29 April 2009

signing a cease-fire

*feliz a-cump!*

Hey all! Amazing how much more often I update when there are real updates, eh?

As mentioned last time, I'm cycling between wellness and not-so-wellness, not because I'm a KUB rockstar, but because I have a hi-qual Pseudomonas infection. The plan had been to break out the big guns and treat it with a superpowered intravenous antibiotic. However, we decided that I'm going to skip the antibiotic and tough it out unless I get über-mal.

"What?!", you say, "an infection that serious and you're not even going to treat it?"

Bingo. Commence ridiculous explicative analogy.

For most any bacterial infection, there is at least one "good" antibiotic that takes out the problem bacteria like microscopic machine gun-wielding Rambo. However, there are inevitably strains of the bacteria in question that are slightly genetically different, such that they are resistant to that antibiotic. In this ridiculous example, umm, maybe there are some bacteria with natural bulletproof vests or whatever. Anyway, when someone has this infection, we unleash Rambo to take it out, and he annihilates all of the bad guys but the few that have the bulletproof vest mutation.

To start, this is great - for a while, we just summon the Rambo antibiotic when someone has an infection, it toasts basically all of the bacteria, and the person's immune system either eliminates the few remaining bulletproof bacteria or tolerates them in their tiny numbers.

The more we page Rambo, though, the more un-tiny the population of vested bacteria grows (oh no, the "e" word). With overuse, Rambo eventually eliminates just about all of the non-bulletproof baddies of that particular species. But eek! Now the Rambo antibiotic is powerless and pointless. oops.

With most minor infections, this isn't a big deal; we can just switch to the samurai antibiotics, or antibiotics with grenades, or antibiotics with whatever relatively mild form of violence you prefer. As long as the bacteria we're fighting can't cause that much damage, we're not afraid to attack in a variety of ways, even if we're risking the proliferation of more resistant strains. Also, there are often so many different effective antibiotics that we can pick from them at random and no strain ever has a significant resistant advantage. For example, there are myriad Penicillin-like drugs (a Penizillion, perhaps), and we're free to use them as we please because there is trivial likelihood that a significant population of bacteria will be resistant to all of them.

However, my current infection is superpowered and megaresistant. It can cause pretty severe illness if it wants to, and the bacterial population has already developed bulletproof vests, chain mail, mine detectors, Sherman tanks, missile flak... The bacteria can battle everything short of medicinal nuclear bombs, and a tiny portion of them can even handle nukes, rendering those few indestructible to us.

So, following the Rambo pattern, what's not a good idea for dealing with this bacteria? Well, what will happen if we unleash nuclear warfare the moment we detect their existence, every single time? To start, great, they stand no chance. But slowly, the nuke-resistant strain will grow in number. Eventually the nukeable strain population shrinks until what's left are all essentially invulnerable. Problem! We can tough it out when we do this with the wimpy fever-bacteria infection until our immune systems clear it up, but the superpowered bacteria will likely take us out before our immune systems can deal.

It sure would've been a better idea to use nuclear bombs on the über-bacteria as rarely as possible so that the nuclear-resistant population would remain insignificantly small and non-threatening...

Well, I have a superpowered infection, and the IV antibiotic is its nuclear bomb. I'm not that sick, so taking the one effective antibiotic would mostly just contribute to the proliferation of the indestructible strain. If I become extremely ill, then it's the right situation to use this last remaining weapon.

That was a horrible, holey, unclear, and noneducational example, but oh well. Isn't [quasi-]natural selection great?

25 April 2009

ex falso

¡hola! Prontito.

Surprise! My conjecture about illness due to a rocky overload was not the case. I guess my psychic urology license should be revoked.

Pues, I wasn't completely wrong; I do indeed have a small stash of kidney stones, but they are currently trivial/benign/not the problem. Rather, I appear to have a hardcore infection that will require a round of intravenous antibiotics. Yay?

I suppose this is a fair trade. I've been up and down on illness symptoms, while kidney stones would have effected a steady decline, probably into hospital-quality sickness. Also, I don't know if it will take several visits to the doc to administer the appropriate IV doses, but I can get started on that right away locally, where I would have to wait several weeks to get in for surgery. So, I think I picked the right way to ill. Insert Beastie Boys jokes here.

Looks like only my head is full of rocks.

21 April 2009


Hey all! Here's a dose of past, present, and future... Not necessarily in that order.

First of all, happy birthday [yesterday], Ron! I think I'm prevented from saying who he is, but if you knew him, send him some happy thoughts.

Also yesterday was a trip to the dentist. Ugh. I usually don't care about such appointments, but this time I was abnormally nervous... From the way the rest of my body works, I've learned to tell when something should hurt, even if I can't really feel it; thus, despite copious Novocaine, seeing smoke coming out of my mouth and feeling that distant nerve twinge are enough to anxious me up sumpin' fierce.

Next up, manuchair acquisition progress: ha! As if anything new has happened. Let's keep dreaming for now, and pretending insurance approval doesn't travel at the speed of glacier.

On the return-to-Detroit front, I'm guessing it's a matter of weeks now. I still have some medical events on the calendar that must take place here in so-IL, such that my über-optimistic soonest return date is early May. Again, though, that's optimistically assuming the next issue is taken care of at top speed... Further, rehab is supposedly pretty full throughout May, so it might be a bit before I can squeeze into their schedule anyway.

Aforementioned "next issue": I'm not feeling all right today; I'm not feeling that great. Symptoms make me think I've reached critical mass on KUB stones - my math degree makes me a qualified telepathic urologist, right? I have a CT scan bright and early tomorrow to prove my conjecture, and then it's off to surgery ASAP. Scheduling the surgery is the potential therapy delay, as Dr. Ro-z is a busy dude. (Note: kidney stones are a pretty safe bet; I'm always a loaded calcification shotgun, but we only worry when they're causing problems.)


10 April 2009

the return of the non-musical

Hey all! Back to the grind of posting short, fairly meaningless updates. The music project was quite fun, but that was a giant load of work, and it's nice to get back to enjoying music, rather than strictly analyzing. Note to people who might want to pay me to do that: I'd love to - it was a blast - as long as I don't have to cover 20, 30, 40, 50 bands a day (I'm looking at you, "s*" and "b*" days). In fact, pay me and I'll blog about whatever you want.

Anyway, updates? I haven't said anything worthwhile since February...

As far as therapy is concerned, I will hopefully get back to Detroit by the first week of May. I'm cramming in all the various appointments I've been putting off - stupid bad vision, stupid cavities - so I don't think I can get back until the fourth or fifth at the earliest. Restarting therapy on 5/5, Cinco de Mayo, would be quite coincidental, as that was the day I started last year. Then the goal is for my return to Detroit to be a permanent departure. No offense to the wonderful small town of cville, but rehabilitation and recovery are far too important for me to keep burning up days here. With the help of the magicali, I think it could happen. First, though, I need to get my eyes and teeth checked!

Manual wheelchair update: in the molasses-in-January process of pushing equipment requests through the insurance process, I've made some baby steps regarding the jl-sized, power-assisted custom manuchair. Insurance semi-officially went line-by-line through my chair parts request, approving or quasi-denying each detail. They approved (again, unofficially) most of what I asked for, but there are several parts that they will either pay for a lower-quality part, or not cover at all ("convenience" items, though they have a rather skewed idea of what items are essential and what are luxuries). For these denied and halfway-approved items, I can choose whether I want to pay out-of-pocket to include or upgrade, or to do without. Without diving any further into those details, I had the opportunity to chat with the chair dude and pass judgement on these items; so, theoretically I am at the point where we're letting insurance know my decisions, they're sending their part of the check to the wheelchair people and the rest of the bill to me, and the chair guys will then put together my portable throne (ha ha, bad word choice). Thus, we've taken a leap forward, but who knows how long it will be before insurance finally finishes their part of the process; then the chair guy's expectation is at least five weeks after approval to get all the parts together and hand over the finished product. Ergo, I still have weeks, maybe months to wait - no doubt I'll be back in Detroit before the chair finally appears. After waiting months and months already, all I can say is... ugh.

Actually, there is something else I can say - a huge thanks to everyone who has donated over the past few years. If it weren't for your contributions, I likely couldn't have my own manual chair at all. For that matter, I probably couldn't do therapy either. You're enabling my dramatic physical progress, and I am eternally grateful.

On that note, let's hang it up for this round. There's more to cover - concerts and such - but I'll save that for a more desolate week. Until next time, go read some of jarmstro's recent math posts. Rocket!