December 2007 Archives

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December 31, 2007
Lawyer? Check. Asshat? Check. Blood Boiling? Check.

Well, here's a shocker: Anti-Military Lawyer Damages Marine's Car on Eve of Deployment.

A paternity lawyer... which is ironic, really, as his own parentage might be considered an issue.

Felony? Disbar. Hit him where it hurts.

Posted by Russ at 09:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
December 30, 2007

Some of the things I'm looking forward to getting back to doing are my recreational activities — hobbies, if you will. I've divested myself of the trappings of all but two of the many things I used to do, but have retained my woodworking tools, as well as my model shipbuilding gear.

Just because I haven't been able to actively do either of them, however, doesn't stop me from reading up. I've read and re-read everything I could get my grubby mitts on, and have increased both the depth and breadth of my knowledge, including the specific jargon related thereto.

Here, then, are the Top Ten words/phrases that sound like they may be rude/dirty, but aren't, when used by [model] shipwrights:

10) three butt shift
9) spanker
8) catharpins
7) "worm and parcel with the lay, turn and serve the other way"
6) deadwood
5) snotter
4) butt chock
3) vang
2) dolphin striker
1) futtock

Thanks, I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

Posted by Russ at 04:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
December 28, 2007
Home Again
Home is the sailor from the sea,
the hunter from the hill. *

And the computer geek from the hospital.

Yeah, try making that fit a rhyme.

Update: Maggie nails it in the comments.

Posted by Russ at 11:25 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
December 26, 2007
Not So Brief Setback

Alternate title: "Dammit dammit dammit."

The visit to Duke today went about as expected, with a lot of hurry-up-and-wait-ing. Blood work, x-rays, and a cat scan. I forgot to bring Mycah with me, but fortunately, they had their own cats.

The long and the short of it is, the tube that runs from my head down my neck, over my collarbone, down to the area of my liver, and thence into the peritoneal cavity has in fact not stayed inside the peritoneal cavity. The imaging today showed that it retracted out and is neatly coiled above my liver, which accounts for the softball-sized swelling there.

How it did that, I don't know. Maybe they neglected to take into account the fact that I'm way taller than average.

Because the fluid is deposited between the skin and the muscle, it can't be disposed of as effectively as if it were being dumped in the abdomen, so it builds up. The pressure is about the same as in my head, so the cerebro-spinal fluid can't drain out, so my condition is much like it was before the shunt surgery.

The upshot is, they have to crack me open again and place the tubing back inside the peritoneum. My skull is fine, so they ought to be able to do this by unzipping the scar on my stomach.

Which they're doing first thing tomorrow morning.

Egads. I never seem to get a chance to plan ahead for these things.

It's a simple enough procedure that it could be out-patient work, but I'll probably have to spend tomorrow night in the hospital. Ugh. I hate the beds there. At least the nurses are cute.

Posted by Russ at 09:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Brief Setback

There is an odd lump that's formed in my abdomen, above my liver, under the surgical scar. It's about the size of a softball, and pretty firm. I think it's the drain output, which ought to be inside the peritoneal cavity; this lump is outside.

I think it's causing a drainage problem, perhaps a back-pressure issue. I've lost some of the progress made since the shunt was installed — the legs exhibit returned muscle weakness, as well as some neuropathy, including numbness and an occasional spasm.

So, it's back to the hospital for me today — blood work, x-rays and a CAT scan. Hopefully it'll be a simple thing to remedy and the shunt flow can resume.

Posted by Russ at 11:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
December 25, 2007
Good News

The Gospel of Matthew, verses 18 through 25:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,"

which translated means, "GOD WITH US." And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Posted by Russ at 09:00 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
December 21, 2007
Fear The Tuxie

It's Mycah and her Fantastic Flying Feline Fists of Fury!

[Click for larger.]

Do not mess with the cat. Especially at nap time.

It's Friday — visit the Ark.

On Sunday: the Carnival of the Cats, at (where else?) the Cat Blogosphere.

Posted by Russ at 11:58 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
December 20, 2007
Healing In Style

So, here's what the nugget looks like these days. The shaved look is much more fashionable, I think, than the partially shaved look.

OK... here's the photo...

And yes, yes, I know — there's more than a bit of thinning up top there... but I'll staple Mycah to my head before I ever wear a rug.

I get those stitches out this afternoon. I'm going to have a wicked cool scar.

Posted by Russ at 08:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
December 19, 2007
What They Did To Me - More Details

Rather than merely bury a link in an update to the previous post, as I did originally, I'll add it here separately.

Yesterday while giving a status update, I asked the neurosurgeon for more information about the implant. It is a "Codman programmable shunt." Googling led to this website which describes the procedure.

Nifty. It there anything that isn't on the web?

Posted by Russ at 08:56 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
December 16, 2007
What They Did To Me

I keep saying variations of "the doctors drilled a hole into my skull." In fact, they did a bit more than that. What follows may be a bit disgusting, but hey, you're only reading about it. I had it done to me.

Despite the plethora of road accidents — it was a black ice kind of day — we (Mom drove, of course) got to the hospital a few minutes after 7:30 that morning, and let the valet parker take the truck. I've never noticed valet parking at a hospital before, but it makes sense.

I plopped into a wheelchair and we headed to the part of the facility where the pre-operative screening is done. We waited for only about three minutes to be called; you'd have thought there was some sort of hurry. The nurse who did the screening had paperwork for me to fill out, and a lot of "are you allergic" and "have you ever" questions for me to answer. Blood was drawn at least once, and then we were off to Radiology, where X-rays were taken of my head. Interestingly, that was the first time since this whole thing began over a year ago that plain old X-rays were taken.

Then we were off to the pre-op waiting room. At Duke, this meant a trip by tram from one building, half a mile to the next. They're sort of spread out, there.

There were a lot of people at pre-op, waiting for whatever particular doom had summoned them to the hospital that day. Once I'd checked in at the desk, we (still Mom and I) waited with all the other folks, but I was getting pretty uncomfortable; my legs were in a bad way. One of the nurses graciously asked it I'd like to go lay down, so at that point Mom and I parted — I didn't see her again until well after the operation.

The moment of fate had arrived. It was time to switch out of civvies and into hospital uniform: the standard ill-fitting and all-revealing gown, complete with footies that didn't come close to covering my size-15s. I was wheeled into the pre-op room, in which there were about a dozen other folks already on gurneys waiting for their respective procedures. I was set up with an IV jack in my hand (no actual drip at that point) and waited.

The anaesthesiologist dropped by, asked a few questions, had me fill out some paperwork. The surgeon dropped by and drew an X on my head with a magic marker. At least I think it was an X. It might have been a smiley face, for all I know — I'd removed my contacts by then, and in any event I could not (and, amazingly, still cannot) see my own scalp without a mirror.

Suddenly, it was time. A pair of burly orderlies came along, plugged a bag of something into my IV, and wheeled me off to the O.R. In under a minute I was on the operating table with a mask on my face being asked to take four deep breaths. I managed two before the lights went out.

This is where I would describe the procedure in minute detail, if I'd actually witnessed any of it. [Update: see my followup post.] The macro details, I can tell you about.

The shunt was installed above my right eye, at about the "one o'clock" position above my forehead. I haven't actually seen one, but it's a piece of hardware that feels like it's maybe 3" x 0.75". The big part is under the skin, flat against the outside of the skull; some smaller bits go inside the skull. The shunt is magnetically adjustable; they can increase or decrease the flow rate as needed without opening me up again. In case they ever need it, there's a facility for the extraction of cerebro-spinal fluid via syringe through the shunt.

As Steve notes, perhaps it would have been nice if they could have installed a device to allow the direct insertion of booze. I wish I'd thought of that.

From there, a tube was run under my skin back past my right ear. In order to get the tube to its final destination, a hole was made in the skin behind my ear, and using (I presume) some sort of long rod, the tube was driven down my neck behind the ear, then over my collarbone, down to my abdomen — all under the skin, of course. To get the tube into my abdominal cavity, the surgeons opened me up just under the ribcage, got the tube inside the cavity, stitched the muscles up, then glued the wound shut. It looks quite a lot like a gallbladder surgical scar.

I'll leave you with a photo of the aftermath:

[If I'd thought about it, I'd have asked them to shave my whole head, but they clearly shaved only what was necessary. The combover to handle such a tonsorial disaster hasn't yet been built, so once the bandage in the photo came off, I shaved the rest of my head to match.]

I woke up in the recovery room. My mouth was as dry as the Sahara after a particularly severe drought. I was, of course, rather fuzzy-headed; they had, after all, shaved part of it... but I was somewhat addled, too. After an hour or three — I have no idea exactly how long it was — they were relatively certain I wasn't going to be bleeding all over everything and everyone, so I was wheeled off to my room, where I was pumped full of antibiotics and kept overnight before being released. Mom was there waiting, the very soul of patience.

And so I was home. It's been a week, and I'm vertical most of the time now; I periodically get light-headed enough that I have to go lay down, but that's happening less and less often. I'm off the hydrocodone, and despite the dizziness episode a few days ago, I think I might actually be ready to go back to work in another week.

This is not something I would have wished on anyone.

Posted by Russ at 05:05 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
December 15, 2007
The World Revolves Around Me

Yesterday, I became the definition of pure suckage.

Things were going well, really well — I'd been up much of the day, my head and neck weren't hurting much.

Then, right after dinnertime, wham.

[No, I don't mean WHAM! — things were bad enough without George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley showing up on my doorstep.]

I began to feel a bit dizzy, so I headed back to my bed. In the time it took me to cover that 20 foot distance, I was barely able to stand at all. The room was spinning around me, and I fell onto the bed and lay there motionless, begging God to make the whole house stop spinning.

I have had an ear infection-based case of vertigo in the past, and this felt exactly like that... except I didn't have the pressure in the ear I associate with an inner ear infection. I did, however, have a fever and the sweats.

It was misery. I couldn't sleep, and for about five hours, I couldn't move a muscle without setting the entire state to spinning around me. Mom came in before going to bed herself, and did me the courtesy of locating a trash can next to the bed... just in case, if you take my meaning.

Around about 2am, what I was afraid would happen, happened: I had to get up to use the restroom. It was a rather short stumble from point A to point B, but I managed to come close to falling on my face about four times. By the time I made it back to my bed, the entire country was spinning around me.

I had to remain sitting up for a few minutes. My stomach had begun to rebel, and it was a very near run thing, I can tell you. I was certain I would not have been able to make it back to the bathroom in time.

Finally — perhaps an hour (spent mostly in Hell) later, I was able to lay down again with a reasonable certainty I wouldn't be making any untoward messes on my bedroom floor. North America continued to whirl around my brain.

I was as miserable as I think I've ever been... and I've had gout, as you may recall. My head hurt; my stomach, while not exactly rebelling, was not happy either; I was running a fever; I was sweating like a Kennedy under oath. The Western Hemisphere rotated inside my skull.

Finally, sometime I think around 4am, my fever broke, and I was able to sleep.

So ya, I had a pretty crappy day. And if I ever act like the world revolves around me, well, maybe I earned it for just a little while.

Posted by Russ at 09:06 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
December 14, 2007
Yes, I'm Still Here. Barely.

Recovery continues apace. By "apace" I mean that, despite having had a hole drilled into my skull, I haven't actually died, and am, in fact, continuing to improve, slowly but surely.

I'm still in a sort of "good day/bad day" mode. Wednesday was a pretty good day, and I was able to sit upright for as much as 90 minutes or so at a time. Thursday, on the other hand, pretty much sucked, and I spent the majority of the day face-down on the bed moaning... which I suppose makes it like most days, though this time I had a legitimate reason. It's only been a week, after all.

The drugs (Hydrocodone, 1 or 2 every 4 hours as needed) seem to be helping a lot, too. Woo... hooooo....

Posted by Russ at 09:12 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
December 11, 2007
Post-Op 2

My bandage came off — it lasted a couple days longer than they predicted.

I am going to have an awesome scar.

Posted by Russ at 08:23 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Post-Op Status

Did anybody happen to get the license number of the truck that hit me?

No? Dang.

The operation seems to have gone well, since they let me come home the day after. There's a lot of recovering left to do, of course, but I can already tell there's improvement. I can control muscles in my legs I haven't been able to control in months. I still have to use crutches during my forays into verticality, mainly because the leg muscles are so weak, but partly because I seem to have lost a bit of coordination since the last time they all worked properly.

Right now, though, I can only sit or stand for about five minutes at a time. It's not actually my head that hurts; something in my neck is not quite right, and after just a couple of minutes upright, the pain is enough to force me to lay down. It's probably something to do with the way the surgeons had to contort me and strap me down in order to perform the operation, more about which later (with a post-op picture, even.)

At any rate, I can't spend much, if any, time at my desk/PC. Mom loaned me her laptop so I could write and post this entry from the comfort of my bed. Thanks, Mom.

In fact, without Mom being here to help, I'd be pretty well hosed. She's been a life-saver, figuratively and almost literally. Plus, her cooking is way better than mine.

More later... but probably not today.

Posted by Russ at 02:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
December 08, 2007

I feel like I lost a fight with a Mack truck, but I'm home.

Posted by Russ at 08:06 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
December 06, 2007
Countdown Abbreviated

I was planning on continuing to do daily posts counting down the days over the next week leading up to my surgery. However, because of a call I got from the folks at Duke about an hour ago, that plan has to go by the boards.

They're drilling me tomorrow.

Check-in time: 0730. I should be home on Saturday, with a week or two of downtime after that. It seems pretty fast to me, but I suppose it's not all that complicated a procedure, as brain stuff goes.

I'll just take this opportunity to say thanks to all of you for your support during this... well, ordeal seems too strong a word, freighted with too much meaning. It's been a test, though, most definitely.


Posted by Russ at 05:54 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
December 05, 2007
It's the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

One of the the things that makes a good blog is an active intelligent comment section.

At Protein Wisdom (one of my top five favorite sites) we read, in comments to the post Best & Worst Christmas Television Specials,

My other favorite Christmas special is the one where President Bush is trying to explain logic to a bunch of reporters and the reporters want to talk about moods and emotions and then all of a sudden Santa comes in with an Uzi and strafes the whole press corps.

Now I know what I'm asking for, for Christmas.

Posted by Russ at 09:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
December 03, 2007
Yeah, Me Too

It's easy in recent years to poke a bit of fun at U2's lead singer Bono as being a bit full of himself. Heck, I've done it myself.

But then today I watched Rattle and Hum which I'd DVRed over the weekend. Say what you want, but those guys were probably the best band of the mid to late 80's. They could blow the roof off any venue, and I'd forgotten just how good they really were.

If you don't believe me, try the live version of Sunday Bloody Sunday on for size. Powerful.

Posted by Russ at 06:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)