Monday, May 24, 2010

Government can be trusted -- to be untruthful

They've been running those "Click it or ticket" ads on TV for some time now, warning that cops will be especially on the alert to nab people not wearing seatbelts, but the intensity seems to have increased in the last couple of weeks. It raises a pet peeve on my part.

I distinctly remember. when California's mandatory seat belt law was being debated in the 1980s, that in response to concerns proponents solemnly promised that this -- cops specifically looking for seatbelt violations -- would never happen. If a policeman pulled somebody over for some other violation having to do with the way one was driving, and noticed the lack of seatbelt, we were promised, he could issue a ticket for the seatbelt violation, but no cop would do anything so petty as looking just for folks without seatbelts. What kind of petty folks do you think law makers and enforcers are??!!

Didn't take all that long for that solemn promise to morph into "Click it or Ticket."

Surgery apparently imminent

We still haven't received insurance authorization, but the assistants at various doctors' offices say it should be forthcoming, so we are proceeding as if surgery will be done this week. To Cedars-Sinai in the morning for a final blood test in case a transfusion is needed during surgery. Our son Steve will be staying at our house and taking care of the dogs. All the tests show that except for this nasty little bile duct tumor I'm in excellent health and there's no evidence of metastatization, so we're anticipating the surgery will be successful and after some hospital time and recovery time at home -- maybe three months -- I'll be tip-top.

I'm immensely appreciative of many people I know and quite a few I don't know expressing interest and sending prayers and good wishes. I know that my writing tuches quite a few people I dopn't know and will probably never known, but the response to the illness and imminent surgery has been heartwarming. I'll probably be dark for a while -- we'll have a laptop at the hospital but I don't know if I'll have the energy or motivation to use it -- but expect something in a week or so.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surgery coming soon

We went to see Dr. Nissen, the surgeon, and Dr. Sokolov, the infectious disease doctor, associated with Cedars-Sinai, today. Based on the PET/CT scan and other tests, they decided I'm a good candidate for Whipple surgery, and together we decided to do it. The date hasn't been set yet -- somebody else had to be consulted about Dr. Nissen's schedule -- but we should know tomorrow and it should be in the next couple of weeks. I'm looking forward to it pretty confidently. Based on the PET/CT scan the cancer hasn't spread, and this surgery should eliminate all the malignancy. Some of the research we did suggested that one should seek a doctor who is experienced with Whipple and does 5 or 10 a year. Dr. Nissen often does four a week and participates in international symposia. He's a nice person who inspires a great deal of confidence.

The main thing for the rest of our time at home is to build my strength for the surgery. I'm eating well and will do more walking and yardwork. I'm also doing lung exercises and playing the clarinet for the first time in some years. Feeling confident.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Health issues coming into focus

It is Saturday, but when you don't have to go to work, every day is like a Saturday. Jen and I especially like having breakfast on our front patio on Saturdays when the weather is welcoming. Today the birds were especially vocal as I ate my lox-n-bagel and Jen her toast and eggs. After the last few weeks I could almost think about retirement, though until now I have steadfastly refused to give it much thought because I still love my j0b.

Anyway, on Thursday I had my PET/CT scan at a lab in Murrieta, likely the last test before surgery. As we read the report, it does look as if the malignancy is still confined to a small area. The PET scan, as I understand it, identifies areas that are warm as a guide to whether the cancer is metastatasizing. The scan found lesions on the liver, but they already biopsied those in the hospital and they aren't cancerous. We'll see the surgeon some time next week and learn then what the next steps are -- hopefully a surgery that barely challenges Dr. Nissen's skills and gets rid of all the cancerous mass and then some

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Put a non-lawyer on the Supreme Court!

The nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court raises an issue I have written columns about for some 20 years now -- though none in the last couple of years. Ms. Kagan has never served as a sitting judge, and some will no doubt criticize her for that. But there's no requirememtn in the Constitution that a nominee be a sitting judge -- in fact, there's no requirement that a nominee be a lawyer. (At the time the Constitution was written, of course, the elaborate licensing laws built around lawyering had not been erected yet; people generally became lawyers by having another lawyer mentor them, serving what we would call an internship these days, and then hanging out their shingle when they thought they were ready.)

The serious point about the Supreme Court is that for better or worse it has become the final arbiter of law and social policy, and it would be useful to have people other than lawyers and experienced judges sitting there. The ins and outs of the law the court handles are not so difficult that they can't be mastered by a reasonably intelligent person. It just might be useful to have a novelist, a businessperson, a political scientist, a hard scientist, perhaps even a "community organizer" on the court to bring various perspectives to bear on the decisions.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Somewhat incapacitated

In case anybody has been looking here and wondering what happened to me, it's been illness. About three weeks ago -- four? -- Jen noticed I was looking yellow, which means jaundice. Long story short, moving from a hospital in Murietta that couldn't help me to Cedars-Sinai, I have a blockage in my biliary ducts -- some relieved by a stent, so the jaundice is gone, but what remains is cancerous. There's a surgery called Whipple to take such things out, and I'm now at home taking antibiotics and preparing for surgery, perhaps in a week. I doubt if I'll have much to say about politics for a while yet -- you might be surprised just cooking right and taking care of me takes. But I'm feeling good and optimistic. Maybe more on my condition as my strength increases, but then a silent period again.