Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Life Goes On

These are my current medications. Out of the three different eyedrops, I'm down to one- and only have to do my right eye 3x per day now as opposed to 4. Still doing Lorazepam once a day, plus Nadolol and Lisinopril. I saw my Doctor this morning, and he prescribed a slightly higher dosage of this last one, which apparently also contains a diuretic(wonderful- I'll be peeing a bit more now).

The bottle on the right is something I'm allowed to have now, but just one a day, beer or the equivalent. Now this is a medication(beer, that is) I could easily do in a higher dosage some days, but Doctor's orders are Doctor's orders. I'm really trying to tow the line here. Down the road a bit I may pick up some of the fatter Corona bottles(he didn't specify the size of the drink), but for now I'm just having one of the two lonely souls that have been sitting in my refrigerator for what feels like quite awhile.

Well at least things are starting to ease up as far as all these appointments. I go back to my Opthalmologist at the end of next month, and my regular Doctor the month after that. And as far as work, I have two more days and then a small stretch of vacation time- the first full week I've had off since last October.

I'm tired and out of sorts from the past couple months' activities, but for right now am looking forward to a nice hot bath and then one of those Coronas in the fridge- in a glass full of ice of course. Sometimes the simple pleasures are just enough to get you through.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trivia Night

Well I've now done two Trivia Nights, both at St Pat's Cathedral here in Spfld. Last November was the first one, invited by a co-worker. And I was flattered to be asked back for a return engagement. Last time I didn't feel like I did all that well, but I did get better in the course of the evening- depending of course on the category. Not so hot on the History questions, somewhat better on Literature, nailed the TV Trivia, and completely bombed on Sports.

What I felt to be my one saving grace last time out was a response no one else at the table had. I think the category was Celebrities' Real Names, and I had what is now known as a Charo moment.

This time out I felt my responses were considerably better. In the Civil War category I got William Tecumseh Sherman, among a few others; in the Name His Assassin(at least attempted)I got Sirhan Sirhan for Robert Kennedy; for Name the Cartoon Character I got The Lockhorns--and a few other correct responses which escape me for the moment.

But my Charo moment- the response which no one else had in this second Trivia Night was in the Name The Game Show Host. For the $1.98 Beauty Contest: Rip Taylor.

These events can be quite humbling, showing you all the information you either never knew or mistakenly thought you did. But they're also a perverse point of pride, that you remember what no one else bothered to.

I hope I get invited back again in November. And hope I have another Charo moment, for the sake of our team..

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Tmi. It was used in reference to a series of blogs I just posted. I'm figuring it stands for "too much information". Actually that was sort of the point there, at least in the one called "Medicated Foo'", the array of medications I have to take and the litany of Doctor appointments I've had.

And then it begs the question: how much is too much information? Sort of like the Emperor in the movie Amadeus telling Mozart his Opera has "too many notes".

Well, more notes than one's ear can handle, or more information than one might want to know.

I live in a small city, one with roughly 112,000 residents- and within that, exist in a smaller community of musicians and music-lovers. And I also work in an office with maybe 40 workers total which breaks down into a smaller community of those who work for the same agency under the same manager. As such, both small communities can be very cozy: they become your working family since you see those people day in day out, particularly those you work with. You see them more than your actual family.

And with that you know about the events in their lives, and care about these things since you want the best for these folks(or let's hope anyway!): someone's divorce or new girlfriend or boyfriend, their new babies, surgery or death in the family. And from there it breaks down to their(or your)idiosyncracies: who drinks coffee like a fiend all day, or who is the biggest glutton in the office on Food Day, whose interview style with clients most resembles Simon Legree- or even who is the biggest gossip!

With both the small communities I inhabit: my office and the musical community, there is both a genuine concern for the affairs of its citizens and a constant "smack" being talked about them. This is something I've found bothersome in the milieu of local musicians, one big reason I'm "off and on" as far as being involved in the local scene--besides just the exhaustion of working a daygig plus playing. After awhile it starts to get on my nerves, particularly if some of the "smack" is about me..

But hearing it in the office, particularly in this last year when I've returned there, about everyone there including me, I'm getting a bit more impervious to it. I still consider gossip reprehensible, and try not to engage in it myself, but but am starting to take it less seriously- even when it's about me. Hopefully this burgeoning laissez-faire will carry over into my dealings with the local music community and I won't feel the periodic need to back off.

One method of coping I got from, of all places, a book by Chris Rock. I don't know if he's written more than one, but this one is called Rock This. He talks about celebrities, and their so-called private lives. When you're trying to keep your private life completely private, it's like you're walking around with one hand behind your back. This invites people(okay, The Media) to wonder what if anything you've got hidden back there, and to dig around. Speculating, conjecturing. But if you put it out there, nobody cares. They leave you alone.

As a musician(and erstwhile blogger)I love to communicate. Musical compositions of course. Musical performances on occasion. Ideas, notions, feelings about stuff. I love to communicate with people, and have them communicate with me. But at the same time, I like them to leave me the fuck alone. I don't like people minding my business, and in fact get pretty irate about it. You've got a question, just ask. I'll be glad to answer it. Again, I love to communicate. But don't presume anything. That pisses me off.

So with blogging, I like to put some information out there--whether or not it's deemed "too much" by some. Yes, I had some health issues. Yes I have a girlfriend at the moment. Or, no I'm not dating anybody at the moment and not looking- just enjoying 'baching it'. Or, I'm in perfect health.. That's the paradox: you put at least something out there, and people are more apt to leave you alone.

Or tell you it's "too much information"....

Radial Depressurization

"Sir, do you know anything about cars?"
"Well, uh, no.."
"That's not a flat tire, it's radial depressurization. Gonna run you about 900 dollars. "

2008 was my epic year of auto repairs. And I always seemed to go to the same Service Center, who pretty much always overcharged me(or had me get services I really didn't need). They did and do good work, and they're conveniently located and nice enough to give you a ride to and from your workplace. But every time out, it was the same spiel: "Oh Mr Roundly, it looks bad. We could give you the cheap deal and fix it temporarily for $300.00 or we could give you the deluxe fix for $550.00 and really get it taken care of".

A time or two in there I did opt for the deluxe service, before realizing that it was the same song-and-dance every time out. So I had to get firm about it: no, thank you very much, just fix the motherfucker for as little dinero as is possible!

Today I had a problem with a nail that'd poked my right front tire. She was deflating fast, and as I'm planning to go out tonight, something that had to be attended to today. So I decided to give them another shot, since this was a relatively quick fix. The manager was very nice, remembered my name right off--not surprising, given all the business they've gotten from me back in '08. I knew it'd be a relatively quick fix this time, being as that they're just looking at a tire. No extensive repairs were quoted, but the mechanic did give me the option of the $12.00 fix or the $20.00 repair job.

I opted for the double-sawbuck deluxe service this time, but just had to laugh to myself that at whatever level of service, this still exists. Well, you figure they're there to make a buck. There was a bit of a delay, during which time I sat in the waiting area out front, working a Sudoku puzzle and half-watching Interview with the Vampire(my girlfriend and I had watched it just last night on the 'big screen' TV at chez Roundly), and listening to the receptionist, mechanics and manager going about their day's business.

The mechanics of course check in with the manager on repair options, and I overheard the manager say to the mechanic in question, "what, you gave this guy the cheapest service?!" and implicit in this you could hear the ass-chewing that may well have followed. My eyebrows went up almost involuntarily, and the receptionist seemed to look over at me and notice. I heard her rack up a few bills from people offering the more- ahem, comprehensive service. And I heard her, back in the shop, behind the glass, getting a bit of a butt-chewing herself.

So they're under a lot of pressure from this manager, who is probably under some pressure himself from his boss the District Manager. And so on and so on and so on. For a relatively quick fix, I'll still give them my business. They do good work and are very nice to deal with. But to save a buck on all this, it's best to have a friend somewhere, a shade-tree mechanic who's going to tell you it's just a flat tire.

Almost makes you want to go back and get another degree in Automotive Technology though, or at least learn something about cars. That way you can get your automobile fixed without being taken for a ride...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

That's Amore

Well one of the positive things to come out of this year was a new ladyfriend. Met her on Match.com of all places. I registered in there with a what-the-hell attitude, "winked" at a few women(i.e. sent a "wink" via match.com email), no response; had a few wink at me, not interested. But I did get a bite the day before Valentine's Day, as it turned out- when I'd pretty much given up on the prospect of meeting anyone through there.

She picked me out, said she liked my picture and what I had to say. I should learn by now that it's always the woman who does the selecting, whether it's on the Internet or in person or by whatever means of communication. Every relationship I've ever been in that actually worked(if only for awhile)has been one in which they picked me. Or maybe I'm just picking the wrong ones.

So we're a month and change into this whole thing. Going fine. I liken it to a big jigsaw puzzle, wherein every encounter, whether in person or by email or by phone, I get another piece of the puzzle. And I guess she gets a piece of my puzzle as well every time out. We're not doing this willfully, by design- it's just turned out this way. Actually it makes things that much more fun..

I don't know where she lives, only that she lives alone and a few doors down from her parents, with whom she has a close relationship. Mine have both passed away, in '94 and '07, but while they were alive, I was close to both my folks as well.

One thing I do know is that there's a certain type that always seems to go for me: fairly intelligent, bohemian, usually with a belief in the paranormal, somewhat artsy, a little bit nuts. I have the highest incidence of success with these women, maybe because it describes me as well.

So like I said, we're a month and change into this whole thing. Whatever happens, it's a good experience for the both of us. More as it happens.

Medicated Foo'

As far as physical infirmity goes, illness is to me what snow is to the State of Georgia(or Texas): we don't see it very often, so when we do we tend to over-react. This has been such a year: Cataracts and High Blood Pressure, with a touch of Anxiety in there. So at present I'm on six different medications: two for blood pressure(Nadolol and Lisonipril), one for anxiety(Lorazepam as needed), and three for my eyes.

To one who's been basically healthy his whole life, this seems like a daunting array of meds. The two blood pressure pills and the Lorazepam are taken first thing in the morning and the eyedrops throughout the day. Two of the drops are done 3x daily and the third 4 times at this juncture. Since both eyes have now been operated on, the post-operative procedure is to do the first two meds 3x per day until they run out and continue the third for an additional seven weeks: 4x daily for 4 weeks, then 3x daily for a week, then twice a day for a week, then once daily for the seventh and final week. My right eye(which had surgery on March 1st) will be done with these meds on April 19th and my left eye(which had its surgery on March 15th)will be done on May 3rd.

Not much to doing the eyedrops, although I have had to refine my technique, particularly with the left eye. The right eye is comparatively easier, since I'm left-handed and thus put the drops in with that hand. I just have to remember to tilt my head all the way back and hold the dropper just outside my field of vision for it to go right in. Maybe a bit like dropping bombs from an airplane. Still, May 3rd will be a most happy day.

The blood pressure stuff may well continue indefinitely, but is a much easier ritual since I don't have to guage distance. Basically a 'down the hatch' process, and all done in the morning. But I must say, the blood pressure is coming down, from the astronomical reading at my first Doctor's visit.

It has helped me get over much of my 'white coat-itis', but I'm awfully tired of Doctor's visits. I've now had them on January 25th(regular Doctor), February 14th(Opthalmologist), Feb.15th(Doctor), Feb 22nd(Doctor), Feb 23(Opthalmologist), Feb. 28(Doctor), March 1st(surgery, right eye), March 2nd(Opthalmologist), March 9th(Opthalmologist), March 15th(surgery, left eye), March 16th(Opthalmologist), March 19th(Optometrist), March 21st(Optometrist again), March 23rd(Opthalmologist), and finally back to my regular Doctor on the 28th.

At least through all this I have what appears to be pretty good vision in both eyes, and blood pressure that's not yet at an optimal point but decidedly lower than what I started with. Hopefully the leash will loosen in these coming months and I can just check in periodically with these folks. About then, it'll be time to see the Dentist.

I have a feeling that all this is just a part of being over 50, and I might as well start getting used to it. At least my array of health care professionals are cool to deal with. Looks like I'll be seeing more of them in the next couple decades..

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Through My Glasses Darkly or So Long Mr Magoo

There is a term I heard on the local news just the other night, a contemporary word used to describe those who sometimes attempt to diagnose themselves via information gotten from the internet: cyberchondriacs. It got a pretty good chuckle for me, because I've had this "affliction" myself.

Some years back, 3 and a half to be exact, I had an eye exam, normally an incident-free experience, "Okay Mr Roundly, you need some stronger glasses". About every three years I'd go in and leave with a slightly more dialed-up prescription. This past time was a bit disquieting. I was told I had the beginnings of Cataracts, not a big cause for alarm. Then I was told he didn't like my responses to his questions, that there was evidence of pathology.

That was alarming. "Why don't you come back next week and we'll run some tests?" No, screw that, let's run them today if possible.(Being a bit of a hypochondriac, I knew I'd just worry until my next appointment!) So I got myself a driver(my brother)since they dilate your pupils for such procedures. As it turned out, things were fine. Clean bill of health.

I had a problem at first with the prescription he ended up giving me, and he said "that's because of your Cataracts". Dude, you told me I just had the beginnings of Cataracts. Make up your mind: do I have them or don't I? So he adjusted the prescription and made me an appointment with an Opthalmologist just in case this didn't work.

As it turned out, my eyes adjusted to the new glasses. No need for an Opthalmologist( more friggin' tests!), at least not yet. I was continuing to have the occasional Mr Magoo moment, especially first thing in the morning, but was basically doing just fine.

One discovery I made in relation to my eyesight in the last year or two, which may or may not have had any real bearing: as a person who's enjoyed his Corona and/or cannabis sativa, I found that abstaining from these substances(well okay, cutting back on them) seemed to facilitate my ability to read fine print. It may have been that they just raised my blood pressure and fogged things up from that angle, but nonetheless there was a cause-and-effect relationship going there.

And then one evening last Fall(October 29th to be exact)driving home from a job, I noticed a sort of double-vision as far as stoplights. I'd been cutting back on the Corona and cannabis and was enjoying what I thought was clear vision, but was tired and stressed that night, so I attributed it to nerves. Didn't happen the next night or the night after that, but I did notice another instance of it one night in November. Again, tired and stressed, driving home from a job, same double-vision with the stoplights.

In December I was starting to see 'halos' around lights at night, not just stoplights but all manner of nocturnal luminescence. My regular vision was just fine, or so I thought, until I realized, late in the month, that the halos were in one eye and the vision in that eye was blurry. My left eye had been doing most of the work.

2011 rolled around with me still pushing this problem to the back of my mind, but the halos started to happen inside the house: on the lights on my computer, my printer, the TVs. It was a problem I couldn't ignore anymore. I was paralyzed with fear, so scared at first I couldn't do anything, but got on the Internet to see what might be going on(see cyberchondria earlier in this blog)and found a million possibilities: some of them serious, some gravely serious, and some relatively innocuous. It didn't assuage my fears, only made me more confused.

Based on my last experience with an Optometrist, I figured I'd get another well-meaning but alarmist individual who'd drive my blood pressure up even higher, and I didn't have a regular Physician, having let too much time go by(12 years)between visits, so it took about a week of phone calls to get this lined up. As luck would have it, they were now taking patients at the clinic where my old Doctor still worked, so I was able to get back with him. I'd tried over the past couple years, but they were always understaffed and not taking new patients- until now.

That first visit back, I got a pretty thorough once-over, including shining a bright light in both eyes. Cataracts. "So that's what's been causing the halos and blurry vision?" "Yep." A huge sigh of relief followed on my part. Much of the anxiety I'd been feeling had to do with the unknown, with the plethora of possibilities I'd discovered on the Internet, any of which could have been the problem. The infinite becomes finite. Plus cataracts are a fixable problem.

Since that first visit, I've had several more. We're working on my blood pressure, which my Physician tells me is more serious than cataracts. It's lowering, thanks to a couple meds he has me on plus my awareness of the problem. Like cataracts, a fixable problem. But you have to work at it.

I've also had several visits to an Opthalmologist, plus cataract surgery in both eyes. The first was on March 1st, in the right eye- the "problem" eye. My vision there they clocked recently at 20/25- a damn sight better than it was before all these problems! My left eye was done just this Tuesday, and is still on the mend of course but getting there as well. It could've happened in the surgery or from jenius-boy here and his not-so-deft eyedropper technique, but I suffered a corneal abrasion, which is also on the mend and almost healed. I was a bit alarmed by this news, but the tech(my favorite of my Opthalmologist's staff of 3)assured me, "from one cyberchondriac to another, no worries!".

So it's nice to have tackled these problems with my health. The cataract thing was something in the back of my mind, halos or no halos, that I knew would become a problem at some point, and the blood pressure was also in the 'occipital lobe' as something to be reckoned with. At this point in my life, I have two blood-pressure meds plus a mild tranquillizer that I take every morning, plus eyedrops in each eye 4 times a day and a moisturizer eyedrop 3 times a day. I do meditation twice a day(an old regimen of mine which I've done for the last 30 years off and on).

The eyedrop thing goes for 7 weeks after your surgery(by the way, cataract surgery is a painless procedure, the only thing you feel is the IV going in your hand), which for me is May 3rd. Who knows with the blood-pressure meds, time will tell. Like I said, it's nice to be tackling these problems and getting them resolved. All this clean living is getting to me though. I miss having a Corona or several every now and then.