Shingles? Really?

Now look. This is too much.

Yesterday morning I noticed a few raised bumps on my arm which looked like acne. Then I discovered a whole patch of them on my shoulder and more at the top of my spine. I called my primary care doc’s office to see if he could see me anytime soon and ran into roadblocks, but I scheduled a video conference for next week Tuesday. To my surprise I got a call about half-an-hour later from the doctor himself, saying he didn’t want to wait to find about this rash until then. I described it and he prescribed some antibiotics, which I’m going to pick up today.

This morning I managed to take a couple of pictures of the arm and shoulder; I sent them to him. I got a response within an hour saying the shoulder in particular was classic shingles.

Now that’s annoying, because I’ve had both doses of the Shingrix vaccine. Obviously it didn’t prevent me from getting the virus, although so far there’s been no pain, so maybe it’s reducing that.

Good grief. The saying goes “into every life a little rain must fall.” I’ve had several thunderstorms this year.

2021 Update

It’s been a rather eventful year, medically speaking. In October/November of 2020 I began feeling a little pain in my mouth when swallowing. In early April of this year the doctors finally made a diagnosis of a fungal infection and prescribed antibiotics. After a couple of weeks, though, they weren’t working. All that time my swallowing got more and more difficult, to the point where I dropped 35 pounds in just three months. The doctors decided they’d admit me to Tripler Army Hospital, do an exploratory surgery, biopsy what they found, and determine what was causing the problem. They did that and came up with the worst possible answer: cancer of the supraglottis.

Well. The prescribed treatment was 7 weeks of radiation 5 days a week. After a 3-week stay in the hospital they discharged me and I started the radiation the following day.

I got through all of that with very little difficulty, surprisingly enough.

The way the doctors determined whether the radiation worked was by having a PET scan done, first injecting a radioactive tracer which attaches itself to cancer cells. That was done on September 28, and on October 4 the radiation oncology doc had me come in to go over the result. He told me there was no sign of cancer, but he’d like the ENT doctors to run an endoscope down my nose to examine the site of the cancer. They did that on October 19 and confirmed that there was no sign of cancer.

It kind of amazes me that I’ve now had three separate occurrences of cancer (see here and here for the earlier ones) and survived them all.

I had had a feeding tube inserted into my stomach while in the hospital, and I have been using it all the way up to today. I’m now able to swallow, so I’ve been eating dinners in very small portions for the past couple of weeks. Chewing tires me out, which is weird. Another side effect of radiation is that the patient loses the sense of taste. That’s still true. One of the things that has kept me from eating more more quickly is that food just doesn’t taste like much. I told that to one of the ENT docs and he said “It’s a job.” He’s got a point.

Anyway, that’s been my 2021 in a nutshell.

Christmas music moratorium

Ever since 2011 I’ve been posting YouTube videos of Christmas music throughout December. I’m taking the month and year off. I’m not much in the mood and I suspect very few other people are either.

I’ll restart the tradition in 2021, which will hopefully be free of national calamity.

President-elect Biden

It’s a tossup whether I felt more joy or relief yesterday when Biden went over the top with the Associated Press’s call of Pennsylvania, giving him that state’s 20 electoral votes and putting him over the 270 required for elevation to the Presidency.

I did no street dancing when the decision was announced, but I would have had there been anyone with a boombox outside.

There’s a ton of work to do to repair this country, but Biden’s election (and that of his VP, Kamala Harris, who checks off so many “first” boxes in her new office that I can’t count them all — woman, Black, Asian-American…) is a necessary start. It startles and dismays me that 70 million of my fellow Americans looked at the first Trump term with all its chaos and corruption and said “we’d like four more years of that, please.” We’ll have to see if a new President can heal that divide.

Meanwhile there’s a pandemic running completely out of control in the US and the world. Biden has said that dealing with it is his first priority as President; he plans to convene a task force to advise him as early as Monday Nov. 9.

Trump’s response to the virus killed his chances for re-election, says this preliminary analysis from the Washington Post. I think that’s partially true. The incompetence, the unwillingness to lead by example (refusing to wear a mask), and finally his decision to lie about it (“we’re turning the corner. It’s disappearing.”) showed enough voters that he wasn’t up to the job of keeping Americans safe.

Finally! The Dodgers win the World Series!

For the first time in 32 years, the Dodgers have won the World Series. Up three games to two, in Game 6 they managed to get a couple of runs after a dubious removal of the Rays’ starting pitcher Blake Snell, who’d been mowing them down in wholesale lots (he’d struck out Betts, Seager and Turner in each of their first two ABs). They added a Betts home run in the eighth and watched their 24-year-old lefty Julio Urias throw his second multi-inning relief outing of the playoffs (he threw the last three innings in Game 7 of the NLCS, for which he got the win) and get the save.

It was the culmination of a very weird baseball season, truncated to 60 games and with one extra playoff series added to it on the back end. The Dodgers swept the first two rounds, beating the Brewers 2-0 in the new Wild Card round and demolishing the Padres 3-0 in the Division Series. They then came back from a 3-1 deficit to the Braves in the NLCS and beat the Rays 4-2 in the World Series.

What? No coffee?

I stumbled into the kitchen, filled the reservoir on my Black and Decker drip coffeepot this morning, put coffee in the filter, closed the lid, turned it on, and nothin’. The clock works, the “on” light works, but it doesn’t drip.

It’s been three years since I replaced the last one. I guess if appliances become commodities then they don’t get built as well as ones meant to last years.

Roll Call at the Democrats’ Convention

Reviewers seem to agree that the best part of this virtual convention so far was Tuesday night’s Roll Call, in which each state cast its votes for the Presidential contenders from within the state’s borders. Heretofore each state’s delegates would be called upon from their location on the floor of the hall in which the convention was being held.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no central convention site, as we know. So the organizers were forced to create a virtual convention, and I imagine each state’s Democratic Party leaders worked very hard to come up with a way to showcase their state. Rhode Island, as I’m sure you’ve heard by now, chose to show off its calamari.

In case you missed it, here’s the whole 42-minute extravaganza.

July was hectic

Mom had several unscheduled trips to the hospital. She’s out and reasonably healthy now and looking forward to her 94th birthday next month.

On one of my trips out of the hospital parking garage I managed to crunch the front bumper of my car into a support column, damaging the suspension as well as the front end; that was on July 12. Here it is a month later and the car’s still in the shop. I’ve spent $785 on a rental car during that month. I just got a loaner from the body shop last week.

I managed to bruise a bunch of muscles around my breastbone; the docs think that was a result of my chest hitting the seat belt (the airbags didn’t deploy; I was only going 5-7 mph, for crying out loud) during the car accident. Those are healing, however.

More to follow.

Finally got a restart on the MCU

I had stalled out with “Age of Ultron,” which I hadn’t got around to watching before my one-week library rental expired.

That was last August. I just acquired an Amazon Fire Stick for several reasons, not the least of which was to watch “Hamilton” on Disney Plus. A bonus for that service is that it’s where you find the Marvel movies as well. So yesterday I signed up for the Hulu/Disney Plus/ESPN bundle and watched “Age of Ultron” last night.

It was explodey. It also had a little humanizing of Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow, which was welcome. I’d probably give it a 3.5 on a scale of 5.

I’m wondering if I can use my Disney Plus account on the Fire Stick attached to my mother’s TV so she can see “Hamilton.” Anyone know?

THAT was an eventful month

The country started to release stay-at-home orders in more places than it probably should during May, but then on May 25 worry about that was overtaken by the murder of a black man by a Minneapolis cop. George Floyd was suffocated by a policeman who put his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck while Floyd was lying on the ground and leaving it there for nearly nine minutes.

In this day and age, of course, videotape of the crime surfaced quickly and set off loud protests in Minneapolis, followed quickly by similar protests throughout the country. The first couple of nights were ugly with burning and looting, but that seemed to calm down by the first week in June. At least, it calmed down everywhere but the Oval Office. Trump went completely bonkers, declaring himself a “law and order” President (hoping to emulate the Nixon winning message in 1968 while forgetting that unlike Nixon then, Trump is an incumbent President, not a challenger) and staging a photo op which went horribly wrong

But there has never been a photo op quite like the one President Donald Trump staged on Monday, when noxious gas, flashbangs and rubber bullets were used to force protesters from Lafayette Park to clear the way before Trump strode to St. John’s Church and posed holding up a bible.
And perhaps there has never been a photo op that has gone so spectacularly wrong.
As demonstrations spread throughout the US over the killing of George Floyd in police custody — and a few protests turned violent –Trump warned governors they were being “weak.” In Rose Garden comments before the church photo op, he pronounced himself the “president of law and order.”

Retired generals, faith leaders and even a few Republican elected officials excoriated Trump for his response to the protests.

It remains to be seen what the end result of these protests will be, but it’s safe to say Trump is disconcerted and hasn’t a clue how to respond to them. His poll numbers are dreadful as of June 7: 54% of Americans disapprove of him while only 42% approve. He had thought he could “send the troops in to solve the problem in the states,” but not a single Governor asked him for help, which is required before any soldiers could move. He’s hunkered down in the White House, raging at the television and what’s left of his staff.