Sunday, March 30, 2008

FLASHBACK: Summer 1982

In the month that followed my high school graduation and the drama revolving around the Prom Night bomb I dropped on Kathleen, I was resolved to continue to live in my parents house while I awaited some financial miracle which would deliver the thousands of dollars need to enter the college I had chosen to go to.

Bryant College (now Bryant University) was one of the premier business schools of New England and it was just 20 miles from home. When I was accepted, I was ecstatic. My friend Michelle from HoJo's was enrolled there in computer programming and I was looking forward to attending as a business administration major.

Deep down inside though, changes were occurring that would make that route more obscure.

Up until this time in my life, I think that each decision I made had concrete foundation in what "was expected".

At this time in my life, I still clung to the idea that I would go to this business school, get a degree, get a job in the business field, climb the ladder of success to eventually be a top executive of a company and also, maintain a "normal" home life of a wife and maybe a kid or two.

I so admired Ronald Reagan and wanted to join the ranks of the Republican wave of Yuppie Success.

Except for one little truth which tickled the back of my mind constantly and persistently, especially this pivotal season in this pivotal year.

I was GAY!

The events of this summer revolving around the apartment at Bradford Street would definitively cement that fact and turn my life in a whole new direction.

I don't remember who precisely came up with the idea, but somehow Michael P., my best friend; Jim, the boyfriend of one of the waitresses at HoJo's; Luke, his best friend; and, unbelievably Paul Douglas, offered me in on a shared apartment we would rent together.

It was a second-story 3 bedroom furnished place on Bradford Street, about 4 blocks from my parents house.

Because it was so close by and it was more of an expense than what I was paying my folks for room and board (and use of a full patio and in ground pool, mind you.) I was at first hesitant. But they goaded me on and talked me into it. I have to say, the thought of rooming with Paul D. was lure enough since I had a crush on him...though it turns out, in the end, I doubt he ever spent one night there.

The weekend we moved in, I was working a lot of hours at HoJo's so I brought my boxes of stuff and put it in my room, but didn't have a chance to come back to it until several days later.

(You see, we all had our parents to stay at so the place for the most part was just a "getaway". In some of the guys cases, they may not have even told their parents they rented this. It was, for the straight guys, I'm sure, their fantasy "playa pad" (though that phrase was unknown then). For Michael and Paul though...hmmm, I wonder what they envisioned it to be...perhaps something like it became for me? Read on....)

When I finally arrived to my new room, I saw my roommates had taken my stuff out of my boxes and arranged it in my room for me.

I had a big American flag which they had tacked to the angled ceiling and they had mockingly hung up my framed acceptance letter from Bryant College on the wall.

After the initial few weeks though, the attendance from most of the guys tended to dwindle. For Jim and Luke, I think they initially saw this as a cool bachelor pad to use as a fuck pit for their girlfriends, but their girlfriends didn't like the place so they continued to screw them either at their girlfriends house or in their cars.

Paul Douglas had to rescind his commitment after just one month because his parents would not allow him to move out. So he said.

Michael was in for a while and I think he kept paying rent for a couple of monthes, but he was never there. I don't think he spent one full night.

Meanwhile, even though I was the last to join on the plan, and was initially the least enthusiastic, the place soon became all mine to do as I pleased.

Coincidentally enough, around this same time, Larry P., Michael younger (16 year old) brother had gotten a job as a dishwasher at HoJo's.

Let me tell you....this kid was fuckin' HOT!!!!

Dark hair, blue eyes, tight muscular build and a shit-eatin' sly mother-fucker smile that would melt you where you stood!

He was solid PRIME GRADE A hunk, and he knew it!

Turns out...he had history.

He had been involved in a local scandal. A teacher at our Junior High had been arrested for sexual activity with a male student. The student: Larry.

Larry and I became quick friends...probably because I desired it to be so!

Larry told me that he enjoyed being fucked by Mr. Plante (the ruined teacher), but he preferred being the top.

During one drive from Providence (I don't remember now why we were there) he asked me if his brother was gay. I told him, I didn't know about that (though I did know he was but didn't want to out him), but I told him, I was gay.

He then wanted me to park off to the side of the road so he could give me a blow job.

After the quickie, he said he would be up for more in the future and I agreed.

I was in heaven.

But it would come at a cost.

Larry showed up at the Bradford Street apartment a few night later and I poured us some of my roommate Jim's vodka and Midori melon liquor to loosen us up.

I wanted to gobble up his fat and impressively-sized 16 year old cock and did so, but he was more interested in mine and after he sucked then beat mine off, he came, but still seemed ready for more.

He then got me to lay across a bed which happened to be his brother's (or nominally so since he never slept there), squeezed a bit of his brother's Tenex hair gel (the same impromptu "lube" I'd use a couple years later in Germany with John) in my crack, and stuffed his chubby up my ass.

"I'm fucking you", he said, as if I was unaware.

"I know", is all I could think to say back.

Larry had me totally under his spell. He asked if he could borrow my car and without hesitation I said yes. the fact it came back a little worse for wear each time was inconsequential.

Larry and I fucked a few more times in that apartment. It was especially hot after he joined a rock band and shaved his head. I thought his bald head made him look especially hot and in appreciation he took my hard cock and rubbed it against the bristly top of his head before we fucked.

He eventually returned from one of his outings with my Chevy Astra and it ran never right anymore. He had damaged it too much.

Paul D., the guy I was infatuated with initially, and my presumptive "roommate", was the guy I had originally bought the car from several months before and when telling him the car was practically dead, took the car back no questions asked. It was likely a lemon and he knew it when he sold it to me, so when I had troubles with it, he took it back. I didn't tell him the troubles were because Larry had fucked it up.

Once my car was gone...so was Larry. Turns out, that's what he was after all along. For the sexual joys it brought me, I was happy to give it up.

The loose consortium that was our apartment family rapidly broke up over the course of that summer.

Of course Paul never contributed at all, really. Michael stayed on for a couple months but dropped out since he wasn't using it at all. Jim got all pissed at me for raiding his liquor and since he was screwing his girlfriend elsewhere, he dropped out. Likewise for Jude.

So in the end, I was the last one there, and since I couldn't afford the rent on my own, though, undeniably I had gotten the most out of the place, I had to let it go.

But though I went back to live with my parents again...it would now be in a more private basement bedroom and though I didn't raise the money to enter Bryant College that year, I learned at lot more about myself at 12 Bradford Street than I would have otherwise.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Google Earth Tourism

Can't afford a vacation this year?

Concerned about the high cost of fuel?

Worried about the plummeting valuation of the dollar overseas?

Then just hop aboard your computer and take a ride on the Google Earth Express!

I fell in love with this app a few years ago when I first played around with it. And they keep adding such fun new features to it.

In case you don't know, it's a free application put out by Google (hence it's moniker "Google Earth"...duh!) and for a geography buff like me it is a slice of heaven on my hard drive.

It is a 3-D model of the earth, comprised of thousands of full-color satellite photos taken at various resolutions all over the world.

(They also now have an option of a 3-D model of the visible stars and galaxies with zoom capability…very sweet!)

On this globe, you rotate it and zoom in to your hearts content. You’re able to zoom in from what looks like near the orbit of the moon down to street level within seconds! And, as long as your processor and internet connection is fast enough, it is resolving the images rapidly as you go.

With added points of interest called “layers” there are all sorts of added features. User submitted photos are my favorite. Click on the blue dot (or camera icon at closer resolutions) and you see a photo taken by someone of something at that precise location and uploaded to the Google Earth servers.

There are also pre-programmed “guided tours” that fly you around and show you various landmarks, etc.

But I like to make my own itinerary and it’s usually just random….destinations are chosen by just spinning the globe (just like you’d do with a real globe) and then arbitrarily stopping it.

Here are some of the recent virtual vacations I’ve taken.

San Juan, Puerto Rico and the people on the beaches

A beached shipwreck rusting away on the coast of Southern Mauritania to

A huge runway (as big if not bigger than the one at Cape Canaveral for the Space Shuttle) in a remote desert in Western Sahara (wonder what that’s used for…couldn’t find ANY info about an airport in that region…hmmmm….who’s that knocking on my door…oh shit! CIA agents! Arrrrghhh!)

Jets taking off in mid air from Logan International Airport in Boston.

Erupting volcanoes in Kamchatka.

The massive urban sprawl of Varanasi, India

The cascading waters of Niagara Falls

The stark and rugged beauty of Kerguelen Island in the far South Indian Ocean

Of course, the Eiffel Tower in Paris

And for that matter, the CN Tower in Toronto, the Space Needle in Seattle, Taipei 101, Empire State Building, Tokyo Tower and even Burj Dubai (though the most recent rev of Google Earth is a little dated….only has about ¼ of the tower erected, but the user added photos are more recent)

A fun side tool to use in this virtual vacation, if your destination is select cities within the US, is Google Maps, as well.

With Google Maps, you can get down to “Street View”, street-level photos made by a specially equipped car driving through the streets of certain cities and towns. You can click along down the road as if you were actually driving down it and get a virtual 360° view of your surroundings. Happily many of the places I’m familiar with are already photographed…

I saw, as if standing right there, my house that I lived in Providence. (In real life, I haven’t been there in almost 10 years.)

“Drove” through the streets of Boston, New York, LA and Phoenix. Even Orlando! (But they haven’t got all the Orlando area (like Lake Mary) so I couldn’t see my house.

What would really be sweet though is if you happen to be lucky enough to have been photographed the day the special car goes by….either you or your car or someone you know…that’d be cool!

Well, I gotta get back to my exploration. I’m viewing pics of the Burj Dubai again…this skyscraper is amazing…it’s not yet done but they are making very quick progress on it and it is impressive. Going up much faster than the “Freedom Tower” in New York and that eye sore in Altamonte.

Ugh! Let me tell you about that…

This televangelism Christian broadcasting channel got the idea about 10 years ago to build a 20 story “skyscraper” in Altamonte Springs to be their headquarters and to lease out office space to other businesses. And they would fund it’s construction, as it went along, by viewer donations! That’s right, they didn’t secure funding upfront, they pay out contractors working on it as the money filters in.

Needless to say, the economic downturn of 2000-2001 hit their constituency and even though the economy rebounded, their funding apparently didn’t. They made some progress on it during 2002-2004 but I haven’t seen a lick of work being done on it since about then. And now with the real estate crisis…well, you can imagine…

So Altamonte Springs, a city of about 50,000 so it’s certainly no metropolis, has this monolith of glass, steel and concrete, exposed to the elements in many spaces and vacant for what looks to be the foreseeable future, right off I-4, the heavily traveled highway leading to and from Orlando and Daytona Beach.

I’m sure tourists that come to Florida for vacation probably drive by that thing and wonder: “When will that be finished? It looks unchanged since we last came to Disney World…8 years ago!”

How embarrassing for the city planners of Altamonte…

Sunday, March 23, 2008

And The Beat Goes On...

Just like my love everlasting
And the beat goes on
Still moving strong on and on
And The Beat Goes On - Sonny and Cher


La de da de da...

Landed back in the hospital again...

Years ago, when starting out in adult life, I remember having to answer all those medical history questions for new jobs, new health insurance, etc. and thinking: Why do they need to know about my family history? I soon realized that it was to assess the potential for diseases and disorders that are genetically inclined to cause problems for me, in the near or long term future.

After answering the multitude of questions I also realized that in my case, my family had multiple instances of cancer on both sides (mother and father) but hardly a whisper (in fact, no history) of heart disease. So, I thought, well, I guess in later years I'll drop dead of cancer rather than a heart attack. Good, I thought, because like nightmares of tornadoes and the Devil (yes the really nasty Catholic Devil...still gives me shudders!) the next on my top fears list was heart attack.

I knew as a kid that the comical over-the-top portrayal of a heart attack by Redd Foxx on the show "Sanford and Son" was just that...for comic effect. In reality, it sounded much worse. I mean, it's one of the only life threatening ailments to come packed oft-times with the adjective "massive". Hmmm, must be nasty! No thanks...if I have to go, and it can't be by the quintessentially-most-preferred method of "in your sleep of old age", then let me be hopped up on morphine and then slip into a coma from terminal cancer. Though that sucks too, cause I know, unfortunately, from firsthand knowledge, people who went that way, that they had to deal with the knowledge of their immovable death sentence (see posts about Gary). Maybe that's worse...

In any event, I didn't think that in my 40's I'd be hospitalized twice in 3 months time for heart related condition. It wasn't in my genes.

It was palpitations again. I know, everybody gets them on occasion, most don't even notice. But when it goes on for hours and makes you slightly light-headed and out-of-breath, let me tell you, you begin to freak out.

What's weird is that I looked up most everything I could find on these and I don't think that there's a vast amount of knowledge into what causes them. WebMD, Wikipedia and such has lots of clinical information about what the palpitations do to your system and how the heart behaves, but not a slew of stuff on the underlying causes or the treatment. I think it's because these usually associate with other heart related diseases and the treatment of those in patients presenting with palpitations may be of a higher priority. But I present with nothing else...heart related, that is.

I've had, as you know, the stress tests, the blood work, the ultrasound, the EKGs, the x-rays, you name it. Result, no apparent heart disease, no apparent blockage. So could the cause be elsewhere?

Let's see:

As I've mentioned the first "attack" occurred after a 12 pack evening, and subsequent passing out, then waking 2 hours later to vomit (directly related to the binge drinking and eating), then a sleep apnea (possibly) related lose of breath, sudden wake up, and the awareness of a rapid, strong, double and irregular heatbeat which lasted for hours.

The recent one was nowhere near as strong, but it was persistent. Lasting from around 6pm Wednesday night, continuing on and assumably persisting into sleep once I fell asleep around 11pm. When I woke up to pee at 3:00 am, it was still going on. Since it wasn't as strong or scary as the first time, I kept trying to ignore it, but I couldn't get back to sleep. Around 6am I thought: Well, if trying to rest isn't correcting it, maybe if I get the heart rate beating faster and stronger, it will establish a good, singular and regular heartbeat. So, being horny anyways from drinking (oh yeah, did I mention I had been drinking about 8 beers?) I commenced, eh hem, "takin' care of bidness". Well that did the trick. I came and my heartbeats normalized. See, who says masturbation is bad! It's a curative health remedy.

Oh, I did take an aspirin about an hour before too, maybe that had something to do with it?

Despite the lack of sleep, I didn't want to take a sick day for something which I felt was now resolved. And since I, like the last time assumed that the causes of the palpitations was not only the drinking during the symptoms, which helped sustain them, but also the after effects of a goodly amount of drinking over the weekend (4 bottles of wine, and about 10 beers in the course of 48 hours).

But the buggers came back around 3:00 pm while at work. Now more frustrated than worried, I called my cardiologists office and the nurse, of course offering the most prudent and liability risk management advice, suggested I go into the emergency room. So I thought, well, it'll be worth it to have them get to the bottom of these.

Stupid choice. Not because it wasn't prudent, but because after it's all said and done, I'm no closer to a longterm resolution of the issue than I was at that point.

So here's what went down, and afterwards I'll sum up my diagnosis, if you will and that, as they say, will be that. I want no more of this nuisance! You hear me heart? LOL

I shut down my computer and walked to Jill's office. Jill was at her desk with Jorge and Sean sitting in there too.

"I'm going to go to the hospital. I'm having my heart palpitations again, and my doctor's office suggested I go in. I may be admitted so I might be out tomorrow as well.", I said with a calm, but concerned demeanor.

Well, Jill went into emergency protocol status and said I needed to sit in her office and wait while she calls security for them to call an ambulance. Oh what a bother. I assured her I was okay to drive the 2 miles to the hospital but she politely refused, she wanted me to follow protocol and have her fetch an ambulance.

Oh the circus for my fellow employees!

The EMTs arrived and started slapping EKG leads all over my chest while in Jill's office. They found no irregularity. Of course not. The fibs (that's what I'll call them now) had stopped just before I went to see Jill. And, other than an occasional "thump-thump" here and there over the course of the next 6 hours, wouldn't reoccur again. Great...so you know what some players in this drama are saying to themselves: "Psycho Chicken, Q'est-ce que c'est?"

They asked me if I wanted to go in, and thought I may as well (again, duh!) so they put me in the gurney and wheeled me through the maze of cubicles, each occupant of which was gawking like gophers at the "victim" and his EMT entourage.

Oh the comedy that ensued:

1. On the ambulance while it was careening through the streets of Sanford (well, maybe not careening...no sirens were wailing since I wasn't a "life-threatening" case, I guess) the hunky head EMT tried putting an IV line into my left arm. I warned him that everyone has trouble finding my veins. He tried though. And failed. After 5 minutes of probing with his needle, he gave up. Nice. I like now looking like a heroin junkie!

2. In ER, they hooked me up...still no fibs. Nice lady from the "office" comes see me. Gets insurance card, driver's license and, of course, credit card for the $100 deductible. Mustn't forget that! (BTW, the guy on the other side of the curtain from me was a homeless person with no insurance or money. Wonder what they did in his case?)

3. ER doc comes see me about 1 hour later. Hears my story. Especially unconcerned with my hypothesis of the potential causes. They don't like you trying to do their job. Looks at my EKG readout and mumbles, almost to himself..."Hmmm, your something or other in "medical jargon babble" seems low....", and without another word trails off to the nurses' station, not to be seen again until 30 minutes later when he asks me if I'll consent to being admitted if my cardiologists says I should. Again, another chance to avoid the prison sentence, but I say that if he wants me to stay I will.

(Of course he talked Dr. A into saying yes to his desire to have me admitted, and in hindsight his concern and comment seemed to be about my heart rate. Throughout the whole hospital visit that day and the next, it never got higher than 55 beats per minute and frequently was averaging in the upper 40's.)

4. After 5 hours, I'm finally wheeled upstairs...only to find out that the room "readied" for me 2 hours ago had not yet been cleaned from the previous occupant. So, they parked me in the hall, contemplated putting me in a semi-private, but then decided to call a porter to clean the room. 45 "zippy" minutes later I was in my bed. Welcome to The Hospital Zone...where time travel may not yet be possible but time dilation sure is. What takes a few minutes in the normal world takes an hour in here. BTW, I heard some nurse in ER saying that tonight was unusually slow. Imagine if it were busy?

5. Nearly 9:45 pm now, I turn on the TV and flip through some channels. Get to ABC...Lost is almost over. Oh fuck...I missed Lost! It was the Michael centric episode dealing with him and his situation of him being on the freighter now. Great.

6. Since it is late, the nutrition staff person offers me a two slice turkey lunch meat sandwich as a snack. Umm, I haven't eaten since noon at work. Again...Great.

7. At 1:00 am, the nurse comes in and wakes me up and tells me to get up and walk around. Huh! WTF!! I've been up since 3:00 am the night before...I am fucking tired. They say my heart rate is too low. OMG! Big whoop! I'm on BP meds which lower my heart rate. And the nitro patch helps lower it some more.

Oh that reminds me...sandwich if you will a new comedy bulletpoint in this countdown somewhere between #3 and #4...

I mention to an ER nurse who asks how I'm feeling and if I have had anymore chest pains (they all kept asking me about reoccurance of chest pains...Hello?!, Can someone get it straight?!...they are palpitations...not painful AT ALL, just freaky. Pain scale between 0 and 10 = 0! Can you please stop asking about chest pain?) I say no, and state to here that there never were pains and explain. But, I said, I do suddenly now have a headache and it's weird since I almost never have headaches.

"Oh yeah, that's just the nitro patch (this patch they stuck on my left shoulder)."

So now, because of the treatment they were doing...I have more pain than when I came in.

But wait, it gets better.

Later up in my room, I ask for ibuprofen or something to take care of the headache. But (though they never tell me why I just happen to know) since NSAIDs and aspirin (which they gave to me earlier for my "chest pains" but, I would guess, mainly as a heart attack prophylactic) can cancel out or diminish the effectiveness of each other, they give me, instead, 2 more aspirin. But, to off-set the stomach irritation side effect of the aspirin, they also give me a Nexium-like drug.

Got a symptom?...no problem here's a pill...oh, and here's another to fix the side effects of that first one, oh and that might cause another side effect so here's another drug to take care of that...

Where does this cycle end?

I found my own end to this...start at the beginning...

I took the patch off and scraped away the paste with a towel and put the now drugless patch back on.

I'm so devious! ;)

Nitroglycerin is for heart attack symptoms. I knew by now I was probably not going to have a heart attack, so there was no need for it.

8. More issues with drugs. The morning nurse is ready to administer my "home meds" (the ones I regularly take prescribed by my physician, Dr. Rodgers). She reads them off and I notice she doesn't mention Januvia.

"How do you spell that?"

"J-A-N-U-V-I-A...it's for diabetes."

"Oh, they don't have you here as diabetic."

Now she was an okay nurse and she was sweet so I won't blame her, but because someone earlier in this chain of possession (the possessee being me, of course) fucked up and didn't write down the Januvia despite me repeating it ad nauseum, she seemed almost to sound like she didn't believe me. Here chart doesn't say diabetic, so, dammit, I'm not!

News flash! Wanna cure your diseases? Just get admitted to the hospital and have them omit it from their records. Instant cure! Cause it'll take an act of Congress to get it corrected from there on out. Like Yule Brenner says in "The Ten Commandments": "It is written, let it be so!"

Needless to say, no Januvia for me that day. Thankfully it's not a major severe case of diabetes.

9. Dr. Agamasu, my cardiologist sees me literally minutes after the head doctor of the hospital does. I tell him my story, he agrees that the tests they have me slated for in the hospital would be redundant (stress test: did it, blood work: did it, and scheduled for another next week already, ultrasound of liver: did it) and I would be able to go home. Yea!

But nooo....

Jackie, the nurse, comes in a couple hours later and has 2 doctors orders in her hands. One is Dr. A's recommendation for discharge. The other is the head honcho guy who literally spent 2 minutes with me minutes prior to my cardiologists 10 minute visit. His order calls for me to stay to complete the tests scheduled which put likely discharge not until the next evening, at least.

Oh man, I was climbing the walls in this cuckoos nest already!

I told her I want to go with Curtain Number 1 and so she said she would page the hospital doc to let him know.

Sunny, and beautiful afternoon crept into dusk and dusk crept into evening.

Emiril turns into Sandra Dee, turns into Rachel Ray...all those luscious meals!

Which brings me to the coupe de gras:

9. Remember I had only been given a measly sandwich of 2 processed turkey slices on plain white sliced bread with a little packet of mustard as a snack the night before. Not having eaten anything since my diet lunch at work?

Well, because they had me scheduled for this ultrasound, which I eventually declined, I was on a clear liquid only diet.

Clear chicken broth, cranberry juice cocktail, decaf iced tea or coffee (which they gave sugar packets for...cause I'm NOT diabetic remember...but I chose not to use them), cherry italian ice and red Jell-o.

I later did a FitDay.com analysis of this meal and it has more calories than I expected (due to all the sugar), but in the satisfaction area, it is not very filing.

So at 6:00 pm, the sweet old lady from the kitchen plopped this down on my side table. The look on my face must have been pure venom, because she asked me if there was anything wrong. I told her that I didn't know why I was on the liquid diet still. This would make my 3rd meal of the day, just liquids.

I tried to be patient and polite. It's just her job, she doesn't make the dietary orders, the doctors do.

But enough was enough...

I pressed my call button and said assertively into the intercom: "Can I see the nurse please."

I told her that I wanted out, even if it meant self-release. We had been waiting all afternoon for the hospital doc to answer his page. Dale, the really super nice male nurse I had in December when I was last here (who by the way, was not there during my stay...I asked Jackie if he was still working there but she said she was new so she didn't know all the staff yet) mentioned that I had the right to "AMA" and release my self if I didn't want to stay. But Jackie told me the part Dale forgot to...my insurance wouldn't pay if I AMA'd. Shit! Well, I am not gonna get stuck with a multiple thousand dollar bill so I had no choice. I had to just sit and wait.

It was jail!

I resigned myself to the fate of spending yet another day in prison, er, I mean, the hospital and went back to my bed (I had preferred to sit up in the chair most of the day).

But around 9:00pm...a miracle.

The governor called with a pardon! Er, I mean, the hospital doc finally called in and okayed my discharge.

Now, looking back, I realized that the reasons for these symptoms are likely a combination of things:

*The drinking. And specifically, the cumulative effects of a multi-day bender.

When I mention the drinking to doctors, I don't admit the truly correct amount, understating quantities by about 1/3. I already have a multi-decade history of alcohol issues, I don't need a new string of professionals to diagnose what's already well known by me.

(As a side note to this though...for my Intake Questionnaire, I stated to the question of alcohol consumption...yes. How often? 2 or 3 times per week. So they shruged non-plussed and acknowledged that as a status of "occasional"...probably considering the average consumption of someone saying they drink 2 or 3 times per week as meaning 2 or 3 drinks, 2 or 3 times a week...for a weekly total of around 6 to 9 drinks. Well, in my case, I mean 8-12 drinks, 2 or 3 times a week...for a weekly total of around 24 to 36 drinks. Big difference! BTW, the homeless guy next to me in ER...he was in for having a seizure. He said he drank a case of beer a day! Holy shit! As they say..."There but for the Grace of God", right?)

*Some chemical imbalance.

I know from prior blood work, the ultrasound of my liver and consultations with Dr. Rodgers that my chemistry is a bit out of whack.

The twitching of nerves all over my body on a regular and frequent basis is no concern to me in and of itself. They don't hurt and I've gotten so used to them I hardly notice anymore. But they really started in earnest around the time I got my first heart fibs back in December. In my mind, they've got to be related. Of course, the docs look at my as if I'm either retarded or crazy, but I'm taking daily magnesium supplements to hopefully help out just in case. As far as how it feels...the fibs feel exactly like the other nerve twitching...and like them seem to have a greater potential for occurring when tired or fatigued.

*Sleep deprivation.

I suspect I have sleep apnea and both major occurrences of the fibs happened when I was quite sleep deprived by either anxiety, stress, pain (like the shoulder pain), or drinking. Or a combo of them all.

*The meds.

Lisinopril and Zetia have mentioned irregular heartbeats as one of the potential symptoms.

*Weight.

My heart has to work harder to maintain appropriate blood distribution through my obese body. What's more, the fat around the heart provides for a smaller pocket for the heart to reside in while the heart has grown to accommodate the mass of the body. Seems logical to me that with each pushing on each other, especially when lying down and tossing and turning to compensate for the shoulder pains and apnea, frequently throughout the night, it's like your fat doing CPR on your heart...and confusing it.

*Let's face it, I am a bit of a nervous person.

I worry a lot. About a lot of things. Though not depressed, I have been more and more anxious about my health...as easily evidenced in these posts. One of the common causes of fibs is the very fear of them. They can physically be caused by worry or overt conscious focus on the heartbeat, according to web-based information. In some cases, it may be an issue, so they said, more for psychoanalysis than medical examination.

Like I said, Psycho Chicken...

To sum it up I know I have to cut out drinking. Altogether. If for no other reason as to eliminate this as a causal factor. I'm continuing to work with my docs on getting my imbalances, well, balanced. I need to sleep more and better. I may need sleep analysis to rule on the apnea question. And, finally, I need to continue to keep it going with the weight loss. (Although, according to the hospital I weigh 291...wow, a drop of 18 pounds in 2 days! I need to market this diet! LOL!)

As far as the, shall we say, hypochondria? Well we all know that, just as long as the "...Beat Goes On", so will I also be a Psycho Chicken!

Bawk! Bawk! Baaaaaaawk!!


Friday, March 14, 2008

Baby Steps

This title reminds me of one of my favorite comedies, "What About Bob?". Bill Murray, Richard Dryfuss...I think they played so well off each other they could have made another dynamite "loveable doofus/irritated straight-man" team like Abbott and Costello. But of course Bill got more "serious" dramatic roles eventually leading to Oscar nominations and, well, Dryfus was just too big a star for that. Not that I'd know, but Richard Dryfuss seems like the kinda actor who would be a big ass prick on the set. Just comes across that way.

Here are my recent "baby steps" to my own personal "vacation from my troubles"...

* Down to 308. (From a high of 326 late last year) It's a longer road the way I'm doing it (reduced calories, yes...but not outrageously reduced like I've tried in the past. I'm not starving. Average of 1800 calories/day during the week (but weekends, unfortunately get unraveled with visits to Jax or Uno's or Friday's, etc.). Not working out as much as I should...was doing ok soon after buying my Sansa MP3 player but kinda "forgot" about my workouts since.

* Ric and I are getting along nicely. I have now gotten him hooked on "Civilization III: Conquests" and we spent last Saturday literally for hours in front of the computer playing this Hot Seat. My hope is we can do this more, and drinking less...

* The manipulation of the dialer software loophole continues unabated at work, much to my "Costanzian" delight (The ideal slacker job). Had a 1:1 regularly scheduled meeting with Jill and I think I used my suave skills of image building in making my cause for pay raise/promotion/security etc. much stronger. Unlike a guy like Ripley, I know how to brown-nose with out the recipient of the ass-kissing knowing that their butt has even been touched...they just come away with a nice warm feeling of satisfaction....Smooth n' Stealthy! SMACK!

* Feeling more energy most times. (Except for the occasional narcoleptic episodes during the afternoon...most likely from the medications) My right shoulder still going through it's aches and pains just like it's left side counterpart a year ago (Did I mention the shoulder pains are happening on the right side now? Ya. Same exact symptoms as last year with the left one. Yeah, looks like I'll have both shoulders "frozen".) but the pains are getting a little better. Taking Naproxen when they get nasty.

Everything else still in it's state of "same old, same old".

Despite progress, I'm still reticent to announce an end to the Era of Koyaanisqatsi. The effects of this period of my life have been too long term and deep-cutting to shrug it off too easily. But no doubt, the worst is over. These newly-discovered health issues are the new frontier of concern for the future, but by their very nature, an escalation of their effects on my lifestyle would only herald a newly-name age of crisis. They are not significantly enough, unto themselves, related to the events of December 23, 2001 like the rest of the Koyaanisqatsi milieu. Most of those nigglets have stepped themselves off the edge of the "here and now", and have made their way into the realm of ancient lore.