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My Life as Slap-Stick
Hooray for the Oklahoma Supreme Court!
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I have not mentioned it here previously, but I have a fairly rare chronic bone marrow cancer similar to Chronic Mylogenous Leukemia.  There's a genetic component to it and I have at least one relative diagnosed with the same thing.  My specific diagnosis has changed several times with different doctors, but keeps returning to Agnogenic Myeloid Metaplasia.  All of the various names it has been given fall under the Myello Prolferative Syndrome umbrella.

Basically, my body makes lousy platelets.  Sometimes they clot too easily.  Most of the time, they clot very poorly.  To make up for this, my body makes way too many of these lousy platelets.  It also makes too many fibroblasts, which form collagen and other connective tissues.  With nowhere else to go in my body, these suckers have scarred up the bone marrow in my long bones, leaving no room for the blood production cells.  In an embryo, blood production centers in the liver and spleen.  My liver and spleen have returned to their embryonic blood production roles, which increased their size.  In addition, my spleen tries to vacuum up all the extra platelets so my blood doesn't turn into platelet sludge, become immovable and clot in place, killing me.  This means my spleen, normally the size of a fist, grew to the size of a newborn baby, making me appear permanently pregnant.

Another thing this illness has done is to make me itch when I come into contact with water, including the humidity in the air.  Aquagenic pruritis is the bane of my existence, affecting my hygiene and my ability to work in high humidity situations.  I don't understand why.  I just live with it.

Three weeks ago, I started a newly FDA approved medication, Jakafi, derived, one way or another, from the gene in MPS sufferer's DNA that is not working correctly.  So far, my spleen has dramatically reduced in size, reducing the secondary symptoms caused by the mechanical issues of a really big spleen.  I have fewer night sweats.  I still itch beyond anything that someone who has not gone through withdrawal from opioid addiction can understand.

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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"Virtual Colonoscopy?!  Do you mean I can sit at the computer and view some clown's colon the same way the doctor can?"

Maybe you can.  Try going over to YouTube and do a search.  I'll be here.

Today, I was on the receiving end (sorry about that) of the title procedure/test.  I will not describe what the prep was like, other than to say, it was like anyone else's prep for the usual colonoscopy.  If you really need the details, check in with your nearest older relative of age 50+.  If one is not available, look for a nearby senior center.  They'll talk your ear off.

I understand the usual colonoscopy can be somewhat uncomfortable and most people are lightly sedated.  It involves a doctor inserting a long, flexible tube through one's anus, rectum, and colon.  The tube holds a fiber-optic cable and some instruments.  The fiber-optic cable allows the doctor to get a good look at where he is shoving the business end of the tube, allowing him to point it in the correct position (one hopes).  It really comes into play when the tube has been inserted as far as it can go.  The doctor starts pulling the device back out while looking in the viewer to check for abnormal structures along the colon walls.  If she happens to see a polyp or other abnormal structure, she can extrude a device to snip it off, possibly preventing a cancer's ability to form.

The virtual colonoscopy also involves a tube inserted through the anus, but it only goes in a few inches.  There's a small inflatable balloon that is filled with air after the tube is correctly placed to keep it in place.  So far so good, right?  Then your colon gets inflated with something like Carbon Dioxide.  Once one's colon is properly inflated, a CT Scan is done.  Well, two scans; laying on your back and laying on your stomach.  This version is also uncomfortable, but for a much shorter time.

Once the images are recorded, they are processed with proprietary software to give the doctor the same pulling-backwards, inside view.  THAT's when it becomes a VIRTUAL colonoscopy; when the doctor takes a virtual tour of my tokus!

I need to find out if I can get a copy. . .


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This house smells wonderful!  I know it will be leftovers for dinner tonight, because my daughter/housekeeper is cooking up a mess of onions.  I have passed on to her the lore that almost anything can be recycled as a new meal if the new presentation involves onions.

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Whiskey, our tuxedo cat is wailing, wanting to go outside.  He's our only indoor-outdoor cat left.  He has clearly been in an argument with another animal and has puncture wounds and a probable abcess on his head.  Later today, he will be jammed into a carrier and will be seeing the vet.  It's time for a rabies shot as well, poor kitty.

He keeps trying to open the door.  He knows that the doorknobs have magic and if you touch them the right way, the door will open.  So, he stretches up and pats and strokes the doorknob, willing it to give up it's secret and let him outside.
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In the morning, when we get up, my primary responsibility is to make coffee.  Everything else is subsidiary to that.  I'm essentially an agnostic with atheist tendencies, but as my husband and I each savor that first cup of the morning, I know there is a god!

I just read this to my husband who said, "I'm sure She understands."
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I work for the State of Illinois, doing computers and computer-related things.  At both my current and prior assignments, it is impossible to get everything done, but I keep plugging along.

About a year, year-and-a-half before the end of my prior assignment at a HUGE residential facility for developmentally disabled adults, I was feeling really good about a major task I had just nailed that day.

I was so full of joy about what I had gotten done, I started skipping down the sidewalk on the way back to my office.  Apparently, the Facility Director was looking out of his window and saw me.  My work-cell started ringing.  I answered it and the FD's secretary asked, "Dude, was that you the Director saw skipping?"  I agreed that it had been and the conversation went on for a few more sentences, but I no longer felt as joyful.

I've been at my new job, a school that enables DD youngsters to become independent adults, for just a few months.  I have gone skipping down the hallway several times, eliciting smiles, not astonishment that a late-middle-age woman could/would physically express her joy, let alone have any.

I love my new job!
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Today's Dear Abby column has a letter from a young woman who feels that she is not taken seriously due to her high-pitched voice.  I can relate to that.

When I was younger, I was lucky enough to have a wide tonal range, but my normal speaking voice was as high pitched as a child's.  One fine day, I had taken off from work and was waiting for a repairman to arrive.  The phone rang and I answered it with that piping-high voice, "Hello!"

A man's voice responded, "Hi, there!  May I please speak with your Mommy?"

I started off in that same high-pitched voice, "My Mommy lives in Wilmette with my Daddy,  I live here with my Hubby."  I deepened my voice almost to his low pitch, "Would you like to speak with me?"

"Oh!  Uh, I guess you wouldn't be interested in cemetery plots, uh..."  Click!
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I have bragged one-too-many times about my Forrest Gump-like presence at the start of Computer Typesetting.  My daughter has jumped upon my offhanded claim to be a primary source and now insists that I apply fingers to keyboard and record my memories.  Here goes...

Around the tail end of 1975, I worked as a combination Paste-Up Artist/Camera-Operator/Negative-Stripper/Plate-Maker at a small print-shop.  I had become thoroughly fed up with my then-current employer, who shall remain nameless.  I sent out about 50 resumes and got one response.  Miraculously, I got the job and had the rare pleasure of being able to respond to being told I had earned a raise with "Thank you, I have another job.  I'm giving you my two weeks notice."

The new job was with W. F. Hall, a major printing company, in the Newport Division.  I remember the W.F.Hall plant being around 4600 W. Diversey in Chicago.  (There was a Korean snack-shop across the street where I tried Bee-Bop-Bim for the first time.)  The plant stretched four city blocks to Belmont.  There were long web presses that would process huge rolls of paper into catalogs, magazines and unbound book sections.  One area I would walk past had row upon row of Linotype machines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linotype_machine).  After passing those, I went up a tucked-away stair to our office area on the periphery of the company's mainframe computer.  Security was tight.  Not once did I ever get past the bulk-head doors to that severely-cooled holy-of-holys.

It was an appropriate placement, because this was one of the first prototype computer typesetting operations.  Previously, there had been computer database systems set up to maintain magazine and newspaper subscriptions that were able to start computer-generating their mailing labels.  Mailing labels don't have to follow the rules governing high-quality typesetting.  They only have to be readable in a tight space.

This, however, was an attempt to get the level of quality attainable by an expert typesetter working by hand-assembling individually molded or carved letters, or on one of those afore-mentioned Linotype machines, but getting it faster and cheaper.  Instead of the highly-paid, old-fashioned, (male) craftsmen Linotype operators, this operation had two expert (female) touch-typists who probably were paid a fraction of what the Linotype operators earned.  They keyed on two IBM Selectric© typewriters that had been worked over to punch paper tape in patterns to represent the various keys.  This kind of paper-tape had been previously used to make it possible to have one very expensive Linotype produce the keying output of multiple operators.

I was trained first as a coder.  I marked-up copy/text with codes indicating the typeface to be used, the size, the line spacing and other factors.  The keyers would enter the coding along with the copy to be keyed.  The code for bold was "<b>."  To turn off bold, the code was "</b>."  If this looks familiar to you, imagine my amazement two decades later as I started to learn Hyper-Text-Mark-up-Language (HTML) only to find out that I knew a chunk of it already.

While I was there, Management hired IBM to rewrite the software that governed the word processing.  IBM wasn't stupid.  They took that software and packaged it with other items it already had on the market to make the Display Writer.  I saw one once.  It had what was basically an IBM typewriter with changeable font balls, connected to a CPU (Central Processing Unit) dedicated to word-processing.  For storage of keyed documents or mailing lists, there were two eight-inch floppy drives connected to the CPU by fabric covered cables.  Most people who remember the diskettes prior to the 3.5" ones remember the 5.25" ones.  But if you were involved in printing industry computer typesetting shortly before the first personal computers hit the mass market, you may have seen the earlier larger ones.

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Never mind about the etymology of the term "bear arms," which once indicated the state of being at war in concert with an army of others all carrying weapons, but now seems to have devolved to the concept of "I get to have all the weapons I want and can afford, from pea-shooters to stuff that has to be mounted on something as substantial as a Humvee and you can't stop me!"

My grasp on the Second Amendment, is that this was actually a check on the government.  The framers of the constitution set it up with checks and balances such that the three branches of the government; Executive, Legislative and Judiciary would hold each other true to the principles of good government.  But there were gaps in the protections for the citizen that were addressed by the first ten Amendments to the constitution, AKA the Bill of Rights.  Among others, the citizen had the right, almost the responsibility, to maintain a weapon to protect himself and his family from the threat or actions of an unjust government.

Today, few people remember the original purpose.  Many still wish to carry weapons, but they wish to have them as hunting gear, or as protection from other citizens who may wish them harm, or even to enable them to accomplish harm.  The urban citizen tends not to hunt.  Nor does he think of the possibility that the government may want something he holds dear, or that it might wish to suppress one or more people for beliefs that run counter to the current approved thinking.

I believe that American citizens need to learn to protect themselves.  Start the kindergarteners on how to fall safely, how to evade someone who wishes to grab them, how to scream and call for help.  Teach them this along with basic fire safety, first aid and hygiene.  Expose them to the attitude that we all have the responsibility to take care of ourselves and others.  Combine it with gym class and push that exercise is good for helping you take good care of yourself.

As kids get older, encourage them to learn some of the classic oriental self-defense methods, as well as the philosophies of self-control that should accompany them.  As they mature further, expose them to some very basic weapons like knives and archery.  Perhaps in Jr. High, it would be time to start them on firearms and fencing.

Think about how vulnerable a house breaker might feel at the probability that a homeowner might injure him as they tossed him out on his ear.  How more cautious a mugger might be, or even how much more careful the government might be if they wanted to control someone.  Think also about how swiftly we could prepare our citizenry against a foreign enemy, how less likely they would be to invade.

No, we can't force people with religious objections to participate in the whole process. But we can encourage them in learning the non-violent methods of protecting themselves.  They need to be safe as well.

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