Category Archives: Health

“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.

Newsies

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.

bread

Revolting

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?

Under the Knife

Nurse: You have acute appendicitis.

Me: Thank you!

That old joke was the first thing to run through my mind when they’d told me I’d be spending the night at Albany Med. That hospital is a tremendous place, and within hours they whisked me from the emergency department’s waiting room to surgery.

tasnadi-johnson-scar

President Johnson shares his appendix scar with America.

Typically these days there’s no Lyndon Johnson style scar; routine appendectomies are done laparoscopically with just three small incisions. It’s a common procedure, but it wasn’t that long ago, before the advent of modern surgical techniques, that your appendix could kill you. That remains the case in parts of the world where people don’t have adequate medical care.

This is probably something that my surgeon, Dr. David Kuehler could tell you about; he spends half the year in Africa treating people who don’t have great hospitals and health insurance. Many of them are lucky to see a doctor at all.

I was rather disoriented when I woke up.

I was rather disoriented when I woke up.

Considering the state of current events, it was an interesting week to have an intimate look at health care in America; what kind of country would this be if everyone couldn’t get the same sort of care I received?

By the way, there will be no picture of my scars, which are pretty boring compared to Johnson’s.

One Never Knows

You never can tell exactly what’s going on, can you?

A blogger at our local newspaper, Kristi Gustafson Barlette, recently wrote about an odd encounter she had with a woman at a local ice cream joint. The woman engaged her in conversation that grew progressively strange, culminating with the lady offering up a taste of her ice cream.

Several commenters pointed out that there may have been more to this incident than just the rambling of an intrusive old woman — that there may have been something causing her to act that way. Naturally, most other commenters were much less forgiving.

In my EMT class, we learned how medical conditions and physical or developmental disabilities may influence behavior. Drugs – prescription or otherwise – and alcohol are also common culprits.

This understanding doesn’t make the person less annoying, but it may instruct us on how we react.

The older I get, the more willing I am to consider that someone’s actions and behavior may be the result of something I know nothing about. A million things cause people to be the way they are, and often it’s simply the sum of their life experience. Hell, sometimes it’s just because they slept poorly.   Take a moment before you judge. It’s not easy, but you’ll be a better person for it.

Dogs of the Fall

On a recent ambulance call, we took care of a man who tumbled down a few steps after tripping over his dog. He dinged up his shoulder pretty well, but it could have been much worse. I resisted the temptation to ask, “Do you want us to have a look at the dog?” See, I’m getting better!

60% of my household’s pet contingent.

We’ve all read how pet ownership is good for your health, but according to a study by the CDC a few years ago, tripping over your pets poses a significant hazard — and all their toys and crap are trouble, too.

The biggest culprits? Dogs. From the report:

“Nearly 7.5 times as many injuries involved dogs (76,223 [88.0%]) compared with cats (10,130 [11.7%]).”

Also:

“The most frequent circumstances were falling or tripping over a dog (31.3%) and being pushed or pulled by a dog (21.2%).”

I’m no stranger to the dangers posed by household pests pets; living in a house teeming with furry animals who scurry about underfoot is risky business.  It’s so bad at our house that when I get out of bed in the middle of the night, I sweep the floor with my foot to check for the presence of animals or sharp-edged bones and toys.

What I’d really like to see is a study of the relationship between stepping on cats and cardiac arrests. There’s nothing more startling than that — and speaking of cats, the study contains this odd tidbit:

“Most falls involving cats occurred at home (85.7%). Approximately 11.7% of injuries occurred while persons were chasing cats.”

To recap, a few safety tips: sweep the floor with your foot, limit the number of animals in your house, and never chase cats.

Because He’s a Fungi

We had a nice dinner over the weekend, trying out a recipe for wild mushroom goulash from Food and Wine. The author told of gathering wild mushrooms in the Hungarian countryside for the dish, but we just bought mushrooms from the supermarket. Why? Because wild mushrooms can f**king kill you, that’s why!

Sure. Go ahead and eat it. What’s the worst that could happen?

In 2012, NBC reported  “a scary surge in mushroom poisonings” in areas experiencing unusually rainy weather. Scary, indeed. The most common form of mushroom poisoning presents itself with extreme vomiting and explosive diarrhea. The good news is that it goes away. The bad news is the next thing you experience is liver failure. Just to clarify for you Phish fans, no, you don’t hallucinate to death with a big smile on your face.

The mushroom responsible for most poisonings worldwide is the aptly named death cap. Other dangerous shrooms have names like destroying angel; you can read about its excruciating effects in this first person account of mushroom poisoning.

The takeaway here is this: don’t eat wild mushrooms. Like cutting your own hair, picking mushrooms is something best left to an expert.