Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

3/30/2007

Meet Cletus!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I’m doing something a little different this Friday.

Cletus1 Let me introduce you to Cletus, my tumor. You can see him fairly clearly there on the left side of the picture. (If you want a bigger picture, click on the thumbnail.) Now, don’t be fooled. Cletus is in my right lung. This image was taken as if you were looking at me straight on. Notice, too, how my collarbone is a little funny on that side? Well, that’s because I broke it in the seventh grade in wrestling class.
Cletus2Now, notice how the second x-ray looks almost exactlly the same as the first? That’s what got me sent back for a CT scan and a biopsy. That’s no little pneumonia there! So, this is what’s inside me. Growing like a malevolent presence. Making it hard to breathe and hard to sleep. Not pretty, is it? Well, that’s Cletus for you. Not all that pretty and a whole lot of uncomfortable.

The cool thing is, I have this all on CD. Yeah, isn’t that wild? I got this and my initial CT scan on a disk and I exported these pictures from it. A great thing, that technology. Sadly, yesterday, I had to get actual films and couldn’t get the latest scans on CD. Oh, and the reason I chose to use x-rays instead of CT scans is that they showed up better. The films of the CT scans, though, are spectacular! Hmm, maybe I’ll frame them…

Oh, and just in case someone out there is a stickler for a Friday Fun Link? Here’s a link to a story on Boing Boing about Medical Curiosity Clip Art. Wee! Go have fun!
And enjoy your weekend!

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3/27/2007

Small Lymphoma Update

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Well, there’s even less to report so far this week.
My paperwork is being sent from the pulmonary/thoracic area to the lymphoma specialists.  So, instead of getting a date with an oncologist yesterda, I got shuffled into another paper queue for two days.  When I finally get to meet this oncologist, she better be cute and single!
I’ve already informed my “inside man” at MD Anderson where we are in this process.  They promised me that they’d keep watch over my paperwork and make sure it gets to the right place and people.  Unfortunately, I forgot to put in my request for a cute, *red-headed*, single, *female* oncologist, so there’s no telling who I’ll end up getting poked and  prodded by eventually.  I really must learn to make notes to remind myself about the important things.

On a lighter note, I’ve named my tumor Cletus.
Why “Cletus” you ask?  Well, he’s sort of inbred, swimming at the wrong end of the gene pool and no one really wants him to show up at the family picnic, so Cletus just seemed to fit.  (With apologies in advance for anyone with a favorite relative named Cletus.)
Besides, giving the little bastard a name takes away a little bit of the fear that’s developed while waiting for a full diagnosis.  Sure, a tumor named Cletus may make you shudder in disgust, but who can really be afraid of anything named “Cletus”?

When I finally get an appointment with an actual doctor who might actually tell me something useful about my tumor and treatment, I’ll let you all know.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A hero is no braver than anyone else. A hero is only brave five minutes longer."
   --Anonymous

3/25/2007

People, Not Parts

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:22 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

A funny thing happened this weekend that reminded me of two things from my youth.

I won’t go into what just happened, but it involved gossip and reputations.
What it reminded me of, however, was two girls I knew in the sixth and seventh grades.

When I was in the sixth grade, a lot of us had already started that magical time of our lives called puberty. Naturally, some of us developed at a somewhat faster rate than others. For instance, my voice changed one weekend to the start of the rumbling basso profundo whose mellow tones you heard almost two years ago, reciting poetry. But, it was the girls who developed early that had the most problems.
There was one in particular that made quite an impression on me. Her name was Lindsey and she had the unfortunate last name of Popper. Naturally, having developed a figure in the sixth grade led to all sorts of ways to use that name in childish ways. But, what I remember of Lindsey wasn’t that she developed early, really. I remember this girl who moved from Atlanta, Georgia to the very different suburbs of Chicago being shy and lonely. She had very long hair, and she used it to show me an interesting little trick. In one of those strange moments of childhood intimacy, we were together in the back corner of a classroom with no one but the teacher around. She pulled one of those long hairs and made it into a kind of noose or leash, then she caught a fly and used her hair to make a “pet” out of the fly. In that small moment, I saw the sweet, tender girl that she was, not the false reputation that her body had earned her from jealous girls or spiteful boys. She was just another child of God, filled with wonder at the world and sharing that magic with me.
We became sort of secret friends after that, because, then, as now, I was tragically unhip and I knew it. We hardly talked after that, because her “boyfriend” liked to pick on me, but, every once in awhile, Lindsey and I would share a secret smile and remember that day when she was just a person revealing herself to another person. I learned more about the opposite sex in that moment than probably any other. Sadly, I forgot it for many years and I’m only relearning it now.

The other girl, from the seventh grade, was named Marcy Bloom. Also an unfortunate name for nice girl who, if you’ll pardon the pun, blossomed early. We were in a music class together that was a big deal. The teacher was very well liked and at the end of each semester, her class put on a small production with dance moves and top 40 music of the day. I shudder to think about the fact that we actually danced to “The Stroke (aka Stroke Me)” by Billy Squire.
In any case, I’d been out for a couple of days for some reason, either family vacation or illness, I don’t remember which. So, as a result, I was behind on learning the feeble dance moves that uncoordinated adolescents were capable of learning. Marcy was assigned the task of helping me catch up. I was rather not well accepted by the “cool kids” back then, seeing as how I was a total dork, so she was a little apprehensive about me to start with. Add to that the fact that every guy in school used to watch her chest when they talked to her and, well, I think you can probably see why she was less than happy with having to deal with me. But, I made up my mind to just be nice and polite and make a lot of eye contact. By the time I was caught up, she was totally at ease around me and even gave me a hug for something I did or said.
The lesson learned? Women, especially those who God has blessed a little extra, prefer to be looked in the eye, not the nipple. A lesson that serves me well even now.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything."
   --William Conner Magee

3/23/2007

Friday Fun News

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Dog and Pony Shows,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:04 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

No, nothing new about my health.

Just some fun/strange news stories from the past week or so.
First, apparently, some political unrest in Africa is going to cause a world chocolate shortage. Yikes! (Actually, if you read the article, it’s more likely to cause prices to go up, slightly, because manufacturers have likely taken some of these problems into account.)
Then, in an impressive variation of “Man Bites Dog”, there was the story about a teacher being “reprimanded” for biting a student. But, before you decry the sad state of our proessional educators, the poor man, who happened to be the wrestling coach, was being attacked by several of his wrestlers who were trying to give him a wedgie. The kids got, basically, a scolding and were otherwise off scott-free. But, the assualted teacher got into trouble. That is what’s wrong with our education system today. Those kids should have been brought up on charges! Damn psycho-jock brats!
Thirdly, here’s a news story that proves what I’ve been telling my mother for years: it’s not a mess, it’s my system. Apparently, there is a direct link to a messy desk and higher productivity after all. See?! All this time I was right! HA!

And, as a bit of a bonus, here’s something for all the folks thinking about getting married soon: How to Tell that the Honeymoon is Over. In short, to summarize the article, you know your new marriage has taken a turn for the worse when your new spouse tries to run you over in the car. It’s a sure sign.
And, on a more personal note, yesterday was the anniversary of my adopting Hilda from H.O.P.E.. I know because someone I used to volunteer with there e-mailed me after seeing my blog. Apparently, she was checking on who had linked to their website and the post, four years ago, where I talked about adopting my darling girl, was one of the prominent links. If you’re in Houston, and thinking about adopting a dog, or cat, H.O.P.E. is definately the way to go. A great organization that I’m proud to pay dues to annually, even if I don’t have the time to volunteer for them right now.

So, in any case, I hope one of those things made you smile a bit on this Friday. Either way, enjoy your weekend!

3/20/2007

We’re Back!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Well, the new hosting company finally got it all fixed.

It took a bit of convinceing but they seem to have finally fixed all the problems.  Yea!  And, no, I don’t feel any shame at all reminding them that I’m a cancer patient who uses this blog to keep in touch with friends and family.  Whatever it takes.

Speaking of that, the doctors sent me in for an HIV test last week.  No, not because I’m a filthy tramp, but to rule out that’s why this cancer suddenly showed up.  I’m sure you’ll all be as pleased as my mother to know that the test came back clear.  As my older brother wrote me, “At least the negative HIV is one positive note.”  And, so it is.  One step in the right direction.

Otherwise, there’s not much else to report.  I contacted my friends from church at MD Anderson, so they’re working things from their end.  My private nurse seems to have taken over getting after everyone who’s anyone at church that might help me.  I’m not entirely sure what I did to make such an impression on her, but I’m not going to knock it.  Right now, I’ll more than happily accept anyone who is willing to be my advocate in this arena.  Besides, from what I hear, once she makes up her mind, I don’t think I’d have a choice anyway, so I might as well just say thank you and enjoy someone taking care of me for a change.

Well, now I need to go get ready for work.  There’ll be more updates as the week goes on, now that the blog is working again.

3/16/2007

Cancer Coloring Book?

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:56 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, cancer seems to be on my mind this week.

Go figure, right?
Well, it’s been a long week and I’m tired, but I have two fun links for you regarding cancer. The first is a link to the National Children’s Cancer Society educational publication page, which includes a cancer coloring book called “Sammie’s New Mask: A Coloring Book for Friends of Children with Cancer“.
The second link is to The Adventures of Captain Chemo and the Chemo Command. I’ll let you make your own judgements about both of these, but they struck my strange sense of humor. I know they’re trying, but I think they can do better on the “fun” links for cancer.

Hmm, maybe I should put together a cancer coloring book myself as I go through all this. Might fill some time and keep me amused.
Anyway, it’s the best I can do this week. Better links next week, I promise. Until then, enjoy your weekend. Hell, enjoy every day.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."
   --Booker T. Washington

3/15/2007

Biopsy Results

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, if your money was on the evil, unborn twin bent on world domination, I’m afraid you lost. Same thing with the alien infestation. Sadly, the mystery mass being the result of an extended infection was also wrong. I have a lymphoma in my right lung.
Now, I know many of you were pulling for that twin, but I never expected anything less than some variety of cancer.

So, I’ve got my specialist moving things toward MD Anderson. He’ll be getting the samples over to them for a more precise diagnosis. Later today, I’ll be making arrangements to get some blood work done, to confirm that I don’t have any other complications. Neither the doctors nor I expect any, but, still, better to check and know for sure.
Then, I’ll be contacting MD Anderson myself to see where I am in the process of getting into their program. I’m sure it will take some time to get it all sorted out and the paperwork done and all that. Can’t have a disease of any kind these days without filling out the correct paperwork. (I wonder if they’ll let me have something else should I fill out a form incorrectly? Well, perhaps not…)

I’m sure it seems strange, but other than the cough, and being tired, I really feel fairly okay. Sometimes my chest hurts when I cough, but mostly not. So, at this point it’s just a matter of figuring out what the next step is and doing it. As they keep telling me, one step at a time.
Emotionally, I feel fine tonight. Granted, that may change later, but right now, it’s all just some other thing I have to deal with in my life. Considering some of the places I’ve been and some of the things I’ve done, well, I figure, I’m doing better than might be expected. And, certainly, I’m surrounded with friends who are going to help me no matter what I say! Besides, I promised my mother that I’d let them take care of me, so I’m going to do just that.

Now, before you all get too worked up about this, I’ll tell you what I told people all day yesterday. I don’t plan on dying. I’m only 38 and I still have a lot I want to do. This is a survivable thing and I plan to do just that. So pray away, but don’t worry that I’m not going to be around to harass you all for quite some time to come. At the very least, I’ve been told I have a job at a wedding in August, so you can be damn sure I’m going to make it that far! (Who else is going to bring up the goat story in a toast if not me?)

3/12/2007

Biopsy Fun

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:14 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Right, so, I survived my biopsy.

Anne, my friend from church, got me there with plenty of time to check-in and fill out massive paperwork.  They collected the rest of my deductible for the year, which turns out to be more than I thought.  So, now I feel like I should drive recklessly to get my money’s worth out of the insurance company, but I assure you I won’t.

I was prepped and waiting for hours, in part for blood work to get done and in part for the doctors to figure out just precisely how they wanted to get into my lung for that biopsy.  I think the long waiting was about the worst part.  But, I had my own, private nurse there with me, who prayed with me and generally made me feel safe, secure and as at ease as possible.  I have no doubt that there’s a special place in Heaven for Anne, who was an absolute angel to be with me and help me through this.

About 11:00am, the came and got me for the first of several CT scans. The first the did with contrast, to help find “details” like major veins and arteries.  Apparently, it would be a “bad thing” to nick one of those while going into my lung, so I was quite happy that the radiologist took his time finding them all.  Then, they took another CT scan to line up where they were going to put the needle.  A couple shots of local anesthetic, lidocane I think, later the nice doctor had shoved a six to eight inch needle into my chest.  Then, another CT scan to make sure he’d hit his mark and he took a biopsy.  Then, I waited.  They ran the sample down to pathology to run some kind of test on it and decide if they wanted more samples.  After the longest fifteen minutes of my life watching that chest needle bounce around every time I coughed, twitched or moved at all, they took three more samples from that same needle.  Though, the radiologist did “stir” it around a bit in my chest to get a fresh sample each time.
I’ve done a lot of strange and freaky things in my time, but having a doctor wiggle a chest needle inside me rates right up there on the Freak-O-Matic scale.
But, with the third sample, he pulled the needle and gave me one last CT scan to make sure everything looked as good in the inside as it did on the outside.  And, finally, after more than twelve hours, they let me get a glass of water while I waited to have two chest x-rays done, again to confirm the wholeness of my insides.

So, I don’t know for sure when I’ll get results back, but it should be later this week.  Worst case will be in two weeks when I have an appointment scheduled with my pulmonary specialist.
I will add this, though, when they were taking samples the second time, I overheard them saying that one was for a culture.  Now it seems to be that they wouldn’t need to grow a culture of cancer to figure out what it is, so I’m hoping that means they’re leaning toward infection.  Anne tended to agree with me that, generally, one grows a culture of a mystery infection to figure out what it is and how to treat it, but that’s generally not something one would do with cancer.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping.
Of course, the results are still pending, so it could yet turn out to be the evil twin I’ve never had.  We’ll see.
When I found out more, I’ll let you all know.

But, now it’s time for bed.

3/11/2007

Mystery Mass

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:13 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

So, the pulmonary specialist wasn’t sure what it was, either.

I have a mystery mass in my right lung.  Could be cancer.  Could be four other things with really long names that all seem to be the result of a long-term infection.  You know, like going three months without getting treatment for pneumonia.  Could be my unborn, evil, twin trying to claw his way out to world domination.  Could be an alien infestation waiting to take over the world.  Hell, at this point, it could be almost anything.

So, tomorrow, Monday, I go in for a biopsy.  And, yes, that’s damn fast.
In fact, the one thing that concerns me about this whole process is how fast the doctors have moved.  Always rushing to do the next thing, which never seems like a good sign to me.  In any case, I’ll be having an outpatient “proceedure” done tomorrow at 8:00am to get a biopsy of this little bastard.  Though, I suppose something that is blocking the bottom half of your lung isn’t “little”.  Well, whatever, they’re going to poke me tomorrow.  I have a friend from church, who also happens to be an R.N., that’s going to drive me to and from the proceedure, though that may be a bit over-kill.  They claim they’re going to use a local to get the sample and not put me under, but I feel better having someone there.  Especially someone who knows the medical profession well.
It was nice, though, that I got several offers of help and could pick and choose.  I really, honestly, never realized that I had so many friends who were so willing to help me with this stuff.  All this time, I’ve been pissing and moaning about how alone I am, but I’m really not alone at all.  Now, of course, the challenge is to relax and let them take care of me.  At least, I know I’ll be in good hands tomorrow.

It’s really been an interesting week.  Wednesday, I sat in the doctor’s office, waiting to find out what the next step in my treatment was and went through all five stages of death and dying, as laid out by Kubler-Ross.
“I’m too young to have cancer!  I can’t die yet!”
“God, I’ll do anything I have to do to stay alive, just show me what it is!”
“Damn it!  I should have come in sooner to deal with that damn cough!  They might have caught it sooner!”
“Oh, think of all the things I’ll never get to do!  Oh, I’ll never be married again or have kids or…  God, it’s so sad that I never appreciated that when I had and now I’ll never get the chance!”
And, finally…
“Well, I guess I’ll just have to do what the doctors tell me and see how far I get.  It’s out of my hands now.  I just have to trust that God knows what he’s doing.”

And, there it is.  It’s out of my hands now.  All I can do is trust that everything is unfolding the way it was meant to unfold.
Though, I’ve been told that I have to last until August 11, since I’m apparently to be the best man in the most anticipated wedding of the year, J. and L.  At least, I think he was serious when he said that tonight.  Either way, I plan to live long enough for that, no matter what my evil, unborn, twin’s plans are.

Oh, and I’ve already been informed that it is immoral to use “Well, I’m dying of cancer and I’d really like to have sex one last time before I die and you’re just so beautiful…” as a pickup line, even if it does turn out to be true.  Especially, if it turns out to be true.
I’ll let you all know more when I do.

3/9/2007

The Fun Goes On!

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Fun Work,Geek Work — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:10 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

You didn’t think I was going to let an unidentified mass in my lung keep me from posting some Friday Fun Links, did you?

Of course, I queued this post up last night and I had to work two and a-half hours late to get a couple of circuits squared away for a cutover we’re doing on my phone system, so that might have had an effect on what I picked this week.
The theme is computers and zany fun.
First, we have a link to Things Not To Do In A Server Room. Sadly, at one time or another, I’ve done most of these things.  Hey, when you’re working by yourself to string cable for an entire company, things just happen!
And, having users that Abuse Their Computers Through Neglect doesn’t help things, either.  I have to warn you, one of the pictures at that link is totally disgusting, so make sure not to look at it too close to lunch.
I tell you, it’s enough to make you want to Smash Your Computer To Bits, and that’s just what the people did who submitted the pictures on that last link.  Reminds me of a movie I know that just happens to be like my life, except I have no Jennifer Anniston to round things out.  Ah, well, maybe one day…
And, finally, just to end things on a happy note, here’s a link to pictures of Office and Computer Pranks.  Now, I’ve never done anything quite like these, but there was that one time that I wrapped a guy’s cubicle in police crime scene tape after he freaked over a spam that claimed the FBI were on to him.  Yeah, that probably was unreasonably cruel.  But, it was fun.

So, think happy thoughts as you click your Friday Fun Links.  I’ll probably be talking to my pulmonary specialist as you read these, but don’t let that keep you from having a great Friday!

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