Tag Archives: Medicine

The Rebloodening

The blood donor screening questionnaire is full of the standard questions you’d expect in a screening questionnaire. You know, like questions about monkey fluids.

After I finished up at the office today, I headed downtown to meet up with my friends Dr. Mark and Dr. Julie. Our goal – head to the second Bleed For Guelph blood drive; a drive organized by the very same doctors I was meeting.

While I didn’t donate blood myself – damn monkeys – I decided to tag along to offer moral support to those who did. And by moral support I mean that I tagged along in the event that I might get to enjoy some of the treats that one gets when one donates blood. Treats like Oreo cookies.

For those not in the know, Oreo cookies are free of all things dairy, which means they are one of the few cookies that I can buy when I go grocery shopping. Of course, if you read yesterday’s post you’ll know that I don’t buy Oreos in the fear/knowledge that I will eat the entire bag in a sitting and then suffer the intense feelings of guilt (in the form of gut rot) that naturally follows such an act of gluttony.

Anyway, oodles of blood was donated amid a lot of laughter and good conversation. Thanks to the good doctors for organizing another successful drive. And for those counting, I got me some Oreos. And damn they were good.


Take Two Of These And Call Me In The Morning

I like this to-do list. I like it a lot.
I like this to-do list. I like it a lot.

I just got home after a rather fun day that included exactly what the to-do list to the left required I do today1. This is probably the first time in I don’t know how long that I actually finished a to-do list. Amazing!

Being the über productive fellow that I am, I also threw in a visit with my Doctor of Chiropractic today. The goal: to continue working on some weird shoulder muscle tightness that I’ve developed over the past few months. After only four, maybe five visits, it’s amazing how much better my shoulder feels2. Given all of the training that I’m going to be doing for Goofy, I’ve decided that I need to keep going at least twice a week to ensure that I’m in tip-top form come race day.

Come to think of it, I should probably set up a weekly massage as well. I’m going to use Goofy as an excuse for this too, but let’s be real – massage doesn’t need a reason3.

On the topic of health, and based solely on the demonic sounds that have replaced my voice, I’m going to make the assumption that I’m breeding some sort of plague in my chest or throat. To describe my voice in another way, I sound as if I’ve spent a lifetime smoking and drinking scotch4. What’s weird is that I don’t feel sick. I’m a little tired. My eyes, ears, and throat feel a little scratchy – but not sick scratchy. Perhaps I’m just hoping that it’s allergies. Wishful thinking, I’m sure.

To deal with whatever might be invading my body, I’ve decided to do what any sane person would do. I’ve poured myself a scotch. When this one is done, I’m going to have another. Don’t judge me – it’s medicine.

1 FYI – see Life of Pi. It’s fantastic.

2 Thanks Dr. Mark.

3 That’s so a rule.

4 Mmmmm, scotch.

Two Weeks – One Per Kidney

Shown: A male with two kidneys. Not shown: A female with two kidneys (but don’t worry ladies, you’ve got them too).

The next stage of the Big Mountain Challenge is almost here. W00t!

For those of you who may have missed it, my friend Rick was recently named the winner of the challenge. This means he gets to hike (along with your’s truly) three epic mountains in the Banff Lake Louise area. He also gets a cheque for $15000 for The Kidney Foundation of Canada. That cheque could be as much as $25000 if we manage to raise $5000 over the next two weeks (as Banff Lake Louise Tourism will match whatever we raise up to the $5000 level).

Winning the contest was the first stage. Raising $5000 in two weeks is the second. And of course, finishing the three climbs represent stages three through five, respectively.

We’ve so got this.

But why do we care about kidneys? I mean, we each have two of them, right?

Well, perhaps it might be a good idea to get a general sense of what the kidneys do for us (assuming they are healthy) each and every day. According to the all-powerful and all-knowing Wikipedia:

“The kidneys are organs that serve several essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and regulation of blood pressure (via maintaining salt and water balance). They serve the body as a natural filter of the blood, and remove wastes which are diverted to the urinary bladder. In producing urine, the kidneys excrete wastes such as urea and ammonium, and they are also responsible for the reabsorption of water, glucose, and amino acids. The kidneys also produce hormones including calcitriol, erythropoietin, and the enzyme renin.”

So you can imagine that if one or both of your kidneys are diseased, you’re entire body is going to suffer. Sadly, as of 2011 there were approximately 2.6 million Canadians who had kidney disease or were at risk of developing it. Check out this fact page for more information.

Knowing how many people suffer from kidney disease, and knowing that a cure is possible if we can manage to get the appropriate amount of funding to the people who research such things, raising as much money as we can is a no-brainer. We should do this, and we can do this.

For those of you interested in donating, a page for donations will be set up shortly. I’ll keep you posted as soon as it becomes available. Until then, please spread the word.

Your kidneys will thank you.

Bone Luge – It’s Funnier If You Say It Louder

And the gold for Bone Luge goes to Jon!

Last night ended the second day of the Hillside Festival weekend here in Guelph. While I have only been to Hillside once, I can say without a doubt that it is a fantastic music, arts, and culture-filled festival for people of all ages. It has become very much an annual tradition for many people, including a large group of my friends.

The tradition, however, does not end with Hillside. Each night after returning from Guelph Lake (the Hillside venue), my friends make their way to a local pub for further fun, and beer, and if the kitchen is still open, food. This is where I come in. It is my tradition to meet up with them – wherever they are – to partake in the fun, and the beer, and the food. Because who doesn’t like fun, especially if it includes beer and food?

Last night we ended up at Baker Street Station1. I arrived to find everyone already having ordered a set of fantastic appetizers offered by Baker Street (including onion rings, welsh rarebit, soft pretzels, edamame, short ribs, and bone marrow with toast). I also arrived in perfect time to receive my pint of Flying Monkey Smashbomb that Dr. Steph had ordered for me. Awesome!

The night was, of course, filled with a lot of laughter and a lot of fun.

These onion rings are incredible.

At some point in the eve, likely as the bone marrow was almost consumed, someone – I think Jon – mentioned something about a shot that one does with the leftover bone. The all-powerful and all-knowing Google informed us that the shot was known as a Bone Luge2. The idea – use the hollowed out bone to act as a trough to carry a shot of alcohol from glass to the mouth of the recipient. The alcohol of choice – apparently sherry or bourbon. Jon, being the professional that he is, opted for bourbon.

Now you have to understand that on reading the name Bone Luge to my group of friends, those of us with the maturity level of a 12-year-old boy giggled immediately. And by those of us I clearly mean all of us, and by giggled I clearly mean roared in hysterics. Kathy continued the laughter by proclaiming that it’s even funnier if you say it louder. Which of course we did. So much so, that the neighbouring tables began to wonder what we were up to.

The bourbon arrived and Jon prepared. Kathy, the bourbon pourer3, focussed on the task at hand. The goal, to successfully pour the bourbon into the bone such that it might roll towards the awaiting mouth of Jon. Cameras at the ready, Kathy started pouring. But something was wrong.

Raw oysters. Don’t mind if I do.

Zounds! The bone was either not angled correctly or had contours that we were not expecting. As Kathy poured, the bourbon rolled out the wrong end of the bone.

In prompt order, the staff (who had gathered to watch the sport) had replaced the bourbon with a second shot. Cheers from the crowd pumped up our athletes. Kathy passed the pouring responsibilities to Eric. The bone was positioned, angled slightly better this time. Jon kissed the bone, and Eric poured. All was quiet. We watched, anxiously wondering if the bourbon was going to meet its mark.

Success! A direct hit. And this time, not a drop was spilled. The bar – which was mainly our table – erupted in applause and laughter.

I’m thinking we may have just discovered a new Hillside tradition.

Anyway, a huge thanks to the Baker Street staff. Our night was fantastic, and we appreciate your patience for all of our shenanigans.

1 For those counting, that means I was at Baker Street Station twice yesterday. First with Dr. Mark, second with the Hillsiders.

2 Which, given our state and perhaps the fact that we were noisy, was misheard as Boner Luge. Whichever way you say it, still funny.

3 Bone Luge is a team sport apparently.

Why I Didn’t Run Today

Snuggle time ends when Elliot says it ends.

After yesterday’s epic bike ride with Mel, I woke up expecting to feel like I’d been beaten with a bag of hammers. Surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong, I could tell that some of my muscles were tired1, but they weren’t in any way close to what I would call agony.

Regardless, after careful consideration I opted not to go for tonight’s scheduled run2. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it’s one that I’m sure I’ll kick myself for tomorrow. However, two things took priority.

First, almost the minute I sat down on the couch to unwind for a few minutes after work, the wee Fuzzball decided to snuggle. Except this turned into an epic snuggle. He lay there nestled in my arm with one paw outstretched across my chest/belly3 for what seemed like hours. I don’t know exactly how long this lasted, but it was long enough to make me second guess my running plans.

Post hernia surgery – approximately 11 months ago. I do not want to do this again.

Second – and I hate to admit this one because I know my mom is probably going to be on my case – is that I’m currently suffering from a freaking ridiculous bout of acid reflux. And it has been bothering me all day. It’s reminiscent of the old time-y days when I had a hiatal hernia4. I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s a result of something I’ve eaten, or if it’s a result of eating too much, but nothing is jumping out at me as the root cause. I think perhaps my stomach is just a jerk and wants to remind me it’s there.

Stupid stomach. I want to punch it square in the face for being such an annoying jerk, but I realize that would only make matters worse for me. And I like me. So instead, I’m trying to do some yoga as that often helped alleviate some of the discomfort and pain back in the old time-y days before the doctors knew what was going on and drugs had been prescribed.

So there you have it. I opted to not run because of snuggles and a jerky stomach. I think that’s my most creative excuse yet.

1 I’m looking at you back.

2 Which was scheduled to be a 10-15km run, depending on my energy level, and the temperature outside.

3 Clearly hugging me.

4 Which freaks me out because it makes me wonder if the hernia is back5. I highly doubt it is – science, medicine, capable surgeons, and probability are all on my side.

5 The surgeon did say this was a possibility, although he suggested this as a long-term possibility, not a 11 month later possibility.

Stupid Head

This is pretty much how I felt as the day progressed. Granted, I don’t think I looked this gross . No one mentioned anything to me, and you’d figure this would be something someone would mention.

Since I’m a wild and crazy man, you might imagine that I’ve got crazy epic awesome plans for tonight, especially considering that it is Friday – the day to cut loose and party down1.

Truth be told I just woke up from a nap about an hour ago. But not just any nap, a most epic nap that was absolutely required, absolutely unavoidable, and just what the doctor ordered2.

You see dear readers, I don’t know if it was due to a lack of sleep, a build up of stress, too bright monitors, not bright enough monitors, the weather, dehydration – or any combination of these things – but I had one nasty-ass headache today. I woke up feeling off, and that feeling didn’t leave me all day. Instead it grew from a tiny inconvenient but tolerable headache into a raging screaming douche-bag of a headache with overtaxed peepers, achy everything, and a pounding that just wouldn’t stop.

As such, sleep was not an option.

Of course today was probably the worst time for a headache3 because I couldn’t avoid the office, nor could I leave early. To start, I had to get up a bit earlier this morning4 in order to re-read a set of documents for a PhD Qualifying Exam today5 (these documents being the same reason why I went to bed late). The exam was 3+ hours long and not something that I could call in sick to.

Nerdfest 2012 starts in 2 days. W00t!

Beyond that, I had to edit, finalize, approve, and print posters for the upcoming nerd-conference; also known as the Annual Meeting of the Statistical Society of Canada. It starts on Sunday and I have 3 students (2 undergrad-almost-graduate students, and 1 graduate student) presenting some of their work. I’ll also be speaking at the conference, which meant I had my presentation to work on as well.

When I finally got home this eve, I was exhausted, and ever so cranky.

Fortunately, Elliot was at the door the minute I stepped in and we immediately curled up on the couch. I scratched behind his ears as he purred contentedly and before I knew it I had drifted off to sleep. When I woke, he was still there curled up in a ball purring. My headache, while not entirely gone, was significantly less douche-y.

Moral of the story? Cats cure headaches. Or perhaps that’s just Elliot. Whatever the moral, my Friday night is about to get even more epic because I’m going to head upstairs and crawl into bed.

I lead such a rock star life.

1 Or whatever it is the cool kids are calling whatever it is they do these days.

2 Where I get to play the role of doctor. Ha! I love this role.

3 Is there a good time for a headache?

4 Let’s just say that 4:30am is an ungodly hour, and whomever invented it should be punched square in their stupid stupid face.

5 A PhD Qualifying Exam is an oral exam6 that tests the base knowledge of a student who has enrolled in the PhD program. Should the student pass this exam, they are classified as PhD Candidate, and thought by those who performed the examination to be capable of completing the PhD program. It is, without any sense of overstating, a very stressful exam for the student.

6 Te he7.

7 Yes, I have the maturity level of a 12-year-old. Also, mom, I’m sure I have no idea what this means.

Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad

photo credit: fashionablygeek.com

These words of wisdom brought to you by Meatloaf. Oh Meatloaf – I would do anything for you, but I won’t do that.

Wait, what?


Today was a rather busy day1. That’s not a complaint mind you. It’s just a statement of fact.

The day began with a list of approximately eleven billion things that I needed/wanted/hoped to do. Of those, 3 were prioritized as do this now – right now – or suffer the dire consequences. Of these, only one could not be pushed off or delayed in hopes of a last-minute extension. It had to be done right now.

What could possibly warrant such a strict time constraint?

Well, let’s just say that I may or may not have needed to print the very exam that I was planning on giving to my students later in the day.


And of course, you have to know that the day that I absolutely needed the photocopier, that it up and decided to stop communicating with my laptop. Murphy’s Law at its best.

Fortunately the cure for Murphy’s Law is apparently Sheryl – the assistant to the director of the School of Computer Science. The very same School of Computer Science where I hang my hat every day. Honestly, if not for her I’d have probably freaked out.

Best studying advice ever. There is a huge part of me that wants to add this to all of my course outlines.

Ultimately, the exam was printed without too much fuss and in ample time to get some other work done – such as one more of the 3 prioritized items I mentioned earlier3. That’s right folks, I managed to kill 2 of them. And all before lunch. I should reward myself somehow. Perhaps with chocolate. Because good work should be rewarded. Positive reinforcement and suchlike.

For the students – who were blissfully unaware of what transpired in the morning – this meant that the exam went on as scheduled. Which is good, because for some reason I think there is a rule that I’d have to give each of them 100% if the exam were not delivered on time. Actually, they probably would have liked that.

To officially close the course I now am left with grading the exam and compiling the course results. I’m hoping to have all of this done by Wednesday so that I can finalize the rest of the semester. That is, my goal is to have all course work done by early Saturday morning.

As for that third thing that I haven’t finished yet – that’s on tap for tonight. But first I need to get my bend-on. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Okay – first I’m going to scratch Elliot behind the ear because he’s just nuzzled himself onto my lap. But then it’s yoga time! W00t!

1 Well, truth be told – it’s still a busy day. I’ve just opted to move from my office on campus to my office at home2.

2 Where clearly my office at home means my couch. And of course, it wouldn’t really be a home office if it didn’t come equipped with an office-kitty. All good home offices have them.

3 The second thing off the list – grading an assignment that I needed to have finished grading prior to the exam.

All In The Name Of Science

Why don't Flintstone's Chewable Morphine exist?

Despite waking up exhausted this morning, I woke up with a giant smile on my face.

My smile had nothing to do with the fact that it was Friday, nor with the fact that I had spent some beer and chicken wing1 filled time with colleagues the night before. It also had nothing to do with some sort of defence against the potential evil that could befall me given that today was Friday the 13th.

While all of these things could have been the source of my big stupid grin, it was actually due to the knowledge that I was going to be getting my first massage in months. A much-needed, long overdue massage.

Normally I build massage, chiropractic visits, and acupuncture into my schedule of short runs, sprints, long runs, hill training, stretching, and yoga. In my mind, it’s essential to ensure that my body doesn’t fall apart, break down, or start screaming at me for putting it through the paces. However, given the insanity that was the previous semester, I just never found the time. It’s not that I didn’t have time, per se – I just chose to use the time I had to work on other things, or go for runs, or stretch, or in some very rare cases – sleep.

As a result of this negligent behaviour I’ve been extremely tight – especially in my hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, etc. I take every opportunity to stretch but it just hasn’t been enough. If Flintstone’s Chewable Morphine existed, I’d likely have taken them to treat the aches and pains that come hand in hand with extremely tight muscles. Sadly, they don’t, and this is the reason that I’ve been wanting to book a massage for ages.

This week I finally booked a massage.

Patrick and not me. But that could be me - getting a massage in the name of science.

And, dear readers, my massage did not disappoint. In fact, it was better than I expected. Yes, everything was sensitive and tight, and yes, everything felt bruised to touch. But my hips, hamstrings, glutes, shins, thighs, lower back, calves, feet, and pretty much everywhere else Patrick – my RMT – poked, felt about 10 gagillion times better after only an hour of massage.

I’m pretty convinced that Patrick has magic fingers, but haven’t yet been able to produce the evidence to prove this. As a science-y type person, I know the only way to determine this is via repeated experiments. As such, I’ve taken on the challenge of repeatedly exposing myself to potentially dangerous and life threatening massage treatmentsso that I might test this theory. The risks I take, I take not for fame or glory, but so that I might expand the collective knowledge of humanity. That’s right folks, I’m getting massage to benefit you. I’m giving like that.

Massage in the name of science – it has a nice ring, no?

1 A couple of pints of Flying Monkey Smashbomb with Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings and awesome colleagues at the Woolwich Arrow is a recipe for a pretty awesome Thursday night.

2 Potentially dangerous in the sense that I might slip into a coma or fall of the table because I’m so relaxed. Life threatening in the sense that should I fall off the table, I might smash open my face and die. Probability of occurrence – about zero.

File Under Naiveté

My doctor is not Dr. Nick.

Apparently I’m rather dumb. Or naive. Likely both.

Anyway, I’m sure that I’ve mentioned that I’m going to be getting my hiatal hernia fixed. Specifically, next Friday, August the 5th I’m going under the knife. And while this has been a long time coming, I was still a bit floored today when I went for my Pre-Op meeting.

Before we get to why I was floored, understand that in my head, hernia surgery is not a big deal. In fact, it’s a non-issue what with modern medicine being all modern and medicine-y like. Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that I had assumed that this would be a day surgery event, followed by a few days of feeling like a big bag of smashed hammers, and then a slow but steady return to fighting form (read no running and biking for a week or so).

Author: National Institute of Diabetes and Dig...
Image via Wikipedia

Flash to me in the nurses office discussing the procedure. It was today that I learned (or maybe finally understood) that I could be in the hospital for 3 days – depending on how the doctor believes I’m healing. It’s not so much to monitor the incisions (although that is part of it), but it’s to make sure that my stomach is functioning properly and that I can actually eat solid food. Keep in mind that my stomach has decided to migrate through my cardiac (or lower oesophageal) sphincter. Hence the doctor has to pull it down, perform some funky acrobatics with it to help prevent future migrations, and then return it to its rightful place. I guess that might upset it, and make it not function the way it should. Gah!

Not only that, but the nurse informed me that I might be off work for up to 6 weeks. Six. Weeks. What the what? Anyone who knows me will realize immediately that I have a really hard time sitting still for any length of time. It’s not that I can’t relax – I can, and I do, and I love it – but this won’t be sitting around in a relaxing manner, and that is going to drive me bat shit crazy. I repeat, bat shit crazy!

Even better; I naively informed the director of my department that I’d be off Friday and maybe Monday. How stupid did I feel this afternoon when I sent him a follow-up email to inform him that my maybe 1 or 2 days off might turn into a few weeks. Gah!

Ultimately, this is going to throw a wrench in a lot of my summer goals. The yoga challenge, the marathon, the century bike ride, climbing more mountains, travelling every month. Gah. Gah. Gah. Gah to the freaking Gah.

Clearly the universe is trying to remind me that I am in fact human. And that I should probably listen to the best advice out there and take the time to fully recover so that I can get back to training and doing the things that I love instead of pushing myself too hard and screwing my body up further, thus prolonging any necessary down time. Stupid universe reminding me that I have limitations. You do not amuse me. In fact, this reminds me of something my very wise friend Aqleema recently wrote (and when she writes, one should read, because her writings are often hilarious, profound, thought-provoking, and full of awesome):

‎When the universe tells you ‘No’,

there is only one thing left to do.

Bitch slap it.

I really want to bitch slap the universe right about now. Instead, I’ll take my medicine and be a good little patient and be stronger for having done so. But that doesn’t mean I won’t still hope that this is all just a ‘worst case scenario’ situation, and in the end I’ll heal up super quick, super strong, ready to fight in no time at all. Then again, if that shan’t be the case dear readers, be comforted knowing that I’ll likely post more ramblings as I’m going to be undoubtedly bored to tears.

Oh, and for those who have asked – I’m going to do what I can to film or photograph whatever I can of the surgery. Be prepared :)

In somewhat related news – the Pre-Op visit has provided me with confirmation that my resting heart rate is in fact 48 beats per minute (as documented here). This however does not answer the question as to when one is considered a Zombie. Further research is clearly needed.