Fri, Aug 21, 2015

: Eye

I woke up this morning to see a flash — as though someone took my picture with a camera flash — while I was putting in my contact. It was weird, but not enough to call my eye doctor.

Then I saw a piece of black thread in my right eye. I ran to take out my contact, but then realized the thread was still there: it was a “floater.” I’ve had those since I was five, but never this bad. These were large and there were a lot of them, swimming around in my eye and distracting me terribly.

I finally called my eye doctor and he said I needed an immediate checkup; it was very possible I had either had a retinal detachment or I might get one, and that’s a serious eye problem that requires surgery to fix.

To make a long story shorter (it was an all-day story), I ended up going to a retina specialist and getting laser surgery on my eye! My retina had torn — just a tiny hole at the back — and that was sealed with a laser. It wasn’t fun. The eye examination was painful, with lots of poking and prodding and terribly bright lights shown right into my dilated pupils, and the green laser pretty much blinded my right eye for a while.

But I got through it and now I’m in the recovery phase. I still have the floaters; it sounds like there isn’t much that can be done about those, though hopefully they’ll dissipate in time. Meanwhile my vision is a little worse in my right eye, but it’s hard to tell if it’s just the floaters interfering or if my eye has gotten worse. At least we caught the problem before it got too bad, though. A detachment sounds really serious, while a tear is much easier to fix.

Anyway, it’s a good reminder to be alert for eye problems as you get older; even a seemingly minor change like a flash and floaters can signal something traumatic.

Topic: [/medical]


Wed, Apr 07, 2010

: Knee

A month ago I was playing soccer at a local indoor league and I twisted my knee. It was still bothering me last week, so I went to see an orthopedic surgeon who had me get an MRI on Monday. Today I got the results: my ACL is completely torn. The only way to fix that is reconstructive surgery. It will never heal on its own. That means getting a tendon from a cadaver and inserting it into my knee to replace my ligament (they screw it in with screws that dissolve over time). The recovery time for such an operation is long: at least six months before I can be physically active again, with a few weeks on crutches and physical rehab during that time. After that, I’d probably have to wear a brace during athletics for the first year. Not the most fun.

The other bit of news was slightly more encouraging. ACL tears normally don’t cause continuing pain, and are mainly an issue if you’re wanting to be athletically active. The reason I’ve been having pain is that I have a bone bruise between the two leg bones. Such bruises take a long time to heal: one to three months. Though there is no actual fracture, they heal like one. Thus the pain I am feeling that is causing me to limp will hopefully fade as the bruise heals (it has been getting better, so I am hopeful).

Fortunately, there is no huge rush to get the surgery done. It doesn’t sound like waiting a few months to see how my knee heals and feels will hurt anything. I could even choose to not repair the knee, though that would limit my mobility, increase my chances of problems later in life (arthritis, etc.), and set myself up to where I could accidentally turn wrong on my leg and re-injure myself (without an ACL my knee is less stable).

For now, I’m holding off making a decision. I will wait and see how I heal. There are many factors to consider, such as the cost (insurance won’t cover a significant amount), healing time, and so on. I have a feeling it’s something I’ll need or want to do, but I’ll see how feel as the bone bruise heals. Maybe if I wait long enough Ombamacare will kick in and pay for the surgery. Yeah, I’m dreaming. There ain’t no free lunch.

Topic: [/medical]


Thu, Oct 12, 2006

: Nutrician Scale

I mentioned earlier about my bout in the Salter and it’s their Nutri-Weigh 1450 model. This scale is so cool: place any food on the scale and it will tell you exact what nutrients are in that food! It breaks down the calories, protein, carbohydrates, sodium, fat, saturated fat, fibre, and more! Built-in it knows about nearly 1500 foods, but you can easily add your own simply by entering the info on the food’s nutrition label. You can even compute the value of recipies by entering each item as you add it (you “zero” the scale between ingredients and it then calculates only the weight of the new item). Later, when you consume part of that recipe, you just weigh how much of it you’re eating and it will tell you exactly the nutrition break-down. This thing is sensitive to the single gram level: I can literally place a bowl of salad on the scale, zero the scale, and drizzle dressing on the salad and watch the calories and carbs and saturated fat count mount drop by drop of dressing! This thing can even total up how much you’re eating per meal, per day, or per week, and you can set target goals (for all ten nutrients) and it will compare to see how you’re doing. For me, this is a godsend, because I am terrible at judging portion sizes, and I’m a precise person and I love the precision of this device. You can literally butter your bread and see how much fat that adds! It’s just amazing. I feared it would be complicated to use but the interface, while not perfect, is not bad at all. You simply enter the first few letters of the food name, then scroll through a short list of candidates and press enter when the correct food is displayed. Immediately the scale tells you the nutrient amounts. If you want to save that data, just press the Memory+ button. Really the only thing this thing lacks is an interface to a computer so you could chart and graph and save the data permanently. But I have a form where I write down the values I want to track and it’s not a big deal. I thought maybe weighing all my food would be a pain, but it’s so easy to do it’s not a chore at all. In fact, it’s not only fun, it can help you eat more! That’s right: I often will use the scale to create a serving size that matches my diet plan, adding a food until the carbs or calories or whatever is within my diet goals. It’s pretty cool to be able to do that, and often the amount is more than I would have guessed I’d be allowed to eat. (The food type makes a big difference: when I can easily see that twenty-five chocolate chips has the same calories as a whole apple, I’m more likely to opt for the healthier and greater amount of food.) My dietician wants to me to watch my carbs (I’m supposed to eat a comparable amount at each meal to keep my diet consistent), my saturated fat (this one’s hard, as delicious cheese really knocks this value up), cholesterol (mainly in eggs and beef), and of course calories. This scale lets me do that and more, and it’s really impressive. Oh, I should also mention you don’t have to actually weigh the food if you don’t have it handy: you can type in the estimated weight, which is useful if you eat out. For instance, I had a bowl of chili at a restaurant yesterday, so I chose Chili and put in two cups for the amount and it told me the nutrients I consumed. That’s a bit rough as I was just guessing the amount and the chili I ate might have different ingredients than the one in the scale, but it’s at least in the ballpark, and it beats a wild guess. The thing I hate worst in the world about diet is when I think I’m doing something healthy or making a sacrifice, only to find out what I’m doing is actually bad. Like when you think you’re cutting your amount down to a good level but it’s still actually too much. With this scale, I don’t have that problem any more since it can tell me, exactly, what I’m consuming every day. Awesome!

Topic: [/medical]


Wed, Sep 20, 2006

: Hospital Visit

Today I got home from a week in the hospital! Last Thursday I woke up feeling horrible. My stomach was nauseated and hurting, and my chest felt like the worst case of heartburn. After I got up, the feelings just got worse and worse. I tried eating and drinking, but that didn’t help. Nothing I did relieved the pain at all, though I felt slightly better after I vomited. Finally, after several hours of this and no relief, I went to the emergency room at the hospital. They quickly got me hooked up to an IV and administered morhpine to help with the pain and I think fluids, as they said I was dehydrated (which was weird as I’d been drinking non-stop for the previous week). They began doing tests — an EKG, a CT scan of my chest, an ultrasound — and quickly determined that it was not my heart but my pancreas. I had pancreatitis, which is a swelling of the pancreas. It’s rather an unusual condition. At the time we weren’t sure what caused it and we still aren’t 100% sure, but the working theory is that sometime recently I became diabetic but didn’t know it. That fits in well with the unquenchable thirst I’d had the week prior. Uncontrolled, the diabetes led to high triglcerides (fat in the blood), which led to pancreatitis. The treatment for pancreatitis is to let the pancreas rest — which, since it’s part of the digestive system, means no food or liquid for several days. It was Sunday before I was allowed to drink or eat anything except for the occasional ice chip, and it wasn’t until today I was able to eat solid foods again. Quite an experience, one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I had to have a tube down my nose to my stomach for several days, and though I was incredibly thirsty, I couldn’t even drink! But mostly it was boring as after the first couple days my brain was back online but my body was not, and I just had to lie around and wait for it to heal.

The good news is that pancreatitis is usually a one-time thing and shouldn’t happen again, and most people recover from it just fine. I just need rest and time to recover (I lost twenty pounds during my week in the hospital). The bad news is that now I’m diabetic and have to test my blood sugar several times a day and give myself insulin shots every day. I’m making radical changes to my diet: going low fat and low sugar and eating a lot more healthy vegetables and fruits, and eating three meals a day at the same time each day (I used to eat irregularly and probably gorged myself inappropriately after long fasts). This is quite a change, but fortunately I enjoy healthy foods for the most part (cheese is the one fatty thing I’ll miss) and I like a structured routine, so I think I’ll be fine with all the changes. Exercise is something else I’ll have to start — I’m not sure how well I’ll do with that, but it’s not like I’ve got much choice. With diabetes, I’ve got to get healthy or I run the risk of serious health problems down the road, and after this experience, I don’t want to take any risks. One hospital visit was enough for me!

Topic: [/medical]