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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in BTRIPP's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, September 11th, 2018
12:06 pm
Here again ...
Remember.pngIt may have been LiveJournal's finest hour(s).

Early in LJ's existence it had some remarkable moments, the 9/11 attack in 2001 being most notable. Firstly, LJ was only two years old at the time ... with only (I'm guessing) tens of thousands of members. But those members coordinated as an information grid to help find folks and get their message out (as the phone service in NYC was spotty at best in the aftermath).

Now, I first heard of the Twin Towers attack early that morning ... I had gotten my coffee and turned on the TV. One of the morning shows was premiering a new rooftop deck set, and they were featuring a story of a plane hitting the WTC. I probably got no more work done (that was when I was still actively running Eschaton Books) for a week.

It was soon after that I switched over to the computer, and jumped in here. It was an amazing time. Oh, and speaking of amazing ... does anybody else recall The Lone Gunmen spin-off series from The X-Files, that ran one season? I was thinking about its pilot episode this morning, and how bizarre that "coincidence" is.


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Sunday, September 9th, 2018
11:13 pm
Too cruel ...
Well, that was ultimately quite unpleasant.

After all these months of watching The Bears move into a new phase (firing Fox, hiring Nagy, etc.), with draft picks, trades, and most amazingly the trade a week or so back for Mack, I was kinda sorta hoping they woudn't suck.

After all, Trubisky looked in his rookie season like he might actually be the "franchise quarterback" The Bears traded up in the draft to get ... and Nagy's new offense seemed like it had promise in preseason.

So, for the first half of tonight's game, it was WTF?! WTF?! WTF?!, etc. The Bears weren't supposed to be as good as they looked in the first couple of quarters. And, hey ... it looked like they managed to break the Packer's QB!

But no. Nooooooooo.

Not only did Rodgers manage to limp his way back on the field, he then proceeds to, on one leg, tear up The Bears' defense, eventually erasing the 20pt lead we'd been (excessively) enjoying.

Take one overthrown ball in the corner of the end zone (resulting in having to settle for a field goal), a gimme interception dropped by one of our defenders, and a coverage scheme that appeared to have nobody at home at all over most of the field, and when the dust settled, The Bears had lost, by one measly point ... 23 - 24.

None of the prognosticators had given The Bears any chance of beating the cheeseheads, so starting out 0-1 is no big surprise ... but the first half of that game teased us with a vision of what things might be like ... only to have the ever-cruel universe right itself with a punch to the collective Chicago gut.

In the old days I'd be lying on the floor in my living room playing dirges on my bass ... no longer have the apartment, no longer have the bass, but still have the emotional vulnerability to be deeply wounded by a loss like this.

Yeah, sucks to be me.


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Tuesday, September 4th, 2018
11:56 pm
OK, that was different ...
Sort of back to some semblance of my "normal" today ... but still feeling "a bit off my feed", so really hadn't eaten all day.

I didn't make it out to the Tuesday afternoon meeting that I sometimes go to up by Loyola (... met her in a club down in North Soho ... oh, wait, that's different), which often includes a run to the Taco Bell that's up there, but one of those five buck boxes was definitely still on my mind. I opted to shoot for the 8:30 down at NTAC with the "grab bag" format that's an interesting variation (rather than the 7:30 at a walking-distance church that I've been to the past couple of weeks). Much contrary to my usual "out at the last minute", I was ready to go two hours before I needed to be down to Belmont, so I had food options. I had contemplated going to Subway and trying to get some reading done around scarfing down a sandwich, either up here or down by NTAC, but that had all sorts of baggage with it (I hate getting pan-handled while trying to eat in a place), and I wasn't much in the mood for that kind of crap. So, I figured I'd take the #147 up to Loyola and get Taco Bell, then hop the El there and get back down to Belmont with plenty of spare time.

However, the transit gods interfered.

A month or so back, we all went out to see Ant-Man at a theater up on Sheridan, where the #147 should go, but we found ourselves on one that terminated at Devon & Sheridan, instead of heading north from there. The movie night was a pain, as I had to drag my gimpy knee a half mile or so from where the bus let us off, and one would think that I'd learn to check the destination display on the bus (like the #151 that in the evenings has some buses that only go to Foster), but nooooo.

I had been kicking around for a month or so a hankering to go back to this amazing Pakistani place, Ghareeb Nawaz, which is up on Devon, a block past Damen. If they weren't "cash only", I'd probably have made it one of my regular places, but tonight I knew I had a ten on me, so this was a possibility. So, there I was, having been dumped out at the bus stop for the #155 Devon bus, with plenty of time, and a rare supply of sufficient cash. Hey, I can take a hint.

I'd forgotten how huge the servings are up there. Pictured are my $5.49 order of Green Chili Chicken Biryani, plus my 75¢ side of Tandoori Nan. Yum! If I hadn't splurged on the Mango Lassi (at a whopping $1.59), this meal, that I could only make it about half-way through, would have come in at under seven bucks! Such a deal!

Anyway, I dragged my extensive leftovers out with me, caught the #155, took it on back to the Red Line stop, and got down to NTAC with about 20 minutes to spare. One advantage also of going to the earlier meeting is that I get in at a kinder hour than some of the late-nite ones.

Now I just need to triangulate having cash on me more often ... would like to make Ghareeb Nawaz a more frequent dining spot!


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Monday, September 3rd, 2018
11:06 pm
Well, that's an interesting way to spend a holiday ...
Just shoot me.

It appears that the fancy-schmancy deli potato salad The Wife picked up at Marianos was "off", as after I had some last evening, I was dealing with pronounced gastric distress. I really wish it had progressed to puking or pooping, but nooooo, it just sat around and made me miserable. And, sitting around and being miserable was pretty much the theme of the day, except that I was asleep for the vast majority of Labor Day.

I don't typically sleep more than 5 hours or so, so it's notable if I'm sacked out for long periods. I tried to get up and functioning about 8am, but ended up dry heaving, so opted to crawl back into bed. Every time I woke up, going back to bed seemed the best option, so I pretty much stayed under for most of the day, eventually feeling good enough to try to do minor stuff on the computer around 8pm. Needless to say, I did not get out for a meeting today, adding to the whole self-loathing load, since what kind of a pointless sack of shit doesn't force himself to press on with scheduled intents despite feeling ill ... what are these feelings doing running my maggot-like existence?!

I guess, however, I did not miss much. I was sufficiently cognizant of the outside world that I registered the fact that we were getting pounded with thunderstorms, and I had at least a glimmer of "gee, it must suck for those planning outside activities" run through my mind. Not that I had anything planned (other than going to a specific meeting).

Still, it was very strange getting that much sleep. I'm in much less discomfort now, but don't have much of a "second wind", so will probably just head back to bed. Mighty exciting post, eh?


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Sunday, September 2nd, 2018
11:50 pm
Nothing much to note ...
Well, was at least able to get myself out of the house for a bit today ... went for lunch up at China Palace (yum!), then ran down to the dollar store, then back home for a bit before making the easy shot back and forth on the #151 down to the Rec Room for a meeting. Pretty much lump-ish otherwise ... sort of like Lady Miss Kier locating the groove, but in my case it's more like "the lump is in the heeeeaaad".

Wish I could locate a groove.


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Saturday, September 1st, 2018
11:53 pm
Lump, n.
1. : a piece or mass of indefinite size and shape

Or, what I've been doing a pretty good impression of today. I had wanted to get out of the house, but the hours just reeled off, and it was too late to make a lunch special, too late for meetings that I'd been contemplating, and heck, when it got to 10:30pm, I simply gave up on getting myself to the 11:11pm meeting at NTAC, opting for more "sitting like a lump" in front of the computer. Pretty much all day has been spent at the keyboard, or in bed, or sitting on the bed ... generally determined if I was interacting with the PC, the tablet, or the phone.

Bad Brendan!

In my defense, I did get at least a toe into a couple of projects that have been sitting around waiting for me to have the emotional solidity to get moving on them. Good thing I waited, too, as both parts were "Mongolian CF's" with tech issues that I have yet to solve. I suppose at some point (when I've gotten everything worked out and set up and OCD af), I'll spew about them in here (and yes, there will be links).

Anyhow, I was a lump today, and so there's precious little to bother anybody else with. The Wife was asking if I was going to be leaving my room at all (depression, ya know), and my only target (once I missed all the earlier stuff) was that late night meeting that I just had no ooomph left in me to proceed to walk to the El, take the El, walk to NTAC, sit through the meeting, and repeat same in reverse. No, I figure I'd stay pantsless and crank out this missive instead.

Lucky you (?).


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Friday, August 31st, 2018
11:34 pm
Well, hope that's all for that ...
So, last week I had the stent pulled (literally - not a happy procedure, albeit brief) following the third of the kidney stone operations I've had this summer, and today I was back down at the hospital for yet another CT scan, to see what's what on my innards (hopefully showing they got all the gravel out and won't be having to go in again).

As I have noted repeatedly, I'm incredibly lucky that I managed to have nearly no "kidney stone" pain during this phase, the stones were noticed in scans, the decision made to deal with them, and the procedures scheduled as needed (the initial plan was to have it all taken care of the first time, but that didn't work out). Now, I had a good deal of discomfort/pain following these, but nothing like having a full-blown stone passing involves (well, except for last Wednesday night ... something was wrong in there and it was approaching that sort of pain).

Since I like to go to the Friday night meetings down at St. James, which is just a couple of blocks from the hospital, I got the latest slot for the scan, 4:45pm, and figured I'd grab a bite in the food court, and then just wander over there for both the 6pm and 7pm meetings (see last night's post about doing multiple meetings). However, the #147 bus was not cooperating today, showing up about 10min later than the projected arrival at my stop, and then encountering a massive traffic back-up about a third of the way down the drive somewhere between Belmont and Diversey. On light traffic days, it takes as little as 7 minutes to get from Foster & Marine down to Michigan & Delaware - certainly the speediest option - but today we got into 2-3mph traffic, which sucked. Fortunately, I'd left a LOT of flex in my schedule, and ended up at the scan place just ten minutes later than my appointment (and I'd called to say I was running late), so my fears of having to reschedule were relieved.

The "grab a bite" part of the schedule was messed up, though ... as I figured I'd be late to the early meeting if I actually sat down to eat something, and the stuff I like (or am willing to afford) there is not conducive to grab-and-go ... which was not a "happy thing", as I'd neglected to eat anything since the early morning. Most of the meetings I go to are not in the traditional coffee-and-cookies mode of AA, but this one, thankfully, was - so I was able to take the edge off with more cookies than I would have typically even considered eating, which tided me over until I got back home.

Yeah, I guess another entry into the "nobody freak'n cares, you moron" file, but that's what's up with me.


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Thursday, August 30th, 2018
11:51 pm
Meetings ...
OK, so long-time readers of this space know I have a bit of the old OCD ... necessitating my making lists, spreadsheets, and idiosyncratic filing systems for many, many things.

One of these manifestations has been the track of my A.A. meetings. To refresh your memories: despite having quit drinking in the Summer of '85, I did not toe the line and avail myself of the AA support structure. This was largely due to the "God thing", which if one can't figure out an angle on, pretty much screws up the steps starting with numbers 2 and 3. However, a couple of years back, I was in such a deep depressive funk that I was pretty much grasping for straws, and I guess recalled the "restore us to sanity" part of Step 2, and ended up at a meeting instead of throwing myself under the El.

That meeting spawned a second meeting the next day, which ended up with me at a third meeting the day after that, at which a highschool acquaintance strongly encouraged me to do a "90 in 90", ninety meetings in ninety days. I am now about 780 days into that, but, due to the medical stuff this summer (and situations like last night), I have fallen a bit behind, being about 14 meetings short on my "meeting days" count (I have a long text file with all the meetings I've been to listed since 7/17/16), which, of course (via my OCD), makes me kind of twitchy. I have a number of opportunities during the week to attend multiple meetings (where meetings I like are back-to-back at the same location), so I need to start thinking more about those if I want to get "caught up".

Anyhoo ... I'm pretty sure nobody cares about the above, but it's heavy on my mind tonight (I just got back from my regular Thursday 10pm meeting down at NTAC), so I figured I'd spew about it here. Lucky you.


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Wednesday, August 29th, 2018
11:43 pm
Perks ... and their cost
So ... wasn't planning on any big adventures today, but ended up getting a call from my Evanston client when I was on the train to a therapist appointment this afternoon. She was wanting me to ride shotgun on a shopping expedition out to the suburbs, and we set things up to have her pick me up down by the doctor's office, where I'd be waiting outside at 3pm.

And I waited. And I waited. And I went into the Starbucks on the corner and waited. And eventually the client appears. It seems that there had been some events in downtown Evanston and she'd had a hard time getting going, and there was other traffic down by where I was. At that point she'd pretty much had it with traffic, and scrapped the "going to the suburbs" part of the agenda, shifting to the "going out for Korean" item on the to-do list (she'd wanted to revisit a place we'd been to out in Niles on a previous junket). I was assigned getting on Yelp to find a place to eat ... at 4pm. We tried on place, but it was closed between lunch and dinner, tried another and it was just a Korean soup/stew place (we were looking for BBQ), and eventually ended up at San Soo Gab San over on Western.

Since we were betwixt and between meal times (either having a very late lunch or a quite early dinner), went fairly light on the ordering (the client likes having a lot of leftovers usually), with Chop Chae noodles, Goma-Ae (disappointing), and Bul Ko Ki (yum!) ... which, of course, came with a dozen or so pickled side dishes (click on pic for bigger image).

As our agenda for the afternoon was blown up, we were deciding between just having her drop me off at home, or going back up to her place for projects there. I didn't want to have the day "wasted", so opted for the latter, as she had four small bookcases waiting to be assembled, which I figured I could get done and still make a late meeting. The bookcase assembly went pretty much as planned, but things dragged, and by the time we were mobilized to get back in her vehicle, it was pretty clear that I was going to be missing the 10pm meeting, so I just had her drop me back here.

A jumbled day (that I had no vision of going in), but a nice nosh.


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Tuesday, August 28th, 2018
11:02 pm
That was some storm ...
This evening I was headed over to a meeting by Sheridan & Catalpa, when I found my path blocked by this. At a distance I'd thought that somebody had been trimming trees over by the El overpass, and had left a pile of stuff in the sidewalk. But nooooo ... it was a tree that had come down (click pic for bigger image).

Strange weather today, this must have happened in the brief storm burst we had in the late afternoon. I wasn't out, but heard a loud bang of lightning hitting nearby (this tree?), then a bunch of wind coming up, and then 10 minutes or so of torrential rain before clearing up again. Later in the evening (thankfully, well after I got back in) there was once of those "bloody scythe" looking radar images where a storm front was sweeping through with intense red returns on its leading edge. Those are fascinating, as they don't last long, but you sure don't want to be out in them (and on a "heavy sigh" note, I'm reminded of how I could watch those sweep across the city in my old place).

For the previous 40 years I'd not been in places that didn't have central air, so one of my new "weather indicators" this summer is how the rain hits on the airconditioning unit in my room ... and that was going full Animal on and off through the evening. Glad I was able to get out, do a meeting, run some errands, etc. in the time between when the stormy weather was hitting!


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Monday, August 27th, 2018
11:43 pm
Baby you're much too fast ...
Ah, the Bánh mì ... Vietnamese sandwiches ... how you tease me.

Down by the "old" Dollar Tree in the little strip mall below the Berwyn el stop, there is the Little Saigon Baguette shop, which I always find tempting going by (due to the large pictures of their sandwiches up on the windows - along with their very reasonable prices). However, once one gets into the descriptions of what's involved in many of these (I'm no fan of "head cheese", and I'd really have to work my way up to a whole sub featuring shredded pork in fish sauce), one ends up approaching this a bit more gingerly.

I did stop in there this afternoon, when I figured it was already too late for my other lunch options, and got a #12 featuring pork belly. This appeared in yet another form than what I've had previously ... sort of like sliced bacon, but more red like BBQ pork. This topped with a bunch of shredded veggie items, lending an odd, yet distinctive, taste to the whole.

If I was down by there more frequently, I'm pretty sure I'd grab sandwiches there more often, as the ones I've had were all winners, and one can hardly argue with the price (which ranges from $3.95 to $5.95). Aside from the sandwiches they have other more "mysterious" offerings, wrapped up in rolls and blocks, that I think one would need a "local guide" to steer through. One thing I really DO need to check out is their sesame "doughnut", which for a buck is a pretty substantial looking piece of fried goodness!

It's too bad that they didn't choose a single-syllable city name (like "Hue") to use instead of Saigon in the title, because "Little Hue Baguette" would scan beautifully to Prince's Little Red Corvette (come on, can't you hear the clap-clap?) ... or am I the only guy going around re-writing songs in my head to fit my surroundings?


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Sunday, August 26th, 2018
11:30 pm
What month was it again?
OK, I'm not one of those people that live for the summer, I'm a Fall guy myself (no, not like that), and enough of a "fogeygoff" to have a deep affection for the concept that Everyday Is Halloween.

However ...

My seasonable sensibilities have been assaulted with a one-two punch in the past few days, the first shot being running across a "pop-up" Halloween store getting stocked on Belmont, just east of the El ... TWO MONTHS before Samhain ... which I think is only just on the outer edge of being calendrically OK ...

And then there's the haymaker of CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST!!!

Yes, arriving a full FOUR MONTHS in front of Sanity Clause (a third of a year), the folks at Dollar Tree already have the Xmas swag out. Really? REALLY??? Who buys this stuff this far out from the holiday?

C'mon ... that's like having the Fourth of July stuff out prior to St. Patrick's day (although, come to think of it ... Dollar Tree might jump the gun on that one equally as much). It's JUST NOT RIGHT. And, after all, it's not like you're saving by shopping early there ... every freak'n thing in the store's a buck ... sure, you might get first crack at wrapping paper you favor, but what other purpose is there in doing any of that stuff until after Thanksgiving?

Sheesh! Well, pardon my rant, but I was quite taken aback by this all. As usual, clicking on the image over there will get you to a larger version, just in case you wanted to wallow in the horror.


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Saturday, August 25th, 2018
11:00 pm
Why no new book reviews?
Oh, come on ... somebody out there had to be wondering.

It's been since the end of JANUARY since I got a book review up. And I hate myself for it. However, the level of chaos that had been intruding in my existence just shut that down. Hell, since the time of the move, I've only read thirteen books (see pic) largely because all my places to read are now 7-8 miles away, and I have yet to find "suitable replacements" up on this end of town - which really sucks.

What really really sucks, though is the DISASTER that struck in the move. I had boxes ready to go to storage or to get moved over here, but The Wife was hell bent on getting stuff thrown out and on the day when both the movers and the 1-800-JUNK guys were around somehow the box that I had my to-be-reviewed books in (and choice picks from my to-be-read piles so I'd have stuff to read here) got thrown out. Now, this was not the worst of the losses suffered in the move (not by a long shot), but I went from having 16-20 books awaiting my words of wisdom, to just a couple still in the bag with my netbook (although, obviously the to-be-reviewed stack has regenerated itself).

The other issue, similar to the one on finding a place to read, is that I've not found a place to write. As I've no doubt mentioned numerous times before, I find it nearly impossible to write book reviews at my desk. My old system was to grab my "review bag" and go the block from my old place to the big Starbucks at Rush & Oak at around 4pm, and then write on through till when they kicked me out at 11pm. Most of the other folks vying for spots at the big table were orientals working on med school work, or the like ... nice and quiet and focused. Up here, there's a Starbucks a couple of blocks away, but it closes at 9pm, and is stocked with burn-outs and other crispy critters who are more interested in loud arguments about who has the least comprehensible delusions ... that is, when they're not working the room for hand-outs ... NOT an environment to get any work done. :-(

My hope is that the new "library" here will provide the space/environment I need. The old library was tiny, and hardly a good work space, and existed in what had initially been a cloak room in more elegant age. The new library space has been part of the commercial area, most recently the lair of a seamstress/designer, which will include a small "air space" patio. I'm hoping that I can scope this out as soon as it's accessible, and figure out what space in there might work for me, and be the old guy who's always there, clacking away on his netbook. Anyway, I'm hoping that September will bring the reviews back again.

I still need to figure out what to do with the 16 or so books that I don't have on hand (with my bookmarks and notes) to do reviews of. This, especially in relation to a potential 2018 collection ... I'm going to see if I might be able to crank out at least a few hundred words on each from blind recall, or something like that.

Yep. Sucks to be me.


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Friday, August 24th, 2018
11:02 pm
Almost back to normal ...
I'm still feeling a bit "under the weather", but at least I'm more functional. The right ureter is sore, something that hadn't happened previously, and I'm peeing out what I am guessing to be small clots (you did want to catch up on all the details, yes?). I'm back to peeing through the sieve thing so I can catch any stone fragments coming out - but very little has been showing up. The stuff that has been there so far has "smooshed" when I've tried to pick it out with the tweezers, so I'm pretty sure those aren't stones ... certainly nothing like the "gravel" I collected previously.

I finally made it back out to China Palace for lunch ... I think the week between meals there was the longest I've gone not dining with them since we moved up here. I was still a bit "off my feed", so ended up going with something I don't typically order, their BBQ Pork & Rib(s) (it's written plural, but on the lunch special you just get one). I'd recalled this as being a smaller amount of food than it was, but since I was looking to heal, it was providing a boost of protein (and sugar, which I certainly don't need).

I rolled out of there and just caught the #36 bus to get down to Walgreens to pick up some other pills the urologist was adding to the mix (and re-order my Victoza injectable - wonderful drug, but painfully expensive, and it seems like every month I need to have the pharmacists do battle with both the insurance and the manufacturer ... who is supposed to be knocking the co-pay on that to no more that $20 per "pen", but in recent months it's been coming in at almost twice that).

I ducked a "self hatred" session this evening ... I'd planned on going down to my "regular" 7pm Friday night meeting at St. James, which, if the #147 bus is playing nice, can be just 20 minutes door-to-door, despite it being nearly 7 miles away. However, when I got out to the bus stop with a half hour to get to the meeting it was showing no bus for 15 minutes - which wasn't just "cutting it close", it was pretty much guaranteeing that I would be late, and beating myself up (for not checking the bus times earlier and, and, and, and ...) all the way down there. So, when a #151 bus showed up, I opted to hop that to get down to the Rec Room a half-hour early for their 7:30 meeting. Not ideal, but I have to grab glimmers of sanity where I can find them.


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Thursday, August 23rd, 2018
11:26 pm
Whoa ...
Almost ended up at the ER last night.

There was just something "not right" about the recovery from this latest kidney stone procedure, and yesterday the pain was getting worse instead of better. Sure, the muscle aches were fading, but the kidney was not happy, and it felt like the stent was digging into it or something. Now, I probably made an error in judgement to go ahead and clean out the turtle's tank, as it was in dire need of my doing so, but the heavy lifting and bending over and stuff like that obviously caused problems in my plumbing.

I could barely walk without shooting pains up my right side, and I was finding it difficult to even lie down without pain ... in short, the stent was acting like a kidney stone stuck in the ureter. My guess was that it was some of the "shrapnel" still left in the kidney from the laser blasting last Friday that had gotten stuck on its way out (given that the stent was filling up the tube), and when my urologist called me late last night, his thought was there might be clotting around the stent that was blocking the ureter. Fortunately, I'd already been scheduled to come down to the hospital this afternoon to have the stent removed, so the doc suggested that I take the rest of the pain pills, and try to get some sleep ... hoping to not have to send me along to ER.

I did manage to get about 3-4 hours of sleep per pill, which was good, since I had a fairly busy day. I had a 10am therapist appointment, following which I took the #151 bus downtown (didn't want to play with the stairs at the Lawrence EL, or the six block walk down to 4th Pres from the Chicago & State EL) and was just a smidge late for the 12:15 meeting there. After hanging out and schmoozing for a while (the 4th Pres crew hadn't seen me in a while), I gingerly walked myself the 5+ blocks down to Northwestern Hospital. I had about an hour to kill before my appointment, so I grabbed fries at GRK Greek Kitchen (the best deal in the hospital food court!), and then got myself upstairs. It was a LONG wait up there, and I didn't get in until an hour past my appointment. As usual, the procedure to remove the stent was very unpleasant, but relatively quick. I was expecting that I'd be pain-free in my kidney once that was out, but there must have been some residual damage, because I'm still hurting (although nowhere near how I was yesterday - thank goodness!) several hours later.

Something else to chalk up to the "not fun" file ...


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Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018
11:09 pm
One word ...

Details to follow ...


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Tuesday, August 21st, 2018
11:51 pm
(sigh)
Since it was becoming obvious that doing "mobility-based" activities today was unlikely to happen, I opted to do a deep dive into my new cell phone, trying to get it loaded up with stuff that I was in the habit of using on my old iPhone4S, which up and died last week. Now, I think I've mentioned here that I have a lot of difficulty with processing audio information (making podcasts useless for me), and one of the things I find extremely frustrating is voice mail, as I will typically have play a message over and over just to get the basics. What the old phone had, that I really wanted for the new phone, was a screen that showed you the number, when the call was, how long it was, and then gave you options for playback. Simple, right? Common, right? I guess not.

I first went to the AT&T web site and dug around in there for quite a while trying to find anything about this sort of option. Nada. Then I clicked on the help chat button, only to discover that the first level of this is a chatbot that really doesn't know more about anything than what is on the web site, and kept sending me links to pages with little to nothing to do with my problem. To its credit, it eventually kicked me up to a "live body" help chat person ... although said person had no better grasp on what I was looking for than the chatbot had. Again, to their credit, they kicked me up to "expert" help before I had a chance to type in "can I speak with a supervisor?". Unfortunately (and you saw this coming), the new person on the other end of the chat had no more clue of what I was trying to get than their predecessors had, eventually telling me that there wasn't anything like that available.

So, after about 2 hours of mounting frustration, I gave up on AT&T and went to the Google app store, sort of expecting more frustration. However, there were several possibilities there that fit exactly what I'd been talking about, including one BY FREAK'N AT&T!!! Do you think there might have been SOME awareness of the existence of AT&T Visual Voicemail on some level of the "help" I was dealing with? A mention on the web site? A page provided the chatbot? Resources provided the live body help drones? No search terms got me anywhere near it on the site, and long chat sessions doing my best to describe what I was looking for (obviously, I never used the right key words, or something) just got me having a discussion of how I'd code it if I had to after being told there wasn't anything available. Sheesh! That's almost like contacting Coca-Cola and wanting to find info on how they source cola nuts, and being told that they're a beverage company and don't sell nuts. How do companies like this survive?

Needless to say, I'd recommend they hire some experienced thinkers ... but who the hell wants those on staff. :-(


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Monday, August 20th, 2018
11:22 pm
Probably T.M.I. here ...
Of course, one of the downsides of taking the heavy-duty pain killers is that it makes you constipated.

Now, part of me would just love to write out a detailed memoir of my time spent on the toilet, but who, really, would care to read that?

I did have a plan for doing stuff today (therapist at 10am, meeting at 12:15, lunch following), but largely due to issues related to the above, I opted to just head back home after my therapist's appointment (frankly, only going there because they charge so much for cancellations).

For each of these procedures I missed four meetings, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I had hoped that this time I could have reduced that to 3, but that wasn't happening. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be in better condition to get stuff done (and maybe actually grab some lunch).


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Sunday, August 19th, 2018
11:15 pm
Bleh ...
As noted yesterday, nothing seemed to be doing anything for the pain (which, again, was largely muscle/tendon aches from having been strung up in unnatural positions for several hours), but the heavy-duty pain killer they sent me home with at least was making me sleepy, so I opted to basically "check out" as much as possible today. I once or twice tried doing stuff at the computer, but that wasn't working - except as an alternate place to nod off. Ain't MY life exciting?


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Saturday, August 18th, 2018
11:51 pm
Ow, ow, owwww ...
Now, I realize that the pain I've been dealing with is nothing compared to actually passing a sizeable stone (remember, I went through that a quarter century or so ago), but one of the worst parts of dealing with these procedures is the muscle pain that follows them.

There isn't much pain the day of the operation, as one is still riding the crest of the general anesthesia, but the next couple of days are horrible ... no doubt because one is strung up and strapped down (as seen in the pic here ==>) in a position that's convenient for the medical team, but involving leg and arm angles (as well as gut and sides stresses) that one is unlikely to be accustomed to. For hours ... as they have various pieces of equipment shoved up one's boy parts as access to the kidneys.

I've pretty much spent all day in bed, trying to find a position that doesn't hurt, while playing games on my new phone, and watching The Bears. While I'm OK when standing, and reasonably OK when sitting, making the transition feels like being pulled apart on the rack. No fun. What's even less fun is that the pain meds they sent me home with are only vaguely working, and I tried to go to Alleve, but a dose that will usually make my back shut up when it's hurting isn't doing anything either. Bleh.

However, I realize this just muscle pain, and within 3-4 days it will have faded into a bad memory ... but in the meanwhile I'm one cranky SOB. Be warned!


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