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Notes from Recovery-ville

May 27, 2013 1 comment

Takes a Village

I don’t mean to turn this blog into a personal medical site, but God apparently did, so….

We’re just past the halfway point of the short side of the theoretical recovery period after most of my stomach, a piece of my liver and my gall bladder all sacrificed themselves in an effort to annihilate a 5cm tumor that turned up in my stomach 14 years after receiving unnecessary radiation in that vicinity following a bout with testicular cancer.

OK, with the background out of the way, what’s it like to recover from major gastro-intestinal surgery?  Meh.  Some days are better than others.  Some days are high energy, some days are low energy.  What is a constant is sleep.  This is the magic potion of healing.  I can drop a 2-hour nap in a New York minute (I know- that sentence must be a gross metaphorical violation of some sort).   The trick is getting 10-12 hours of sleep a day but not turn into a piece of the living room furniture.  You have to get out.  You have to walk.  You have to get in the sun.  You have to breathe the air.  Sometimes easier said then done.

A few days ago, I made my first distant foray from home besides the hospital to take in a Nationals game that reliever, Drew Storen tried to ruin for me but it’s not really his fault- he didn’t know I was sick.  The point is that when I mentioned my outing on Facebook, a friend noted “great you should be feeling so well to get out and about.”  In fact, without going into any detail, I will tell you categorically that was the single worst day of my recovery that I have had.  And that is precisely why I pushed on and decided it was imperative to get out and get TO the ballgame.   And it worked.  The field, the wind, the night air, the best game ever invented in the history of mankind- all conspired to make me feel vibrant and alive.  It did wonders.  Thanks to Drew, I got to leave after the bottom of the 8th and beat a lot of the subway crowd so even the Metro experience was pleasant.

This is about pushing the limits of your physical and mental boundaries.

One of the things I’ve done mentally, is divorce myself from the news within reason.  I am in the news business so it goes against instinct.  But I’m sorry, there is just too much conflict, violence, blood, natural disaster, evil, ego, banality, superficiality, celebrity-worship and general bullshit out there for it to possibly be healthy in any way to consume in large quantities at this time.  I’ll catch up later.

One of the larger adjustments is in the area of nutrition, appetite, food.  After leading a life, like most others I think, in which meals are defined by their taste, all bets are off now.  Foods that I used to secretly crave (and which are advertised more than any other) like cheeseburgers, french fries, fried chicken, have lost their appeal.  Food just tastes different.  With a smaller stomach, I also eat much smaller amounts.  And my appetite is all over the place.  Sometime I have one, sometimes I don’t.

The trick now (and this is too funny for words) is keeping my weight up.  After years of trying to watch my weight, I am currently losing about 4 pounds a week.  Add it to the weight loss that occurred after surgery and a week of hospitalization and we’re talking nearly 30 pounds.  Eventually this has to stop but right now, it feels great to be lighter.

In a couple of weeks I begin a discussion with my doctors about chemotherapy.  They seem to be all gung-ho about the poisonous little cocktails they want to give me to prevent any return of cancer.  They are going to have to convince me with science, research and logic.  The white coats and air of authority will not be enough.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my doctors.  They have saved my life.  I just don’t want a repeat of 14 years ago when the prevailing medical orthodoxy was to radiate the crap out of people.  It’s one of my own doctors who tells me he is now constantly running into patients with tumors who received radiation 15 and 20 years ago.  A debate for another day.  For now, a few more weeks for healing from the sharp, steely knives.

They say God works in mysterious ways.  I do believe the dude has tried to kill me several times in order to make me stronger and healthier.  Eventually, this time, I think it’s going to take.

 

Savings vs Standard Time: Stop Changing the Clocks!

March 15, 2010 6 comments

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.”- Albert Einstein

Well, we have just “sprung forward” and deceived ourselves once again by all agreeing that it will be one hour later today than it was yesterday.  Count me as an enemy of Daylight Savings Time.   Or rather time changes, in general.  Keep Standard Time or Savings Time, but can we please stop trying to manipulate time and just go to one or the other and keep it there? 

I don’t like losing the hour of sleep.  I really, really don’t.  The Monday morning after the spring time-change is hell on a lot of people.  I also don’t appreciate losing an hour of anything much less sleep, much less life.   This is not a trivial matter.  Studies have found that seasonal changes in the circadian rhythm can be severe and last for weeks.  A 2008 study found male suicide rates rose during the three weeks after the change to Savings time.  Another study found heart attacks are significantly more common in the first three days after the Spring time-change.

This past weekend, I put my foot down.  If time is going to mess with me, than I am going to mess with time- at least in my house.  That’s why I set the clock two hours ahead on Sunday.  You see, I love that time in October when we “fall” back because we all gain that extra hour of life.  So to get that feeling again, I figured that if I awoke Sunday morning at 9am, Standard time and now it was actually 10am, Savings time, then by having my clocks set at 11am, there would be a point later in the week when I’ll switch to everyone else’s time and go- “Ha!  I have gained an hour!”

“That’s nuts, Robert,” you may be saying to yourself.  But how different is my unilateral decision to abide by a different measurement of time in my own home, than everyone else’s group decision to all fool ourselves at once outside of our homes?   There are alternatives, you know.   Instead of changing the clocks, why don’t people just go to work and come home an hour earlier?  It’s the same as my unilateral decision to move the clocks ahead by two hours in my home.  We’re all just deceiving ourselves.

 I’ve never really understood the benefits of Daylight Savings Time.  No one has really figured out  how much energy it saves.  It certainly used to mean savings when the use of incandescent light bulbs was a big deal and more daylight after work meant less use of electricity.   But increasingly, our uses of power are not tied to light.  We don’t use computers any less because it’s darker in the morning or lighter in the evening. 

Massachusetts Democratic Congressman, Tom Markey is very, very proud about this Daylight Savings time thing.   I met him once and it was all he could talk about.  He’s the one responsible for going to Savings time earlier in the year and keeping it longer.   In case you were wondering, matters of time are the jurisdiction of the House Energy and Commerce committee, of which he is the Chairman.  Here’s Markey’s reasoning:

The change in the beginning of Daylight Saving Time is just one step towards making our country more efficient in its usage of energy and conscious of our environment.  Not only will Americans have more daylight at their disposal for four additional weeks in the year, but we will also see wide energy saving, less crime, fewer traffic fatalities, more recreation time and increased economic activity. Ultimately, day light saving just brings a smile to everybody’s faces.

Speak for yourself, Markey!  It does not bring a smile to my face; it makes me want to wipe the smile off yours.  But ok, for the sake of argument, let’s award Markey several brownie points for saving energy and reducing crime and car accidents.   Then why the heck do we go back to Standard time in the Fall?   It’s ok to go for 5 months wasting energy, causing more accidents and committing more crimes?

Just go permanently to Savings time and stop messing around with our clocks!  As much as I truly like the guy, sometimes I wonder if what really motivates Congressman Markey is the control he has over our lives.   It is rather heady stuff, if you think about it.  I control the time you live by.   Now, that’s power.