Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From a flu shot to an infected lung -- the time line

Had a routine appointment with my primary care doctor in Chula Vista Tuesday, a week ago today. She’s a good-looking, laughing Hindu lady who trained in India but is here now working at the VA.

When I told her I didn’t really have any health issues she laughed and said she liked to have social visits with her patients. She asked me about a flu shot. I told her I hadn’t had a flu shot in maybe 20, 30 years. I take care of that stuff with my supplements. I’m a vitamin freak. She wasn’t impressed. I told her the name of the company I deal with mostly, Life Extension Foundation. I mentioned that the board of directors of LEF is made up largely of medical doctors.

She laughingly said: “Medical doctors what to make money too.”

“What a cynic,” I said.

“What" she said? “You’re seventy-nine years old and you’re not cynic yet?”

“Not me. I’m a romantic.”

We were both laughing. She pressed the flu shot on me. She wasn’t laughing. I thought well, who knows more about this stuff, me or her?

“Okay,” I said.

We bantered on a bit and when I was leaving her office she said with a real sincerity: “Thank you for agreeing to get your flu shot.”

Sure. There was nothing to it. That was Tuesday. On Friday as I was going to bed I discovered a hint of something going on in my throat. I started taking a lot of anti-oxidant supplements. By the next afternoon I understood I was getting a cold. I went to a local pharmacy to pick up something that would dry up the nose so that I could sleep that night. I took them but they didn’t help. Awake coughing and sneezing all night.

Now it was Sunday morning. I had to drive to the other side to the VA in La Jolla where I would stay overnight and keep a previous appointment with the pain clinic on Monday morning. I worked in the morning, then started north. Took two hours to get across the frontier. Made it to the La Jolla VA and signed in. Lodging and Emergency have the same waiting room. It was kind of embarrassing because it was only a cold, but I asked if I could see a doctor. The male nurse at the desk asked what the problem was. I explained it was not an emergency, but that I have been through chemotherapy, my white blood count is low, and I didn’t want a simple cold to suddenly explode into something else.

He agreed. He signed me in, and what I later found to be a decision made on his own recognizance, gave me a ticket to get a chest x-ray while I waited to see the doctor. I did that and it wasn’t long before I was in a doctor’s office telling the lady what the story was. She said colds like this, viral infections, come and go. Not much to do with them. It was the bacterial infections that were of some concern. As sort of an after thought I mentioned the x-rays.

“Oh,” she said. “I didn’t know you had x-rays.” She left the office and awhen she came said I had a bacterial infection in the lower lobe of the right lung. She would give me an antibiotic called moxifloxacin.

“It’s a heavy antibiotic,” she said, “so follow the directions carefully.” And then she was gone. Another twenty minutes and a young Chinese pharmacist brought me the pills, gave me some instructions, and I was finished.

The time line:

Tuesday the 17th: I get my first flu shot in 20, 30 years.

Friday night the 20th: A cold catches me.

Sunday afternoon the 22nd : the lower lobe of the right lung has a bacterial infection.

It’s probably coincidence.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

James Ellroy, the Black Dahlia, and My Uncle's Son

Was in the car running errands and listening to Michael Savage as he interviewed James Ellroy who has just published Blood is a Rover. The interview interested me. Savage read a paragraph from the book and I was taken by the simplicity of the scene described and the language used to describe it. Back at the office I looked Ellroy up in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the first place to go if you want it quick, do not want much, and there are no ethical or moral issues involved.

I googled Ellroy and looked for an excerpt from the book. I found one. Part I, a section titled “Wayne Tedrow Jr. (Las Vegas, 6/14/68)” The language was simple and direct and loaded with information. It was in too much of a hurry. Not for me. What’s the hurry?

I watched a video of Ellroy giving a talk about the connections in his childhood that tied together for him the 1947 murder of the Elizabeth Short, who became known as the Black Dahlia, in South Central Los Angeles, and that of his mother Jean Ellroy, a tart I suppose, who was found strangled with her own nylon stocking in El Monte, California in 1958. James was ten years old when his mother was strangled. His talk (I can’t find it now or I would link to it) was professional, idiosyncratic, and good. Nothing messy there.

I myself recall very well the murder of the Black Dahlia. I was seventeen years old then, living in South Central where she was killed. I can’t remember a bigger story that year. Of course I didn’t read the papers, didn’t listen to the news on radio, and didn’t talk to anyone who did so there was no reason for me to remember the other stories.

One evening Mother, Father and me were having dinner with Aunt Grace and Uncle George in a one-room house with a kitchen on Hawthorne Boulevard at 110th street. The Black Dahlia story came up. It took me a moment but pretty soon I understood that Uncle George was saying that his son had gone to the police and confessed to having murdered the Black Dahlia himself. Mother and Father were astounded. Aunt Grace didn’t say anything. Uncle George didn’t want to go on about it. He was slumped down in his chair at the dinner table shaking his head slowly from side to side. I understood by a word or two that the claim of Uncle George’s son to having murdered the Black Dahlia was unbelievable. I had never met Uncle George’s son. Now I kind of understood why. He had gone his own way. I remember thinking it a funny story, but knowing not to laugh.

The time came when James Ellroy decided to try to solve the Black Dahlia murder himself. He failed. It was never solved.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My first YouTube video shoot

Well, we have “produced” the first two videos for YouTube. It was supposed to be one video but the home telephone rang in the middle of the shoot, I could have just answered it, but decided to cut and return to the process a moment later. So there are two 4-minute segments, each trying to introduce myself via a new project to a largely new audience. It's pretty messy, but we’ll see how it goes.

I was surprised even at the time about how foggy I was about the Eisenhower ad. No reason, other than that we were talking about YouTube for weeks, working out the technology for it—we had some problems with the computer we are using—we sort of did it yesterday morning without any real planning. I just decided it was time to stop talking about it and do it. In twenty minutes we were set up and the camera was rolling and Hernandez was laughing. You can talk forever about doing something. I’m as guilty of it as most others.

Memory recalls Sam Konkin. A friend from my romance with 1970s and 80s libertarians and their ideals regarding intellectual freedom that had touched my heartstrings. A few years into the 1990s, maybe earlier, the party people had won out over all the rest, I was into revisionism, and the party hacks, as party hacks will do everywhere, chose to distance themselves from revisionist arguments regarding the Holocaust story. It was a different story in the 70s and 80s.

Anyhow, Sam used to say, “It’s better to get it done than to get it right.” That can’t always be the way it should be, but sometimes it can be. That’s how it was for me yesterday. Now I have my toe in the water. I actually feel encouraged. We’ll see what comes of it.