Monday, October 25, 2004

Not your ordinary stomach ache, part III

Hello Kari:

She's an angel.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face. A re-assuring smile.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face. A re-assuring smile. A soothing voice.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face. A re-assuring smile. A soothing voice. I can't remember much of what she said.

I said, today is Wednesday, I had surgery. Everything went okay right?

She said, it went well. The slight smirk in her smile led me to believe this wasn't the first time we had this conversation.

Fade to black.

She's an angel. A lovely face. A re-assuring smile. A soothing voice. The gurney was rolling and she said something about you're doing great so we can move you to the next floor now.

Fade to black.

Post-surgery, I guess there is a holding area where the patient is under the very watchful eye of the post-op staff. At some point though, we come out of the haze and can get moved to the regular ward. The rest of Wednesday afternoon and evening would be in 8 South. My memories of that night are very sketchy. The TV was on and I heard familiar voices and I remembered that was the night of the third presidential debate. The debate or news coverage of it was playing on the TV, I can't remember which. I heard the sounds of baseball but I can't remember whether it was the ALCS or the NLCS.

Periodically, a nurse would come by to take my temperature, blood pressure, pulse, measure the urinary output in the Foley bag, check the nasal-gastric tube, check the IV and ask about nausea and pain.

One post-op complication is infection hence the temperature checks. Also, the other bag on the IV pole was antibiotics.

The blood pressure measurements are probably to check for internal bleeding. One's BP falls and pulse rises when there is internal bleeding.

Nausea can be a problem because stuff can sit in the stomach because my intestinal tract was asleep from all the trauma of the obstruction and the handling they received from the surgeon who had to correct the problem. The nasal-gastric tube that was aspirating stomach contents when working properly reduces the nausea problem but they ask to be sure.

And of course, there is pain. I could feel a dull but persistent pain in the area of the incision. The nurse can give 0.5 mg of pain medicine to help. I did opt for the shot on some occasions.

The other post-op complication is the possibility of blood clots. Surgical patients don't move around much so blood clots can form in areas of low circulation. Hence, I had pants hooked up to a pump. About once a minute, the pump activates and squeezes my legs to increase circulation.

There is also a device to exercise the lungs by inhaling to move round balls inside a container. The goal is to eventually be able to get all three balls moving. The first day I could just manage to get the first ball aloft.

On Thursday morning, the very first thing on the agenda was to get out of bed and walk. This effort helps the circulation, speeds the reawakening of the intestines and gets your lungs to work.

I never knew how often one uses abdominal muscles until this experience. Coughing, breathing deeply and rolling out of bed all hurt like crazy because I had a 4-6 inch wound in my abdomen. I did manage with assistance to get out of bed and leaning on the IV pole, I walked maybe 25 feet before turning back and falling asleep on the chair while the staff changed the linens on the bed.

As the day went on, I walked a few more times, each time going a little further.

As the days went on, the walks became easier and even something to look forward to as an excuse to get out of my hospital bed and room.

Being young and healthy meant that I should recover fairly normally. One nice thing the hospital provided was a handout on what to expect in the 7 days in the hospital which is the typical stay for my condition. As a patient, you often feel anxiety at not knowing what is going on and whether or not one is on track with recovery. The handout indicated what to expect each day which was re-assuring because what was happening with me was quite normal.

The Foley tube came out on the weekend. The Nasal-Gastric tube came out on Monday. The IV came out Tuesday morning and I was out of the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

A huge thank you goes out to family and friends who supported me and encouraged me through this experience. And a really huge thank you and SHOUT OUT goes to the doctors and nurses of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center who took care of me in the Emergency Room, Operating Room, pre- and post-op and in recovery on 8 South. You all are the BEST!

As a person of faith in Jesus, I found hope and comfort in drawing near to God during this time. I found my heart thankful that God provides people of medical talent and compassion to care for people in hospitals. I found myself amazed at the human body. 99.999% of the time, the intestines work normally and we don’t have to even think about it. Even though I was in the hospital because it malfunctioned, in a week it was working again. And overall, without any conscious effort on my part, my body was repairing itself.

In some of the post-midnight hours as I stared at the ceiling, I would pray to God. Yes, there were some fears, I am only human. But most of the time there was gratitude.

When the fears would come, I found comfort in praying the familiar Lord's Prayer. Give us this day our daily bread as a phrase took on new meaning as I lay there. Keeping the perspective of one day at a time and recognizing God’s provision helped.

Oddly, at times, I found myself recollecting the Ten Commandments. I don't know why but it came to mind regularly. Can you name all ten? Anyway, I would go one-by-one and think about each one. I have to say I did dwell mostly on the first four which pertain to my attitude towards God. It is all familiar stuff but I found it soothing and re-assuring in my time of anxiety.

Well, that is my story. I am resting at home. I feel like a cat: I sleep, I drink water, I eat little meals here and there, I take little walks for exercise and I sleep.

Being a young person who likes an active life, it is hard. But I tell myself, my body is at work repairing itself. It is at work and active. It is just different and invisible. One friend said your body has just undergone a major trauma and it needs to recover, give yourself that time.

If you have stumbled onto this blog and have either undergone surgery or know someone who has, I hoped that these three entries have helped a little. I know going over it in writing helps me process the experience. Feel free to post questions or observations in the comments section.

Take care and be well,

P.S. Part I

Part II

Part III

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Not your ordinary stomach ache, part II

Be warned, gentle readers, more medical experience described, reader discretion is advised.

Hello Kari: is a very popular destination for those looking for health information. What I recently had was an intestinal obstruction.

Picking up the story where I left it, the ER didn't look too busy. It certainly was not the beehive of activity you see in the long running NBC show ER. I filled out the forms and described my symptoms and took a seat. It was about 10 minutes later they did a quick blood pressure, temperature and medical history. I returned to my seat after that.

Between the stomach pains and the post-midnight hour, my recollection of the sequence of events and timing is foggy. I think it was around 2 to 2:30 AM that I got called into the ER exam room to be seen by the MD on duty.

They asked for a urine sample and the nurse drew some blood samples. The doctor asked a bunch of questions and then examined my abdomen and said: well, given what we have so far, I'm thinking, appendicitis.

I think at this point, an IV was plugged into my right arm for fluids and to give me medications. I drifted in and out of sleep as I awaited the next phase.

The ER doc showed up and said, well, an elevated white blood cell count usually goes with appendicitis and we didn't see that. We are going to order up an abdominal CT scan. I was carted off to the imagining unit and I was able to slide myself off my ER bed onto the CT bed. That bed slid me into the doughnut for a variety of imaging including one involving contrast material. I leave it to your imagination to figure out how contrast material is introduced into a patient in a gurney who is being checked out for an intestinal blockage. Suffice to say, dignity and comfort take a backseat (and rightly so!) to figuring out what is wrong.

Eventually, I was back in the ER and drifting in and out of consciousness. This time the ER doc was joined by another doc. He said he was a surgeon and he said that the CT scan revealed an intestinal obstruction. He said the blockage could be due to a solid object such as a tumor or scar tissue. He said the intestine could be kinked like a water hose for various reasons. In any case, he suggested surgery for that afternoon. I scrawled my signature on various consent forms.

To prepare for the surgery, I had a nasal-gastric tube inserted. The guy prepping me was very good to explain what he was doing. He said, one can be inserted very rapidly in an emergency situation but since I was awake, he wanted to explain what was going to happen. He injected some surface anesthetics into my throat and into my nose. He then started to thread the tube through my left nostril. Even with the anesthetic, I could feel it work its way through my nasal cavity and then go down the back of my throat. He then explained the last phase is to get it into the stomach and voila, it was in. He then explained I'll vacuum out the remaining contents of your stomach in prep for the surgery and for the post-operative phase.

The next thing he needed to do to prep me was the attachment of a Foley bag. Since I'll was going to be in post-operative care for several days and not very mobile, it is difficult to relieve my bladder on my own. Thus, a bag with a tube is inserted to facilitate this bodily function. I'll leave it to your imagination how that is done!

As I waited for surgery, I had a brief window of time to make some phone calls to family, friends and co-workers to explain my situation.

Since the surgery suite wouldn't be available until 1pm, I had to wait. I was given some pain medication to tide me over and as such, I drifted in and out of awareness. I couldn't help but think of those war movies where someone shouts, "Medic!" And the medic gives the wounded soldier a little injection of morphine and the injured man calms down. I had no energy to be thrashing around but the pain was quite the constant companion and when the injection would go in... I could feel my whole body lighten and my mind go foggy and the pain would be reduced substantially.

Eventually, I was wheeled to pre-op and it was a beehive of activity. It was Grand Central Station for patients being processed for surgery. As I was wheeled in, I saw two other patients wheeled out to their respective surgeries. As I was wheeled out, I looked over at the guy who was next in line and we gave each other the thumbs up.

The surgery suite looks just like in the movies though it wasn't as brightly lit as I thought it would be. Would there be music playing like in the television shows? Indeed, a little rock music was playing quietly. The anesthesiologist noticing I was Chinese said something in Mandarin. I responded in Cantonese saying I spoke very little Cantonese. She said okay, I guess we will stick to English and the staff laughed. She put the mask over my face and in about 3 seconds the world went away...

To be continued...

Take care and be well,

Part I

Part II

Part III

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Not your ordinary stomach ache, part I

Hello Kari: is a very popular destination for those looking for health information. What I recently had can be found here.

How did it all start?

Be warned, below are some squeamish descriptions of what I went through.

On Tuesday, October 12, I went to work in the usual way though I did feel a bit more tired than usual. By 3pm, I had a stomach ache and some muscle aches. At this point, I thought, I might have SKV = some kind of virus. I decided to go home and get some rest.

After a fitful few hours of napping, the stomach ache felt worse. I was beginning to wonder why the stomach ache didn't resolve with some rest and pepto. Things took a turn at around 10pm when I wobbled to the bathroom to throw up. This made me feel better but only for an hour or so. The stomach pains began to build up again in wave after wave. By midnight, I was thinking it might be time to go to the ER. I contacted two friends (one local who I know is a night owl and one in another time zone where it was day time there) and both suggested I should seriously consider going to the ER.

In my case 2 factors pushed me toward going: (1) the length and severity of the stomach pain; it was well beyond a usual stomach ache and (2) vomiting didn't help; often times stomach problems are resolved by vomiting or diarrhea.

My night owl friend drove to my apartment around 1 AM and we were at the emergency room shortly after that.

Story to be continued...

Take care and be well,

Part I

Part II

Part III

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Rooting for the underdogs!

Hello Kari:

Good to speak with you offline the other day and to fill you in on what has been happening with me on the health front. Thank you for your kindness and encouragement.

It is good to be online today for the first time in a long time.

I have been following the ALCS and NLCS from... the hospital bed. I may blog at greater length for my own psychological benefit and to provide readers accidental and otherwise my personal experiences with an emergency surgery and subsequent hospitalization.

In brief, last Wednesday the 13th, I went into the ER at 1 AM with stomach pains and by 1 PM I was in the OR having an intestinal obstruction corrected. I remained hospitalized until last Tuesday.

During my time in 8 South, I did catch some of the ALCS and NLCS games on the TV. I found myself rooting for the Astros and Red Sox. I didn't have a whole lot of energy but when the teams I was rooting for did something good, I found my left arm rising in a fist pump and murmuring a quiet, yes! It was after all a little hard to say much with a nasal-gastric tube in me but anyone seeing me would know I was perked up by the activities of grown men playing a kid's game.

In any case, it will be interesting to see if the Sox can finally put down "the Curse" and pick up the MLB championship rings. And tonight, I look forward to game 7 of the Astros and Cardinals.

Rooting for the underdogs!

And dear readers please root for this underdog as I am on the slow road to recovery. I may do some medical blogging to share the experience.

Take care and be well,

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Red Sox must lose

Hi-De-Ho Rene!

While the SquawkBox Comments from 2003 are no longer in the archives, I retrieved from my e-mail inbox a comment I'd posted here one year ago about the Cubs and Marlins (and indirectly, the Red Sox and Yankees). I think it pretty much sums up my feelings about tonight's Sox-Yanks game:

"Well, I was actually rooting for the Marlins last night. Up to Game 6, I thought I wanted a Cubs-Red Sox World Series. But then came the infamous eighth-inning collapse, set into motion by a sadsack Cubs fan who only wanted to catch a foul ball from what would have been the series clincher to get the Cubs to the World Series after all these years. At that moment, everything changed. I began rooting for the Marlins for two reasons:

1. The nasty way the rest of the Cubs fans treated one of their brethren. Some of them had been reaching for the ball too before they decidedit was appropriate to throw beer on the guy. Maybe they thought they were at a White Sox game.

2. Destiny. At that moment, it was clear that it would be more historically relevant, more poetic even, for the Cubs to lose. Having witnessed The Pivotal Moment, how could I want anything other than a Cubs loss? That moment cried out to be added to the Cubs' Bad Luck Canon.

That said, I still want the Red Sox to beat the Yankees [ED note: in Game 6], but then I think I'll root for a late-in-the-series meltdown from the Beantown boys that will make everybody forget Bill Buckner.

Take that "Destiny" paragraph and apply it to the 2004 ALCS. The Red Sox have managed a historic comeback, and the euphoria of their fans is close to a peak....What better time for a late-inning collapse to add to the Red Sox Bad Luck Canon? For the love of theater, the Yankees MUST win, preferably with a game-ending home run by a Miguel Cairo or Bubba Crosby, or as a result of a Boston error.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

It's LIMA Time!!!

photo source:
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Dear Kari:

Jose Lima pitched for the Royals in 2003. According to the stats, he had 14 starts for your boys in blue and got an 8-3 record. Hmmm... what was the story about his time there?

At the start of this season, he was a non-roster invitee (is that one step up from being a walk-on?) with his best days 5 years in the past when he had two great seasons with the Astros. After those two years, he didn't do much with Houston, Detroit or Kansas City.

Tonight, he had the biggest start of the season for the Dodgers and he dominated with his brand of location, location, location type of pitching.

Lima has become a fan favorite with his expressive manner and constant cheerleading of the team whether he is pitching or not. Check out this article posted on the Dodgers official web page and you get a flavor of what kind of guy he is. Money quote: Saturday, I'm going to do my job and die on the mound. I'll pitch with a fractured thumb, but that won't hold me back. I'm a warrior.

55,992 would agree.

Sunday, Game 4, 5:10 PDT.

Go Dodgers!


UPDATE: Dodgers are done for the season. Perez was off giving up 5 walks and 2 runs in 2 1/3rd innings and was at 60 pitches. Suppan was solid for 7 innings. What can you say, the better team won. Nonetheless, the Dodgers gave this fan and this town a lot of enjoyment. Thank you Dodgers and see you next spring at the ballpark!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Why don’t in-power parties win close Presidential elections?


There are 4 scenarios:
1. Bush is re-elected easily
2. Kerry wins easily
3. Kerry wins a close election
4. Bush is re-elected narrowly.

What does history tell us?

Year = result
2000 = in party (Gore) defeated by narrow margin by Bush
1996 = in party (Clinton) wins by wide margin over Dole
1992 = in party (Bush) defeated by wide margin by Clinton
1988 = in party (Bush) wins by wide margin over Dukakis
1984 = in party (Reagan) wins by wide margin over Mondale
1980 = in party (Carter) defeated by wide margin by Reagan
1976 = in party (Ford) defeated by narrow margin by Carter
1972 = in party (Nixon) wins by wide margin over McGovern
1968 = in party (Humphrey) defeated by narrow margin by Nixon
1964 = in party (Johnson) wins by wide margin over Goldwater
1960 = in party (Nixon) defeated by narrow margin by Kennedy
1956 = in party (Eisenhower) wins by wide margin over Stevenson
1952 = in party (Stevenson) defeated by wide margin by Eisenhower
1948 = in party (Truman) wins by narrow margin over Dewey.

I suppose I could continue further back into history and find another example.

But I think the point is made that the in-power party has a hard time winning close elections. In this sample, only 1 in 14 elections yielded an in-power party victory in close voting.

Of the last 14 Presidential elections, 50% of the time, the in-power party was defeated. 9 of 14 were wipeouts and only 5 of 14 were close.

When the in-power party was defeated, 4 were close, 3 were huge defeats.

When the in-power party wins, 6 were big wins while only 1 was close.

The trend is clear: if the in-power party wins, they win big.

And this makes sense: the in-power party has done a good job so they get re-elected big.

But when they are defeated, about half the time they get smoked and about half the time it is close.

Landslides that bury the in-power party is easy to explain: they have done a terrible job and there is a throw them out mood in the country.

But what happened in the five close elections?

In 4 of 5, the in-power party lost.

Why is that?

Swing voters and the intensity of support of partisans decide elections.

My guess is that if an election is close then the in-power party has some kind of problem making its case for re-election. As such (1) the intensity of their supporters wane, (2) swing voters are more willing to consider the challengers and (3) the out-of-power supporters smell possible victory and are highly motivated.

As of right now, of the four scenarios I started off with, I would say in order of likelihood is:
1) Kerry wins a close vote
2) Bush wins in a landslide
3) Kerry wins big
4) Bush wins a close one.

Kerry is a weak candidate.

Alexandra Pelosi, who made “Journies with George” was profiled in the following NRO article. (Hat tip to Instapundit)


So why does she think Kerry became the Democratic nominee? "He had the most stamina and he was the most politically savvy, and I think he had the best organization," Pelosi said. Or at least, that was as good a reason as she could offer. In the end, Kerry remains as much an enigma to her as he does to voters.

"The truth is," she says at the end of Diary, "after a year on the road, I know why the other guys lost. But I still don't know why John Kerry was the winner."

Kerry will win a close election because out-of-power partisans will be more motivated. I’ve heard so much anti-Bush, hate-Bush, Bush is evil and so on and so on and so on that it is pretty clear they have the motivational edge right now.

I don't see him winning in a big landslide because he simply isn't an inspirational figure. If a hard-core Democrat like Alexandra isn't wild about him then I don't see swing voters being all that excited either.

Truth in blogging: I’m a Bush supporter and plan to vote for Bush. I respect Kerry’s service in Vietnam and in the Senate. I disagree with how he acted when he returned from Vietnam and his record in the Senate. But he has the right to hold those views and that is what makes America the great nation that it is. Now, is this the rantings of a rabid anti-Kerry person? I blog, you decide.

As for his candidacy, I don’t believe you can build a campaign around, “I served in Vietnam so I know what to do.” Instead, I look at his Senate record and he hasn’t been strong on national security issues. As much as Iraq has not been handled well by the Bush team, I’m not convinced Kerry would do any better. What is his position really?

He claims: I'll get more allies. Are the French and Germans really going to help?

He claims: I'll train the Iraqis faster. Umm, you think the Bush team is deliberately training them slow?

Certainly, in Kerry's most recent public statements, he has sounded a lot tougher. But some of his statements in the recent past and pandering to the anti-war wing of the party during the primaries don't give me confidence in the solidity of his view on this subject.

Bush can go onto re-election if in the next two debates he makes his case more clearly and firmly and the new efforts to bring the insurgency under control prove successful. I think the economic numbers are okay not great but probably good enough that it doesn’t work for one side or the other. If the numbers were worse, Bush is done.

Thus, it will come down almost exclusively about Iraq and whether Bush can inspire confidence among those undecided voters who are concerned that he got us into a situation he can’t deal with.

As I've said, I'm a Bush supporter. But to tell you the truth, if Iraq calms down and the January elections are modestly successful and still Bush is packing up to leave the WH, I think Bush will ride off to the ranch happy. Sure Bush will be disappointed, he doesn't want to lose (who does?), but you know, I think W will go home to Crawford a happy man because the Iraqi people suffered enough and he did something to help them out.

Just the opinion of one righty on the lefty-coast,

P.S. I'm going to liveblog the 2nd debate over at my other blog.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Right Stuff: The Flight of Space Ship One

Hi Kari:

I recently bought the DVD for The Right Stuff. Love that movie!

I caught a little bit of the footage from the Ansari X-Prize winning flight of SpaceShipOne.

It sure reminded me of the film, The Right Stuff, and the whole Chuck Yeager and X-1 sense of adventure.

You've seen the coverage in the news on TV and on the mainline internet sites.

But how about some photos from this blogger?

Check it out by scrolling to the entries dated, October 1 and 4, 2004.



Saturday, October 02, 2004

Dodgers did it! Angel do it too!


Wooooooo hooooooo!!!!!!

Yaaaaaaa hooooooo!!!!!!


Friday, October 01, 2004

(Wow!)Don't know how it sounded ...

(Wow!)Don't know how it sounded but it was Ichiro's at bat breaking the record!

UPDATE: This was another cell-phone e-mail blog post and I'm refering to the audioblog post below!

UPDATE: Here is a photo of Safeco Field.

Ichiro's record breaking hit

this is an audio post - click to play

UPDATE: I was sprinting up the stairway to the seat I had in section 331 row 14 seat 4. The Rangers had just been retired and Ichiro is the lead-off batter so I knew I had to hurry. I was running up the stairs and all the fans were on their feet screaming like crazy. I stood on the stairs as he tied the record and the place went crazy.

I settled into my seats and in the third inning, I dialed the audioblog number as Ichiro started toward the plate and could barely hear a thing as the stadium 46,000+ stood as one cheering I-chi-ro! I'm sure the MP3 link above probably sounded like just a bunch of noise but it sure was exciting as he had a lengthy at-bat and then hit the record breaker!

Later that night, I found out I was sitting in section 332 row 14!! Oh, well, all's well that ends well. Ichiro would get one more hit that night and in the top of the ninth after he trotted onto the field, the manager called him back and put in a substitute at right field so Ichiro could collect one last recognition from the fans.

This is one of the reasons why I love baseball and America. Americans of all ethnic groups were in the stands cheering for a Japanese guy.

Congrats to Ichiro for an amazing accomplishment. Won't it be something the day he is inducted to the Hall of Fame?!

UPDATE: Here is a QT film of the Ichiro hit celebration and better audio than my cell phone audioblogging!