Cardiologist visit

Last Wednesday I had my 6 mo Cardiologist checkup.  It has been 18 months since my Aortic Valve replacement surgery.  I was dreading this visit for my weight was up and I knew he was going to comment on it. I also wanted to have a conversation with him regarding reducing the dosage of the beta blocker I was on, for I felt it was limiting my hearts ability to respond to strenuous workouts, mainly treadmill work.  I knew this was a sensitive topic for him.

I was pleased my blood test results showed that my triglycerides was down significantly. This, I think, is due to my not drinking for the past month. I was wanting a ‘atta-boy’ and got a ‘of course, drinking messes with test results and the calories are bad.’ 

As expected, the visit was disappointing. My blood pressure was up, he didn’t like that.  He did comment that I needed to loose weight.  He basically scolded me for not working out more, “what’s keeping for exercising?”  I didn’t have a good answer other than winter, which was a lousy reason.

When I tried to talk to him about reducing my beta blocker dosage he scoffed at thought that the beta blocker was limiting my workout ability telling me that I didn’t need to work out that hard.  After all, I was 74 years old.  He told me to forget about training hard, eat less and exercise more in moderation.

He also thought I may be depressed and that I needed to fix that.  Why am I trying to work out so hard?  I should accept that I’m 74 and can’t do things a 20 year can do.

He did say my valve sounded good and to call him if I had any chest pain. 

He is a typical guy, doesn’t listen well.

I left depressed.

New Year – 2018

It is a rare person who can start a new year and not think of making some change or resolution. 

I tried to not do this.  

Then I got on the scales. 

I didn’t like the number and to avoid making the resolution that is almost assuredly to fail, i.e. loose ‘x’ pounds, where ‘x’ is an imaginary number, I just decided to eat more healthy and responsibly.  Since both those terms are loosely defined, I have lots of room to eat ice cream, popcorn, and other things I love.  

Then, as I was in the shower this morning, I thought: “It is a wise man who knows when to throw away an old tee shirt”   I often have these crazy or deep thoughts while showering.  As I toweled myself off, I had a further thought that I should capture these thoughts.  Why?  Well I suspect it is because few of us humans have rational thoughts in the shower.  That is probably why so many sing the shower.

So, I thought, would it be interesting if I could, or would, write something every day of the year. Then I realized I already missed the 1st and 2nd.  

That is why one should not think of making resolutions for the new year. 

Nor, should they place any merit for thoughts in the shower.

I’m now going to the garage carrying an old tee shirt that will become a new rag.  

One year later…

How do you mend a broken heart?

July 25, 2016 – around 2 or 3 am

She was a beautiful black woman.  She was around 5 foot two inches, smooth skin, large loop ear rings and her hair cut in a buzz cut, nearly bald. Her skull was perfectly shaped.  She carried herself with an aura of pride, strength, and coolness.

Being annoyed at being probed, prodded, and woken up a number of times already that evening, I asked what do you need?  Most likely I was fairly abrupt, for I do that without really trying, even before open heart surgery.

“It’s time for your bath.” She replied softly.

Wondering how that was going to happen, I asked: “What do I need to do?”

“You just need to lie there and relax. I’ll take care of it.” No smile, all business was in her tone of reply.

She went to the keyboard on the computer that was near my bedside, somehow she pulled up YouTube, keyed in something and I heard soft blues sole music started to play. 

She proceeded to wet washcloths in a basin of warm water and started at the foot of the bed.  She pulled up the sheet and laid it just below my crotch.  She removed my socks and proceeded to wash my feet and lower legs.  She hummed softly to the music as she worked.  The music was some kind of soft blues played by a soul brother.

I laid back and let her work.  I wondered to myself:  Just how thorough of a job is she going to do?   

She was a beautiful sexy woman and I told myself this was not the time to test my ability to get an erection after open heart surgery.  All I wanted to do is to enjoy her beauty, listen to the soft music and make her job easier.

After she finished my legs, she then moved to the top of the bed.  She helped me sit up and removed the hospital gown, and after washing my back, she asked me to lie down again.  She then folded the top of the sheet down over my crotch. With fresh washcloths and something she squeezed from a bottle she started washing my chest and incision area.  The song on YouTube changed.  I recognized the song: “How do you mend a broken heart?” by Al Green.

I grinned to myself, thought about it, then said: “Nice, appropriate, selection of music you made.”

As she started to wash the dried blood from my stitches, she replied quietly in a smooth sweet voice: “It helps me past the time.”  I could have easily gotten lost in her brown eyes and in another time would have loved to touch her smooth skin.

I laid back and let her clean my incision. As words of mending broken hearts played in my head, I thought of the suddenness of the decision to have surgery and the relief that I was not going to die today.

As she finished my chest, she swapped the bloody washcloth for a clean one and moved to my arms.

Somewhere between her gentleness and  the lyrics:  “Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again”, I found myself fighting back tears.

When she was done with my arms, she took a fresh, warm, washcloth and in a single motion removed the sheet covering my crotch and covered my genitals with the warm cloth, never exposing anything.

 I didn’t get aroused and then wondered if that part of me stilled worked.  

She finished quickly, covered me with a clean sheet and helped me put on a clean gown.  I don’t remember her ever making eye contact, and I think the only other thing I said to her was ‘Thank you’.

Then she was gone and the music stopped. The normal hospital sounds of beeping monitors returned.

She was the most mysterious woman I have every encountered and I wondered if she enjoyed her job or just toiled through it.

Of all the nurses I saw in my four days at Shady Side, she was the gentlest of them all. I only saw her that one time.

Days later, when I got home, I wondered if she were real or was it just a dream. 

To this day, one year later, I can’t listen to “How do you mend a broken heart” without fighting back tears. I’m still trying to figure that out.

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing
Today it works like this. Tomorrow, it works differently.
In the mid 90’s,  I made a decision that my staff would get Windows PC’s on their desktop, It was then that I started to develop a theory. My theory has to do with  the time it takes humans to adapt to change.  Some are faster than others, but none can adapt instantly.  Microsoft Office took sometime for my staff to learn, but they did. They used Outlook for email, learned to send files attached to email. schedule meetings.  They learned PowerPoint to better communicate their plans. They learned how to use Excel to better plan their work.  They became more productive. Then a year later, the company IT support department decided that everyone should migrate to the new release of Office. When it was installed in my staff’s desktop, it took them months to adapt to the differences between the old release and the new release. It took them months to reach the same level of productivity that they had before the upgrade. 
It was then that I developed a theory that, in order to benefit from new technology, one should not change it frequently.  Younger people would accuse me of getting old fashion.  So let’s fast forward to 2011.  Tablets like the iPad are taking over where PC’s use to be.  Smart phones like Google based Android and Apple’s iPhone are extending the reach of being connected and redefining applications.  Cloud computing like Google’s applications, Dropbox, Saas, and other new applications are replacing software that you install and run on your computing device. 
One of the big difference between Cloud computing and the old-fashion PC installed software is who decides when it changes.  In PC based installed software, normally the user decides.  Between 2000 and today (2011) that is often challenged with PC installed software often updating itself without the user’s knowledge. However, if one is technically astute, they can control when updates are done. 
Not so with Cloud computing.  One day it works this way, and tomorrow it works differently.  The user never sees a change coming. It just appears to work differently.  Currently, I’m a heavy user of Chrome and the Google applications. They are ‘free’ and I use Google docs often for spreadsheet and word processing needs.  Often, when I tried to do something as simple as add a column of numbers using the SUM function in spreadsheet talk, it works differently than it did before. The results, I frequently have to retrain myself how to get it to work.  It normally is just an minor aggravation, and only a small amount of disruption. Sometimes, however, the disruption can be more than minor.
I’m just forced to adapt, faster, more often, and unexpectedly.
If this trend becomes accepted behavior in the software and technology development world, and I claim it is, then what will happen when technology gets really sophisticated?
Let’s fast forward to 2030.  Singularity is upon us. Computing is pervasive.  You are always being monitored and connected to the Cloud.  Your transportation is automatic, your calendar is always updated, your family knows what is going on with you all the time, as does the legal world. Your TV, phone, tablet, desktop is now everywhere and you can not tell one from another. You have a ‘personal assistant’ that ‘lives’ with you. Some call it an AI robot, but is is really more than that. It takes care of you, plans your day. You depend on it for your health and well being.   You become attached to it. You like it. It likes you.
One day it works like this, then the next day it works differently.
What’s with that?   
Who, or what, is controlling whom?

… seize the moment…

I had became friends with a guy who was about seven years older than I am. He was a retired surgeon and he had taken up making pottery as a hobby. I got connected with him since my wife was a potter and  he would come to our Raku firings where I helped with the firings.

Jim and I connected for we were both honest, blunt, possessed a quick wit with a smart ass attitude, too much intelligence and too little tact. Coming across arrogant was easy and natural for us. Showing our true caring and heart was not.  

Jim convinced me that I should learn to throw pots on the wheel. So, I took lessons from him and learn to throw. I was his first pottery student. After each class, we could clean up and then sit on his deck and share a glass of fine scotch and talk of worldly issues. It was kind of like the last two minutes of the TV series ‘Boston Legal’. We got to like each other very well. I was laid off and even did some handyman work for him, but mostly we worked together as friends and he paid me.  We would have him and his wife over for dinner and they would reciprocate.  His wife, Gina, use to be his nurse, and Rita and I would joke about how Jim could not get away from acting like that a surgeon in his operating room.  It was in his blood, but in his heart he was a great person  

Jim sold his million dollar home and moved to Florida a few years after we became friends.    Rita and I moved to western PA to survive my being ousted from the high tech industry .  I visited him, stopping by on a trip to someplace. We shared a glass of Dewars and chatted of lofty things.  I missed Jim.  I would often quote him in my teaching of potter students. Even though we had little contact, I considered him one of my best friends.

I sent him an email the first of 2009 and Jim wrote me to let me know about his year long battle with bone cancer.  The letter sounded like a doctor describing a patient’s condition. Facts, but not much personal depth. That was Jim’s normal presentation that I could get through with a face-to-face probing. The letter did raise concern about his future. He sounded like he was working on his bucket list.  I didn’t write or email all through 2009. Shame on me.  

I finally got the nerve to email him again on Jan 19, 2010 to see how he was and ask about my sister’s cancer treatment. His wife wrote back saying he was very ill. His cancer has spread and that if I would write another email about my medical question, she would present it to him. I didn’t feel comfortable about asking Jim for medical advice when he was so ill.  I was really concerned about him.  I didn’t how or what to email. So I put it off.

Shame on me for not telling Jim what I felt about him.

Yesterday, Aug 13, 2010, I finally got enough nerve to send an email.  It was not deep, only asking how they were.  I was fearful that his wife would have to answer the email to let me know that Jim died.

She did. Jim died Jan 29, 2010. 

Her email sounded like it must have been painful to write.  She did share with me one insight that I, and others, need to hold close.  

She wrote: 
“… you should “seize the moment” at our ages, enjoy your life, do the things you wished to do, dreamed of etc. because you can be healthy one moment and critically ill the next.”

I will miss Jim. And, hopefully start “seizing”.  I will write Gina back today. Procrastinating about telling people you like them and think they are good people is not a good thing.

 We all will die. Nobody lives forever, Few know when. Some live longer than expected. Most die sooner than expected.

Death has a way of being permanent and we do not get ‘do-overs’. 

Guess,  it is time to make this life of mine worthy.

Medical Information

Had another MIR today. When I asked if I could have a copy, they said I would have to get it from the doctor – that he would have to give permission to release it to me. When and why did we allow others to have the right over us getting access to our own medical information? I believe we should own our own information.

Time for a rebellion!
Then they asked if they could make a copy of the MRI CD I had from 14 months ago. Oh, I can’t tell you how many smart ass possible replies came into my mind to that question. Before I gave it over, I did ask why they wanted it. Their answer was valid, so I let the copy it. However, it felt good that I had control over my own medical information, instead of somebody else having control over it.

Dr Visit today

After waiting an hour for the neurosurgeon, he and his PA had me walk on my toes, heals, hit me with a hammer in a few places and then declared that I needed surgery. They had read the MRI results.

I asked a few questions and some regarding his experience with back surgery. It was then that I found he had no lack of ego. I think the question that got him was when I asked: “How come the other specialist didn’t say I needed surgery 14 months ago when she read the same MRI you saw?” He didn’t even get it that I was suggesting he was recommending I do what he knew best and made a living at. He just told me that he was better at reading MRI than she was.

I asked if maybe we should get a new MRI before we rush to conclusion. He was somewhat taken back by the fact he was working off a 14 month old MRI and didn’t know it. (I just love deflating egos and try to do it gently, but probably wasn’t to gentle in this case.) So we will get a new MRI and meet again a few days later.

I will check this guy out. This is not something I will do without knowing and feeling good about doing it.
Saying that, my back pain is worst today than it has been in the last four or five days. Go figure!
And, oh, what did I do while I waisted my time waiting Mr. Ego to honor me with his presence? I read the ‘Year in Science Discover’ magazine front to back. Then, just because they pissed me off waiting for an hour and never saying they were sorry, I took their magazine home for Rita to read.