Excruciating Pain

It all started in September 1966, when I had brain surgery in Cleveland to remove a benign tumor (chromophobe adenoma) that was threatening my life. I was just coming out of a coma caused by extreme pain of the tumor pressing on my optic nerve. Unfortunately, when an ill-trained orderly was assigned to give me a catheter, my woozy brain thought that I was under physical attack, and I struggled with him. That only caused him to try all the harder, which resulted in a scarred urethra which is still with me.

Tomorrow, I visit my urologist for a procedure known as a dilation or a cystogram tray. The doctor sends a catheter with a tiny camera up my urethra all the way to the bladder. The only pain which I think is comparable is a spinal tap.

After I recovered from my brain surgery, I found I had trouble urinating. It reached a crescendo several months later, when during a film screening I was putting on at UCLA, I found I had to urinate—but nothing was coming out. A friend drove me across campus to the UCLA Hospital, where the urologist on duty was sent for, and the passage was widened.

For the next several years, into the 1970s, I had a problem with gradual shutdown of my urethra. Fortunately, in recent years, it isn’t quite so bad. However, my urologist wants me to be dilated every six months. Tomorrow at 11 AM, I go in for my semi-annual torture.

Covid Finally Gets to Me

I fought long and hard, but Covid-19 finally caught up with me last Friday. I was super tired and couldn’t get up from bed without effort. At the same time, I had developed a wicked sore throat and a racking cough. At the time, I thought I had just developed a bad cold; so—lacking a pituitary gland—I upped my normal dose of hydrocortisone to help me fight the illness. (Without a pituitary gland, I have no adrenaline.)

On Saturday night, I got a call from a nurse friend of mine who suggested I get tested for Covid-19. Fortunately, I had sent away for free test kits, so I administered the test to myself. Sure enough, I had contracted the coronavirus.

I have no idea how I could have caught it, unless one of my vaccinated friends had it without presenting any symptoms. Or it could have just been a wild fluke, something in the air that suddenly took hold.

Fortunately, I have been vaccinated and boosted, so that by now (Tuesday), my symptoms have grown less; and I even had the energy to read again. Unfortunately, Martine caught the virus from me and has more severe symptoms. She, too, has been vaccinated and is not likely to wind up requiring medical care.

It’s a good thing that vaccines were quickly developed to fight the virus. Else both of us could easily have been at risk of a severe respiratory response.

Apply Blood

Dealing with Type 2 Diabetes can be onerous. Even worse than the insulin shots (which I need to do four times daily) are the finger-stick glucose tests. I know I can always give myself an insulin shot anywhere without arousing too much attention, but finger sticks are a different matter entirely.

The problem arises when you have difficulty getting your blood to bead on your finger so that you can apply the test strip and get a glucose reading. Sometimes, I have to stick myself several times, usually painfully, on some of my fingers. My right forefinger is already nerve damaged, so that I have to be very careful about avoiding the nerves on it. On my thumbs and little fingers, I need a thicker lancet to draw blood, currently a 30 gauge. On my other fingers, a narrower 33 gauge lancet is sufficient.

Can you imagine me at a restaurant sticking myself several times with a needle, with a loud “Ouch” from time to time? So when I go out to eat, I don’t usually test myself.

My doctor wants me to test my glucose three times a day, before each meal. Just before each appointment with her, I produce a spreadsheet with the before-meal glucose readings for each day since my last appointment.

Type 2 Diabetes requires considerable attention to detail. This can be rough if you are going out to eat, busy cooking a dinner, or taking a trip. When Martine and I went to Las Vegas last month, for example, I skipped doing the tests

At the Start of the Covid Outbreak

It was the night of January 14, 2020. I was scheduled to take a flight on Volaris to Guadalajara, Mexico, and then on to Mérida in Yucatán. The Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX was crowded with Chinese returning to their country. Most of the flights were to Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, and other major cities on the Chinese mainland. My Mexico flight was one of the few in the wee hours of the morning that was to a Western Hemisphere destination.

A month earlier, on December 1, 2019, a patient was admitted to a hospital in Wuhan in Hubei Province, China, with a strange case of pneumonia. I didn’t know anything about the official Chinese coverup of the disease until around January 24, when I was staying at the Hotel Lopez in Campeche, where I had access to the Al Jazeera news channel in English on my TV. The whole time I stayed there, the news was filled with pictures of Chinese healthcare personnel in hazmat suits. There were just then beginning to be cases of the unknown disease in the United States, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Viet Nam, Taiwan, and Nepal.

By the time I returned to the United States on February 7, mass quarantines were in effect in various countries around the globe. A month later, in the middle of March, Martine and I attended a Hungarian folk dance performance of Kárpátok before submitting ourselves to the lockdown the next day.

There is an interesting chronology of the first days of the Covid-19 outbreak available by clicking here. Fortunately, we managed to avoid getting the disease; and my fingers are crossed that we never will.

Hitting Rock Bottom

TLOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 24: Lisa Rogers, a homeless woman, carries her tent as she relocates her camp on January 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. According to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Los Angeles has the highest number of homeless people in the nation with close to 13,000 living on the streets. The annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count begins today and will continue through Thursday. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

To begin with, there are a hell of a lot more than 13,000 homeless living on the streets of Los Angeles. I would put the number at close to 5-10 times that many. I have just finished reading Sam Quinones’s excellent book The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth, from which the following paragraph is taken:

We used to believe people needed to hit rock bottom before seeking treatment. That’s another idea made obsolete by our addiction crisis and the current synthetic drug supply. It belongs to an era when drugs of choice were merciful. Nowadays people are living in tents, screaming at unseen demons, raped, pimped, beaten, unshowered, and unfed. That would seem to be rock bottom. Yet it’s not enough to persuade people to get treatment. In Columbus, Ohio, Giti Mayton remembers a meth addict who was hospitalized with frostbitten, gangrenous hands, yet who left the hospital in midwinter to find more dope. San Francisco and Philadelphia, two cities with years of experience with heroin, are seeing users homeless and dying like never before. The dope is different now. Today, rock bottom is death.

Pharaonic Corporations

It used to be that American corporations encouraged their customers to call them. But that was way back when. Now, with automated attendant services, the corporations let you talk to their computer—but only if you want to talk about the things about which they want you to talk. And nine times out of ten, those are not the things about which you are calling.

This month, I ran into a nasty bind with a medical lab. My doctor ordered from Question Diagnostics a self-administered test to be sent to me by mail. It never came, but Question Diagnostics e-mailed me to come into their office. Okay, perhaps they were going to hand it to me. So I made an appointment to go in and was asked for my doctor’s order. I told them it was sent from her office by computer. Then a look of comprehension crossed the features of the receptionist: “Oh, I see. Our supplies of that test ran out.” It was suggested that I visit other offices of the lab until I found one that had the test.

Rather than make appointments at multiple offices of the lab, I telephoned the various offices. In none of them was it possible to break through the barrier set up by the automated attendant and speak to a real live human being. Thereupon, I called customer service at the headquarters of Question Diagnostics. Would you believe that the customer service rep duplicated my steps in calling several nearby offices, only to be surprised that I couldn’t find out who had the test available? The rep mentioned that everyone was busy because of Covid-19. (I am willing to bet they’ll be using that excuse for the next five years, whatever happens with the pandemic.)

I made an appointment with the branch in Century City for 11:10 this morning using their Internet appointment software. I was met with a locked door and a sign saying they were gosh-awfully sorry, but the office was closed until November 1. Out of desperation, I returned to my local branch of the lab and, to my delight, found out that the tests had come in. The receptionist handed one to me, and I left with a smile on my face.

Although these corporate automated attendants don’t want to let me through to talk to anyone, many companies have no compunction about using a robocall program to contact me, usually about car repair warranties. Of course, why should I not hang up the moment I detect it’s a robocall?

What gets me is that a company thinks they can sell products and services to the general public without ever getting any direct feedback.

A History of Epidemics

The Covid-19 Epidemic Was Just One of Many Outbreaks

We’ve all heard about the Bubonic Plague in Medieval Europe, and even more recently in Daniel Defoe’s London (see A Journal of the Plague Year). Probably the worst were the combined plagues brought to the New World by the Spanish and the Portuguese. The native Meso-American population was to drop by more than 80% due to the combined ravages of smallpox, measles, and malaria (the latter was brought in with black slaves from Africa).

In more recent times, the British Isles have been ravaged by cholera. In his The Victorians, historian A. N. Wilson writes: “After 1832, there were to be three major cholera epidemics in Britain: 1848-9, 1853-4 and 1866. The first of these killed 53,000 in England and Wales, 8,000 in Scotland; the next killed 26,000—but 10,000 in London.”

More recently, the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 infected approximately one-third of the world’s population and killed 50 million worldwide.

It is fortunate that vaccinations to fight Covid-19 have been developed. The pity of it is that many of the poorer nations do not have the vaccine, and many of the richer nations are populated by ignorant doofuses who refuse to be vaccinated.

Uh! I’ve Been Shot!

Two Vaccinations in Two Days!

Yesterday, I got the Fluzone High-Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine at my local Walgreen’s. I would also have gotten the Covid-19 booster shot the same day, but I had to make an appointment on the Internet because their system was down. So today I returned and got a jab in my other arm.

I have a difficult time understanding anti-vaxxers with their silly reasons for not getting their shots. It is a strange time in history when people would rather be dead or kill their friends, neighbors, and acquaintances rather than submit to a simple shot. Perhaps, at bottom they’re cowards about a little pain. And in both cases for me, there was very little pain, and it was short-lived.

Booster

I’ll Be Getting the Covid-19 Booster Shot Soon

Speaking as a Libtard Sheeple (and proud of it!), I’ll be getting the Pfizer booster shot as soon as I can. It was March 15 when I got my second shot, so it has been six months plus a week or two. I figured it was best to move quickly before the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters get approved and before all the school kids start lining up.

I’ll just call around to see who has the booster and make an appointment.

Hallelujah!

A Small Victory—With Large Consequences

Today I accompanied Martine to the Access Pharmacy in Westwood where she received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine (AKA Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine).

Martine is a person of monumental stubbornness, so I was surprised that she decided to get the vaccine. In all honesty, it wasn’t my impeccable persuasiveness that did the trick: Her tête de Normande (referring to her Norman French stubbornness) was swayed by the Los Angeles City Council, which was going to make it hard for her to go to restaurants, movies, museums, etc. without either a vaccination card or a weekly Covid test.

Whatever the reason, I am delighted that she has disobeyed the KABC shock jocks and consented to possibly save her life.