Poopmonsters: 1, Me: 0

Today saw the return of a high pressure ridge and much warmer, summer-like temperatures, just in time for the actual start of summer (in five days).

I had planned on doing some shopping but didn’t want to stay cooped up inside during our first day of truly glorious sunshine in weeks, so I nixed the shopping and went for a walk around Burnaby Lake.

Here are some stats courtesy of the Activity app of my watch:

Total distance: 19.31 km
Total time: 2:57:51
Total calories burned: 909
Average pace: 9:12/km
Average BPM: 124

My knees started out fine, started to get sore partway through, got a bit bothersome some point after that, then came around to feeling not too bad again for the last few km. They don’t feel bad now, but I’m under no illusions. My knees have turned against me after 4400+ km of running.

When I approached the athletic fields I was presented with a dilemma, as illustrated in the photo below.

You shall not pass (without being pecked).

The choice was to plow through and see how the adult geese would react to me indirectly threatening their goslings, or to cut wide onto the field and avoid them altogether.

I chose the latter because having more than a dozen geese chasing and trying to peck me is a little too close to a scene from The Birds for comfort.

After taking the photo (I approached from the opposite side), I passed a woman who was going to face the same predicament. I watched to see if the feathers would fly. She got closer and closer still, then stopped. She took some pictures. She resumed walking and I actually though she was going to try the ol’ “if I just calmly walk through them nothing bad will happen” trick. But instead, she went wide onto the field like I did. Considering this was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I wonder how many other people were diverted by the goose-stepping blockade.

The rest of the walk was pretty straightforward, though I actually began to sweat a bit toward the end. There was the usual mix of walkers, runners and cyclists pretending they totally didn’t realize they aren’t allowed to ride here. No park workers around to warn/lecture/fine them, however. The cyclists, I mean.

One jogger–who obviously read the forecast–was wearing the legal minimum to stay nice and cool. Or cooler. As I passed through Lower Hume Park another pair of runners went by also wearing the vaguely ridiculous short shorts and nothing else at all. Well, running shoes. And one had a heart strap on, which, when going shirtless, looks like you’ve put your belt on about a foot higher than you meant to. They had perfectly sculpted bodies, of course, just to rub it in.

I’m going to run tomorrow, and will attempt to do so in the morning before it becomes Africa hot. Because I did the mega-walk I am thinking of just a quick run on the river instead of tackling the lake again. We shall see.

My steadily improving vision

Today I got my eyes examined [joke about having head examined here] for the first time in six years.

I didn’t realize it had been that long until the receptionist at the optometrist told me my last visit was in 2012. I felt bad. And lazy. Because I was very lazy.

The good news is my eyes are happy and healthy, and I got to see full color 3D images of them, which was both neat and a little creepy.

I also got the drops that keep your pupils dilated and it was sunny out, so things were a little bright for a few hours after. I should have remembered sunglasses. Except I don’t have any. So what I really need is to remember to buy them first.

The weirdest part of the exam was the doctor confirming something I mentioned at the start of the exam. I told him that I could see distant objects better with the glasses off. He confirmed this–my far distance vision has actually gotten better, defying logic and age. I’m okay with this. The old prescription for the progressive lenses was -75 for distance and is nil for the new prescription.

Near distance is another story, a story that is slightly out of focus. The doctor had me look through a lens mirroring my current prescription and letters were a bit fuzzy. He then switched to the new prescription and they were razor sharp. I actually felt a small thrill of excitement at this. I’m not sure if this makes me nerdy, old or both. But yes, I’m excited about getting new glasses and I’m going to start shopping with my new prescription in hand tomorrow.

And I pinky swear I will not wait six years next time to get my eyes checked.

My knees are amazing

Amazingly sore, that is. So much so that I elected to skip my usual lunch walk today.

Now, I’m not complaining, I’ve come to accept that the combination of age and nine years of jogging has clearly taken their toll on my knees, I’m just surprised that it went from not manifesting in any way while running (or walking) to suddenly doing that on a near-permanent basis. I think I’m also working through the stages of grief at the loss of my old, healthy knees.

Things will no doubt get even more interesting when I reach the bargaining stage, where I’ll start researching kooky, medically unsound fixes and cure-alls. Actually, I think I may be at that stage now, I just haven’t come up with any kooky ideas to pursue yet.

But I will. Oh yes, I will.

May 2018 weight loss report: Down 5.2 pounds

Something weird happened this month.

I lost weight!

True, a large part of it was due to a kidney infection killing my appetite for the better part of a week, which led to an impressive 3.5 pound weight loss over a 24 hour period, but still, I stayed on track even after getting my appetite back. If it wasn’t for a small uptick right in the last two days of the month I would be down even more.

For May I dropped 5.2 pounds. For the year I am still up 0.7 pounds, but that may actually change by the end of June to a negative number. Woo, I say.

I have largely curtailed the snacking and when I do snack, I am sticking to lighter, healthier things like apples and yogurt.

The stats:

May 1: 168.2 pounds
May 31: 163 pounds (-5.2 pounds for the month)

Year to date: From 162.3 to 163 pounds (up 0.7 pounds)

And the body fat:

January 1: 18.5% (30.2 pounds of fat)
May 31:
19% (30.9 pounds of fat–up 0.7 pounds)

Prescription interruptus

That three-day antibiotic treatment for my kidney infection was apparently supposed to be 10 days, but the pharmacy only had three days’ worth of medication on hand (it was a total of six pills). I was expected to come back and get the remaining seven days’ of medication a few days later. They called and left me a message informing me of this.

I never got the message.

I was never told initially that the prescription was incomplete, either.

I’m actually a little ticked, because now I have to pick up the seven days’ of additional antibiotics, start taking them, then let my doctor know in case the lapse in treatment means I need to tack three more days of antibiotics onto thee seven.

And now I’m wondering if I can feel the kidney starting to act up again. Psychosomatic, perhaps. I feel like Al Pacino in The Godfather Part III. “Just when I thought I was out…”

Kidney infection: Now off my bucket list

As you might guess, I never actually had kidney infection on my bucket list. That would be nutty, unless it was an opposite-universe bucket list where every item was something terrible, like “get stung by a swarm of bees” or “get trapped in a landslide” or “be hit by a blimp.” But if I had put kidney infection on my bucket list, I could scratch it off, because I do, right now, have a kidney infection.

In what is shaping up to be my Year of Personal Health Hell™ I experienced the early symptoms on Wednesday (three days ago as I type this). In the morning I suffered an episode of shivering/feeling cold that lasted about ten minutes. Later I felt very warm, but that, too, subsided.

I had been recovering from a sore lower back (see above, YoPHH™) and that was mostly gone at this point, but I did feel one small spot on the right side that was still a bit sore. I was wrong about this. It wasn’t my back.

I went to see my new doctor later that afternoon and since I was feeling fine at the time, said nothing to him. That was mistake #1, as the pain I felt was not in my lower back, but on the other side, in my abdomen. Specifically my kidney. I wasn’t sure so said nothing, which was dumb.

Wednesday evening I spent the night burning up the bed. I felt radioactive. My partner would not cuddle–who wants second degree burns from a hug? This led to mistake #2. I was clearly running a fever at this point, but instead of going to the ER or a walk-in clinic (my doctor is a two hour commute) the next morning I went to work. Later that morning I began feeling the hot/cold thing again, but it was lasting much longer now. By noon it was persistent and I left work early.

Mistake #3 was going straight home to rest instead of going to the ER or walk-in clinic. By this point I knew something was wrong and I’d have to get checked out. But I was weak, and felt terrible and just wanted to shut off.

Thursday night was spent in a weird fugue where sleep came in small snatches as I burned up/froze. By 1 p.m. I summoned the strength to go to a nearby walk-in clinic.

It was uphill all the way. I’m not even joking. It’s on Columbia Street, just off Keary Street, and the latter is all hill. At least it was all downhill coming back.

At the clinic I gave them my info and the woman at the counter told me it would be about 45 minutes. I did not relish this. I sat down and closed my eyes and pretended to be inside a healthy body.

Surprisingly, about ten minutes later I was taken to an exam room and was attended to shortly after by a sexy red-haired doctor. Even in my horrible state I pick up on certain details.

He applied pressure to my kidney. I confirmed it caused much pain. He took my temperature with an ear probe thinger and said it was 38.7ºC. That’s super high. He made me produce a pee sample. I was sent back out to the waiting area while they did a quick analysis. I was then taken to a different exam room, but with the same doctor, so it was only partly disorienting. He confirmed a kidney infection and prescribed antibiotics (you know, those things I’ve proven allergic to over and over). Fortunately this batch is Cipro, which I’ve taken before without sporting a rash after. It’s only six tablets, two per day, but they are what the old-timers called horse pills, which is to say they are big.

On the way to Save-On to get the prescription filled I had to drop my urine sample off at Life Labs for further analysis–a precaution to make sure they were treating the infection as efficiently as possible. Normally a courier would handle this, but he’s apparently off until Tuesday.

The doctor cautioned me that if I felt worse after a few days of treatment to get to the hospital or clinic ASAP because kidney infections can apparently turn very nasty very quickly (he used the phrase “low tolerance”), leading to toxic shock and other equally fun-sounding side effects.

Fortunately, a few hours after taking the first tablet my fever broke and I am feeling much better (though not great) than before. I’ve actually done a few things today, which is way more than I did yesterday. I no longer feel hot or cold, just mildly awful.

The bigger issue now is why did I get two infections within weeks of each other (the broken tooth being the first)? Is my immune system compromised? If so, by what? Something else even more horrible? Considering this is the YOPHH™ there’s a strong chance the answer is yes.

Once I’m done with the latest antibiotics, I’m getting some bloodwork done. Perhaps more answers will be found there, even if they are un-fun answers.

In the meantime, I may have some ice cream today. But I have a specific window for that. These antibiotics can lose their potency with dairy products and also things like calcium, minerals or anything acidic. My solution is to have a two hour window of no food/drink before and after taking a pill. I’m about 45 minutes away from the next window opening up. I’m pretending water is delicious and satisfying in the way a turkey dinner might be.

The agony of deback

Yesterday I went to Horseshoe Bay and spent some time in downtown Vancouver. While in these locations I did not do the following:

  • Lift anything heavier than a regular sized beverage
  • Push or pull anything of significant girth or weight
  • Twist my body in a pretzel-like shape
  • Indulge in any sort of exercise more vigorous than walking

I mention these things because by dinner I felt a few twinges in my lower back, the kind that raise miniature red flags. In the middle of the night I awoke to considerable stiffness and discomfort in my lower back. Why? I do not know. I am not especially flexible, which makes these sorts of issues more likely to happen, but it’s still a tad frustrating to not have a metaphorical smoking gun to point to.

I initially opted out of work, then foolishly went in late, thinking a T3 would get me through the afternoon. T3s do not really work for sore or spasming muscles, alas. I spent about five hours experiencing a quiet agony, the pain persistent and unyielding no matter how I stood, sat or attempted to hover.

The best relief came in the evening when a soothing bubble bath with bonus Epsom salts allowed my back to temporarily experience pseudo-low gravity, my body bobbing blissfully in the warm, redolent water. So if I could work from a bubble bath my problems would be solved.

Failing that, I’ve opted for taking Robax, avoiding sitting, indulging laying down, and have gone to bed early, all in the hope that tg latest part of my body to declare itself in disrepair will at least somewhat mend itself overnight.

If I win the Lotto 6/49 I am going to seriously look into purchasing a robot body. I’m good with the brain but at this point I’m willing to trade in almost everything else.

Emergency room visit 2018 edition, Part 2

This was not meant to be a series.

On Thursday, May 3rd I went to the ER again after developing an allergic reaction to the antibiotics I was on. The reaction started on Monday and Wednesday I found myself both very spotty and fatigued. The fatigue may have been unrelated or psychosomatic. Either way, I wanted to get a professional opinion on what I could or couldn’t do for this particular reaction.

I originally planned on visiting the ER before noon, but ended up not getting out of bed until after 11, so I was actually eating breakfast at lunch. I went after 1 p.m. and foolishly assumed it would be quieter during the week than on the weekend. I’m not sure what my logic was in thinking this, but I was horribly wrong.

There weren’t many people in the ER, which lulled me into a false sense of “This isn’t going to take long.” Here is my tale, written live blog-style thanks to the wonders of technology.

1:07 p.m. Here I am again in emergency, hooray. Today’s special is spots all over the body. I ordered the full meal.

1:20 p.m .Still waiting, lots more people coming in now. No one here has any obvious symptoms or injuries, which strikes me as a wee bit odd. Maybe someone will suddenly have blood start gushing from their eyeballs or something.

Actually, a kid about 8 looks like he hurt his arm. he’s holding it in that “I dun broke it” way, but looks super casual otherwise. If I broke my arm I’d at least look a bit distracted.

1:25 p.m. I’m in at Check-in 2, getting prepped for triage. Temperature and blood pressure taken again (the latter may be increasing with each trip to the ER), get another set of those impossible-to-remove bands on my wrist. They have not added the new antibiotic to the second band. Yet.

1:33 p.m. Moved to triage. Unlike the main ER area, this room is very crowded here and everyone looks sad or quietly angry.

Every time my name is called out, they say Stanley, like they’re my mom. To be fair, it’s what my ID says. It still feels a little odd.

1:43 p.m. A woman almost misses her call as she’s wearing earbuds and rocking out in a chair directly in front of the nurse calling her name. She’s about the only one here who doesn’t look unhappy. I don’t want to listen to music and lose my place. I’d probably be here another two hours.

I’m wearing shorts today. At least the weather is nice.

2:00 p.m. Time keeps on ticking…

Some weird period abduction movie is playing on the TV, with stabbing and blood. The twist is the abductor is a woman and the abductee is a man. Some vigilante woman with a bow comes to rescue the man, but her target, in true Mike Myers fashion, pulls the arrow out of her chest and tries stabbing vigilante woman with it. As one does in these situations. This movie doesn’t seem like maybe the best choice to be showing in a hospital. Okay, I remember seeing that it was on CBC, so I looked it up and it turned out to be an episode of Murdoch’s Mysteries, “a one-hour drama set in Toronto in the late 1890s and early 1900s during the age of invention.” Apparently the mystery in this episode is how you can’t disable someone with an arrow fired at near point-blank range.

Shortly after this ends, a show called The Goods starts. People laugh a lot. It’s some home improvement thing set in a studio with an audience of about 12 people. They all seem to much happier than those of us here in triage. Before the first makeover begins, a Code Blue is called for the lower entrance. Several staff go running by. I hear a vehicle backup sound. Code Blue means someone in need of immediate resuscitation. I’m probably a Code Mauve.

2:03 p.m. I’m wondering what if anything they can do or give me. If I had a super power right now I would totally go with body spot remover.

A kid is crying over in emergency. It’s faint, though, almost subliminal. I don’t know if that makes it better or worse.

The young guy sitting across from me appears to have fallen asleep. Just as I finished writing this he sprang to life and took out his phone. His sleepy eyes now have the zombified glaze of the modern smartphone owner.

2:08 p.m. It dawns on me that this is triage and as such I may be the last one looked at. I gird myself for a long wait.

2:14 p.m. I notice my chart is gone from the chart repository. This seems like a promising sign.

2:20 pm The guy sitting next to me gets restless, gets up, raids a vending machine and is now pacing back and forth in front of me eating heavily salted snacks. It’s mildly annoying. He’s apparently not going to sit back down.

2:23 p.m. Running out of seats now. Munchies Man may be accidentally nice by refusing to sit.

Salty Snacks Guy gets his chart or whatever and is free to go–just in time, as he finished all his nuts.

2:27 p.m. I have been waiting in triage for about an hour now. I know my phone battery can hold out, but still….

2:29 p.m. A woman sits next to me and a nurse starts administering an IV to her, explaining the procedure. I don’t really want to be part of this. Fortunately at nearly the same time I finally get called in.

2:31 p.m. I’m in a small exam room by myself this time. The doctor leaves so I can put on a gown after I remove my shirt. This turns out to be unnecessary, except for some untold amusement value.

2:36 p.m. I sit on the exam bed and wait. I haven’t secured my gown very well and it keeps wanting to slip off my shoulder, like I’m trying to make myself alluring.

2:45 p.m. The doctor finally returns and has changed into a man. He introduces himself but I don’t quite catch the name. Dr. Mark Flibberman or something. He seems non-nonsense. He asks a few questions about the reaction, gets me to pull up the gown to show my spotty abdomen, makes me stick out my tongue, then says very firmly, “Never take that antibiotic again.” That seems like a good idea. He deems this a mild allergic reaction and recommends Benadryl and says Reactine is also good. It will take around 10 days to clear up (I’m on Day 7 as I write this and this seems plausible. It’s just now showing signs of fading). He doesn’t suggest I do anything else in particular, except to return if I see symptoms of a stronger reaction. These include fun things like:

  • difficulty in swallowing or breathing
  • skin peeling off
  • ulcers in the mouth

None of these have occurred yet, but given how things have gone this year, I’m not placing bets until the spots have completely faded.

2:48 p.m. Unlike my previous visit, I leave empty-handed, save for the bracelets. I have to pick up something from an Amazon locker at a nearby TD branch and try to look inconspicuous, even though it’s totally obvious I’m wearing bracelets from the hospital. Not to mention the spots.

I have spent nearly two hours at the hospital. I probably could have looked up the same info in five minutes on WebMD.com. Oh well. At least the news was…not bad?

This concludes my second and hopefully last trip to the ER this year.

Bonus image. This is what my right leg looked like after a walk the same day. Vigorous activity was making the spots extremely vivid for a couple of days. It’s honestly kind of gross, so I’ve put it inside a spoiler:

My amazing spotty calf
My name is Spot.

Delayed Reaction (not the Hall and Oates song)

This morning I finished the last of my 10 day prescription of Apo-Clindamycin and mused how nice it was to not have experienced any of the side effects. I remembered, of course, that both the doctor and pharmacist warned me side effects could occur after I’d finished taking all of the antibiotics.

You know what happened next.

Around noon I went to the washroom before going for my lunch hour walk and I noticed in the mirror that I looked a little flushed. A little glowing, in fact. Upon closer inspection I saw that my neck was livid with red dots.

This is not normal.

I looked at my arms and yes, I had a rash and it was spreading. Arms, legs, neck, front, back. Everywhere below the neck, except my hands and feet. And a few hours later it moved above my face, giving my face the appearance of a sunburn. Also, several parts of my body became super itchy.

It was not fun.

I went to the school clinic. The doctor gave me a three-day supply of Reactine and couldn’t say when, exactly, I’d see the effects of it. As of tonight I am seeing little reactin’ (get it?!), but there is perhaps some mild improvement. I don’t feel as itchy.

She also told me to see my doctor soon for allergy tests and such, as this would be the third major class of antibiotics I’d be allergic to. It’s possible that this may be a one-time reaction upon first use, since I did get through the entire supply before any effects occurred. But still, not the snazziest way to start a new month.

The weather was nice, though.

April 2018 weight loss report: Up 1.1 pounds

The bad news is my weight is up for the month and up more than March. The good news is…um…April was kind of a terrible month so maybe being up 1.1 pounds is not so bad. Also, I have been jumping up and down about 1.5 pounds lately, so it’s quite possible that tomorrow I’ll have actual weight loss showing.

Nonetheless, the fat stats:

April 1: 167.1 pounds
April 30: 168.2 pounds (+1.1 pounds for the month)

Year to date: From 162.3 to 168.2 pounds (up 5.9 pounds)

And the body fat:

January 1: 18.5% (30.2 pounds of fat)
April 30:
19.5% (32.8 pounds of fat–up 2.8 pounds)

My goal for May is to stop inflating. To put it less ambiguously, my goal is actual weight loss. You know, where my weight goes down instead of the opposite of down.

Also, despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain donut-free.

A visit to the dentist…for the first time in over 30 years

I do not recommend waiting 30 years between visits to your dentist.

My partner Jeff called his dentist and got me an emergency appointment today at 12:30 p.m. so they could look at and determine what to do with my infected ex-tooth (extract with prejudice seemed the only real option).

I wasn’t totally sure if they would look today and excavate later, but it became clear early on that time and tide and infected ex-teeth wait for no man.

Fortunately, dentistry has improved a good bit in the last 30+ years.

The dentist and assistant were both friendly and explained everything, especially after I voiced my unfocused anxiety that had kept me away as an adult. The chair now moves up and down with the press of a button. I’m pretty sure the last time I sat in one it was operated with a foot pedal and brute force.

Directly in front of me was a flat panel screen showing images of what appeared to be some rural area in South America. The people had nicer teeth than me, which I supposed was the point. Then an image of a steer staring into the camera came up and I was confused. I later learned the images were from work my (new) dentist had done in Central America. I am unclear if he worked on the steer. It wasn’t smiling.

The dentist acknowledged that old dentistry was pretty primitive (I think of McCoy exclaiming about the medieval medical technology seen in 20th century Earth in Star Trek IV) and carefully explained everything he was doing or would do and how it was way better than the old days.

The first step was to take an x-ray of the affected area. I was asked after if I wanted to see it and declined, because how could it not be grossbuckets? I don’t want to see gross things that are inside me, even if they are about to become outside me.

If you don’t like descriptions of dental work, stop reading now or skip to the last paragraph.

First he used a cotton swab to apply some topical numbing gel to the area that would be frozen. This helps reduce possible pain while getting the freezing shot, and indeed, I felt very little of anything as my mouth was frozen. A promising start.

After giving it five minutes to set, the work began. The dentist reassured me that it would be quick and relatively painless, thanks to the infection. Yes, this seems weird. He explained that teeth normally set their roots into the bone and used the analogy of fence posts in cement. Very tough to get out. However, the infection around my ex-tooth’s roots had basically turned what would be cement into goop. The three individual root pieces would come out easily.

And the first two did, popping out with no sensation at all.

I got jabbed with some more freezing at this point, and I did feel a little pain, for which both the dentist and assistant profusely apologized. I actually felt bad mumbling a complaint.

I also realize how super-tense my body was and made an effort to relax. I closed my eyes and couldn’t think of anything to distract myself with, so I just kept them closed and focused on not making my body an unbending board.

The third root was a little trickier to get to. I heard sounds in my mouth I don’t like hearing. I tasted something gross. I’m not sure what it was, but they apologized again and suctioned it out.

The suction was very weird. They told me to clamp my mouth on it for maximum effectiveness, but when I did it felt like it wanted to pull out my insides. It didn’t hurt or anything, it was just strange. I want to say it sucked, but I’d never do that.

The third root came out and the dentist poked around a bit more, removing some of the infected tissue, to help speed healing. He advised me I would probably want to take the T3’s I’d be given, though the assistant offered that Advil could work, too, with the bonus of not messing with my stomach or mind.

I took the T3 when I got home.

The work was complete within half an hour or so and I left with gauze clenched on the left side of my mouth. It’s out now and I don’t think it’s bleeding, but I have more gauze just in case. The freezing has mostly worn off now, so the puffy face look has diminished.

I was told to eat soft food today and be careful with hot/cold food or beverages over the next few days. I can brush tonight, but not swirl anything around in my mouth. Using a straw is forbidden in the same way turning 31 was in Logan’s Run.

Now I wait for the pain as the numbing wears off, to see how effective the T3 is, and I anticipate the soft eggs or soup or whatever it is I’m having for dinner.

And I’ll be making an appointment for a regular check-up like I should have done 30+ years ago.

Overall, not exactly a delightful experience, but definitely not as bad as I’d expected.