Friday, 9 January 2009


It's Friday. January 9th. I still have to do something about the January spectrogram, which I may play with this weekend (using Praat, &deity; help me), but otherwise, I'm taking a deep breath.

The New Year caught me by surprise. I had planned to spend Christmas back in the Seattle area seeing friends, family, eating Mexican food and Red Robin burgers, but, well, the weather didn't cooperate. The Monday flight got cancelled, and with more snow coming in Tuesday night and Wednesday morning (Christmas Eve), I decided a) the plane might not be able to land at all and b) if it did, I'm not sure I wanted to try to drive the three hours on the freeway in fresh snow. So I cancelled the trip. I'd say I'm going to try again in February, but I'm on a hiring committee where that week is probably going to be an Issue.

So I spent Christmas by myself, not cleaning my apartment, which now has shredded paperwork all over the floor because I tipped over the shredder trying to muscle my suitcase around and I just haven't gotten around to doing anything about it.

I did get some work done, in the sense of doing stuff that needed doing, although none of it is 'finished'. And the next thing I knew, school was starting. The first week is over, which I survived with only a single class. But it was still more exhausting that I would have liked.

The Unpleasant Medical Procedures Fest continues. On Wednesday I had to cancel my first class meetings for an abdominal CT scan. I've never had a CT scan so that was sort of interesting. What wasn't interesting was the stat bloodwork they needed to be sure my kidneys were functioning normally.

At least, that's what I assume they were doing when the checked my creatinine. Which was fine, but they've taken me off one of my antidiabetic drugs because it can also affect kidney function, and I assume the danger is that if the injection they gave me to help image my insides doesn't cause my kidneys to fail, the combination might.

So for what basically what turns out to be 5 minutes of lying in the machine, there's 4 hours of absolute fast, about 10 oz of icky peachy (it had to be peach) stuff that if you liked peach might actually not taste bad but blech, with stuff in it to help image the intestines, then another 10 oz about 30 minutes later. And again about 30 minutes after that. Which is when they decided they need a blood test, so then it's another 20 minutes while they wait for the results.

Then there's an IV with more stuff in it, this stuff presumably the stuff that can do something bad to your kidneys.

Then on Thursday, I had to have more blood drawn, and urine taken, for my hemi-semi annual trip to the endocrinologist on Tuesday. I got them to draw from the back of my left hand, since I figured I'd been poked cubitally twice the day before, and how many times can you get poked in the same vessel before you risk vascular collapse?

For those of you who care, the answer is 'quite a bit', because vascular collapse happens when you loose too much blood volume, not when you poke a given vessel a dozen times. But presumably it doesn't help to poke the same vessel 30 times a day, which is why if you're in the hospital and they know they're going to take blood several times a day they leave the needle in.

But anyway, where was I? Poke for the creatinine. Poke for the IV. Now poke for the endo. And this morning, Friday, I had to go in to the clinic to have another creatinine test (poke #4), to see if my kidneys have failed and if not to resume my drugs.

And in February, I get to go for another colonoscopy. Not because anything is wrong, but because, apparently, I have an interesting looking ileocecal valve. Good thing this is Canada and it's all free. I can just imagine what the doctors who examined me when I immigrated would have said if they could have forseen all this.

Never let it be said that I'm not getting my money's worth out of the Canadian medical system. And Canadians love to complain about waiting times for various tests and procedures. But so far, that hasn't been a problem. Granted, I haven't had anything that was 'urgent', like debilitating pain requiring hip replacement, and I'm not on a waiting list for any organs. But in my experience, 'getting into the system' isn't the problem. Getting out of it, well, that's a different story.

Remind me to bespeak a picture of my ileocecal valve to post here.

So at the moment, I'm mulling cider and toasting pumpkin seeds for a party tomorrow for one of my colleagues who is moving on to new adventures. That's what we're calling it. And I woudl be working on the spectrogram, but like I said, I'm taking a deep breath.