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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Post-op Day 9

Bulky (immobilizing) dressing removed. No sutures/staples. Glue only. Biceps is where it belongs, now, but it's a lot smaller and definitely weaker. 6 weeks of lifting nothing heavier than a coffee cup. After that, physical therapy. It hurts but it's manageable. I'm working on range of motion. Surgeon said discomfort is ok, but not to make it actually hurt. I can actually straighten my arm to 160°, but can only flex it to 90°, so I can't eat or drink using my left (dominant) arm, yet. I only have about 50% supination (the ability to rotate may arm such that palm is up). My primary concern right now is that I really, really want to shave my head, but I can't safely shave the left parietal region of my head with my right hand. The elbow is what hurts the most. I'm hoping that's just related to it having been immobilized for 8 days and that it will improve with active range-of-motion exercises.


Thu, May 12, 2016 | link

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Athens, TX Post Office Caught Lying Again.

I assume UPS makes a financial decision when they decide to hand over a package to the USPS and pay them to make the final delivery route.  That annoys me, but there's nothing I can do about it.  The packages in question are pre-order items with defined delivery dates as outlined by the vendor.  Thus, when UPS transfers the package to the local USPS the day prior to the expected delivery date, UPS can reasonably expect USPS to deliver the package the following day.  Not so, if your rural mail carrier is dishonest.


According to UPS tracking, my package was "transferred to post office" at 10:25 a.m. yesterday.  Since I was in town, at 1:25 p.m. yesterday, I went to my local post office, and asked if I could pick up my package at that time instead of waiting for the carrier to deliver the next day.  I was told that the UPS packages had not yet been sorted, and therefore I could not access my package at that time.  I was told I could come back later to see if it was available, then.  Although I asked for it, I was given no time frame, but rather was met with, "he's about to leave and I'm about to go to lunch, so…".  I therefore resigned myself to waiting for it to be delivered the following day as scheduled.


After I got home, I looked up the package on USPS's tracking site.  It indicated, "arrived at post office" at 2:14 p.m. yesterday.  This means the local post office has now sorted and acknowledges receipt of my package.  Note this was 49 minutes after I walked out of the post office.


I arrive home today at 12:30 p.m. expecting to find my package in the mail box.  There was, in fact, a package, but it was not the one I was anticipating, but rather a non-priority (non-tracked) package.  I therefore went to USPS's tracking to see where the package allegedly was.  At 7:26 a.m., it indicates, "sorting complete".  At 7:36 a.m., it indicates, "out for delivery".  At 11:36 a.m., it indicates, "undeliverable as addressed".  That is a phrase I see all too often from my local post office.  I literally interpret it to mean, "somehow your package made it all the way to our facility from Louisville, Kentucky, traveling 820 miles, but we don't know what to do with it, now."  Therefore, I immediately called my local post office.  (While I have the names of the parties, I will omit them for now.)  I inquired why my package was "undeliverable as addressed".  Without placing me on hold, the postal worker called out the carrier's name and asked, "did you deliver a package to 6639 today?".  While I could not hear the response, there was a significant period of silence.  The postal worker then stated to me, "she did deliver one package, but the other one was still on the truck when she left this morning on her route.  She'll deliver the other one tomorrow, or you can come by and pick it up now."  I then asked how that qualifies as "undeliverable as addressed" and I explained to him how that phrase suggests to me a problem on the sender's side.  The postal worker then said, "No, our scanners just haven't been updated, so there's really not a code for what actually happened."  I then inquired how the package could have still been "on the truck" as she left on her route when the tracking site clearly indicates it "arrived at post office" at 2:14 p.m. yesterday.  There was just a long silence at this point.  I went on to explain that I've had similar, frequent, problems with my packages not being delivered timely and often being labeled "undeliverable as addressed" yet being delivered the following day.  I told this postal worker that I'd reported this issue in the past.  Before I could go on, the postal worker floored me with an honest response, "I'm feeding you a line of BS.  She knew she had a package to deliver to you today, so when she delivered the package, she thought she was done.  When she got back here, she noticed your package was still in her vehicle, and she intended to deliver it tomorrow."  He reiterated, "I was feeding you a line of BS because I'm supposed to make you feel like the United States Postal Service is performing a good service for you." I told him at this point, I appreciated honesty.  I told him, "I understand human error, and I can appreciate that.  But I can not abide being lied to."  I was then placed on brief hold.  I was then asked if I was currently home.  When I indicated I was home, I was told, "She is coming out to deliver the package, now."  I simply replied, "Thank you." and the call was ended.


The package was ultimately delivered at 1:20 p.m., and the USPS tracking site indicates this.  The package had a hand-written note that reads,


"Sorry, Mr. Hilton,

I just missed it,

was gonna Redeliver


Tue, May 10, 2016 | link

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

My Balled-up Python (or “How to Get a Day Off by Disfiguring Yourself to the Tune of $5,000”)

10 days ago, I had a complete distal biceps tendon rupture of my left arm (my dominant arm). I had surgical repair today @ ETMC Athens with Dr. Rudolph.

Common questions:



Lifting an empty filing cabinet into the back of the truck. I was using good body mechanics, and my arm was actually flexed as I acquired the load. This was no more of a load burden than I'm accustomed to having (whole logs, pulling up fat patients in bed, etc.) I'm guessing about 80 lbs. (file cabinet made in the '60s. Steel). I felt and heard it pop at peak load, and the biceps classically balled-up into the anterior aspect of my upper arm (called "Popeye sign"). I called an orthopedic surgeon within an hour of the injury, and he assured me it was not something that required immediate attention unless pain control was needed. I wasn't in pain, so I saw the surgeon the following Wednesday. There was no bruising initially. Range of motion was not affected. The biceps essentially provides strength, so conservative, non-surgical, management is a viable option for less active, older men, particularly if it's the non-dominant arm. Since I'm not yet considered "older", and it's my dominant arm, I opted for repair. The loss of strength would also undoubtedly affect my ability to split wood. After a few days, I started to notice faint bruising at the bend of my arm. After a week, pooling bruising developed at the elbow. MRI confirmed complete tendon rupture.


Did it hurt?

Not when I did it, not at all. Subsequent days, the biceps would quiver periodically like an impending cramp, but it never actually cramped or hurt. My brain could still tell it to “flex” but all it would do mechanically was jump around since it was only tethered at 1 end. Pretty creepy looking.



The surgery was today. There were a few complications. Apparently, the initial trauma caused an aneurysm of the cephalic vein. This little guy decided to pop as they were digging into my arm. (For my non-medical friends, this is a vein---not an artery, but still bloody.) My new friend fixed it and moved on. Additionally, they couldn’t find the tendon through traditional methods. The tendon had doubled under the biceps and wasn’t retrievable by approaching from the bend of my arm, but they tried...and tried...milking luck. So, they had to make a longitudinal incision at the midline directly over the biceps. They found and freed the little feller, unwrapped my balled-up python, and pushed the tendon down my arm and snagged it at the bend of my arm where it is much more at home, albeit shorter. (Watch this non-graphic video of the button manufacturer to understand what happened next,) As he’s pulling the suture tight, the purpose of which is to slide the tendon into the freshly drilled hole, the suture broke. I imagine it made a “boinnnnng” sound that was only drowned out by someone cursing. I’m not suggesting my surgeon cursed, because frankly, I don’t know if he does. It is only my hope that someone in that operating room at least---someone---cursed in my stead. I mean, lots of prayers were being offered to the winning team throughout this ordeal. This is just a way of demonstrating the semblance of fairness---throwing the competition a bone, if you will. Double entendres thrill me to no end. (Get it?)


What’s next?

I’m in a bulky, immobilizing dressing and sling that I expect to wear for a week, followed by several weeks of gradual physical/physio therapy, and general grumpiness.


What now?

I’m at home. (I used an unnecessary “at” in the previous sentence just to hone my right-handed, hunt-and-peck typing skills.) The block & meds are wearing off, so I’m slipping back into my normal introverted self, when at full throttle, will probably compel me to delete this post. So enjoy while you can. Also, for those prone to scrutinizing grammar and typos, please note that I retain full use of my right hand, which has now been thrust into the realm of dominance. You will note it is equally proficient at blocking Facebook friends as well as squeezing a trigger.

Here's a graphic video of the same surgery when everything goes as planned.

Wed, May 4, 2016 | link

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