Category Archives: Health

Catabetic Emergency

maeve“Oh, shit, the cat is dead!”

It was 4am and Maeve was sprawled on the floor. She was cool to the touch and unresponsive. I took this picture to document how she was found — I couldn’t just leave her there until my wife got up — and knelt down in front of her. That’s when I saw that her eyes were open.

We’ve been giving Maeve insulin shots for several years and now she was in trouble, most likely extremely hypoglycemic, and she wouldn’t last long without help.

We called the pet hospital and they advised that we get some sugar into her — just as you would with a human — and their advice was to rub Karo syrup into her gums. So there I am, at 4:30, on the floor with a handful of sticky syrup in one hand and a cat in the other.

She gradually grew more alert, and when I showed her a small plate with a tablespoon of food on it she sat up and ate. Soon she was up on her feet, but a bit shaky; we herded her into the cat carrier for her trip to the vet. It turns out her diabetes was in remission and the insulin was making her blood sugar plunge too low. I’ll be damned.

I’ve told this story to a few people and the wondered if the cat’s physiology may hold some sort of medical secret that reverses diabetes. Actually, it’s not uncommon for diabetes to go away in cats, but wouldn’t that be something? Imagine the side effects listed in the commercial:

Some people may experience an urge to chase mice. Taking this medication could cause you to lick your hands and feet and curl up in someone’s lap…

So, all is well with Maeve the cat. Two days later she’s acting completely normal. You know, by cat standards, of course.

Shoe Business

Wouldn’t it be great if there were voice activated toilet seats? You just could walk in and tell it to go up or down and never have to touch the damn thing.

seatWell, we don’t have them — so until that wonderful day arrives you should just do what most sensible people do: use your foot.

This leads to an interesting question: how dirty are your shoes from touching toilet seats?

“How dirty” stories used to be all the rage in TV news. I did promos for stories where we tested hotel rooms, household items and common objects you find in public, like doorknobs and water fountains. We’d swab the things and send the samples to a lab for analysis. Two weeks later? Instant sweeps story!

Anyway, way back in 2008, ABC News did a story about dirty shoes. The results? Your shoes are astoundingly dirty — maybe even the dirtiest things you own. I’m not trying to freak you out here, but you may be making a toilet seat dirtier by touching it with your filthy shoe.

Just something to think about. Meanwhile, I suppose in the future it will be odd to hear people calling out “up” and “down” in public restrooms.

Wash Your Melon

In the kitchen one recent morning, I set about to slice up a watermelon.

My wife was reading the obituaries — as she often does over coffee — pointing out the men my age who’d died, some of them quite suddenly.

“You wash these before slicing them, right?”

“Why would I wash a watermelon?”

“The same reason you wash anything — except melons are worse. They grow on the ground and the soil could be contaminated with E. coli. I read somewhere that the farm workers don’t have proper toilet facilities and they poop in the fields. The E. coli gets in the soil, the soil touches the melons… next thing you know, you’re in the hospital.”

I paused.

“Would you like some to bring to work?”

‘Tis the Season

No, that’s not a head in my refrigerator, it’s a standing rib roast that’s been in there dry aging for a week. But it does look sorta like a head, doesn’t it?


It’s the main course for our family Christmas celebration on Tuesday 12/30, delayed almost a week because that’s when my son flies in from California. The Marines had important work for him to do that kept him away from us on Xmas.

The result is that the holiday feels like it’s never going to end.

Don’t get me wrong, I freakin’ love Christmas, but I swear to God it’s going to kill me. It seems that ten years ago I was a much more resilient merrymaker, able to eat, drink and party with greater abandon. Now? It takes much longer to recover from holiday indulgences.

But nobody said Christmas would be easy, did they? Consider the Maji, travelling through the desert for the original celebration of Christ’s birth. Their difficult journey — on stinky camels, probably — is thought to have taken six to eight weeks. Next to that, driving to Syracuse is a piece of cake.

So enough of my ungracious Christmas kvetching. Celebrate until it hurts this season and understand that in the pain you will certainly gain.

“The Ghost of Christmas Ass”

I sometimes like to share things I like from the ad world, and I found this Christmas spot particularly inspiring. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

I was not previously aware of Poo-Pourri — and this is not their first off kilter video — but you can be certain that I’ll pick it up for the house. I may even bring some to work for those people who insist on shi**ing during the work day.

Call Me Lefty

It’s been a glorious summer so far, but thanks to a bum arm, there have been some minor inconveniences.

In June I injured my arm while on ambulance duty when lifting an oxygen tank. If memory serves, when it happened I commented, “Fu*K! Fu*K! Fu*K!” and proceeded to hop cartoon-like around the ambulance bay.

I’m not sure I actually heard my distal bicep tendon tear, but I immediately knew there was trouble and ended up riding in the ambulance as a customer, not an EMT. It’s worth noting that the incident drew everyone within radio distance so they could stand around and watch me writhe in pain.

Lifting an oxygen tank does not make for a very glamorous story, so in order to spice things up I concocted a variety of tales that made my arm more interesting. The top three:

1. I lifted a car off an injured person.

2. Caught a baby tossed from the window of a burning house. No, wait — TWO babies.

3. Wrestled a contaminated needle away from a deranged patient.

The long and short of it is I required surgery to reattach the tendon, a barbaric procedure that involved drilling a hole in my arm bone. This video shows what they did:

After ten days in a soft cast and a month of wearing a sling, I’m starting to get better, but full recovery is still months away.

The lesson here: when there’s something heavy to lift, find someone else to do it.


During one of my slow, pathetic runs this week I was alarmed to hear a car directly behind me. After years of running on the road — always facing traffic — I can tell what a car sounds like when it’s coming from the other direction behind me. And this? This sounded wrong.

I darted for the grass, and looking back saw a car driving on the wrong side of the road, dangerously close to where I now stood. A drunk? Someone who had fallen asleep at the wheel? No, just the guy delivering the Times Union.

To paraphrase an old joke, I should have worn my brown shorts.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this.

Early in the morning, Times Union carriers routinely drive on the wrong side of a busy state highway near my house. Stretches of the road have limited sight lines, so this doesn’t seem like a great idea.

But maybe it’s no big deal. I’m sure he’s paying extra close attention to what he’s doing and never fumbling around with his newspapers or anything. Clearly, these are highly experienced professionals who’ve had training in safely driving on the wrong side of the road. It’s possible that they even hold a special license that allows them to drive on the wrong side; I must check the DMV website for that.

Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the days when twelve-year-old kids would deliver your paper. It seems unlikely that you’d get run over by a kid on a bicycle.

When I venture out in the morning, I’m always wearing a reflective vest or sash, and if the sun’s not up yet, I have an annoyingly bright headlamp to alert drivers. I’ve jumped off the pavement once or twice over the years. The one thing I have little control over is cars coming from behind me, and what with all the distracted driving out there, maybe it’s time to be concerned.

So, I hope you don’t read about me getting run over by someone delivering newspapers. It would be a hell of a story, though.  Newspaper people do love irony.

Achilles’ Heel

Do you ever look at things and wonder how dirty they are? You shouldn’t, because it will make you nuts, but just for the heck of it, let’s talk about the supermarket checkout conveyor belt.

Everything goes on there — from leaky chicken to God knows what. Maybe that’s not such a big deal until you notice your bread peeking out from the end of its paper sleeve.



If you love a crusty baguette, there’s nothing better than the heel, which has more crust than any other slice. But when you see your heel rubbing shoulders with the filthy conveyor belt, it loses some of its delicious appeal. Ack!

So why can’t they make sure the bread isn’t longer than the bag? My theory is that they do it on purpose to give the illusion that you’re getting extra bread — or it may simply be for the eye appeal of your loaf jutting out of the bag. Either way, the unintended consequence is that I want to cut off the end and throw it outside for the crows.

So, local supermarkets, with apologies to Abe Lincoln, how long should these bags be? Long enough to reach the end of the bread.

Don’t Drink the Water

Flipping through the dial this morning, I caught the local news on the radio, just in time to hear this interesting item: Albany residents are warned that two bodies of water, the Washington Park Lake and Buckingham Pond, are “infected” with a blue-green algae bloom.  The report advised people not to “drink the water.”

If you’ve ever been to Washington Park or seen Buckingham Pond, I’m pretty certain that the last thing in the world you would ever do is drink that water. And if for some reason you completely lose your mind and  do drink the water, the health department outlines some serious ramifications:

“Consuming water containing high levels of blue-green algal toxins has been associated with effects on the liver and on the nervous system in laboratory animals, pets, livestock and people.”

We get into frequent arguments at my house about The Walking Dead, which returns this Sunday night. Someone will say, “Where are they getting water? Imagine the time you’d have to spend locating and purifying water just to stay alive.  Very unrealistic.”

Yes it’s extremely unrealistic. Almost as unrealistic as the idea of dead people lurching back to life and consuming human flesh. I suppose if we can accept the zombie premise, the maybe we can let go of the fact that the show’s characters don’t spend time collecting water.

Suspension of disbelief is central to enjoying horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. When you start getting bogged down in in conversations about what’s realistic, it takes the fun away.

Instead, let’s talk about a real world issue, like who’s the numbnut that thinks people would drink the water out of the Washington Park Lake?