Out Of Sorts

One of the things I’ve always loved about New York City is the balancing act between the routine and the unexpected. The smooth action of swiping a Metrocard, the jingle of the door at your local bodega, the timing of the lights at a familiar intersection – these mundane acts get balanced against the extraordinary circumstances and events that pop up somewhat regularly in the life of a New Yorker.

It is a balance, though – and too much of either can bring away at your sense of being. And for the last month, my personal scales have basically been knocked over, with uncommon circumstances eliminating much of the routine from my life for a solid month.

Hurricane Sandy came and went at the end of October – a stronger and more noticeable storm than Irene last year. Having lost power and water and being told it was going to be a week before there would be restoration, we nearly fled the area for shelter with Katie’s parents. But our instincts to give it one final night before fleeing turned out to be wise, as the power snapped back on at 3 AM, sparring us from trying to uproot on short notice.

While our building was spared, our neighborhood was not, with many of our friends being out a week. Worse, the PATH train – so vital to getting into and out of Manhattan – remained closed with no word for a solid week. When service was finally restored, the three stations I need service to were not on the list. While walking to a station with service is a tolerable hassle, a 10PM service termination has made regular evenings out impossible.

As the train started to get back into service, the Red Bulls post-season ended unceremoniously, giving up a goal with 5 minutes left to their biggest rival. This was not so much of a surprise – the team has fallen out of the playoffs at this point nearly every year. But having my well worked routine of sports journalism end abruptly was just one more pain point in a month that was already going south.

And then came the sickness. Two weeks to the day after the storm hit, I came down with a dry, painful cough that seemed like it would be easily shaken. It would not, of course, and I spent the majority of the week in bed, coughing every few minutes. In the second week it transformed into muscle aches and a night cough which deprived Katie of what little sleep she could get.

Monday will mark four weeks from the day Sandy hit, and it only now feels like the balance is being restored. The sickness is mostly cleared, enough that karaoke last night didn’t kill me. The PATH just announced our stations are opening on weekdays again, which is a start.

The routine is coming back, just in time for some big crazy events to keep life interesting. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have my regular life back.


Red Flags

Normally, when I drive myself near the point of exhaustion, my body develops a sharp ache in one spot of my body. Previous manifestations have included my back, portions of my mouth, and my foot. It almost always passes in a day or two.

This time is a little different. I have dull pain system-wide: shoulder, both knees, neck. I had what felt like a pulled muscle for about one hour today – limited to just that hour. I have, during more than one evening in the last week, felt light headed.

I am going to attempt to slow things down a bit for the remainder of the week; being already behind on personal obligations, this makes me feel even worse. Hampering things further is the recent weird shorting out of my Sidekick 2, which I’m trying to resolve without having to flat out buy a new one. So if I owe you anything – money, source code, Pop’n 12 support on PNN, DVDs or other media I’ve borrowed and still neglected to return – bear with me just through this weekend. It’ll all happen soon, I promise.

Endured Reflected

Five Minutes And Ten Dollars Fix Fourteen Years Of Hell

I’m going to warn you now – this story is personal and a little gross in parts. But it’s been a part of my life for long enough, I figured it was worth sharing.

While I’ve been alive, I’ve been pretty blessed – no broken bones. No major illnesses. No organs removed. No cavities, last time I checked. I have consistently had a clean bill of health; even my blood pressure is on the low side.

But I have had two very small, very strange problems. One is that a couple times a year, my hands would get very peel-y, and it’s kind of gross. We used to joke in high school that this was caused by typing too fast. I’m happy to say this has gone away in recent years – this story is not about that problem.

The other problem was that from the age of about 10, I was very susceptible to nosebleeds. I think I was getting them about once a month, if not more.

Not from like getting hit in the nose or anything, but just from random other stuff – sneezing. Blowing my nose. Standing. Walking. Anything.

As the legendary story goes, when I was 13, I had two nosebleeds that were particularly bad – so quick that they filled my sinus cavity and the blood then began to very slowly come out of my tear ducts, turning my vision red. That really freaked the crap out of the school nurse – but it was a freak occasion and hasn’t happened since.

In any case, when I was 19, and a sophomore in college, I had one start one day that didn’t stop. It was a real slow bleed, but all the tricks and tactics I had learned over the years for handling them just would not stop it, even when I hit what my body knew was a stopping point.

I went to my doctor, and he gave me two options: go to an ENT specialist the next day, or go to the ER now. I opted for the ER. You get tired of this shit after a while.

Got to the ER, the doctor explained they were going to cauterize my nose. Not nearly as thrilling as it sounds, it’s essentially a Q-tip being stuck up your nose and the substance on the end being rubbed on the affected area, toughening up the tissue. There’s a real quick burning sensation, but other than that it’s painless.

Now, that day I had the left nostril cauterized, which my memory recalls as being the majority problem nostril. From that point on, for about 3 years, I didn’t have another nosebleed. Not a one.

But then, I started to get them out of my right nostril, on rare occasion – on days with sharp weather changes. Then eventually they started on days with sharp humidity changes. Last week, I had *two* in the same week. One was while I was at lunch with Katie when it was really warm; the other was at work because I was going under my desk, then above, then below repeatedly and I guess the elevation change just screwed things up.

Realizing full well that I work in a hospital (or at least, a college connected to a hospital) and that I have medical insurance, I immediately found an ENT specialist and made an appointment for Wednesday this week. The hope was that they’d be able to cauterize the thing, although my impression was I had to be bleeding for it to happen.

On my way up to the doctor’s, I realized this was my first real doctor’s visit of any kind in about 5 years – more or less, since the last nosebleed. I get there, I fill out my paperwork, I wait patiently even though they told me the doctor I was seeing (Dr. Carew, who is primarily a head and neck surgeon, I found out) was in surgery and would be running late, and then got sat in an examination room and asked a few questions.

So eventually the doctor comes in, and the conversation goes like this

Minute 1: Explain what the problems are
Minute 2: He examines my nose and ears
Minute 3: He examines deep in my nose to make sure there’s no major problems
Minute 4: He cauterizes my right nostril
Minute 5: He gives me some general instructions about what’s going to happen and not to itch my nose too much for 24 hours

And that’s it – suddenly I am making my co-payment and out the door, heading back to my desk.

It’s really sad that a lifetime of irritation, strange looks, and ruined shirts can be fixed in 5 minutes for $10. Wish I had known that sooner, though.