Ouchy

Those Swiss Army knife people certainly know how to make knives. Very sharp knives.

While using one of their kitchen knives earlier in the week, I carelessly took a small chunk out of my thumb.

Be warned: slightly gory picture ahead.
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Cluster headaches are back

The term blog is a shortening of web log… well, this blog post is a log for primarily my own purposes, though it may be of interest to others.

Seems the cluster headaches are back this morning.

They often return at the change of season, but I haven’t had them since about two years ago.

(That blog post went into some detail about them — and this point is particularly worth noting: no conventional painkillers are effective against them. Not paracetomol, not aspirin, not Nurofen. Nothing works. It is not the same as migraine.)

So, this time around, so far:

5:40am, for about fifteen minutes. Started to fade when I went outside for some fresh air. Thankfully at this time of year it’s light, not too cold outside.

7:30am, about the same length of time. Again went outside, which seemed to help.

9:10am, I thought another was coming on, but it only gave the warning signs (pain in starting in the nose and moving to the left hand side of my forehead), without the main event, the searing pain through the left side of my head, of the earlier ones.

This time around they seem to go for about 10-15 minutes — in the past it appears mine have gone for longer. It’s always a little hard to tell what is helping, or if it’s simply disappearing by itself. That said, oxygen is recognised by many as providing relief.

I’ve found in the past that consumption of caffeine and sugar (that is, a Coke) can also help. My GP long-ago prescribed medicine, and I’ve never really determined if it helps or not, but on the off-chance it does, I’ll be getting some more.

While I’m not afflicted by them as badly as other sufferers, the pain is intense, and When it fades, there’s a feeling of immense relief.

I’m hoping they don’t hang around for long.

(Past posts)

Update Sunday 1/12/2013 — Thankfully, no further recurrences… quite unlike previous episodes, but hopefully it was just the two yesterday and that’ll be it for now.

Update Tuesday 3/12/2013 — …however, I have had another, more conventional headache, since Sunday night. Not clear if it’s related. It’s not as strong, but it’s almost constant.

Update Saturday 7/12/2013 — One again this morning, 7:15-7:30. Helped by fresh air outside. Could it be that after a few days of winter-like weather, the turning back to spring/summer today helped spark this one?

Double excision

From time to time some of my blog posts are about personal stuff, rather than the wider world. This is one of those posts.

Yesterday was a day of excisions.

I had many thousands of hairs excised from my head at the barber. Easy.

And I got the lump taken out of my leg.

You may recall from my last post the quandary of paying for private vs getting it done in the public system. Multiple health professionals had said it would take ages to get through the public system elective surgery queue. They were wrong.

In fact within a few weeks of getting onto the list, Southern Health Monash Health contacted me and said they could do it at Cranbourne, sometime on the 10th of September — the precise time TBA. This was not just surprising, but also amusing, because I’d made an appointment on the same day (at 4:30pm) to get it done privately, at the rooms in Dandenong of the surgeon who had seen me at Monash Medical Centre in Moorabbin (East Bentleigh).

I ummed and ahhed and eventually cancelled the public appointment, on the basis that it was worth paying the $150 to be able to know a definite time, to not have to potentially wait for long periods, for the possibly nicer service and environs, and to not have to travel as far.

Plus, although I have a philosophical objection to private health insurance, I have the income that I can afford an occasional burst of money to get something like this done, and save a space on the public queue for someone who can’t.

So anyway, similar to last time, they took a look, shaved some hair off, and gave me a local anaesthetic. I asked if this would render my leg unusable — a question I almost immediately felt foolish for. No — it really is a local anaesthetic, so only the surface near the lump is affected. The rest of the leg is fine.

Then they drew lines on my skin, and sliced me open. I didn’t watch, but from what I can gather, the surgeon simply made an incision, then basically squeezed out the lump.

It came out in bits, and he proclaimed it harmless — if I heard him right, it was calciosis aka calcinosis, specifically dystrophic calcinosis — a build-up of calcium in soft tissue, often caused by previous damage, such as injury. He asked me, and I couldn’t recall any injury in my right leg. I couldn’t. Any football injuries? Unlikely! I did fall off my bike as a teenager once, but I don’t recall if I fell on that part of my leg. Oh well.

Anyway, the bits will be sent off to pathology for analysis. The nurse joked that some people like to take photos of what comes out, and so I decided to too. But I’ll spare showing you that here. It ain’t pretty.

The lump

I’ve got a small lump on my thigh. Not painful at all. Probably harmless, the GP said, but he wrote me a referral to get it removed.

He asked if I private health insurance. Nope. I gave it up several years ago. It cost me thousands each year (and increasing) and rarely paid out anything at all.

He gave me a little lecture, along the lines of “You insure your house, your car… why not your health?”

I had a previous lump in my chest removed at Cabrini, when I did have insurance. It was very good — they examined it and took it out on the spot.

How much would that cost if I paid it myself? Heaps, the GP said, perhaps $1500 or more. Yikes. Public would be free, but he said getting it done would take ages in the queue. Ah well.

Monash Medical Centre, Moorabbin

The referral went off, and a letter arrived — appointment at Monash Medical Centre Moorabbin, which isn’t in Moorabbin, nor in City of Monash, but is a medical centre.

The wait had only been a couple of weeks. I went in thinking hey, they might chop it out same day. Take that, private insurance! BEHOLD, THE POWER OF UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE!

The specialist took a look, agreed it was probably harmless (probably a lump of skin growth, rather than the fatty blob the last one was) and said I’d go on a waiting list to get it out.

The waiting list would take a year to get through.

A year.

Whatdaya know, my GP knew what he was talking about.

Knowing that many specialists do both public and private work, I asked the specialist how long it’d take and roughly how much it’d cost if I paid myself to have it done privately. ‘Cos I’m in no particular rush, but it’d be nice to get it done and dusted. And this is a variation on self-insuring… not giving the insurance companies their profits, but being willing to spend money on your health where it’s beneficial. At this stage in my life, I’m well ahead doing that.

He said it’d cost $150-200, in about 4 weeks.

Wow, that’s great, I’ll be in that. Sold!

Another wisdom tooth bites the dust

I had a second wisdom tooth out on Saturday — bottom left, the counterpoint for the top left which I had extracted back in 1998.

The dentist had said it was best it came out now. It was moving upwards anyway, due to no pressure from the top left one. Worse, cleaning around it was becoming an issue, so I risked damage to the next (more useful) tooth along.

This time, no particular issues — once again I tried to concentrate on other things as two needles went in, then various equipment (I dunno — grappling hooks, pliers, that kind of thing) until the tooth was yanked out. This time no stitches.

Here’s the tooth (TMI alert):
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The good stuff

After suffering through several days of a bad cold this week, I finally decided to seek out medication.

I remember years ago using Codral Day And Night to get through it… but then a little later, having no success with what appeared to be the same medicine.

Turns out there’s “New” Codral, which does little for me, and “Original” Codral, which works. The Original has Pseudoephedrine in it… the New has Phenylephrine Hydrochloride instead.

A little research (particularly this extensive online discussion) showed that the Original stuff is still available, but you have to ask for it specifically, and they’ll register your purchase. This is because Pseudoephedrine can be used by Bad Guys to make methamphetamine, and apparently they’ve had to crack down on purchases to avoid people doing this.

This is why one local chemist has a “Pseudo Watch” sign on their door. I used to think it was some kind of security company sticker, which implied they don’t do a very good job of keeping an eye on the place.

You know it must be good stuff if the druggies are after it, right?

Sure enough when I went to my local chemist, they gave me New by default, but when I asked for Original, they were willing to sell it to me ($19, a bargain to make me feel better) but asked me for ID and registered the purchase.

Maybe, despite having not shaved for a couple of days while at home unwell, I have a trusting face.

And yes, it really does seem to work for me.

Viva la Pseudoephedrine!

Hand washing

Sometimes amongst the bum jokes you’ll learn something really Quite Interesting on QI.

Last week I learnt that when washing hands, how clean you get them is not about the heat of the water, which can’t possibly be warm enough to kill off bacteria and escape without serious burns. Rather, it’s about how vigorously you wash them — that is, you’re getting the bacteria off your hands, rather than killing them.

There’s probably more to it than that — the Wikipedia article on hand washing notes that: warm, soapy water is more effective than cold, soapy water at removing the natural oils on your hands which hold soils and bacteria. Contrary to popular belief however, scientific studies have shown that using warm water has no effect on reducing the microbial load on hands.

Perhaps I’ll just stick to my current habit: soap and warm water.

“A pint? That’s very nearly an armful!”

Tony Hancock’s legendary line in The Blood Donor was “A pint? That’s very nearly an armful!”

(I really should find the DVD somewhere and watch it again.)

I referenced it the other day after going to the blood bank, and Ian noted that Tony Hancock was from Ian’s home town of Birmingham, and kindly snapped a picture of a memorial to Hancock.

Tony Hancock sculpture in Birmingham

A visit to the blood bank is always a good time to gather some vital stats, of course, which I’ll note below for my own archival purposes.

Height 181.5cm (with shoes on)
Weight 73.2kg (with shoes on)
(that makes my BMI 22.2, which appears to put me in the “normal” category for weight.)
Blood pressure 108/64
Haemoglobin was, I think, 163