Yearly Archives: 2011

Mouth Now Empty Of Hardware

Previous episodes in this saga here and here.

I went for my week-later checkup at the oral surgeon today, and all looks well, so he was able to remove the protective plate from the roof of my mouth. This involved snipping the wires holding it in, and pulling them between my teeth, releasing the plate. It came out easily, and I asked to keep it. Dr Song was surprised I wanted to. Considering how much it cost, I think it’s perfectly reasonable.

I’m reminded of UK motorbike racer Barry Sheene, who had a nasty accident which smashed his legs, so he had loads of plates and bolts holding his legs together. When they were removed, he had them made into a sculpture. I’ll use my mouth plate for olives or salsa at parties.

The tissue in my mouth is healing nicely, apparently. I’ve done a good job of keeping it clean – I’ve definitely been going for it with the warm salt water rinses. When the plate was removed, he told me to rinse thoroughly with the good old chlorhexidine. This was because normally, old cells get sloughed off while eating, but with the plate in place, they had built up, and need to be encouraged to leave. Pretty nasty, apparently. Still have to stick to the gentle foods – no crusty bread, salt’n’vinegar crisps or other pointy food.

Funny – my primary doctor is Dr Singh, and my oral surgeon is Dr Song. Both excellent. Dr Song says I need to go and be checked up every four months for a couple of years, to see if anything appears again. If it does, it’s biopsy and operation time again. Tonsils crossed.

Birthday Comic Book Vouchers

For my birthday back in June, my friends Tom & Jen gave me some gift vouchers from the SF comic book store Isotope. I’ve not had a chance to go in and check it out – until today. Coming back from the oral surgeon after my checkup, I stopped in and spent my vouchers.

I like comic books, but I’m not a collector or an avid fan, but I do appreciate a good story and some good art. I grew up with 2000AD and Judge Dredd, Nemesis the Warlock, Slaine and so on, and I really love Alan Moore’s classics Watchmen and V for Vendetta. I also have some Dave Gibbon stuff, and some bits and pieces I’ve picked up at Comic Con and WonderCon over the years.

So when I went into Isotope and was enthusiastically greeted by James Sime in a fab suit, I explained the above and asked what he would recommend. He jumped into action, showing me the Dredd collections, one-shots (“done-in-ones”) and various other goodies.

Based on my general 2000AD fandom, he recommended and I bought Glimmer Rats by Gordon Rennie and Mark Harrison, which is a grisly-looking futuristic/supernatural war story. Then after talking generally about SF, he told me that “Jonathan Hickman is the best new SF writer in the last decade”, which is high praise indeed, so I took the plunge and bought Hickman’s take on S.H.I.E.L.D., Architects of Forever, which has the Earth-defending organization starting in ancient Egypt and listing Isaac Newton as a member. Finally, to scratch the nostalgia itch, I bought a book of collected stories from the intergalactic anti-xenophobia of Nemesis the Warlock: Death To All Aliens.

I could have done with these last week when I was laid up on the sofa. I wasn’t short of entertainment though. Of course, as I walked out of the store with my purchases, I spotted several things I would probably like to get in the future. It’s always the way. Isotope is a great store, and it has a lounge for lounging with your new comics, and apparently does events and parties. Cool place, and just around the corner from my favourite fancy brunch spot, Absinthe. I’ll be back when we next meet friends there.

Anyway, the Vicodin I took with lunch is kicking in, so I ‘ll be signing off now. In the words of Torquemada – Be pure. Be vigilant. Behave!

I’m Now Post-Op

On Tuesday I went into hospital for the procedure I mentioned here. The official title was “Excision of Palatal Lesion”. Basically, they took a cheese slicer to the roof of my mouth. It was rescheduled to be a day earlier than planned – originally they wanted to do it last week, but I delayed it until after our fancy Holiday Cocktail Party at the weekend (which was a huge success by the way).

Cassie took me to the hospital, and after checking in and being taken to my room, I changed into a disposable paper robe, with these weird vent holes in it. It turns out they could attach a hose to it and pump warm air in – very nice indeed, especially since the prep room was pretty chilly. A nurse put an IV in my hand – I hate needles, and I nearly broke the skin of my other hand biting it, when she put it in. I know they don’t hurt so much, but I do get the sweats when they come at me with one. Once it was in I was fine, and I just relaxed, talked to Cassie and watched Friends on the TV. Then they wheeled me down to the prep room.

As they wheeled me down I was reminded of that scene in Jacob’s Ladder, with the body parts and twitching manifestations around every turn (that’s not to say that my treatment at the hands of the nice people at CPMC was anything other than professional and competent – I have to say this in case Tort Reform has got so bad that doctors can now sue patients for making jokes). They set me up in the prep room, with the warm air pumping into my gown. The anesth-anaes-drugs guy came in and talked to me about what he had in store special for me that day – basically a sedative followed by a little cocktail of his own devising. Then Dr Song the surgeon came and said hello, and we wheeled into the OR. They strapped me in, and that’s the last I remember.

I woke in the recovery room, with Cassie waiting outside, and I felt OK – my lips were numb, my throat was sore. But the worst pain I had was in my calves. They had put these pumping wraps on there to help with circulation while I was under the knife/scraper/whatever. When I woke I felt like I’d done a thousand squats – my calf muscles were stiff and sore, and I had to get Cassie to help me flex my feet to get them moving. I had trouble walking to the car, and to the house when we got home – didn’t expect that at all.

I had to not eat for eight hours beforehand, and not drink for four – this didn’t seem so bad in the end. I was hungry and thirsty, but not in agony over it. Since the op I’ve been having soft foods, because I’ve got this plate wired to the roof of my mouth as a shield for the operated area. Pudding, homemade mushroom soup (blended so no bits – thanks Mom-in-law!), oatmeal, cereal left to go mushy, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese. I have to rinse regularly with salt water, and do the old Clorhexidine rinse morning and night – dee-lish. I slept on the sofa the first night, propped up with pillows so my head wouldn’t throb. I dozed and watched TV until after 2am, which was a bit silly. Late night TV is pretty crappy – lots of boner pill ads, tax lawyers and such like. Since then I’ve been able to sleep regularly, and each day since has been a lot better. I’m on Amoxycillin, Ibuprofen and a nifty Hydrocodone/Tylenol mix – I am what is known in the medical world as “partying“.

Dr Song called me yesterday and said that they tested the tissue they removed, and found that they had got it all. On the other hand, the amount of abnormal cells had grown since the biopsy a couple of weeks ago, so it looks like I’ll be in observation for a while yet. Thank goodness for regular dental checkups.

That’s where we are now. I can just about eat regular food. I can chew fine, but the swallowing is a little painful. Xmas lunch may be a slow affair, and no booze for a while unless I feel like checking out completely. I’ve taken a look in my mouth with a mirror and a flashlight – it’s not a pretty sight. Then again, whose mouth looks great?

Thanks to all my friends and family that left messages on Facebook and elsewhere. I love you all!

I Invented A Sandwich

This is a luxurious dessert treat, easiy aseembled from ingredients you may already have in your pantry and fridge.

You know the French Dip sandwich as allegedly invented here? Hot sliced roast beef, with a small bowl of au jus (broth) for dipping? Well my recipe is like that, except you replace the hot roast beef with crunchy peanut butter and Nutella, and you replace the au jus with the heavy cream you have left over from the Post-Thanksgiving chocolate fondue you made.

To recap:

  1. Make a sandwich on whole wheat bread with thickly-spread crunchy peanut butter and Nutella.
  2. Pour a small amount of heavy cream into a bowl.
  3. Eat sandwich, dipping into cream as necessary – that peanut butter can be very cloying.
  4. Sit for a while, with the phone close at hand just in case.

When A Tree Falls On Snake Road

Also on the theme of local engagement, a local tree tore loose from its roots and bent a neighbour’s Kia Sorrento in half the other day. The power had been flickering due to the high winds, and Cassie said, “Did you hear that? Sounded like a transformer went bang”. Later we saw that a bloody great tree had fallen and written off a car just round the corner from us. Cassie has photos, which she should publish. The tree also made holes in the house.

The tree (which also made holes in the house) was gone yesterday, but the bent car remained. Poor neighbours! It’s lucky there aren’t tonnes of trees looming over our house! Oh wait…

Montclair Stroll

On the theme of local engagement, last Thursday Cassie and I wandered down into the village for the annual Montclair Village Stroll, where many businesses are open, and there are carol choirs, school band performances and all sorts of snacks and freebies. We went with our neighbours Bridget and Keith, who have a month-old baby, Willa. Very cute. They also have Karma (she’s a bitch) (haha) and Tattoo the cat. Nice folks.

After fumbling down the dark narrow alleyway shortcut to the village (flashlights for Xmas!), we stopped first at the framers, because we are after a mirror for our apt, and they can make a mirror of any size, with any frame type – and they have a huge selection. They were also having a little wine tasting, so we indulged.

The main street was bustling with people and families, and the village looked very cute with all the holiday lights up. It appears that straight after Thanksgiving, it’s time to get into the Xmas spirit – fine by me, I love it. On the street corner, there were some Xmas trees tap dancing. I really saw them, so they were real. It wasn’t the wine talking.

Talking of wine, the Farmstead wine and cheese shop had various samples out, all very nice, and they do a regular tasting on Friday evenings – we’re going this Friday with B&K and our good friends Alex & Jason. I’m not much of a wine buff, especially right now with the precursor cells partying on my palette, but I’ll gladly scoff cheese.

One of the billion real estate agents in Montclair was set up as a gallery, with some interesting stuff, including huge concrete heads with buildings grwoing out of them – it looked like a 70’s  Brian Aldiss or Michael Moorcock book cover. That or some work by Benjamin Pierce. I’m an afficionado.

The small gym was giving away samples of some fruity energy drink, which turned out to be some special brew by Deepak Chopra. It tasted OK, and my quantums were well and truly chakra’d. Also I saw God, and knew him. Thanks Deepak! You’re not a fraud and charlatan at all! That’s a relief.

After wandering the village, we grabbed burritos and quesadillas from the pretty good El Agavero, and went back to B&K’s to eat. Lovely to hang out with them, and to be able to say good night and walk all of 5 yards to get home.

Montclair Suggestions

I’ve mentioned that Montclair is a little sleepy. It’s growing on us, and we’ve realised that it is more accessible to us from our apartment that Noe Valley was at the old place. The village is a very short walk, and we’ve often popped down multiple times over the weekend for various reasons. Cassie and I have talked about what could improve about it. We came up with a couple of ideas of businesses that we would like to see in the area, ideally in the village, on the main street.

My suggestions were:

  • Bar I would like to go to – The local family restaurant Crogan’s has a bar, but it’s a sports bar and it has a neon shamrock on the wall outside.
  • Hardware store – There was a small local hardware/DIY store in Montclair until recently, but it closed. I think a rent hike caused the closure. I want to be able to walk down and grab some screws or a simple tool, rather than having to drive to the next town, or all the way to Home Depot.

Of course the problem coming up with ideas like these is that businesses are hard to start and run, and if no-one patronises them, they close. For example, I hope a rent hike close the hardware store, because if people are bleating about it closing, but it closed because of lack of business, I would be annoyed.

Cassie found the results of a survey by the Montclair Village Association, in which they asked for suggestions to improve the area. The results are available in this PDF file. It’s interesting to see that many of the suggestions tie in with what I said above. Some are not feasible, some seem to want large chain stores to move in. The latter especially makes me a little sad – it would be great to have independent businesses set up, but I understand that is a lot harder to achieve.

Tonight is the Holiday Stroll – many businesses open late, and people can shop, eat, meet and do all the good stuff. We’re walking down with our neighbours, and it’ll be a good chance to check things out in more detail, and to support the local businesses. Maybe get some Xmas gifts too!

Mouth Op

I went to my dentist for a regular checkup and cleaning recently, and she noticed a red patch on the roof of my mouth. She said it was probably irritation from hot food, or perhaps my asthma medication (which is a steroid powder inhaler). So she sent me to the oral surgeon who did Cassie’s wisdom teeth recently (very good guy – Cassie barely noticed), and he took a look and decided to do a biopsy.

I got the result back on Monday when I returned to the surgeon, and he told me there was thickening of the tissue, with mild to moderate dysplasia. This means the cells are starting to play up, and could go wrong in the future. Therefore what he wants to do is remove the top layer of tissue from the roof of my mouth, from just in front of the uvula to about halfway along the front palate. He took impressions with that minty gel solidifying stuff (like when Brian made my London After Midnight teeth) so he can make a plate which will cover up the area while it heals. He’s confident the procedure will be curative, and told me not to worry. No mention of the cause – I’m going to talk to my doctor, just to let them know in case they need to change anything.

The op is set for December 21st. It’ll be a general anesthetic – I’ll probably be suspended upside down for the surgeon’s convenience. If he hangs me by my ankles, it could sort my back out too. A colleague suggested I could get a mani-pedi while out as well – get it all done while under – nice. 

We just had Thanksgiving, so I’m done eating for the year. Cassie and I have a big cocktail party at our place on Sat 17th – I want to have fun there. I’m not bothered too much about Xmas eating and partying – I’d rather get this done now and just relax over the holiday.

Small Printer Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about printers. Over the years, I’ve had various printers. I had an old obsolete laser printer from work, which had trouble printing graphics, I’ve had inherited Lexmark pieces of shit, I’ve had Epson boxes which jammed and got clogged with dust.

I currently have an HP Photosmart 8050, which is pretty cool, all told. I recently retrieved it from the cupboard where it has lived for over a year, and after replacing the dried-up cartridges, it works fine. But there’s the problem. It gets used so rarely that when it is required, the ink is dried up. Add to that the fact that it usually gets used in an urgent important-form-printing situation, and it all gets a bit annoying. It’s not the fault of HP – in fact this printer seems to cope with storage better than others I’ve owned. This may be due partly to its compact size, flaps and doors which transform it into a nice box shape. But if you only use a printer rarely, why keep one about?

Before I got around to unpacking the HP, Cassie and I had a scheme for printing letters and official documents, when she didn’t work in an office. We both had the online file-sharing tool Dropbox installed, and we shared a folder called “Things for Matt to Print”. Then whenever we need to print something, we dropped a PDF (or whatever) in there, and I printed it the next day at the office, where I also have Dropbox installed. Or Cassie dropped something there during the day, and I got a little message that pops up. This worked fine for the most part.

But what would a home printer be used for?

Letters

These are usually to organizations, rather than friends or family. For these, we use the Dropbox scheme described above. That said, now that this printer is back up and running, I’ll be dashing off a load of overdue change-of-address letters. We keep in touch with friends and family via phone, Skype, email and social network, and hand-written letters or cards when necessary. A home printer is not really necessary for letters.

Photos

We rarely print photos, and when we do we send them to an online photo-printing site, so a fancy photo-printer is unnecessary. This is especially true when you consider the cost of home photo printing ink and paper. The HP did come with a separate photo ink cartridge and a sample of special photo paper, so I think I’ll print a few shots, but I doubt I would replace them when they run out.

Directions, Recipes and other small documents

Things like this really don’t need a letter-sized page to be printed. A recipe could be printed on an index card. When planning a route when going out, I scribble the directions on a Post-it, rather than print a whole sheet. A small sheet printer would work here as well. The HP has a special photo/envelope/card rack thing to let you print on these smaller pages – I haven’t really tried it. Directions can often be texted to a cellphone, so it’s probably worth investigating that. Smartphones have directions built-in, of course.

I guess the point is that it would be nice to have one tool that did everything when you needed it, but wasn’t in the way when you didn’t. It’s like cars – why keep a big truck when you don’t use it regularly? But if you do, do you keep the truck, and get rid of the smaller runabout?

I think a printer which could print letters, recipe cards, and receipt-like scraps of quick information would be the ideal. Like a little receipt printer. Perhaps one that uses dry solid ink, or thermal paper like the old fax machines and the Sinclair ZX Printer (on second thoughts…). In the meantime, I have the HP, and I’ll use it more now it’s out, and make the best use of the ink I have that I can. But when it runs out, it may be time to leave home printers behind.

Of course now I read that BERG have announced the BERG Little Printer, which is a little thermal device that prints content that you have subscribed to via the BERG Cloud service. It’s more of an ecosystem, with content specially generated and piped through via  a special hub, but the printer itself looks a lot like what I had in mind.

Esquire Don’t List

I have a subscription to Esquire magazine, for something to read in the toilet. I have a little game I like to play. In every issue, there is a list of things “men should not do”. At the moment, it’s things like carol singing and making snow angels.

I like to take that list, every month, and do everything on it, while flipping the bird in the general direction of the Hearst Communications HQ. Because no magazine that costs me $10 for an entire year gets to tell me what to do.

Especially when said glossy magazine is made up of 50% adverts and publishes smug Scott Raab interviews.