health

“Raccoon eyes” (detecting health problems)

I don’t know about everything shown on this image, but for the last few months I have noticed that I have “raccoon eyes” at times, meaning that I develop really dark areas under my eyes. As the image shows, this is probably from allergies and/or food intolerances, which — thanks to MCAS — I can now confirm.

(I found this image on this Pinterest page.)

A possible result could be catastrophic

I was talking to a doctor yesterday about Pericarditis and he said that one possible result could be catastrophic. I was well aware of that possibility, but I thought it was an unusual word for a doctor to use.

That being said, it does sound more powerful than you could die. A lot of people say, “You could die doing <fill in the blank>,” so maybe that phrase has lost some power, where “catastrophic” isn’t used that often to talk about one’s health.

Ruthlessly edit this text

As I get back into “book writing” mode, it’s funny to find notes like this that I left for myself:

TODO: Edit this text ruthlessly when you’re feeling better.

I was so sick during the last few months, I have no memory of writing that.

~ a note from september, 2016

The flu, and New Girl

The bad news is that I have the flu. The good news is that I’ve watched the first 25 episodes of New Girl (though I wasn’t conscious for all of them, and I’m not sure what happened to Coach).

I haven’t binge-watched anything like this since I had a bad infection after having my gallbladder removed.

Fifty Shades of Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD/MCAS)

Notes from September 24, 2016:

Doctor: I’d like to collect a bone marrow sample ...

*Al runs out of the hospital in a hospital gown, screaming like a little girl*


(later, after they caught me)

Doctor: The next time you break out in a rash, hives, or blisters, I want you to have those biopsied.

Me: Is there going to be any part of our relationship that doesn’t involve a lot of pain on my part?

Doc: Yes, pee in this cup, and we’ll look at it under a fluorescent light to see if you have the same disease that King George III had.

Me: The crazy one?

Doc: Yes.

Me: Cool.

The Talkeetna Roadhouse (Talkeetna, Alaska)

After some more medical tests tomorrow (Tuesday) I hope to be able to return to work as early as Wednesday. I don’t really have much energy yet, but hopefully I can get back to writing Scala code and blog posts for two to four hours a day initially.

My ideal job would be to work as a QA guy for the Talkeetna Roadhouse bakery but after getting my full energy back I’ll probably settle for some sort of programming gig instead. :)

According to WebMD, I may be pregnant

According to WebMD, I may be pregnant. Fatigue, nausea, drastic changes in how things smell, food aversions, mood swings ... I've got most of the symptoms.

~ A Facebook post from July 9, 2014, after I had radiation treatment

Radioactive iodine treatment instructions (for thyroid cancer)

For anyone interested in the radioactive iodine treatment instructions I received from the hospital back in 2014 (for the post-surgical treatment of thyroid cancer)(which I’ll be going through again), here you go. As I note in the image, as a writer I appreciate the strong finish. :)

A feel-good list (for those very sick days) alvin June 21, 2019 - 6:47pm

These days I generally feel very good, but as I go through some of these medical treatments they can make me feel pretty miserable, especially when combined with the effects of the MCAS. During times like that I usually just meditate in bed or in a recliner, generally not thinking about anything, just breathing, letting the inside and outside become one. I do this almost all of the time.

But other times when I can’t do that for one reason or another, I started to create a little “feel good” list to reflect on. This is something that when I’m not feeling well and I can’t meditate, it helps to remind me that life has generally been very good to me. I think about various things, all of the favorite times I’ve had in my life, meeting my wife, playing baseball, all of the dogs, good vacations, fun with friends, etc.

One thing I hadn’t thought about in a long time that came to mind recently was that when I was 32 years old I worked for a company I called the Evil Empire, and something good happened on my last day there. (That wasn’t their real name, but some of the owners of that company inspired me to give it that name.)

American doctors, and medicating the effect rather than treating the cause alvin March 16, 2019 - 10:56am

I recently went through a period where my blood pressure (BP) went up to 150/100 and stayed there. My normal BP is ~115/70, so I monitored it for a few days, and when it stayed there I made an appointment with my primary care physician (PCP). I explained everything to her, how I eat almost exclusively organic foods that I prepare at home, and I exercise harder than I have since 2011. I told her that I started feeling a little sick about two weeks ago, and that I was now feeling worse. I suggested that I probably had an infection, because that had been a recurring problem before we knew about the mast cell disease, and I had also just had a surgery in December. To me there was no logical reason that my BP should be that high unless I’m having an infection or some sort of heart issue.

Nonetheless, without doing any tests, her recommendation was that I should increase my Lisinopril dosage from 20mg to 40mg — which is the max you can take, and also has potentially severe side effects. My response was along the lines of, “Okay, whatev,” and after I left her office I made an appointment to see a specialist. I felt like she was just medicating the effect, and had little interest in understanding the cause.