Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Baby Blue

I have a friend who's into Japanese pop music. Quite some time ago, he subjected pointed me to the following music video by the Japanese pop duo Halcali. I think it's something everyone should experience.

Actually, I really do find the video somewhat entrancing, and the music is quite catchy. In fact, after my initial viewing of this video many months ago, I had this song stuck in my head for possibly weeks. Other possible side effects include: nausea, disorientation, seizures, questioning reality, and cravings for sushi.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Money for Nothing

Recently, while aimlessly flipping through cable TV, I happened upon a special on the History Channel that was discussing one of the ancient Roman emperors. (I'm sorry to say I'm not 100% sure which emperor it was. Nero?) I only stopped for a moment, but the narrator was in the midst of describing how the ancient Roman leader spared no expenses when it came to his personal sailing vessel. The ship was as luxurious as perhaps even his palace, and it had all the amenities that a person living in that day and age could possibly desire. For some reason it astonished me that even thousands of years ago, some people could live so lavishly. I couldn't prevent the naive thought from flashing through my mind, "But to be rich back then didn't mean anything like being rich today. It's amazing how good the emperor had it, considering it was the age of antiquity."

I then had what might be considered a mini-epiphany. This may strike others as obvious, but I've found it endlessly fascinating to realize that absolutely nothing in this world--literally nothing, from space shuttles and satellites to iPhones and surround sound--really requires money. In theory, we could have all the technological and scientific toys and gadgets of our day without one cent being spent. In theory. Money is just the motivator, but if the right people were willing to put forth the effort, we could have all of this stuff for nothing.

Okay, I can see a lot of people thinking this post is relatively pointless. I guess it is. But I couldn't help finding it an amazing thought that money isn't really necessary, no matter how luxurious or scientifically advanced the world may become. It's so easy to associate the almighty dollar with technology that it's almost shocking to realize that, financially speaking, the fanciest Ferrari or most posh of Manhattan penthouses inherently cost no more than a paper plate. We say time is money, but in reality, money is time, and only because we value it as such. In reality, money is a fabrication. Its worth is imaginary, and yet we covet it, kill for it, rage against it, lament it, debase ourselves for it, and so on.

Things that make you go "hmmmm....."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I Miss The Running Man

Due to my recent calcaneal fracture, I have spent the last six weeks or so sleeping on my back. Up until the last few days, I have not only been on my back, but I have been sleeping on the couch. Believe it or not, it has been the most comfortable option. The arm of the couch provides a nice, built-in pillow of sorts that can elevate my head just slightly. I can also stack nearly a dozen pillows at my feet on which to prop my injured foot. The back of the couch supports the pile of pillows and prevents it from toppling over. Because I was ordered by my doctor to keep my foot elevated above heart level, this was the best option I had. Such a tower of pillows proved too unsteady when recreated in bed. If I didn't balance my leg just right, it would result in the spontaneous and unintentional demolition of said pillow tower.

Despite all this, I have, for a variety of reasons, tried to sleep in my own bed for several days in a row now. One of the most grueling aspects of sleeping in my own bed is not my foot per se, but that I am no longer capable of sleeping in the position I so dearly love -- a position I have long referred to as "The Running Man." The Running Man may be achieved by lying on one's left side, bringing your right leg up and forward while stretching your left leg back and out. In essence, your legs should mimic someone in mid-sprint, a frozen snapshot of someone dashing toward the finish line of a race. One then brings one's right arm up and drapes it over the head, such that the nook of the elbow creates a 90 degree angle at the top of one's scalp. The left arm is then to be wrapped around the pillow on which one's head is lying, squeezing the pillow snugly but un-intrusively against the face, creating a sense of warmth, safety, and peace. Although the position of the arms in no way resembles a person in mid-sprint, this remains an essential component of The Running Man and should not be overlooked.

Sadly, The Running Man is an impossibility when I am confined to lying on my back. The problem is, when I am lying in bed and not on the couch, my body aches to assume its coveted nighttime position. I literally crave to turn to my left, but I can't do it. It's torturous! I think having the back of the couch to my left has prevented my body from thinking it has any option of assuming The Running Man. Being back in bed messes with my psyche, and so it has only been in the last several days that I've realized just how much I've missed my favorite nighttime companion. To The Running Man -- I love you and miss you incredibly. I hope to see you soon...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

General(ly Speaking, You Could Call it a) Hospital

By now it seems like old news (to me anyway) to be going back and talking about my trip to the emergency room, but I couldn’t possibly tell the story of my September 7th car crash without capturing all the details of my first stay (in memory) at a hospital. And so the story continues…

As the firefighters/paramedics unloaded me at the hospital, I couldn’t help thinking about the episode of The Simpsons where Homer is loaded onto a stretcher and, as you would probably guess, continues to get knocked about and further injured. I told the firefighters they must love that episode. They smiled knowingly but didn’t comment. But firefighters are real people, and I’m sure they joke about the people whose lives they save from time to time. I’m sure they joke about tossing belligerent old ladies back into the flaming retirement homes. They joke about it, at least. Wouldn’t you? These are the kind of thoughts I have as they push me into the emergency room—my first time to an ER ever. I’ve never even watched an episode of the famed television program of the same name.

Once they’ve wheeled me into my particular ER room, I’m immediately asking for water. I’m incredibly thirsty. I wish I could have the Mountain Dew that was lost in the crash. Anything. A nurse tells me they’ll get me some water. Different people come in and do different things. I get my first IV. The word I keep hearing as they look at my foot is “shattered.” They’re baffled that my bone can be as crushed as it is. Everyone wants to know what exactly I hit my foot against during the crash. Did my side of the car get crumpled in and smash my foot? Did I hit it against the pedals? I have no answer. All I know is that my foot was dripping blood after the car stopped spinning. Sometimes I hear the word “ankle,” sometimes I hear the word “heel.” To this day, I’m slightly confused about the language the doctors used. One doctor made it sound like they refer to the whole back region of your foot as your ankle, such that even if you break your heel, you’ve suffered an injury to your ankle. I don’t know if that’s right or if I misunderstood something, but it was my calcaneus (heel) that got broken.

Never having suffered a broken bone, I’m a bit surprised when I’m told I’m going to be kept overnight in the hospital. I didn’t think broken bones required one to be admitted, but apparently they can. They tell me that this type of injury generally requires surgery and that I may be operated on that very day. I’m shocked that it’s so serious. They also tell me that I cannot eat or drink anything after all, since surgery is a possibility. Primarily because of my thirst, I find this news to be equally devastating. They clean up my foot. I get the first stitches of my life. Like the IV, this proves less painful than I expect and I find myself pleased by the fact. In fact, all things considered, I find myself feeling quite positive. As I lay there in the ER, there are moments when I feel truly happy. I consider myself so fortunate. The situation could have been so much worse so easily. But I am okay, and my family is okay, and I trust that everything will work out. I trust that my prayers are being heard and answered. I am grateful.

My positivity wanes a bit as time drags on. Eventually, I am told that the surgery will have to be scheduled for a later date. Initially, this seems like good news. I am told that I can eat something and that I will be given a dinner plate. Having been cleaned up, sutured, X-rayed, and drugged, I am then largely abandoned. I am left alone, without a call button or anything, for at least two hours. Gradually, the drugs are wearing off and I am getting more and more uncomfortable, not to mention hungry. When the occasional nurse does appear, I am again promised a food plate. The nurse then disappears and no food ever comes. As it turns out, I will spend a total of 27 hours in the hospital and never once be given food, even though I will be told several times that I will be fed. Hard to believe, but true. Luckily, there are friends and family who come to the rescue with Chick-Fil-A and McDonald’s during those 27 hours.

But I digress. As I lay there in the ER, my pain is on the rise. After several hours of primarily being alone, I am told that I will be moved upstairs into a normal hospital room to be kept overnight. I am told that the room is just being prepped and I’ll be moved up shortly. I ask about painkillers. I am told that once I am moved upstairs, my attending nurse will get me some drugs. Another hour or more goes by before I am moved upstairs. I ask the person that wheels me upstairs for some medication. He also tells me that my attending nurse will get me the drugs and that she’ll be in shortly. It’s 30 minutes before I see anyone. I ask for drugs again. My nurse tells me she will get them for me. Another half hour passes and my nurse reappears to ask if I’m allergic to anything. This is the one question I have probably answered more than any other since being brought to the hospital. No, I tell her. She informs me that she did not have this information on record, so now she has to process something before she can get me the drugs. I’m waiting yet again. When the nurse reappears, it is not to offer me the morphine I have been longing for. Instead it is to take my vitals. She tells me the drugs are on their way.

While taking my vitals, another nurse appears and asks if he can take me down to get a CT scan. My nurse asks him if he can wait ten minutes. He agitatedly informs her that nobody will be available to take me down in ten minutes. My nurse then asks me if I can handle doing the CT scan before I get my meds. “How long will it take?” I ask her. “Not long,” is her reply. I try to get something more specific out of her. “It won’t be long,” is the only reply I can get. Finally, I oblige. Feeling miserable at this point, I am wheeled down to the CT scan room. I am third in line. By the time I am finished and wheeled back to my room, an additional 90 minutes will have passed. By the time I am administered painkillers—painkillers that I was originally told I could take every four hours—I will have been requesting them for no less than six hours. I kid you not.

There isn’t much to say about my stay in the hospital (once I was actually up in bed and appropriately drugged up). It wasn’t as dismal an experience as I thought it could be, but I only had to be there for one day. The fact that I was never fed and that it took six hours to get pain medication did not impress me very much. It concerned me that I would be returning to this same hospital within a few weeks to have surgery. Would they remember to feed me next time? Would they remember to anesthetize me before operating? My confidence was not improved when, on a follow up visit to my podiatrist, my doctor was shocked that the hospital hadn’t sent me home with a prescription for antibiotics. As he put it, foot injuries are some of the most dangerous, and if you get infected, the risk of amputation is very real. Gee thanks, hospital. Don’t they know it’s supposed to be a bad pun when you say these types of surgeries cost you an arm and a leg?

So that’s my hospital story. I did return and have surgery at that same establishment, and so far I still have a foot. So far, so good. But those are tales yet to come. Until then…