaining this blog. After deleting those comments, I checked my drafts - there are several, but none ready for publication. There is one with real potential that I have titled "Flirting with Fitness, Redux" where, having successfully resisted Sandy's charms I nevertheless caved in to Carla. I blame it all on the blog reunion at which my extra-largeness became too obvious next to my companions not to mention that our 30th reunion is only months away. There is another one where I point out that Westmont College is searching for its 8th President and encourage everyone to start a write-in campaign for SC. There is also one I call "Comfy Grey Boiled-Wool Slippers" which is not so much a satire of Shilohman's "Little Red Shoes" as it is a tribute to my favorite 2006 Christmas present.

At the root of my bloglessness is no doubt a chronic depression stemming inextricably from my desire not to be working for Canadians but instead to win the lotto and devote my days to blowing snow for charitable organizations and the underprivileged. We are no longer celebrating President's Day and we are also laying off really good people this month. Betsy got the ax. Tom and Patrick and I are hoping she will find work nearby so that we can continue our 10:00 coffee runs. If not we will contact HR and post for a replacement. As so often happens this time of year, the resignations have been plentiful. Cliff, Peggy and Jolene are all leaving and all will be missed. I am currently interviewing candidates for Jolene's position. Last time one of these jobs was open it took 9 months to fill the post, but I am hoping to pirate Colleen away from a competitor. She looks kind of like Jolene and the first names are similar enough that, I'm thinking, the clients may not even notice.

The peppermint tea is one of 20 or so home remedies I am employing to fight off what feels to be the beginnings of a cold. Rather than chase it down with psyllium this evening, I will pull down the Christmas present that Betsy gave me - a bottle of vodka infused with pomegranate, tangerine and cranberry. The label reads: "Winter Shine - chase the darkness away." Only for medicinal purposes, you understand. Then I'm off to bed because there will be lots more snow to blow come the morning.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Oil Change

Thursday morning. I am enjoying a bit of well deserved time away from my office this week and next. We have played countless rounds of Life, Spy Alley, Careers, Whoonu and many other great family games. Even Mrs. OG has notched her velocity down a few units - it is all very relaxing.

I rose early this morning and brought my 14 year-old Honda in for an oil change. I endured Species II for 10 minutes before realizing that this television was also a PC. "Hey," I thought, "why not post to my blog?" It had been so long I was afraid I had forgotten my password. But then I had to make a small effort to catch up on all the other blogs. FYI, Shilohguy, we saw the Nativity Story on Christmas eve, and there was a spotlight out of heaven.

Then I began to worry that they would call my name and I would have to let the guy waiting for this terminal finish this post. Then, even more disconcerting was the thought that I have very little to say.

Friday morning. While I worried about what to write, they called my name. The 3rd brake light is out, the tires are down to 4/32" and the first leak of any kind in 14 years appears to be coming from the valve cover gasket, but I will have to make another appointment to get that checked out. I had a $10 coupon, so all things considered it was a good visit. I logged off and drove home. Today I brought in my 3 year-old Honda for an oil change and, guess what? The very same terminal was available and, there were a couple of chocolate donut holes left - bonus!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Random Acts of Smoking Kindness

Westmont Receives
$75 Million Gift

An anonymous donor has given $75 million to Westmont, the second largest gift ever for a national liberal arts college. Westmont Chancellor David K. Winter announced the gift on Friday, Oct. 27.

“Dudes, this is totally momentous news,” Winter said. “It will enable us to totally endow the Pete Mallory chair in the School of Surfing and provide totally rad boards free of charge to every student who wants to hang ten. We may never be the Harvard of Evangelical Education but this student body can match the bodies at any other institution tan for tan and thong for thong. Cowabunga!"

The anonymous donor wishes to be recognized only as a friend of the college who does not hold a grudge for being expelled from the campus before completing his education at UCSB. "When I was at Westmont," so says this generous benefactor, "I used to tell incoming freshmen that I was a combination Business & Bible major. I would tell them I planned on making a fortune off of the Gospel. That didn't pan out so I went into advertising and although I am now unemployed, I made a killing off the sale of my home in Pacific Palisades. If I kept the $75 million for myself, I would only squander it on cigarettes."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

You want photos, we got photos

There appears to be an alarming tendency to post photos with blog entries in order to divert attention away from banal and stultifying narratives. Here at OGWND we stridently decry such tactics and vow that any photos posted will be germane to the issue being discussed.

Happy World Egg Day!