Monday, February 1, 2016

Professor Batman




Back in the early 1950s, there was a story in Detective Comics called "The Man Behind the Red Hood", in which Batman, teaching a class in criminology, examines a decade-old case he had been unable to solve. This is a classic story which forms the basis of some later Batman lore. A friend of mine loves this story and often laments that he never got to be in "Professor Batman's class", so I decided to write a course description for the class. I present it here for your amusement.

     Course: Criminology 101 (CRM0101) 3 credits
     Spring Semester, MWF 8 - 9 PM, Wayne Memorial Hall, Room 539
     Instructor: Professor Batman, Visiting Lecturer
     Text: Criminals: A Cowardly and Superstitious Lot, (1939 edition), by William Finger and Robert Kane
                                                            *****
     This course will trace the causes of criminality, as well as its effects, and the detection, apprehension and incarceration of criminals, with discussion of the purposes of incarceration (e.g., punishment vs. rehabilitation). There will also be discussion of the differing types of criminals (hood, petty thug, gang member, henchman, mob boss, super-criminal, etc.) and their trademarks (birds, umbrellas, arcane riddles, cats, and unadulterated madness). Special attention will be paid to the high recidivism rate, particularly among super-criminals, in Gotham City. If time permits, there will be discussion of the utility of working with sidekicks and/or super-powered aliens in combatting crime.
                                                            *****
     Lab Fee: $15 Covers the use of microscopes, fingerprint powder, chemicals and other forensic tools.
     Field Trips: Gotham State Penitentiary and Arkham Asylum. Dates to be announced
                                                            *****
     It is expected that this course will fill up quickly, so early registration is strongly suggested.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Knife Fight in Shanghai (A Haiku)


For National Poetry Month (April), here's another haiku I wrote, but first, the backstory. When I was teaching, one of my best buddies was an English teacher, Dr. Don Gallinger, known to his students (and some colleagues) as "Doc G". Once, one of his students noted a prominent "worry line" across Don's forehead, mistakenly thinking it was a scar, and asked how he got it. Don jokingly replied that, several years back, when he'd been on sabbatical in Shanghai, China, he'd gotten into a knife fight. His students, not realizing he was joking, were greatly impressed that he'd been in a knife fight, and had survived against an opponent who, likely Chinese, must have been an expert fighter, as seen in many cheesy "Kung Fu" movies. When Don told me this story, I was quite taken with the phrase "knife fight in Shanghai", and decided it was worthy of a haiku. (I know: Haiku is a Japanese, not Chinese, poetic form, but it still seemed apt.)



Knife Fight in Shanghai
Knife fight in Shanghai.
Dat's how Doc G got dat scar.
He ain't no punk, man.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Leopard

April is National Poetry Month in the U. S., and I post poetry each day of April on my Facebook page. I sometimes try to write and post my own work. One of my more recent pieces is the limerick below. The challenge was to write a limerick whose first line ended with the word "leopard".


The Leopard
A curious cat is this leopard
Whose coat is so wonderfully peppered.
He doesn't eat sheep.
Their fleece is too deep,
And he's sure that THE LORD is their shepherd.
 
Any comment or criticism is welcome.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Telling "Fibs"

Since April is National Poetry Month, I've been reading a lot of poems and posting a number of my favorites on my Facebook page. Some have been boyhood favorites, some have been ones I studied in school, especially in my sophomore year of high school in the English class of Brother David Rogers, the very best teacher I have ever known. I even posted a link to some of my own haiku posted earlier on this very blog.
I recently came across a blog post describing a poetic form I'd never heard of before. It's called a "Fib", for the Fibonacci sequence. Well, I was intrigued by this blending of mathematics and poetry, so I had to try my hand at this. Here are my first two attempts:


"Fib":
Verse
based, not
on haiku,
but on sequences
Fibonacci. How cool is that?


and


"Lone",
"Sole",
"Unique",
"Singleton".
"My name is Legion,
for we are many," said the Ones.



I like the second better than the first, and I'll be attempting more of these, I think. Feel free to make your own and share.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Half-Year of Medical Excitement

Over the past half-year, I've had my fill of medical excitement. I lay these adventures before my readers for whatever educational or humor value they may have.
In September, I went for a check-up at my doctor's and, when he did the manual prostate exam (ever so much fun, as you may know), he felt what he thought was a nodule on my prostate. He referred me to a urologist who would have more experience and therefore a better perspective. I went to the urologist about three weeks later. He did both a manual and an ultrasound exam. He said that one lobe of the prostate seemed "harder" than the other and scheduled me for a biopsy on a Wednesday a few weeks later. My PSA level was 3.3, which he said was okay, but he wanted to be on the safe side. In preparation, on the evening before the procedure, I took two Cipro tablets to guard against infection from the procedure. I took two more the evening after the procedure. On Wednesday afternoon, a couple of hours before the procedure, I had to give myself an enema (a first for me, and not awful, but by no means a fun experience). By the way, I think it is hilarious that the bottle is "disposable", as if someone would want to save and re-use it.
The procedure itself was uncomfortable, but not painful, involving first, an antibiotic solution inserted into the rectum, then a topical application of a local anesthetic, then an anesthetic injected into the prostate. After getting an ultrasound overview, the doctor took several samples for the biopsy with a probe. I felt that process almost like being "flicked" with a finger. The doctor provided a running commentary during it, which was interesting. I found it, even under the circumstances, somewhat educational.
After it was over, there was so much blood coming out of my anus that you'd have thought I was the most popular dance partner in Cell Block D at San Quentin. The doctor said I should expect blood in my stool for a couple of days, and possibly in my urine and semen, but that's normal. It may be normal, but it's somewhat unnerving to have my bunghole become the Red River Valley. I know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and pink proliferates, but pink urine, I thought, is a bit much. A word of advice: If you ever have to have a trans-rectal prostate biopsy, do not wear white underpants. Seriously, I have to find some humor in an otherwise extremely undignified undertaking. I can find the humor because the urologist called a couple of days later to say, "No cancer. No problem."
ONE ISSUE DOWN. NEXT UP: HERNIA REPAIR.
Around the same time I was having my adventures in prostate medicine, I also consulted Dr. Denne, the surgeon who removed my gall bladder a couple of years ago, about repairing a hernia. I've had the hernia for years, and it never really bothered me, but, after ordering a CAT scan, my doctor suggested consulting a surgeon about having it repaired. Dr. Denne strongly suggested having the repair, and she explained that having it done laparoscopically would likely have a shorter, less painful, recovery period. I decided to have it done, but scheduling things around the holidays was difficult, so we scheduled it for January 19, a Thursday.
Preparation on my part wasn't too bad. I had to stop taking my daily low-dose aspirin for 10 days prior to surgery, and I had to have blood work and an EKG done within the month before surgery. I did that on my birthday for several reasons. One: It was an easy day to remember. Two: It gave me the chance to have strangers wish me a happy birthday (As you know, medical records always require the patient's date of birth, so whenever the person registering me, or the tech doing the tests, asked for DOB, they would notice it was that very month and day.) Third: It allowed me to say, "I'm getting a hernia surgery for my birthday." The night before surgery and the morning of surgery, I had to wash with an antiseptic wash (Hibiclens) from the neck down, and I couldn't eat or drink anything, even water, from midnight the night before the surgery. Fortunately, they scheduled me to report to the hospital at 7:30 in the morning.
Beth, of course, took me in to the hospital (Bryn Mawr, which is about 10 minutes from our house), and registration, history and pre-op took about an hour. Since Dr. Denne did my previous surgery, some of the members of her team had been there for my gall bladder episode and remembered me. Happily, no one said, "Dude! You almost died!" this time. I suspect that, because I don't take many drugs and I rarely drink alcohol anymore, I am very susceptible to anaesthesia. I remember being brought into the operating room and transferred to the table. I was introduced to the surgical team (who were all wearing caps, masks and gowns, so I don't think I could recognize any of them if I saw them on the street), and the next thing I remember is slowly waking up in the recovery room.
In the recovery room, they checked my vital signs and asked about my pain level (The ever-popular "on a scale of one to ten" question), then brought me up to a room, where Beth came to sit by my bedside until I'd be discharged. I was incredibly dry-mouthed and thirsty, so I drank several diet ginger ales (which I don't much like, so that tells you how thirsty I was). While I was in that room, they took my vitals several times, and eventually I asked when I would be discharged. The nurse said, "That's up to you. You can be discharged when you urinate." A bit later, I called for a nurse to escort me to the washroom (Hospital policy requires an escort, and, besides, I was hooked to an IV line, and to the pneumatic leggings that squeeze the calves to keep blood clots from forming). She handed me a urinal "pitcher", which I took to mean I had to produce a certain amount of urine. I asked, "Is there a magic number?" She said, "Yes, but I'm not going to tell you what it is." I assume that was to make sure I didn't "cheat" by watering down the sample. I found out later that the magic number was 250 mL (about a cup), and I had certainly produced more than that.
With that duty done, they gave me my discharge instructions. Basically, these were: I should not drive for at least three days, until I was comfortable behind the wheel. I should drink lots of fluids and eat whole grains and fiber to keep me "flushed out". I was not to lift anything heavier than 15 pounds for two weeks. I should walk every day, building up to my normal routine. I had a prescription for Percocet, but I didn't fill that because I didn't have that much pain. I didn't even take Tylenol. I scheduled a follow-up with Dr. Denne two weeks from the surgery. For the first couple of days, I walked slowly and I couldn't bend over very gracefully, but otherwise I think I did well. I slept through the night in our bed. The biggest downside at that point was that coughing was more painful than I'd have thought (I guess that's why the standard hernia check requires you to cough.), and I discovered that, while I was "out" in the operating room, the surgical team did a bit of "manscaping" on me, and I was not looking forward to the itching that I anticipated when that started growing back. Despite the possible discomfort, I do not intend to scratch my crotch. I will channel my inner Spock and find a Vulcan level of tranquility and forbearance. (Vulcans, even those in Remedial Math class, do not scratch their crotches.)
We were home by about 2:30 in the afternoon, so it was a fairly quick adventure. On Friday, Beth and I took a couple of walks around the block. On Saturday, because of the snow, I stayed indoors and paced around the house like a caged tiger. That Sunday morning, Beth drove me to church and came back later to pick me up. I think I would have been fine walking, but Beth was a bit nervous because there was still snow on the ground.
Within the first week post-surgery, I was in pretty good shape, I think. I was back to walking my normal two-and-a-half-hour (total) time outdoors, with a half hour indoors. No pain. No discomfort. I was just waiting to see Dr. Denne, the surgeon, the following week to have the "no lifting more than 15 pounds" restriction lifted. There was a fly in the ointment, however.
THAT'S NOT ALL, FOLKS!
On the Monday after the surgery, in the span of two hours, I saw two doctors and picked up two prescriptions. I'd had a red left eye for about a week at that point (starting days before the surgery), so Beth sent me to my doctor. He didn't like the look of it, so he sent me to Dr. Negrey, an ophthalmologist (but not before writing me a prescription for blood pressure medicine). The ophthalmologist diagnosed iritis, an inflammation of the eye, for which he prescribed steroidal eye drops. He told me that iritis is "idiopathic", meaning "arising spontaneously, from obscure or unknown causes". I thought, but did not say aloud to a guy messing with my eyeball, "On House, Dr. House once said, 'idiopathic: from the Latin, meaning 'we're idiots because we can't figure out what causes it'." Being who I am, I thought, but again, did not say aloud, "I wonder if I could've been exposed to Red Kryptonite."
I returned to the ophthalmologist that Friday, and he noted that I'd made remarkable progress, but I still had some "inflammatory cells", so I continued the eyedrops, but with less frequency over the next week, and returned the following Friday. He also sent a note to my primary physician to send me for a chest X-ray and some blood work, to rule out "associated medical conditions", which I assumed meant things like lupus. On top of that, I was scheduled to see Dr. Denne on that following Friday and I had to return to my regular doctor the week after that, so he could check how the blood pressure medicine is working. I told Beth I've gone from being "Iron Man" to the old guy who lives between doctors' appointments. Beth will have none of that attitude and told me I am not allowed to get down in the dumps about any of this, so there!
When I returned to Dr. Negrey, he noted further improvement and had me step down the frequency of the eyedrops over the next week and a half, with my next visit scheduled for Wednesday of next week. Later that afternoon, Dr. Denne, the surgeon, was very pleased with my recovery and gave me the okay for resuming all normal physical activity. The Monday after that, my regular doctor, Dr. Hobson, checked my blood pressure and it was good, so that medicine seems to be doing its job. He also took blood for the tests Dr. Negrey wanted, gave me a PPD (purified protein derivative) test for tuberculosis and sent me for a chest X-ray to look for sarcoidosis. Having been checked for sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, tuberculosis, and God know what, my fear, although a small one, was that, in testing for so many things, they might find something seriously wrong with me. Dr. Negrey, the ophthalmologist, did say that the associated medical conditions are rare, "but we would be remiss not to check". I'll tell you: Between the prostate biopsy, hernia surgery, iritis, blood pressure and cholesterol medicines, and testing for all manner of dire illnesses, I've been getting a more focused view of my mortality. I don't believe my demise is imminent, but I do realize that I'm closer to the end of this path than I am to the beginning. It's odd, but, when I was young, I knew, not believed but absolutely knew, that I would not come to any serious physical harm, but, once I turned 30, I completely lost that absolute certainty. Since then, I still haven't come to any serious physical harm, but I now know that it is at least possible. I guess that's more realistic, but it's less fun. Don't worry, though. I'm not depressed, clinically or otherwise. I'm still enjoying my life, and working hard at keeping healthy and fit. I just wish I could be healthy and fit without working quite so hard.
WHAT THE HECK IS HLA-B27?
At this point, I've been cleared of pretty much everything I was tested for, with the exception of HLA-B27, which, as I understand it, is an antigen associated with a predisposition for some inflammatory autoimmune diseases, such as iritis and rheumatoid arthritis. As my doctor explained it, and as best I understand it right now, it's not something to panic about, and it may not have any actual effect, but it's something to note in my file and watch to see if I develop any noteworthy symptoms. My guess is that it may mean that I'll be more prone to recurrence of the iritis in the future, but that seems treatable with a minimum of inconvenience, and if I develop arthritis, well, I'll deal with it. Way in the back of my mind, though, is the nagging hope that this still just might develop into a super-power.
In summary, then, I seem not to have anything dreadful, I just have something to add to the minor list of age-related complaints, and, despite years of carefully crafted image, I really don't complain too much, I think. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Halk Kar and Halk-Kar

I realized recently that I've never explained the drawing of me here on my blog, or, for that matter, the name "Halk-Kar".

As I mention in the "About Me" section, I am a fan of Silver Age comics, especially in the DC line. One of my all-time favorite characters was Mon-El, a teen with basically the same powers as Superboy, who Superboy, mistakenly, initially assumed was his (Superboy's) older brother.


Many years after my first encounter with Mon-El, I discovered that, years before his entry into Superboy's life, there had been a character named Halk Kar (no hyphen), who'd appeared in Superman's life, and whose story was uncannily similar to Mon-El's.


Halk Kar struck me as a goofier, late-Golden Age version of Mon-El, so he was never really a great favorite of mine, but I did harbor some affection for the character. When I decided to start a blog, I knew that a good number of posts would probably involve comic books, so I decided I should use a comic book name, but one that was somewhat more obscure than, say, "Superman Fan" or "Green Lantern's Light", and I recalled Halk Kar of Thoron. (That's a bit of a pun, there, from the original story of Halk Kar. He came from Thoron, a planet in the same solar system as Krypton. Thoron is an isotope of Radon, and Radon and Krypton are both noble gases in the periodic table of elements.) I decided to hyphenate the name, to make it stylistically more similar to the traditional hyphenated form of Kryptonian names.

Now that you know a little about Halk Kar, I should explain the picture below:


My good friend Don and I became fast friends when we discovered a mutual love of Silver Age DC comics, and, over the years, we've spent many an hour discussing favorite stories, covers, plot points and trivia. One of the amusing discussions always centered on the fact that each person on Krypton seemed to have only a single outfit --- either that, or they each had a wardrobe of several identical outfits --- because, for example, Superman's father, Jor-El, always wore the same outfit, no matter at what point in his life we saw him, and Superman's mother Lara always wore exactly the same dress any time she appeared in a comic book. Don asked me, at one point, "What would your Kryptonian outfit look like?" I had to think carefully about that, because, according to the tradition, it would be my one and only outfit for life, and, if I should one day become a superhero, it would become my costume.

I described the outfit in such precise detail that Don's wife, Doni (Yes, really.), who is a talented artist, decided that she'd like to try to draw me in it, in classic Silver Age style. The wonderful result, a full-size poster, now hangs in my Fortress of Davidtude, and a copy of it now graces this blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Personal Knowledge vs. Google

Recently, a friend of mine opined that, with the proliferation of smartphones with internet access, there was no longer any value to being (as we both are) masters of trivia. While that may be true for, say, Quizzo contests at the corner tavern, there is still value in having sometimes obscure information stored internally.

I was reminded recently of the personal advantage of trivia. In listening to one of my superhero podcasts (Batman: the Ace of Detectives --- Pendant Productions), I heard Robin, who was receiving a transfusion after having been attacked by a vampire, say, "Hey, Daddy-o! Make that type O!" Now, I'd bet not one person in a thousand would get the reference to the Nervous Norvus song, "Transfusion" , from the mid-50s. In fact, most listeners wouldn't even know it was a reference to anything.

Similarly, many years ago, my students, knowing I was a comic book fan, asked if I'd seen the episode of The Flash on TV the night before. I started expounding on the fact that, in that episode, the character of the blind news vendor was played by Robert Shayne, who was, at that time, legally blind. I pointed out that Shayne had played Inspector Henderson on The Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves as the Man o' Steel, and that Shayne's character in the Flash episode had his newsstand on Bessolo Boulevard, and that George Reeves' real name had been George Bessolo. One of my students said, "Man, you enjoy that show on a whole different level than most people!" I pointed out that, the more you know, the more such references you can "get". Again, I doubt a lot of people even realized there were such references.

When the TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was on the air, there was an episode in which Buck was in a spaceport, and there were loudspeaker announcements in the background. One announcement was, "Paging Dr. Adam Strange of Alpha Centauri." Again, most people might not even realize that was an allusion, as it were, but I enjoyed it.

It does no good to be able to Google the references, if you aren't aware that they are, in fact, references. It's certainly a good thing to be able to find information, but it's even better to know the information.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Ideal (A Haiku)

The ideal: Do right
for no other reason than
because it is right.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wordplay (A Haiku)

"Monosyllabic",
despite its definition,
has five syllables.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Boy Who Lived


This is to update any of my fans who hadn't already heard the story of my summer adventures in health care.
On Saturday, July 18, Beth and I met some friends at an outdoor concert in the park in Bryn Mawr (Tom Chapin, whose CDs I highly recommend for kids.). We had a picnic dinner (hoagies, deviled eggs, etc.), and had a good time. A few hours after we got home, I started feeling incredibly full, as if I'd eaten two or three Thanksgiving dinners. Then I started getting pains in my belly and couldn't find a comfortable position to sit or lie down in. Then I got cold sweats and started vomiting. Around midnight, I told Beth I thought we needed to go to the emergency room. Fortunately, Bryn Mawr hospital, right across from the park where we'd been to the concert is less than 10 minutes away.
They put me on anti-nausea meds and morphine for the pain, then took me for an ultrasound. Believe me, I quickly tired of hearing, "Take a deep breath and hold it" while the tech was jamming the ultrasound wand into the parts of my belly that hurt the most. Eventually, the doctor told me I'd had a gall bladder attack. She said my gall bladder was inflamed, but didn't seem to be infected, and I didn't have a gallstone, but I had "sludge", which is a precursor to gallstones. She said I'd probably have to have the gall bladder removed at some point, but, for the moment, since I was now pain-free, and it was early Sunday morning, they'd send me home with a prescription for anti-nausea drugs and for Percocet for pain. If the pain returned, though, I should come back to the ER.
When I woke up Sunday morning, I was still pain-free, and continued so for the rest of the day, so I didn't fill the Percocet prescription. Early Monday morning, around 1 AM, I awoke with the same kind of pain, although not as strong, as the night before, so we headed back to the ER, where they repeated the ultrasound with the same results as the night before. They decided, as a precaution, they would admit me and put me on Monday's surgery list as an add-on, to remove the gall bladder laparoscopically. Later, they decided instead to do a procedure called an ERCP, in which they would insert a scope down my throat to see if there was something in the bile duct they'd missed in the ultrasounds. (It turned out they had, indeed, missed something.)
I spent the rest of the night in a hospital room while Beth went home to get a little sleep. She came back later Monday morning to see how I was doing. I felt okay, and we didn't know, at that point, when they'd do the surgery, so I told her to go into work and I'd call her when I knew the schedule.
A little while after she left, around noon, I fell asleep. I woke up a short time later shivering like mad. I've never felt so cold in my life. It was as if I were naked in Antarctica. I rang for a nurse, and an aide came in and wrapped me in two blankets, and I soon fell asleep again. The rest of the afternoon is still unclear to me, and most of what I know is based on what people have told me. I recall waking several times to the ringing of the telephone in my room, and, each time I answered it, there was a dial tone. Beth was trying to call me to check on me and the surgery schedule, but the phone was malfunctioning and she couldn't get through. I remember waking up feverish and sweating and falling back asleep several times. I think I was also hallucinating at times, because some of the things that seemed quite real couldn't possibly have been happening.
Since she couldn't get through on the phone, Beth left work and came to the hospital to find out what was going on. When she arrived, the nurse was taking my temperature and it was 104.8 degrees. I don't recall that, but I remember her saying, "We're taking you down to prep you now." and, at the time, I just figured I had been put onto the schedule and everything was normal. I didn't know how bad it was until much later, when every doctor seemed to make it a point to tell me, "You were a very sick man." and "You almost died!"
Beth, at this point, was beside herself with worry, as you might imagine, and decided she should call my brother and sisters. My two younger sisters, who live just across the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, came out to the hospital. I didn't know any of this at the time.
The next thing I knew, I was hazily coming out of the anesthesia fog, when someone asked me for Beth's cell phone number, which I recited, then promptly lapsed into unconsciousness again. Apparently, she had stepped outside to call my sister and the staff didn't know where she was to let her know I was in recovery. As I awakened again, I saw Beth, trailed by my youngest sister. When Beth saw me, she started crying in relief. Again, I knew none of what had gone on, so I just saw her crying when she saw me and thought, "What the Hell did they do? Cut off my legs by mistake?"
Apparently, when they did the ERCP, they found a gallstone blocking the bile duct (First thing they missed in the ER), and when they removed it, they unleashed a flood of pus (Missed that infection, too, in the ER), indicating sepsis, which was the cause of the nearly-fatal fever. The good thing here is that I hadn't filled that Percocet prescription. If I had, it would have masked the pain and I'd never have returned to the ER, and might have died at home.
I spent the night in ICU, where they take very good care of you, but give you no rest at all. The next morning, I was moved back to a regular room, with IV antibiotics to attack the blood infection before they could go back and remove the gall bladder. I spent the next week on IV antibiotics, and most of that week I was NPO (Nil Per Os, "nothing through the mouth"), so I could have nothing to eat or drink, not even water. I could also only wash up by taking "soldier baths". At one point during that week, they also did a second ERCP, to see if there was any more blockage in the bile duct. When they brought me down for that procedure, I was conscious, and I was like a rock star. The OR staff was the same staff that had been there for the first procedure. When they saw me being wheeled in, they greeted me with, "Hey, it's good to see you again! You look a lot better than the last time you were here! You know, you almost died!" "Hey, thanks for reminding me. I was in the hospital! What else was I supposed to do?!"
Finally, the Monday a week after I'd been originally admitted, they removed the gall bladder laparoscopically. Apparently I surprised the nursing staff by being on my feet later that afternoon, trying to go to the bathroom without assistance (apparently a big No-No). During the week I'd been there, I amused some of the staff by walking in place in my room, to give myself some exercise and activity to keep from going stir-crazy.
While I was in the hospital, I'd also exhibited some jaundice due to a high bilirubin count. At one point my eyes looked like Lt. Commander Data's from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The day after the surgery, they let me come home. I was bloated like the Michelin Man from a week of IV fluids, and my stamina was pretty low from the hospitalization, surgery and inactivity, but I was thrilled to come home. It took me a day to walk off the fluid build up, and, by the end of a week, I was back up to walking two and a half hours (total) per day. I'd come home on a Tuesday afternoon, and on Saturday, we had a visit from our grand-nephew, Nicky, which lifted my spirits considerably.


By Saturday evening, we went to a Billy Joel/Elton John concert at the ballpark with some of my high school buddies and their wives. On Sunday, we hosted dinner for some of the friends I used to teach with. Fortunately, by Friday morning, I was allowed to shower, so neither Beth nor our friends had to deal with "soldier bath Dave". If I live to be a hundred, I hope I never fail to appreciate the glorious luxury of a shower.
Two weeks after the surgery, I had a follow-up visit with Dr. Denne, the surgeon, and she seemed very pleased with my progress. She said it would probably take a while before I felt physically up to normal, and when I mentioned that I was walking two and a half hours a day, and had been for about a week, her eyebrows shot up. I must confess, I'm not 100%, even now, but, in addition to the walking, I am riding my bike an hour a day now.
The only remaining concern is my bilirubin count. The jaundice is gone, but the bilirubin count was, last week, at 2.4 mg/dL. Dr. Denne told me that "normal" is around 1, but I was down considerably from my in-hospital level of around 7. She didn't seem overly concerned, and said, as sick as I'd been, it will probably take longer for me to return to normal. I thought this was a much sublter and more sensitive way of phrasing it than, "Dude, you nearly died!" She's scheduled me for another blood test in October, by which time she expects the level will be normal. If not, I may need to have a liver biopsy to see if there's a problem there. Let's hope not.
About a week ago, I got my Blue Cross statement for my hospitalization. The hospital billed $114,368.00; Blue Cross paid $30,879.36 (interesingly enough, exactly 27%), which the hospital accepted as payment in full, so I owe nothing. I'm happy about that, but it says something about the health insurance system, I think.


Finally, on Saturday, Beth and I went to a friend's house for, we thought, a barbecue and swimming with a few people. It turned out to be a surprise "Dave Didn't Die!" party. It took a while to understand that it was a party for us, but it was a fun evening.