Tag Archives: health

The Race Intensifies

Still watching the races, much to my dismay and angst.  Last night I had a moment of disbelief.  All those people insanely claiming, "this is all hoax!" and "It’s all fake."  For once, those people almost made sense.  And the reason for that was the pure incredulous of the numbers I was seeing.  I mean, look at this chart:

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You see those tiny bars near the beginning around 6/1?  That’s 1,000 new cases a day.  Back then, that was an unbelievable number.  It had me shaking my head at the stupidity of my fellow residents.  These last few days, what can I say?  Well, we went through multiple 1k days, then multiple 2k days, then 3k days, then 4k days.  And then, things changed.  There was one 5k day, but there wasn’t a 6k or 7k day.  It went straight to 8k.  Then 9k.

What are you supposed to think when something like that happens?  If you follow the drama and opposing viewpoints, right around that time, it is claimed that the numbers are being inflated so that they can be reported lower later on.  But that doesn’t make any sense to me because you still have the record of the shit days.  You can say it’s better, but better relative to the worst?  The worst still happened!

And it just seems like there’s some sort of disinformation campaign going on, just like everything has been in the last three years or so.  But the data is still there and it’s just an argument over how to interpret that data.

While on that topic, in a previous post, I put up an image that I consider misleading.  Let’s revisit that.

Now let’s compare that to how things are right now.

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In that old post, I said the chart was misleading because there was a delay as to when deaths were reported, so the true numbers were at the beginning of the chart and because of the delay, it would always look like the numbers were falling.  Well, look at the chart now.  Looks pretty flat, except for the most recent days, where you can expect less reported deaths.

So what’s going to happen is, as the deaths are reported (later), it’s going to make the chart look like it’s climbing, but the chart only has 30 days to work with.  As long as there is a 2-week delay in death reporting, that should keep the numbers pretty low.  But even if not, it will still look better.  It makes you wonder what a chart longer than 30 days would look like.

Watching The Races

I’ve been keeping an eye on the COVID race for a few months now.  The players I watch are all standout players:  FL, TX, PA, and GA.  Those are the places that have people that I know, so I watch their progress.

I remember when FL was the star, I seem to recall it was in the top 5 for a while.  But PA put forth a massive effort and shot right up the charts.  TX was a slow starter, but it’s been doing pretty well lately.  GA has always been mediocre, which I suppose is a good thing, honestly.  But FL is recently finding its mojo and is climbing in rank again.  Go, FL!  Obviously, no one is going to take the crown from NY, and NJ is probably always going to be second to NY (in everything), so there’s only so far you can go.

For three of my players, I watch their personal progress dashboards.  Two of them, FL and TX, use the same software, so it kind of gives some equal comparison of the numbers.  But in both cases, they use graphs that are misleading.  Well, they aren’t if you understand the data, but for casual observers and those that don’t want to put the minimal effort into understanding, the response could be either, "this isn’t so bad", or "this is great" when the reality is neither of those sentiments.

Take a graph from FLs dashboard:

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Wow, that’s impressive.  Deaths are falling, and dramatically at that!  This is all behind us, let’s go party!

But there is a small disclaimer below the chart, for those that care to read: "Death data often has significant delays in reporting…".  That means that those low numbers in the near term are low because there’s no data yet.  Those numbers will rise as time goes on, but that’s just fine, because there will be newer, lower numbers to report as time goes on as well.

Here’s a graph from TX’s dashboard.

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This is just dumb design: plotting two values, one that will constantly increase, and one that will remain relatively constant on the same scale.  This will have two effects.  First, the number of deaths per day (in blue) looks like a really small value.  And comparing 20 to 1,698 does make 20 seem very small.  But as the total number grows, and it will, every day, the scale is going to eventually have to be adjusted, and the daily value is going to be insignificant.

TX does the same charting with the number of cases, with the same effects.

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Maybe its incompetency that made these charts, but in the current political climate, and judging that these two states have pushed very hard to justify their reopening plans, it might not be a stretch to think this is just propaganda.  The numbers don’t lie, they’re not telling you anything false.  It’s just being presented in a way that looks most favorable.

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Last Friday I had to call off work unexpectedly because I was sick.  And when I say I was sick, it wasn’t like the usual can’t-be-bothered-to-get-up kind of sick.  This was the puking sick.

But also, it wasn’t that kind of sick.  First off, I don’t get sick.  Well, there was that one time I tried doing CrossFit and puked, but that was a totally different experience and reason.  Even when I had the flu, which is a really rare occurrence in itself (because I don’t get sick), I didn’t throw up.  Second, there was no reason for me to get sick like that.  I hadn’t eaten anything out of the ordinary, in fact, I didn’t even really eat anything for dinner at all.  I had no warning signs, it just came up on me quickly.  I woke up with massive stomach pains.

Obviously, I’m not telling the whole story, because there is a probable reason why I got sick, but I didn’t put the two together until later that day and had to get some confirmation from a friend and later, online.

Normally, when I go to bed, I leave a small kitchen light on.  It’s a single bulb light and I’ve discussed the special wiring in the Casa blog when I was changing it to LED.  Normally, as I say, that light is on.  But you can read in many places that in order to get the best quality sleep, you should sleep in complete darkness.  Since my sleeping has been variable for quite some time, I decided Thursday night to leave that kitchen light off, which does leave my house dark.

Despite the small change to my sleeping ritual that night, everything else was kept the same.  My additional sleeping aids of the sound machine and 1mg of melatonin were applied and effective.  And, right on schedule, I woke up at around 3am to go to the bathroom.  Nothing out of the ordinary.

But was out of the ordinary was the extra darkness.  I’m not sure if it’s like this for everyone, but when it’s really dark, and sometimes with my eyes closed, I feel like I can still "see" the room.  It’s like an infrared vision or like an x-ray.  Maybe it’s just a memory, because I have never considered trying this special sight in an unfamiliar room.  But anyway, I made my way to the bathroom using my night vision, still half asleep.

And my vision failed me terribly.  I misjudged how far into the room I was and turned straight into a door frame, cracking my forehead on the corner of the molding.  After a brief pause and some self-deprecating comments, I continued in the correct direction and rested my skull in my hands while on the toilet.  The return trip to the bed was less eventful and I fell asleep again quickly.

About two hours later I woke up with the major stomach pains and wandered back to the bathroom, where I chewed up some Tums to settle my stomach.  I had made it to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water when I got the unmistakable, undeniable, certain feeling that there was going to be some puking soon.  And I was correct.  However, there was nothing in my stomach.  Well, some Tums, but nothing else.

I went back to bed and reasoned that if I was sick enough to puke, and I don’t puke, I should call off work.  Oddly, my manager didn’t answer the phone, and his manager didn’t either, so I had to go to the third in command to submit my request.  And afterwards, I fell asleep for another 5 hours.

The rest of the day I sort of wandered around in a daze.  Food helped and didn’t make me any sicker.  I didn’t really feel weak.  I had no more nausea.  But later that afternoon, I had a memory somewhere about concussions causing nausea and vomiting.  Well, that makes my head injury seem a lot more important now.  After confirming with my friendly paramedic, and later reading about concussions online, yeah, that’s probably what it was.  If I was being extra attentive and sensitive, I could note that I had brief flashes of headaches come and go.

As it turns out, I guess I did take the best course of action and rested for the weekend.  Everything was pretty normal by Saturday, and I got some extra napping in, too.  Am I going to be any dumber for the incident?  I don’t know how I would know.  Wait, is that a sign?

That Time I Could Have Died

Here’s a story from my past.  It’s the time I left my home town for a job in a new city.  I had secured an apartment and moved all my belongings there, now I was there for good and unpacking and assembling things.  I had the weekend to get as much accomplished as possible before starting my new job.

I had my cat, Mess, to keep me company.  He was a pretty chill cat and the change of environment didn’t really faze him.  He settled in quickly while I kept doing my work.  But something was really weird about the whole process.  I couldn’t tell if I was just tired from the move or just overwhelmed with it, but I was constantly wiped out.  I could work for a hour or so, but then I would have to rest.  That’s not the way I was in my 20’s.

Regardless, I pressed on, taking short breaks to rest up while I kept unpacking.  In one of the boxes, I found my CO detector.  Living up north with gas heaters, it was a fairly normal practice to have one or more of these, especially where I grew up – so many old houses.  Without thinking much about it, I plugged the detector in and kept right on going.

You can probably tell where this story is going already.  And sure enough, in probably about five minutes, the alarm started blaring.  I’d never had the detector go off before, so I was confused.  Before I yanked it out of the wall, I saw the digital display said 150, which is the parts-per-million of CO detected.  I thought the detector went bad somehow from the move (decreased mental function, right?) so I plugged it back in.  As a normally-functioning person would expect, the alarm went off again.  So I grabbed an extension cord and ran the detector outside.  The display read zero.  Well, now.

I called the apartment office and explained the situation.  They told me that was normal because I was in a corner apartment next to the parking lot and car exhaust fumes would collect there.  I pushed back and said I didn’t think these numbers were normal.  Even if that was normal, WTF?  With resignation, they said they could have the gas company come out the next day and test it.  That’s about as good as I was going to get, so I went to bed in my oxygen-deprived apartment.

The next day, the office manager came over and we waited for the gas company.  When the worker showed up and knocked on the door, he had his testing device in his hand and he was pissed – legitimately angry.  “Do you see these levels I’m getting on my reader?”  I didn’t, but I took his word for it.  He came into the apartment and tested the different rooms and declared the apartment unsafe.  The apartment manager was highly embarrassed and immediately set me up with a furnished apartment until they could resolve the issue.

It turned out that the hot water tank in the apartment above me had a leaky flue, which was sending CO into my apartment.  So, problem solved and life went on.  But I always felt terrible for Mess.  I was able to leave the apartment for meals and whatnot, but he was in that CO environment 24 hours a day.  Cats sleep most all day anyway, so how could I tell the difference?  I guess he was probably lucky to even survive that incident, but he probably lost a lot of brain cells.

I live in an all-electric environment now and have always retained a slight distrust of gas-powered devices, despite the benefits they might offer like being cheaper or more efficient.  I also have a slight paranoia about CO.  This story came to mind because I recently just got my garage back at my house, so I can park my car in it, but I’m finding I’m (probably excessively and irrationally) spooked about the exhaust fumes from the car.  Maybe it’s time to buy another CO detector.

Changing My Tune With A New Band

I posted before about the recent death and dismemberment of the Microsoft Band.  I had pretty much given up on fitness tracking and fitness in general about a year ago.  In that time, as you might expect with someone not as young anymore, with more health issues than none, it had a detrimental effect on my wellbeing.

Without dwelling on the negative aspects of that situation, I powered back on again.  With a new blog tagline to lead the way, I began mentally preparing myself for change.  Positive change, I mean.  I’ve had plenty of other changes already.  Along the way, I happened to see something about a high-feature, low-cost fitness tracker, the Huawei Band 3 Pro.  Very interesting.

In my mind, I was just imagining it as the next version of the MS Band (which stopped at v2), but the design was more standard – no extra bits in the strap and clasp.  But, it did have the one feature that kept me from immediately replacing my MS Band – built in GPS.  And the price was about 25% what I paid for my last MS Band.  And it’s waterproof, which doesn’t mean much to me, but might for others.

I bit the bullet the other day and ordered one, in blue of course.  I’ll be able to use it this weekend.  In the meantime, I’ve begun walking on work breaks again, which is something that ended with the departure of AK, right around the time I gave up on my Band.  Of course I would begin this just as the furnace of summer heat is kicking on.  But a start is a start; building momentum and all that shit.

So, to remember a little about my last post, I’m putting my trust in a new company to let me use their hardware and software for as long as I can.  Will the hardware outlast the software this time?  We’ll have to see.  At least I won’t have paid too much for the experiment.

Parenting

Anyone that knows me well knows that I don’t have a fondness for children.  Those same people probably know that I have a great fondness for my own children, who happen to be feline.  Some people think it’s cheating to consider yourself a parent to pets, because animals are somehow less worthy of love and care than humans.  I’ll be honest, it is easier to raise pets than humans, which is why I do it.  However, this last week or so has leveled the experience between kids and pets for me.

One of my kids had the shits for an extended period of time and the other one needed caught up on shots (no anti-vaxxers in this household).  So I took them both to the vet and left them for the day for their procedures.  When I picked them up after work, I was given a prescription and a special diet for shitty.  Yay, we get to spend $50 for a bag of cat food now.

As soon I got them loaded in the car and we started moving, the big boy sneezed.  I was like, “no fucking way.”  Little girl had an upper respiratory infection early in her life, so I knew what a sneeze means.  Over the next couple of days, he seemed to be fighting it off pretty well.  However, little girl did not.  I took her back to the vet and got her diagnosis and a prescription.  $100 for meds!  And that’s where I felt like a parent.  I took my kid to see you and you got her sick and now I have to pay all this money for drugs and I have to dose her 2x a day and she’s going to hate it and what the fuck cat wants to eat berry flavored medicine?

Surprisingly, she bounced back after only about 3 dosings, which I think is impressive.  But, while she was improving, big boy was failing, hard.  I called the vet to get a second prescription for him, and unfortunately, I lost a full day in getting the new drugs.  If they could have told me the dosing for his weight, I could have just used some of my existing medication.  But whatever, my cat is miserable.

Having a sick, miserable kid makes you sad, which is my next parental experience.  All you want is for them to get better.  And his little sister wants him to get better, too.  I could tell by the way she would constantly check up on him.  And he was in really rough shape.  He wasn’t responsive to any stimulus.  For a couple of days, he didn’t want to get out of bed at all.  He stopped eating wet food because he couldn’t smell.  But he still had the energy to resist medication.

This cat has a big fucking mouth.  In fact, one of his potential names when he first came to the house was “mouth”.  It’s like a bear trap, and like a trap, he can clamp it right down and refuse to have any medication shot in.  My eventual success came when I switched from a 10cc syringe to a 3cc syringe.  He needed 12cc dosings, so 4-3cc shots was much easier with a skinny syringe than working with that fat one.

Big boy did not bounce back after a few dosings like little girl did.  It took a few days and the improvement was really slow, but faintly noticeable.  Yesterday, he turned the corner and I knew it when I went out on the patio to check on him and he came and greeted me with his tail held straight up.  It was a pretty joyous moment to see him happy again.  He still sniffled and sneezed, but his mood was improved and that was a sign that things are going to be ok.  Later in the evening when I checked to see if he was ready to come inside, he bounded away with his tail up.  After a couple of days picking up and carrying a limp and listless bag of fur, it was a wonderful sight.

And that’s the last parental similarity.  You want to see your kids happy.  I’ve been very lucky in my time to have not gone through the experience of having sick pets.  This last week or so has been revelatory in how much emotional investment you have in your kids and what they mean to your own happiness.

What Happened?

Um, hi again.

It’s been a little bit since I’ve posted anything here.  Things kind of went weird for me a while ago.  I’m not really into exposing a lot of myself online, but I’ll summarize my radio silence as collateral damage from the combination of worry of my health, sadness of current events, and fear about work performance.  It’s been an eye-opening experience in the sense that I understand some things now that I could not understand before.

I have a small backlog of drafts that I wrote during the time I did not feel like “talking” to anyone, so I can have a little content to wrap up 2018.  I can say that 2019 is going to be a very interesting year.  Maybe it’s premature for me to make any claims of success on a few good days in a row, but optimism has to be better than where I’m coming from.

Falling From Grace

In this here blog, I have alternately praised and condemned Burger King and their food.  And for the longest time, I didn’t eat there.  A long time ago, I might randomly drop in to remind myself why I hated it so much.  Wendy’s is another place I stopped going to regularly, also documented in this here blog.  I would rarely stop in and when I did, I would leave full and disappointed.

These two places are what I consider third-tier dining.  Over time, I elevated myself to places I consider second-tier.  Conveniently, in the current economy, you can simplify this scale of mine into how many $10 bills it takes to get a meal.  Third-tier meals typically cost less than $10.  Second-tier is $10-20/meal, and first-tier is over $20.  So, yeah, I suppose my business-class, expensed travel meals that were something like $70 rate about the same as a meal at Kobe.  That kind of sums up how refined my palate is.

But anyway, it was early sometime this year that I had made the comment, “I’ve eaten at Wendy’s more times this month than I have in the last few years.”  I can’t really say why Wendy’s fell back onto my list of viable dining places.  I think it was an alternative SadMeal™ at the time and it kind of stuck with me.

Today marks the second time within a week that I’ve eaten at Burger King.  One of my biggest gripes with the place is that the double cheeseburger is hardly worth the effort to eat.  But on the random decision to eat there one day, I saw on the menu (which was totally different than I last remember it), they had a thing called “Double Quarter Pound King”, which looked essentially like a double whopper with cheese, or, to my excitement, a larger-than-old-times double cheeseburger.  And I bought it right away.

The taste of the burger was awesomely nostalgic and the fries even seemed to be better than I remember, too.  I left that day with a surprisingly positive impression.  Today, when I went back for a repeat visit, the smell in the restaurant took me back to my hometown.  (Fun fact: When I was much younger, I worked at that BK for two weeks and two days.  On my second day, I decided I didn’t like working there and put in my two-week notice – and fulfilled it)  Today’s experience was slightly marred by an undercooked patty, but I ate around the pink (heh) and was still satisfied at the end.

Despite the unmistakable smell of a Burger King that surprises me when I get inside, the other thing that surprises me is the way the place makes me feel – sad.  For a very long time, I’ve held the impression that BK is probably about as low as you can go in the burger world.  I know that’s not absolutely true, because I’ve been to a Krystal once, which resulted in me coining the term, “meat pringles” to describe their burger patties.  But anyway, watching people buy and eat BK food fills me with pity, that they may not have better options available to them.

I’ve always thought the only reason I’m still alive today is because I was able to elevate myself to eating at second-tier restaurants, where the quality of food is higher (possibly only marginally).  So, with that personal impression, maybe it’s a little weird to regress and start eating less healthy options.  But, at the same time, as I get older, the more I want to just enjoy the current moment.  (Fun fact: when I was much younger I always thought going to the bathroom was such a waste of time, like I had so many other things I’d rather be doing.  Now, going to the bathroom at work is a chance to actually relax and savor.  It feels like the only time I can be alone with my thoughts)

The non-point of this post is just to document a moment when I might just be slumming it in the dining department, or it may retroactively identify that 2018 was a turning point in my dietary standards.

As Usual, All About Me

I have regrets delving into potentially politically topics, but then again, I have had posts about libertarianism and extreme ideologies before, so I’ll give it another attempt.  My regret is that it’s so easy to bitch about hot-button topics.

I follow a “news” site that sort of straddles the line between hard-right and anarchistic.  I think it’s a good idea to at least read opposing viewpoints, despite how much it might piss you off or baffle you.  This site could be considered a news aggregator, although they do have some original authors on there.  A lot of times, what you get is an opinion piece with quotes from news articles.  And this one was no different.

Typically, the postings on this site are using news articles and other sources to promote their ideology, which is free-market capitalism and very anti-government – essentially extreme libertarianism.  This particular article I found was on health care costs and how it is cheaper to go to Mexico for surgery, on the order of ten times cheaper.

Naturally, the article invokes the trigger word, “socialism” as in “socialized healthcare” and their applied synonym, “ObamaCare”.  The belief is that if we stop the subsidies, the prices will come down to reasonable levels.  And to bolster that argument, the article compares a $30k procedure in the US to the same procedure in Mexico, which cost $3k.

Let’s pause for a moment here and realize there are quite a few Americans who do not have $3,000 readily available for an emergency.

Now, let’s also consider that the exchange rate.  Today, $1 is nearly 19 pesos.  Another potential cost of living metric is that bread in the US costs $1.40, which in Mexico it costs 15 pesos.  So then, sure, things in Mexico are typically ten times less expensive and our American dollars get us much more in Mexico.  So, you could just as easily have a Mexican version of this article wondering why a medical procedure costs 57,000 pesos.

So, let’s play along and embrace the libertarian dream.  Now, there is no insurance and health care is a cash-only option.  Because the health industry can’t exploit insurance, prices drop to $3,000 for a particular procedure.  So, who’s going to have trouble paying for this?  Hint: It’s the same ones that couldn’t pay $3,000 before.

As usual, this just reinforces the standard position of not caring about anyone but yourself.

What Did You Do This Weekend?

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Oh yeah?  How was that experience?

Let’s start with the night before any of this.  Actually, we can go back a little further, because I already said I pulled my fitness tracker out of retirement and as such, made at least a small commitment to addressing my declining health.  I’d been walking pretty regularly, maybe 2.5 miles a day, weekdays.  Then, I decided to address the issue with my bike and get road tires so that I could use the bike on a stationary stand and get some higher cardio benefits.  And then I agreed to at least try exercising with the GF on the weekends I was over there.  So, in my mind, I was committing to one day a week of a real workout.

The night before the first workout, I was hit with anxiety.  I don’t get anxiety, but that’s just another “don’t” that was destined to fall this weekend.  I woke up in the middle of the night and my heart was pounding.  Like pounding so hard it was making my breathing stutter.  I did eventually fall asleep again, but had a poor sleep and woke up the next morning little unchanged.

Normally, I don’t worry about things.  I have a “just do it” mindset and just go, ignoring whatever consequences there might be.  This time was different.  This felt like going to the dentist, where I just disassociate and become a zombie. (Although my current dentist is pretty amazing and although I’m over the fear of most procedures, some are still unknown.)  So, we get to the gym (a “box” in their terms) and I’m just sitting against the wall staying away from everyone.  I had no idea what to say, do, or behave.  I wasn’t sure if I would be guided or just left to figure it out on my own.

We start out with a warmup – running.  The only time I can ever remember running was doing track events in summer school, like 30 years ago.  But running is instinctual, so I just did it.  I got winded pretty quickly.  My mouth dried out and that was it for me.  But that wasn’t it for the workout.  That was the “warmup”.  There was also stretching and some other stuff I don’t even remember anymore.  Oh yeah, ring rows in place of pull ups.  Couldn’t do ‘em.  I think I was on my third set when my body gave out.  I was near passing out and every time I mentally set myself to expend the effort to do a set of rows, nausea welled up in me.

So that first day, I figure I was only able to do half a workout.  Pathetic.  I was assured that the first day is always the hardest.  And after resting and getting all calmed down, I wasn’t yet done for the day.  I don’t get anxiety.  I don’t run.  I also don’t puke.

But today is full of firsts.  It’s a pretty raw memory for me, back in 1995 or so, when I last hurled, barfed, upchucked, chunderspewed, vomited, or puked.  And that night I swore I would never do it again.  I would do anything to keep that from happening again.  But today, after thinking I had dodged the possibility once again, when everything was calm, the warning hit me.  It’s strange how you instinctively know how to run and also strange that you know when you are going to throw up.  Your body actually preps you for it by coating your throat with mucus to protect it from the coming tsunami of acid.  And that taste and sensation is unforgettable, even after decades.

I made my announcement and swiftly, yet calmly, went to the bathroom, whereupon I did the deed.  My unbroken streak was now broken.  All in the name of some sort of health benefit.  Cruelly, the gym makes you sign and date a puking man mural on the wall when you fail to keep your fluids.  But I was assured (again.  Lots of assurance here) many times that people only sign the wall once.

So, that was fun.  Sounds fun, right?  Let’s do it again tomorrow!  Fuck yeah!  More running, more stretching, more things.  Jumprope, throwing medicine balls, pushups, weights.  Again, I failed about midway through, but that was also because I knew when that nausea feeling arrived, it was not something to fuck with.

So, that was fun, too, right?  Except for the fact that my muscles really fucking hurt.  So, tomorrow, then?  It’ll just be a private workout at a friend’s house.  What’s to say about that?  More of the same, more failing halfway through.  Much more pain in the muscles, especially the legs.

It’s hard to say where this is going to go, but it’s not fun.  I’m assured that it’s going to get better.  The first day is the hardest.  The second day is better.  In a week or two it will start feeling good.  I am not sure if people that work out have a different definition of what “feel good” means.  This is probably the most radical change I’ve made in my life, just in the span of three days.  I can’t evaluate it yet.