Saturday, February 23, 2013


Lisa thought I should share with you my implant card. I guess anyone who has anything implanted in their body gets one of these cards so that they can show others exactly what it is. I think the biggest concern is if someone ever wants to do an MRI on you but for some people it may important at metal detectors and such. In any case if you read the card carefully it tells you that I have a "piston" made out of Fluoroplastic (which would be a form of Teflon). Plastic would not be a problem in an MRI but a metal implant (which they used to be) would be really bad. Pretty cool don't you think?

Today I ran for the first time since last October. I ran a few times after the marathon but even though I had no problems during the marathon my back really started hurting a few days after. It wasn't until Christmas that it started feeling better and then the doctor wouldn't let me run after the surgery but yesterday he gave me a clean bill of health and today I started training for the Ragnar in April. It felt great and I'm so excited.

Instead of a trivia today I thought I'd share this cool video.

Friday, February 22, 2013

I Can Hear

As I'm sure you all remember I had surgery on my ear three weeks ago. I had been deaf in my right ear for several years and when Lisa finally talked me into going to get my hearing tested I was diagnosed with otosclerosis. I was reluctant to go because I just assumed that no one could do anything about my hearing. After all, I've known many people who were deaf and I didn't know anyone who had their hearing repaired. The one exception is a cochlear implant and I was pretty sure I wasn't a candidate for that. As it turned out I had a choice of getting some hearing aids or they had this cool surgery that could restore my hearing. In the end I chose to go with the surgery. 

Immediately after the surgery my doctor whispered in my ear as a crude hearing test and I could hear everything he said. It was literally a miracle. He then proceeded to fill my ear canal with antibiotic cream and told me to keep a cotton ball in my ear for three weeks. He also warned me that swelling would cause my hearing to temporarily get worse. It was a cruel thing to give me a taste of normal hearing and then take it away again. 

I've been wearing a band-aid on my ear for three weeks now to keep the cotton ball from falling out. Since I never see it I sort of forget that it is even there but apparently it has become a part of me in other peoples eyes. Let me give you an example. 

A few weeks ago one of my guys drew a picture of Fred Flintstone on the white board in one of my labs and wrote "Hey Fred" next to the picture. I thought it was pretty cool and just left it there. Earlier this week I walked by the board and saw that some one had modified the drawing and made Fred Flintstones hair style more closely match mine. I thought it was funny and snapped a picture of it. It wasn't until the next day that I noticed Fred Flintstones ear. Do you see the band-aid on his ear? I laughed out loud. 

Today was the day I've been waiting for. I went to see the doctor to get me ear cleaned out. Actually my hearing has been steadily improving as the swelling has gone down and as the ointment has slowly drained out. My hearing was better than it has been in years but it still wasn't as good as my left ear. I was worried that when he cleaned everything out it would still be worse than normal. Well I needn't have worried. Today he sucked everything out of my ear with a tiny little vacuum hose and gave me a simple hearing test. Both of my ears hear perfectly normal. I am so excited. 

You are 37 times more likely to be killed by a drunk driver than by a gun. 
You are almost twice as likely to be killed by a hammer than by a gun.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snow Party

Today was a very unusual day in San Diego. We went to a snow party. The Cheungs had five tons of snow blown onto their front lawn. They had a few bales of straw to form a hill and we had a lot of fun sliding down the hill on sleds and throwing snow balls. To make it even more fun it was in the 80°'s today. And of course the best part was the food. There were lumpia's, pizza, stir fry, hamburgers and some fried bread that they called by some funny name. 

I like to brag that we can go surfing in the morning and skiing in the afternoon but today we could have gone surfing and tobogganing fifteen minutes later. It was a fun time.

Bread is our number one source of salt.

Greg and Gaylia

Last Saturday I received a phone call from Greg. Him and Gaylia were in Hawaii visiting their daughter Lindsey and were leaving to go home the next day (Sunday). They were changing planes in San Diego. When Greg booked his flight he saw that they were arriving at home at 2:30. He naturally assumed that was 2:30 in the morning which wasn't too surprising considering he lived in Kansas and was flying from Hawaii. Imagine his surprise when he realized (at the last minute) that he was actually arriving at home at 2:30 in the afternoon and that he had an eight hour layover in San Diego.

Well Greg's mistake was my good fortune. The only down side was that his eight hour layover was during the middle of the night but I've never been one to let little details like that bother me. You can always sleep later. At 10:00 Sunday night I headed to the airport to pick Greg and Gaylia up and we had a good visit on the way home and until 1:00 in the morning. I would have visited longer but we were all beginning to fade. I then headed for bed and enjoyed a good three hours of sleep before I got up at 4:30 to take them back to the airport. 

I know it was a short visit but it was really good to see them. I forgot to get a picture while we were all awake but I snapped a quick picture the next morning as we headed out the door for the airport. Do they look a little tired? They weren't complaining though, they could have been sleeping in the airport.

The state of Kansas grows enough wheat to feed the entire world.

Friday, February 01, 2013


Yesterday was a very interesting experience for me. As I mentioned in an early post I have otosclerosis in my right ear. This can be cured by removing my stapes and replacing it with a plastic bone made of teflon. After some prayer and study I decided to go ahead with the procedure. Even though I have a high deductible  it wasn't much more than a good hearing aid would cost me and it should be good for the rest of my life. The success rate for the procedure is 99% but it was the 1% that bothered me. The most common reason for failure is if the patient catches a bad head cold in the next week or two the infection can go to his inner ear and damage the cochlea. The hearing loss is then complete and incurable. I finally decided that my hearing in my right ear was so muffled that it was useless anyway so in the worst case I would pretty much be where I am today.

During my pre-op visit I asked my doctor if I would be awake, asleep or somewhere in between. He told me I could be what ever I wanted. I told him I definitely wanted to be awake because I would love to know what he was doing. He liked that I think partly because he liked that I was interested by also because if he needed me to do something I would be able to respond. 

Yesterday was the big day. I was Dr Cueva's first patient of the day which was good because I want my doctor to be nice and fresh but the down side was that Lisa and I had to be there at 6:00. The surgery center was also in Chula Vista which is the better part of an hour away. I was up at 4:45. Groan... The surgery center turned out to be a large and beautiful place and very modern. Everyone who worked with us was very nice and it was a very good experience. Once I was all prepped and ready to go they let Lisa come in and visit with me until it was time to take me away. She got to meet the anesthesiologist and the nurses and then Doctor Cueva came in and she got to meet him. He is a very nice man. He put his initials on my ear to make sure they operated on the correct ear. It would be a bummer to ruin my one good ear. 

They laid me on this tiny little operating table than wasn't even as wide as my back. I was afraid I was going to fall off. They then tied me down and strapped my arms down and I was sure I was going to get claustrophobic but amazingly I felt extremely comfortable. They had a hose blowing warm air up between my legs and being wrapped up like a burrito felt very reassuring. I was really surprised. They had me on my back and turned my head about 45° to the left and the doctor sat in such a way that he looked right down my ear canal. They knocked me out for just two or three minutes during which time they anesthetised the right side of my head and then I woke up again. I was a little disappointed to see that my head was covered up with a blanket so I was unable to see anything and to make it worse, my good ear was stuffed in a pillow and with the blanket it was difficult to hear what they were saying. The good part was that the doctor was explaining everything to the student so I was getting a pretty good description of what was going on but it was incomplete because I could only hear part of it. 

I think the doctor was beginning to regret having me awake though because I did keep asking him questions and finally he told me that they were at a delicate moment and I should probably quit talking for a while. The nerve that senses taste in your tongue just happens to run next to the stapes and they need to move it away from the bone before they remove the bone. I heard the doctor mention the nerve to the student so I asked him if he had moved the nerve. He said that they had so I told him to make sure that they don't break it. He assured me that they wouldn't. I was warned that because they have to move this nerve just the very fact that they move it might cause me to lose the sense of taste for several months. I think for me the effect is very minor. I do have a funny feeling on the right side of my tongue but I can tell right now that it is minor and won't last for more than a day or two. I still can taste everything and I enjoy my food as much as ever.

They then detached the stapes from the incus. All they do is break it off at the footplate. They like to leave the footplate in place now days and they drill through the foot plate and attach the prosthesis to the foot plate with a piece of skin that they cut from the under side of the flap of ear that is just outside of the ear canal. That is actually where most of the blood comes from I think. Dr Cueva warned me that I would hear a snapping sound when they broke off the stapes and then "snap" my stapes was gone. He then warned me that he was going to use the micro drill to drill into the footplate. That was VERY loud. I'm sure the sound level violates some OSHA regulation but it only lasted for a minute. I'm sure I started hearing from my right ear the moment he attached the prosthesis.

And then it was just a matter of putting everything back together again. Once the eardrum was folded back in place the doctor leaned over and asked me to repeat what he was saying. He whispered four or five words into my ear and it was like a miracle. I heard every word very clearly. I'm sure I haven't heard a whisper in that ear for a decade. It wasn't to last though because he then filled the entire ear canal with an antibiotic ointment, stuck in a cotton ball and then put a band-aid over the cotton ball to hold it in place. I think even with the band-aid and all I can still hear better from my right ear than I did before but at the moment it is still pretty much useless. I am told to just let the ointment ooze out over the next week or two and to keep a clean cotton ball in place until my follow up appointment in three weeks. 

There was really no recovery period because I was already awake. They lifted me onto a gurney and rolled me into the next room and then Dr Cueva went and got Lisa. They sat there worrying about my blood pressure for about ten minutes and they told me to get dressed. 

They insisted that they take me out in a wheel chair which was rather embarrassing because I could walk just fine but apparently it is hospital rules. It reduces liability. Lawyers are ruining our country but that is another topic. No offense Brandon and Trevor.

Since we got there before six in the morning we parked right by the front door so Lisa didn't even need to go get the car. The nurse wheeled me right to the car door and wouldn't leave until she saw me in my seat. I had been told to ease into a normal diet. I'm not sure what that meant. I wasn't allowed to have breakfast but other than that I had had no diet restrictions. I had been awake the whole time so my stomach wasn't messed up with drugs of any kind so since I was hungry the McDonalds across the street looked very enticing. That sausage-egg-McMuffin looked very good. 

We picked up a prescription of NORCO (the modern day Vicadon) at the pharmacy and headed home. I should have taken one right away because by the time we got home the anesthetics were wearing off and I was in pretty bad pain. I couldn't take my pill fast enough. I was hoping it would kick in within twenty minutes but I sat there for over an hour writhing in pain. It was the worst ear ache imaginable. I tried to sleep and couldn't for the pain but miraculously after about an hour and a half the pain died down enough that I slept. I dosed off and on the rest of the day and after about five hours Lisa warned me to take another pill before the pain came back. I did not want a repeat of my earlier experience so I did. I was in virtually no pain the rest of the day and just for good measure I took a third pill before I went to bed. This morning I feel no pain at all. I haven't taken so much as a Tylenol. I feel a bit guilty for not going to work today but the doctor asked me not to and Lisa wouldn't let me anyway so I'm sitting here resting. In all probability, if I wasn't resting I probably would not be feeling as good as I am. I will give myself this weekend to take it easy and then start into the real world again on Monday. 

So that was my Thursday. Now I just need to not get sick in the next week or two and I will be fine. I will keep my distance from all other human beings and wash my hands often and I should be fine.

Reptiles have 1 ear bone and three jaw bones. Mammals have three ear bones and one jaw bone.