(Originally posted this to tumblr, then realised I should share it here too...)

I went running a little later than usual on Sunday, which means I caught the sunrise; sunrises are nice and all, but sunrise is way cooler reflected in the faces of the buildings on Michigan Avenue.

And then I punched a pigeon in the face. Possibly to death. I’m not feeling good about it.

I was on the return leg, near the CSO, and there was a homeless dude to my right and some pigeons to my left up ahead. I was just running along, mostly thinking unflattering thoughts about Coldplay and why they had to make Viva la Vida so very long, when I startled the pigeons and they took off.

And you know, sometimes when you startle a bird they fly straight towards you.

So I startled too and ducked right, but as I ducked right, my left foot came forward and both my hands came up to block. And because my left foot was forward, right arm was blocking, and my left arm was already raised, I just like….instinctively threw what I have to admit was a frankly amazing left hook.

I didn’t mean to. It just happened. It’s probably the most beautiful punch of my life (not difficult, I haven’t punched much) and I socked that pigeon right in its poor tiny face.

Feathers went everywhere (including up my nose, oh my god) and I stopped and did like a weird hop-turn thing to slow my momentum, and what I saw was just freaked out birds and a cloud of feathers and homeless dude losing his shit laughing.

And I didn’t know what to do, I don’t know what one does when you’ve just punched a bird probably to death. I couldn’t even see a body. Did I vaporize the bird?

So I looked at the settling feathers and I looked at the homeless dude, who started laughing all over again, and I turned around and legged it (Viva la Vida was still playing).

So IDK if I can trust any pace I set that morning, because man is inherently destructive and eternally at odds with nature.

But I did 1.93 in 26:37 for a pace of 13.47 which is slower than my average and likely does account for the bird punching.

I am almost definitely going to hell.
I have been so sick. So sick. I'm back at work this week, but last week I was out, and even this week, like, last night I went to bed at 8:30.

Mind you, I took some Mucinex Nighttime, and I don't know what they put in that stuff but it's...strong.

[tumblr.com profile] knottahooker was making muffins the other night and inspired me to want to make muffins, but didn't inspire me hard enough to make me go to a grocery store and buy A)ingredients or B)a mix. So I decided to invent my own muffins. It...mostly worked!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 cup sugar (or substitute other sweetener)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup shortening (or butter or oil – some kind of fat)
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup applesauce
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or cloves/cinnamon/allspice to taste)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup milk

Whisk together dry ingredients and cut in shortening. Stir in wet ingredients; add more milk if necessary to get a muffinlike batter.

Pour into greased or lined muffin tin, about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 325F for 25 minutes while the internet despairs of you. Makes 12.

They came out somewhat bland (this is an adjusted recipe designed to add more flavor) and they were very, very fragile, but pretty delicious nonetheless.

So this week is/has-been about survival. But R's bringing his dog over tomorrow for me to dogsit all weekend, so I'm going to be cleaning and dog-proofing the house tonight. Because what if the place is messy and his dog judges me? :D
So it's not Pancreatitis, is the good news. We still don't know what it IS, which is the bad news.

Apparently the blood glucose was a clerical error -- they mixed me up with another Sam, which is semi-rare but does happen. Mine is quite normal, as are my lipids and all the other crap they test for. So my primary care doctor now has no clue what it is, and while she's happy to write me doctor's notes and painkiller prescriptions, she can't help any further. She says I should see my surgeon, because he's, well, he's been under the hood, so to speak.

So, next stop on Sam's Tour Of Medicine, back to the surgeon to see what he thinks.
So, I've been battling with some back pain for a while, which is now starting to interfere with my work. I don't actually think it's musculo-skeletal, but the doctor I went to see at the clinic sure does, and won't consider anything else until I've had physical therapy. (Being fair, she did do a pee test for kidney stones and the intern who saw me first agreed with me and gave me codeine.) I think I have an excess of spleen, mainly because the spleen is in the area and I've never had muscular pain this severe.

But my debate with the medical establishment aside, it means that before I can go back and demand some kind of internal imaging, I need to do PT, which fair enough; if the PT helps, hurrah. But trying to schedule an appointment has been a hilarious farce that has now required six phone calls (one from me, four from them, and when they open this morning, yet another from me to respond to their last one). Scheduling went very quickly but then they called back to check that they'd given me the right time, to check that they'd given me the right person, to do a phone pre-screen that they forgot to do before, and now to get my insurance information. I started out thinking that they shouldn't put someone who wasn't a morning person on the morning shift -- she seemed very bewildered at 7:30 in the morning -- but I'm beginning to suspect that the person who keeps calling me perhaps is in the wrong line of work. At this point I'm just glad she's not going to be my physical therapist.

When will I shed this mortal husk and enter the internet to live forever as a digital demigod? Really it can't come soon enough.
There's a name for the emotion you feel when you say the phrase "I got food poisoning from Panera and threw up in the Whole Foods bathroom". I don't know the name of the emotion but there must be one. It's not quite shame, not quite indignation. It has something to do with feeling like the worst hip young urbanite ever.

I actually had a great morning, though. I'd heard about this thing called the Maxwell Street Market, which is apparently a long-standing but TOP SECRET Chicago institution. Every Sunday, year round, Desplaines between Roosevelt and Harrison closes down and people show up to sell stuff. It's like if you held a garage sale inside a dollar store which was also a taqueria. And outdoors. And the hipsters haven't found it yet.

Well, I mean technically they have since I was there, but I'm the only one.

I only ended up buying a churro (possibly the freshest, most delicious churro known to man) but I'm going back next week and I'm going to drag R along and will probably end up buying a speaker system from 1987 or a nonfunctional pocket watch or a dozen bandannas in blue camouflage pattern. Also there were some rug guys there and I wouldn't mind another rug.

I thought I'd walk home along Roosevelt, which would take me past a couple of places I wanted to shop, including Whole Foods. Some of them weren't open yet so I stopped and got an apple muffin and a lemonade from Panera beforehand, and I'm pretty sure that's what gave me the seizing indigestion. It's definitely what I puked up when I made an emergency stop at the Whole Foods restroom. Might have been the lemonade, I hear some places don't keep their drinks machines super clean.

Mind you, it was there and gone, I feel fine now. Though I do intend to take the rest of the afternoon a little easier. I'm going to slowly drink a ginger ale and read some comics.
I got the results back this morning from the million and one vials of blood my doctor drew last week – all standard, he’s not worried, just checking my baselines post-surgery – and it turns out I have very slightly low iron and not so slightly elevated copper. Which are fortunately both easy to fix with some red meat, probably, so that’s fine.

But I’ve never had elevated copper before, so I googled it and the first result I clicked says:

Symptoms of High (Excess) Copper
  • Feelings of doom

Which is a) really funny and b) not entirely inaccurate for me in the past few weeks.

The world is ending, guys, and I need like four hamburgers right now.
As promised, a photo of my gallbladder plus stones. It's not the best photo, being a cellphone picture of a printout, but it gives you an idea. Photo is behind the cut; for scale, the average gallbladder is a little over three inches long, making those stones about marble-sized.

I think it looks a bit like a barbecue chicken thigh adorned with macadamia nuts. Or maybe they are teeth preparing to consume me from the inside out. Either way, better out than in...

Gallbladder Du Sam )
This is the first time I've really had proper access to a computer since the surgery, though I've been on and off my phone all day, whenever I thought I could get away with it. It's probably been for the best, since I spent the day oscillating between sleep, food, and television. And peeing. We'll get to the peeing.

Surgery went fine. The last thing I remember is being positioned under the robot and thinking it was really pretty, like a Chihuly glass sculpture -- I think the initial drug had kicked in by then -- and then I woke up in recovery covered in robot holes and missing my gallbladder.

Everything went smoothly, apparently. My gallbladder was stuffed full of stones, many of which were somewhere between "marble" and "D6 dice" in terms of size. I do have photos but I don't have the brain at the moment to crop and post. Trust me, they are spectacular and horrifying. I grew that! inside of me! Gah!

The worst part so far has been the sore throat from intubation. I mean, the incision sites hurt, but that's to be expected, as is the hangover from the anaesthetic (though pleasantly I did not puke at all). The sore throat, though, just won't seem to go away. I have epic dry mouth, so I'm drinking lots of fluids, but a sore throat is a sore throat, it's just going to take time.

And in the meantime I'm peeing every ten minutes. The post-operative instructions say "Get up and walk around every two hours" and I was like no problem, the constant peeing is taking care of that. I got up to pee twice while writing this. And I'm still drinking water so, more pee to come!

As a gift, before surgery, Mum gave me the best present ever: a Captain America shield pillow. I basically came home, latched onto it, and haven't let go of it except to pee. Transitional object ahoy. Soft, fluffy, perfect transitional object, shut up.

At any rate, I am well, loaded to the gills with opiates, and managed to eat a bit of dinner as well as my body weight in cherry jello. I hope you are all at least as happy as I am and peeing significantly less.
So, I don't know if I shared this, on Wednesday I had an ultrasound done. MPREG is real, yo.

No, actually I had it done because I've had increasingly painful episodes where after I eat food my back begins to ache, and my doctor was naturally kind of worried about a) digestion-related pain and b) how I kind of stopped eating much. So he had me do an ultrasound, which was actually pretty cool; I got to look at my liver and be all "Welp, glad you're there, sorry about my mid-twenties buddy".

My doctor thought it might be pancreatitis or gallstones, or an off-chance of kidney stones. I was deeply hoping it was not pancreatitis, because that's some serious shit and also you have to stop eating entirely for like a week. The results came back this afternoon. We have a winner: it's gallstones!

Seriously how am I so feeble. It really passes understanding.

Anyhow, I have to see a primary care physician, which means I have to find a primary care physician and then probably wait two months, though I'm begging to be put on a waiting list for cancellations because oh my god seriously I ate french fries last night and I have suffered for it for going on 24 hours now. That taken into account, though, I still can't have surgery done, if it's needed, until November; Mum's having surgery the middle of this month, a surgery she should have had ten years ago, and if she reschedules it again I might kill her.

Today just never stopped being a day. Although I will say the lunch I set up went off extremely well. The food was pretty much just enough, which was good, because I was worried that I had ordered far too much food. But my 25-person team-and-colleagues managed to kill half a gallon of salsa, a pint of guacamole, four pounds of meat, at least two pounds of rice, a giant bag of chips, thirty tortillas, and a dessert platter. Note to self: next time, two boxes of lemonade.

Hilariously enough, the word from above came down about "less business lunches!" right before we scheduled three in three weeks. Next week we're having catering from an asian fusion place, and their duck banh mi had better be fucking worth all this trouble.

But I did manage to get to the library to drop off some books, including a dreadful biography I can't remember the name of now, but argh, someone needs to write a "ten things not to do in biographies" essay (it will probably end up being me). Then I came home and fell off the Wii.

I haven't fallen off my Wii Fit in ages. I do it mostly for balance and my balance, while not improving, has at least plateau'd acceptably. But I just bought the "Plus" edition, which has new games on it, and one of them is a Segway game where you lean forward to make the Segway go forward. As it turns out, if you lean too far forward in an attempt to pick up speed, you fall off.

Mind you, sitting with my left ankle propped up and iced did give me a chance to plow through my Dead Isle backlog of comments. It's so interesting how two or three people will remark on one thing, and then like a day later someone else will make an offhand remark that TOTALLY FIXES the problem I'd been wrestling with.

And thus Dead Isle: Chapter Six is posted!

Time to eat a sandwich and pass out. My life is very exciting. :D
I am all the sick. All of it. But I am at work! Due to some incidents last week that made me think possibly my boss thinks I am malingering. Plus, I'm apparently well enough to function here, so there's that anyhow.

These next two weeks are the WEEKS OF DEADLINE. Dead Isle starts posting on Friday, the same day I have a research report due, and I have to whip one, possibly two plays into shape to submit by May 4th to the theatre company I did dramaturgy for earlier in the year. Technically the Roman Porn is due on the 15th, but I'm trying to get it done by the first so I can edit it before I shove it in someone's face. Needs more porn, or at least hotter porn than what's there now.

Did I mention I'm sick?

Lukewarm 7-up is most of what's keeping me alive. I went to bed at 7pm and woke up at 5am. All Adventur has been suspended until I can do more than drag my ass to work, drag it home again, and lie in bed watching trashy television.

I did name my "Advil Sinus and a shot of Nyquil" cocktail, though, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] harkpad02. It's called the Intercrural Orgasm. Not as nice as most, but it gets the job done all the same.
We have a little ice maker in our kitchen on this floor, the kind that has a removable bin the ice falls into and then you scoop yourself some ice out of the bin. Lately there have been...issues with it, because some condensation froze behind the bin, meaning the bin won't go quite all the way in, meaning the door doesn't quite seal, meaning the ice all sticks together from slightly melting and then refreezing.

Have you guys noticed, by the way, that my stories seem to be requiring increasingly complicated setup explanations?

Anyway, I knew the issue was the permafrost in the back of the ice machine, so I had considered dumping the ice, switching the machine off, putting some rags below the machine to soak up the water, and letting the frost melt out. I thought, I'll do this in January, when nobody's around anyway.

Apparently my former co-worker got there before me, except he also apparently has never defrosted a freezer before. He knew enough to dump the ice out of the bin, but not quite enough to wonder where all that permafrost would go when it melted. Also neither of us realised that the ceiling of the machine had a good inch of permafrost on it as well.

So last night he dumped the ice, took the bin out, switched the machine off, and just...left it there with the door shut.

Can you guys guess what happened this morning when I went to get some ice?

I thought you could.

I opened the machine and about a gallon and a half of water BURST forth, because the water had been sealed in there, and I yelped in surprise as ice-cold water hit me from knees to toes.


I slipped and fell when I tried to back away and get a towel.

I'm fine, bruised and wet but fine; I will, however, be locating former co-worker and kicking his ass just as soon as I dry off a little. If I have to fill out an "injured in the workplace" report, so the fuck will he.

Cause of injury: wet Project Manager's foot in my ass.
My God that was a long day.

I thought I'd been doing pretty well with the transition, all the new training and the new job, but I hit a wall at 2:15 today and just wanted to put my head down and sleep forever, and on the train home I realised that wall was the culmination of the last three weeks. I almost nodded off in a conference presentation, and only guilt over that kept me awake for the rest of it. It was on data modeling. Seriously.

Pedway, Metra, Conference, Dr. Seuss, mild injury, and home again. )

Now I am home, at least, and can take a nap. Even if tomorrow I have to get up early again and go to a class on responsible use of corporate credit cards.
All power comes at a cost, my children. Remember that.

Apparently the price of controlling the weather is bronchitis, for reference. But I have a z-pak, which I always thought sounded like a fizzy drink, and some kind of steroid for my sinuses, and something tussen for my cough. Good timing, body; you picked the one week in the last twenty where buying all the pills actually puts me in financial peril.

Still, better this week than next, when I have to fly home to Texas. I'm never travelling sick again; last time I didn't actually die on the flight to Philadelphia, I just wished I could.

I did get a lovely big birthday package from a dear friend, which was full of chocolate and fancy socks, which will help me survive spending the weekend in bed when I was scheduled to go to:

-- The Art Institute (tonight)
-- A tech show at the Trib Tower (tomorrow night)
-- Elmhurst (eternal Elmhurst!) on Saturday
-- DePaul's new art museum on Sunday

Instead, I will be:

-- Sleeping.

Way to go, me.
I just got back from the emergency clinic, where they put two stitches in my left hand because some STUPID DELIVERY GUY dropped a package on my hourglass which shattered. I thought, no big, it's messy but contained, I'll clean it up.

Glass, sand, me...I think we can all guess what happened.

I wouldn't have bothered with the clinic but BossBoss caught me rinsing the wound and said it was an on-job injury so I had to get it documented, and the clinic is close and fast. They cleaned out some glass and sand and put two stitches in the cut. I get to go back to the doctor I saw when I broke my wrist, next week, to get the stitches out and see if I need any physical therapy. At least I know a hand guy?

I'm way more upset about my hourglass, which will not (like my skin) heal itself. It's not like they're expensive, I've already gone online and bought another one, but it was a gift from my mum and I loved it and now I have to wait a week to get it "back".

Oh man, maybe I'm not actually a grownup. I had the total five-year-old experience today -- went to the museum, got all excited, had loads of fun and an iced lemonade, got cranky and tired on the ride home, BREATHLESSLY informed the internet of everything I did today, and then had a nap.

I have learned something in 32 years of life, however, and I put aloe burn gel on my face and shoulders before I went to bed. Which is good, because I woke up with a sunburn.

I own sunblock. I went out specifically and bought sunblock at the same time I bought the burn gel last month. I just need to make sure I actually wear it.

The dangers of Going Outside now include bears (theoretical), parades (actual), and sunburns (inevitable).
Well, I am back from a morning doctor's visit, or rather have been for a while but had catching up to do. Apparently my Vitamin D levels hover between ten and thirteen and should be hovering around thirty to thirty five. Small wonder I hate the sun, apparently it's totally useless to me.

Anyway, I got jabbed for one last test before they start giving me the big gun prescription vitamin suppliments, so now I have a ninja bandaid on my arm.

At the doctor's office I finished reading Priceless by Robert Wittman and John Shiffman, which is a memoir of Wittman's time with the Art Crimes unit of the FBI, mostly as an undercover operative. It's a little disjointed, like it's not sure what it's supposed to be doing, but the stories are fascinating and it's a good adventure book -- a mixture of crime, art history, and police procedural. One of the cases Wittman worked on was the Gardner theft, late in the game, and that part of the book got a little technical and political, but all round it's a good read. Excellent recommendation for fans of heist flicks and true crime. :)

SO, now I'm faced with the question of what to read next. I have two books checked out from the library and one I'll pick up when I return Priceless: "The Sushi Economy", which is about globalization and its impact on the spread of sushi as a delicacy, "A Night In The Lonesome October" which is presumably about October, and "Confessions of a Justified Sinner" which is, according to Wikipedia, part-gothic novel, part-psychological mystery, part-curio, part-metafiction, part-satire, part-case study of totalitarian thought.

I have to admit I'm eyeballing A Night In The Lonesome October suspiciously. Zelazny and I have not traditionally got on well.

Anyway, between that and being a bit low on blood (and Vitamin D), I think it's time to let the Cafe drive for a while.

[Poll #1740746]
So I'm making granola bars tonight, which I call YoMama Bars because they are a mixture of mothers' recipes, when I notice my neck is aching on the right side. I make a note to take some naproxen before going to bed so that I sleep relaxed, especially since I have the day off tomorrow so I don't have to get up early.

Then I notice my right elbow is aching too, so I turn my arm around and there's a huge bleeding cut down half my arm.

So I look in the mirror and sure enough, there's another one on my damn neck.

WAS I SAVAGED BY INVISIBLE MONSTERS? What the hell? Admittedly I bang around a bit while cooking, and often end up with bruises, but granola requires a spoon, a bowl, plastic cup measures, and a glass dish. NOWHERE in that catalogue of implements is anything that threatens to slice open my skin.

I've got my eye on you, Quaker Oats.

Fortunately I keep a well-stocked first aid kit, including surgical dressings suitable for bendy parts, so now I look like I just had a tracheotomy or something.
I've leveled up from self-injury due to clumsiness, and have now achieved a state of medical nirvana whereby injuries simply happen to me, with no effort or consciousness on my part.

One reason I was (relatively, I realise) quiet this weekend is that I woke up Saturday morning unable to turn my head to the left or lift either arm above the shoulder. It's not like I've changed my mattress recently, or my routine. My body just decided, no more shoulders for you.

So I spent most of the weekend taking long breaks between short bursts of work, doped up on Naproxen and with a heating pad on my left arm. Today I am at work, though I have a heat wrap on my shoulder and anyone who wants anything from me had better be prepared to penetrate the anti-inflammatory haze to get it.

My epic battle with the Walgreens cashier this morning when I tried to use a one-dollar coupon to buy the heat wrap and she couldn't get it to ring up will be the basis for an epic saga sung by bards of the future, no doubt. It's not that I insisted I should have that one dollar off, it's that once it failed to ring up I said "It's a dollar, just forget it" and she refused to let it go. I kept telling her, it's a dollar, I don't want to hold up the line, and she kept punching away at the cash register, eyes inches from the buttons, hunched over it like if she couldn't see me, she wouldn't have to acknowledge she could hear me.

In the end she tossed the coupon back across to me with a masterful look of disdain, rang me up for the full price, and gave me my damn heat wrap and my stupid Almond Snickers and told me to have a "nice" day. She didn't actually use airquotes, but they were definitely there all the same.

I did have a good weekend though, pain notwithstanding. Sunday night I ordered Jean to draw me something, because she said she wasn't sure what she wanted to work on first, and she sent me perhaps the finest Public Service Announcement I have ever seen.

Everybody poops, you guys. EVEN BATMAN.
Still not dead!

I'm running around a lot the next few days, which is fine, makes me feel important. :D The internet is intermittent but the food is excellent and the company stimulating. There are a lot of dreadful things to be said about corporate culture, but corporations are still made up mostly of human beings, who are nice on the whole.

I did have to explain to someone sitting at breakfast what a flashdrive was. That was embarrassing for all concerned. The problem with technology is that you can't really ever just explain to someone what an object does, you're compelled to explain how it does it, because if you don't understand the architecture it's difficult to make it function. "But what does the flashing light do?" "Nothing. It just tells you it's plugged in." "That's not the internet?" "Um, no."

Mind you, at home, my wireless router has a green light that flashes when the internet is active, and I can see it from my bed when I'm going to sleep. I do find it somewhat reassuring.

Also I skinned my knee this morning. I am thirty-one years old.


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