Today

After three days of sleeplessness, fevers, and chills I went back to St. Paul’s Hospital.  The cellulitis had gone from my ankle up my calf and almost to my knee.  As of 5:00 a.m. this morning, the infection was winning.

So the plan was to be at St. Paul’s by 6:00 a.m.  We walked in, saw triage and was given a bed right away.  I was quite pleased with how fast this was going.  I expected to be home by 10:00 a.m.  Since the teaching is done at RUH, it meant no interns, no residents and just a doctor.

So the nurse saw it, gave an expected course of action.  The doctor saw it, affirmed her course of action.  He ordered blood work.  The blood work came.  I was rolling along.

The white blood cell count came back as normal.  Which was kind of odd since I have this chronic infection.  The C-Reative Protein test came back.  I did well in it.  It was supposed to be around 7.  Mine was 150.8.  Beat that folks.

So they gave me a dose of IV antibiotics and then I wait until 3p to leave.  I had to see Home Care to get me to agree to give myself an IV.  Then they made me sign off on giving me my own medication via IV.  Then they taught me to give myself medication via IV but not really because I already had it.  I did get an instruction guide. 

Oh yeah, they put the IV into my hand.   Not only do I look like a hardcore addict but you type with an IV in your hand (of course I can inject heroine into my hand if I ever decide to take up drugs).

I think that was the biggest frustration, I asked them several times to keep the needle out of my hands for work and they stuck into my hand because it was the easiest place for them to jab a needle.  Actually they seemed amazed that I would be working and not at home.  Like I have written before, some of us need to work, especially with an illness that has no end date right now.

Then I was allowed to go to City Hospital where they gave me boxes and boxes of medication.  I have more gear then a safe injection site (and with my hand, I look the part).

Some thoughts.

  • Since the start everyone has been saying that my leg is a vascular issue despite the vascular tests being largely normal.  I have been saying it is an infection.   It’s weird, I have had a few doctors look at my leg closely and none of them have thought it was cellulitis when it clearly was.  I am sure this happens lots but doctors appear to “thin slice” to use Malcolm Gladwell’s term.
  • I have a problem with what the hospital charge for parking.  It cost me $18 for a day of parking and it wasn’t like it was I was there for a party.  That is obscene and taking advantage of people.
  • Here is something else that blew me away today.  Everyone in emergency today was on a waiting list for a specialist and their condition had deteriorated to the point where they were sent to the E.R. (we had time to chat).
  • I am not really that comfortable injecting myself with an IV medication everyday so I asked if I can come in and have it done.  Nope.  My choices were inject yourself or have a nurse come in on their hours (which doesn’t work for my schedule) and they can do it for you.  I can’t go to a clinic or hospital to have it done.  I just want a time and I’ll be there early but nope.  I don’t know why this can’t be done.  So this is patient centric care in Saskatchewan.  Do what you aren’t comfortable doing because it’s cheaper and you have a piece of paper.
  • Cellulitis hurts.  Badly. 
  • I don’t know if this is going to work.  Every treatment they have tried so far “is going to work”.  It’s been 8 months and I am getting sicker.

Random Thursday Night Thoughts

For seven eight months now, I have been battling this infection in my foot.  It has gone from a part of my foot into my ankle, my skin (cellulitis) , and now my bone marrow.  They have been pumping me full of antibiotics and then to keep from developing colitis, they give me probiotics.  If you have ever had probiotics to go with your antibiotics, your quality of life goes way down.  They are just there to minimize the worst of the what the antibiotics are going to do to you.  Even my pharmacist would get freaked out at what I was being prescribed.  The antibiotics make some progress but at the end of the day, the infection comes back worse when they are done.

It came back yesterday and I was stuck with the worst fever and chills cycle that I have ever experienced.  Then today I topped that fever and chills cycle.  My whole body aches from it.  That was my last two days.  I spend hours trying to get warm and then the fever goes the other ways and I have a hissy fit trying to get the covers off of me and so I can cool down. (no one throws a hissy fit like me when I am burning up and I have seven blankets on me)

As a diabetic, this is not a lot of fun because it plays havoc with my blood sugar levels.  Twice in 2015 my blood sugar has gone so high that I have acne on my hands as the body is trying to figure out what to do (yeah, that was gross).  As one doctor said when he looked at my blood sugar numbers, “oh fuck”.   It’s so far down on the list of things they need to fix that they haven’t really made any progress in dealing with it.  Of course it means that a combination of fighting this infection and the high blood sugar levels means that I am exhausted all of the time.

Of course part of the treatment is with CPAS.  If one department needed to reorganized and changed as part of lean, it is them.  Wendy goes to every appointment with me because she helps me with this wound on my foot. This should be straight forward but it never is.  Several times I have been given appointments for things that don’t happen on that day or even that facility.  Other times they call me and say, “You had an appointment”. Wendy and I are saying, “umm, no one said anything to us about this.”  Then we get lectured because we show up for appointments written on an appointment card (and confirmed) but don’t show up for appointments no one tells us about.

Then when I am there, I get lectured by nurses because I haven’t had this test done or an appointment yet with a specialist.  You know I tried to walk in and ask for a MRI myself and that didn’t go so well… I don’t even know what to say (which as we all know, is rare for me).  I’m the one caught in the cracks of a slow system, you don’t think I want this resolved?

I wish I could say it wasn’t painful but it is.  The dog licked my leg this morning (creepy, I know) and I thought I would going to pass out.  The one saving grace from all of this is that it is summer and I can wear short pants (also trying to get a job at the PMO).  I have had jeans on lately and the pain was horrible.  It’s not like I don’t have a high tolerance for pain.  I have had neuropathy for years and cope with it without pain killers but this is something else.

I wish I could say that I have faith in our Medicare system but I don’t.  8 months.  Of course my mother lost her leg in a very similar way.  It just took a couple of years.   The weird thing is that this just seems normal here and from my personal experience and family history it is.

The Man Who Saw America

The New York Times Magazine profiles Robert Frank, one of the world’s most influential photographers.

The New York Times profiles Robert FrankFrank left his family behind in 1955 and went off to see Miami, Los Angeles and 10,000 miles in between through the windshield of a black Ford Business Coupe. He packed two cameras, many boxes of film (kept in a bag to protect them from the sun), trunks, French brandy (‘‘Sometimes you need a little drink; it changes your attitude’’), AAA road atlases and one book, which was really a map of another kind, Evans’s ‘‘American Photographs.’’ Evans and others had suggested destinations like the Gullah communities of the south Atlantic coast, but Frank was often spontaneous.

The first destination was Michigan. ‘‘I went to Detroit to photograph the Ford factories, and then it was clear to me I wanted to do this. It was summer and so loud. So much noise. So much heat. It was hell. So much screaming.’’

As Frank searched for pictures, he stayed in cheap motels: ‘‘You’d always find them down by the river.’’ The first stop in a new town was usually a Woolworth’s department store. His favored shooting settings were public — sidewalks, political rallies, drive-ins, churches, parks. He wanted to find the men and women others would consider unremarkable, as well as the symbols and objects that defined them. Falling into a place-to-place rhythm, he took pictures of bystanders, vagrants, newlyweds, Christian crosses, jukeboxes, mailboxes, coffins, televisions, many cars, and those many flags.

It was an investigation, and in every frame there is pent-up atmosphere, pressure in the air, a sense of somebody’s impending exposure — maybe Frank’s. ‘‘Photography can reveal so much. It’s the invasion of the privacy of the people.’’ Accordingly, there was an element of tradecraft. ‘‘I felt like a detective or a spy. Yes! Often I had uncomfortable moments. Nobody gave me a hard time, because I had a talent for not being noticed.’’

It’s a great profile, you will want to read the entire piece.

Changes

Over two years ago I found myself at a crossroads in my life.  I had just quit my job after being almost 8 years on 24 call of some sort or another.  It got to the point where I cringed and flinched every time a phone would ring.

I was working on some other projects that hadn’t come to fruition and I needed a job.  So I took one at Don’s Photo for a couple of reasons.  I have always loved photography, I always liked going into Don’s Photo, and I needed some time away from being in a high stress environment all of the time.

I didn’t think I would stay long but something changed.  When I would leave work at 6 p.m., I had no stress in my life.  I left work behind.   I enjoyed my colleagues, I enjoyed work.  Life was good.

In January I was having a discussion with the manager on ways to better use the web to drive in-store sales.  He asked for a memo.  I sent him a 7000 word missive on what I thought we could do better.  He forwarded that to the owner and there was some discussions on me doing some writing for the store.  Personally I think the discussions revolved around how to ensure I never sent a 7000 word memo to them again.

I still deal with customers but the goal is to find a way that I can write for the company blog and social media.  Most of my time is spent on the blog.  Since I took it over, I have posted over 200 times in 2015.  Many are product announcements and are pretty basic but I have created some long form articles as well that I am pretty proud of.  As a family based business, it is fun to be given the freedom to compete with companies like B&H Photo or Adorama online.  I love being the underdog.

The bad part of it?  I had to go on Facebook again.  I refuse all friend requests but it does allow me to manage the Don’s Photo page.  They also have a Pinterest board that I umm, do whatever it is that you do to a Pinterest page (right now it is building theme based pages around products and tutorials).

The biggest obstacle in writing it is that while I am can write, compared to everyone else, I am the worst photographer both technically and artistically.  It has given me a chance to emulate one of my heroes in Steven Johnson and that is research and write about what I don’t know about so that you can learn it without having to do through what I had to do.

In the future there will be a podcast and a YouTube channel but for now I have a large bucket list of articles to write.  That will take some time to work through.

The one unexpected part of being at Don’s Photo is that there are quite a few of our customers that have strong political views.  Also, there are quite a few of you who have strong political views that escape by taking photos.  It’s amazing how many of us can have concurrent conversations about poll numbers and aperture settings at the same time.

Not everyone is a fan.  The other day this women comes in and is asking some questions about something.  She asks my name and I tell her.  Her eyes narrow and says, “You don’t know that blowhard named Jordon who writes in the paper.  I can’t stand him.”

I just looked back and said, “You aren’t alone, he drives me crazy some days too.”.

I still have some city building and affordable housing projects on the go but for now, being a writer and camera nerd is paying the bills.

Is Saskatoon making a dangerous mistake relying on Field Turf?

When I criticized Field Turf going into SMF Field, I was ridiculed when I pointed to research that showed that the heat and things like ACL and MCLs would be on the rise.  The argument was that it was better then the old Gordie Howe field was often mentioned.  It never occured to anyone that we could put down good turf like the Hilltops play on each and every day at Ron Atchison Field.  It also never occurred to people that maybe high schools don’t need to bus down to Howe Bowl all of the time and instead they could play on their home field like other cities do. 

Now there is this.  Field Turf is made from tires which are hazardous waste when they are tires but for some reason we have decided to let our children play on them in pellet form.

These are the days when the Women’s World Cup becomes truly grueling. Fewer days off, better opponents, more pressure. And a persistent obstacle the men never have to face – the artificial turf.

"I have plenty of blisters on my toes," United States forward Alex Morgan said with a resigned smile on Thursday.

That’s not a good thing for any player, let alone a star on the mend from knee and ankle ailments. "Turf achiness takes a little longer to recover from," Morgan said.

Michelle Heyman of Australia was even more blunt: "You wouldn’t want to see the bottom of our feet after a game," she told one Australian newspaper. "They just turn white. The skin is all ripped off; it’s pretty disgusting. It’s like walking on hot coals with your skin ripping and slowly cracking, constantly."

Well that isn’t the worst part.

Field temperatures in Edmonton for an earlier match soared as high as 120 degrees, even though the air temperature was in the low 70s. This weekend’s forecast for the Australians’ match with Japan is calling for a high around 90. One UNLV study found synthetic turf can heat up to 170 degrees in summer months. That poses risks ranging from dehydration to heat illness.

Then there is the possibility of faster collisions with other players, and with the ground. Jeffrey Kutcher, one of the world’s leading sports neurologists, told Yahoo Sports that studies of turf vs. grass haven’t been conclusive in his field, but "I would still stand behind the concept that grass is likely safer from a concussion standpoint."

No wait, that isn’t even the worst part.  This is the worst part.

Artificial turf is used for playgrounds all over the continent, and battles are taking place over whether children are safe being exposed to the crushed tire rubber that makes up the turf. A Stockholm University study from 2012 found "automobile tires may be a potential source of highly carcinogenic dibenzopyrenes to the environment."

"It’s a serious, serious problem," says Nancy Alderman, president of the Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), an organization of physicians and public health professionals. "We are concerned about the health of a whole generation now who are playing on these fields."

Research on the topic is not advanced enough to conclusively determine safety hazards, but anecdotal evidence has hit close to home for the U.S. team. Amy Griffin, assistant coach at the University of Washington and former mentor to Hope Solo, has compiled a list of 153 student-athletes, the majority of them soccer goalkeepers, who have been diagnosed with cancer over the last several years. She has sent her research to the Washington State Department of Health.

"I never said this is giving people cancer," Griffin said by phone. "But if you were me, and you saw the number of goalkeepers [with cancer] was so high, you’d be alarmed.

"The more I know about tires, the more I think, ‘What the heck? What are we doing?’ " Griffin said. "In large form it’s hazardous waste, and in crumb form it’s OK for kids?"

The EHHI has been studying this issue at Yale University, and it released a statement earlier this month revealing it has found 96 chemicals in the materials used for synthetic turf.

"Of the 96 chemicals detected," the statement read, "a little under a half have had no toxicity assessments done on them for their health effects. … Of the half that have had toxicity assessments, 20 percent are probable carcinogens."

The lead investigator on the study, Yale University professor Gabdoury Benoit, called the rubber infill "a witch’s brew of toxic substances. It seems irresponsible to market a hazardous waste as a consumer product."

FieldTurf, the company that provided the playing surface for three of the World Cup stadiums in Canada, wrote in an email to Yahoo Sports stating that "Scientific research from academic, federal and state government organizations has unequivocally failed to find any link between synthetic turf and cancer. We are committed as a company and as an industry to the safety of our fields and the athletes that compete on them – which is why we have encouraged the rigorous work from third-parties that has taken place over decades to confirm there are no negative health effects connected to synthetic turf." The company also forwarded an array of documents supporting its case.

The lack of proof of causality is not soothing to some experts, however. "Cancer is a 30- or 40-year process," Yale oncologist Barry Boyd said. "So long-term exposure may not show up until years later."

Part of the uncertainty is the extent of a player’s exposure to the crumb rubber. The preponderance of goalies in Griffin’s research is troubling, as those players are interacting more with the turf by repeatedly diving onto the ground. But American players here have said they have found the pellets all over their body even after post-match showers. "Anywhere and everywhere," defender Lori Chalupny said. If the pellets do have toxic characteristics – especially under extreme heat – the proximity of athletes to those characteristics is there after games.

So kids start playing Kinsmen Football on turf.  They play three years on it at the SaskTel Soccer Centre and SMF Field.  Then they play parts of four years of high school football.  The best play four years of Hilltops and then Huskies on artificial turf.

Of course the reason we use turf is that it is cheap.  No other reason.  The NFL has known for years that it shortens careers, particularly of running backs whose knees pay the cost.  Countless NCAA universities who have had artificial or field turf are going back to grass because of the injuries.  Even the Arizona Cardinals who play in a dome stadium move the entire field outside during the week so they can have natural grass.

Good grief, the Blue Jays are paying $600,000 a year to Guelph University for them to develop a grass that will grow inside. Why? It is so hard on athletes, even baseball players to play on turf.  Now it appears that the turf that Saskatoon just fundraised to install has a major health risk to the kids who are going to play on it.  Nice job Saskatoon.

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