Friday, November 28, 2008

MRI

Got a voice mail from my doc about the MRI. Hard to garner any real diagnosis from a few words. Something about a "severe impingement" on the left side, and something about "bony changes"? He also said mentioned a referral to a neural surgeon.

I suppose I could speculate what he means by bony changes, are we talking breaks?, degenerated bone?, just severe mis-alignment? I can't assume this means surgery. Oh well, we'll find out this next week.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

White plastic, Blue stripe.

You shut your eyes in an MRI.

You might as well, there's nothing to see. You lay on the little table and they put the receiver on your chest and they slide you into the tunnel of the big donut. There you see a stunning view of cheap white plastic with a blue stripe painted down the middle. After 15 seconds of this you close your eyes and think of something else.

The surprising thing about MRI's is the noise they make. You would think that something that is purely electronic (I assume) would be a bunch of quiet wires with electricity flowing through them. No . . . the first thing the technician does is hand you a pair of ear plugs to squish into your ears. After a few minutes you wish you had opted for the stereo headphones in addition. Remember back when we were kids and we played with electric buzzers. The type we'd wire up to a lantern battery and a cheap switch and pretend we were learning Morse code. They were a couple inches square and made a good buzzzz buzzzz sound. Take one of those and make it about a foot square and 30 pounds, that's what an MRI is like. But not all the same sound. First they buzz low and short bursts then higher and longer, then off and on, then they stop for a while. I kind of figured it would turn on, buzz me from top to bottom and then turn off and be done. Nope, it goes through 10 or 12 different sequences of different rhythms of sounds. I also had no sensation of being moved in or out. My elbows were resting on the inside of the donut and other then the first slide in I felt no movement of the table.

My doctor had guessed that an MRI could cost around $2000. That would be for one that included other options, drugs, and what not. A simple neck scan is $1100, and for a self-pay they cut the rate to their lowest charge, which is equal to their Medicare charge, and we paid a mere $545. After thinking of $2000 for the last month of more we sighed a sigh of relief and gladly earned some Fred-Meyer credit card points.

Report to come later. Perhaps Wednesday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Humiliation

As if the collar wasn't bad enough.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pain

Monday was a chiropractic adjustment. Tuesday was a massage. Wednesday was a deep tissue therapeutic massage and then a chiropractic adjustment. Wednesday I left work at 1pm because of the pain and the loopiness and nausea of the pain meds. Thursday I left work at 12 noon. Friday I didn't go to work at all. There's been a few times this week when it's just gotten to be too much and all I could do was cry and sob. Partly for the pain, partly for it being there so long, and partly for the worry of what's to happen. Friday I saw my doctor again, then in the afternoon saw an acupuncturist (Beth's and her moms idea). The acupuncture didn't seem to do much good but they say the first time can be like that. There were moments when it did seem to have affects, so I may try again. The doctor renewed my pain meds (percocet, I do about 3 a day) and we agreed to go the next step. I'm scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday morning. On the home front I continue with some stretching, some exercise, and rigged my traction sling to my weight bench so I can lay down and have the neck traction. Without have to lift the weight of the head I can get the same effect with 5 lbs rather than 16 (much easier on the jaw and teeth). It doesn't seem to help a whole lot but at least it makes me think I'm doing something. That's been one of the problems with this whole mess is nothing seems to do a whole lot.

Just an ol' Bonneville myself.

25 miles per gallon

Created by The Car Connection

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Instruments of torture.

When your in pain . . . You'll try anything.

My back machine is great for about mid chest down. I've had it for years and it's worked for the other spots in my back. As good or better than a chiropractor. Not working for the problem spot I've currently have.
Inflatable neck traction. This is fairly comfortable. You can watch tv while you play with it. Downsides are it presses on your collar bones and makes them sore and it doesn't get far enough down the neck to hit the spot that's bothering me.
I currently have this set up in my office, but I wouldn't want to use this for hours of tv watching anyway. I do about 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Downsides; to open the joint bothering you it pulls at all the joints in the spine. This makes the tendons and joints sore. (maybe I should use a little less weight). Other major downside is the main strap is pulling your jaw up and clenching your teeth together. I definitely recommend an athletic mouth guard to cushion the teeth.

Hell

I hurt like hell. There's just no other way to put it. This pinched nerve in my neck and the muscles that it locks-up in spasm can at times be excruciatingly painful. The doctor's prednisone anti-inflammatory for a week and a half seem to have accomplished nothing. I've started to go back to the chiropractor. I had a visit last Thursday and one yesterday. I'm also doing some neck traction with a sling that I got on the internet. Sunday I also did a little weight lifting because I've held these muscles immobile for so long they were getting stiff. I may have overdone the traction and weights this weekend though cause last night was miserable again. I've found a great sympathy for those who live with chronic pain. This has been going on for about 10-12 weeks now, with fairly constant pain. There are times when it's so bad there's nothing I can do but break down and cry. A good cry must release endorphins or something cause it does seem to provide a minor relief. I'm mostly living off pain killers. I'm currently using percocet and although I'm using one at a time, I'm using 2 to 3 a day along with extra strength aspirin, tylenol, etc in between. I'm using enough drugs that my stomach and digestion are being affected. I was using prilosec anyway, so I'm just continuing to use it daily. Dad called this weekend about the status of the kitchen remodel. It's hard to tell him that I've done nothing since he left and it'll probably stay that way for a while. Work continues ok. With all the recent layoffs and what-not things are slow anyway, but with pain it's hard to get anything done. If I was a regular employee I'd consider extended medical leave. As it is I'll probably just beg a little time off here and there for chiropractor appointments or sick days. We might have the week of thanksgiving off but I've yet to hear any confirmation of that.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Happy Days

What's bizzare about this is how much the other pundits laughed at him and tried to ridicule him. If I was a congressman I'd have this guy in front of a committee telling us what he thinks we should do.

From The Doc is In.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Health Care Cost reason #1

If you can picture the scene of Mr Gauer the pharmacist in "It's a Wonderful Life", you can imagine the origins of the pharmacy bureaucracy. In those days a pharmacist actually mixed and diluted chemicals, measured and prepared strength per dose, and packed individual capsules. It required a Bachelors degree of chemistry and medicine. It was exacting procedures and took time and attention to detail.

Today all this is done at the manufactures. Today your grocery store pharmacy does . . . what? . . . I'll tell you, they count pills out of big bottles and put them in small bottles. They type your doctor's instructions onto little stickers and stick them on the small bottles. Drug interaction and consultation information is spit out by the computer behind the counter.

All this could be performed by a certified tech with a three month course in how to read drug names and decipher dose instructions from the doctor's. So why are we still paying for Bachelor degree educated people? Does it take a degree to count? 1 . . .2 . . . 3 . . .

I dropped off a prescription at the counter for 30 pills of a generic common pain killer . . . "Oh, that'll be ready in an hour."

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . .

Oregon's Non-Progressive Governor

Kulongoski's "New-Deal" to employ people on road construction jobs is in part being funded by incredibly drastic increases in car title and registration fees. Title fees will see a 100% increase and registration fees will see a 200% increase.

I had thought that Democrats were for a progressive tax rate and for taxing the rich. Here we have a TAX increase (it's not a "fee" people . . .) that is straight across the board. As a percentage of income it's drastically non-progressive. Oregon's title and registration fees are not based on vehicle value as some other states.

Just our governors way of "stickin' it to da man", the working man that is.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Further rumors

I went through all the phases of grief when I thought I was going to be laid off. I'm at the point where I've accepted it and am looking forward to being on the government dole (unemployment) for the first time in my life. I was looking forward to some vacation, some rest for my back, to get some kitchen remodeling done.

May not happen.

There's an engineer here who has been assuming that when his technician leaves that I'll be the one to help with his projects. He's even spoken with the manager about it. According to him I'm not to be laid off. I've never approached the manager (none of us Techs have). He's not an approachable person and there is no answer to "how secure is my job?" anyway, so none of us have bothered to try to find out. We just come in each week and wait for the axe on Friday. Such is the life of a contract worker in hard times.

I had assumed I was being laid off because my "contract end date" in the online employee phonebook was changed from 2 years from my hire date to the end of November. Other Techs have seen this and got it. The engineer says this must have been a mistake in my case and says it'll be changed.

I've made as much in this 6-1/2 months as I made all last year (though Beth is without her corporate job now). I was ready for some vacation.

Sheetrock Finishing pics




Sunday, November 9, 2008

Done and To Do.

Things completed:
removal of cabinet hardware and doors
demolition of cabinets
trailer of wood to recycle center
demolition of lathe and plaster of walls
trailer of lathe to recycle center
first meetings with cabinet maker
demolition of first layer of flooring and subfloor particle board
trailer of plaster to dump
electrical plugs and switches installed or relocated
insulation of exterior walls
repair of window sills to make weather tight.
hanging of sheetrock over lathe and plaster ceiling
hanging of sheetrock on walls
taping and finishing of sheetrock (for the most part)

Things to do next:
build two soffits in main room of kitchen
provide final measurements and approvals to cabinet maker, get cabinet building going.
sheetrock, tape and finish soffits and do final details of plastering.
texture all sheetrock
paint all sheetrock with primer
paint ceiling.
remove last of old flooring
install new 1/4" plywood subfloor (varnished for temporary use as floor)

And all the rest:
cabinets, appliances, countertops, flooring, light fixtures.

The list is so long with all the details. It makes it seem as though we've just gotten started. I try to keep in mind I'm doing this part-time on weekends with plenty of delays due to current back problems.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Taping and Finishing

No pictures at the moment, maybe tomorrow or Monday.

Dad came in Wednesday and left about 3:3o today. The place is looking great! 95% of the taping and mudding is done. The archways still need a final coat of plaster, mainly because they're an area that is a fairly thick fill. I still have yet to build the soffits which will also have sheetrock on their faces, so I can't say we're finished sheetrocking yet. But having the place taped just gives the walls that completed look, like you're on the downhill stretch of getting things done.

Of course, there's still a looooonnnnnng ways to go, so stay tuned and I'll keep blogging away.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Medical status

Went to my Doc yesterday. I figured I should get a medical opinion before continuing with chiropractors or other things. General consensus is a pinched nerve from inflamed soft tissues in the spinal column or perhaps a swollen disc. Probably not a bone chip or fractured vertebrae. Probably in the C6 area (I was thinking C7). Chiropractor would be ok, or Physical Therapy with traction if I want to pay for either course. In the meantime I'm on Prednisone to reduce the soft tissue swelling and Percocet for the pain. I'll do the drugs for now and maybe do some more massage/chiropractor later if still needed.

Doctor's visit and both prescriptions $125 on the barrel head. A lot cheaper than insurance premiums so far. Though if I end up needing an MRI and surgery we're talking a couple of years worth of premiums.

The Red State of Oregon

Is Oregon really a Blue State? Here's Oregon's electoral delegates choices by year.

1900 republican
1904 republican
1908 republican
1912 democrat (Woodrow Wilson over incumbent Taft)
1916 republican
1920 republican
1924 republican
1928 republican
1932 democrat (Franklin Roosevelt over incumbent Hoover)
1936 democrat (Roosevelt)
1940 democrat (Roosevelt)
1944 democrat (Roosevelt)
1948 republican
1952 republican
1956 republican
1960 republican
1964 democrat (L.B.J. over Barry Goldwater)
1968 republican
1972 republican
1976 republican
1980 republican
1984 republican
1988 democrat (Dukakis over Bush Sr.)
1992 democrat (Clinton over Bush Sr.)
1996 democrat (Clinton over Bob Dole)
2000 democrat (Gore over Bush Jr.)
2004 democrat (Kerry over Bush Jr.)

2008 ???



My Analysis:
First let me say I'm not as accomplished a history reader as Gordon or Ron. I'm more the Joe six pack, common sense, gut reaction sort of guy.

Wilson over Taft in 1912 I'm not familiar with.

Roosevelt in 1932 was obviously a pendulum swing from the crash of wall street 1929. Roosevelt remained in office for three reasons. One: the great depression continued, some say longer than it would have without government interference. Two: Roosevelt had an incredible political machine behind him. Three: He ignored the founding father's value of limiting presidents to two terms. It later had to be added to the Constitution to prevent a similar long presidency from ever occurring again.

1964: Barry Goldwater . . .

Since 1988: One: the children of hippies come of age to vote. Two: hippies are now middle age and have come into positions of power (school boards, teachers, college professors, elected officials). Three: the affluence gained since the second world war reaches a peak with a spurt from the Reagan years. Lower class people who suddenly find themselves well-to-do can't handle it and feel guilty about having a good life while somewhere in the world there are poor people. (For an example of sudden-wealth guilt just look at Hollywood actors turned activists).

Since 1988 alternative analysis: Oregonians don't like the name Bush (or Texans?), and even I didn't really want to vote for Bob Dole.

Recommendations?
One: Stop feeling guilty for having a good standard of living that you yourself worked for. It's completely natural for any organism to strive to better its own predicament. Two: The sooner the acid dropping, kum-ba-yah, liberal, socialist hippies die the better.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sheetrock done . . . almost

All the sheetrock is hung. It's nice to have the walls covered again. It's actually beginning to look like a room again. Well, almost all the sheetrock is done. I still have to build soffits on two walls in the kitchen and one in the (breakfast nook) extension. I want to do the soffits nice and straight and level so they will meet with the cabinet tops. I would have completed these sunday, but my back is killing me again.

For those who don't know I have a pinched nerve or herniated disc or something in my back just below the base of the neck (C7 or maybe T1). It's causing me intense pain in my back, my left shoulder and left arm. It's also causing some tingling and numbness in my arm off and on. It's been going on for about 10 weeks now. At times it's gotten better but came back last thursday pretty bad and doing what sheetrock I did this weekend was all I could stand. I see my doctor this afternoon. I did a few sessions of massage/chiropractor which may have helped but wasn't a fix. I had a similar episode of this 2 years ago. It was less intense then and my doc just had me do physical therapy.

Anyway, back to the kitchen (bad pun?). I had a call from Dad and he wants to come up and help with the finishing of the sheetrock. He'll be here Wednesday. I think I may finish what I have, build the soffits later and sheetrock and finish them then. The texturing I'm still deciding on. Do I hire a pro for a 1-1/2 hour job, do I get Mike Sparrow to come do it, or do I buy or borrow the sprayer tool and shoot it myself?

What looks bad is while I sit and moan in intense pain, my 79 year old father will be up on scafolding finishing sheetrock.

Teach 'em a lesson.

I was thinking the other day about Obama's desire to tax only those with high incomes, the 1% or 5% or 10%. What he's neglecting is that those 5% already pay a huge portion of the federal income tax revenue, 30 to 60% of the revenue depending on what top percentage you're referring to, and in contrast the 40% of the population paying no taxes at all.

What Obama is missing is that it wouldn't take a large number of people rebelling to drastically sink the tax revenue. What would happen if these people decided to simply take a year off. If they're so wealthy as Obama thinks they are, they could certainly afford to do so. What would happen if the upper middle class and the upper classes were to decide to limit their lifestyles and suffer some inconveniences in order to put the maximum amount possible into tax-exempt accounts. What if corporations were to increase their matching contributions to 401k's, not only reducing their own taxable profit, but further increasing the tax sheltering their employees do.

With all the deficit spending the feds do they probably wouldn't immediately cut a single program in response to even a dramatic downfall in revenue. As a matter of fact the response of Democrat/Socialists would be to simply raise taxes. (That's exactly what Oregon's Multnomah county did the last time). It may not change anything immediately but it would sure send a visible and I think powerful signal.

Instead of paying the tax on the Tea, we may just dump it in the harbor and see what Obama can do with it then.

Freak out

What freaks me out the most are people who actually want to pay more taxes.

Here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Questions I have

I want to know: why are his personal records "sealed" from public view at so many places, his birth certificate, his college records, his master's thesis, his work records at his previous employment. If Obama is elected, 350 million people will be under his leadership. 350 million people have a right to know who he is. At this level his personal privacy should come secondary.

I want to know: why his internet fund raising dropped all checks and safe-guards. He claims to be checking on donation validity afterward. How? Wouldn't it have been easier to let the credit card computer systems automatically check them in the first place? I and many others can only assume he is not only receiving illegal contributions from within the U.S. but also from overseas. Is he nothing more than a "Manchurian Candidate"? (cross out Manchurian insert any conspiracy).