Category: Health

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The Ring Returns

Yesterday, I put on my wedding ring for the first time in 13 years. The saga starts in January 2004, in an incident described in missive: “Man on the Train“. I got poison ivy—in Winter, no less—after giving a homeless guy money while riding the DC Metro. That was the suspected scenario from my then doctor, now retired, Gabe Mirkin, a well-known fitness physician whose office was around the block from our house. Dr. Mirkin surmised that the homeless dude had residue on his hands and clothes from sleeping outdoors. Brrrr.

I closed the blogpost recounting the incident: “My left hand is so swollen, today I may ask a jeweler to cut off my wedding ring”. And I did, returning to White Flint Mall, where was the store from which my wife and I bought matching gold bands in 1989. The shop had closed, but another jeweler expertly performed a clean hackjob. Whoa, color returned to my finger! White Flint is gone now, BTW. The upscale mall was torn down in summer 2015. WTH? 

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On This Day

Nine years ago today, my family relocated from the Washington, D.C. suburb of Kensington, Md to San Diego, Calif. Whoa! There is no record in my website archive. Looks like I did little posting in late 2007, which isn’t surprising with the move and trying to continue working. At the time, I operated the Apple Watch and Microsoft Watch blogs. Unbelievably, Ziff Davis enterprise closed down both after laying me off in April 2009. That’s why I warned two years ago: “Writers, Own Your Content!

I don’t feel like the same human being, after predominately cutting carbs from my diet starting three years ago. Wearing pajamas, I weighed about 91 kilograms (200 pounds) on Oct. 15, 2007; 57 kg (125 lbs) today. My physical build is more like age 20—as is my remarkable energy. Granted, I look every bit of my 57 years and don’t pretend to be otherwise or cling to some misbegotten attempt at reclaiming youth. I’m merely a happy, healthier middle-ager. 

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This Is Me Then and Now IV

I am not quite as chubby in this fourth installment of my “then-and-now” series compared to the first, or second. Each shows me (to the right) today against a portrait nine or 10 years old. In the previous, posted August 2015, I weighed 59 kilos (131 pounds) clothed, same as the image above, despite appearing to be thinner seven months ago..

The Me to the left is a selfie shot with Nokia N95 cellphone on May 13, 2007. Anne, my wife, took the other using iPhone 6s on March 8, 2016. Different this time is what’s the same: the eyeglasses, which I pulled out of storage to wear again, to give more striking comparison with the Me today. I weighed nearly 98 kilos in the older pic (about 200 pounds). My pajama weight straight out of bed this morning: 58 kilos (128 pounds). The spectacles are quite the spectacle when closely examined—how much larger they look on my thinner face and how roomier the space along the temples. 

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The ‘Cesarean is Safer’ Lie

So I’m sitting at McDonald’s with my 93 year-old father-in-law, who likes to eat from the all-day breakfast menu for lunch. Behind him, across the aisle, sit three elderly gents who don’t look to be quite as old but nevertheless it’s a 70-plus group. They gather daily apparently.

One man announces that he can’t make lunch tomorrow. “My daughter is having a baby”. When, another geezer asks. “At 9:30 in the morning” is the answer. “How do you know?” I could answer that one, and the reason why. I lean forward and listen with greater focus. “She’s having a Cesarean”, the man answers. What he says next chills my bones and inflames my anger: The doctor says that the procedure is “safer” than natural childbirth. 

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Two Years Later

I begin with a nod of thanks to my wife Anne for struggling with the Fuji X100T, which she handled for the first time yesterday, to shoot these photos of me and several others. We couldn’t go outdoors because of heavy thunderstorms, which are quite unusual for San Diego. Finding a good wall in the apartment with adequate ambient light proved difficult. I turned 56 one week earlier; these are the first pics at my new age.

You see me here at 131 pounds (59 kg). That’s down from 182 (82.6 kilos) when I cut my carb consumption by more than than 90 percent starting July 15, 2013. But my weight is up from 127, or by more than 2.2 kilos, since late June. The long decline reverses as I carb cheat. That behavior stops after today—not so much to lose weight but to be healthier. The massive weight loss is but a side benefit. 

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I Should Thank the President

We are solid citizens again, with health insurance in place for the first time since May 1, 2009. Last November, I shared about “My Uninsured Life“. Now that circumstances changed, update is warranted, even if brief. Our coverage started as of Midnight today. We are among those Americans subsidized through Obamacare.

Our monthly family premium is a paltry $101 and some change per month for HMO plan with $500 annual individual deductible. The subsidy rewards the insurer with another $1,100 during the same time period. Someone please explain to me how such a gap doesn’t somehow reflect increased healthcare costs. What the frak? 

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Gregory Peck: The Eyes Have It

Apologies for going dark, letting Flickr a Day run on automatic (as I keep about a week’s worth of advanced photos primed to post). Wednesday afternoon, May 6, I picked up my first new pair of eyeglasses in six years, resulting in downward spiral of my vision rather than upwards. I couldn’t much read or write, which is why the absence. My wrong assumption: Customary adjustment period for aging eyes that require severe astigmatic correction and progressive lenses with bifocals. Wrong guess.

I have returned to using my old eyeglasses while the others go out for redo. I see so well, the temptation to demand refund and keep the aged pair is almost overwhelming. Almost. 🙂

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This is Me Then and Now Too

Following my embarrassing confessional comparing photos of me in 2004 and 2014 comes another: 2005 vs 2015. Midday, my wife and I sat inside the local Panda Express, where she commented how I look like a different person from what I used to.

I’m lighter. In the photo on the left, from a decade ago in March, I weighed 95 kilos (210 pounds). Anne snapped the right pic while she ate lunch when today I weigh 63.4 kilos (139.8 pounds). That’s down from 70 kilos (152 pounds) in August 2014. 

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My Uninsured Life

I am supposed to be sitting in a movie theater watching Interstellar. The plan was in place for months. Instead, I write this post, which is commentary on health insurance in America. The two things are strangely connected, if in this or any other universe such seemingly disparate relationships are random. What’s that saying about a butterfly flapping its wings?

Here’s a nut graph, so you can decide whether to read further or stop here: America’s healthcare system is broken. Free-market forces cannot work. The 1945 McCarran-Ferguson Act laid the framework for healthcare monopolies, which nearly 70 years later act like cartels, in defiance of the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. The Affordable Care Act raises healthcare costs, while managing the monopolies rather than eliminating them. As such, the free-market forces that should stimulate competition and drive down prices are stymied. 

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O Canada, What Say You?

What do two forts share in common? Kaci Hickox, the 33 year-old healthcare worker from Fort Worth, Texas, taking refuge in Fort Kent, Maine. Surely you know of the so-called Ebola nurse and the legal scuffle about quarantining her. As an Aroostook County native born about 70 kilometers (okay, I rounded up) southeast of FK and having traveled widely across the Lone Star State, I know something about the character of both regions. Think independent-mindedness times two, which equals “Don’t tell me what to do”.

The simple story: She volunteered in Sierra Leone, where the disease rages. She returned to the wrong state, New Jersey, which put her in isolation. She fled to one of the most rural and remote areas of the Northeast. Maine’s governor demanded voluntary quarantine. She defied it. A federal judge ruled against the Gov. News reporters who couldn’t find Fort Kent with a Google Map ruined the autumn tourist trade by filling up the only hotel. We all wait to see if she stays symptom free through November 10. Pass the popcorn. The suspense is thicker than a horror flick.