The Bypass

The phone buzzes with a notification. “Chest is open. She is on pump now. Everything progressing normally.” The Wife is undergoing open heart surgery. I sit in the waiting room alone, mercifully mask free because of this.

I remember the first time I heard open heart surgery used as a phrase. My grandfather had undergone a quintuple bypass back in the seventies. The surgeons had marveled at the complexity and his near-miraculous survival at the time.

The doctors and nurses now refer to these kinds of procedures as routine. “We do them all the time.” My heart doesn’t know this, refuses to accept that the opening of that beloved chest could be anything less than a near imminent death event. My all too active imagination can paint the scene in Technicolor for me, if I allow it.

I don’t allow it. I don’t want to see, to think of her that way. A piece of meat on the cutting table. Instead I will fill my head with classical music and meditate on the reunion we will have in a few short hours. No other outcome will be entertained no matter how many times those ravens of doubt perch over my mental doorways. I will see her again. We will embrace and she will chide me for being a silly sentimental old man.

That is the picture I will paint in my head instead of those other nightmares. Time enough for the nightmares afterwards.

Featured image: NucleusMedicalMedia

Postscript

She is in the Cardiac Rehabilitation unit now. Ah, I remember those days fondly:

The Wife has complained repeatedly that her renewed heart beats too fast. When she airs her complaints, I quietly thank her cardiologist for making sure her heart continued to beat regardless of pace. I would have missed her presence, her voice, if he hadn’t. It would have been difficult to find a reason to go on without her heart beating next to mine. Hopefully that predicament has been postponed for another twenty years. Here’s hoping we both make it to our fiftieth anniversary.

Friday July 30, 2021 – She got up and got her pills today all on her own. She’s been home for a week and relied upon me for everything until today. The Wife is coming back to herself. It is a good sign.

Opening Hazard

I’ve been taking part in illness tracking with outbreaksnearme.org since the Spring of 2020, when the Trumpist COVID debacle was in full swing. Ya’ll remember those days right? The hazy smoke-filled days as civilization fell? The zombies roaming the streets swarming the unwary?

There was no official testing to be had. No way to know who was sick and who wasn’t and no way to socialize without risking your own life. So we hunkered down without any government to been seen, no authority coming to the rescue, waiting for the chance to score some toilet paper from the remains of the local shopping center while covered in protective gear to keep the zombie plague at bay.

When outbreaksnearme.org started it called itself COVID near you but within a few months the organizers realized that they could use the more generalized data to track spreads of any infectious disease in the population. It also allowed people who just had symptoms to report themselves sick even when they didn’t know what it was.

A full year has passed since those hellish days of anarchy, with me always always responding “healthy” to the prompt:

COVID Near You is now Outbreaks Near Me! We now track flu too. Are you still healthy? Please answer Healthy or Sick. Reply STOP at any time to unsubscribe.

Today I finally had to respond with sick. The Wife has been out galivanting around town joyful at having escaped from the zombie apocalypse, mask-less and fancy-free for the first time in recent memory. While she was out having a good time she apparently picked up a bug. I, of course, caught it from her because that is what I do. I’m three days into it now, a nasty cough, aches and pains, and chest tightness that is triggering the Meniere’s symptoms. I’m having a joyful time.

It’s almost enough to make you miss 2020. Hunkered down in your hovel, hoping to score a clean corncob to wipe your ass with. Zombies scratching at the walls while you heat yourself next to the fire you made from the last chair in the house, boiling the leather upholstery for something to drink and chew on later. At least there was only one disease out there then. One disease that made you want to chew on the brains of your neighbors.

Ah, the good ol’ days.

Featured image: What I Learned About the Coronavirus World From Watching Zombie Flicks

Postscript

I’m not dead yet.

Monty Python – “Not Dead Yet” SceneAmazon

…although the lethargy spread out over nearly a week. I’m only getting back to my old habits now, three weeks later. Getting back to my old habits just in time for the Wife to be hospitalized with some other unrelated illness. Ah, the joys of normal life.

Repairing Pandemic Damage Not All That is Needed Now

To repair the damage done by these people in these times will not be easy. I may not see the wounds mended in my lifetime. It may take a generation or more. The social damage of the pandemic itself, the fear of our old social lives, in bars and restaurants and dance halls and sports stadiums, will take time to heal (although a percentage of people seem to know no fear already). We will hug and kiss again. But will there still be movie theaters? Will there be bookstores? Will we feel okay in crowded subway cars?

wapo/salman-rushdie

I would say that the lack of workers volunteering to die for minimum wage across the United States today in what is rapidly becoming a post-pandemic world says volumes about the actual rethinking that is going on right now. Whether we will turn these things we’ve learned about ourselves and our world into real world changes remains the question. I will say that if we don’t make the changes, heal the breaches in our lifetimes, those ills will fester and re-emerge the next time society hits a breaking point.

It wasn’t the name of the black man that police killed that made last summer’s protests a fulcrum to leverage change. It was simply the fact that the policeman killed another black man while the rest of the world was forced to watch him do it. The pandemic made change possible by forcing the entire world to become passive observers of what the rest of the world was doing in their lives and in their essential work. Essential work that appears to include killing random black people in every corner of the United States.

The next time we are strapped down and stretched thin like we were last summer, there might be some other breaking point that appears and fulminates the last great war, rather than just a call for the equal justice we all were promised. We really can’t afford to keep kicking the can down the road. We need to step up and make the changes now while the motivation is fresh and our intentions pure. I’m becoming deathly afraid that we don’t know how act of pure intention anymore, or even act at all.

facebook

Salman Rushdie: I’ve seen dictators rise and fall. Beware, America.

These “audits” don’t have to find anything; the fact that they exist at all is enough to do what they are designed to do: undermine voters’ faith in the system at the same time they indicate that no election result that elects a Democrat is legitimate.

heathercoxrichardson/june-3-2021

Crip Time

Crip time is this diagnosis of the exacting, you know, and punishing even, standards of economic time by which each human is measured as an index of our worth. That really is what is at stake here.

Sara Hendren (Crip Theory – Wikipedia)
SpotifyInquiring Mindsomny.fm
What Can a Body Do?: How We Meet the Built World

I was on a work call when everyone (a group of disabled women) was only communicating through text. Text read out by screen readers. Time slowed down. We all typed one after the other. Waiting for the other to complete their thought. Waiting for others to read. Waiting for others to type. The entire process had patience embedded in it, but also a challenge to “normative” ideas of discussion time and pace. No one impatiently typed over others or wanted to “move things along”. The time was well spent in engaging with each other at our own pace.

madinasia.org

Time is not what we think it is. Time is not what business tells us it is. Time is not the metronome beating out endless seconds. Time is the breath in your lungs. Time is the beating of your heart. Time is the length of the hug you give, the hug you receive. Time is to be treasured.

Featured Image: MoMA

Anti-Vaccination Agitation

One way to look at it is this – a small minority now has the ability to hijack public health policy by waging their own shadow campaign on social media. They are accountable to no one. They can force the expenditure of limited public health dollars just to minimize the effect of their own campaigns. This is also an asymmetric campaign, because it is much easier to spread fear than proper information. At the very least it is reasonable to filter out their harmful misinformation from private platforms. Panels of experts can be used to provide the filter, and fair processes can be made available for appeals. At the very least these options need to be explored.

Sciencebasedmedicine.org
Sciencebasedmedicine.org

This article was about Gardasil. The vaccination worked, but social conservatives hated it because it gave women permission to be promiscuous. Think about what that means. They wanted people to suffer and die from a preventable cancer rather than vaccinate them against the cause of that cancer on the grounds that sex outside of marriage is bad and should be discouraged. They used vaccine fear to wage a war against this vaccine, and this isn’t even the first time, nor was it the last.

facebook/Stonekettle

That is the Conservative-Republican-Trumpist line now about the coronavirus vaccine:

Oh, we’re not anti-vax. We just don’t think vaccines work.

…Strangely, it is the same argument they offer about their obvious racism. What their resistance is about now is still religion. Their religion of conservatism. Their invented Republican Jesus, the one who loves capitalism and profit more than he does the poor and the sick. Their belief that government can’t do anything good in the world.

I’ve heard this pushback from dozens of sources now. They just object to this one vaccination, not the general idea that vaccinations work. Either the science is real, or it isn’t. Either we have stopped Small Pox, Polio, etcetera through vaccination, or the entire business is a sham. A con job. Pick one side people, because it can’t be both sides at the same time. The vaccine works. It works and you should get it.

Editor’s Note

This was originally posted as a quote on January 11, 202o, I have advanced and appended the quote with the current coronavirus crap.

Drowning in Depression

What makes a person go online begging for help from total strangers, and then when someone tries to understand the problem, tries to understand why this stranger is publicly threatening to kill themselves, they turn on the would be helper and try to submerge them in their ire?

As I deleted all my comments from the thread that started this thought train moving and reported the post as a violation of the subreddit’s rules (what I should have done in the first place and will do the next time I see one of these kinds of posts there) I was reminded of this passage from Dune:

“Once on Caladan, I saw the body of a drowned fisherman recovered. He–“

“Drowned?” It was the stillsuit manufacturer’s daughter.

Paul hesitated, then: “Yes. Immersed in water until dead. Drowned.”

“What an interesting way to die,” she murmured.

Paul’s smile became brittle. He returned his attention to the banker. “The interesting thing about this man was the wounds on his shoulders –made by another fisherman’s claw-boots. This fisherman was one of several in a boat — a craft for traveling on water — that foundered . . . sank beneath the water. Another fisherman helping recover the body said he’d seen marks like this man’s wounds several times. They meant another drowning fisherman had tried to stand on this poor fellow’s shoulders in the attempt to reach up to the surface to reach air.”

“Why is this interesting?” the banker asked.

“Because of an observation made by my father at the time. He said the drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable — except when you see it happen in the drawing room.” Paul hesitated just long enough for the banker to see the point coming, then “And, I should add, except when you see it at the dinner table.”

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965) pg. 139

(a Reddit thread discussing what the scene means)

When you are drowning in depression, it will do you no good to stand on the shoulders of the swimmer next to you. You will both surely drown if you do that. This is why rescuers in actual water emergencies frequently have to wait for a drowning person to stop fighting the water before they can attempt to pull the victim to safety. A drowning person will drown you and themselves in their frantic attempts to stay up in the air. They don’t know what they are doing. A depressed person needs therapy, and solid, stable people around them. Not more depressives that will pull them down deeper into despair.

Had I not found aid in the form of disability payments back in 2005, I would have been dead in 2006. I had it all planned out. I just had to start the plan in motion and it would have worked flawlessly. Probably. I was drowning in depression, convinced that I had to keep working to have any value to the people around me. It took almost another decade for me to figure out that I had value that wasn’t calculated in dollar figures, something that a working person who is convinced that they must keep working to have a meaningful life can’t understand. Not really.

I know this because I was one of those people and I can see the train of thought that lead me from my deepest pit of despair to where I am now. But I’m still burdened with the same chronic illness that forced me out of work twenty years ago. I know this because any time I forget who and what I am and try to start back into my old ways the vertigo sets back in and I have to take a week off in order to recuperate. Just like I had to do every other week back in the bad old days when I thought force of will alone would see me through.

I cannot rescue another chronic illness sufferer if that person can’t understand how I’m still treading water all these years later and flings insults at the methods I employ in order to cope. Hopefully they will also survive long enough to see the error of their ways. I won’t know because I can’t save them and save myself at the same time. They’ll have to find someone with a firmer grasp on reality than I have. I have people who want to see me keep on living. I hope that they do too.

Short Wave – How To Reach Out When Someone You Know May Be At Risk Of Suicide – April 5, 2021

Postscript

She was going to have to give up nursing in order to treat her Meniere’s if she had Meniere’s. She didn’t have vertigo, so I tried to explain to her that she probably was misdiagnosed and should seek a second opinion from a professional. She then scathingly informed me that she was a professional who damn well knew what was wrong with her. She had endolymphatic hydrops that she developed from exposure to a chemical (she never said what) and hydrops was Meniere’s. She said I needed to educate myself. She then attacked me for being on disability for 15 years, leeching off the government as she put it.

It isn’t Meniere’s if you know the cause. It isn’t Meniere’s if you don’t display the full spectrum of symptoms. It isn’t Meniere’s if you can cure it. I wish I didn’t have Meniere’s. What she has isn’t Meniere’s. What she did have was evidence that:

It has been said that he who is his own lawyer, is sure to have a fool for his client; and that he who is his own physician is equally sure to have a fool for his patient.

quoteinvestigator.com

Accendi l’arcobaleno (Light Up the Rainbow)

I can’t understand a word of this song, but it still moves me to tears:

Accendi l’arcobaleno Song by Andrea Mingardi Simona Camosci and Coro in corsia

The composition reminds me of the way that We Are the World was presented back at the dawn of time, internet-wise. According to the segment of Deutsche Welle – Inside Europe 18.03.2021 (Dany Mitzman) that brought the song to my attention, the proceeds from the sales of the song will go to funding the education of more nurses in Italy and Europe. (Spotify Link)

“At that time of turmoil and sadness, and a profound need to cling on to something good, I wanted to write optimistic lyrics that would project me towards the end of this tragic event,” she tells the BBC.

When the Covid crisis hit Bologna early last March, she had just transferred from the local health centre to a specialist hospital clinic. After 36 years, she had been hoping to spend the final chapter of her career in a less frenetic environment.

Within a week her new workplace had become Bologna’s designated Covid hospital and she was at the checkpoint, filtering patients.

Simona’s idea was to put together a group of nurses to record the song, then use it to raise money to set up bursaries at the University of Bologna. If there was one thing the pandemic had highlighted, it was the scarcity of qualified nursing staff in Italy.

BBC

A hat/tip is owed to sky.it. It was because I discovered the video on their site that I knew it had to exist somewhere. Damn, was it hard to find on Youtube. The only way I ended up finding the official Youtube video was to follow a link from this Facebook profile that came up in a Google search for the nurses name. A hat/tip is owed to them as well. The fundraising link triggers trojan warnings on my internet security program, so I haven’t been able to go to the site without disabling security and I don’t have a disposable computer system to surf with at the moment. I consider that sentence to be a Fair warning for anyone who is concerned about internet security.

Mandated Vaccination

facebook.com/Stonekettle

The Atlantic & WNYC – The Experiment: The Crime of Refusing Vaccination – MARCH 25, 202

The Jacobson v. Massachusetts decision made clear that the government could mandate vaccination, arguing that collective good sometimes outweighs individual rights. But the line between the two is blurry. More than two decades after Jacobson’s case, the Court used the same logic in another decision, one the historian Michael Willrich says is among the “scariest U.S. Supreme Court decisions of all time.”

The episode of The Experiment that is embedded above illustrates how easily we can be manipulated into thinking something that is good for us is bad, and it illustrates that the converse is also true. It is illegal to refuse vaccination when that vaccination is mandated by government, that is a basic public health criteria. This isn’t about you and your vaccine fears anymore than it is about me and mine. this is about keeping everyone in the population as healthy as we can, and the way to do that is to make sure that we achieve and maintain herd immunity through vaccination for easily communicable diseases.

This is why you should get your influenza vaccination as well as all the other vaccinations on the list of required vaccinations. Get them because you care about the people around you more than you care for yourself. If you can’t find it in yourself to do it for other people, do it so that you don’t get sick from an easily preventable disease. Wish for a vaccination for every communicable disease that you might casually be exposed to so that you don’t die from that disease, either (I see you hiding over there, Malaria) I do, and I hate needles more than anything else I encounter in day to day life.

I have little doubt that Stonekettle is right in the article embedded above. There is too much bullshit out there circulating for this to not be something that Russia is trying to seed throughout the United States in order to weaken us. That other shoe will drop eventually (if we can’t just take past actions as proof in and of itself) and then we’ll know for sure who is spreading the anti-vaccination bullshit this time around aside from the anti-vax idiots in our midst.

There should be a mandate to get the COVID vaccine just as there is for all the other vaccinations we undergo. The influenza vaccination should be mandated as well.  What form that mandate takes is the only real question left to answer. Do we just pass a law making refusing a vaccination a crime again, or do we try to nudge people in the direction of doing the right thing without holding guns to their head to get them to do it? Americans can’t seem to get away from doing everything that they can at the point of a gun. Maybe we should try something different for once.

How Was Your Day?

I woke up early Wednesday. 11:00 am. It was early since I hadn’t been asleep for even five hours yet at that point and it was the third night in a row that my sleep had been shorted. I was tired and I felt it, but that wasn’t all that was wrong.

I just felt wrong somehow. I made breakfast knowing that I would likely go to back to bed soon, and then I went upstairs to do some busywork. There was a dust storm in El Paso, the weather site I visited told me. It was a couple of hundred miles away, but there was definitely dust in the windy air here too. It was wrong, just wrong somehow.

The world kept coming unstuck. I’d think “I’m having vertigo” and then I’d check and the world wouldn’t really be spinning. It would want to spin, but not actually spin. It was a weird feeling.

After several hours of this The Wife came home from doing her busywork with friends and I decided to join her in the bedroom. When I got up from my desk I realized just how dizzy I really was. Walking downstairs was a conscious one step at a time procedure. The steps are never where they first appear when the dizziness gets set to ramp up into vertigo.

When I finally made it to the bedroom a few minutes later the world was actively spinning. “That’s just great.” I was almost relieved to be done waiting for it. I took Xanax and laid down at 5:30 pm, dedicatedly staring at the catbus and waiting for the spell to pass. It didn’t pass and I fell asleep instead. Fitful sleep that lasted for a good long time this time.

I woke up just now at 5:00 am on Thursday, almost twelve hours later. I missed dinner. I missed my WoW raid. I didn’t finish Wednesday chores. How was my day? I didn’t have a day. How was yours? Now it’s time to get the bins to the street before six so that the city will pick them up, and then I see if I can have real day today. Fingers crossed.

The Statler Brothers – Flowers On The Wall 1966
Postscript

It’s afternoon, just got back from a walk. This is now the best day since the 10th of March (the last time I was out walking) It’s the best day since getting the jab (I love that word for being stuck with a needle. Fits perfectly) last Thursday. It will never cease to amaze me just how much of a difference getting out and stretching the legs will do for your attitude.

The BeatlesGood Day Sunshine (Remastered 2009)
March 29

I suffered through vertigo again both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend. I spent all day today just trying to catch up on stuff I missed over the weekend. At least I got the laundry done. This turn to Spring will hopefully see a turn from the depressive trough I’ve been in for months. I’m trying not to see the weekend as a harbinger of anything negative for this year. It’s going to be sunshine and kittens 24/7. It’s just too bad I’m allergic to kittens.