Sunday, September 24, 2006

Go Cipro!

As in:


A few weeks ago, I had some weird stomach stuff going on - not sick, not food poisoning - strange, pressure-like cramping. First it was happening right after I ate, then it started happening just before I ate. It felt like my stomach was imploding. I could eat, but it felt like I had to quickly get food down before my stomach ate itself.

Then other nights it was bad in a way that made it impossible to eat. Coffee made it worse, as did margaritas and spicy salsa. WFT? It felt like someone was squeezing the hell out of my stomach or backing over it with a truck.

I went to my doc to tell her what was happening. I've read that most ulcers are caused by a particular bacteria. The same bacteria can cause gastritis, too. There's a breath test they can do to check for this bacteria and if it's there, they can treat it and get rid of it.

After I described my symptoms, she told me it was probably just gastritis and to keep an eye on it and let her know how I'm doing. Um, I'm in pain, you lab-coat-wearing poser. Any other ideas?

Just keep taking Tylenol, popping Tums and drinking Pepto? Is that a good idea in the long run? Any reason why we wouldn't want to find out say, NOW, what might be going on? Let's just try something - anything - while I'm here. What's the worst that could happen by being proactive?

WTF is up with the persistent wait-and-see-do-nothing attitude? So you can squeeze another measly $15 copay out of me and bill my insurance as often as you can?

Clearly you're not a doctor. You should fulfill your true potential working at the DMV and leave medicine to someone who's actually interested in helping people stay healthy.

Sure, send me home for more gut pain that interferes with my ability to concentrate at work, sleep soundly or eat anything besides oatmeal and mashed potatoes. That's a swell idea. Who wouldn't want more of that!?

I went home and for another two days, enjoyed satisfying bowls of oatmeal, mashed potatoes and some bland basmati rice. But the pain was really getting old and I was sick of it.

Then I thought, Shit, if there is some bacteria down there, what would happen if I popped a Cipro? We had a full bottle left from the Rx we filled before our trip to Mexico last year.

If it was some sort of food poisoning, Cipro should work on that, too, right? I figured a wide-spectrum antibiotic couldn't hurt me too badly, so down the hatch it went.

I woke up the next morning without any appetite, but I didn't have any stomach pain, either. I enjoyed a mid-morning protein Jamba Juice, and later, an iced coffee and my stomach felt fine. By Friday morning, I felt as good as new. My stomach has felt fine ever since.

If she had done the stupid test to find out if there was some bacteria down there gone wrong, it could have been treated that day, instead of days later. Technically, doesn't that seem like she broke her Hippocratic Oath? She sent me away and let me endure more pain -- that's a way of "doing harm," right?

Stupid cow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Spider Senses

This sign was in the lobby of my doctor's building last week.

A couple of weeks ago I had a strange encounter like I've never had before. I've lived in downtown Oakland and the Tenderloin, and in both places I never had a problem with anyone. I kept my head up and no one ever bothered me. Never paranoid, just aware.

The other day, as I pulled into the bart parking garage, I saw a guy ambling down the stairs from the second level. I noticed him because I tend to commute a bit later than the crush hour and the garage is usually very quiet at that time. He was carrying a bottle of what looked like orange gatorade and seemed in no hurry to get anywhere.

As I turned the corner through the first level up to the second level, I saw him slowly turn around and head back up the stairs toward the second level. I didn't think much of it and continued up to the second level to find a spot.

I got out and put my keys away, still wearing my suburban cocoon I resist leaving every morning. As I zipped up my bag and walked toward the stairs, I noticed Gatorade Man was walking toward me on the other side of the lane.

By this time a few of other people had come into the garage and were also making their out of the garage, so I wasn't totally alone. I thought it was odd that Gator Man was headed away from the train station, but didn't think much of it.

But as I passed him I heard his footsteps change. He turned around and was now right behind me headed toward the station. But whatever - a few of us were all headed toward the station. I picked up my pace anyhow, 'cause I never like anyone walking right behind me.

But something in my gut had flipped. Something wasn't right. Why was this guy, who moments earlier had been casually coming down the stairs, now right behind me? It didn't feel right. He was a big guy, too. At least 6', maybe 6'2" or 3", about 200lbs.

I kept on, walking as quickly as I could without looking like I was hustling. I jammed through the turnstile at the station and up the escalator. At this point, I was certain this guy was following me. Maybe he saw the soccer mom car and thought he found an easy mark. Who knows.

Once up on the platform, I walked down a ways to board a car some distance from the front. Moments later, he came off the escalator and walked up to where the front cars stop. I watched him until the train came, and as soon as the doors opened, I jumped on board and found a spot near the door on the far side of the car.

I watched as he walked down the platform past several, uncrowded cars to board the same car I was on. Coincidence? Maybe. But when your gut tells you it isn't, that's all you have to go on, and it probably shouldn't be ignored.

Then again, the imagination can take over and I'm not immune. When you don't know what might be happening, you can fill in the blanks with all sorts of things, so it's possible that absolutely nothing suspicious was going on. Thankfully, we'll never know for sure.

However, it was strange that he would walk past several cars to board where I got on, so I filed that away and when the opportunity presented itself, I snapped a picture of him with my camera phone.

When the train stopped where I get off, I waited while lots of other people filed off the train. Just before the doors were about to close, I jumped off the train. He followed. Now I was spooked. I ran up the escalators and didn't look back until I was inside the lobby of my building.

I waited behind a pillar and after a few minutes, he strolled by. I'd never seen him before that day, and haven't seen him since. It could have just been a strange chain of coincidences. I hope that's all it was. So remember, always trust your instincts, keep your head up and stay safe.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My Summer of Bob

After living here for five years, I finally have a somewhat normal, neighborly relationship with Crazy Neighbor Bob across the street. Since Bob got a puppy, he's become more "normal" and thus, not as uncomfortable to be around.

He's still crazy, but now that he has something to take care of, a companion - he seems happier and calmer. He no longer seems like he's on the verge of painting his house with mashed potatoes. And I'm happy to say, he's doing a great job with the dog - she's well-behaved and friendly.

I think he used to be a firefighter & took an extinguisher to the head. Or as he'd tell you, he hurt his back on the job. When he used to catch me on my way to work, all he ever talked about was how the state was trying to screw him out of disability. Then I'd see him out pruning the very tall tree in his yard with a long pole saw, romping on it like hell. Or washing his truck. Or rebuilding his garage. By himself.

Some favorite past moments with Bob:
[doorbell rings, Bob is at the door]
"Hello Bob, what's up?"
"I'm only telling you this because I like you. If you park your car the wrong direction on the street, you'll get a ticket."
"Okay, thanks Bob."

[doorbell rings, Bob is at the door]
"Hi Bob, what's up?"
"I brought you some beef jerky. I make it in my basement."
"Oh hey thanks Bob, but we're vegetarians."
[inside, once Bob is back across the street, question to David]
"Have you seen Bob's mom lately?"

[while parents are visiting, my dad goes outside to see Bob polishing his car's fender]
"Hey Bob, whatcha doin?"
"It's a new wax. Looks good, huh?"
"Sure, but I don't need my car waxed."
"Oh, well, I'll do the whole car for $80."
"No thanks, Bob."

And then there were the days when Bob would wait for us to leave in the morning, then sneak over and mow our lawn. What a crappy thing to do, right? No, not at all, except he was letting himself into the backyard through the gate, which was not OK.

I had to write him a note to let him know that we fear what we don't understand, like magic lawn mowing. It creeped me out that he was prowling all around our house when we weren't here. Seemed less than trustworthy. If we'd been close friends, no big deal, but we were Hey Neighbors. "Hey." "Hey."

But now - now we're pals. Soon after he brought the puppy home I couldn't help myself - I had to meet her.

I call her BooBoo, Puppy, and Girl - Bob calls her Tumbleweed.

I think he was just lonely & now he has a friend who will never tire of hearing about his struggles with his disability claim.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Password Is...

[in a whisper] c r a z y...

Rocket SHIP...
Dipity. Dooooo.

[things you'd find in Cameron's Tumi bag]

And after a giant laughing fit this afternoon while recreating favorite moments from Password and $24,000 Pyramid, I spilled coffee on my shirt.

I then tried to dab out the coffee stain with a damp napkin. It didn't work. Rather than walk around with a coffee stain right there in the middle of my, uh, windscreen, I thought it might be better to just cover it up.

We always have salt handy. So, BLAM. Salt. I mean, if you're going to have a stain on your shirt, or a stain that isn't quite gone and that part of the shirt is now warped from your attempts to remove the stain, and now it's worse than it was to begin with, why not just keep going.

I forgot it was there until later in the day when someone from another group came to talk to me about some wireframe copy - somewhat technical - and while he was trying to explain his thoughts on the matter, I noticed him look at my shirt and then a slightly puzzled expression came over his face as he tried like hell to stay on topic.

But you could tell his train was dangerously close to derailing. At the same moment I noticed that he noticed, I became riveted to his every word, hoping to increase the sense of pressure he might be feeling to not lose track and ask why the hell I had a salt packet taped to my shirt.

He managed to keep it together and upon subsequent trips to resolve the copy issue, avoided the salt area entirely and we had the matter solved in no time.

Jeff and I will need to pick up supplies for future stain masking occcasions. Like plastic flatware, paper plates, office-themed greeting cards, and some of those cafe table numbers.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Crispy Air

warehouse light in oakland

Walking to pick up lunch today, the air outside was different. It had that subtle crispness that means, summer is over. Fall was in the air. Bummed me out.

As a kid I hated this time of year - it meant going back to school. No more long days running around outside until it was dark - all day to do whatever I wanted... Now it means soon it'll be dark outside long before it's time to head home from work. Blah.

But now it's time again for the Race for the Cure. I wonder how long it'll take me this year to recover from running a 5K without any training. Any typical training, that is.

My regimen this year has consisted of running up & down Bart escalators, moving extremely heavy furniture around the house, countless loads of laundry (which includes stairs), shopping downtown, vacuuming, swiffering, catching rats, watching Deadwood, and kayaking. I'm totally ready.