I'm shortsighted and have worn contact lenses since I was 18. They work pretty well, but it's a drag putting them in every morning and taking them out every evening. In addition, they don't correct vision as well as glasses and I can't open my eyes when swimming underwater. So after tracking the progress of laser eye surgery for many years, I've finally decided to take the plunge.
I'm going to use Dr. John Baldinger in Virginia who utilizes the latest technology called Allegretto Wave Custom LASIK. This performs a much higher resolution correction than previous approaches, as well as avoiding problems such as reduced night vision. The surgery takes about 15 minutes and costs about $5,000. The surgery is scheduled for the end of April, and I'll blog the results.
One of the benefits of the publicity regarding Terri Schiavo is that a lot of people have decided to create living wills that unambiguously state their desire to be taken off life support in the event that they are declared to be in a vegetative state. Both of my parents have told me informally that they would hate to be kept alive in that kind of state, and I feel the same way. I'm going to call them next week and make sure that they've got this down in writing. I'm also going to contact an attorney and create a living will of my own.
One area that I don't know much about are the options that are available for ending my life in this kind of situation. When my cat was dying of cancer after using up his nine lives, I was thankful to be able to do the kind thing and end his life with a couple of painless injections. The first injection was a powerful anaesthetic that put him into a deep sleep. The second injection stopped his heart in a few seconds. It was terribly sad, but he died comfortably, surrounded by people who loved him, and it was the most loving thing to do under the circumstances.
When I hear about letting people on life support die by removing their feeding tube, it sounds like a lengthy and painful process. If I am unfortunate enough to end up in a vegetative state, I would want the executors of my living will to end my life quickly and painlessly, just like I was able to do for my furry friend.
According to this article, the US Government is issuing new dietary guidelines that state the obvious; exercise 30-90 minutes a day and eat moderate amounts of food. In addition, eat more fruit and vegatables and less meat. From what I've seen in restaurants, the main issue is that people eat portions that are way too big. For example, in many Dallas restaurants, if you order lunch with dessert, you get enough food for about three people. It's no surprise that Dallas is one of the top three fattest cities in the US. In Europe, a typical serving is at least 50% less than in the US, and people tend to walk a lot more during an average day. Most portion guides that I've seen specify servings in terms of cups, ounces, and spoons, which is hard for people to process. I think that showing actual pictures of reasonable servings in restaurants, as well as actually serving healthy portion sizes, would make it far easier for people to realize how much they overeat. It would be pretty funny if waiters in Dallas restaurants asked "Sir, would you prefer to eat enough lunch for one, two or three people?"
My Georgetown location is great, and I'm currently enjoying the Christmas tree and decorations that already adorn the main road (M Street). The only negative thing about my new location is the noise. I can sleep through a lot of background distractions, but my aural defences are not up to handling the sound of a garbage truck compressing the trash from neighborhood restaurants at times between 5:20 and 6:30 am. There's got to be a way to get the trash-collecting time changed to something bearable! Any advice on this issue would be most welcome.
While staying in the UK, I woke at around 4am with a throbbing pain in my lower back. Initially I thought it might have been indigestion or a strained muscle, but when the pain became unbearable, I dragged myself out of bed and drove to the hospital. In the car, I started taking heaving breaths to calm myself, wondering whether this was anything like the pain that women feel during childbirth. 15 minutes later, I was at the emergency ward, and after a few endless minutes of check in, a Doctor diagnosed me as having either pancreatitis or a kidney stone. To ease the pain, I was given two shots of Morphine and an IV, at which point I became comfortably numb. The nurses took a couple of blood samples and an X-ray, and then I was taken in a wheelchair into a regular ward bed. Unfortunately, the blood samples got lost so I had to have them taken a few hours later. Finally, I drifted off to sleep, and when I awoke, the pain had completely gone. After a couple more X-rays, this time taken after I was pumped full of a trace chemical, I was diagnosed with having passed a small kidney stone, perhaps 1-2 millimeters around. I've since learnt that a kidney stone is one of the most painful experiences anyone can have, even more so than childbirth or a gunshot wound. I'll certainly attest to that. I thank my lucky stars that I had this incident in the UK with the help of the National Health, rather than on board a plane over the Atlantic. And apparently the most likely reason that I had a stone in the first place is due to my coffee intake. Drats!