Health, Life, Vacation

Face Your Fears


6425b286c9f1ca14ba538f0e8d20ff45Next week is the start of our vacation in fabulous Las Vegas. It’s something that we had planned for months and saved up for, and we have a list of things to accomplish while we are there, some free and some not.

Either way it’s happening and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying some time away from home and office, and just be a family. Our list is long. It will be [mostly] conquered. You will see pictures on Instagram.

But the one thing I’m not looking forward to when we return is something that I really should have done sooner: visit the dentist. You see, I’ve got a few teeth – well, one is a partial tooth – that need some TLC or perhaps even an extraction. The last time I put off a dentist visit was years ago when I had a tooth literally rotting away and at one point, cold air entering my mouth (when I would inhale while speaking) would produce excruciating pain. I can’t even describe it but I know I couldn’t speak much. My coworkers secretly loved it I’m sure.

While one of the teeth in question has yet to reach that point, I don’t want it to. The other tooth is chipped and will need some care as well but nothing like the other.

Now you’re probably wondering why I just don’t go right-effing-now to get it done. There really isn’t a reason why I shouldn’t – I have dental insurance and plenty of sick days at work. But the answer is simple: I am afraid.

I fear dentist offices. Everything about them. The sound, the smell, the feeling. I will go to the doctor and have every exam possible done to me without hesitation. I will give blood without a second thought. But the dentist? I have to be forced.

In fact when I had to get that rotting tooth extracted, I paid the extra $300 to be put to sleep during the procedure. It was money well spent considering I didn’t have to expose myself to all that freaks me out. I remember counting to three and then waking up, asking the dentist if they had done anything at all. It was nice.

But the fear is still there, and with good reason.

Today, there are several kinds of people who work strictly on teeth. The dentist is for check-ups and cleanings. Your oral surgeon specializes in pulling teeth. Orthodontists straighten them out.

And when I was growing up, orthodontia was starting to take off. I mean, every freaking kid had braces and yours truly was no exception, in addition to wearing neck gear and a permanent retainer on my bottom teeth (later removed by Ann’s boss, an orthodontist).

Before I could have my braces put into place, I had to go to the dentist to get four teeth extracted. Yes, four. Two top, two bottom. And they were not in any condition to be extracted, meaning they had pretty much taken up residence and had no fear of ever being removed.

That all changed.

Remember, this was the time before oral surgeons and other kinds of specialists so my dentist was the one who had to do it. And when I think of that day, it’s pretty traumatic. There was blood all over gloved hands. Grinding and crunching sounds. Tools banded around the teeth to be extracted. Feeling the pressure of the teeth being pulled from my jaw (and I don’t handle physical pressure well). The dentist sitting what seemed to be literally on top of my while be tried with all his might to remove these four teeth. And of course, seeing the tooth in all its glory being held by a pair of pliers and seemingly six inches long. It all seemed cartoonish, but gone horribly awry.

I’ll be honest about this. That experience traumatized me for life. If not for this, I would have no problems happily skipping myself to a dentist for any kind of routine work. But as it stands now, that experience really messed me up and I won’t go until I’m at a point where things can’t wait any longer.

It’s stupid. It’s most likely not good for me. But then again, neither is drinking soda but I’ve already stopped doing that. (Seriously, stop drinking that garbage. It’s got no nutritional value and is a shit-storm of chemicals in a can. STOP. IT. NOW.)

So I’ve decided that upon our return from vacation, I need to face my fears and get this shit taken care of before it gets to the point my last extraction reached. I’m not sure how many people I will have to see or what, but I know that sucking it up and being a man about it is the only thing I can do.

Here’s hoping that nothing happens while on vacation or at the very least, I win $300 on the slots to pay for the twilight anesthesia.

Because I’m gonna need it.

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Bike Life, Health, Life

The Sky Is Falling


JobuEvery now and then, life throws a really nasty curve at you, and there’s no amount of rum or fried chicken you can offer Jobu that will help you hit that curveball.

And last week, I had my curve.

For those who don’t know, my main mode of transportation only has two wheels – either scooter or recently acquired Yamaha R3 motorcycle. And any rider will tell you that the main thing to keep in mind is that when you’re riding, consider yourself invisible.

I do – all the time. As far as I’m concerned, cagers* are completely oblivious to my presence and with the number of them texting and on their phone in general, it’s absolutely true. Chances are they’re even oblivious to fellow drivers, too.

So when friends and relatives find out that you’ve given up driving in favor of something more inherently dangerous (yet much more economical and practical in terms of traffic), naturally they are concerned for your well-being.

And I’m okay with that.

It’s been nearly two years since I started riding and up until last week, it’s been an enjoyable experience. Granted, there have been times when distracted drivers (read: on their phone) slowly drifted into my lane, prompting me to yell and honk at them. No harm, no foul; just a slight annoyance and I carry on – or a severe tongue-lashing at the next red light. (I despise the act of texting while driving even more these days.)

Then there’s lane-splitting which I do, but it’s not like I’m lane-splitting at ridiculous speeds. I’m not. Doing so is just crazy. I do, however, take advantage of it at red lights to get away from traffic because distancing yourself from it is safer.

By the way, whether you like it or not, lane-splitting is legal in California.

But last week. Wow, last week. Nothing could have prepared me for it.

It seems I had an accident on my scooter but here’s the strange thing about it: there were no witnesses and I was the only one involved. Try and wrap your head around that one if you can. And if you can’t, the video will prove it.

Basically, here’s what happened.

I park at a lot a few blocks away from the office. It’s been where I’ve parked since I started my freelance gig in August 2015. At the entrance and exit, there is an arm that raises when you either a) pay your fee or b) wave your parking pass at the sensor.

And just like that, once you pass under the arm, you’re in the underground lot.

Last Thursday, something strange happened at the exit.

I packed up all of my stuff in my scooter and got ready for my ride home. Then, as I always do, started my GoPro camera to document my ride in case anything happened. There’s a good chance that any incident wouldn’t be may fault so documentation is important.

I rode up the ramp toward the exit and waited for the sensor to recognize the presence of my scooter at the arm. Knowing exactly when it raises and how quickly it does, I approached it at my normal rate of speed.

Aaaand that’s when it happened.

Just as I was approaching the exit, the arm decided it wasn’t going to stay up. So here I am accelerating toward the raised arm thinking everything was all hunky-dory – then it almost decapitates me.

In the process, I fell hard on my right side with the scooter landing on my right leg.

What you see here is me not reacting in time to this. I just couldn’t do it. I kept my hand on the throttle and I rode through the arm as it lowered, bending the holy hell out of it in the process – and thrashing my neck a bit, too. This was taken shortly after my coworker informed me of it.

Photo Feb 18, 6 20 54 PM

I didn’t even notice the damage to my neck until a coworker came by and pointed it out as I was shooting videos of me describing what just happened. I was more concerned with my scooter not starting immediately after the incident and how I was going to get home. (When you ride, you’ll understand.)

Fortunately, it decided to start after a call to Ann in which she told me to summon our insurance’s roadside assistance service. We’ve since joined AAA not because the gecko didn’t help, but we just felt that having an extra lay of security is the right thing to do.

But the scratch on my neck was just one thing. I assessed the damage to my scooter and it looks pretty scratchy now, and the reflector on the right side is now broken. Other than that, it’s fine and still runs.

As for the rest of me, I hurt. I had pain in my right shoulder, right knee, and right side of my neck. After all, I just turned 47 and am edging ever-so-closer to Senior Citizen discounts at Denny’s.

I didn’t seek immediate help nor did I talk to anyone at the condo complex where we sublet parking spaces. When I got home, I immediately emailed our HR department to let them know what happened so they would have the info FTITM.

They did, and got the paperwork rolling. It was to be a workman’s comp incident since it happened at a place that they sublet.

After giving them the details and showing them the video (to which everyone reacted the same way: “OH SH**!”), I was sent to the local urgent care to get checked out. Based on my pain, they recommended no less than six sessions of physical therapy.

Now keep in mind that I’d already used some of my sick pay to combat a bug I was just getting over. The thought of using more for this wasn’t really cool with me.

In addition to physical therapy, I was given a care package consisting of a reusable cold pack, an electric heat pack, anti-inflammatory pills and Tylenol. Not exactly a Halloween bag.

They then scheduled my physical therapy session for the following Monday, followed by a doctor’s check-up immediately after.

During the session, I was bent in all kinds of ways that would probably make any professional contortionist blush. But the good thing was that I wasn’t experiencing pain at any of the targeted areas. I may be getting older but it seems my body is still like a Timex watch.

Seeing no need for further sessions, the therapist signed me off. I then went to see the doctor and he released me for work duty, as if I work hard sitting at a desk all day.

Now if this had happened with my shiny new motorcycle, I would have been slightly more annoyed even if it was an accident. I probably would have endured more damage to my body as it is considerably heavier than my scooter with metal pegs protruding from the sides. That could hurt. But that wasn’t the case so it’s cool with me.

After all this, I’m over it. I had to endure a few days of pain so big deal. The company has since moved my parking privilege across the street to the lot under the office where there are no arms to deal with. Additionally, my employer saw to it that was given the best of care. I have absolutely no complaints.

There will be no lawsuits, no claims, no nothing. In fact, I’m feeling so normal I’m going running in the morning. I can just chalk this up to being a freak accident which is exactly what it was. The company is going to have a chat with the condo management to see what can be done about the arm sensitivity, and chances are they’ll have to replace the arm since my neck really jacked it up.

Photo Feb 18, 6 22 58 PM

And everybody thought that a driver was going to take me out?

Wrong!

*A cager is rider-speak for anybody in a car. Hey, don’t take offense. I’m still one whenever the family goes anywhere.

Health, Life, Work

Broken 


That’s pretty much how I feel after today’s unplanned visit to my doctor.

The tendinitis that’s been bothering my right wrist/thumb turned out to be a little worse than another doctor had diagnosed. I kind of figured that was going to be the case because the pain is still there and only seems to be getting worse.

In fact, this doctor — my on-again, off-again sawbones — did a much more thorough exam that included my squeezing his fingers and a lot of poking and prodding along the areas where I feel the pain. He confirmed that’s it’s definitely tendinitis and recommend a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain.

I’ll get it sometime. Today wasn’t that day.

Also worth noting is that the compression band I’ve been wearing on my wrist isn’t doing much good because most of the affected area is in my thumb. He suggested one that not only covered my wrist but thumb as well.

As far as the cause of it, he believes it to be a work-related injury because I can’t honestly tell you anything I might have done outside of work to bring it on. I’m 46 and my extreme sports days are far behind me (as if they ever existed) so he’s probably right. When I think about everything I do and have done at my job it’s easy to see how it could be the cause. Plus, throwing around 20-lb. boxes of frozen dough in the Bakery every night probably isn’t helping me. The job is very hands-on and physical with little time to take it easy.

In short, it has broken me.

Now the fun part. Because I’m in the Bakery, I’m constantly putting on and taking off gloves. It’s gotten to a point where putting a glove on my right hand is a painful experience, one that is repeated all night long. There’s no way I can get better if I’m doing this, plus wearing a compression sleeve on top of that. I haven’t even mentioned how many times I wash my hands in a typical shift (let’s just say it’s plenty).

And if it doesn’t get better then surgery could be in my future. Just what I always wanted! (Can you sense my sarcasm?)

If I get a doctor’s note that limits my workload, I really don’t know what I would be doing because everything in a grocery store is very physical. I know for sure that my current position would be out that’s since what broke me in the first place. Bagging and front end duties would also be impossible. I just don’t know, but I guess I’ll find out when I get a note from him on Monday. The only logical solution would be to get a less physical job and trust me, I’ve been looking but nothing is turning up. Even so, writing with a pen tends to inflame the injury, making it hard to do. Heck, even moving it in the wrong direction will make yell with pain. It’s no fun at all and makes me grumpy. We’ll see what happens.

I also found out I gained about 15 pounds between visits (about 7 years) so he wants me to work on bringing that down as well as getting some blood work done. I’m on it.

But there has to be some kind of good news amongst all this, right? Well there  is. I’ll just let this tweet summarize things.

So…there’s that.

Goooooodnight, everybody.

Composed on my iPad using the WordPress app and SwiftKey, because it’s not as painful as typing on a traditional keyboard 

Health, Life

Only It’s Not Coffee


image
That's Good Drinkin'!

That mug you see is not filled with coffee as the quote from The Big Lebowski might imply. In fact I’m not sure it was ever used for coffee since my drink of choice at my last job was green tea with jasmine, one packet of artificial sweetener and a squeeze of honey added to kill any semblance of tea (and dignity) it might have had.

And I really wouldn’t consider any coffee I concoct to still be coffee for the same reason as the tea: the additives, only twice as many.

In either case, the current contents of the mug are not meant to give me pleasure but instead provide relief. It is filled with warm TheraFlu Nighttime Formula as I have been fighting off a cold for the last few days with today being the worst yet. While I was able to completely clean then den and then go to work yesterday, the only thing I did today was go grocery shopping at WinCo in the morning and it wiped me out. After lunch, I donned my pajamas and robe and have been roaming the house in sickly comfort. The family, as a result, has been avoiding me and I can’t really blame them.

Being sick sucks. I want to run, go for a 20-mile bike ride, anything to break a sweat. Instead I sit and do nothing. Blah.

So I just thought I’d post since they are so infrequent. My Facebook Vacation also continues but there’s more to it. It’s just not working for me with any browser and I can’t upload pictures from my devices via WiFi. I don’t know what’s going on but I don’t really miss it either. It’s an incredible time-waster.

I think that TheraFlu is starting to kick in. Goodnight.

Composed on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with the WordPress app

Computers, Economy, Electronics, Fatherhood, Free Stuff!, Health, Hobbies, Life, Music, Phone-Cam, Photography, Requiem in Pace, Staycation, Work

2013: My Year In Review


Since this is a personal blog, I figured that instead of writing a year-end review about other things, it would be better suited for me to give a year-end review of things that actually happened in my life. It’s much easier to do something like this now since chances are I captured those moments with my phone, giving me photographic proof of the events.

With all of that out of the way, here’s a month-by-month photo essay of how things went with me and the family in 2013, some of which was never mentioned here on the blog. Take a virtual trip of the things we did, places we saw, events that brought us happiness, triumph, and even sadness.

Got your scrollin’ finger ready? Good! Here we go!

Continue reading “2013: My Year In Review”

Health, Life

Tinnitus and Me


It’s been about a month since my last post so I thought I’d make an appearance to let everyone know I’m still interested in doing this. The time away was much needed.

Now let’s get to the heart of things and why I chose today to write, and it’s something I guarantee you didn’t know about me.

Do you know what I have in common (at least according to Wikipedia) with Phil Collins, Vincent van Gogh and Adolph Hitler? I know, it’s an odd combination but I sort of wanted it that way.

Tinnitus.

Tinnitus, which I believe to be  Latin for “pain in my ass,” is a condition in which a person hears constant (read: it CANNOT be turned off) ringing in their ears. While generally described as “ringing” the sound is more of a never-ending tone that is nowhere near the sound of a ringing bell.

So how would I describe it? Not easy. It’s kind of like asking a color-blind person to describe the color they cannot detect.

But to put it succinctly, it’s extremely annoying and at times downright painful.

And that’s why I’m writing: to get my mind off of it for a bit. While the ringing in my ears is constant and oftentimes very loud, I’ve learned to tolerate it and keep it in check so that it doesn’t drive me nuts. And it will if you let it: while trying to sleep or just enjoying some quite time to yourself, that ringing is relentless and aggravating.

Yesterday things started to get worse. I had a rumbling inside my right ear which only got louder as the day went on and by today, it was ridiculous. But this noise is one that I think most can associate with: it felt and sounded like when you get water in your ear with the notable exception being that, if the condition is flat-out at its worse/intolerable, certain noises at certain pitches will bring you to your knees.

Take this example. Years ago, Ann’s grandfather (may he rest in peace) took us out for her birthday. In what I still consider the worst case of ear rumbling I can ever recall, I had to excuse myself from the celebration because the sound of the utensils hitting the plates was bringing tears to my eyes. My ear ringing and rumbling, accompanied by a headache, was just too much to handle. Yes, it hurt that bad and I spent the entire time in the car.

Fortunately, today’s case isn’t that bad but I am still suffering a little: equilibrium slightly off, loud noises bringing a little pain, moderately watery eyes. It’s no fun but I’m getting by.

Now it’s time for some Q&A.

How long have you had tinnitus?
For as long as I can remember or at least from age 10. It’s much easier to ignore when you’re a kid because, well, you’re a kid. Time moves fast and you haven’t a concern for much else besides Hot Wheels and coloring books*.

How did you get tinnitus?
I don’t know. Licking too many frogs**? Maybe I’m just lucky. I hadn’t attended any concerts at the time I first noticed it so I can’t blame it on that. But I’m quite sure attending many shows in my teens, accompanied by constantly being plugged into my Sony Walkman cassette player with Dolby Noise Reduction didn’t help. But I can still hear fine.

What do you when to combat it when it acts up?
Well, not a lot. For the most part I just let it run its course and in a few days I’m all better. But one of the things I’ve noticed is that when it does act up (the pain and rumbling at least), is that I speak at a lower volume. I do this for two reasons: 1) it’s hard to tell how loud I’m speaking with one ear not functioning right, and 2) the vibration inside the cranial cavity will aggravate my ear and cause the pain/ringing to act up again. The best thing I can do is avoid loud noises and try to block it out by listening to white noise apps on my iPod. The noise works to a point but despite it all, if I concentrate hard enough, I can still hear the constant ringing.

No, having tinnitus is definitely not a lot of fun. But you know what is?

CAM00204

Sitting on a brass turtle outside a Chipotle restaurant.

*Hey, I grew up in the 70s.
**And no, I never licked a frog.

Animals, Blogging 365, Dogs, Family, Health, Pets, Photography, Shopping

Blogging 365, Day 40: A Busy Day


The title of today’s post pretty much sums it up but I’ll break it down for you in words and pictures.

It started around 7:15 when I went for my morning run:

running

And I’m not saying it was cold this morning but here’s how the roof of my car looked when I stepped outside:

IMG_20130209_200715

It’s not quite what the east coast is going through but for us thin-blooded Californians, this is plenty harsh. Oh, be quiet.

Once I got home and filled my body with the necessary nutrients, I took a shower and changed so that we could take Anthony to Lowe’s for today’s Build and Grow project, something called the Wheel of Love. It looks a little something like this:

CAM02917

This boy’s good with a hammer, I’ll tell you what. By the time we were done here it was around 10:30 and it was off to our next destination: a free health screening at a newly relocated medical center down the street from Lowe’s. Here’s a shot of me getting blood drawn for my glucose and cholesterol tests.

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The bad news? They had to do it twice so I had to be poked again on my right hand. Apparently my blood was so strong that it broke the machine. Ahem. Anyway, the good news is that my results were outstanding:

  • Total cholesterol: 146 mg/dL which is well below what is considered desirable and puts me at less of a risk of getting coronary heart disease.
  • Glucose (non-fasting): 94 mg/dL, also perfectly acceptable and means I’m not diabetic.

The weird thing is that even when I was heavy, my levels were all at an acceptable level. That’s not to say that I don’t regret losing the weight but that genetics seems to play a bigger part in all of this. Losing the weight definitely brought the levels down, so low that even the nurse who gave me the results – he was about 30 pounds lighter – told me that my levels were better than his. Not too shabby.

While at the screening, I met KFI’s Tim Conway, Jr. He was there giving stuff away and greeting listeners. Here’s me and Anthony with Mr. Conway:

CAM02922-picsay

Funny guy just like his dad.

After the event we went home and relaxed for a bit but also gave Arliss a bath since the local Unleashed by Petco store was having low-cost immunizations. While waiting for the event to begin, we checked out some of the animals up for adoption and I have to admit that, even though I’m more of a cat person, this little doggie melted my heart because of her cuteness:

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She was one heck of a dog and I hope she gets adopted real soon.

If all that wasn’t enough, our final trip of the day was to WinCo to get some groceries. And I gotta tell you, $100 goes a lot farther at that store versus our usual places. Sure, you have to bag your own groceries but that’s a hit I’m willing to take in order to get cheap stuff. We’re well-stocked for the week and beyond.

Side note: man, what did we do before cell-phone cameras? How else would we be able today’s action as well as life’s little “WTF?” moments, like this sign at WinCo’s bulk food section:

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I don’t know about you but if I was to sample something from the bulk foods area, there are lots of better choices than rawhide chips. But maybe that’s just me.

And now it’s late and I’m tired. There’s little chance of me waking up early tomorrow to go for my usual Sunday morning bike ride since I’m still beat after this whirlwind day. I may just put it off until next week.

Other than this…we did absolutely nothing today 🙂