Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bad Kidney, Dead Kidney

The biopsy's back; the Evil Kidney was cancerous. Fortunately, it was stage-1, meaning the cancer was enclosed and hadn't metastasized. Doc says there's a 5% chance I'll need to worry about that.

In the 2 weeks since the evil one was removed, all sorts of things have improved:

--My lower legs had been swollen since January, but the swelling's maybe 95% gone. That hasn't improved the walking issues, which are likely a blood-flow matter.

--My blood pressure's down to the point where I have to scale back my meds.

--I'm feeling a bit more energetic, but I still get worn out pretty quickly. Lots of sleeping and naps.

Speaking of which...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

So What's Kidney Removal Like?

I don't know.

The whole thing seemed surreal to me right up until I woke up. I've never seen my own insides (aside from one CAT scan display), so the notion of something being removed didn't really mean a lot.

Once I checked in on the 12th, there was maybe an hour of paperwork and questions to answer before I was rolled to the Operating Room. It was maybe 9 a.m.

The staffers moved me to a narrow table and put a mask over my face, told me to breathe--

--then there was noise around me and pain and light and it was 2:30 p.m. And that was the surgery. No dreams, no darkness, just 5 hours passing unnoticed. It didn't feel like 5 hours, but it didn't just go by in a flash. It felt like time had gone by; I just hadn't been in it.

The only real pain came from the Foley catheter. That's not something I want ever again. At least that one went in while I was unconscious. I was wide awake for the second one.

Worst moments: by Saturday May 14, they were trying to get me weaned onto solid food. But for breakfast was the "clear liquids" diet: some sort of broth, tea, apple juice. That broth did a number on me and kept me nauseous for the next 3 days. Lunch was fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, a roll, and a slice of chocolate pie.

I could barely stomach the whipped topping on the pie, let alone look at the rest of the platter. I held on to that pie for another 2 meals (back on clear liquids) before giving up. I wanted to cry about that.

Then there's the first walk. Saturday, two horrible people dressed as hospital types made me fight my way out of bed and onto my feet. Took me 20 minutes to get that far--and it hurt every millimeter of the way, because none of my limbs belonged to me yet. Once I was propped up on a pair of wobbly legs...those horrible people made me walk across the room to the wheelchair parked at the door. That room was several miles across and trembled underfoot with every step.

That wheelchair was a throne, though. A conquering king's not supposed to fall or sag into the thing, though. I was rolled down to X-Ray, rolled back to that horrible miles-wide room...and those horrible people made me walk some more. The conquering king act didn't work with the bed, either: I sagged again.

Best moments: They tried solid food again Tuesday morning, the 17th. Two little strips of bacon, two pancakes, an 8-ounce milk. Smelled better than anything I've ever experienced before, and I would have cried over that, too, but I was too hungry. By this point, it had been a week since I'd had any solid food at all (2 days before surgery, I went on a "clear liquids" diet).

The first bite of bacon--a tiny sliver, the merest crumb--was the most exotic, near-orgasmic food experience ever. I savored it for a good 40 minutes, eating slowly and carefully, not wanting to have to go back on fluids again.

Sex has nothing on good bacon. No bread, mayo, or tomato needed.

Sadly, bacon will never be that good again.

Pic of the Day: Roll Call!

If you thought you were getting "raptured" yesterday and didn't, use the comments to explain why you're still here.

Oh, and bow to Stephen Hawking.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things that are Worse than Kidney Surgery.

Five days in recovery gave me plenty of things to think about. My room-mate helped me to find three things worse than the surgery or recovery.

He didn't make much noise or disturb things, so it wasn't him. Nope, it was a weekend's worth of Jim Carrey movies on some channel.

I got to see attempts at zany humor from a pathetically unfunny man, in three different starring trainwrecks: "The Mask" and two "Ace Ventura" flicks. Bleah.

Think I'd rather be zipped open again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Home, after 5 days in the Slammer!

Yeah, it was really a hospital, but either way every minute is regimented and laid out for you. Being stuck in a hospital bed isn't any fun.

I'm short a kidney, but nothing feels different aside from the incisions, some bruising. The swelling's gone down a good bit, but it was never very extensive.

The single greatest pleasure? Sleeping in my own bed.

Sounds like a good plan right now, too.

Pic of the Day: Three Barrels

I know I'm not supposed to be swimming yet, with the incision and all, but I'm feeling pretty good.

Those fellas are gonna need a bigger boat.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Kidney came out with no unexpected trouble. I've got a 3-inch bestapled cut a few inches right of the navel and two really small cuts above that. Doc said he got some of the surrounding tissue, no signs of metastasis, and we're still waiting on the biopsy.

Recovery hasn't been fun; the Foley catheter they put in during the surgery prep was removed Friday morning (I think). They had to run another one maybe 12 hours later. The epidural I was on to numb things up was weakening my bladder nerves, so I wasn't going. This second Foley came out this morning. Now there's nothing tethering me to the bed but my own tired body.

The epidural went away Saturday, they got me up and semi-mobile the same day, and now I'm staggering along under my own power. Still weak as hell, tired.

Might be out as early as tomorrow, assuming I can start eating (pretty bad nausea--don't drink the broth, folks) and walking better.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pic of the Day: Lookin' Good at Thirty!

Built sometime in May of 1981. I picked May 12, a month after the Space Shuttle Columbia's maiden flight. I've considered adding some sort of commemorative shuttle decor, but I don't really want to mess with the car's overall look.

It's funny; I've never had a car that caught so much attention on the street as this one does. Her "little sister"--an '83 Citation 4-door--didn't garner much notice in the decade I was driving her around.

She's made it a damn sight farther than my first car, a 1972 Chevy Step-Van that maybe rolled 50 miles in the 5 years I had it. I learned a lot about car repair--engine, brakes, bodywork, and all that. The van was beyond saving, or beyond my skills; it went away when I got an enormous 9-passenger '76 Impala wagon.

The van never looked as good as the X-11, let alone as good as this:

I still miss that old van...and the Impala. I really miss the '83 Citation.

Pic of the Day: Nice Fence, Empty Lot

I'm kicking myself for not getting more photos of that shiny fence protecting Fort Pike from tourists. Imagine the fun I could have on YouTube if I'd whipped out the camcorder and shot video along the length of that galvanized wonder! The camcorder would have let me get it in high definition 16x9...and stereo.

Imagine that. The sound of an empty parking lot. In stereo.

So that big green hill there is the glacis, an earthen slope intended to protect the fort's masonry against direct fire from enemy cannons. If you squint just right, you can make out a line of brickwork. That's a part of the actual fort, and about all you get to see, you unwashed tourist.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fort Pike: closed on weekends.

Would have been nice to know this while I was prepping for last weekend's road trip.

The fort's State Parks web page:
Admission to Fort Pike SHS is by appointment only. Please call ... to schedule your visit between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The reply to my email, 2 days after my trip:
We are usually here Monday through Friday from 0800-1600 and would be
able to accommodate your request at short notice; however, I do not have
staff available on the weekends and it would take advance notice of
several days for me to re-arrange schedules.
Weekends are Big Money for tourism...and the State closes the park on weekends? That's just ass-backwards. Alabama's got two forts in their State Parks system. BOTH of them are open 7 days a week--probably because they know that tourists aren't necessarily going to look for a website while they're out on the road. Last weekend was the Jazz Fest kickoff, too--imagine people driving east into New Orleans via Highway 90 or bumming around in the area. They see the fort but can't get in. The State is losing out.

Yeah, I'm still pissed off about driving all the way out there for nothing. I should have gotten more pictures--and some video--of the fence around the park. Very nice fence. The only thing marring its perfection was the rusty chain and lock on the gate. They couldn't shell out for new stuff? Show some PRIDE.

Maybe if they had spent the money on a little gift shop/ticket counter instead of the fence, they'd have enough money to run the damn park on weekends.

Or maybe they'd at least have a sign somewhere prominent with phone numbers so people like me can call up and tell them that a hundred bucks rolled into and out of that parking lot over an hour and a half.

War Criminals want Credit for Osama Kill!

So Ex-President Fratboy declines an invitation to honor the dead of 9/11 New Yorkers, saying he prefers to stay out of the spotlight in his post-failure years, but back-chatter has it that he's whining over not getting enough "credit" for the death of his old buddy Bin Laden.

Barely 6 months after declaring OBL Wanted Dead or Alive, the dumbass-in-chief declared that he didn't know or care where Bin Laden was. He was more interested in trying to lie us into his war on Iraq, so finding OBL was a needless distraction.

By 2005, this towering imbecile shut down the CIA operation that was hunting OBL. Conveniently, that's about when OBL bought himself that little ranch outside of town and nestled in.

Since OBL got wasted, Fratboy and his co-war-criminals have been falling over each other trying to grab the spotlight and justify their actions, from going to Iraq to torturing people.

The one thing I would have liked to see from Obama the day he took office is a nod to the Secret Service and various Law Enforcement folks, signaling them into action, seeking out and taking Fratboy and his pals into custody. Set up a criminal investigation, get indictments, and put the lot of them in prison.

Keep this in mind: the Allies prosecuted war criminals after World War Two, Germans and Japanese troops who were "just following orders" when they tortured prisoners--including waterboarding. These men were executed for their crimes.

George Bush should have written his memoir behind bars.

Cheney should be in an undisclosed prison location.

Condi Rice could practice her snotty, condescending horseshit on her prison guards.

Scumsfeld should be on a steady prison diet of Aspartame-laden foods and drinks.

Anyone I left out...same thing.

There's still time to give these criminals the credit they deserve, Mr. President.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finally, some answers about my legs.

Ever since I got out of the hospital in July of last year, I've had walking troubles. I've been trying to explain the problem to my regular doctor, but he keeps impatiently--and incorrectly--finishing my sentences or telling me not to "complicate" things. Getting my blood pressure under control was Job One.

Fine. That's handled. With the meds I'm on, I can regulate my BP down to the point where my fingers tingle and one arm and the other leg go numb when I'm lying down, depending on which side I'm lying on. Let's fix my freaking LEGS now, huh?

If I stand for more than a few minutes, walk for more than 500 feet or so, or bend over (say, while I'm working on my car) for very long, I have to sit. I don't get a choice: if I don't, I start hyperventilating and wheezing, my pulse races, my BP goes up, and my legs start to let go. They're not getting enough oxygen and not able to get rid of fatigue poisons.

If I sit for very long, everything below the knee starts to swell and cramp up. Sitting in my car for most of 13 hours last Saturday didn't do me any good.

Both problems are all because of poor blood flow. I've been trying to tell this to that doctor and a couple of others for the past 10 months, but they don't seem to listen. They only want to focus on the aortic dissection and kidney problems--but neither of these is nearly as important to me in the here and now.

Today, during a pre-op meeting with an anesthesiologist (kidney's coming out one week from today!), I described my symptoms to her and she confirmed what I've been thinking all along.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pic of the Day: Message from President Obama

Grabbed from here.

Suck it, Birthers.

The X-11 Abides.

After nearly 400 highway miles to Louisiana and back--the first such drive I've done with this car--I'm utterly pleased with the X-11's performance.

She pulled consistently all the way up to 65 mph and delivered 29 miles per gallon, which is impressive for a 30-year-old carbureted car. Having the High Output engine probably helped--bigger valves, higher lift on the cam, better breathing.

The only hiccup was a rattling noise from the transaxle while shifting into 1st and 2nd from a stop after an hour or so of highway driving. After an hour or more of rest, there's no noise, which works for me since I'm not up for a clutch job these days.

Considering the shape the car was in when I took delivery (movie coming soon), her performance is impressive.

Pic of the Day: Bin Laden Dead.

Osama Bin Laden has been wiped out. In a followup to "Fratboy's Presidency Summed Up," here's the other bookend:

This little prick is dead:

Because this man did his job:

Suck it, Goppers.