Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Ezra Lb.
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Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:09 pm

or, Ezra takes a turn in the Health-Care System


Diagnosis: Paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (Cardiac arrhythmia)

Veeery early Sunday morning the 27th (why do these things always seem to happen at night?) I awoke with my heart flopping around the inside of my rib cage. At least that's what it felt like. When it didn't subside I drove to the hospital emergency room which fortunately enough is only about a mile and a half from my apartment.

After an inital examination I was admitted to the hospital. Between the time I walked in the door and the time I was admitted was only two hours. I'm told this was rather quick. I asked the duty nurse and she told me it had been a unusually quiet night for the emergency room. Saturday night and Sunday morning is normally emergency room prime time. Lucky me.

Pretty soon I was hooked up to saline and blood thinner with regular blood pressure checks, a heart rate monitor and an EKG twice a day. In the mid-afternoon the staff cardiologist came by and explained to me what was happening. Apparently afib (as all us medical hipsters call it) is not life threatening in and of itself. It does however create conditions that may themselves lead to problems. (Blood clots mainly.) It's also seems to be a fairly common condition. My mother had it when she was a little older than me and she's still going strong some 25 years later which fact calmed my apprehension somewhat. She takes a blood thinner called warfarin.

Well, that could be my fate. But I was intoduced to the word cardioversion which is literally what it says, converting an irregular heartbeat to a normal heartbeat by either chemical or electrical means. I wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of getting zapped although now it is an outpatient procedure! Fortunately they started with the chemical whose multi-syllabic name I can't remember. But to mitigate the danger of clots I had to take in the warfarin for a couple of days.

So on Tues afternoon the cardiologist came in and administered the magic goo. And after about ten minutes my heart rate settled into a normal rhythm which for informational purposes should normally be between 70 & 100 BPM in a healthy adult. I could read the heart rate monitor if I leaned to the right just a little and I'd previously seen a heart rate of 165 and one of 47 when my heart was afloppin'.

Of course they had to monitor me to see that the fix "took" so to speak. So it wasn't until Thursday afternoon last that I was able to leave the hospital. Am I out of the woods? Well there is about a 50% relapse rate within a year depending on the cause and severity of the condition. I can do what I can do in the meantime which is to change a pretty unhealthy lifestyle. I'm taking this as a "shot across the bow" and a wake-up call. I need to lose about fifty pounds and start some regular vigorous exercise. I sit on my ass in front of a computer at work and then go home and frequently do the same. I eat a lot of garbage just because it's fast and convenient and I don't like to cook. And since I don't believe that anyone is going to swoop down and save me from my own stupidity and short sightedness then in a real sense the future is up to me.

Some observations:

With all the discussion about the very real problems with the US health-care system I must say I have no complaints with any of the people I encountered or the way I was treated. HOWEVER I admittedly occupy a privileged position within that system. I have very good coverage (although expensive) through my employer. When the health folks see my insurance info they usher me in because they know they'll get paid. What does the person who can't afford it do? And even though I enjoy the benefits of such a a sytem I can't help but be repulsed by a system that relies on profit. (My payment amount goes up every year too and where will that end?)


Totally secondary of course but I had the opportunity to do something I haven't done for years. Lay (lie?) on my ass and watch a bunch of TV. Good gawd amightee! It's worse now than when I pulled the plug. Inane talk shows, even more inane news shows, fascist cop autopsy shows, all leavened by commercials hawking drugs for imaginary diseases where the cure seems worse than the disease. TV? You can have it! I watched part of the so-called health care "debate" on C-SPAN and that was depressing. The only bright spot was I got to see part of Ken Burn's documentary on the National Parks. Pretty interesting stuff.

I now know what the word stir-crazy means.

Did anyone else realize how much salt there is in our food?

Go get the flu shot. No matter how healthy you think you are, go get the flu shot. It's bad this time. I could tell by the way the doctors and nurses talked about it. Go get the flu shot.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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markabaddon
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby markabaddon » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:14 pm

Ezra, that sounds like some scary shit. Glad you are out of the hospital and feeling better. Stay helathy and follow the plan the doctors laid out, ya hear?
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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FrankChurch
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:20 pm

I'll bet dollars for donuts that you prayed. Wink.

Good to know that you are ok and your sense of humour hasn't waned. We don't need to lose anymore. Who then would I pick on? David and the others are too defensive..lol

Be good. Damned atheist fuck.

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Duane
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Duane » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:35 pm

Take it easy, Ezra.

A few thoughts: Four years ago I began to suffer from panic attacks. I'd be lying there sleeping away, when I would suddenly wake up unable to breathe. I'd crawl around on the floor for a while literally gasping for air until the little throat thing relaxed and I could breathe again. It even happened at work several times. A yawn, a sneeze, anything that disturbed my throat in the latest would set it off.

I went to the doctor and he told me it was stress. I didn't believe him at the time, but now I see his point: I was buried in work, I was bored, upset, feeling trapped in my situation. My "attacks" were simply physical manifestations of what was going on inside my head.

But I followed his prescription. I normally played about 90 minutes of ultimate frisbee a week, mixed in with the occasional gym workout. My doctor told me to make daily physical activity a priority. I found a second ultimate pickup game and went out on a vigorous trail run/hike every Saturday. Within a few weeks, the attacks disappeared.

Not saying one should undergo my particular physical regimen -- I'm abnormally healthy and conditioned for a guy in his mid 40's. But if you have a fun physical activity to look forward to, exercise will be easier, more fun and way more effective. I'd recommend a weekly walk out in the wilderness somewhere if you live near a trail head, interspersed with daily walks around town. Walking isn't glamorous, but it conditions you and it really burns the calories. Of course, get advice from your doctor first....

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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Moderator » Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:09 pm

Okay.

I'm gonna take this as a shot across my rather extended bow as well. I need to lose even more, and have a lot of the same excuses why I haven't.

Thanks for the note, Ezra, and the kick in the drawers.

Race you to the goal?
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:53 pm

If Michael Moore can do it....

Live long and prosperrr.

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David Loftus
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby David Loftus » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:45 pm

Look who's calling everybody else defensive.

I ain't defensive.

It just ain't worth responding to most of what you put out.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:54 am

Gentlemen...gentlemen...please. This is a hospital zone. If you disturb the patients we'll have to call Nurse Ratched.


Steve Barber asked

Race you to the goal?

You're on. Winner gets 30 or 40 more years to live. :D
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Steve Evil
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Steve Evil » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:03 am

Ezra Lb. wrote: It's worse now than when I pulled the plug.


Don't do it Ezra! You said yourself it's not life threatening!


Glad you're alright. It'd get mighty quiet around her without ya!

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Chuck Messer
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Chuck Messer » Thu Oct 08, 2009 6:05 pm

Well, I'm glad you made it out of the hostpital okay. During my stay -- about a week -- in the hospital, what saved me from going insane was my sister bringing me the Stephen King anthology, Everything's Eventual. Reading made the whole thing sort of bearable.

It was also difficult to use the restroom or shower while hooked up to more life support equipment than an Apollo astronaut.

Good luck with the weight loss effort, you and Steve. I need to buckle down a lose about 10 more pounds. Maybe my blood pressure will normalize without meds if I do.

Chuck
Some people are wedded to their ideology the way nuns are wed to God.

Douglas Harrison
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Douglas Harrison » Fri Oct 09, 2009 4:39 am

Ez, I did note your absence, and, per the recap of your recent ordeal, I was relieved to hear that you're doing okay. Many of us boardies are at an age where we need to change our decadent ways, and you have my sympathy, brother. I try to make it into the gym at least twice a week, but changing my diet has been a struggle. I wish you strength and support.

D.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Lori Koonce » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:21 pm

I'm glad to see you are back in your usual form Ezra. This board gets a little mundane without you and Frank playing off each other.

For both you and Steve: Just take it a step at a time. Remember the little things like the following, there is less fat in sugar in Dark Chocolate than Milk, so get used to eating that. Each little change will make a big difference in the long run!

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FrankChurch
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby FrankChurch » Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:29 pm

To be honest, unless a doctor says my heart will explode, I will continue to eat junk..ha.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Lori Koonce » Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:02 pm

There's junk.... overprocessed food that lasts forever and then there is junk. Stuff that isn't good for you, but won't hurt you if you don't over do it.

While I'm on a health thingy.... I just heard that they discovered a virus that caused chronic fatuge syndrome..... Isn't that what our estemed host suffered or suffers from?

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Chuck Messer
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Re: Open Wide. Say aaaaahhhh...

Postby Chuck Messer » Fri Oct 09, 2009 6:28 pm

Correct. Eppstein-Barr, I think it's called. I'm not sure I spelled it correctly. It'd be nice if they found an effective treatment, now that they've apparently identified the virus.

Chuck
Some people are wedded to their ideology the way nuns are wed to God.


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