llcoolvad: (newer)
I didn't take the time to read the new TOS that our overlords have released, but as everyone else seems alarmed by it I guess I'll skedaddle, too. I just set up a dreamwidth account at I have set up importing, so I assume at some point my LJ archive will arrive over there. I have no idea what the friends page equivalent is yet, but I also assume I'll figure it out soon enough. I have only added two people (I think I added two people!) so far, so please comment with your DW addresses if you'd like to remain pals! 
llcoolvad: (newer)
My surgery was on June 15, right about when I thought it would be. I got to the hospital a little late, 1:15 instead of 1, and they took me pretty much right away—surgery was scheduled for 3pm but they had a cancellation. So that was good. I woke up around 5 I think, that part is blurry, and eventually they moved me up to my room. My roommate was mostly silent until they did anything to her, like touch her arm or try to get her to answer all the neuro questions—What is your name? Where are you? What city are we in? What state is that in?—and then she’d either just moan, or for variety’s sake sometimes she’d whine. They had to do stuff to her all the time, like at least once an hour, so it was not peaceful.

I had a really long night of no sleep. Got my x-ray around 4:30am. Listened to my roommate howl in pain and anger (although a lot of it was just drama, because at one point the doctor was saying “I haven’t even touched you yet, you need to calm down”) for about 30 minutes when they took out her chest tube around 8am. I had overheard some of the nurses talking about her and apparently she was detoxing and she’d had a stroke and some kind of accident and she was only in her early 20s so I felt bad for her but really, she was SO obnoxious that I lost that sympathy after a while. I even recorded some of her screaming because it was almost funny (“stop! That friggen hurts! Owwwwwwww!”). Was discharged around 11 and left around 12 when Patrick picked me up. Home, yay!

What was good about the whole experience was how instantly my pain was gone. I had a LOT of throat pain—to perform this surgery they go in through the front, shove over your esophagus and whatever other junk is in your neck, and carve up your back from the inside, so your esophagus hurts like a bitch for days. But my arm pain and back pain and neck pain was just all gone. I have occasional soreness in the surgical area—so deep inside my back, right between the top of my shoulders—but it feels like nothing compared to the nerve pain I had, so I barely pay attention to it. I can’t take ibuprofen/NSAIDs for 90 days after surgery, just Tylenol feh, so all my other aches like my knee and my lower back are really noticeable right now. But again, it’s all good comparatively. I’ve graduated out of PT as of today. I’m still seeing my massage therapist because why the fuck not? It’s awesome. And she’s helping with the lower back and leg issues so that’s good. No ibuprofen, just massage.

So I had a month off from work. To be completely honest, I probably could have gone back easily at the two week mark. If I desperately had to, I probably could have worked at the one week mark. But the extra two weeks allowed me to get extra sleep and to be able to lie down whenever I wanted when I got kind of tired. It also helped because partway through my recovery I had to suddenly find a nursing home for my aunt. So she finally had a feeding tube inserted in her abdomen at the end of June. She had some respiratory issues, however, so the hospital kept her for a week or so. On the Thursday before the holiday weekend (July 4th) we got contacted by the hospital that my aunt couldn’t be moved back to her former facility because she no longer qualified for that level of care. It was a hard core rehab place and now that she had the feeding tube she could be moved to a skilled nursing facility and her insurance wanted that to happen STAT.

My cousin and I did some research and found a five star place on my street. Our thinking was that if we could move her near mother and me, we could really be involved in her care and see her a lot more often, etc. My cousin lives in CT and Mass Health wouldn’t cover an out of state facility, so we had to pick somewhere here. Makes sense. Anyway, she moved in, and we were pretty excited about the things they offered—lots of personalized care, lots of PT, more people around. Her transition wasn’t smooth. She seemed very unhappy that she wasn’t back at the previous place, but she was getting used to it. Then eight days after she moved in she died in the middle of the night. They told us they did a bed check, went back a couple hours later and she was gone. That seems ok to me; peaceful. No last minute rush to the hospital, no heroic efforts. She was 89 and was ready to go, so I’m glad she finally did.

We used the same funeral home as we used for my Dad. They’re (of course) really nice there. We had her cremated, then had a private graveside burial ceremony a few weeks later because the majority of the family could be there then. We had a lunch afterward at a restaurant near the cemetery and it was very nice. I’ve been pretty exhausted since then. Stress, I guess. My aunt’s property and estate all needs to still be sorted out, as her will named her dead brother as her executor and my aunt with Alzheimer’s as his backup, so we need a new executor named and they need to start working on the problem. Thank god that it won’t be me. I did my part, though. I notified everyone (pension, insurance, trust, condo, cell phone, credit cards, charities, etc.), so at least nothing urgent is pending. I just wish the family would get it together and get the probate filed. Whatever, not my problem! I have three cousins who went to law school. One of them can deal. One of them isn’t even working right now, and is living in NH until December, so he’d be the perfect choice. And his mother is the one named in the will as executor, so that would seem to be perfect. Just don’t know what all the delay is about.

So that’s what’s been going on. Good and bad. Anyway, I am going to take a couple of days off and head out to Western Mass towards the end of this month. Get away from everything, eat some good food, go to a museum or two, hang with Suzanne. Should be good and should give me some quality relaxing.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Ugh. This hasn’t been the best year so far between my back and my aunt. Let’s start with my aunt.

Cut because 2000 words! )

OK. I will stop whining now. My problems are not so large. Pain just makes everything bleaker, you know? Feh.

year end!

Jan. 1st, 2016 09:24 pm
llcoolvad: (newer)
HELLO REMEMBER ME?! I have been a failure at journaling this year! I spend all my energy on Facebook, I guess. So the least I can do is a roundup of 2015.

As with every year, there were ups and downs. My aunt has been in the hospital since Oct 14th. She's 87 and fell, and while she didn't break anything apparently the fall set off a cascade of infections and since then she's been operated on, been put on dialysis, now is on a respirator, and mostly unconscious during that time. We changed her status to "no heroic measures", but she keeps healing up from various things and occasionally is completely conscious, so I don't know what will happen. The social worker told us that once you're on a respirator there is a lot less likelihood that you'll just code (which is both comforting and ghastly—like, how long do you linger?!). Going to see her tomorrow. I've been handling her finances, and my mother is her medical proxy, so that's been pretty stressful around here.

My own health wasn't great for the first 2/3 of the year (although obviously it's been fabulous in comparison). I was pretty optimistic in my few entries from last year, because I thought I was feeling better. I was, but it was on a logarithmic scale, I think. There is still a long way to go to get to "feeling good." My main problems beyond the surgery recovery were that I had high blood sugar, and I still had no energy. Once the snow finally melted enough to leave the house, I went to see an endocrinologist. He was very thorough and put me on some new meds, which have done their job and lowered my blood sugar to reasonable levels. I also finally started on thyroid meds in September, which surprisingly had almost an instant effect. I finally had a little energy and felt better. It's sort of evened out now, but I am not as draggy as I was. I think my levels are still a little hypo (and I still have a lot of the hypothyroid symptoms), so I am planning on asking for a slight increase at my next appt. I have not been exercising at all, really, other than trying (sometimes) to get some extra steps—thanks, Fitbit. The startling thing the Fitbit has shown me, however, is how little sleep I am getting. I am still pretty sore, so I roll around a lot and almost never sleep more than three hours straight. Most nights I get about six hours total. Not good! Since I put some weight back on the snoring is back but it's a lot different than it was, so I am not certain if the apnea has returned. I really think the poor sleep is more about being achey. I saw my eye doctor a couple of times this year because I had three small eye bleeds in one of my eyes (something you have to watch out for when you're diabetic) but thanks to controlling my sugar better, there's only a trace of one left, and he feels he can wait a year to see me now. So that's good.

I spent a lot of money this year, more than usual. I bought a new dryer. I had a large car expense (tires, brakes, and a 100K service thing all at once, ouch). I bought a computer. I took a class. I took over paying the cable bill for mother. I had some medical expenses. I stayed in a few hotels. I think there were others but I can't remember them.

I audited a Knowledge Management class this fall from my LIS grad school, which coincidentally is what I do for a living. If we're Facebook friends, you know all about Lazy and Crazy. If not, let's just say I had to do a group project, and predictably, the people in my group were...people. And all that that implies. If I were getting a grade from the class I'd be getting an A (a 98.35, in fact). Instead, I get a "nice job" from the professor. Auditing isn't very satisfying. But at least now I can battle feeling imposter syndrome. All good. And I get to cross a goal off my work self-evaluation.

I took a couple of mini-vacations this year: Cape Cod in June as usual, near Hyannis this time which was a nice change (saw the Edward Gorey house! went to the Cape Cod potato chip factory!). Then NYC in August with Patrick and Peter for Patrick's play in the Fringe. That was pretty awesome, if exhausting. I walked more in one day then I usually do in 3-4. Then finally Vermont in September with Steve and Val again. Man, do I love Vermont! I might think about retiring there. Good vibe. We were near Burlington, right in a cottage on Lake Champlain. Wow, talk about gorgeous. Burlington is big enough to make it reasonable to live there: plenty of shops and restaurants and people and things to do. Anyway, it was a surprise for me. I guess it's been a LOOONG time since I've been there. I also drove out to Western Mass in August to hang out with Suzanne and see Eddie Izzard in concert, hit the Van Gogh exhibit at the Clark (which was AWESOME), and almost wander around in MassMOCA. All really good. Jenn and I went to the ICA in Boston to see what they had, and there was a pretty great exhibit of sculpture that I liked.

Other random fun stuff (which I'm sure I would have forgotten if I hadn't documented them with pix): I survived the winter, which was pretty intense but after a while kind of felt like a challenge. I played pinball a couple of times in April. Patrick and I hit two bead shows in Jan and May, although I haven't done much with the beads I bought yet! Ugh. On the other hand, I have been coloring a bit, which I know is the current fad but I made all my coworkers color back in the 90s while we answered customer service calls about student loans, so I feel like I have cred. I saw three concerts: Richard Thompson in June with my old work pal Mark (he won tix), then Joe Jackson in October also with Mark, and Difford and Tilbrook (Squeeze) with Joanne in December. All shows were great, although I have to give the edge to Joe Jackson. He was on fire! I saw three theatrical things: one Cirque du Soleil with Jenn in July, and two Patrick plays with Patrick (the Fringe one was full-length, and the Suburban Holidays one was one-act). I watched fireworks from my pals' seaside house on the fifth of July, which was pretty fun. They close down the entire main road and have a block party for it. I also had dinner several times with my ex-Monitor coworkers, which is always fun. Three of the four of us that usually go out have now left the company, so we get to hear about who is left and what's happening. I worked there for 13 years, so getting all the gossip is fascinating.

And that's all I can think of. It was a year. Time crawled all winter and flew by all summer. I think the only part of the year that time seems normal is fall. We don't reallhy get spring...

I will post year-end watched/read separately. This is plenty long enough!


SO I guess now I can address my goals for last year, and if I managed to complete any of them:

MY DIGITAL LIFE: I got a My Cloud personal cloud storage thingie for Xmas.
Not only no, but it's actually worse! I got a new desktop in March and I moved my files over and then just kind of threw my hands up in the air and walked away. Renewed focus here. I need need need need to get this done. I have a bunch of hard drives under my bed. I have the old desktop. I have the old laptop. I am in duplicate file hell. I need to do this!! Especially because I just had to clear out some videos off my phone and put them on my desktop. I increased my dropbox storage to hold everything, too. I don't want to pay if I don't have to! Feh.

MY DOMESTIC* LIFE: The house is a wreck.
(*renamed at Deb's suggestion) Yeah? No. I am maintaining, but have made no inroads here. I always have great ideas for the weekend, and then I just don't have the energy to get it done. Small steps will win, here, but I need to make them.

MY CREATIVE AND LEARNING* LIFE: Revisit online learning, do more jewelry-making, make interesting photo sets, etc.
(*Also renamed, but not happy with it) Managed to complete this one by taking the class, doing the coloring, taking a couple of video classes in Photoshop. Win.

MY MEDICAL LIFE: Eat better, exercise, try to get blood sugar way down. Breathing is a good idea.
I guess this one is halfway, kinda? Blood sugar and eye better, breathing improved. I got the new Fitbit and have been wearing it basically 24/7 for the whole year. Food stuff got really sidetracked when mother decided she is now a vegetarian. As a diabetic, you're encouraged to go low-carb and eat lots of lean protein. Still, I can't blame her entirely. I just need to start planning.

MY FINANCIAL LIFE: I am one year away from only having student loan debt left. I will make that happen.
This couldn't be less done. I am exactly where I was for debt, although it's a little rearranged. I paid off my car in January, so that's good. The student loan is smaller. I'm down to two credit cards. But it's not much less in debt. So that's a renewed focus. I can probably make a huge dent here by decreasing the amount of meals I eat out.

MY SOCIAL LIFE: Continue as usual. I like my friends.
This counts as accomplished. Not only did I see lots of people, but I even saw the family (although not at the summer shindig). I have a date to meet my half sister, too. I finally arranged it (we're facebook friends) but I got sick, so we're doing it in January.

MY FRIVOLOUS LIFE: Nail art, funky glasses, silly jewelry, fun accessories.
We can count this one as fully realized, too. And I think this new year is in the bag, too: already picking out this year's glasses frames from Zenni and got a lot of nail polish for Xmas.

MY WORK LIFE: Patrick and I had a little chat tonight about how we'd like to be less negative and less stressed at work. I want to also be way more productive.
Alas, this one is really not great. I had some serious productivity at the beginning and the middle of the year, but the last 4-5 months have been terrible. And that negativity thing? It's sort of died down about work, but it's still simmering there. I am going to consciously try to be better this year. I feel badly about the lack of productivity since basically August. I can do a lot more. (Now that I am re-reading the post, it's interesting to me that I was unproductive at the same time last year, too. I need to figure out why that is and address that somehow.)

So that's a lot of no. Out of 8 categories I managed 3.5–4. Not good! So I guess I'm just going to continue those into this year. Goals often are multi-year goals, right? Sigh.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Storage unit is fine. Everything is exactly where I left it and nothing was wet (and I have a loveseat up on one arm, which would have been very sponge-like and noticeable). Yay, one small win!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Weather: (FEB 15) OK, as of January 23 we'd only had 5.5 inches of snow for the whole season. We've had 90 inches since then. 90. Seven and a half feet. Today is February 15. So in approximately 24 days we've had seven and a half feet of snow. It's like the freaking apocalypse. It's incredibly claustrophobic. It's impossible to pull out of driveways, which also means it's impossible to drive down streets without worrying that someone is going to pull out of a driveway into you. When you try to go somewhere, it's a lengthy search for parking. Just depressing.

Really it's the mental aspect more than the physical for me. I haven't had to shovel much. Van takes care of all the snow removal (which because of my chest is a Really Good Thing). But the cabin fever and the feeling that there's nowhere to go and no way to get there is just hard. Plus it's been mostly gray every day. Every day. Ugh.


(MAR 15) I left that for the record. I was too depressed to continue. So it's now March 15 and today we broke the snowfall record for Boston for all time. 108.6" of snow this season—they count snowfall seasons from July 1 to June 30, so we will probably get more, since there's already more in the forecast for this week. Previous record was 107.6 back in 1995 (which I must have shoveled, because I would have been in Watertown and going to school and working in Waltham at the time, but I don't remember. It was probably more reasonably spread out over the season then). But honestly, if we hadn't made the record I would have been depressed! It's deal-withable now. We had over a week of warm weather and sunshine, so we've lost the opressive towers and we're down to a normal amount on the ground.

I'm not up to peak mood yet, but I am not completely unable to cope, either. Progress.


Stuff: So my belongings are split right now between three places. I have my daily stuff with me at Mom's house. I have a lot of stuff like books in Patrick's attic. And I have a small amount of stuff in a storage unit. Couple days ago I got a call from my storage unit. A few weeks ago the building next door fell down, or something, and we were all locked out for a few weeks until they could inspect and make sure it was safe to go back in. Well, we're allowed to go back in as of tomorrow, and we're not just allowed, but ENCOURAGED to stop by because when the building fell down it took out its sprinkler system and the water runoff from that building ran into our building and they don't know how many units are water damaged so we're all supposed to stop by and check. Awesome!

Between this incident, the LAST flood at the same storage place, the flood in my garden apartment, and the flood in mother's basement, I am not meant to have any belongings at all. It's just not ever going to work out for me. I need to just get rid of my stuff. Screw all of it. It's just my first 50 years. I don't need it. Everything I need I have with me already. I need to get maybe six boxes out of Patrick's attic of papers and photos, and get that digitized. Beyond that? Screw it all. I don't need the 2,000 books. The crates of records. Tools. Kitchen stuff. Towels. And whatever the fuck else is up there. And I certainly don't need whatever is in the storage unit. It's stuff I had in Patrick's basement. So it's like Christmas tree stands and my futon and some other random crap. Who needs stuff?



Health: kinda dodgy, really. I have been sort of ignoring my diabetes the last few months. Part of my depression. So last week I decided to take a blood sugar reading and...not good. At all. So I put myself back on insulin (I still had some unopened pens from pre- and post-surgery) and have been taking it for a little over a week. And it's made me gain about a pound a day. CHRIST. So I need to figure out a solution there. My pants are tight and it's making me grumpy. AND my blood sugar is better, but not GREAT. I might have to see my doctor. I can't deal with doctors still right now.

And my chest still freaking hurts often. And it pops and clicks and grinds, sometimes, especially when I drive. I've been coughing and it sucks. And my leg hurts. And my feet feel swollen sometimes. And blah blah blah --- all the usual ailments. Tired of this!


Work: Ups and downs. Got a raise. Got a really good review. Didn't get promoted yet. Finished a huge project, in the middle of another, feel like I'm not making anyone happy, but what the fuck, kinda don't care. Get to work from home when I want to. 10 minute drive from my house. Work with my bestie. I'll keep doing it for now. If I can get my shit together this year, finish healing up and such, maybe I'll think about something else. But for now, status quo. Took a "sick" day a couple weeks ago, went shopping, saw a movie, had some lunch. Much better than working. Will do that again in a few weeks. Gotta get through the long stretch between holidays somehow (we go from Jan 1 until Memorial Day with not a single holiday).


Entertainment: Pretty much the thing keeping me going. Movies, tv, and books. Fewer books, more movies, lots of tv. I should update my lists. Blah.


Short-term plans: So this week I'd like to make a few inroads:

  • Visit storage. Is everything damaged? Is nothing damaged? Make decisions.
  • Eat better.
  • Get caught up on laundry, etc.

Start small.
llcoolvad: (newer)
So it's been six months (give or take a couple days) since my surgery. Before I had it, I expected that I'd be 100% back to normal by now, and I'd probably be going to the gym and losing weight and feeling pretty good.

The reality is a bit different. I feel probably about 90% now. I have some energy. I have no real pain unless I sneeze or cough. I have reasonable mobility in my body. On the other hand, I still get short of breath. I still hurt when I sneeze or cough. I can feel my chest sort of roaming around sometimes. When I tilt my head back my incision is super tight (and when I get up in the morning I sometimes stay hunched over a bit because to straighten feels really uncomfortable).

Little things cause setbacks. Like when I got a cold at the end of December, I felt almost as bad as I did around week three because of all the coughing. I felt so much pain in my side that I went to urgent care last week and had them do chest x-rays to see if I'd cracked a rib (I didn't! Yay!).

I'm also not totally back to full capacity at work. It's a good thing my boss believes in me. I have been running at about 70% productivity since maybe late November? And before that I wasn't more than 50%. So I'm improving, but not all the way there yet.

But damn. Six months is a long time to be recovering. I can't imagine what it must feel like to not recover. To be sick all the time, every day. That spoons concept, where you only have so many spoons in a day and sometimes you just run out when you're disabled? I get that totally now. And I've now had a bunch of days where I ran out of spoons. I couldn't be more grateful that I am slowly getting another spoon here and there, every few weeks.

The last two weeks I've been trying to force myself to get to bed earlier. I might be one of those beta sleepers (as one of my friends called it), but I have the ability to fall asleep pretty quickly, so at least if I force myself I can get maybe 6.5-7 hours per night. And I'm drinking a lot of water, taking all my pills (including some supplements: potassium, D3, biotin, zinc, and a multi—thinking I might add in a B of some kind), and trying to eat better at least during the day. I still am snacking at night, so maybe I can cut that out. And on weekends I tend to only eat two larger meals, which isn't very good. I guess I am at 70% effort in taking care of myself. Maybe next week I can get it to 80%.

Anyway, closing in on bedtime. Tomorrow I want to get a bunch of things done. Laundry, housecleaning, maybe file taxes, do a little work, pay some bills. What I don't want to do is get distracted and get to 9pm with nothing accomplished. Here's to that.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Trying to get my life back into order after my unproductive vacation. Didn't really feel motivated until this week.

Monday night I decided I needed to put away the new beads I got at the bead show (I went to a bead show on Saturday, for whoever isn't on Facebook and doesn't already know that). Which then prompted me to make a couple of bracelets and some earrings. So that was fun. One of the bracelets was for Mother. The beads that I bought for her were decoupage pictures of kitties, and she was very excited. Trying to be creative at the mess that is my desk was obnoxious, so it prompted me to start to tidy it up.

Tuesday I worked from home after getting my crown put on in the morning. Went out midday to run some errands — city yard with recycling, couple stores for mother, bank. Then when I came back I did some work, then just sort of lit up for the night. It happens sometimes. I emptied and refilled the DW, took out the trash, did two loads of laundry and hung up and put away, fixed a drawer in my bureau, sorted the other drawers, tidied my desk, sorted my mail, fixed mom's printer and laptop, printed out some return labels for Amazon, boxed up those returns, cleaned out my work bag, reorganized some work notes into a new notebook, changed my bedding, refilled soda into my minifridge. Crawled into bed at 2, slept kind of poorly.

Today woke up early to a leg cramp (which sucked), went to and did a bunch of things at work, took a midday break and went to UPS with my returns, cleaned out some work email, picked up dinner, came home, sorted receipts and tossed most of 'em and put the rest into my tax file, paid some bills. Now I am just going to finish this show I'm watching and try to sleep early.

Tomorrow night hopefully I'll still have some momentum and will get some more laundry done. I have a lot of mother's laundry stacked up (she barely leaves the house, so I never prioritize it) that I'd like to get through, and I should move her files from her old computer to her new one. This weekend I have no social plans, so I'm hoping I can keep the momentum going at least through Saturday. I'm willing to slack on Sunday. I love slacking on Sundays.

So that's it. A wee bit productive. Need to continue.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Last day of vacation is over. Because I had the dental work done, I didn't get a lot accomplished during my break. I've also had a cold the last week or so, so that really dragged me down once I had finished with the dental stuff. (Plus the goddamned pain from coughing has made it very hard to be comfortable. I was up at Jenn's house yesterday with Patrick and Peter and we were playing Cards Against Humanity and it made me laugh and cough so much that today I feel like I broke a rib! Which is funny, but also sucks!)

It all makes me a bit frustrated, I have to admit. I had a list. I only crossed a few things off of it! I guess it's good that I got the cold and the dental work outside of work time, so I didn't have to miss any additional time, but if I wasn't being productive I could at least have been deliberately relaxing and doing nothing, and I just wasn't. I managed to get everything done for Christmas, of course, and I managed to clean the kitchen and do a bunch of laundry and return a couple of things and run a few mom-errands and help mom with her new laptop, and I did have a few social activities. But it was 12 days! I should have a bit more to show for 12 days. Like here it is, 12:45am Monday morning, and I probably should pay my bills out of the paycheck I got on the 26th. Nothing is due until the 10th, but still. I've put it off SINCE the 26th, that's the point. And I need to make my new budget for the new year. And things like that! Taxes! Etc.! GET IT TOGETHER, WOMAN!

But tomorrow is back to work, so I'll probably just go to bed soon. I don't want to go back there! They're all perfectly nice and all, but I just want to be retired already. Is that so bad? I asked mother tonight if she could write me a note so I could stay home. Just like when I was a kid she said no. Waaaah. We have no holidays now until Memorial Day, which is a long brutal stretch, so I'll have to take some long weekends at the least.

Next weekend I go to hang with S&V at their seaside home. I have been invited to stay over, so perhaps I shall do that (they have a whole second apartment in their house). I haven't attempted to sleep anywhere other than in my own bed since I got home from the hospital, so I dunno how I feel about that. No wedges! No down comforter! No down pillows! No little Zak! Will I SURVIVE??? (probably if I decide to sleep over I will bring a wedge and two or three pillows. I have a car, after all, and what am I, a barbarian?!)

Tomorrow I am going to try to get back to eating better, too. I have a pile of candy I'm bringing in to the office to leave out for the ravening hordes, and most of the ice cream in the house is gone. There's not much else to make me stray, so that should help. On the other hand, there's not much good in the house, either. I was busy on Saturday, and today was just too blah to get any grocery shopping done. Another thing to add to the list! Hopefully the routine of being back at work will make me snap out of this zombie state I am in.

now what?

Jan. 3rd, 2015 12:30 am
llcoolvad: (newer)
OK, the past is now behind me. Now to address the things I'd like to do with the new year. These aren't really resolutions, just things I'd like/I plan to do. Maybe writing them down will force me to do them. I liked all the things on the positive side that I did last year. So I think I will do more of all of that. I can add in a few things:

  1. MY DIGITAL LIFE: I got a My Cloud personal cloud storage thingie for Xmas. It is time to really get all my files (especially my photos because I have so so so many backups of those everywhere) organized. I want to tag things, too, because the dayjob is rubbing off on me. I'd ideally also like to re-rip all my CDs to lossless, and then get rid of the CDs. My new cloud storage is 2TB, so there's plenty of room. I'm also going to back up Mom's files to the cloud, and organize the heck out of them. I got her a laptop for Christmas, so I need to move her files over anyway.

  2. MY PHYSICAL LIFE: The house is a wreck. I haven't been at full capacity for most of this last year. I need to get a lot of things done. Major cleaning of every room (curtains washed! Walls washed! Books dusted!). And finally address the basement. I've started this last month on a few small projects (closets, pantry) but I need to get more gung-ho and focused. In theory I can lift things now! This is good.

  3. MY MENTAL LIFE: Revisit online learning, do more jewelry-making, make interesting photo sets, etc. I think I have done all the idle Facebook reading I can handle, now. It was PERFECT while I was recovering. Tiny bites of sort-of interesting stuff, read or ignore at will. But my nights need to be a little more fun and productive. I certainly won't be leaving Facebook, but I plan to moderate my usage. Very little during the day, only a bit at night.

  4. MY MEDICAL LIFE: Eat better, exercise, try to get blood sugar way down. Breathing is a good idea. Will try to make sure it happens. I will think about getting a second opinion on sternum options, but maybe mid-year. Not soon. Try to cook better food. Not sure where the inspiration will come, there, but I will try. Keep wearing my FitBit, using LoseIt, tracking everything. Gamify where possible!

  5. MY FINANCIAL LIFE: I am one year away from only having student loan debt left. I will make that happen. If I get a raise, maybe it will happen a month sooner. Once it's gone, I will power down on the student loans. Ideally I'd like a new car in 2016, so maybe the current car can not break? That would be swell.

  6. MY SOCIAL LIFE: Continue as usual. I like my friends. They like me. I will go back to family gathering this summer too. Etc. Try to get out to Western Mass more. Hang with S&V.

  7. MY FRIVOLOUS LIFE: Nail art, funky glasses, silly jewelry, fun accessories. These things bring me tiny smacks of amusement throughout my day. That is good! More pedicures.

    That's every aspect, right? Oh, wait.

  8. MY WORK LIFE: Patrick and I had a little chat tonight about how we'd like to be less negative and less stressed at work. So, that. Try to steer the lunch conversation with our bitter colleagues to complaints about CNN coverage or something. I want to also be way more productive. I am capable of a lot more than I've been doing (especially the last four months) so I'd like to crank it up a bit. Even if this isn't the company I want to retire from, this is the company I currently work for. I should be learning more and taking advantage of everything I can. It shouldn't be too hard, now that I'm getting better.

So that's the new year. We'll see how it goes!

it's a wrap

Jan. 2nd, 2015 11:39 pm
llcoolvad: (newer)
Another year ALREADY?

Although in many ways it feels like I have lived two or three years this year. But since most of it was boring or stressful, it doesn't feel like much was accomplished, so it feels like it should be no further into the year than mid September.

Glad to say goodbye to it, really. I didn't have the worst year ever, though. I mean, I had my worst health year ever, but the year my Dad died (11 years ago today) was a pretty shitty year. That was probably the worst. Hell, even a few years ago when I had a different health crisis and had to move out of my apartment, that was a pretty shitty year. A couple of years before when I had pneumonia and the goiter diagnosis and the eventual surgery, etc., not a great year. This one? Was scary a couple of times, and sad a couple of times, and definitely painful a lot, but wasn't the worst. I'm happy it's over, nevertheless.


In 2014 I had:
  • 1 endoscopy
  • 5 CAT scans
  • 20+ chest x-rays
  • 10 PT visits for my back and leg
  • 2 gallons (hyperbolically estimated) worth of blood tests
  • 30u of insulin per day because of high blood sugar
  • 1 episode of bronchitis that lasted about 6 weeks
  • 1 major surgery involving partial sternotomy filmed by Frontline crew*
  • 2 thoracentises (fluid drained from the lungs via a big-ass needle)
  • 2 EKGs
  • 1 echocardiogram
  • 1 pulmonary function test
  • 1 regular stress test
  • 1 invasive stress test which involves a catheter being inserted into the neck down into the heart
  • XX doctors' visits with not sure how many doctors
  • 2 wisdom teeth extracted
  • 1 root canal
  • 1 eye test where the eye doctor said there are a couple of "small bleeds" in my eye
  • 4 prescriptions for antibiotics
  • $165,911.70 charged to my insurance so far in medical bills
  • 18 pounds gained

    In 2014 I read/watched/wrote/took/attended/planted/had/socialized with/got/attained:
  • 39 books
  • 134+ movies
  • XXX hours of television
  • 26 blog entries
  • 630 photographs
  • 2 shows (Luka Bloom and The Book of Mormon)
  • 1 family reunion with 31 relatives
  • 4 flower-boxes on my porch for the first time
  • 1 4-day mini-vacation on the Cape
  • 3+ occasions of playing pinball
  • 2 trips to western Mass to hang with Suzanne
  • 1 fancy dinner with 2 college roommates who live on the west coast
  • 15+ new CDs (yay new music!)
  • 1 pedicure (first time!)
  • 2 surprise birthday parties (one at family reunion, one at P's house!)
  • 6 pairs of earrings at aforementioned birthday party
  • 1 robot (MINT!)
  • 2 weeks off for Christmas vacation
  • And finally, I managed to make it to 50

    The two sections pretty much balance each other out, I think. The crappy and the good. The health stuff vs. the fun stuff. Since hopefully the health stuff is resolving as much as it can**, maybe this new shiny year will have a lot less on the sucky side so the good side can totally overbalance it. Because I feel like I'm really due for a win!

    Asterisks within )
  • llcoolvad: (newer)
    35. The Mind's Eye, Douglas E. Richards, SF Thriller. I liked this. Our hero wakes up in a dumpster with no idea how he got there and no memory. He realizes he's being hunted, so he takes refuge in a nearby office park and makes a friend and goes on the run. He slowly figures out that he has the ability to surf the web with his mind, he now has telepathic abilities, and he can read minds. But how? Did someone do something to him? Why are people trying to kill him? It's sort of Bourne-esque, plotwise, but it was a brisk read and not bad. I might read something else by this author.

    38. The Burning Room, Michael Connelly, Crime. Harry Bosch, but not a very compelling one. He's got less than a year left before final forced retirement, so he's solving cold cases and trying to do several at a time. Motivated! It's possible that this and the following were amazing and I'm just not up to snuff as a reader right now.

    39. The Redeemer, Jo Nesbo, Crime. As with all Harry Hole books (oh, hey, look! a month of Harrys!) this one was pretty dark. I can't remember now if all the books do this, but this one had a cutesy-annoying trick of cutting the scene and starting the next one with the character in the next one basically replying as if they were replying to the last one. Like "He got to his feet and waited by the doors. The brakes gave a low lament...(other stuff)...The doors slid open." (new section, new character) "Harry stepped onto the platform and stood inhaling the warm underground air." I mean, clever, but sort of wearying. Anyway, it's the last one to be translated into English from the original Norwegian, but it's from 2007 so it's in the middle of the series. A major character is killed which of course I already knew because I had read the later ones already, so that was disappointing. The red herrings were everywhere in this so figuring out whodunnit was complicated. I had it right, but I was pretty convinced I was wrong for a lot of it. There is also a big secret that's revealed that's right on the heels of the book immediately preceding it, which again would have been more effective if I had read that book recently.

    So that's it. 39 books. I don't recommend major surgery for book reading productivity. So much easier to watch TV/movies than to try to read a book. It's the new year now, though, so fresh slate.
    llcoolvad: (newer)
    And now for the finale. How many movies did I watch this year???

    127. Only Lovers Left Alive, Redbox. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are eccentric vampires who have been married for over a century. Adam hung out with Byron and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Eve is even older, centuries older. She hangs out with Christopher Marlowe, played by John Hurt. They spend a lot of time being quirky and sad, and getting blood from various resources. They refer to humans as zombies and they're sad about the way the zombies are treating the world. Adam is a musician who collects old instruments and old tech. Eve is a reader who speed reads hundreds of books in many languages. They live mostly apart (for whatever long-term relationship reason), but Adam gets suicidal (has a wooden bullet made and everything) so Eve travels to see him in Detroit from Tangiers. Lots of languid pale limbs and quietness.

    Eve's sister Ava shows up for a visit. She's of course also a vampire, but she's kind of the stereotypical little sister. Trouble.

    I had a passing thought while watching: dear god, CENTURIES of listening to your pretentious boyfriend's music. But then I realized I could listen to anything Tom Hiddleston wanted me to, for eternity! Tilda feels the same. Why wouldn't she?

    Although my opinion of this might be somewhat biased with the Tom Hiddlestonness of it all, I have to give it a big thumbs up. Hipster friendly, too, since it's a Jim Jarmusch film.

    128. Robocop 2014. Not as bad as I feared, but WAY too serious. Why remake a classic at all? And the lead, Joel Kinnaman, is an actor I really like (for example he was in The Killing playing Holder) but has most of his sparkle removed here.

    129. Into the Storm. Worse than I hoped. I didn't review this right after seeing it, so I've already forgotten the entire plot. There were tornados and storm chasers and people in peril. Decent special effects, so it wasn't Asylum-esque, but the plot wasn't much better than an Asylum special. I hadn't really been paying attention but IMDB informs me that Richard Armitage is in this, so combined with the Hobbit (he's Thorin) that's two movies in a row that I watched of his. WTF was he thinking? He's got HOBBIT money and he did THIS?

    130. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Theater. Mostly The Dull and The Never-Ending. Ok, not terrible, but dear lord it wasn't good. Peter Jackson must have been planning his next epic during the filming of this, because it felt like no one was in control. It felt very Discovery Channel, also: there were War Goats, War Pigs, War Wolves, the Eagles showed up (WHY AREN'T THE EAGLES BROUGHT IN FIRST IN ALL CASES FOR FUCK'S SAKE?), there was a splendid War Reindeer...and I can't remember what else. I kept waiting for the fifth army. There was a ridiculous fight scene on a frozen lake. Legolas leapt about. Bilbo was unconscious. The usual. And then Bilbo went home.

    131. Big Eyes, Theater. Seriously interesting, based on a fascinating true story. It's a Tim Burton movie, but you'd never guess that because of the pure weirdness of reality. A newly divorced 1950s mom, Margaret (Amy Adams), moves to San Francisco for the art scene as she considers herself an artist. Her work is what we no doubt would call puerile now (and indeed was called worse then) — waifish children with giant eyes in various scenes. She is seduced by another artist, Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who dazzles her with his salesman charm and good looks. He rents out space in a jazz club to show their combined work, and when someone asks about her painting, he claims it as his own. Partly because he is a crafty salesman, and partly because he always wanted to be a famous painter, he becomes the public face of her work, and somehow they become ridiculously wealthy. Eventually she can't take the pressure of the lie anymore and leaves him. When he demands that they maintain the fiction post-divorce, she sues him. The best scene is a paint-off that the judge requests in the courtroom. She wins, and the world finds out that "Walter Keane" is a fiction and it was Margaret Keane all along. Shocking! Amy Adams is great, Christoph appropriately scene-chews, and there are a couple of amusing small parts with Jason Schwartzman playing a gallery owner and Terence Stamp playing a Times reviewer. Also drool-worthy set decorations. So awesomely midcentury I wanted to steal everything in every set.

    132. Good People, Redbox. Somehow we are to believe that Kate Hudson and James Franco are struggling to make ends meet in London. She's a school teacher, and he's an architect or something, but mostly he's trying to renovate a money pit he's inherited from a family member. It's draining all their reserves. Meanwhile, they're living in a skanky rowhouse, and renting out their basement to a shady guy. They've just been served with eviction papers. Shady guy dies in their basement, but miraculously he's left behind a bag stacked with fat cash. This clearly can't be honestly begotten gains, but beyond a passing thought Jimmy and Katie decide to take the money. The original owner (Omar Sy), the other guys who stole it (Sam Spruell), and the police (Tom Wilkinson) are suddenly all onto them, and much mayhem ensues. Obviously the filmmakers are aiming for the "good people do one bad thing" trope, but instead they hit "good cast and crew makes one really bad movie". And now that I've made that joke I see that every reviewer in Rotten Tomatoes made the same one. Well, it was too damned easy.

    133. The Equalizer, Redbox. Denzel is a bad ass, again. I think he and Liam Neeson should make an ass-kicking film together. Yet again I am entirely not unique in comparing their filmic similarities. I guess my finger is on the pulse of America, y'all. Call me a bellweather if you must. Anyway, Mr. Creasy, uh, Robert McCall is a man of mysterious past. He works at Home Depot by day, and doesn't sleep at night so he hangs around a local diner reading the 100 best books of all time. He's on #93 when we meet him, so that's a lot of sleepless nights. Some Russian pimps put a smackdown on a 'ho he's made friends with, so he reluctantly uses his special set of skills and puts a stop to that. Which then triggers a lot more stuff, including the arrival of a Russian ass-kicker (Marton Csokas, who you might remember from Lord of the Rings as Celeborn, completing the Hobbity circle) leading to a glorious fight scene in Home Depot involving nail guns and trip wires and I don't know what all. Totally fun.

    134. Guardians of the Galaxy, Amazon Instant. Bought this—they had a sale. I will watch it many times, so it's worth it. While it might not be my #1 this year (Big Hero 6 might barely edge it out) it's probably #2. I'll have to look over the year and seet what my top ten was.

    So 134 is my final official number for the year. It doesn't count the endless partial movies I watched while I was recovering from surgery, or several movies that I've just seen too many times to count again (Jurassic Parks 1, 2, 3 for ex). I probably forgot a handful of others that I didn't record while watching. I can live with that.

    I'll try to pick a top ten and post that this week.
    llcoolvad: (newer)
    Catching up again!

    115. Next, Cable. Not the most ridiculous Nic Cage movie ever, but it's certainly in the top 10. He has the ability to see two minutes into the future, except sometimes when there's a pretty girl it's a lot longer. Anyway, it's terribly muddled and not particularly fun. A few fun moments near the beginning, and Cage does his best to carry it with the crazy Cageness. But the end is a standard action thing only with a clairvoyant who walks in front of the SWAT team saying things like "Duck!" and "Wait. Ok, shoot!" and "Eight inches above the railing, fire!".

    116. In the Electric Mist, Cable. A Dave Robicheaux movie. Tommy Lee Jones is Dave. Pretty serviceable. Love the books, and there's some lifted dialog/text. One of those movies where the critics loved it way more than the audience. So I guess that means it's smart.

    117. Big Hero 6, Theater. My favorite movie this year so far. So cute. There is something about the animation that every time Baymax is on screen I just kill myself laughing. Charming and sweet. I hope they make a million of these, but I suppose that would kill it. "I am not fast."

    118. The Prince, Redbox. Bruce Willis is very prominent on the cover, but the real lead is Jason Patric, who I haven't given one thought to since Lost Boys. He's not as pretty as he used to be, and they insisted on taking off his shirt so we could see his thickened middle-aged body. But really the problem with the movie was the plot. I rented it because the third person on the cover is John Cusack, and I am determined to see the entire John Cusack oeuvre, which is more challenging than one might think, since he's powering these out at a mighty clip. The plot is terribly mundane — Dad has a past, daughter has a habit, Dad goes off to find the daughter using the skills from his past. The body count is huge. And it's really not worth it. Not even for the five minutes John Cusack is in it, or the 15 minutes Bruce Willis is. Mostly depressing.

    119. Goodbye World, Redbox. Another end-of-the-world movie, this time with a bunch of old college friends, serveral of whom are successful and wealthy, who get together for a party at their friends' off-the-grid paradise in rural California. The world ends while they're together because of a text and some hacking. And then they basically have to live together forever, since they're on a nice hill in California with solar power and a well, and everywhere else people are starving. There is menace from outside and conflict from within. The acting is fine, but the script is pretty first-scriptish, with characters quoting George Washington and the Constitution from memory and saying things no one would say, ever.

    120. Interstellar, Theater. The earth has been all used up by us naughty humans. It's a giant dust bowl, and food is scarce. The most important job is farmer. All unneccessary technology has been repurposed to food production. There is a secret NASA mission to find new planets to keep the species going, however, and McConaughey is a pilot. Off he goes to save his kids. And a lot of cool sciencey stuff happens, and some crazy stuff, and some fun stuff. The best thing in the movie is the trippy walking computers. They're excellent. Overall it's pretty depressing. I found the cast to be miscast, on the whole. And I wondered why, if future we could stick a wormhole in the solar system so that humanity could use it to escape, couldn't future us stick it, say, next to the moon? Be a lot shorter trip! Why Saturn? Still, I really really liked it, and would like more intelligent science fiction movies right now.

    121. Last Passenger, Netflix. Got really good ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, and I agree. Grippy little thriller about passengers on a train in the UK. The train stops letting people off and starts accelerating, and the six passengers left on board have no idea why and really really would like to get off the train before it crashes or derails. Dougray Scott is the lead, playing a single dad doctor, and he's quite good in this. Sneaky use of unseen villain. Excellent cast on the whole, really.

    122. Not Safe for Work, Netflix. The main character has a really bad day. He screws up a couple of things at his job as a paralegal and is told at the end of the day that it's his last. The boss comes out and tells everyone that the server is down and that they should all go home. Tom dawdles a bit and sees something suspicious, so he goes back upstairs and ends up getting trapped in some kind of mysterious plot. On top of all of it, his iPhone has run out of battery!! Talk about a bad day! With several dead security guards and other late workers piling up around him, how does he get out? Makes my own office seem certainly nicer. Not terrible. Could have been better.

    122. Stripes, Cable. Doesn't really hold up from a feminist perspective, does it? And why is Harold Ramis such a pussy? Sure, I'll just follow my pain-in-the-ass deadbeat buddy and join the Army. Why not? Still, it's a classic from my early adulthood and it gives me the warm fuzzies. Boom-chakalaka-boom-chakalaka-boom! BLOOOOOOWWN UP, SIR!

    123. Hercules, Redbox. I can't help but love Dwayne Johnson. I don't expect that he's a genius in real life, but I bet he's a genuinely nice guy. Anyway, the movie wasn't terrible. Couple of big war scenes, some smaller fight scenes, lots of shouting and prancing about. Gratuitous use of John Hurt, who plays the ruler of some damned Greek place and hires Herc and his merry band of mercs to fight in his little war. I wonder if Hurt is like Cusack — some kind of demon making him work work work, no matter what the job? Because for the excellent actor that he is, he's got a lot of crap on his resume. Rufus Sewell is also here collecting a paycheck.

    124. The Expendables 3, Redbox. So many actors I love or at least enjoy—Sly, Arnold, Harrison, Mel, Dolph, Antonio, Wesley, Jet, Kelsey, Jason (Statham). Then all the others they have to fill seats—they're all fine. But the movie is just a muddled mess! There's all the action you could possibly hope for. There's some "bring in new meat to let the old guys fade out" plot. There's a typical "crazy guy needs bringing down, and the actual CIA can't handle it for whatever reason" plot. There's some backstory about the new characters and some of the old that they laboriously try to fit into every non-action scene. They make Antonio Banderas into the comic relief, which is rather fun and winning. They even drag Robert Davi in (although he should really have been in the one where Bruce Willis was in, so they could relive Die Hard). But honestly, I decided to get some Christmas shopping done while I was watching it, so I figured I didn't give it enough attention and that's why I found it so confusing. So I let it queue up again and play a second time. And it's a hot mess. And that's a shame, because with the right script it could be simply amazing. I see Sly's name in the writing credits. Maybe it's time to just be a consultant, Mr. Stallone. Also? Good idea to watch with subtitles on. SO MANY ACCENTS! SO MUCH BAD VOCAL WORK!

    125. The Giver, Redbox. In the future everything is in black and white, but everything is peaceful and everyone is scarily perfect in a Mormon-esque kind of way. It turns out that this is because every morning everyone takes a drug that keeps them that way, but no one in the whole community knows it except the .. rememberer? I can't remember what they call the position. (I could look it up, but why?) The Giver is the guy that was The Rememberer, but is going to die or retire or something so he has to teach the new Rememberer how shit works in their community and the history of humanity. They do it through a funky mind-meld, so the kid gets to actually feel like he's experienced these things. Of course The Giver is a rebel, and shows the kid all the delights mankind has given up to live in this safe, crime-free, all-needs-met utopia. And he shows him the bad things, too, like when the babies are born that aren't quite perfect what happens. Naturally the Rememberer decides that's decidedly uncool and figures out how to take down the memory blocks, and voila, just like in Oz, the world is in color again. Not terrible, but kind of a waste of decent actors (Jeff Bridges in the titular role, Meryl Streep as evil overlord, Alexander Skarsgard as Dad, Katie Holmes as Mom), really.

    126. Life of Crime, Redbox. Based on the Elmore Leonard novel "The Switch", and you can totally tell (that's a compliment, son). Two guys (John Hawkes and Yasiin Bey, both of whom I love) take a woman (Jennifer Anniston) hostage and contact her husband (Tim Robbins) for a ransom. What they don't know is that her husband doesn't want her back, and is in fact divorcing her. Hijinks ensue. I love heist flicks and I loved this. Jennifer Anniston is excellent, really. I watched the deleted scenes and I have to say that I utterly agree with all of them. Smart editing can completely make a movie.
    llcoolvad: (newer)
    Haven't updated in a while. It's now been four months since my surgery. I've had a bunch of tests recently because my breathing issue hasn't resolved (I can't walk very far or very fast without getting out of breath), and I would like it to. A couple of CAT scans (I've had four this year. I probably glow now), a bunch of blood work, etc. I had an appointment with a pulmonologist, who took me for a walk with a pulse ox on my finger and who kind of freaked out when a brief walk up the slightest of inclines pumped my heart rate to 140*. Had his staff do an instant EKG. That turned out to be fine. So he then scheduled me for a battery of tests: pulmonary, echocardiogram (HATED that, so painful pushing on my incision site for 40 minutes), and a stress test. Didn't get enough data from all of that, so a little over a week ago I had an invasive stress test (they referred to it as the "Cadillac of stress tests"). This involves inserting two catheters: one catheter in the neck, which allows them to feed an electrode into the patient's heart, and then an arterial IV in the arm, so they can take arterial blood during the test.

    (* I was taking Tramadol at the time, which can have the side effect of increased heart rate. I stopped taking it when I figured that out, and haven't seen it that high since then. I am completely pain-med-free right now, so at least that's not affecting my breathing/heart rate at all)

    So they wheeled me into an operating room to insert the catheters. Asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to. I jokingly said The Clash, so within a minute they had London Calling queued up on Pandora. Amusing. The procedure was a bit scary, however. But the surgeon told really bad doctor jokes and kept me distracted. It didn't hurt beyond the needle with the numbing agent. But it was disturbing anyway. They're threading an electrode through a tube in my neck into my HEART! Gross. And it was more vigorous than I would have expected. And the arterial IV just GUSHED blood initially all over my hand. Also gross.

    Once I was cleaned up I was wheeled into the stress test room. They hooked me up to a bunch more electrodes (like for an EKG) and then attached them all to a belt around my waist. They had an IV stand hooked up with fluids (?) also attached, and they made me climb up onto an exercise bike, where they taped my feet onto the pedals. Then the echocardiogram technologist came in, and he was about 12. He stuck his hand down inside my johnny with the ultrasound wand, threaded his way through all the cables, and started searching around under my left breast to see if he could get a good image. Thankfully he couldn't, because MAN that sucked. So they did a bit of resting rates, including several vials of blood from the arterial line, then had me start to pedal. You have to keep it steady at 60rpm with no resistance (at first) which is hard because with no resistance your feet just spin around fast. Over the next 13 minutes they tapped me for blood every minute (apparently from both my heart and my artery) and increased the resistance. My heart rate finally got to over 150 and eventually they let me cool down and stop.

    So the next week I saw the pulmonologist again and he said that I have a few things wrong with me: 1. body habitus is creating a mechanical disadvantage, 2. mild HFpEF, and 3. pulmonary mechanical limit. I need to probably ask more questions about the pulmonary mechanical limit. I think I understand the other two. Thankfully I recorded my appointment so I could play it back a few times and understand what he said. I gotta say, I will never go to the doctor again without recording it. The bottom line: I need to lose weight. I asked how I could lose weight if I couldn't breathe, and he said that the good news was that there it's safe to push myself to shortness of breath, that there was nothing concerning in that regard. Yay, I won't keel over while I exercise! Yay.

    So basically I am fat and I need to exercise and eventually my shortness of breath will fade. I knew the first two already, thanks. Amazing that two years ago I was able to walk very quickly for three-four miles a day, and two years later I can't walk 300-400 steps without gasping like a beached fish. Sigh.

    So that's basically the latest. Watching a ton of tv. Trying to get my head in the work game a little more enthusiastically. Grateful I can slack off from time to time. I consolidated the last of my non-student-loan debt (car, credit cards) onto one 0% offer, which I am hoping to have paid off by next December. Otherwise I just have the student loan, which I swear will be with me until I die, and all my normal bills plus my medical bills. That makes me feel good. If I can keep faking it at the job for another year, I'll at least have the rest of that crap off my back.

    This last few months I've had a sensitive spot on a tooth, and I'm thinking they're going to encourage me to pull my other two wisdom teeth. I found the process for the first two to be oddly traumatic, so I've been completely avoiding it. But the sensitive spot is the spot in between the wisdom tooth and the one directly before it, so I'm afraid they're going to get me to agree. It's very sensitive and I've been using Sensodyne for months, and now it's not temperature sensitive anymore, but it's super "sweet" sensitive. I'm waiting at least until after Thanksgiving to deal with it.

    Also the dieting/exercise. I cannot start something like a diet and then a couple days in have pie and mashed potatoes, so I'll wait until the Monday after the day to start all that nonsense. Sure, I'll try to walk more between then and now, but that's it. I've got a follow-up with the Thoracic surgeon on the 11th (they're doing another freaking CAT scan) so I'm hoping he'll say everything is healing up. It feels a lot better, but I sometimes feel it shift around still. It hurts a lot when I cough or sneeze, so that sucks.

    I met an older guy in the work cafeteria who said "I had open heart surgery too!" and I had to explain that I just LOOK like I did, and when we chatted about recovery he told me he had his surgery in March 2005 and wasn't out of rehab until November 2005. I said "jeez I was out of the hospital in four days!" and he said "you do things differently in the north!"

    I guess so!
    llcoolvad: (newer)
    Even though I have a super obsessive completist streak, I cannot catch up on book reviews for the year. I will however post what I've read so far.

    13. Hermit's Peak, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #4.
    14. The Judas Judge, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #5.
    15. Under the Color of Law, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #6.
    16. The Big Gamble, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #7. Kerney and his recently-discovered cop son work two ends of a case and meet in the middle.
    17. Everyone Dies, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #8. Well, not EVERYONE.
    18. Slow Kill, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #9.

    19. Nothing But Trouble, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #10.
    20. Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan, Audio, SF. Really good world and character building. Distasteful torture scene, really graphic for audio. Sort of unexpected, really. But the rest is really good. Set a few centuries from now, when people have chips in their heads that record their entire lives/personalities so they can switch bodies when they get damaged or old. Catholics refuse to be resleeved because they believe the soul doesn't come along for the ride. Solving murders of non-Catholics is as easy as downloading the dead person into a synthetic body and asking them who killed them. Crimes are punished by being put into storage for many years. True death can only happen if you haven't backed up your stack and you get your stack destroyed. Our hero is a merc who is hired by a super-rich super-old guy who claims he was murdered, but everyone else thinks killed himself. He lost two days of time, so he doesn't know what happened to him.
    21. Death Song, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #11.
    22. Dead or Alive, Michael McGarrity, Crime. Kevin Kerney #12.
    23. Allegiant, Veronica Roth, Young Adult. The finale of the series. Stuff happens. I skipped two thirds of this because I got spoiled by a review somewhere and knew that something happened, so I skipped to the end.

    24. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan, SF/YA/?. Loved this. Very clever.
    25. 10% Happier, Dan Harris, Self-Help. Dan Harris has a breakdown while reading the news on tv, so he explores meditation and writes a book. Very good! He's funny and charming.
    26. The Martian, Andy Weir, SF. Loved this. So compelling!

    27. Face of a Killer, Robin Burell, Oyster Books, Crime.
    28. The Bone Chamber, Robin Burell, Oyster Books, Crime.
    29. A Nasty Piece of Work, Robert Littell, Crime.
    30. Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, Rob Thomas, Audio, Crime. Loved this. Book set immediately after the end of the Veronica Mars movie. Narrated by Kristen Bell herself, so it felt very right.

    31. Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King, Audio, Crime. Narrated by my favorite, Will Patton.
    32. Any Other Name, Craig Johnson. Ah, Longmire. Why did they cancel you??? I hope some other network picks up the series. At least we'll have the books.
    33. Silence of the Grave, Arnaldur Indridason, Crime. I am almost done with this one, so I'm giving myself credit for this in July because that's when I read most of it.

    Nope. Nuthin.

    34. Gideon's Corpse, Preston & Child, Thriller. Gideon saves the day. And has a brain tumor.
    35. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel, SF. Compelling, but I had so many problems with the world-building it made me sad. End of the world plague, only 0.001% of the world survives. The plot follows a handful of people who all knew or interacted with one guy, a famous actor who dies of a massive heart attack right before the plague starts. It's a musing on art and how it is necessary for humanity. It's fascinating, but again, an average SF reader will have problems with the decisions people make and the society that forms (or doesn't) in the aftermath. However, I definitely recommend it as a discussion piece. Here's the Times review, which I pretty much agree with.

    36. Personal, Lee Child, Crime. Reacher goes to France and England to revisit an old foe, the sniper from way way back. Is he going to shoot one or several members of the G8 that are due to visit England in a couple weeks? Can Reacher find him before? Who's setting all this up and funding it?

    I'm in the middle of a bunch of others, but I can't see making my 52 goal this year! The summertime vagueness and inability to focus enough to read has set me back. Ah well!


    Nov. 8th, 2014 10:12 pm
    llcoolvad: (newer)
    It is obvious that the TV season has started up in earnest, because my numbers have severely dropped.

    103. The Boxtrolls, Theater. I heart this movie. Very strange and clever and charming. The creators also made Coraline and ParaNorman (I saw Coraline but not ParaNorman) — the aesthetic is similar to those.

    104. The Rover, Redbox. It's the end of the world and no one feels fine. Guy Pearce is a loner who wanders around the Outback randomly existing and/or killing people. When some random thugs steal his car (which for some unexplained-until-the-very-end-of-the-movie reason he is compelled to get back), he ends up with Robert Pattinson, who is excellent in this playing the younger brother of one of the car stealing thugs. Horrible things happen, as they do. Very Mad Max. Very compelling visuals. The world is sun-seared and bleak, as I imagine most of the Outback is.

    105. The East, Cable. Former FBI agent now works at a private intelligence firm and gets assigned to infiltrate an anarchist collective group. The group, led by Alexander Skarsgard, is a collection of crazy bright but crazy people who are making splashy attacks on the rich. Our heroine falls for the charismatic Skarsgard, and some things happen.

    106. Brick Mansions, Redbox. One of the last things Paul Walker made. Fun action scenes. French guy (David Belle) is fun to watch do Parkour stunts (I gather he basically invented Parkour). Otherwise forgettable SFish dystopian "thugs in the hood turn out to be the least bad bad-guys in the movie" plot.

    107. Transformers: Age of Extinction, Redbox. I have a strange compulsion to watch anything with Mark Wahlberg in it. I enjoyed this more than the others in this series for precisely this reason, and for this reason only. It wasn't any better than the others, but at least it didn't have the horror that is Shia LaBeouf.

    108. Godzilla, Redbox, rewatch. I still find the lead character entirely forgettable. I cannot call his face to mind. Everyone else is pretty good. Love the monsters. Feel bad for the big guy. How lonely is he?

    109. Sabotage (2014), Redbox. Arnie plus a bunch of interesting actors in a pedestrian plot about DEA agents gone bad. Way more violence than is usual, creepy staged serial killer-type crime scenes, over-the-top performance by Mirelle Enos. Arnold was quite good (surprisingly), but overall I can't say I liked it at all.

    110. The Da Vinci Code, Cable. Rewatch. I can't help but like this movie even though the books are just so bad. I liked the book too (at least the first one). Not love, but like. No one does the intelligent hero like Hanks.

    111. 2012, Cable. Rewatch. John Cusack at his John Cusack-iest — charming, earnest, crazy. Plot basically is that the Mayans were right after all and the world is going to end Dec 2012, so how do you survive the end of the world? On a massive ark, of course. Can't even pick a favorite scene, although outrunning massive volcano explosions and massive earthquakes are right up there.

    112. Iron Man 3, Cable. Rewatch. Always fun to see Robert Downey Jr. do anything. SO MUCH BETTER than Iron Man 2.

    113. Contagion, Cable. Rewatch. I probably shouldn't have watched this in my delicate state. But it's just so good and compelling. Alas, it is stuck in my head. Love Soderbergh.

    114. The Happening, Cable. Rewatch. More Marky Mark madness. This time with M. Night directing. And it is a muddled mess. THE TREES ARE KILLING PEOPLE! Oh, sorry, SPOILERS! Dreck. Not the worst movie I watched this year by far, but it's the one that shouldn't have been so bad and is therefore the biggest disappointment.


    Nov. 8th, 2014 09:48 pm
    llcoolvad: (newer)
    I am too behind to link to everything. So here's September:

    81. Executive Decision, cable. Interesting to see so many familiar faces very young again. Fairly routine thriller with "technology" thrown in. Of course it's 1996 technology, so it's not all that.

    82. Bourne Legacy, cable, rewatch. I heart Jeremy Renner. That is all.

    83. Guardians of the Galaxy, theater. My one trip to the movies in over two months. Had to wait til I could get someone to take me. So much fun. More please. Now. Will watch this again, possibly while it's still in the theater even.

    84. Locke, Redbox. Fascinating filmmaker's exercise. Watched it for Tom Hardy, which was good because other than a series of voices on the other end of phone calls, he's the only person in this movie. He gets in his car at the very beginning of the movie and starts driving from somewhere in the UK north of London to London. It's late at night and his family is waiting at home, a woman is delivering his child in the hospital in London, he has a hugely important job in the morning that needs lots of finessing and preparation. He's headed to London leaving it all to wait. What follows are all the calls he makes and receives—can he pull off being the responsible man he longs to be?

    85. Winter's Tale, Redbox. Pretty ridiculous but reasonably ditzy and charming. Will Smith is Satan. Russell Crowe is a demon. Colin Farrell is starry-eyed about a gorgeous dying-of-consumption girl. Stuff happens. There is a magical horse. There are magical sidekicks. A LOT of years go by. Something else happens. The end.

    86. Divergent, Redbox. Read the first two-and-a-half books, then something spoiled the surprise at the end for me, so I never finished (because I just didn't care). The movie was pretty faithful to the first book. Shailene Woodley is the current "looks way younger than she is" It Girl. In this movie the dude who plays her brother plays her boyfriend in The Fault In Our Stars, so I wonder if that's creepy?

    87. Rage, Redbox. Nic Cage. I had to look this up to recall what it was about. That can't be good. Nic is a reformed bad guy whose daughter gets kidnapped so he goes on a back-to-his-roots rampage trying to get her back.

    88. Transcendence, Redbox. This got some bad reviews. But honestly I think it was way more subversive and fascinating than reviewers gave it credit for. The basic premise is that, after he gets radiation poisoning and is dying, Depp's super-clever wife manages to upload his essence into an AI shell. The argument that all of her friends make is that there's no way that's really him, and instead it's creepy and a not-him simulacrum. So they resist in very intersting ways, and he continues to solve all kinds of health and communication issues. At the end, after they've come up with a way to completely destroy him (and in doing so destroy all of technology in the world), and here's the subversive part, it's revealed that it really is him, that he really is their friend and sure he's made a few missteps but he's still basically human. But they don't really know it. And then he's destroyed and all of the amazing contributions he made to the world are gone too. Not SkyNet! Oh well.

    89. Riverworld (2010), SyFy. Not sure if I can count this as a movie, as it was clearly filmed as the pilot to a series that never happened, but it was four hours so I'm giving myself credit anyway. It looked nothing like a movie, however, and everything like the pilot to a SyFy channel tv series. So....not very good, but decent enough for a SyFy show. Followed the plot of the Farmer novel, at least roughly? Like I'd remember anyway. I read the book back in college. I am old.

    90. Office Space, cable, rewatch. Still love it. Still laugh all the way through.

    91. Serendipity, cable. I watched Sweet Home Alabama and was in a "let's get that corn-pone taste out of my mouth but stick to cute guys in romantic comedies" mood, so John Cusack nicely fit the bill. Bonus Jeremy Piven, almost always a welcome addition.

    92. Sweet Home Alabama, cable, rewatch. I am now watching "The Mysteries of Laura" with Debra Messing and Josh Lucas entirely because of this formulaic dreck. Lucas is very charming and cute in this movie, and I am after all a girl.

    93. The Town, cable, rewatch. Jeremy Renner. Jon Hamm and his exceedingly present 5 o'clock shadow. Charlestown. Affleck and Fenway Paaaahk. Accents.

    94. Captain America: The First, rewatch.
    95. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, rewatch. Cap is Cap. What else is there to say? I was hugely amused by Everything Wrong with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It was more fun in the theater than on the little screen. But honestly, I could watch all of these over and over again and not be bothered a bit by the plot holes. Go Marvel team. Make lots more movies!

    96. The Amazing Spider-Man, Cable.
    97. The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Amazon Prime. The first one was on cable and I stumbled upon it right at the beginning. In all the previews for these movies, I hated the voice of the kid playing Peter Parker. I thought he was too mumbly and whiny to play PP. I have to admit, he kind of grew on me. The movies are collosally stupid. I mean, totes moronic. But aren't all superhero movies ridic? Yes, yes they are. The first one is much better than the second, however. The second has just too much going on and as much as I like Jamie Foxx, his villain was dumb. I like him better as the president, frankly. And that's not this movie.

    98. The Lincoln Lawyer, rewatch. Pretty good. Read all the books, and although the movie plot tends toward the action adventure-y side of the book plot, it's fairly faithful to the flavor. There are several books already in this series, so I am wondering if they'll crank out another. Probably can't afford McConaughey anymore. There's also the Harry Bosch series that Amazon is producing as a cross-over option (the books cross-over because Bosch and Haller are brothers). But they REALLY can't afford McConaughey, so I suppose I should stop thinking about it.

    99. Obsessed, rewatch. Beyonce and Idris Elba are married with a kid and have just moved into a beautiful giant McMansion, but Idris is being stalked at work by a hot blonde (Legend's Ali Lartner) who thinks they're dating. There is amusing OVERLY OBVIOUS foreshadowing involving a soft spot in an attic floor that is the really high cathedral ceiling over a glass coffee table. Chick fight later, hot blonde is out of the picture. Go Bey! Stupid movie. Pretty much worth a miss, even for the Idris Elba factor. In fact, he really should be embarrassed by this movie, but I suppose they all thought, hey, a paycheck, and hey, I get to work with Beyonce (except probably Bey didn't think that...or did she?)!

    100. A Night in Old Mexico, Redbox. Quirky small film. Robert Duvall and no one else you know except Abraham Benrubi, "Jerry" from ER. It's about what it's called. Enjoyable if you're a fan of Duvall.

    101. A Walk Among the Tombstones, Theater. Pretty good. Liam Neeson can probably play this role while actively doing something else like solving world hunger. Based on a Lawrence Block detective series, I suppose this could become a franchise. I would watch it. But I like Liam Neeson now. It took me a couple of decades, but I finally forgave him "Darkman".

    102. Snow White and the Huntsman, cable. Not as bas as I expected. A few interesting world-building choices. Kristen Stewart wasn't awful, which I found surprising.


    Sep. 24th, 2014 11:48 pm
    llcoolvad: (newer)
    Posting this now because I'm so behind on my obsessive list-making. I'll post September once the month is over.

    66. War of the Worlds (2005), HBO. Rewatch. Very good. I forget sometimes how much I like Tom Cruise the actor, as opposed to Tom Cruise the man—especially when he's doing SF. Last month it was the excellent "Edge of Tomorrow," and this month it's the excellent "War of the Worlds." So claustrophobic. Only a few glimpses into the wider world and what's happening everywhere. Instead, it's what's happening immediately in front of you. Non-stop scariness. Dakota Fanning is impressive, but after a while you feel bad for the actress. It must have been kind of scary, really, to spend every day screaming and crying and being tiny in a huge huge world, even if your real world is grounded and smaller.

    67. The Shawshank Redemption, AMC. Counting this as a separate movie than the pack below, because I surprisingly have never watched this before. Sometimes I get my back up about "good" movies, which is insanely dumb because I love movies and especially "good" ones. And Morgan Freeman? I have no idea why I never got around to watching this before. Because it was good! Tim Robbins really is so good.

    68. Jaws, Cable. Rewatch. Also counting this as a separate movie than the pack below, because the last time I saw this movie it was college. Or maybe it was when I was 12 and saw it in the theater. Sometimes you go a long time without seeing a movie filmed in the 70s and you forget what an innovative time it was for filmmaking. The pacing, the shorthand, the acting, all so good and so different that what came before. Anyway, still scary. Easy to overlook the robot shark. Unsettling.

    69-80: Cable. A shitload of rewatches between July-Sept. Die Hard #30, Dark Knight Rises, Bond Bond Bond (two Brosnans, two Craigs), Veronica Mars, Hobbit 2, Elysium, Mission Imp #30, Mission to Mars, National Treasure 1 and 2, Ocean's 11, Pacific Rim, basically about 40 more. If I was home, and there was a movie on cable, especially if it was on Starz, Encore, or HBO so no commercials? I was probably watching it. I vaguely wish I kept track, since I have a pretty terrible memory, but really, I don't think I watched anything new. Action/Spy/Thriller/SF/Caper. That's the ticket! Only giving myself credit for 11 here (because it takes me to a round number).

    61. X-Men: Days of Future Past, Theater. Missed mentioning this for May. I can't keep track of everything, clearly. Very good! I especially enjoyed the bullet-time effect when Quicksilver ran around. But really I enjoyed all of it. Good plot, good series reset, be interesting to see where they go next.

    62. Enemy, Redbox. I am not smart enough to understand all of this movie. Lots of symbolism and imagery, etc. Jake Gyllenhaal is a history professor who sees a video clip of a man who looks exactly like him. Why? Who is he? Are they twins? His mother says no. How can he be identical? The ending is equally mystifying.

    63. Joe, Redbox. Back to good Nic Cage. He's best when he's playing poor and conflicted and gritty. This was pretty dark.

    64. Blood Ties, Redbox. Period piece set in the 70s. Clive Own has just been released from prison. His brother, Billy Crudup, is a cop. Brutal stuff happens. I kind of forget the actual details of the plot already. Mob? Assassinations? Robberies? Murder? Whatever. Good while you watch it, doesn't stick to your ribs.

    65. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Redbox. Very good. I love Ralph Fiennes, and I like most of Wes Anderson's movies, so this was definitely a no-brainer. I wouldn't say a lot of it was surprising. But overall it was fun indeed.

    66. The Lone Ranger. I thought I must have reviewed this earlier. It wasn't as awful as I thought it would be, but lord it wasn't good. Army Hammer was attractive. Johnny Depp was a caricature. The plot was insanely dumb. Still, for the mood I was in? It was ok.


    Sep. 12th, 2014 09:59 pm
    llcoolvad: (newer)
    Two times in the past eight weeks I've tried to advocate for myself, medically, and I was met with nothing but skepticism and arrogance.

    The first time was my aforementioned cough-that-broke-my-titanium-wire episode six days after surgery. I knew I'd broken something. Knew it. Went to the local ER, asked for an X-ray. Doctor talked me into taking a CAT scan, gave me fluids while I was waiting. Had to wait a long time for someone to read it after. Attending doc came in, told me I'd be released soon, he was sure. There's nothing wrong. It's ok. Then suddenly, no, you're going via ambulance to your surgical hospital's ER because we don't understand what your CAT scan is telling us. Let me hang more fluids. NO, I insisted, the fluids are making me feel worse. Ok, they listened (turns out that was a good thing).

    At the ER I stayed in a hallway for 2.5 hours, doped on dilaudid. I make it into a room, at last, and the parade of doctors and surgeons begin. I think I saw seven, plus two nurses and several interns. They initially couldn't load my CAT scan (brought with me on disk) into their system, so everything was delayed. Turns out they could LOOK at it, though, and couldn't see any problem on the scan. They all patronizingly told me that what I was feeling was normal surgical healing pain, and I should go home and take it easy. Seven hours later I did just that, but the entire time I felt that they were wrong.

    Five days later, after feeling like crap for those days and having what my visiting nurse and visiting physical therapists both referred to as a "setback", my surgeon's office did a simple x-ray as part of my follow-up exam and told me that yes, the top surgical staple had indeed broken. It would eventually scar over and heal up and I shouldn't worry, though. Even though I could feel flexing with every breath and coughing was making it hurt a lot and I was doing a lot of coughing. Not sure if they could have done anything when I first complained, but I would have felt better knowing I wasn't being hysterical, anyway.

    They ended up having to remove a liter of fluid from my lung, and then again doing the same in a week. For some reason I am not getting rid of fluids as quickly as I should be. Still, I could have probably had that done on Saturday instead of Thursday if they had listened to me--I could have had treatment days earlier.


    The second time was this week. I went to my primary care doc because I can't walk any distance without gasping for breath. It sucks, and I figure that 7 weeks into my recovery I should not have this much trouble. My lung doesn't feel any better than it did while I was in the hospital or after they did the thoracentesis (lung tap). I call them in advance to ask if I shouldn't get a chest x-ray first, so they could tell if I've got more pleural effusion, in case I need another tap. I could get the x-ray on my way in as radiology is right in their building. His PA tells me no, he will want to see me first. I insist that she ask him, explain my issues patiently, and point out that I still can't drive so it would be best if I did it all the same day since I have to get a ride. She calls back after talking to him. No, he wants to see me first. SIGH.

    So I go in. I tell him everything, he looks at my prior tests. He listens to my chest, says it doesn't sound bad. Starts writing me refills on all my prescriptions. Doesn't think I need the x-ray I want. I insist. So he has me get it done on the way out, along with getting my blood work done. I go home, dejected. I feel like I'm never going to get better, and I feel like my doctor is just not in the caring business anymore. He didn't EXACTLY treat me like I was a hypochondriac, but he really didn't seem to be addressing my concerns.

    Yesterday at 7:30pm, so four days later, he calls me at home. Tells me that the fluid around my lung hasn't increased (note that it hasn't decreased, either), but that instead I had some INSIDE my lung (so, pulmonary edema). Swell. The treatment is to take a diuretic, which he has already called in. I should start taking it in the morning. (NOTE: If he had done as I suggested, and had the x-ray done before I came in, I could have started on the diuretic four days ago. But ok. At least I have a diagnosis and a treatment.)

    But why does it have to be so damned hard? I live in ostensibly the best area in the country for medical care. My doctors are based out of one of the best hospitals in the country. I am not a shrinking violet about confronting people. And it's taking all I have to get treated. I can't even IMAGINE what happens to people who aren't pushy.


    So this is really a PSA for advocating for yourself. Keep pushing. Apparently both pleural effusions and pulmonary edemas can cause permanent damage, up to and including death. Important to get what ails you treated!

    Here's hoping the diuretic will handle my fluids. Because breathing is a good idea!


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