Is that a shrub in your pocket...
Friday, February 23, 2007
Back From the Grips of Death (mostly)
About, oh, I dunno, maybe a couple of weeks ago, I started feeling an odd sort of twinge in my armpit. Nothing major - barely noticeable, really. It felt like somebody yanking on my armpit hairs - almost as if my pit hairs were stuck to my skin, and when I moved my arm, they got pulled on. After inspecting my pit, (and showering, of course), I found nothing there. This little annoying twinge gradually became more painful, eventually even hurting a bit whether I moved my arm or not. Then it just started to hurt like hell, and I noticed, had gotten pretty swollen.
Somewhere around this time, I also started getting easily chilled, which progressed to my feeling really freakin' cold all the time, and I eventually wound up huddled under a blanket with a heating pad (the good one we have, that never shuts off) - shivering and sweating. After being basically down for the count for a day, I started feeling a bit better, which was a good thing, because we got nailed with 30 inches or something of snow (plus, I don't think it'd been above about ten degrees since January), and I needed to shovel.
So, anyway, I split the day between being out in the cold and wind shoveling snow, and huddling under the covers with my heating pad. This pretty much did me in, and the lump in my armpit grew to the size of a baseball (OK, well, it probably wasn't really that big, but that's what it felt like). It actually had no real discernible shape, my lump. It was just this large and very hard mass of tissue. And it hurt like hell, too - spreading down my biceps as well.
The pain was the least of it. I spent the nights shivering and sweating - literally waking up soaking wet. I spent the days so fatigued that I could barely get out of bed long enough to take a piss - and leaving the covers and my trusty heating pad left me shivering violently until I could recover. All in all, it was pretty fuckin' sucky.
So, the knee-jerk reaction from most people when you mention you have a cough, sniffle, hangnail, or infected lymph node in your armpit is to tell you that you have to go run to "the doctor." This is generally spoken with great reverence, because, really, the whole corporate-medical-pharmaceutical industrial complex (aka, CORMPHIC) is basically a religion to most people - perhaps the only religion to many of the godless heathens out there. What good little American consumers do is take a day out of their lives so that they can go and worship at the altar of invasive tests and treatments - and of course garner the magical prescription drugs, which are often more powerful and dangerous than anything you can get from that guy on the corner.
"I've got chills and fever really bad."
"OK, well, take off your clothes and sit around in your underwear on this crappy paper thing freezing your ass off for twenty minutes while you wait for the doctor to come in."
"Why do I have to do that?"
"Haven't you seen the pictures from abu Ghraib? We want to intimidate and humiliate you into compliance."
You ever notice that when you buy a new car, all of a sudden you start seeing that same model everywhere you go? Same thing with swollen pits, I guess. Not that I saw any myself, but I know somebody who works in a hospital, and there's apparently been a rash (so to speak) of infected lymph nodes going around. Not necessarily in armpits, but in various and sundry lymph node type places.
So, here's the western medicine approach to the problem. First, try harpooning the goddamn thing. When this doesn't work, admit the patient to the hospital, and then try some more harpooning - and maybe even slice everything open to drain it. Then administer heavy-duty IV antibiotics. If the patient is lucky, the antibiotics won't cause kidney failure, and will just make them really fucking sick. Then, in order to keep the hospital's average length of stay as low as possible, kick the patient back out of the hospital before they're quite ready to go. So, after a few days in the hospital, a couple of weeks at home, and a hundred thousand dollars or so, the patient will either get better or die. Either way, it's all been done according to accepted Standards of Care, so it doesn't really matter. They look in the book, (which has been, created, blessed, and raised to the level of religious dogma by CORMPHIC), follow the directions, bill and refer accordingly, and everything will fall within the accepted percentages. 80% will live at least five years, and the rest, well, we did what the good book said, and so we can wash our hands of the consequences. Oh, and "we're so sorry for your loss."
My dad was a classic example of somebody who was killed by the cookbook. Started eating right, and lost a little weight? Oh, the cardiologist looks that up in the cookbook, which says refer him to the prostate guy. Oh, prostate guy says the PSA is a little high? Cookbook says refer him to the radiology guy, who refers him to the CAT scan guy, so they can draw nice target lines for the radiology guy. Zap, zap, zap, zap, zap, goes the radiology guy. Oops, a little too much zapping got the colon bleeding? Well, what a shame, but the cookbook says that will happen in a certain percentage of cases. Refer him to the colonoscopy guy. Cauterization can't stop all the bleeding? Gee, too bad. But, the "book" predicted that could happen. All that bleeding got you septic? Hmm. Better admit you to the ICU for some heavy-duty IV antibiotics. Ah, feeling better? That's good. By the way, we're sorry, but all that sepsis and bleeding and whatnot kinda damaged your ticker a bit. Ejection fraction's down to 15%. Well, you'll still be able to sit in a chair and look out the window. It happens in a certain amount of these cases, doncha know. Better move you up to the regular floor.
What's that, having trouble sleeping in your crappy hospital bed? Cookbook says we should give a dose of the strongest psychotropic drug that your insurance will pay for. Oh, did that make you flip out in the middle of the night, climb out of bed to fall on the floor and shatter your hip? Gee, that only happens in a small percentage of cases. Oh well. Unfortunately, we can't fix the hip surgically, because you've gone and let your heart get so bad. Well, if you just lay there really still for a year or so, you might do OK. Oops, you died alone in the middle of the night? Gee, sorry, but we have very good news - you died cancer-free. Congratulations! Another victory for modern medicine. So, anyhow, I opted out of the whole doctor thing. I decided to heavily dose myself with oregano instead. It took a few days, but the chills and fever went away, and the pain in the pit is just about gone. I'll be keeping up with the oregano for a while longer, of course, because the last thing I need right now is a relapse.
Of course, the true believers think I'm a crazy heretic because I deigned to take matters into my own hands, and not get suckered into the whole medical system. It's truly unthinkable, to a lot of people. That's how indoctrinated we've become to this system. Certainly, there are things the medical system does well. If I ever break my leg or drive into a bridge abutment, or have a dog eat my face off, I'll be right there rotting in the waiting room with all the other gimps. And if my way doesn't work after a while, then, yeah, I'll head out to the voodoo doctor to see what they can do for me. But it's not the first place I'll turn when I get sick. The medical system is great at treatment, but not so great at healing. If I need healing, I'll look elsewhere first.
That's not to say you shouldn't go to the doctor of course. You should definitely go. If I were to advise somebody different, I'd probably be open to a lawsuit or something (though anybody who listens to me for medical advice is a bit questionable in terms of sanity) if they got really sick or died. I can advise you to go to the doctor, though, because no matter how terribly it turns out, it's the accepted Standard of Care. And that's all that matters.
Friday, February 09, 2007
I am shocked - shocked I tell you - to learn of the amount of money wasted on flying the Speaker of the House back to the Speaker's home district office. Specifically, I mean the demand by former speaker Denny Hastert that he be flown the piddly 700 miles from DC to Chicago in a military C-20. Wake up sheeple! This is an enormous jet (a goddamn jet!) airplane with a wingspan of nearly 80 feet. Even worse, it has two Rolls Royce jet engines. Rolls Royce! That's not even American! We've been ferrying this fat bastid around in a goddamn flying Rolls Royce, when a Cessna Skylane 182T with a range of 773 miles at 18,000 feet, would easily do the job (assuming the whiny baby is too important to stop off in Buffalo to refuel). And it'll hold 1,140 pounds, which is enough for Denny, his lunch pail, and maybe even one or two of his minions. It might take him a little longer to get there, but since the odds are he's already wearing adult diapers, I don't see a problem with that.
I demand that the Senate Ethics Committee investigate this frivolous travesty.