Hurry up and wait

Back to the doctor again today, where they told me that I’d need another pair of CT scans – with and without contrast dye. On the other hand, the reason they want them is that the kidney surgeon has concluded that it’s a simple cyst, and if it has no cancerous tissue, he doesn’t think it should come out. It will need twice-yearly monitoring, but nothing more.

So, everyone please cross your fingers, or send good vibes, or do whatever else you do to encourage the Fates. The surgeon feels there’s a 40% chance it’s a harmless cyst, and a 60% it will have to come out. I’d like to fall in the 40. He does about fifty of these a year, so we’ll guess he knows what he’s doing.

Starr drilled him mercilessly on every technical detail. He commented, “You’ve done your homework. Want a job?” I said, “Y’all have already given her one,” and she confessed to being an oncology nurse with the same hospital chain.

And oh yeah, just because there’s not enough pain in our lives, we gave all three cats individual baths tonight.


I linked this in Facebook, but I’m reposting the link here because Starr saw me watching the new episode and asked to see the whole series. Freeman’s Mind follows a playthrough of the legendary “Half-Life” videogame, with a narration track added to the silent main character. The narration is smart-assed, sarcastic, and slightly deranged; Starr laughed through the 15 episodes so far completed. Recommended. (I’d have embedded it, but that’s disabled for some reason.)

More Tales of the Plumbing

I’m startled to see that I didn’t post here about the surgery. Sometimes I have trouble remembering which sites have current updates and which ones don’t.

Anyway, I went in on Wednesday morning and sat in pre-op for about an hour, getting more and more nervous. Thankfully, they gave me a bit of anti-anxiety in my IV drip, which helped; we also had a medical student stop by to tell me that she’d be observing the procedure, which Starr said was a good sign; they usually assign students to observe the simple, straightforward, textbook cases.

I don’t even remember them starting the anaesthetic. All I remember is waking up in post-op, and feeling utterly lousy; soon, they put me in a private room, and Starr joined me. The surgery went like clockwork, and removing the organ clearly had been the right decision, as it was discolored and had unusually-placed stones.

They’d intended to keep me overnight for observation, but the cafeteria accidentally sent up a solid-food dinner instead of the intended liquid diet, and not knowing better, I ate it. When the doctor discovered that I’d kept down solid food, and that my wife was an RN, they decided there wasn’t any real reason to keep me, and home I went Wednesday night.

Thursday I spent weak and in pain, accomplishing nothing besides leveling Mirandala to level 74. Friday, while still tired and hurting, I was able to fold some clothes and move up and down the stairs a couple of times. Saturday, we’d intended to participate in an overnight camp-out with a couple dozen friends; after much debate, Starr and I attended, but on the condition that I sit on my ass (or optionally lie on it) the whole time. I accepted, and had a great time, but I was still utterly wiped out by Sunday afternoon.

Life doesn’t wait up, though. The fuel filter replacement I’d done on Tuesday hadn’t done the trick, and Sunday I prepared to grit my teeth and fork over the $300 for a new pump assembly – only to find that all the local parts stores could order the assembly, but they didn’t actually have one in stock. They did have the actual pump part of the pump assembly, though; so while I didn’t have the super-clear instructions I did for the filter, I nevertheless worked out how to replace the pump part, and with the help of a friend for the heavy labor, managed to do it. The Hyundai took me to work this morning without a hiccup; we’ll see how it does this afternoon, but I’m optimistic.

So today I’m here at work, and tomorrow I have the MRI for my upcoming kidney surgery. I’m sure glad I don’t have a boring life like some people.


Here’s my little bit of happy for the evening, and it goes out to all my lichen lycan friends out there. It’s a WoW video, yes, but I suspect it works pretty well even if one’s not steeped in the lore of Azeroth.

Jargon and Gender

Serious question – I’m interested in your honest opinions.

We’re on the bridge of the Enterprise, in starship combat. Worf is injured, and collapses to the ground. Captain Picard orders, “Counselor Troi! Man the weapons console!”


Missed connection

Predictable, really. The fuel filter was delayed a day, and didn’t arrive until this afternoon. Guess whose car refused to start with any cajoling this morning? Guess who missed work?

Since the part was in, there was no point in waiting around. I unboxed the filter, got out my Chilton manual and my DIY pictorial from the Internet, and went to town. Getting the rear seat out was the hardest part; it took me a while to figure out that the front edge is held in with sliding tabs, and there was nothing to unbolt there – just pull hard. I had intentionally run the gas tank kinda low, and armed with warnings from the DIY, spilled almost no gasoline. The pump came apart easily, and the filter was about 20 minutes work to replace. I insist than anyone who’s ever taken something apart and put it together again can do this.

That’s when I noticed something. The electrical harness connection to the fuel pump showed signs of serious arcing. The wiring itself was good, nowhere corroded through, but the scorch marks on the plastic showed that something had clearly been loose. I bent a couple connectors to tighter positions, and replaced the harness and pump.

The car started right up, smoother than it has in months. I shut it off, and started it again – it started right up. I’ll do so again in 20 minutes as a further test.

Could the problem have never been the fuel filter or the pump itself, but simply a loose connection? Did the dealer even look? Were they about to charge me $550 for a bad connector in a wiring harness?

I’m not sorry I changed out the filter, that can’t hurt and may improve performance. But if that was the problem all along? Then I’m a little mad.

EDIT: Oh, yeah, speaking of pumps, our fridge died last night also. By an unusual coincidence, we have a backup fridge… but we now have to walk to the garage every time we want a soda.

Parts is parts

Awesome. Misty-kitty just found the reset switch on my power strip. Well, the computer was about due for a clean restart anyway, I guess.

Anyway, to add to the wonderfulness of my week, my Hyundai has learned a new habit: it stalls out sometimes when starting, requiring long wait periods (sometimes hours and hours) before it will again start; once in a while it’ll stall out on the highway, too, which is awfully fun at highway speeds during rush hour.

I managed to get it to the dealer yesterday, after much finagling. The dealer wants to put in a new fuel pump, for $550 – which right now I just cannot afford. So I did a little Internet research. The culprit is most likely not the pump, but the in-pump fuel filter. While one can’t replace said filter with five minutes and a Swiss Army knife, the step-by-step DIY I found is clear enough that anyone with basic intelligence, and an awareness of which end of a screwdriver points out, could do the work. The difference? The necessary part is only $30 or so. BUT – you can’t buy the part at your favorite local auto store. They will all just shrug and offer to sell you the complete pump, which adds another zero to the part’s price. The manufacturer just does not want you doing this yourself.

Well, I found an online source, and I expect the part to be here by Monday – only one more work day of praying that I make it to my job and back, then I should be good with about an hour’s work in the driveway. But it’s just one more source of aggravation. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to pick up some prescriptions for Starr and dinner fixins – the pharmacy’s closed by the time she leaves work. Cross your fingers that I get home!

Data from a eight-foot medical tricorder

The doctors have scheduled me for gall bladder surgery on Wednesday. Everyone is telling me it’s a perfected procedure, I’ll be home that afternoon, and that I’m really not likely to miss it all that much. And y’know, I happen to be married to a registered nurse. So, okay, I’m about as optimistic as one could possibly be about this.

But there’s something I didn’t get around to mentioning back on the 28th. The CAT scan that revealed the gallstones also displayed a mass on my kidney, which the doctors wanted to follow up on. Yesterday, I got the lowdown, complete with pictures.

The mass is a tennis-ball-sized lump of tissue on my kidney, and the doctors are quite certain that it needs to come out. This is no outpatient laproscopic surgery, either; they’ll have to cut me open and remove it the old-fashioned way, and I’ll be on my back for days afterwards. The good news is that the artery and ureter aren’t involved, and I’ll still have half a good kidney on that side when they’re done.

I took the news pretty calmly, and waited until after a good lunch and an afternoon nap before having a meltdown. (That mostly involved tripping over sentences I’m trying to assemble, and getting a little strident in my tones from time to time. Yeah, I’m a fireball.) Luckily I had Starr and a couple other understanding friends there, who even kept offering me a little alcohol if I thought it would take the edge off. Not my speed, but I appreciated the goodwill.

So, the kidney surgery will probably be in three weeks or so, and I’ll be posting more details as I have them. Sigh.

Stolen heredity

Some Ponyo research led me to an article about Lupin the Third, and it suddenly struck me that I should read some Lupin the First – just for purposes of self-education! Luckily the 21st century makes this pretty easy for anyone capable of reading this LJ entry; thank you Project Gutenberg for this collection of Arsene Lupin tales.

I found the first book of stories to be entertaining reading, though I noticed that Lupin resembles the Bronze Age Superman – nothing is truly a challenge for him. If author Leblanc needed Lupin to escape a locked room, frequently a subsequent scene would show him out of the room with no explanation, other than a shrugged “it’s Lupin, what do you expect?”

And this is what put the brakes to my reading of the character, when the French author decides to place Lupin against Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes in “The Blonde Lady”. It’s a pointless battle from the start; Holmes at least engages in his own equivalent of Star Trek technobabble to justify his more unlikely successes (“I can recognize hundreds of brands of cigars by their ashes, of course.”) Lupin has no such limitation, and in this tale penned by a Frenchman, the French thief walks all over the English detective.

Of course, I knew that Holmes would lose the contest – I can see the author’s name at the top of the document, after all – but I’d have enjoyed a real battle of wits, with each side forced to play their best game against the other. Instead, Holmes is shown as completely unprepared for Lupin, and incapable of causing him even mild discomfort. It’s an ungentlemanly treatment of another author’s work, and I’m hardly surprised that Conan Dolye’s estate demanded the removal of Holmes’ name from reprintings. I could not even finish the novel, such was my irritation with it.

I’ll go back to Lupin III, I think. The unstoppable thief is more fun in the slightly deranged world of anime shenanigans; but I’m glad to have briefly met his grand-dad. (Leblanc’s estate does not approve of Lupin III’s use of the name, btw, and in several countries he’s had to be called “The Wolf.” Pot, may I introduce you to kettle?)

Hey… where’s my watch?