Tag Archives: medical

Recovering from Health Problems

Ankle Sprain
June was a rough month. The parasite I picked up in India really did a number on my body. It took 10 days of strong antibiotics to get rid of it, and the drugs left my digestive system a mess. I also suffered a rash of other health problems, likely related to the weakened state of my body.

  • Anemia – very slow to recover, even with iron pills.
  • Weight Loss – lost 10 lbs and it’s not easy to gain back on a vegan diet.
  • Grade 3 Ankle Sprain – foolishly blew out my ankle playing ultimate frisbee.
  • Leg Cramps – often at night. Still happening infrequently and unexplained.
  • Hemorrhoids – and other problems with veins.

All in all, I visited a doctor 6 times, went to the hospital emergency room once, had 3 lab visits for blood tests and stool samples, and saw a physiotherapist for my ankle sprain. I’ve gained a new appreciation for our medical system’s strengths and weaknesses, and a realization that I’m getting old and my body isn’t as quick to recover as it once was.

Thankfully, I’m feeling better now. I’m taking extra-strength iron pills and probiotics daily, and I can feel myself getting stronger every day. My ankle is almost healed, and I’m itching to start running again.

My revelations about our medical system:
Free Medicare is Amazing
Although it was frustrating dealing with sickness and multiple health problems, I was treated well by our medical system. Amazingly, every visit to see a doctor was free. The only out of pocket expenses I had were for drugs and the physiotherapist, and most of that was covered by my insurance plan at work. It was stressful enough dealing with illness that I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about the financial cost as well.

Doctors Treat Symptoms
The most noticeable flaw in our healthcare system I saw was that the doctors were too busy to really consider my holistic health. I had a number of symptoms that I felt were linked, but the doctors just wanted to diagnose a single problem, run some tests, and prescribe medication.

Give me More Data
Samsun S Health AppI love data. At work we collect thousands of statistics every minute on the health of our servers and applications. It’s all available real-time with historical charts for comparison. I want that for my body. If I had been tracking my own vitamin levels, I would have detected the low iron before the parasite wrecked havoc on my body. Doctors order tests when they’re looking for a problem, but not when you’re healthy so there is no baseline to compare to or early detection of problems. BC has a great system for getting lab results quickly to patients (myehealth.ca) but you still need a doctor to order the tests. Cellphone apps are starting to collect health data, but what’s available now is trivial – heart rate, step counters, and the ability to manually enter data like your weight. What I’m looking for is an at-home blood test that can track blood cell counts, hormones, and vitamin levels. Once that data is available at the touch of a button, it will revolutionize our health care system.

Sun, Sand, Wine, and Dry-Wretching

The weather here in BC has finally turned. The rain has been replaced with hot, hot, heat. To celebrate, I took Friday off and headed off to the Okanagan Valley with Emily. The plan was to camp, enjoy the beaches, tour some wineries, and visit my sister in Vernon, but we hit a few snags along the way.

The trip started out good. We were out of Vancouver by 10 am and the highways were clear once we past Abbotsford. The drive into the Interior is really nice – great views of mountains and lakes. Although I wouldn’t want to drive it in anything but perfect conditions – too many steep hills and windy curves.
Highway to Heaven  Road Trip  Okanagan Lake

Friday: Nowhere To Pitch a Tent

The first snag was when we hit the campground on Okanagan Lake. They were full already. We didn’t have reservations, but were hoping we would arrive early enough to secure an unreserved spot. No such luck. The campsite operator informed us the nearest campsite open would be out near Vernon, an hour drive away. I found some phone numbers in a camp guide, and started calling camp grounds, but everyone was already full. Plan B: a hotel room in Penticton. Even that was hard to come by, but we found one.

We settled into our hotel room and walked down to the beach for some relaxation. The beaches in Penticton are fabulous (especially the south one on Skaha Lake). Great sand, shade trees on the beach, clear shallow water for 100 meters, and these fun water slides.

Saturday morning, we hit the local farmer’s market, loaded up on fresh cherries and other food, and then went out to tour some of the wineries. I couldn’t believe how many wineries how sprouted in the Okanagan Valley. We had a list of 10 recommended ones, but there must have been at least 70 within an hours drive of Penticton.

Saturday: One More For the Road

The first winery we hit was Dirty Laundry – an odd name for a winery I thought. I’ve never been to a winery before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Dirty Laundry was a smaller winery, although they were rapidly expanding. They had the nicest outdoor patio of any of the wineries we saw and they invited us to have a picnic on it if we wanted, although we weren’t hungry at the time. They didn’t have any tours, but they said we could wander around on our own. So we hiked through the vineyards a bit. I wandered down a steep hill to take a picture of a railroad track, and managed to trample through a cactus bush, which decided to lodge itself on my shoe and in my leg. Ouch! We went back to the bar area and sampled their wine selection, and bought a dry white Gew├╝rztraminer that we liked.
Dirty Laundry Winery  Rail Line  Railway Line  Cactus Attack  Pinot Noir  Gew?  Winery
Next winery, Sumac Ridge. They had actually had an organized tour here, but our tour guide was useless, a fact she kept pointing out to us. But we did get to see the inner workings of the wine making process, even if she couldn’t explain any of it. We bought a bottle of sparking wine and a port-like wine called Pipe, which tasted like chocolate.

Next stop on the wino march, La Frenz, which was pretty disappointing. We hammered back the sample wines, bought a bottle of Merlot, and jumped back in the car.

Our final stop before we were wined out was Hillside Estate. They had a really neat setup for tasting, and the server’s were really informative. We were told that their Muscat Ottonel wine was one of a kind in Canada because the owner had smuggled the vine from the Czech Republic illegally. Of course we bought a bottle along with a Cabernet Franc.

We were planning to hit Mission Hill on the way up to Vernon on Sunday, it has a a really amazing complex. But Sunday was a bit of a disaster.

Sunday: What The $@&*! Did I Eat?

I woke up at 2:30 in the morning dreaming that I was sick. Turned out it was more than a dream, and I had to empty my stomach in the toilet. I drank some water, ate some bread, and went to bed. Rinse and repeat at 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30. At 7:30, I woke up queasy but managed to keep my stomach from doing backflips. I had also stopped eating at 5:30 since it was obvious none of it was staying down. I called a medical hotline, and a friendly nurse told me to keep hydrated and visit a walk-in clinic. Emily picked up some gravel for me and at 11 we went to see a doctor. He thought it was food poisoning, but since we couldn’t pin point a cause (no eggs or meat Saturday night) he thought it could have been another stomach infection. Either way, nothing to do but stay hydrated and wait for a few hours to eat simple food.

I still don’t know what caused the food poisoning. The only thing I can think of is I might of picked up some uncooked meat juices from spatula I used when we barbequed veggie burgers on Saturday night. It’s weird because Emily didn’t get sick, although she wasn’t feeling great on Sunday.

The other pleasant surprise Sunday morning was the dent in the bumper of our rental car that someone left for us. It looks like the insurance from my TD Gold Visa will cover everything with zero deductible, but it’s still a hassle dealing with insurance companies.

We still managed to drive up to Vernon to see Kelsey, and hang out with her and Matt on the beach for a few hours. I wasn’t in much shape to socialize though, and spent most of the time curled up in a ball in the shade. I do think seeing Kelsey put me in better spirits though, because on the way to Vernon I had my head in a plastic bag, but afterwards I was feeling much better.

The drive back sucked. Luckily, Emily was a trooper and did most of the driving without any complaints. We saw 4 accidents, 3 between Vernon and Kelowna that made a 30 minute drive almost 2 hours. 2 were really nasty looking headon collisions, and we also saw the charred remains of a burnt out semi closer to Merritt – it looked post-appocolyptic.

Aftermath

I’m feeling much better now. I even played Ultimate on Monday, even tough I was barely eating solid food. I did manage to roll my ankle though, so I probably should have just watched. But we tied one game and won the other, our best night of the season, so it was worth the personal sacrifice.

I’m Anti-Antibiotic

So, I guess that makes me probiotic.

Looking NormalishI finally finished my anti-biotic treatment on Saturday, so I’ve taken my mother’s advice and started a probiotic treatment. Basically, it involves consuming this yogurt-like substance every day. I just mix it in with my smoothies. From what I could gather from Wikipedia, the probiotic cocktail is jam packed with good bacteria and is supposed to restore good bacteria levels after the slaughter that occurred while I was on antibiotics.

My mouth is healing well. I had the last of the stitches removed this morning. The next step is waiting 6 months for the bone graft to take.

A Moment of Ben-like Zen

Today was day 1 of the Babes ‘N Hats Ultimate Frisbee tournament. I was kind of nervous, because I haven’t played competitive Ultimate since last summer and really that was the only season I’ve ever played competitive ultimate. Last week I watched some Vancouver Ultimate League games at Jericho Park, and damn! they were good. As an aside, the VUL is huge. Over 200 teams playing Monday-Thursday nights. Even considering many players play on multiple teams, that still means about 1000 ultimate players. Yikes!

Anyway, I was worried I was going to be a bit out of place. So, Monday morning, I grabbed my runners, my frisbee, and jumped on my bike to head all the way to Winona Park for the tournament. It took me 45 minutes and I arrived right on time. Most players were warming up or milling about. The people tossing the disc around were incredible. They were flicking discs around effortlessly. Underhands, hammers, anything – all perfectly accurate.
Ultimate Details