Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Blog Action Day

Although my previous post was, at least in part, about the environment it was not actually intended as part of Blog Action Day. I actually didn’t know about Blog Action Day until Darren mentioned it in the comments on that post.

In his post, Darren asked “what is your big eco-sin?” Like most of his commenters, I try to be good to the environment:

  • I don’t own a car – I take the bus to work and for most of my transportation around the city, and I joined the car co-op for getting to hockey games
  • even when I do take a co-op car, I usually try to do multiple things on a given trip (such as go to the grocery store after my hockey game) in order to minimize the number of car trips I take
  • I’m a vegetarian and I don’t wear leather
  • I use a travel mug1 to avoid using paper cups and I bring my own Tupperwear container to the cafeteria to avoid using Styrofoam containers
  • I bring my own bag to the grocery store so I don’t have to take plastic ones
  • I recycle anything that can be recycled2
  • I turn the lights out in the bathroom, the kitchen and the photocopy room at work when I leave them3
  • I use the back of old printouts as note paper before I recycle them
  • I don’t buy anything new if I can get it used instead and buy almost all of my clothes in consignment & thrift stores
  • I rarely fly anywhere4

But I do have one big eco-sin. I leave my computer on. All the time. 24/7. Even when I’m at work all day, my computer at home is on. And the main reason I do this is a rather ridiculous one – when I come home, I like there to be messages waiting for me. Even though I haven’t had my landline and it’s accompanying answering machine for months now, my natural inclination when I walk in the door is to look for the little flashing red light telling me that someone cared enough to call me! And since I don’t have that anymore, my msn serves that purpose. With my computer on, people can msn me all day long and when I get home, I have messages waiting for me. OK, now that I write that down, I see it’s silly. Starting tomorrow, I’m shutting my computers off when I leave.

On a related note: why, since the librarians have been on strike for four months, were all the lights on in the local library branch when I walked by there tonight?

1A friend of mine said that he feels if he can’t have his act together enough to bring his travel mug with him, then he feels that he doesn’t deserve a coffee. I think this is a good philosophy
2and in light of the 4 month garbage strike that has, mercifully, just ended, this is a real sacrifice as I can barely fit in my kitchen because I have so much recycling piled up in there!
3and have noticed that some of my co-workers have started following my example
4Although, truth be told, this has more to do with my lack of money (thanks, $70,000 of student loans!) than with a conscience choice to fly less

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Foot vs. Brain

In the battle between my injured foot and my brain’s adenosine receptors, the adenosine receptors reigned supreme. Faced with the choice of hobbling all the way to the Tim Horton’s on the other side of the building for an afternoon cup of coffee or resting my foot but forgoing my caffeine fix, there really was only one clear choice.

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The Wisdom Teeth Extraction Adventures of Beth

So, I’m feeling much better today – my jaw is only a wee bit achy so I’m off the T3s which were making me all loopy and unable to type properly all day yesterday.

My adventure at the oral surgeon’s office started off with the unpleasant discovery that they lied to me about the cost. I was told that my insurance covered most of the cost, I just have to pay the specialist fees1 – they had gotten a pre-approval for the cost of what an extraction would be if I went to a regular dentist and for the deep sedation. They told me that since the sedation is through my extended health benefits, rather than dental benefits, I had to pay the $190 for that upfront (despite the insurance company pre-approving this, they said they “didn’t trust” that the insurance would actually pay for it), and then they would pay me it back once they got the money from my insurance company (as opposed to the rest of the cost, which is covered by the dental benefits and so they would just charge to my insurance directly, trusting insurance would cover it). But when I go to pay for my part of the fees, I notice on the receipt that they’ve charged me $375, not $190 as I’d been told. And when I asked them about it, they are like, “Oh no, the insurance covers all except $190, you have to pay that. But we charge you the full amount and then reimburse you the difference when we get it from them.” And so I’m like, “That’s not what I was told and, in fact, I have it written down on this piece of paper exactly what you guys told me and that was that sedation costs $190 and my insurance will cover it.” So they begrudging apologized that I “was given the wrong information” and so I told them that I supposed that it’s too late to do anything about it now, but they should make sure they aren’t giving people incorrect information like that, because $200 is a lot of money to suddenly be out of pocket.

Then I went and sat in the waiting room and caught up with Rachel, who I hadn’t seen in ages, and it was good that we had the chance to do that because I couldn’t talk much after the surgery (although the poor other guy in the waiting room sure got an earful about all my drama and our ensuing analysis of said drama). They finally called me to go into the surgery room and then I got to act like a big baby about the fact that they were going to be stabbing me with a needle. And putting a blood pressure cuff on me. I hate those, they make me feel so confined! And why, when you tell a nurse “I’m afraid of needles” do they always say “it’s not that bad. It’s just like a little bee sting”? Is this really supposed to make me feel better? I mean, seriously, am I supposed to say, “Oh good! Bee stings tickle!” So I say, “Um, I’m terrified of bee stings too. But thanks.” So she takes my blood pressure and that gets me all freaked out and then even putting the little heart rate monitor on my finger freaks me out, so they strap my arm with the blood pressure cuff on it to the arm of the chair “too keep the blood pressure cuff in place” (translation: “to keep you from flailing around, you big baby”) and by the time the surgeon comes in and puts the tourniquet on and tells me to open and close my hand to pump up my vein2, I’m literally curled up in a fetal-like position (except with one arm strapped to a chair and the other arm raised as I make feeble attempts to open and close my hand without totally passing out from the queasiness of it all and saying, “how long until I can be unconscious?” and “I promise I’ll be more compliant once I’m asleep!”

The thing with me and needles is that I have to watch the needle go in. My imagination of how big the needle is, and my terror at not knowing the exact moment they are going to stab me, make me more of a basketcase than just watching it happen. So when I say, “I have to watch” and the surgeon literally turns my face away, saying “look at this lady over here,” I wanted to scream “you paternalistic bastard, I know myself and I have to watch”… but I restrained myself and left out the part about him being a paternalistic bastard. So the needle goes in fine and doesn’t hurt too bad and then he says, “This will feel like a cold drink being poured into your hand when I put the medicine in,” and I say, “Yup, that feels cold”, followed shortly by, “that feels really uncomfortable” and then the next thing I know is some vague feeling that something is going on in the bottom left side of my jaw and then they are telling me to wake up, it’s all over, get the hell out. OK, maybe they didn’t say “get the hell out.” It was more like, “we are taking you to the recovery area, be careful, you’ll be pretty wobbly.” So I stumble to the “recovery area,” which is literally a bench, and they bring Rachel in and she’s like “I can see why they insist on an escort, they really rush you out of here. You were only in there for 20 minutes.” And that had to include 10 minutes of blood pressure taking, needle stabbing and my being a big wussy baby. Then the nurse proceeds to explain a bunch of instructions to us and thank god Rachel was there for that because I was so doped up, I totally felt like I was extremely drunk and the only thing I remember was some vague comment about not having caffeine. Of course, even in a drug addled state, I pick up on the caffeine comment. At this point, I can’t feel my face, because of the local, but I notice that my hand, where they IV had been, was killing me and, despite the Dora the Explorer band-aid, is covered in dried blood. So I put some pressure on it with my opposite hand to try to lessen the pain a bit and that takes about all the brain power I have at the time.

We get a cab to the Shopper’s Drug Mart by my place so we can pick up my prescriptions and the pharmacist is like “There are several people ahead of you, it will be at least 15 minutes and Rachel is like, “She just had her wisdom teeth out, can’t you possible let us jump the line” and the pharmacist is like, “No. Besides you have 3 prescriptions.” And why the hell does it take so long to fill prescriptions? I mean, you have to count 8, 15 and 18 pills out big bottles and put them into little bottles. My 2 year old niece could do that! So anyway, Rachel decides to bring me home and she’ll come back for the drugs, ‘cuz it’s just a few blocks. I decide to buy some juice in Shopper’s ‘cuz the nurse said to try to get some sugar in me as soon as possible, since I wasn’t allowed to eat since midnight the night before. And as I take the change back from the cashier, I realize that my hand, with which I’d handed over my Shopper’s card and my cash to the cashier is covered in dried blood, from having used it to put pressure on my IV wound. It takes a minute for this to register as my brain is still all messed up on the sedation and I feel really bad for the poor cashier, and a bit surprised she didn’t say anything like, oh I don’t know, “Um, you are covered in blood.”

Anyway, Rachel gets me home and gets my drugs and I take my Tylenol 3, which was quite challenging because they said to take it when the local starts to wear off, which you will know is happening because your nose will feel tingly, but at this point your mouth and tongue are still frozen and I have trouble swallowing pills at the best of time. But, after several attempts, I manage to get the pill down somehow and spend the rest of the day in the following routine: take a T3, try to email or chat or read blogs but go all loopy, then get all drowsy and fall asleep on couch with laptop on lap, wake up when someone calls/texts/pings me on msn/google talk to see how I’m doing, feel better, watch something on the internets, notice my jaw is sore, realize that I was supposed to take another dose of T3 an hour ago, so then take another T3. And repeat. Always repeat. Oh yes, and rotating ice packs on my face – take one out of the freezer, strap it to my face, replace it with an alternate when it loses it’s coldness

. For the entire day. During one of my less loopy phases, where I could actually figure out how to send an email, I emailed Rachel to find out what exactly they had said about caffeine, and it turned out that they said to just not have caffeine in my first drink. Which is a relief, since I was afraid they were going to have said, “don’t have caffeine for the next week”. Or something equally insane.

I end up watching 2.5 movies and a bunch of clips of Stephen Colbert, catching up on most of my blogs and even watching an episode of good ole Young & the Restless. My friend Clayton brought me pudding in the evening, because I discovered that the pudding mix I bought to make for myself had gelatin3 in it and I’d somehow missed that when I read the ingredient list when I bought it and somehow noticed when I took it out of the cupboard to make it. I had taken a T3 just before Clayton got here and apparently I was in my loopy phase, but didn’t know it. I totally thought I was acting normal until he said, “You are on T3, aren’t you?” And I was like “Why? I am acting weird?” and he laughed “Yes.” But I really, totally didn’t think I was! The T3 seemed to make me act like I had ADHD or something – I’d be like “I really should write down that I just took that T3… hey, what is that shiny thing?” And I also didn’t notice that there was blood on the hand towel in my bathroom, which may have been from my IV wound, or possibly from when blood was dripping out of my mouth, but most certainly was not appropriate to have hanging on my towel rack when someone was over!

I took my other meds with my dinner (mango pudding), which is what the nurse had said to do. My other meds are an antibiotic, which apparently “should only be used for serious infections because infrequently there are severe, rarely fatal, intestinal problems,” (which seem like an odd choice for a prophylactic antibiotic) and a corticosteroid, which may decrease my immune response (which seems like an odd choice for someone who is trying not to get an infection) and may stunt my growth (which is an odd choice for someone who is clearly due for a growth spurt any day now). And I followed Ann-Oni Mouse’s advice and sprayed my gauze with Chloraseptic, which seemed to work well for killing pain and I’m hoping will contribute to infection prevention.
I took my last dose of T3 just before I headed to bed with Stephen Colbert, at about 12:30 am, figuring I would wake up about 5 hours later in need of another dose, but I slept right straight through until 11:30 am. And my jaw only had a dull ache, which seems to be the most prominent in my lower left side of my jaw, which is appropriate because that’s the only place I remember feeling anything happen during the surgery, so I’m guessing that was the most difficult one to get out. Anyway, since the pain is fairly minor, I haven’t even taken a single T3 today. I figure I’ll be careful about taking my other meds as scheduled (I set the alarm in my Palm Pilot to remind me when to take it and then record that I took it… I’m kind of like that guy in Memento), gently clean my teeth as my surgeon recommends and keep my fingers crossed that I don’t get any infections. My mother thinks I have inherited my father’s propensity to heal really fast. I think that time I accidentally stabbed myself with that needle contaminated with rat blood in the lab, I took on the rat’s super immune system capabilities4. Because we all know that super powers are gained by science lab mishaps.

I spent most of today sitting in the sun, either goofing around on the internet or talking on the phone (and then having my landlord make fun of the amount of times I used the word “like” in my conversation with Sarah… “not that I was listening in on your conversation, ” he says, “but I counted that you used the work “like” 75 times since you came outside on your phone. Stupid, really, that everyone uses the word “like” so much.”) Went for Frappuccinos with Kalev, who came to hang out a bit after he finished work and before the movie he was going to.

And to top off my crappy week, I did some laundry, during which I pulled the genius move of putting my bluetooth headset through the wash. Like I said, genius. I’m going to give it a few days to completely dry out before I try turning it on again. Which I’ve heard works for when you dump an entire bottle of water into your purse and soak the hell out of your cell phone5. But August 2007 Crapweek started last Saturday, so I figure that it’s scheduled to be over in 7 minutes6. And, so long as I still feel as good tomorrow as I do right now, I’m hitting the town with some friends tomorrow night. ‘cuz I so need a night on the town right now!

OK, probably time for little Bethy to take her med (need to check my notes to remember which one!) and hit the hay. Beth sleepy. Beth has comfy bed with soft, freshly laundered sheets in which to sleep.

OK, I just went to take my night time meds and discovered that I took the wrong med earlier today. I’m supposed to take my antibiotic three times a day (like morning, midway through the day, and night), and my steriod twice day (morning and night). But, for some unknown reason, I took my steroid in the middle of the day instead of my antibiotic. I think I can kiss that growth spurt goodbye.

1I figure if someone is going to be messing with my face, it’s really worth the extra money to go to the best of the best.
2For the record, just typing that out made me queasy.
3Since I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat gelatin, which is made from horse hooves and cow bones. Ick.
4Lab rats seems to have ridiculous awesome immune systems.
5For the record, this was
not me.
6It was 11:53 pm on Friday night when I typed that.

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Freebee Friday

I love free stuff. The offer of free stuff appeals to both my pack rat tendencies and my cheapness gene. And this week was a banner week for free stuff. As previously mentioned, I got to see TWO free movies this weekend – Arctic Tale (my movie review: meh.) on Monday and Skinwalkers (my movie review: I heart things that bite!) on Wednesday.

But Friday brought the motherload of free stuff! First, I got a free textbook from a publishing company. Publishing companies love to give instructors free textbooks, because if you like their book and make it the required one for your course, that’s 1001 kids who have to buy the overpriced thing. When I used to teach introductory nutrition, I received no less fewer than four textbooks and two diet analysis software packages for free! After going to campus to pick up my free textbook, I headed out to the Georgia Straight office to pick up a prize package that I had won through one of their online contests. This prize pack consisted of 5 books, seen here sitting on my bedside bookshelf:

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The book that had most appealed to me when I saw this contest was the Raw Shark Texts. I’d seen this book on a recent trip to the UBC Bookstore and it caught my eye because (a) I like sharks and (b) it had the shape of a shark cut out of the cover:

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…so I read the back of the book and it sounded intriguing! I wasn’t familiar with any of the other books, but I checked them out while waiting for the bus after picking them up and they all sound really good! So now I have a big stack of books to read – I’m just starting Infinite Jest3 though, which is about 2 million pages long, so it may be a while until I get to my new free books.

As an added bonus, I also got this free, snazzy new Georgia Straight bag, in which to carry my new books home:

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And on the way home, I stopped by to see my hair stylist to get a free bang trim. I’m coming to discover that having bangs requires more than a once a year haircut.

OK, now as I was composing this posting, I just got a free bottle of water! I’m sitting at a coffee shop and the dude at the counter forget to make my toasted bagel so, as an apology for making me wait, he gave me a free bottle of water! It’s my lucky week!

1well, 100 kids in the case of my class, ‘cuz that’s about how big the class will be. If you teach one of those monster 500 student courses, that’s a total goldmine for the publisher!

2the Georgia Straight, a local newspaper, was also the source of the Skinwalkers tickets.

3which I picked up at a used bookstore a while ago

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Nightmares, Hump for the Hip and omg it’s freaking hot out

Seeing as how I’ve been done school for almost an entire year, you’d think that I wouldn’t have that nightmare where I’m supposed to write an exam but only discover this fact at the time of the exam – I don’t know where the exam is being held and I certainly haven’t studied for it, as I only just found out that I am even in the course! I haven’t even taken an exam in over 3.5 years! To make it even weirder, it was an English exam… and I haven’t had an English class since 1995!

In other news, I just listened to the best Hump at the Pump ever! Billed as “Hump for the Hip” as the participants won tickets to the Tragically Hip concert, as well as a catered suite where they get to meet the Hip, this H@tP involved a threesome (complete with man pagent to chose the lucky boy who got to partake) and police witnesses. I’ll post a link to the video when it’s up on the CFOX website.

In other, other news – it’s freaking hot out. Already, at 8:13 am. And I live in a basement, where it is usually nice and cool. I guess that’s what happens when it’s the hottest day ever in the history of Vancouver, which is what today’s forecast calls for. Yesterday was also one mofo of a hot day – I decided to sit outside in the sun (because I’m a masochist, apparently) and drink a Frappucino (because they are tasty, albeit calorific) in the afternoon while doing some reading (did I ever mention that I *love* my job?)… today may call for a repeat of that, if I don’t melt first. Then I have a softball game. Let’s consider the Frappucino carbo-loading and/or pre-hydration, k?

And speaking of work, I should go there now. Catch ya later.

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My New Coffeemaker Looks Like A Spaceship

After work tonight, a trip to the mall in search of wedding shower presents. I very rarely go to the mall, as I much prefer to buy stuff at consignment stores. So I decided to take advantage of the mall trip and finally replace the coffeemaker that I broke1. Spent an inordinate amount of time in Zellers trying to decide if it was worth double the price to get a coffeemaker with an alarm function so that I can wake up to a freshly made cup of coffee. I do so like to wake up to the smell of my organic, fair-trade Bolivian coffee brewing! But double the price?? Finally, my friend Linda arrived2 to point out that I could buy the non-alarm coffeemaker and plug it in through a timer, so that it would function as an alarm, but without paying double the price. Linda is smart like that. So I get the cheap coffee pot, lug it around the mall as we grab some dinner and then head to the Bay in search of wedding shower presents. Spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide what to get, then inspecting the items to ensure they are perfect3. Have attention drawn by giant yellow signs that read: “CLEARANCE! 50% OFF!” “That coffeemaker looks like a spaceship!!” yells Linda. And it really does. And it has the alarm function. And, at half off, it’s the same price as the alarm-less one that I’m holding at the time. So I buy the spaceship and then lug *two* coffeemakers across the mall4 to return the first one. But it was so worth it! Check it out:

You know you are jealous!
Of course, by choosing form before function, I have the slightly inconvenient problem that this coffeemaker is too wide to share my meagre counter space with my (also over-sized) toaster, which was already fighting for space with my kettle. Meaning that I will need to do some creative rearranging of the kitchen (I’ve re-deployed the kettle to live next to the microwave, which sits under the stereo, but need to find a new home for the toaster). But the rearranging is long overdue, as evidenced by this note I had to put up for myself, after blowing the circuit one to many times:


Hmmm… maybe the toaster could go on top of the microwave and the stereo could go into the living room.. or on top of the other kitchen cabinet… which would require the liquor to be relocated… or… oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. Of course, I should probably unpack all my boxes of books, which would give me more room to do stuff. Which of course would require me to get a bookshelf on which to put those books… which would require someone with a vehicle…

1I’ve given up looking for a replacement pot, as it’s clear that I’m just never going to find the one that fits and they have long since discontinued that model. Now that I’ve bought the new coffeemaker, I’m certain that I will find the perfect pot the next time I go into a thrift shop.

2She had been delayed by the minor problem of having locked her keys in the trunk of her car. D’oh!

2I can’t tell you what we got, on the off chance that the intended recepients of the gift reads this posting. I don’t think they will, but my postings are imported into Facebook, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility. I’ll tell you later, ‘cuz, if I do say myself, this might be the COOLEST. GIFT. EVER.

4OK, to be honest, Linda lugged one and I lugged the other. ‘cuz she’s a good friend like that.

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Dropper of All Things Valuable

I was talking to my sister today and she was telling me about how she really wants an iPhone, but she is hestitant to get one when they come out since she is “dropper of all things valuable.” I think this trait must be genetic, because I am also a DoATV. I drop my iPod on a regular basis (thank dog for the protective rubber case I have on it). I’ve dropped my digital camera a couple of times (always onto my carpeted floor though, so it’s been ok so far). I even dropped my beloved new phone on the bus the other day (can anyone say “heart attack”?)! And then tonight, I broke the pot for my coffeemaker! Now, that might not seem to meet the V requirement of DoATV, especially when you consider that I had partially melted the handle of that pot in a previous episode of airheadedness, wherein I had left it sitting on the oven and then turned on the wrong burner1 when I went to cook something, resulting in fire and melted plastic all over the stove. And so the handle was only very tenuously attached to the pot itself and I was pretty sure that I would one day spill a pot full of boiling hot coffee all over myself. So really, it’s probably better that I knocked the pot off the pile of dishes in the dish drying rack, as opposed to getting third-degree burns over significant portions of my body. However, it does leave me in a bit of a predicament. I have a perfectly good coffeemaker, but no pot in which to make said coffee. What’s a girl to do? Can you replace the coffee pot? I mean, you’d need to get the exact right model, or it wouldn’t fit. But do they sell just the coffee pot part? If so, where? It would seem quite environmentally unfriendly to trash a perfectly good coffeemaker and get a new one just because you went and smashed the pot. People of the internets, I need your help! What do I do??

Also, on the topic of my airheadedness, I lost my key no fewer than once per day for the last three days. On Sunday I went for a run and so I had taken my key off the keychain to carry it in this little wrist band keyholder thing I have. I returned home from my run, absentmindedly put my key down and went about my day without thinking about it again until I went out. At that point, I checked my purse to make sure I had my keychain, which I did. But I had forgotten that the key was not attached to the key chain. So I locked myself out. Had to borrow the landlords’s key to get back in. Spent hours looking for my key. Which turned out to be sitting underneath my laptop the entire time. *Sigh*

Oh man, it’s so late right now. I’m up way past my bedtime. I have to be up in five and a half hours. And, of course, I won’t be able to make myself any coffee in the morning!! Arrgh!

1I constantly, despite my best efforts to avoid it, turn the wrong burner on. If I want to turn the front burner on, 9 times of out 10 I’ll turn the back burner on. I believe I suffer from stove dyslexia.

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Tying Up Some Loose Ends

Remember how I once accused my apartment of eating things? I was completely sure that it had eaten my favourite sweater. As it turns out, however, my apartment did not, in fact, eat my sweater. Rather, it mailed my sweater to my sister’s apartment in Toronto. Why my apartment would do such a thing, I have no idea. It’s sneaky. But how else can you explain how my sweater ended up there? Surely I did not forget it there when I visited last June! At any rate, my sister has mailed it back to me and now I have a nice sweater to wear to work*.

Remember how I sprung on you out of nowhere that I’d been working on a systematic review for “ages,” even though I’d never mentioned it here ever before? I just got word that it’s accepted for publication.

Remember when I told you about all the airheaded things I do? Add “pokes self in eye with mascara wand. On a regular basis.” I forgot to add that to the list when I wrote that posting.

Remember how the bank didn’t want to let me consolidate my 14 individual student loans and was telling me that I would have to make fourteen individual payments each month? Well, they went and consolidated them anyway, but now there appears to be no way for me to pay them through my online banking. There used to be an option to pay them in my “pay bills” section of my online banking, but now that they’ve consolidated my loans, that option is gone. It’s almost like they don’t want me to pay these damn things back**.

Remember how I complained that holding my coffee on the bus was just too taxing? My mom sent me this cool travel bag that has a million and one pockets, including a water bottle holder pocket that works perfectly as a coffee cup holder. I’m pretty sure my life is complete now.

*After I washed it to get all the cat hair out, of course.

**Which would be fine by me!!

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Biz-ness

A few items of business. Because I know you all love business, right?

Remember back when this used to be a blog about thesis writing, and the similarity between writing a thesis and the seventh layer of hell? Well, my final paper from that thesis has now been accepted for publication in the journal Bone. For those of you not from the world of bone science, Bone is a pretty sweet journal to get published in. My other paper from my thesis is also there, so it’s nice to have this one in the same journal, as it really does stem from the first paper. As an added bonus, we get to have one of the figures printed in colour – for free! Ordinarily it costs about US$1000 to get a figure printed for free, but they grant one request per month for a free colour image, as long as the colour is scientifically warranted. Which of course mine is. It also happens to be waaay prettier in colour than in black & white. But absolutely scientifically warranted.

I got my business cards last week. I would post them here, but as I discussed before, I’m avoiding mentioning where I work here in blogland*. Suffice it to say, they are wicked cool and you should be jealous of me.

In terms of my health, no one seems to know what’s wrong with me. I am H. pylori negative, but that doesn’t tell me why my tummy still hurts, or why I was vomitting coffee grounds***. I went back to the walk-in clinic, but the doctor I saw seemed to not really know what was wrong with me, and just wanted to criticize what the first doctor had done, despite the fact that he hadn’t even opened up my file before he walked into the room and had no idea what was going on. He also told me that I need to completely eliminate caffeine, despite the fact there really isn’t any scientific evidence to support that****. I need to find a real family doc and not rely on the walk in, because clearly continuity of care is not their strong point. I think I need a referral to a gastroenterologist to find out what the heck is going on. My plan is now to contact the (absolutely wonderful) doctor I used to see at Student Health***** to see if she knows of a good family doc that is accepting patients right now, and hopefully they will give me a referral, as well as a prescription for a proton-pump inhibitor, as I only currently have a sample package, and that will run out soon.

And finally, I really should get back to work. I’m working on revisions to a systematic review that I’ve been working on for ages (it kind of got sidetracked as my co-author, who is normally in Australia, went to Zimbabwe for a while and didn’t have much access to the net**). It’s due later this week and I’m hoping there aren’t too many revisions (although I’ve had the reviewer’s comments for a week, I got sidetracked with my health and haven’t really looked at them up until now). There really is no rest for the wicked.

*not that that stopped a co-worker from Googling me and finding my blog!

**kind of like Field, BC.

***fortunately now it is just stomach pains that come and go, and no nausea or vomitting since that one time last Sunday.

****Had he suggested a trial period of caffeine elimination from my diet to test if that was causing trouble, I might have been willing to play along. But telling me to never have caffeine EVER AGAIN (which is what he said to do) and being completely dismissive of the fact that I’m experiencing withdrawl symptoms did not impress me in the least. I mean, I have tags for “coffee,” “tea” and “diet pop” on my blog… I think I just might be a caffeine addict!

*****I can’t go to Student Health anymore, as I’m not a student. =(

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Coffee-ground vomitus

Like Sarah, I’m sure that everyone is dying to know why I know about coffee-ground vomitus. What’s that? You really aren’t all dying to know? Well, too bad, ‘cuz I’m going to tell you anyway.

Actually, it’s not nearly as exciting a story as it could be. But I think it has to do with this guy:


On Sunday I went out for my 18 K run. Felt great. Finished my run, had a shower. Started to feel not so great. I think “oh, I’ll be fine”, walked to the grocery store. Start getting groceries. Start to feel really, really not great. Like intense stomach pains, extreme weakness. Do I drop what I’m doing and go immediately home like a sensible person would? No, of course I don’t. I finish getting my groceries, pay for them, and walk home, having to stop a few times to lean against a pole and gather my strength. Now, I think that someone who just ran 18K should surely be able to walk 4 blocks carrying a few groceries, no? Apparently, not so much. When I got home, I dropped the groceries on the floor and crawled into the bathroom, as by this time I was having the most intense stomach pains – I could actually feel my stomach muscle contracting! – and nausea. Really, really nauseous nauseated. “I’ve been food poisoned by the Power Gel I had on my run!” I decided. On my previous 18 K, my Power Gel (vanilla flavoured) did wonders, but this time, I’d clearly been poisoned. How could you let me down so, Strawberry-Banana Power Gel??

Every so often, I would gather my strength and crawl out to my living room and get something to bring back to the bathroom with me – first a pillow, since lying on the bathroom floor is not all the comfortable. Then my laptop* to try to distract myself, and possibly summon assistance. The pain and nausea got so bad that I thought, “Well, I have 2 options. I can sit here and continue to sob from the pain, or I can make myself throw up.” Whenever I’ve had food poisoning, I’ve always felt so much better after vomiting. My body knows when there is something bad in my stomach and knows that getting it out is the best solution. So I did something I’ve never, ever done before. I actually stuck my finger down my throat to make myself throw up. And thus, the coffee-ground vomitus. It actually looked just like coffee grounds! It was so disgusting that the sight of it made me vomit even more**.

Now, I have never seen or heard of coffee-ground vomitus before, so, being a little freaked out, I consulted Dr. Google. I was pretty sure that I didn’t actually have yellow fever, which is the oft cited cause of black vomit, but other causes of upper GI tract bleeds were a possibility (coffee-ground vomitus is the result of an upper GI tract bleed of some kind, as the heme iron in the blood becomes oxidized by gastric acid, resulting in the lovely black vomit), . So then I decided that perhaps I should consult my personal physician, Dr. Kaede***. After a series of questions, she determined that a possible cause could be a bleeding ulcer, although it is odd for it to come on so suddenly (I hadn’t had any stomach issues prior to this).

So, on Monday after suffering through a day of stomach pain (but no nausea, thankfully) at work, I went to a walk-in clinic****. I got a ride there from my personal nurse*****, who asked me the same questions as my personal physician and came to the same conclusion. Although she did point out that my ridiculously high caffeine intake (which is usually about 2 large travel mugs of coffee and a diet Pepsi per day, sometimes more) probably doesn’t help the old GI tract. “But I’ve been drinking this much caffeine for 15 years,” I said. “Yeah, and that’s probably catching up to you now!”

I wait at the walk-in clinic for an hour and fifteen minutes so that the doctor can ask me all the same questions as I had gone through with Dr. Google, Dr. Kaede and my nurse. And then ordered a test for H. pylori******, the bacteria that causes ulcers. I wish I could have just ordered the test myself and saved that hour and fifteen minutes.

On the plus side, I was given the option of either a breath test or a blood test. Obviously, being even more of a needle-phobe than I am a vomit-phobe, I opted for a breath test. The drawbacks are that you have to fast for at least four hours and that you can’t take any antacids before the test*******. A small price to pay for keeping needles out of my arm, in my opinion. So I went for my breath test today… they made me drink some radioactive drink and blow through a straw into a tube. As far as I can tell, the radioactive drink has not given me any superpowers… yet. Test results should be back in a day or two. I’m really hoping it is H. pylori, because it’s fairly easy to treat – just a week of antibiotics and you are good to go. If it isn’t that, who the hell knows! And I don’t want to be dealing with this – it’s not fun to have constant stomach pain and I have a half marathon to run in less than 3 weeks, but right now I can barely walk the three blocks from the bus stop to my office.

Also, my mother is convinced that I am hemorrhaging to death. She is sure that somehow running 18K caused my internal organs to be ripped apart and my death from blood loss is imminent. So now, on top of the non-stop stomach pain, I have to deal with that guilt that I’m worrying my mother. The stress of that is enough to give me an ulcer!

*You know you are an internet junkie when…
**This will not be a surprise to Sarah, who gave me the nickname “Flush” after that party in high school were I was puking and I kept flushing the toilet mid-puke because I didn’t want to look at it.
***OK, she’s not actually my personal physician. She’s a friend of mine who also happens to be a physician
****Since I don’t actually have a family doctor. I’d been going to Student Health Services, where I had the best doctor EVER, but I can’t go there anymore since I’m no longer a student.
*****OK, she’s not actually my personal nurse. She’s a friend of mine who also happens to be a nurse.
******See picture at the start of this posting, which seems like ages ago!
*******I got to take the antacid (which is actually an H+, K+, ATPase inhibitor – a pretty powerful antacid) after the test, but it didn’t really seem to help at all anyway.