Monday, August 24, 2009

Double Vision

I think when the eye doctor gives you the news about bifocals, he should also give you a complimentary shot of botox -- and I told mine that today.

He seemed a little surprised, and then he told me a great story about how some docs were using off-brand botox and their patients ended up in iron lungs. That was followed by a story about how much botulism it would take in a can of green beans to wipe out the human race.

The lesson I took away was stick with brand-name doctors and brand-name pharmaceuticals. (Why would anybody economize on something like that; they might as well share needles for heaven's sake.)

Mostly I think he was surprised because that was only the second thing I'd said during the entire exam.

The first and only thing I'd said up til then was "I can't read," in response to a question about what had brought me in. At first, he seemed to think I was confessing to illiteracy -- and I sensed a moment of awkwardness, while he pondered the best way around a sensitive subject. Then I just showed him my BlackBerry and the ultra-large 14 point font Lucas and Russell had tricked it out with at the BlackBerry store."SEE," I said. And he did, commenting mildly "well you can't get as much on the screen that way."

The rest of the Exam, I just responded to simple commands like, "Better A? Or B? Better 2? Or...3?"

Spending so much time in the company of my two dads and their legions of oncologists, cardiologists, etc has just taught me one thing and one thing only: the value of shutting up.

For all their differences (one Yankee, one Southern; one's a farmer, the other a lifelong Kodak man), they might as well be the same person when they get in front of a medical professional -- or, as I think they see it: an Audience! For new material! I fully expect the Nurses to remind everyone of the two-drink minimum, and "don't forget to tip your waitresses!"

Having read everything Dr. Oz has said about The Smart Patient, and how many seconds you get to make your case to the doctor about what's wrong with you, I live in fear that these two are going to get themselves killed. I go in armed with arsenals of information, and a very, very few questions -- and I very rarely get a word in. Though my real Dad does at least defer to me on all things medical. If his internist tells him to take an aspirin, he'll call and say "let me just run something by you." He's just such a monologuist -- as is my stepdad -- that he can't help himself.

Knowing I have the same tendencies -- both genetically and environmentally -- I fight it every step of the way.

But the only area where I really succeed is in the doctor's office. I speak when spoken to, and I try to keep my answers specific.

That's how that damn kidney stone went undiagnosed so long (I found out they commonly are in women -- men typically show up at the E.R. In tears and when asked to rate the pain on a scale of 1 to 10 they invariably answer 14. I said 7. That was a mistake.)

The urologist asked me to describe the pain and I said, "It's like if you were in prison, and you taped up a blade and swallowed it?...And then the tape came loose? And the blade tried to work its way out, through your bladder?"

He gave me some antibiotics, and sent me home -- as surprised as I was when a little pebble emerged a few dayslater.

He said I wasn't "hurting in the right place" for a kidney stone.


So today, I was more succinct. I think the last thing I said was when he asked if I had any questions. I asked, "am I going blind?" He said, "Not today."

Good enough.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Somewhere Lou Dobbs is Crying

Here is the podcast from Mick Jeffries’ Trivial Thursdays August 20 show.

You will hear (among other things) the theme from Shaft AND the theme from Valley of the Dolls (followed by the New York Dolls’ “Pills.”)

You’ll hear Jim Reeves (his birthday) doing “Mexican Joe,” and slightly-related, Steve Earle’s cover of Townes’ “Pancho and Lefty” (Steve Earle plays August 26 at the Opera House).

Somewhere, Lou Dobbs had a little stroke.

You’ll hear a lot about UK Coach Brooks’s birthday ...and tomatoes… and groin pulls.

You’ll hear the Resurrected Bloated Floaters’ “Truck of Reality” and how this column got its name.

There’s Hank Williams. There’s talk of Hank Williams. There’s Veruca Salt’s cover of “My Sharona.” There’s a lot of Les Paul.

And it all fits together seamlessly somehow in the context of Trivial Thursdays.

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Remember the old Samsonite luggage commercials where the gorillas jumped up and down on the suitcases to (I guess) test their durability? It was around the same era they would run over a Timex with a bulldozer to show its ability to keep on ticking.

I would like BlackBerry to hire me to be their Monkey. Maybe now they call it Beta Testing, I'm not sure.

All I know is I have now been through three BlackBerry Pearls in one year, and two BlackBerry Bolds in the last six months.

In all of them, the track ball has stuck. When I upgraded to the Bold, they insisted this design flaw had been remedied. I bought the Bold in April and the ball died in August so I would argue they have some work to do.

Now, in every case (so far) they have warrantied them out, without a moment's hesitation.

But they can't really...atone...for what it costs me to lose communication for days on end. Since it's my JOB.

It didn't help matters when Twitter crashed last week -- and BlackBerry was among the last clients to be restored.

This meant I had to endure yet another series of iPhone interventions.

Eventually, I realized I started to sound like an abuse victim trying to rationalize away the damages. (Everyone around me eventually became an enabler, or a confronter -- suggesting maybe I deserved it.)

Once the replacement arrived, I took it straight to the BlackBerry store (no, I don't work on my own phone anymore than I'd perform brain surgery on myself or color my own hair.)

My usual man Lucas wasn't in, but I got along just fine with Russell. He was very timid with me at first, but he soon came around to my way of "Man vs Technology" style of battle. Around the third try he couldn't get the phone to recognize my UserName, he could be heard half-cajoling, half-berating the device, "You know you want know you want to..." As the little blue bar struggled to confirm across the bottom of the screen.

I am not even making that up. That is what he said.

I still think there are BlackBerry people and iPhone people. I am a word-girl. I gotta have a keyboard at my fingertips. Touch-screens are a little too Philip K. Dick-ish for me. A little too Minority Report. I nearly cried when I had to replace my dial-microwave with a flat front. My worst nightmare is a world where everything goes to touch-screen and I have to tell the car to open the pod bay doors.

That said, I'm not a Luddite.

When I let tech into my life, I just expect it to worj.

I don't want to spend my weekends banging my laundry against a rock down by the river (or as K-Cuz pointed out, we don't have a river, so I'd just be rinsing my delicates down by the sewer culvert...or the new pond in the centre of town).

I never suggested I was cut out to be Amish, and I had no desire to spend my last few evenings churning butter and darning socks.

Their furniture may be esquisite, but there's a reason the Shakers died out.

And there's a reason my pal Brooke was haunted by an image of me curled up in a fetal position, rocking back and forth, singing 'Tis a gift to be simple...' Like a kid in a horror movie.

at the blackberry store