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The Week in Review

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The Week in Review –  The abridged version

In world news, the so called ‘Islamic State’ has teamed up with Al Qaeda, which is a very bad development. In a nutshell it means that IS and Al Qaeda will stop fighting one another and focus all their resources on destroying the rest of the Middle East (and the west during/after that) Both terrorist groups are chewing away at just about everyone in fights against, killing, enslaving, maiming and torturing civilians along the way. Meanwhile the world watches, horrified, and does little to nothing. That includes the rich Islamic countries that have yet to realize that they are next.

Already, attacks from Islamic fundamentalists in The US, Europe and Asia are on the rise. The media continues to regurgitate the same talking heads repeating variations of how ‘Islam is the religion of peace,’ and burying the stories on page six under headlines about ‘workplace violence.’ And again, organizations like CAIR and several anti-defamation groups who are outside the Middle East never seem to condemn the attacks.

Here in the United States, the big deal of the week appears to be whether or not President Obama will use an executive order to grant an all-out amnesty on nearly five million illegal aliens who have broken who-knows-how-many laws sneaking into the country. Some estimates say that nearly have been previously deported and a large majority of those have ties to criminal gangs in Central and South America.

There are way more than a handful of cases of illegals committing all manner of crimes right down to killing (intentionally or not) Americans. Having had one with no ID, license or insurance smash her car into Carolyn’s car (destroying it) and have absolutely no consequences gave me just the barest taste of what some people are going through. This is a huge problem and The President seems to want to make it even worse.

In my own little world, my liver is still wreaking havoc on me. However, there was some good news from the Transplant Clinic. My lab work is still headed downhill, but the mystical mathematics used for the MELD Score (Model of End-stage Liver Disease) remained solid. The problem items being that I am protein deficient and my ammonia level is climbing a bit, both of which could lead to some problems if not dealt with.

The MELD is the biggie, though. That really is the sole factor in determining if/when you get a transplant. The higher the score, the worse shape you are in and the more urgent it is that you get a liver. All the other side effects and levels you may have are discounted until (at some transplant facilities) you get to the fine points of blood type, age, body size and a few other items.

The real balancing act of it all is to get a liver while you are still strong enough to deal with the surgery and recovery. And while you want to keep your own organ as long as possible, you do not want wait so long that you are bedridden, weak and have issues with the surgery or a have a prolonged recovery time.

The usual side effects are making things a little dicey on a day to day basis. On bad days, the overwhelming fatigue, ridiculously itching rashes and other minor (and some unseemly) accents in this little symphony of a malady make it so that it takes pretty much everything I have to get through the day. Luckily, on the good days I am positively spitting nails, thinking ‘What is the big deal here?’ until a bad day clocks me and reminds me that one of my own organs is very much trying to kill me.

They say that I am an excellent candidate for a transplant and I still take all the meds and do exactly what they tell me to. It is an immense pain in the butt, but at least I am waking up every morning and doing what I can to keep everything together.

For now, that is enough.

These Days

These days, the world seems to be dead set on destroying itself. From the atrocities committed by the likes of Boko Haram and ISIS, to the bungled handling of Ebola and Enterovirus, all the way down to the members of the US Government who are “changing the face of America” to something akin to a welfare state, I can barely stand to watch the news.

People appear to simply not care about it. They bury their heads in their smart phones and mumble that it doesn’t affect them.

And then it does. It might be your neighbor, the nurse who treated an Ebola patient and is now under quarantine. It may be the kid down the street, who ends up in the hospital with Enterovirus which appears to be coming from illegals crossing the southern border unchecked. It could be the locally-owned business you like to shop at, where government taxation and regulation has forced them to close the doors. It might be your relative, who just had their job shipped to India where someone will do it for a fraction of what they were making.

Everything matters, people. You give your opponent an inch and he will more than likely take your butt to the woodshed and smack you down.

And in my own little liver-based drama, the hits just keep on coming. This week’s tests came back and the results were not particularly good and they have added more medications to deal with it. There is nothing quite like having the wind knocked out of your sails first thing in the morning, especially when you were expecting the opposite. The short version is that I am declining at a faster rate than I was previously.

In two weeks, I have a new batch of testing to be done over at the transplant clinic. Let me tell you, I am a little tired of waiting rooms, needles and radiation at this point, but people who deal with these situations for a living say that I need them, so I will totter off at 4 AM, bleary and red-eyed to do what they say.

I have heard from several people who have undergone what I am in the midst of, and it appears that things will be getting much worse before they get better. It is a long road, but ultimately you do get better after a transplant. I can only hope that a new liver comes through while I am still relatively strong, as opposed to bedridden in some hospital room.

More later.

FYI, is you want minute to minute updates, follow me on twitter @scooteroi. I tweet more than I post here…and we will not even mention my hate-affair with Facebook. Bah!

Sooner as Opposed to Later

We went off to the Liver Transplant Clinic at UAB’s Kirklin Clinic at 0-Dark-30 yesterday. The place is huge, efficient and everyone was very nice.

And that marks the high point of the day.

After drawing a bunch of blood, there was a very extensive forty-five minute ultrasound. Then it was up to an exam room for an evaluation with the Doctor.

Keep in mind that there was very little waiting time between any of this. For such a large facility (and I do mean large) there was no wasted time between any of these events. I was impressed. I’m sure there are times when it comes off the rails, but for us it was a good experience as far as the timing goes.

Now for the nuts and bolts of the matter:

The short version is that the numbers are not great and they want to do the transplant sooner as opposed to later.

There will be some time while they track the blood work to see the rate the liver is declining. Right now I am just a hair under where they would place you on the list (my MELD is 13, a score of 15 is where you normally become a candidate). And there are still more tests to do as well, contrast CT scan and whatnot, just so they can be sure to get a complete picture of what they are dealing with.

They also have me changing my diet again and going with more protein than carbs (do not believe everything you read on the interwebz, people) and they want me to get physically stronger before anything happens, which will be tough considering how fast I run out of steam these days. I am hoping the change in diet helps with energy levels.

On a mental/emotional level, I was not prepared to hear this news. I still have more good days than not, however the potential complications of not having a fully functional liver are bad and in the Doctor’s mind (I am assuming), outweigh the complications of an actual transplant. I am still processing all the minutiae and coming to grips with what I did not expect to hear.

Yeah, and it is distracting. I almost brushed my teeth with Neosporin last night.

The gist is that if I am approved by the transplant committee and if they can find a matching organ, it appears that I will be at the pointy end of a scalpel sooner as opposed to later.

Bob Mayo

Bob

Bob Mayo

August 25, 1951 – February 23, 2004

Happy Birthday, Bob. We all miss you.

A Dose of Gloom and The End of the West

(In response to the folks who are clamoring for more of the old conjecture and invective, I offer up the following post.)

“Man’s ego is inflated, his laws are outdated, they don’t apply no more
You can’t rely no more to be standing around waiting
In the home of the brave, Jefferson turning over in his grave
Fools glorifying themselves, trying to manipulate Satan
And there’s slow, slow train coming up around the bend.”

-Bob Dylan, “Slow Train”

I have a saying I have been using lately:”We have front row seats to the end of the Western World,” which I semi-lifted from the movie Armageddon. I find it particularly apropos at this particular moment in history. With the cratering of American military power, the ridiculous foreign and domestic policy, a tottering economy and a Peter Pan President, we appear to be running headlong into a disaster rivaling the fall of the Roman Empire.

It is hard to imagine what will set it in motion. Economic or racial strife. Extremists homegrown or foreign. An out and out civil war against the Federal Government by the states or groups of individuals. An attack by a foreign government by nuclear, biological or chemical means.

Perhaps that is what gives me pause. There are too many possibilities these days. Twenty-five years ago, there were (in my opinion) only a few causes for that kind of disaster and most of those revolved around the Cold War. Now it seems like there are enemies under every rock and in every shadow. This is definitely not a good situation for America or the rest of the Western World, because when America goes down, I speculate that the majority of the west will as well.

On top of that, I find myself in a bit of a quandary. It appears as though the bulk of the government refuses to follow the laws of the land. From the IRS deleting incriminating information, police forces arresting journalists and citizens for simply filming protests to the absolute refusal to impose any immigration laws whatsoever, I find myself wondering “If the government does not follow the law, why should citizens?” If the IRS can “lose” information without any consequences, who is to say that a citizen cannot simply say, “Sorry, I lost that paperwork. Hey, you guys do it all the time!”

(Do I hear Federal Agents at the door right now?)

The government should be protecting the rights of citizens. Instead, we have a bloated, wasteful, counterproductive bureaucracy which limits freedom instead of protecting it. They have no problem elevating discord to levels equal to the worst moments in human history. One would expect that they recognize this and bring it to a halt, yet they seem set upon making greater repression and waste.

Over the last several months, I have been brainstorming through history and current events hoping that I can unearth some plan to somehow bring us out of all this, yet nothing comes to me. I am sure that there are people with bigger brains, better information and more power doing the same, but I have yet to hear anyone yelling about finding the answer.

And that is a bit frightening to think about, that the End of Democracy may be closer than I care to imagine and right behind that, the End of the Western World.

What can the normal, everyday American Citizen do? Do the best we can with what we have. Take good care of our families, friends and neighbors and hope that it is all just a slow train coming.

Meeting

RAR-Guys

This picture will not mean anything to some of you, but it is either a sign of the Apocalypse or a surprise meeting of people, some of whom I have not seen in over a decade.

To me, it means a lot.

Stupid

One of the Docs told me one of the big things was not to do anything stupid. For some reason, I never did ask specifically what he meant.

I found out the hard way.

In preparation for the Alabama Musicians Care benefit I am involved in (see www.alabamamc.org), things got a little frenetic, as some productions do and I (like everyone else) pulled some 16-18 hour days in a row and got WAY out of the low-sodium regimen I am supposed to be on. No rest and eating badly. Yeah, I seem to recall now that those were really bad things to do…and I did them both at the same time.

Stupid barely touches on the wretchedness that occurred. It was like a couple of midgets were having a knife fight in my abdomen. Add a healthy dose of cramping, nausea, dizziness and outright exhaustion and that pretty much gets it. Sheer momentum got me through it, and the fact that during the last week, the cavalry charged over the hill and smashed through anything that needed to be done.

Four days later and I am slowly recovering while trying to put the business and household back into some semblance of order.

The lesson here is to listen to the docs, even if you do not have a chronic condition, these guys spend a lot of time learning their craft and when you find a good one, do what he tells you. He is not trying to be malicious, he is trying to keep your butt healthy. That is a doctor’s art and the good ones take it seriously.

I would like to update everyone on my condition, but I could not give an honest assessment while still feeling dodgy from the stupid spell. Give it a week and I will know better.

I have been referred to a transplant specialist, but it is just for an evaluation and to back up the conclusions my regulars docs have come to. Good planning on everyone’s part, really. Going to them when the bottom drops out does not give them any sort of baseline to work from…I just hope there are not too many needles.

Good days, bad days and stupid days. That is life right now. Probably always has been.

Generalizations

Yes, I am going to reactivate this…well, whatever it is. Blog, missive, whatever. It will still have some of the the usual off-the-cuff conjecture and invective as well as updates on various organs of mine that are trying to escape out my ass.

I am leaving the post above for all the people catching up, so you will have to get past that to get to anything new.

Having spent most of my life in the shadows, I have always been reasonably (perhaps unreasonably) reclusive. I still have not figured out Facebook. I only answer the phone for six or seven people, and that includes the doctors. I have no idea what my voicemail password is. I will occasionally text. Twitter is something I can get my head around (I am @scooteroi over there). So, this is probably the best way to keep everyone informed.

All that being said, I am now going back to watching the death of Western Civilization.

Rumor Control

This is Rumor Control, interrupting the program previously abandoned.

For those of you hearing lots of speculation, please note the following:

Yes, I have been diagnosed with a chronic medical issue. For some reason my liver has decided to hate me and is doing the very best it can to throw wrenches into my heath.

No, I am not dying. Well, actually, I am. We all are. I’m just doing it at a slightly quicker and less predictable pace. I could be around for ten years at the current level I am, or I could be pushing daisies in ten weeks. Things like this are wildly erratic.

There are a lot of steps to get through before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I am in no way even close to being debilitated enough for a transplant, which offers the best rate of survival for this. Livers, like many organs, go to the folks in the worst shape. I am pretty far from that right now.

Not to say I do not have problems. I have lost about 80 pounds. I run out of energy pretty quickly. I have good days when I’m spitting fire and I have bad days where I have to pack it in and lay down. Luckily, I have far more good days than bad.

Like a good little boy, I do what the Docs tell me to do. My main guy is a pal and the smartest guy I know. My liver guy is one of the best in the area. They basically gave me a pretty tough regimen and told me not to do anything stupid, which is good advice for everyone. There are tests o’ plenty, which is a real drag, especially when you start running out of good veins. Lord knows how much extra radiation I have had in the last six months. But you do what you have to keep going.

I am told at some point this will become more of a problem. I try to not screw up today thinking about tomorrow and what may or may not happen. As should we all.

This is rumor control, now returning you to the previous static.

NSA Servers

If the NSA is monitoring all of our InterWebz activity, how much porn do you think is on their servers?