Tuesday, December 11, 2018

It's Probably Not A Good Thing...

...when the urgent care staff starts recognizing you.

One infection, one afternoon spent in urgent care dripping sticky, stinky ooze on their table, 3 new medications because the infection is both fungal AND bacterial.


And then I managed to drop my cell phone, edge down, right on the nail.  Bellowing was involved, followed by contemplation of crying. When I could breathe again.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dante Was Wrong

There are 10 circles of hell, not nine, and the 10th circle is full of chemo patients.




Monday, November 26, 2018

Once More Into The Breach...

... and the major chemo will be done.  There's still radiation and maintenance chemo to get through, and possibly physical therapy, but none of that can be as bad as the full chemo has been.  This time, at the end of what I, completely without affection, refer to as "hell week", I'll know as I crawl out of it that the cycle won't repeat.  Which is a good thing, because both physically and mentally, I'm fried.

I'd say I'm a walking side effect, but it's getting very hard to walk.  The weakness has been bad enough, but now my legs and feet have decided to make like the Goodyear blimp.  I suspect that I'll be on another pill after talking to the oncologist tomorrow.  And will get lots and lots of exercise trotting to the bathroom shortly thereafter until the fluid is dumped.

Some of the side effects have been pretty bad but controllable once we knew I was having them.  Hence lots of pills.  Some haven't been controllable: the weakness has left me needing a walking stick when I'm out because I can't trust my legs right now and I can't stay up long.  There's also peripheral numbness of toes and fingers: I haven't had contact with the middle three toes of my feet for a couple months and I'm getting rather used to constantly dropping things because I can't feel them.  The only good thing out of the numbness is that when I burned my hand while cooking the other day it didn't hurt nearly as bad as it should have - I was surprised when it blistered.  But that has a serious down side that means I have to be watchful of even small injuries because of infection.

Then there's the weird things.  Jaw muscle spasms.  They didn't warn me about that.  Twitching eyelids and constantly running eyes.  Which is better than the twitching eye BALLS some people get - yeah, that would be freaky.  My skin periodically announces that it's unhappy either with a fungal infection or just weird, painless splotches:


And my hands stink.  Took me two days to figure out what was going on.  Was doing the sniff test all over the house - the fridge, the toilet, my clothes, my arm pits... Then I realized it was my hands.  Scrubbed and scrubbed, thinking I'd somehow gotten something on them.  Smell didn't come off. Finally made the connection:  because of chemo damage, all of my fingernails and some of my toenails are separating from the nail beds.



The smell is from the nails as they separate, I guess from the dead tissue underneath.   Lovely.

And taste buds.  That one I did expect.  I just didn't know it would come in the form of always having a mouth full of very salty tasting saliva and a tender mouth that can render trying to eat something as simple as bread into having a mouth full of sandpaper.  There's a weird visceral reaction to certain foods, too.  I go "off" things.  One day eggs are as OK as any food is right now, the next just looking at them causes my whole body to go into a clench that's not exactly nausea but is a clear "Nope!  Don't even THINK about it!"  When the chemo started I thought, well, I need to make sure that what I DO eat is healthy.  Yeah.  Right. Now it's just whatever I CAN eat:  currently Ball Park hot dogs are classified as a "health food" in my house.  I'm not eating them often because of the salt content, but I CAN eat them, and as tired as I'm getting of meat (you need high levels of protein when on chemo) they are a welcome relief to just the texture of meat.  I'll be really glad when I can go back to my semi-vegetarian life that includes way more beans, home made paneer, and tofu. 

Well, I should stop pissing and moaning.  The worst is almost over.  I'm almost anxious to get there tomorrow because I know that a month down the road I should be heading, however slowly, into recovery from their dedicated attempts to poison me.  When I was at the bottom the last two cycles I was thinking "I don't think I can do this again."  Now I know I won't have to.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Speaking of Data. And Legalization of Pot

Heard that recreational pot became legal in MA today.  Apparently there was quite a crush at the first legal pot shop when it opened this morning.

No, I don't feel that alcohol and pot are equivalent.  Alcohol has been much more deeply ingrained in human culture than other drugs have been, which is why making alcohol illegal failed.  And, anyway, how can adding a layer of people who toke and drive because they can openly buy and toke now to the layer of people who drink and drive be... helpful?

I've heard there's a lot of things that people who have been pushing legalization of pot (and stand to make money off of it) haven't been mentioning about what's happened in Colorado, the state that led the dubious way in the US a few years back.  Like an increase in DUIs - the layer of tokers I'm concerned about.  Worse, apparently Colorado has seen an increase in emergency room treatment of small children who have gotten hold of Mom/Dad's pot laced goodies and eaten them.

I haven't chased specific numbers to verify those counter-pot claims yet, but I did do a quickie check on something more general:  I found a report posted by the Colorado DOT that covers all deaths (including pedestrian) due to vehicle accidents from 2002 through 2018.  I dropped 2018 since we aren't done the year yet and plotted deaths per 100,000 population for 2002 through 2017.


Colorado's law went into effect in January 2014.  Note that fatalities had been declining, hiccuped up a little, then look what happens at 2014 and after.  Maybe it just indicates that too many Californians who can't drive in Winter had moved there by then.  Don't know.  But it is an interesting bit of information.

And I do find it pretty hypocritical that it's OK to suck marijuana smoke (you know, particulate matter) containing a drug (you know, THC) into your lungs and to expose the people around you to  secondary smoke from it but if you do the same thing with tobacco you are EVIL and will be confronted by pissy people who object to you doing it.

And then there is the raising revenue via taxes for health care argument for pot legalization.  Not hearing good things about where our tobacco taxes go in various states, either.  Apparently, not where they were supposed to.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Found It! For Borepatch...

I can't get the email thingy at Borepatch's profile site to work because, um, Luddite probably, but we had a brief "conversation" after one of his blog posts.  I thought he'd posted one of the examples but turns out it wasn't him and I actually had it buried on my own computer.  So this is sort of for him.

I spent 35 years crunching data.   At core, my former agency produces high accuracy data points on the earth's surface that create a network from which surveyors and mapmakers of every level of accuracy can hang their work.  For that you use data points, observational data, a certain amount of smoothing, and a sense that I can't explain, maybe it was experience, of what the numbers are telling you.  That sense was what had me worried about the agency's product when I left.  It was often clear that the younger data crunchers were seeing ONLY numbers, not information. There's a difference. They're not just numbers.  It's information that tells you something and sometimes what the numbers tell you is subtle.  The computer output from an algorithm doesn't flag that subtlety.  It's there in front of you but you have to recognize it. 

Anyway, I've seen this a couple places, and it pissed me off.


On the right, actual data locations, although I'm dubious about how much is really there.  There aren't a bunch of airports with weather kits close together in those areas - betcha.  On the left, complete misuse of the available data by maximum smoothing.  I suspect the computer program couldn't handle that little data over those large distances and did the computer program version of throwing up without crashing.  I've had it happen.  The output is useless because you drove the program crazy.

But gee whiz that computer barf creates an impression, doesn't it?.  An impression that guarantees employment.  Because that's how it works.  The primary purpose of a government agency is to continue its existence.  The work it was created for is gravy.  The primary job of every agency director is to get the money out of Congress needed to maintain the agency's existence with staff numbers at the highest possible levels.  This, of course, varies in degree and what the agency does and there are tons of government employees out there who just want to do the work and do it right.  I was one of them.  But you know those committees that are in charge of the purse strings for science agencies?  They probably know nothing about the subject matter they are doling out money for.  That's BEFORE you get to the "dumb as a post" part.

There's no validity to the map on the left.  They've manipulated data over huge distances in a way they should be beat with a stick for.

NOAA is a huge agency. My little agency is a part of it.  Most old-timers felt we were misplaced - DOT would be more appropriate.  When asked who we worked for, we never said NOAA.  But, whatever, I can guarantee that NOAA  has no intention of going away.  It does do many good things.  Good luck boating along our ever-changing coasts without their updated nautical charts or coming in and out of an airport without the surveyor who mapped the runways and the elevations of  the flight obstructions around it.  One of the face palms of one meeting with the purse holders of Congress was when one of them said that the Weather Service could be gotten rid of because people now had access to things like the Weather Channel.  None of the NOAA folks at the meeting said what they were thinking:  "WHERE DO YOU THINK ALL THE DATA FOR THINGS LIKE THE WEATHER CHANNEL COMES FROM YOU IDIOT?!!!!!!"  But most people don't know the details of things as deeply entwined with their daily lives as how the road they drive every day was laid out from Point A to Point B and so egregiously bad work like that map is how they are now keeping their staffing levels.  It is a dishonest and horrible misuse of data that makes me angry and gives me the desire to beat someone with a stick.