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Archive for March, 2015

So I went to Outback Steakhouse tonight.  Now I have been known in the past to try and order a whopper at Wendy’s–they do not appreciate that let me tell you!–but it’s a Steakhouse.  How could I go wrong here?  Order an Onion Blossom instead of a Bloomin’ Onion?

No.  I took fail to a whole new level tonight.

I was perusing the menu, and  I saw Coconut Shrimp and Steak.  This looks good.  I’m not a big shrimp fan, nor a coconut fan, but for some reason, when you put the two together, I can go co-co-co-coconuts for that.  Throw in that orange marmalade goop and you don’t even know you’re eating shrimp!  (Although the pina colada stuff at Red Lobster puts the orange crap to shame, but I digress.)

Can you go wrong with this?

Can you go wrong with this?

But they also have some lobster specials, and while shrimp is meh, lobster is the real deal.  Add a steak, and you can definitely deal me in.  Add some coconut shrimp and orange goop, well, I may just have died and gone to Heaven.

Do you not see three items here:  steak, coconut shrimp and a lobster tail hiding in the back?

Do you not see three items here: steak, coconut shrimp and a lobster tail hiding in the back? (Pay no attention to that green crap.)

My meal arrives and looks as advertised.  I quickly put away the two shrimp, which by the way, were humongous.  They must be like super jumbo shrimp.  But slathering them in orange goop, I get them out of the way, since that is my least favorite part of this triple play combo.

Up next.  Steak.  Say what you want about the folks from Down Under, but they do a great steak on the barbie.

I have saved the best for last.  The lobster tail.  The pièce de résistance.

Fish may be Friends not food, but Bruce is having Lobster tonight!

Fish may be friends not food, but Bruce is having Lobster tonight!

It looks so good.  My mouth is watering in anticipation, although it might be due to the spice on the steak or the fact that my waitress hasn’t brought me a refill.  I turn it over and . . .

Dude!  Somebody stole yo' lobster!

Dude! Somebody stole yo’ lobster!

OMG!  The bastards gave me an empty shell!  They are trying to rip me off!  I frantically try to find our waitress, and quite frankly, don’t they all start to look the same when you need one?  I finally get her attention without having to stand up on the table and swing from the lamp, which would have totally embarrassed my sons to death.  Little did they know that they should have already headed for the door.

So I point to the empty carcass and complain, “I didn’t get my lobster tail!”

To which she replies, “Sir, you already ate it.”

Oh, no!  Don’t you be that waitress.  I did not already eat this tail and then try to game you out of another one.   After all, it’s not like this is going to come out of your pocket.  The damned chef is the one back there eating my lobster on his break.

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes you did.  It’s coconut lobster.  You ate it already.  I saw you.”

I stared into her eyes.  They were telling me that not only did she see me eat the coconut “shrimp” but she saw me down them so fast that I still have orange goop on my lips.  I think I had just shoved one in my mouth next to my tonsils when she stopped by to ask how everything tasted.  Apparently she didn’t understand me complimenting the shrimp that was stuck in my throat.  It was not a pleasant stare.  She was looking at me with disdain.

“You mean . . .”

“It’s steak and coconut lobster.  There isn’t any shrimp.”

Well put a star on my forehead and call me a Christmas Tree.  I did not see that coming.

My triple play ultimate combo was really a double play, with a fake tail that the waitress claims they put on the plate for “effect.”  Like a placebo effect.  It just makes you feel like you’ve had lobster.  I’ve heard of the Butterfly Effect but I have never heard of the Lobster Effect.

And worse yet, I have already eaten my damned lobster!  First instead of last!  You can’t do it in that order!  And I thought it was shrimp!  (In all honesty, it was really good shrimp, which now in hindsight makes sense since it was lobster and not shrimp after all.)

I should have read the menu, instead of just looking at the pretty pictures.

My sons may never eat with me again.

Next time, I’ll stick to Red Lobster.  At least there is lobster in the name.

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Like most runners, I like me a banana now and then.  I usually eat one every day.  It’s a nice quick snack between patients or surgeries that is actually good for me.

Now in all those years of carrying my banana to work with me, I have never had a serious banana incident.  Oh, I may have dropped it on the ground once or twice, but I don’t eat the outside anyway, so it’s not necessarily a problem.

Other people must have banana issues I am not aware of.

Fortunately, we have science.  Technology meets healthy snack in a new way:  THE BANANA BUNKER.

bunker

It seems Groupon marketed this product on their website with some hilarious reactions.  The basic problem here is that the protective banana bunker resembles something else . . .

Among the comments and Groupon’s responses:

Bunkercomments

Laugh if you will, but  they sold out.

So we must wonder now, is that a banana bunker in your pocket, or are you just happy to see us?

Don’t forget to sponsor me in the Beaver Stadium Run to benefit Special Olympics!  Thank you!

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I have signed up for the annual 3 mile Beaver Stadium Run, which courses through State College and ends at the 50 yard line of Beaver Stadium.  Proceeds from the race benefit Special Olympics of Pennsylvania, and the run is sponsored by the Paterno family.

BSR2015

This race combines three of my loves:  1) running, 2) the Paterno family, and 3) Beaver Stadium.  The fact that it benefits Special Olympians is just icing on the cake.

But I need your help.

I’m okay with the running part.  Three miles is nothing to me.  I don’t even need you to bring me water.  Or bananas.  (Beer and donuts would be great, but I don’t NEED that!)  I don’t need you to stand on the sideline and cheer me on, but you are welcome if you so desire.

No–what I need is your financial support.  I have set a goal to raise $1000.00 for Special Olympics. As of writing this blog, I have raised $260.00.

If you can afford it, and think the Special Olympics is a great cause, then donate in my name at my home page.

I thank you for your support!

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Get it?  😕  Colon.  Oscopy.

I was really hoping to find some humor in this procedure.  This was my first colonoscopy.  Welcome to being 50!  It is like a right of passage.  I have read many stories over the years about this procedure.  Most of the horror surrounds “the prep,” which is a nice way of saying that Satan is coming down your colon with a supersoaker from hell.  And while that was mostly true, it was not as bad as I was expecting.

Granted, having to stay within 30 feet of the toilet for most of the night was not pleasant.  The time actually spent on the toilet was not pleasant.  I did get to play a lot of games on my iPad, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Here I sit and dream of glory, alone inside the lavatory.  (An obscure reference–leave me a comment if you know the source.)

Personally, I thought that drinking “the prep,” a concoction called Suprep that comes in two 6 ounce bottles of cherry flavored hell, was actually worse than getting rid of it.  I’m not a big fan of cherry to begin with, and that is probably a good thing.  My dad underwent a colonoscopy a number of years ago.  He mixed his prep at that time with Squirt, a citrus soda.  From that day on until the day he died, he could not bring himself to drink Squirt again.  And that name is kind of ironic, doncha think?

So if taking this prep turns me from cherry flavored anything, it is certainly not the end of the world.

It looks so innocent!

It looks so innocent!

And it was god awful.

Yeah, there was cherry.  With bitter undertones and a hint of maybe seltzer–or mineral water.  I think I detected some acetone or benzene, if my senses have not failed me from biochemistry.  The bouquet was nonexistent–it didn’t even smell like cherries.  And it was crystal clear, so you could almost convince yourself you were drinking water or vodka, until it actually touched a single taste bud on your tongue.

You see, you had to dilute this wonderful prep into 16 ounces of clear but vile crap that you must choke down before you have to run to the bathroom.  Twenty minutes.  That’s all it took.  And I had to down two more 16 ounce cups of water afterwards, or it would have sucked the water out of my brain.  I would have ended up a pile of dust floating in the toilet.  The beast had to be fed water.

So after choking down the cherry shit, alternating forced gulps with some coffee or white grape juice (you can’t drink anything with red or purple dye!) to try and save my taste buds, I then had to down 32 ounces of water over the next hour.  I’m not sure I drink that much water in a single day!  I drink–coffee, tea, soft drinks, wine, beer.  But only occasionally do I ever drink plain old water.

The first bottle came out explosively but without any accidents I am happy to report.  I did get baby wipes as recommended since toilet paper could be “irritating.”  By the time I was ready for bed, I was no longer living on the seat.

Unfortunately, bottle two had to be taken seven hours before my scheduled time, with another 32 ounces of water in the hour after that.  Then, no more liquids until after the procedure.  With a 9:00 appointment, I had to get up at 2:00 am to force another cherry jubilee down my esophagus, and through my intestines.

I was hoping that being half asleep, I wouldn’t mind the cherry crap so much.  I was wrong.  It was worse.  I have never drank gasoline, but if you throw some cherries in it, I imagine this is how it would taste.

Boom!  I’m back in the bathroom.  Cholera without the actual disease.

In the morning, I looked longingly at half a cup of coffee left over from the previous night’s escapades.  I carefully took a mouthful, swished it around my mouth to tantalize my taste buds and maybe absorb some through my mouth’s mucosa, before spitting it out in the sink.  I watched as the coffee went down the drain.  I was devastated.  But I didn’t drink anything!  I did not swallow!  (That’s what she said!)

So I arrive at 8:45, and I am back in the holding area with all my clothes off except for my socks, a hospital gown and a sheet to keep the young women from laughing at me, or at least, not laughing at that.  At 11:00 o’clock, they finally come to take me for the procedure.  Waiting that long was more irritating than the toilet paper.  And I’m a doctor!  There had better have been an exploding colon somewhere to delay me getting my damned coffee.

Anyway, I’m all ready to take notes about the actual procedure for this blog, to bring the colonoscopy experience alive for my readers my reader  the person who stumbled here by accident.  They ask me to lay on my left side.  And  . . .

Then I woke up.

Propofol

What a disappointment!  This is the closest thing to a sexual encounter I’ve had in years and I missed it!

And in case you care, my colon is just fine, thank you very much.  Not even a polyp.  Come back in 10 years.

And I finally got my coffee.

Seriously . . .March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  And if you are over 50, don’t be like dead-from-colon-cancer Rob Lowe–get DirecTV and a colonoscopy today.

ColorectalMarch

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I am not an eco-friendly human being.  There I said it. Hate me.  Despise me.  Curse me.

I don’t mind recycling, if I don’t have to walk all the way across the room to find a recycling bin.

I would use solar panels if someone gave them to me.

I’d drive a hybrid if I won one in a relatively cheap to enter contest.

But then I came across this ad for a new technology on Facebook.  (I swear it was on Facebook!)

FacebookAd

Any way, for some reason, I had to check this out.

Stop jacking off and start jacking on?  This is the best thing since Nike told me to Just Do It!

Even if this isn’t for real, you have to admit it is one hell of an idea.  It makes even an un-ecofriendly man like myself want to do my part to save the planet, and power my phone/car/air conditioner/computer, and quite possibly a number of the electricity users in the community around me.

I could be a beata tester!

It boggles my mind the amount of power I have wasted already!

Plug me in!

Gives a whole new meaning to being “turned on!”

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So after trying to pick the golf ball off my sweater this morning, I still go to work.

As I am giving pre-operative instructions to my patient who is scheduled next week for cataract surgery, I get to the point in the discussion where I inform them what medications they should or should not take the morning of surgery.

In the good old days, I could just glance down at the list on my paper chart and know exactly what medications a given patient was taking.  (Or at least the ones they remembered or told us, but patient’s memories don’t improve with computerization anyway.)  But good old Uncle Sam has shot to hell the good old days of practicing medicine, and I must now click on a different tab to bring up medications.  The computer does not always respond right away, so sometimes there is a delay before any useful information can be gleaned from among all the “meaningful use” crap clogging up the health record system.

And instead of waiting for the computer to unfreeze, I ask the patient what medications they are on.

Generally speaking, they should only take “essential” medications such as those for heart, breathing and blood pressure the morning of surgery with a little sip of water.  Not every patient knows what their medications are for, so I like to review the list with them.  And some medications should still be taken even if they don’t fall into those categories, such as anti-seizure medications.  Others, like Flomax, should be stopped a week before surgery.

I am still waiting for the list to pop-up and I couldn’t understand what the patient answered as to what medications he was taking.  Three sets of ear tubes as a child and multiple infections have left me with a modicum of hearing loss.

So I ask him again what medication he is taking.

He answers again, but I still can’t quite understand what he is saying, and what I think he said, isn’t a drug I am familiar with.

Still no answer from the Obama-care computer.

And then I make a fatal mistake.  I am embarrassed to have to ask the patient a third time to tell me the name of his medication.  I am also impatient because my computer is useless to me at this moment.  So I think that trying a different tactic might help facilitate me finishing this discussion and moving on to the next embarrassment patient.

If I don’t know what the name is, I can still make a decision based on what he is using it for.

So I calmly ask him what he takes this medication for.

Fortunately, he either didn’t hear me, thought I was a complete idiot, or wisely chose not to answer.  At this moment, the computer manages to find the list of medications and display to me that my patient is taking Viagra.

ViagraFalls

And I, his eye doctor, just asked him why he was taking this.

EPIC FAIL.

So what would you say in this instance?

I stammered, as my tech tried not to laugh out loud, “I guess you can skip taking that the morning of surgery.”

Stamping out blindness is never easy or for the faint of heart.

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I got out an old cardigan sweater this morning.  That alone might cause one to question my sanity.  But it has been rather cold here in central Pennsylvania, and I am growing tired of wearing the same sweaters over and over again.

So I pulled out a sweater from my cardigan phase–I went through that phase about 20 years ago.  It may well have been 20 years since I’ve worn this sweater.  It might give some sweaters a run for their money in an Ugly Sweater competition, but I like to golf, it’s all about that golf, I can’t play golf right now, and it is warm.

Probably wasn't stylish even 20 years ago.

Probably wasn’t stylish even 20 years ago.

After I put it on I looked down and saw a piece of lint.

damnedspot

I tried to brush it off.  Without success.

Out!  Out!  Damned spot!

I tried to pick it off.

Quoth the raven, “nevermore.”

Then, I realized it was the golf ball sitting on the green of my cardigan.

golfball

And this, of course, reminded me of my father and my golf ball from Heaven.

Probably should have just gone back to bed.  You’ll know why in my next post to follow.

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The Daily Post prompted bloggers today with this question:  What question do you hate to be asked? Why?

I debated whether of not to attempt to answer this prompt in a blog entry, not because I couldn’t come up with an answer, but rather because the answer was all too evident.  I’m not one that likes to share feelings–I blog for the world to see, but it is an amusing pastime that does not require me to share anything of the real me.

howami

I hate it when anyone asks me, “How are you?” or “How are you doing?”

Because inevitably, I must lie.

No one really wants to hear the real answer, or any explanation thereof.  It’s just part of the rapport between human beings attempting to be friendly.  Some of the people who ask me this might actually care.  But I seriously doubt they want to know the answer.

As a physician, I have to ask patient’s how they are doing, at least in the context of their eyes and vision.  But I don’t really need to know most of the rest of their problems or pains despite the fact that many are overly willing to share that unnecessary information with me.

So I throw out the ever popular, “Fine” and try to move on quickly.  Sometimes, I might just try to ignore the question, as if I hadn’t heard it, but I fear this often comes across as being rude.

Sometimes, I attempt to be a little more truthful.  I might answer, “I’m still alive.”  And if I’m in a particularly playful mood, I might add, “but the bastards are nipping at my heels.”

Or another popular response of mine is, “I’m hanging in there.”  And then I add, “the trick is not to get hung.”

I have no logical reason not to be fine.  Or good.  Or even great.  I make a lot of money.  I have my health.  I remove cataracts and give people the gift of sight, a talent not everyone has.  I have three children who are all healthy.  I have faith in God, and that someday, somehow, He will help me find what I am looking for.  Or comfort me that what I want was never meant to be.

Yet, I cannot bring myself to admit that “I’m good.”

I don’t feel good.  And I am ashamed to feel that way.  My problems all seem so first world.

Traffic irritates me.  If I carried a weapon in my car, I would probably average killing 6 people per day, at least the days I’m feeling “fine.”  Be the last time you pull out in front of me and go slow, though.

While I truly enjoy operating on patients and giving them back their sight, I no longer enjoy all the other bullshit that I am forced by my government to put up with on a daily basis.  I cannot simply treat my patients; I have to treat their computerized record as well.  I have to justify my existence through a process called “meaningful use,” whereby the federal government uses the data entered into the medical record to generate numerators and denominators, and in order to get paid, I must generate certain numerical ratios.  Perhaps I am being overly sensitive, but it makes the practice of medicine miserable and adds not one iota of benefit to actual patient care.

The government has intruded on nearly every aspect of how I care for a person, even down to the point of dictating how, when and where I “mark” the correct eye to be operated on for a patient having eye surgery.  We do “time outs” in the OR which are superfluous and unnecessary.  Insurance companies often dictate what medications I can prescribe–oh, I am free to prescribe anything, but they will only pay for certain things.  I have encountered very few patients who are financially well off enough to override their insurance and pay out of pocket instead of accepting what is covered.

They indirectly control how I keep up to date with continuing medical education.  Everything is regulated and has to be documented.  And while I understand the need to do these things, the amount of paperwork involved rises exponentially with each recertification period.  The governing board of ophthalmology keeps changing the requirements on me as well.  Now I have to travel to another city to sit for an exam.  The exam costs thousands of dollars, and that does not include the travel expenses or the income I lose from not being in my office.  I didn’t have to do that the last time I recertified, but I must now do as they say.

So I work in a job I no longer care much for, other than the warm fuzzy feeling of giving sight, in order to pay bills and taxes I don’t want to pay.  I don’t like how the government spends my money, and no one I elect can change that.  Of course, the last person I voted for that I really wanted to elect was Ronald Reagan.  The rest of my choices since then have come down to the lesser of two evils, and I vote not for who I want, but against who I don’t want.

I should be happy.  Despite the traffic and meaningful use, I make a lot of money.  But I drive the second oldest vehicle out of five (next to my son’s truck which was actually my dad’s before he passed away and I didn’t have to pay for other than the current insurance.)  I have no air conditioning in the summer.  This is a choice–the estimate to fix the unit was $1600 which is nearly three times what I get paid to remove a cataract and give someone the gift of sight.  Seems over-priced and despite global warming, the summer’s aren’t that hot anymore.  Again, I suffer not from hunger, malnutrition or cancer or ebola, or anything truly awful–only first world problems.  Maybe I suffer from being cheap.  But I generally like my jeep and it gets me from here to there.  My phone is a dumb phone–I have to press numbers to text and I cannot access the Internet.  Yet my household cell phone bill is $260 per month.  Don’t cry for me, Argentina.  I’m just ranting now for no reason.  I can still make phone calls without a problem.

I hate when my electric toothbrush battery dies in the middle of brushing my teeth.

I think perhaps I don’t know what would make me happy, and therein is the real problem.

Running make me happy.  But what am I running from?

I like it when my sports teams win, but I am depressed and angry when they lose.

I like it when people like my posts or follow my blog.  I feel liked.  And wanted.  Strange. I don’t know why.

If someone offered me half a million dollars a year to blog, I think I could be happy.

I think winning the lottery would make me happy.  Probably not.

I like making people laugh; but I fear I am becoming Robin Williams.  With all the insurance I pay, I am still worth more dead than alive, but not if I commit suicide.

I am not suicidal.  Perhaps depressed, but more frustrated and angry.  (Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.  This all leads to the Dark Side if you believe Yoda.)  I don’t want any medications or counselling. Counselling has failed me already in other aspects of my life.  An exorcism might help.  I want the government to leave me alone and let me do my job the way I was trained.  I just want people to stop asking me how I am!

I can be in a roomful of one hundred people, and feel as isolated as if I were on a deserted island.  At least the weather would probably be better on said island.  I hate the winter, the cold and the snow.  It has been snowing here all day today.  I hate to shovel it.  I hate to drive in it.

I am not fine.

So please do not ask how I am.

I really don’t want to answer.  I really don’t know the answer.

But I know I’ve got snow to shovel.

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