Category Archives: Personal

Taking It for a Test Drive

I’m trying out the phrase “past experience” as an addition to my list of pet peeves.

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I’ve Only Been to One

The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World. Some of these are amazing.

By the way, someone at the conference this weekend asked me if the photo at the top of the blog is my library. I wish.

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Really, I’m Fine

My mother called today to find out why I haven’t been blogging.

Really, I’m fine. I’m just busy.

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Anniversary, Of a Sort

About two years ago, I was worrying about whether I could fly to DC to go to a great conference. To my enormous good fortune, I was snowed out.

As a result, when my aorta burst on Feb. 12, 2010, I was home, and the drive to the hospital to find out why I felt like I had been stabbed in the back was quick and easy. And as a result of getting care quickly, I survived an emergency aortic dissection, serious surgical complications, and the implantation of a metal aortic valve. It would be 11 days before I was recovered enough to be allowed to emerge from my induced coma. And it would be five weeks before I returned home, much enfeebled, barely able to walk with a walker.

Today I feel almost fully recovered. I tire a bit more easily than I used to. I have to watch what I eat in order to avoid the foods that counteract my medicines. But I’ve returned to a pretty full schedule. Things are basically good.

There’s quite a lot I probably will write about the experience someday, maybe on the anniversary of my return home, which seems to me to be a much more significant date than the date I collapsed while filling out forms outside the local emergency room (a good place to collapse, as it turned out).

For now, four statistics:

(1) People whose aortas burst have at most 60 minutes to get treated, or they die. After a little dithering, I made it to the hospital in about 20 minutes or so.

(2) The survival rate for aortic dissections is not great. Wikipedia gives the statistics for aortic emergencies as “80% mortality rate, and 50% of patients die before they even reach the hospital.”

(3) The rate at which people make a full recovery without heart or brain damage is, I gather, even worse than that. (Much aortic surgery is planned, when a problem is detected before the crisis; the success rate for that surgery is much better so don’t panic if you are diagnosed with this problem — be grateful it got caught in time.)

(4) I do seem to be one of those very lucky people. And people who survive two years past their valve replacement surgery generally have a life expectancy almost equal to what they had before — the “almost” being due largely a greater propensity to die in accidents because the blood thinners one must take to keep the metal valve unclogged increase the chances of bleeding out internally when hurt.

As I said, I’ve been very lucky. I beat some bad odds. And people have been so very supportive during my recovery.

I am very grateful.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy low-sodium, low-sugar, low-cholesterol, low alcohol, measured Vitamin K Thanksgiving!

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Somewhat Amazing Kitchen Trick

VIDEO: How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds.

I have to try this. As my first cookbook said, “If your friends don’t like garlic, get new friends.”

(Spotted via Lifehacker.)

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I Am Not Going to New York Tomorrow

We were planning to go to New York tomorrow, but the event we were going for is cancelled due to the city being closed this weekend for hurricane. It’s a little ironic for a Miami person to not be able to go to New York because they are having the hurricane, but there it is.

I can’t help but be reminded of a previous trip that I scrubbed due to bad weather. I had planned to go to DC in mid-February, 2010. That got scrubbed due to an enormous snowstorm. During the time I’d planned to be away, my aorta burst. Had I been in DC, I likely would not have been as near a hospital, nor as likely to go to one, as I was at home — with deeply bad results. Had I flown out late, delayed due to weather, I could have been on the plane when it happened. Had I been on the plane, I’d be dead.

Instead, I’m pretty well — and very lucky. I hope New York is lucky too.

We’re going next weekend instead, assuming New York is still there. By Miami standards the predicted winds by the time Irene gets to New York seem strong, but not incredibly fierce — sort of on the border between a very bad tropical storm and and a lesser hurricane. But I suppose they’re not as well set up for it as we are.

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