Sunday, February 21, 2010

No more gall bladder!!!

For those of you who want to know, or even care, I had a successful removal of my gall bladder.  I'm somewhat sore, but not nearly as sore as I was when I had my hernia surgery several years ago.  They made four incisions...  One in or around my belly button (that one hurts pretty good), one just under and to the right of my sternum (that incision hurts the least), and then two small ones on the right side below my right ribs.  The ones on the right are annoying as heck because I can't sleep on my right side, which is my favorite side to sleep on and they are pretty sore.

As far as drugs are concerned, I had some morphine in the hospital, a Lortab type thing, and a couple of Percocets, but that's it.  The rest of the time I've had Tylenol.  I may revert to the Percocets tonight to see if I can get some sleep.  I'm sleeping, just not as good as I would like to sleep.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Toyota - Part 2

I don't really understand all the buzz about Toyota.  I've got a 2009 Camry and it has been a fine car.  Today I scheduled an appointment with the dealership to get it serviced.  They looked up my car and said it was subject to two recalls.  They are going to put the brackets on the throttle and reprogram the computer (so if the brakes are on, the accelerator will be cut) for the first recall, and then they are going to shorten the accelerator pedal by 1/2 an inch.  I think the reprogramming is a smart thing to do and should have been done long ago.

I know that Toyota is getting hammered, but give me a break.  All car companies have issues.  The Congressmen that want the president of Toyota to testify is just overkill.  They are doing it for political points and to bash and humiliate Toyota.  What will it accomplish?  Will it fix the problem any faster?  Will it make Toyota be more careful in their designs?  Will it bring back the lives of those who died in Toyota vehicles that had issues?  I really don't think it will solve any of these problems.  Toyota has learned a hard and valuable lesson.  They will be better in the future.  And if all the other Toyotas are like the dealership I have to deal with, customers will be taken care of.

Like I said, all this frenzy about the "quality" problem and customers leaving the brand are just the press in hyper-drive.  Once the recalls stop and the press quiets down and some other big topic of the day comes up, people will forget about the problems.  Haiti attention has dropped off the map as the press moves on with other "hot" stories.

So I'll keep my Toyota.  My only regret is that I don't have money to go and buy another Toyota vehicle, as I'm sure there are some pretty good discounts on the cars these days.

Surgery tomorrow

I've been suffering with a poorly functioning gall bladder for quite some time.  I got a diagnosis that it has to come out (it has a 9% ejection fraction, meaning it is barely working) back in January.  With work and everything, I'm finally able to get it taken out.  I have a few sniffles (I think the onset of a cold may be trying to derail my surgery), but the surgeon and hospital told me to still come.  They'll make the call tomorrow if I'm fit or not.

For those that want to know, I have to be at the hospital tomorrow morning at 6:30 AM.  I'm the first person getting worked on, I think.  I asked for the first time slot and it looks like I've got it.  Which is fine.  It means I have to get up early, but it also means that I will hopefully get to come home some time in the afternoon.

If by some strange and weird chance I don't make it back (gall bladder surgery is very routine and low risk), its been good knowing you.  Take care of the wife and kidlins.

I'll post something once I'm home and all is well.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox - Did I really see that movie?

Yesterday I had the day off work and the kids were out of school.  So we decided to go to the dollar movie and take in a cheap movie.  The 12:45 showing of the Fantastic Mr. Fox was sold out, so we went to the 2:45 movie.  We had lunch at one of the local fast food joints before going in.

Frankly, I was quite underwhelmed by the movie.  My oldest daughter said, "That was the stupidest movie I've ever seen.  It was even dumber than Napoleon Dynamite!"  The humor was Sahara Desert dry.  It really was not what I was expecting.  It is stop action animation, kind of like Chicken Run.  I thoroughly enjoyed Chicken Run, but I didn't care much for the Fantastic Mr. Fox.  I suppose that Mr. Fox is one of those movies that may or could grow on you.  But if I ever show that movie again in my house, I'm sure I'd be lynched, quartered and then burned before an improper burial.  Like I said, I'm glad we saw this at the dollar movie.  It cost me all of $6 to go to the movie.  I guess that's more expensive than a DVD rental, but we got out of the house for a few hours.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Blind Side - Who blind sided me?

My wife and I had an early Valentine's date on Friday.  We found a theater that was still showing The Blind Side about Michael Oher.  We have tried to see it once or twice before, but it was always sold out.  We have heard that it was a great movie, but I left my expectations at the door.  I have had high expectations for movies in the past and those expectations have been crushed as the movie never reached my expectations.  So I just wanted to go, sit back and relax and take in the movie.

The movie is simply awesome.  Probably one of the best movies that I have seen in a really, really, really long time.  And Sandra Bullock.....  What a performance.  I wish she could play parts like that all the time.  She gave a fantastic performance in the movie, probably the best performance I have ever seen her do in any of her movies.  The movie is up for best picture and Ms. Bullock is up for Best Performance for an Actress in a leading role.  I hope they both win Oscars.  It has been a long time since a movie like this has won an academy award for best picture.  I have not seen Avatar, but I would not be surprised if the blue creature movie gets best picture.

Thinking about the movie some more, I want to thank the Tuohy family for sharing their story.  The world needs more people like the Tuohy's who are willing to open their home to those less fortunate.  The story makes me want to be a better person and help those who are in need.

Anyway, if you want a good movie to see, look for The Blind Side.  It will not disappoint.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


With all the publicity about the recent Toyota recalls, you would think that people are panicing and dumping their Toyotas.  Maybe that is the case.  Maybe there are people who are dumping their cars for "American" made cars.  Maybe.  There will always be sheep that are driven into a panic.

I've had a few Toyota products over the years.  I have a model that is currently affected by one or more of Toyota's recalls.  And you know what?  I'm not worried about it.  I haven't taken the car in for any of the recalls.  My first Toyota got rear-ended.  The impact was incredibly forceful resulting in a total loss, but in the end, my wife and oldest daughter walked away from the accident unharmed.  You can't put a price on that kind of protection.

The Toyota I currently have is a well made car.  And in the end, I think my Toyota will outlast any other "American" car out there.  No car company in the world is perfect.  There will be recalls.  In the end, Toyota will take care of their customers, the problems will get resolved, and the problems will blow by.  And customers will return to Toyota because of their value and quality.  There will be some short-term brand issues, but I think it will all blow by and be forgotten like presidential campaign promises.

Who needs a gall bladder anyway?

Remember my previous post about my annual visit to the ER/hospital?  Well, I finally figured out the underlying problem.  My gall bladder.  I had a HIDA scan done and my gall bladder only has a 9% ejection fraction, meaning, it ain't working very good and needs to come out.  Normal gall bladders have a 35 to 80% ejection fraction.  Anything above or below that range is considered abnormal with the gall bladder needing to be removed.

I've talked to several people who have had their gall bladders out and it seems like a fairly routine operation.  I've talked to at least 20 people who have had their gall bladders out.  The more I talk about it, the more I realize how common it is.  Then I hear about John Murtha passing away after his gall bladder surgery.  I'm like, "Oh great.  I'm going to be the 1 in 1,000.  I got West Nile Virus, I'll probably die from this stupid surgery."  Such an optimist, I know.  I also found out on Monday that I had a case of strep throat and I'm currently on meds to wipe that out before my surgery.  I need to call the doctor and see what they have to say about it.  I just want to make sure the strep is gone before I get operated on.

Back to the gall bladder thing.  Ever since I found out that my gall bladder is bad, I've avoided fatty foods.  I've been avoiding fatty foods for years, but every now and again I'll indulge in a greasy peperoni pizza, or a large bowl of ice cream, only to be in agony several hours later.  But now that I KNOW it is bad, I've been staying away from that stuff like the plague.  And I've discovered that I feel a whole lot better.  No more massive bloating, cramps and other common nastiness.  I miss the occasional bowl of ice cream.  I miss a piece of sausage or bacon.  But I know that I'll be paying for it if I eat it.  So I refuse to partake.

So if you have gall bladder experiences, please share.


A couple of weeks ago I flew to the Bay Area for a business trip.  I flew one of the big carriers, but instead of being on a "normal" sized aircraft, I flew on a Bombardier regional jet.  I assume that these jets are highly efficient for the airlines, but I hate them. 

First of all, when I stand straight up in the isle, my head hits the top of the aircraft.  So I walk hunched over so I don't whack my head.  Next, the plane only seats four across, two on each side.  So you either have a window seat or an isle seat and no dreaded middle seat.  Now, when I was a kid, I wanted a window seat.  But that was a long time ago.  And I was a lot thinner than I am now.  So when I fly, I want an isle seat so my largesse can have some stretching room.  My flight out to the bay area, I got stuck with a window seat.  I got in my seat and felt like a stinking sardine.  Remember, these aircraft aren't very big and I'm a pretty big dude these days.

The worst part of the whole trip is the bathroom experience.  Remember, guys can do certain things standing up.  Also remember that my head hits the roof when I'm simply walking down the isle.  Now, where is the commode?  Generally it is near the wall of the aircraft.  So I'm having having a Brent Brown moment in the bathroom, praying profusely that we don't have any clear air turbulents and I don't end up breaking my neck.  For those that don't know who Brent Brown is, he's a local auto dealer that has a photo with his likeness bending over backwards.  I didn't find a suitable graphics of Mr. Brown, but here is an example of what I'm talking about (or at least this is how it feels).

So I'm really glad when the plane lands, we arrive at the gate and I'm able to get out of the sardine can.  After flying in one of those small planes, the larger aircraft (737s or A320s) look pretty decent.

My trip was mostly uneventful.  My outbound flight was cancelled, but I was able to get to and from my destination without any serious consequences.