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Nothing long, nothing pithy. It’s just good to be home. Follow-up appointments start tomorrow.

Now, Charlie and I did have an interesting discussion about what was The Hulk’s alter ego (turns out the TV series differs from the comic books–who knew?). And owning cats with claws is gonna be challenging while on blood thinners, but I’ve dealt with worse in the last week.

My INR is 2.2! Although I didn’t know what INR was a week ago, I knew enough today to be ecstatic about that, since it means I can stop taking the blood thinner that comes in an injection (which either Charlie or I would have given me).

It’s just good to be home.


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Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Fuck. Beep.

What do they call the person to graduate at the bottom of their class at Med School? Doctor.

When do they put on the weakest staff at this hospital? Apparently Friday night.

Okay, I made a special request of them that they forgot (to come back after rounds so I could get out of the room and walk–ah, COVID restrictions!). And they mentioned something they needed to do that they forgot. Just another vitals check; not a big deal.

But shortly after I decided to get some sleep, the alarm on my monitor went off. So I rang them, asked them to turn it off, they came and got it off in about 10 minutes. Good. I can sleep again.

Until the alarm goes off again in less than 15 minutes. And they come back and take 10 more minutes and get it to stay off for long enough to get out of the room.

And the alarm goes off again. For the whole night.

Okay, I can see not trying to fix the bigger problem the first time it happens. Or the second. Or the third. But by the 5th, 8th, 10th, 15th, um, maybe you need to do something else.

Finally, after about 12 hours of this, they need to take my blood pressure, using the monitor. And the button to do so doesn’t work. And they fuss for over 30 minutes because all of a sudden, their lives are inconvenienced, their button is broken. Me not sleeping all night? Not their problem. But they do replace the monitor, finally. I got a 90 minute nap this afternoon that was delightful, but was too tired to do much more. (And so what if they got my drugs wrong and gave me the 10 mg instead of the 7.5 that was prescribed…can 1/3 more matter? I got to sleep!)

Fun thing to do when you have a beeping problem in a hospital: press the call button each time it beeps to share the joy of the repeated chiming with the nurse’s desk!

I did complain bitterly to the day staff and got apologies. And so far, it’s been good. Tonight’s night staff asked for permission to take vitals if I was asleep since they changed my meds and really need the data.

I am really, really good at bitching, but really don’t like having to demonstrate that skill. Or, as David Banner puts it “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

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Hello from Denial

TL;DR I am getting the medical attention I really, really need. My head just isn’t around the fact that I really, really need it (and that denial may be keeping me a whole bunch calmer than I have a right to be).

The “Too Long” stuff:

I started coughing when the air got bad in Seattle, around September 7.  No biggie, the air sucked.

The air got better around September 19.  I kept coughing.  I found Charlie’s blood ox meter and was in the 80s.  This is not good.  

I did a video appointment Sunday the 20th.  With fever and cough, they treated me for pneumonia.  My primary care agreed the next day and told me not to come in.  They didn’t want nasty coughing people in their nice clinic.  (Especially since they’d’ve given me the same meds if they confirmed pneumonia.)

My fever went down a bit, my blood ox went up a little, I kept coughing.

That Wednesday, I emptied the litter box, involving 25 pound boxes of litter and a 50 pound bag of dirty litter and got a COVID test.  (The litter box actually matters, really.)

Thursday, the COVID test was negative.

Saturday morning I gave a remote workshop early.  I jumped out of bed, got tangled in the blanket, and was out of breath when I got to the bathroom, 15 feet away, but I figured I’d hurried.  The workshop went well.

Sunday afternoon I was a little out of breath a few times.

Monday September 28, I couldn’t go more than 10 feet without taking a break, so we came to the ER Monday night.

I got lots of tests.  No pneumonia, but a large pulmonary embolism.  I’ve since learned it is a remarkably large embolism, since my doctor said she’d never seen one cover all 5 lobes of the lungs.  Until me.  Why am I still breathing?  Damned if they know!

Embolisms can hurt the right ventricle, so I had some more tests.  And the left ventricle of my heart was effectively pumping nothing,  Since the doctors, unlike Charlie, know the difference between left and right, this was curious.

I got moved to the hospital in town with a Cardiac ICU for surgery to remove the embolism, but they decided against that since my heart was a mess.  So they scheduled me to see the Heart Failure Specialist.  Talk about rotten branding.

But they all came to see me because, other than the not walking thing, I’m fine.  Normally people with so little blood flow are not conscious, can’t talk, don’t have the ability to reason, and certainly don’t tell dad jokes.  I apparently am a medical curiosity.

Since I wasn’t obviously that sick, they moved me from ICU so someone with open heart surgery had a bed there.  They’ve continued to run tests that confuse them.  Did the embolism come from blood clots in my legs?  Nope, no evidence of clots there.  Was the test showing no blood flow wrong?  A little low, but not a lot.  Did chemo 15 years ago cause the heart problem?  Are we grasping at straws? 

I kept trying to explain I was going to die of cancer, Parkinson’s, or road rage, not a heart thing! I still haven’t really internalized any of this. I think, on the whole, that is a good thing.

I’m getting lots of drugs, starting to eat again, and talk to lots of specialists.  I’ve told them not to send me home until I can walk the 50 feet from the elevator to the apartment without crying.  Sadly, the blood thinners don’t affect the existing clots which the body will absorb in time.  (In too damn much time if you ask me.)

But after barely being able to walk 2 feet to the bedside commode Tuesday and just making it the 10 feet to the real bathroom yesterday, I met with the physical therapist today. We went for a walk in the big hall. Like, outside my room. She followed behind with a wheelchair, walker, and oxygen, ready to catch me when I fell. (Charlie was not allowed out of the room–COVID restrictions.) We went to the end of the hall, and back. And then did it again. Then did it without the safety equipment a couple more times. Hundreds of feet.

Modern medicine is simply amazing.

Of course, it also gives us fun things like life vests, which due to a few arhythmias (is that the plural? I’m learning a lot now), I’m going to wear for the next 3-6 months. If my heart misbehaves, it will shock it back. An external defibrillator? I dunno, that’s tomorrow.

And after taking the ambulance to Cardiac ICU on Tuesday, it’s great to have “tomorrow” again!

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Looking out my backdoor (that ugly building)

So, the real reason I decided to start paying more attention to my neighborhood was the building below:

1122 3rd Ave.

See that big flat gray building in the middle? I’d never really noticed it before, but it really stands out. At first, I just thought it was a really ugly building. But I got curious. Why is it such an ugly building? What is it there for?

If you’re like me and can’t go wondering around downtown Seattle to get a better view of this building, take a look on Google Maps Street View. And look up, look way up, to appreciate the massive, solid nature of this building.

So, after looking out at this for a few weeks, I decided it’s not all that ugly. But I had no idea what it was. So, I poked around (yeah, starting in Google Maps and then a little searching) and discovered this isn’t the FBI building (that’s next door). Instead, it’s 1122 3rd Ave., which is just a happy address for those of us who like patterns. (If it was on 33rd Ave. I couldn’t see it, so I’m okay that it’s on 3rd instead.)

So, what is it, if it’s not the FBI building? Just a 15 story, concrete (like I had to tell you that) office building, dating back to 1955 according to this site. It was originally a Northwest Bell telco central office (thanks to this site). Apparently there were lots of building like this in big cities back then. Because of their limited signal strength, there are also a lot of old telco offices around town.

Which leads into another lesser known Seattle site: The Communications Museum. Okay, I know it by its older name, the Telecommunications Museum and if you try to follow the link you may get a certificate error (I did) so they may not be great with the modern stuff, but it is an amazing experience (let’s hope it opens again). After a few hours with their docents, you’ll feel you understand exactly how telephones worked for the last hundred years or so. You get to watch actual working switching systems switch and you get the feeling the docents were the ones who ran it all. I can’t see it from my apartment though, so no picture.

Everyone who visits Seattle sees the Space Needle. By visiting Seattle virtually, you just got to be one of the few to see 1122 3rd!

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Looking out my backdoor

So, I’m realizing this “shelter at home” thing is gonna last a long time.  One result of working for such a large employer is when they announce we probably won’t be going back to the office until 2021, I can find out from the news instead of any silly internal memo.

And I’m starting to adjust.  I will admit, I was a bit shocked when the security guard at the local Walgreens greeted me as if it was a regular day, not like we were both wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart.  It is now a regular day.

But I do spend a lot more time looking out the window and I’m finally paying attention to the things around me.  I’m fortunate enough to live in the middle of some real interesting stuff too, it turns out.  And since many of won’t be coming to Seattle any time soon (please don’t!), I figured it would be good for me to write down some of the things I’m discovering about all the places around me.

So, let’s start with something uplifting that’s trying to be a symbol of Seattle, the Great Wheel.   If you are any sort of a modern Ferris wheel snob, well, it just isn’t that great.  (I don’t think of myself as a Ferris wheel snob, but my first experience in one was the London Eye and the Great Wheel is a very different and much smaller experience.) And doesn’t every major city have a Ferris wheel now?  (Go on, check your favorite example of a US city.  Oklahoma City?  Yep.  Oakland, where there is no there?  Yelp lists 10.  I’m not sure which is the big fancy one, but does it matter?)

But oh, the light show at the Great Wheel is fantastic.  And creative–candy canes at Christmas, a football during the season, all purple on the night Prince died, great colorful spirals, red, white, and blue on federal holidays, etc.. (Apparently they also do gender reveal, but then again, doesn’t everyone?)

And recently, there have been a lot of nights with just a heart.  Which, for these times, is just right.



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Social Media Overload

So, I’m at Pycon. I figure I should report back, mostly to the GDG Academy people, since Python is a big deal in K12 education.

But there’s the rub. Where do I post? Since GDG Academy is on Google+, that seems obvious. But in the community page? On my page? Probably not, since I don’t “own” those spaces. So my own blog makes sense. Then post to Google+ (both home and the academy?) or send email to the GDG list or Tweet?

Damn. Let’s see how it goes. At least I’m pretty sure I won’t need to post to Ravelry.

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Taking Heart

Since I haven’t been to Pennsylvania to see my father since I started working at Info Tech in September and since plane tickets were cheap and snow wasn’t in the forecast, we flew up to Williamsport yesterday.  Dad looks good, all things considered (growing old in not a task for the weak or cowardly).  We had a good visit and two more days here.

But that’s not the point of this post.

We flew out of Gainesville despite all the problems we had there when we came back from Greece.  Please don’t take this as any sort of endorsement of Gainesville Regional Airport because it really is a po-dunk one-horse place.  But maybe because it is a po-dunk one-horse place, the flight crews that come into it are, shall we say, more relaxed at times.  Every time I fly, I remember the flight announcements from an Eastern flight a million years ago, just as Eastern was failing.  The crew knew they were all losing their jobs soon and decided to go out with a smile:  “Okay, if you’ve been living in a cave for the last 20 years, I’m going to show you how to use your seat belt.”

Delta’s Connection isn’t going under quite as soon (probably) so the crew was a bit more circumspect.  Still, the flight attendant included prayer as one of the things to do as you were putting on your oxygen mask and even included it as she acted out how to don the mask.  But more interestingly was the announcement from the pilot that we would be given priority into Hartsfield because we were carrying a heart.

Okay, so there were 53 other hearts on board, but those were in bodies, not in coolers.  And, since I wasn’t sure quite what I’d see in Williamsport, I welcomed the opportunity to think about what having a heart on board meant (beside landing with no circling and getting a gate with no waiting).

Two families were dealing with significant emotions…one at the loss, probably sudden, of a loved and the other at the chance for new life (and you just  know the phrase “Christmas miracle” was bandied around that hospital waiting room more than once yesterday).  Hey, it helped to know there were people who were bigger emotional basket cases than I was.

But then I started to wonder, is it really the case that the loss was sudden?  Who are these heart donors anyway?

The Internet is an amazing place and has all the answers, some of them a bit surprising.

There were 6,011 heart donors last year.  The largest number of them died of stroke (2,471), but a lot (2,340) died of blunt injury (only 942 of these were motor vehicle accidents though).  There were 539 gun shot wound caused deaths.

What I find peculiar is there were 736 who died of cardiovascular causes.  So, the heart didn’t work in one person, let’s try it in someone else?  And there were 243 deaths caused by drug intoxication.  I guess the  drugs caused fatal damage to something other than the heart.

One thing that did come out is that almost all donors died of something sudden.  And getting into Atlanta so quickly was no fluke.  The shelf life of a heart is only about 5 hours.  You have to figure it was still in the guy’s chest when we left for the airport at 4:30 AM, since we didn’t get to Atlanta until a little after 7:00 AM.  What with rush hour traffic, surgical prep, etc. they didn’t have much time.  (That may explain why gate checked baggage took a while to come off the plane.)

And so ends today’s distracting thought.

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Lights, Cameras, Athens

One of the unexpected benefits of sabbatical is being able to travel at times other than summer and Christmas vacation. So we really took advantage of this by taking a cruise from Rome to Athens, via Turkey, Cyrus, and Egypt.

We’re in Athens now and have seen all the obligatory sites and taken the obligatory photos. But even though it’s been done before, standing in the shadow of the Parthenon is still pretty durn amazing.The Parthenon

Of course, we also get to see the unusual sites, traveling on our own.  At our local Metro station, there’s an archeological display, since apparently you can’t dig anywhere around here without hitting ruins.

Athens Metro Station

Still, it wouldn’t be travel without some fun and games.  The lights in our room in the Athens Hilton have been a source of amusement for me and annoyance for Charlie.  The closet has a light that comes on automatically when you open the closet and, well, stays on.  I can sleep through just about anything when I’m tired enough (and hiking up the Acropolis makes you tired enough), but Charlie was bound and determined to figure out how to turn out the light.

Athens Hilton

We finally discovered if you take the bulb out of the socket, the light goes off.  Then the next night, we got to learn how the night light in the bathroom was controlled.  (By the switch by the bed of course, you silly Americans!)

One of the strange things about traveling in November is going away when people stay and work. In the academic world, when one professor gets a vacation, they all do, so there’s no going back to an office three weeks ahead of you. Things will be interesting Thursday.

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Belated Pictures

So, we had kittens and they spent just a day with us (I still have no idea where they came from or where they went to).  But I did get pictures and now that I’ve figured out how to log into this blog again, I’ll try in vain to catch up.

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Go give blood, please

You’ll meet some amazing people there.

We had lunch at the Olive Garden, which shares a parking lot with Macon’s only remaining clothing-fabric store and the blood donation center. On the way out, I decided to run by the fabric shop and see what was new. But first I figured I’d drop in at the blood center. Last week, Maureen, the volunteer coordinator, called me, out of the blue, to let me know she was thinking about me. She wasn’t trying to get me in to give; I’m ineligible for at least two more years. She just wanted to see what was up.

So, Maureen was there and came up to hug me and we spent an hour catching up. I’ve only seen her at the center and even during my most frequent visits, I was only there for two hours every two weeks. And her office isn’t in the donation center, so it’s not like we spent those two hours in the same room. She even remembered IkeGetDownFromThere. Ike’s a memorable cat, but really, to remember the pet of a donor. I’m so blessed with these people in my life.

Of course, Maureen had pictures of the latest children receiving platelets and knew all their stories. So, please go give blood and there will be another amazing person there.

(See, isn’t this better than an ad for celebrity photos?)

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