Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Gift Of Pain

Morning weigh-in: 175#, 11.5% BF

Ever since I've been laid up, I've been more aware of people with disabilities: guy at the store in a wheelchair, someone with a limp or a bad arm or whatever. I've also gotten a bit of insight into that kind of existence, where -- screw dignity -- just getting through the day (bathing, getting places) is a big friggin chore. Pity is at least somewhat condescending, and sets up the other person as an "Other," but empathy is like the good parts of pity without the exile: I know where you're coming from, bro, cause I've been there too. I hope I get to keep this when I'm done.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Joe Average

Morning weigh-in: 176#, 11% BF

Went to the infectious disease specialist yesterday, he helped me with a number of my worries:

1. Sometimes, some people can feel the PICC line inside their arm. It may be uncomfortable, but it's not something to worry about.

2. The oral antibiotic has to be watched, and if any signs of toxicity show up (in either the blood tests or symptoms like jaundice) it will be dropped. It is not as necessary as the other (IV)antibiotic, but it helps to take it when there is possibly infected hardware involved. (BTW, I found out what they mean by "infected" hardware: the more accurate term would probably be "colonized," the bacteria find a home on the metal, and build a "protective layer of slime" that makes getting to them with the antibiotics difficult.)

3. My bloodwork indicates that I'm normal -- I should probably get that in writing? No problems w/ liver enzymes, white blood cell count is OK, etc. One week down, five to go...

He was a little concerned with the incision since it is still "leaking," and wants me to talk to the surgeon about it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

All Else Is Dusty Dracularity

Morning weigh-in: 177.5#, 11.5% BF

Got a call yesterday: nursing service needed another vial of blood for doctor visit today. I snuck out of work a little early and hit Quest Diagnostics, a sort of cross between Red-Care and a blood-test clinic; maybe they also do the actual lab work, I don't know. Anyway, got that done, then went home and did my biz with the PICC line, and my evening responsibilities were over.

Dinner was tuna w/ wilted greens (with stone-ground whole wheat linguine) left over from Monday night, and a second dinner was the last of the pot roast -- I wasn't really hungry, but I wanted to get the crock pot ready for another meal. All of this was done early, so I went for a walk, took a few pictures of the alley behind my house. Kind of a disappointment, since the light wasn't right, or the photo composition or something, and I had high hopes for at least one of them. It was good to get out, but I didn't take much pleasure from the walk (foot wasn't happy), and didn't stick around to take in the sunset on the porch.

My foot worries me, it felt better a few days ago. I see one of the doctors tonight (infectious diseases specialists, who I'll be questioning closely anyway); I'll have him take a look but I think the go-to guy will be the surgeon, who I see next week. I fear that I'm not actually winning the battle against infection, but that may really just mean that I'm starting to be less worried & freaked out about the PICC line...

Linux Voyager, trying to get the speedboat running: I had a little time on my hands, so I finally took a look at that DSL stuff. Among the things I got was an Ethernet card, but I found (via lspci) that I already had one. Next step was to recompile the kernel, and compile a driver module for my Ethernet connection, then restart the computer. After that I hooked up the DSL modem/router thingie, but have yet to get the computer to be able to talk to it. Maybe tonight, maybe more research...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Linux Voyager: Different View Of What Should Be Familiar Waters

I had a bit of an interesting revelation yesterday, dealing with my memory stick:

Background: Since Unix was designed for multiple users, each maybe doing more than one thing at a time, all on one machine, it has mechanisms in place to keep people from stepping on each other's stuff, reading private info etc. One of these mechanisms is file access control, aka "file permissions:" each user has an identity, and might belong to one or more groups; files likewise have an owner, and may belong to a group as well. Then, what a given user can do with a file depends on his/her user or group identity, and the permission information associated with that file. A file may be readable, writable, or executable (ie launched, if it is a program), for three categories: the file's owner, members of the file's group, and everybody else on the system. Thus you could have a file that is readable and writable by the owner, readable but not writable by members of the group, and totally inaccessible to everyone else.

This comes in handy with security programs like SSH, which will not load a "secret password" data file if the file is readable by anyone but the owner, since the program assumes that it can't be much of a "secret" in that case.

Anyway, The Problem: I wanted to put an identity file on my memory stick, so I could eventually use the stick as a portable security key for SSH, but the stick set the permissions of the file to "readable by everybody," and I couldn't use the standard tools to change them, and SSH refused to deal with the file in that case.

What's Going On: Turns out, the memory stick is set up with the Microsoft "fat32" file system, which doesn't do permissions. Linux compensates by assigning a default permission to all files on the stick whenever it's connected, and these permissions cannot be changed while the stick is attached. What I had to do was tell the system to use different default permissions when attaching the memory stick; when I did this (and re-mounted the stick), all of a sudden everything was fine.

Monday, May 08, 2006

L'Affaire d'Earring

I found an earring in my front hall yesterday afternoon, specifically a diamond-tipped post for a piercing. I'm not a good judge of jewelry but it looks fairly expensive. Visitors are not unheard of here, but have not been particularly common lately -- in fact the only people I can recall in the last few weeks, who would visit wearing earrings, are my mom, yesterday's visiting nurse and several women friends who happened to help with groceries etc -- none of whom I'd like to reward with the loss of jewelry for their good deeds. I called all I could think of, and none are missing an earring. Unless it's been sitting there, unnoticed since the girl moved out upstairs (maybe a month ago now), I have no idea whose it is or how it got there. It will have to remain a mystery -- an expensive mystery, for someone. If you happen to know something, 'fess up.

Moving Forward

Just got off the phone with the Critical Care people in Philly: I am not constrained by Medicare rules, which require me to be home-bound to be eligible for home nurse care; I in fact, am supposed to get a home nurse to clean the PICC line and do bloodwork on a weekly basis, and my insurance is fine with that whether I'm bedridden, house-bound or going to work...

Meantime, you'll all be happy to know that I finally bathed, for the first time (for a real bath/shower) since last Wednesday -- been living on hospital sponge baths and at-home Baby Wipes, but they can only do so much. I probably had some ordinary funk going on, but last night I started with that "sick old man" smell that I associate with the ecxema (the skin problems came back hard, especially on the unbroken leg, which spent the hospital visit sweating away in a pressure collar), and which fills me with fear and loathing. I had a nightmare last night that I had mold growing on my torso... Anyway, good experiment, since I have to figure the best way to bathe without getting either my left foot or my right arm wet.

Next up in the grooming department is the beard, which is getting long and a bit scraggly. I have to go out, get some medical supplies like bandages and a thermometer, so I may just pick up a beard trimmer while I'm out.