Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Imaginary War

I've been pretty busy over at my Warhammer 40,000 blog, but it's been a while since I last posted here on the home blog. And it's been even longer since I made a political post. In fact, my last one dates back to October when I discussed a crude anonymous comment I received. Much of the reason why I enjoy politics is because I enjoy a good debate. However, more and more it seems that irrationality and emotion are dominating politics and a lot of people (especially on the Internet) simply skip the part where they actually try to argue their point and begin immediately with name calling and ad hominem attacks. It's my belief that, when people stop arguing and resort instead to personal attacks, our country is in trouble. The pre-Civil War era was rife with that kind of behavior.

The Left's current claims that the GOP has started some sort of "War On Women" fall into this category. Of course, if you were to ask a diehard leftist they would tell you that the Republican Party has always been at war with women. Now, however, professional Liberals and their media allies seem to think they can make the charge stick with nonpartisans. It's the kind of obvious political demagoguery you can expect in an election year. I guess most of this started when Glorious Leader Obama and his secretary of Health and Human Services decided that they could, and should, force religiously run institutions to cover birth control through their health plans. (I for one find it disturbing that the Executive Branch now wields enough power to actually make such diktats.) This didn't go over well with the Catholic Church since it holds birth control to be verboten and has numerous medical and charitable operations that are affected by the decree.

The subject became personalized when Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke (apparently a self-proclaimed activist who also believes that the government should mandate that insurance cover gender reassignment surgery, among other things) testified to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee that her birth control costs upwards of $1000 a year and urged the government to require her student insurance to cover it. Georgetown University is a private Jesuit school, so the University isn't going to do any such thing willingly. Apparently Fluke and quite a few Democratic politicians think that her right to receive subsidized birth control (by means of government coercion) trumps a Catholic institution's 1st Amendment right to freely exercise its religious principles.

It should be expected that the government's trampling of religious liberty in order to give Fluke et al. an absurd "right" to have their birth control paid for by others is going to rub a lot of Conservatives the wrong way. In response to Fluke's demands and Liberals characterization of her as a hero, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh (who is an entertainer, despite Liberal's claims to the contrary) used several non-chivalrous terms and inflammatory language to describe Fluke during his show. Apparently, between Limbaugh's unfortunate language and Conservative's general support of religious liberty over the previously unrecognized right to have one's lifestyle paid for by others, Liberals claim that the GOP is engaging in a "War On Women".

The Ploesti Raids of World War II (a.k.a., an actual war)

A few observations: first off, the party that looked the other way and/or tried to justify the depredations of high profile politicians like Bill Clinton and Teddy Kennedy really can't claim the moral high ground. Limbaugh (an entertainer) was repeatedly condemned by fellow Conservatives for what he said and he eventually apologized for his statements. (Fluke, classy lady that she is, rejected his apology.) Clinton and Kennedy (elected representatives) did a lot more than call a woman unkind names. Second, since when is an unwillingness to subsidize something, or force others to subsidize it, a de facto ban or an attack on a particular group? As an engineering student I spent more on books each year than Fluke did on birth control. Did someone declare war on education or war on engineering students because they didn't subsidize my books? Finally, why are we supposed to feel bad that a law student at Georgetown University spends $1000 a year on birth control? Not only does that dollar figure suggest that she prefers an unusually pricey birth control pill, but the cost is a pittance compared to Georgetown's $40,000+ annual tuition. Seems like a case of 'poor little rich girl' to me.

When did this nation sink to the point that it doesn't reject as ludicrous the argument that one person or a group of people have the right to have their chosen lifestyle paid for by others? I love Warhammer 40,000; the hobby relives stress and improves my quality of life. Do I therefore have the right to have my rather expensive hobby supported by someone else through government coercion? As absurd as this example is, it's no worse than arguments I've heard from the Left. And at least you wouldn't have to infringe on someone's 1st Amendment rights to get them to pay for my 40K habit.

One final thought; if Fluke doesn't like the policies of the Catholic Church, why did she decide to go to a traditionally Catholic school? Oh, right, she's a professional rabble-rouser who attended the school to attack its principles. Now who's declared war on who?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Atomic Spud: Minus One Gallbladder

Bad gallbladder! Bad!
Much to my consternation, the results of the HIDA scan I received in February came back normal. However, according to the doctors I've talked to (including Dr. Google), gallbladder disease can be missed by both a sonogram and a HIDA scan. Thus, I agreed to meet with the surgeon who removed my wife's gallbladder last year. During our discussion, I asked him how probable it was that I had gallbladder disease. He responded that the fact that the injection I received at the end of the HIDA scan recreated my the pain meant that there was an 80% chance that my gallbladder was to blame. Since 80% is a greater degree of certainty than many other things in life, I decided to have the (potentially) malfunctioning organ removed.

My wife and I showed up at the hospital yesterday late in the morning. Within a short period they had me in a gown, had an IV in my hand, and had shaved my stomach. Unfortunately, the hospital staff were so quick and efficient in getting me ready that they didn't realize that the surgeon wasn't scheduled to actually do the operation for another hour. This was exactly the opposite of my wife's gallbladder removal experience where we sat in the waiting room for over an hour and they didn't get her into the pre-op area until about ten minutes before the surgery.

This was only my second time under general anesthetic; the first was when I had my wisdom teeth removed. I was completely out mere minutes after the anesthesiologist injected the cocktail into my IV. The last thing I remember was thinking about how many light fixtures there were in the operating room. I woke up coughing since I'm still recovering from a head cold and because of the dryness of the oxygen they were feeding me. Thank goodness much of the initial painkillers were still in effect then; coughing became excruciating only a half hour later.

My wife is still laughing about my recovery from the anesthesia. She becomes extremely nauseous after receiving any strong anesthetic and has a difficult time keeping food or liquids down. In short, her recovery is extremely miserable. In my case, I seem to remember waving my hands around and rolling my head from side to side. Then I would touch my wife's face and tell her how pretty she was. My mother later said that if anesthesia works as a truth serum, I definitely passed the test.

Immediately after the surgery and prior to my waking up, the surgeon talked to my wife about how everything went. Thanks to the negative results of my earlier diagnostic tests, my greatest fear was that we had made an expensive and painful mistake and that the surgeon would tell my wife that mine was the healthiest gallbladder he had ever removed. Instead, he told her that he didn't find any gallstones and could find no explicit cause for my problems, but that he had found some gallbladder adhesions.

Not that kind of adhesion

While they usually aren't a direct cause of gallbladder-related pain, adhesions are typically indications that something is wrong. According to one source:
Adhesions can be formed due to surgery, injury, infection, or even radiation. However, they most commonly develop as a result of gallbladder inflammation caused by gallstones, termed cholecystitis. Gallbladder adhesions can also develop from gallbladder cancer, associated with gallstones; however, such cancer is rare. Some gallbladder adhesions have been found to be due to natural causes, such as congenital anomalies.


Gallbladder adhesions generally do not cause any pain or symptoms, but the conditions leading to the production of adhesions, such as gallstones and inflammation, can be extremely painful. Gallstones can produce biliary colic, or pain resulting from bile duct blockage by a gallstone. This pain is localized in the upper abdomen and will generally go away in a few hours once the gallstone passes out of the duct.
It's nice to know that there was almost certainly something wrong with my gallbladder and that all the pain and discomfort wasn't all in my head or due to some other as yet unknown cause.

Since the surgery I've been in a considerable, albeit manageable, amount of pain. The surgery injects a small quantity of air into the cavity to make the gallbladder more accessible, so a lot of the discomfort I'm having is due to the air bubbles that tend to float towards my right collar bone. Unfortunately, the medicine used to control the pain makes me feel lightheaded and spaced-out (that I was able to write this blog post at all is a miracle). I can't believe that there are drug-abusers who actually seek out such sensations. Although recovery from the surgery isn't exactly pleasant, I've actually had migraines that were worse.


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