Friday, February 29, 2008

If It's Not One Darn Thing

It's Another

I was wandering around the Internet early this morning looking for something to rant about when I found this NY Times story about a Heparin recall that hits just a little too close to home.

The problems with heparin, which is used to prevent blood clotting during dialysis and after some surgery, were first reported last month at a hospital in Missouri. Since then, the number of reported adverse reactions has risen to 448, the F.D.A. said. “Yes, we have gotten more and we are continuing to evaluate those reports,” Dr. Kweder said.

At first, the agency said it believed that four people had died after allergic reactions to the drug. On Thursday, officials said as many as 17 more people may have died, but they described the links to heparin as more tenuous.

The adverse reactions have included decreased or low blood pressure and fast heart rate. Not all of them are known to involve Baxter products, but the drug agency did not issue warnings involving any other products.

In addition to low blood pressure and a heart rate of 120 - 135 BPM, my doctors had a hell of a time stabilizing my body's reaction to the drug and had to constantly adjust the dosage, sometimes taking me off entirely and other times increasing the infusion rate and adding a "bolus" dose to catch me up.

Any way, I sort of stewed around on the issue most of the day, then I did a Google search in the last hour and found that the Chicago Tribune was saying that the recall had been extended to all of Baxter's IV Heparin products--a product I took a couple thousand milliliters a day of for the entire 16 days I was hospitalized.

Baxter International, which has experienced problems with a widely used blood-thinning product but held off on mounting a recall because of concerns over a shortage, said late Thursday that because the nation's supply of heparin has now increased, it is moving ahead with a full-scale recall of its product.

More than 400 people have suffered adverse effects that may be related to Baxter-made heparin, and four patients who used it have died.

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that it has completed the inspection of the Chinese plant owned by the supplier of the active ingredient in Baxter's heparin product but still had not determined the cause of the problem.

In mid-January Deerfield-based Baxter recalled nine lots of the heparin, disclosing for the first time that there had been scores of adverse reactions. It said at the time that it had not yet determined the source of the problem but thought that whatever the difficulty was, it was limited to the nine lots it was recalling.

Later, however, the company disclosed it had determined that the problems were not limited to the nine production lots it had recalled.But, it said, company officials and the FDA decided that because the number of heparin producers is limited and because the product is so widely used nationwide in many kinds of surgery as well as in kidney dialysis, Baxter would suspend production but would not recall the heparin on the shelves of hospitals, drug distributors and medical clinics.

On Thursday, however, Baxter said "the FDA has now concluded that there is sufficient capacity on the part of other suppliers that Baxter's recall will not jeopardize access to this drug."Baxter said it is taking the "precautionary step" of recalling all remaining heparin products on the market, even though the vast majority of the reports of adverse reactions have been associated with the multidose form of the product.

I'm not a jump on the bandwagon...sue the pants off the bastards sort of guy, but I'm also pissed that I spent at least an extra week in the hospital at great expense and developed new blood clots in my left arm WHILE I WAS ON HEPARIN TREATMENT.

Excuse me while I call my attorney...I want to know the brand name on those bags of liquid they pumped into me this month. I hope it wasn't Baxter, but then again...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

William F. Buckley Jr.'s Dead

And I'm Delinquent In Not Mentioning His Passing

I had a couple of chances to hear Mr. Buckley speak while I was in college and later at other engagements in Atlanta, but somehow I always managed to stay home and miss hearing his genius in person.

I've read some of his work and followed him in the media and on TV, but from the commentary I'm seeing around the Internet on his death I think that I need to spend some money on amazon and get a few of his books.

Regardless, great guys like Mr. Buckley seem to come along less often these days than they did back in the 1920's, and I would be remiss in not mentioning him and his accomplishments here on this blog in honor of his life.

RIP Mr. Buckley

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Tragedy

And A Cancellation...

I just got a phone call bearing some bad news about this weekend's Chili Cookoff.

We have to cancel our participation.

I was a bit shocked at first, but then when I understood the reason for the conflict I totally agreed with John's decision.

Josh, one of the chefs from Blackwater Grill was fatally injured in a head-on auto accident on the causeway connecting our little island to the mainland on Monday afternoon, and the funeral will be held early Saturday afternoon in Albany, Ga.

Rightfully so, John and most of the Blackwater staff--including Josh's fiancee--will be in attendance and have to make the eight hour round trip drive.

Realizing that there is no way I could pull things off by myself in my currently diminished physical condition, John had no choice but to pull out of the competition.

Here's a link to today's Brunswick News story about the ongoing hysterical situation on the causeway. That said , let me toss in my own two cents worth of commentary, with all due respect to Josh's recent demise.

For those not familiar with access to St. Simons Island, we have been connected to the mainland via the four mile long F.J. Torras Causeway since 1924. The first version of the road was a two lane design with a draw bridge installed after WWII to accommodate the new Intercoastal Waterway.

The two lane design survived until the late 1980's when the Causeway was enlarged and widened to four lanes, including a bicycle lane and a wide span high bay bridge to eliminate the Drawbridge at the relocated intercoastal channel location. Originally a toll road, the toll booths were shut down in the early 2000's and dismantled in 2006.

Now here's where the problem comes in.

The speed limit on the causeway has always been 50 MPH or less since it's inception.

In reality, however, actual traffic flow usually moves somewhere in the 55 to 60 MPH range, with many assholes self-important drivers electing to run closer to 70 MPH much of the time.

Local perception, as emotional as it is, considers the road to be a ticking time bomb because we manage to kill and maim about one or two drivers a month in near head on collisions.

The state DOT just completed a pseudo-widening project last year that added a center buffer lane at the expense of narrowing the existing four traffic lanes and shoulders by about a foot each.

As things are now, if you have mechanical trouble on one of the bridges there is hardly room to pull your car off the road, out of the traffic flow.

And still there is endless screaming that the only way to "FIX" the safety of the Causeway is to add a concrete barrier down the center, something DOT has thus far said is impossible because of lack of room on the bridges.

In my considered opinion, if people didn't speed all the time and drive like idiots, the causeway wouldn't be any more dangerous than any other road in Glynn county. After all, we kill about the same number of drivers on our other busy highway--US I-95--each year, and it has concrete barriers and/or a wide grass median along it's lenght.

As is usual, instead of taking responsibility for their own safety and behavior, people want the GOVERNMENT to step in and spend taxpayer money to save us all from ourselves.

Like I always say..."you can make it fool proof, but you can't make it damnfool proof..."

Danged Old Global Warming Waining?

Anyone But Me Seen This Data?

Here's a link to a story about a major drop in global temperatures--all occurring since January 2007.

You can go to the link and read the story and look at the graphs yourself, but in summary all four of the recognized temperature indicators showed global temperature drops of between 0.588 deg C and 0.750 deg C over only a recent one year period!!

Using the larger number (0.750 deg C), one could suggest that the global cooling experienced over the 12 month period between January 2007 to January 2008 has completely offset the three quarter degree C global temperature INCREASE touted by Owl Gore and all of the "man made global warming zombies" which they say took 100 years to produce.

Of course as usual you won't see this information on the front pages of the NY Times or leading the evening news headlines on ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN any time soon.

Imagine if the data had shown the opposite result...a 3/4 degree temperature increase in a year?

There wouldn't be enough ink to print the headlines screaming things like "GLOBAL WARMING COMING TO YOUR BEDROOM" or "OWL GORE DYING FROM HEAT PROSTRATION."

These lamestream media outlets will also ignore this story about record snow cover in the northern hemisphere, along with increasing amounts of sea ice in both the Northern and Southern Polar Oceans.

That's right, the amount of snow cover over the northern hemisphere this winter exceeds the previous 52 year old record set in 1966, but don't expect USA Today to be printing the story and sliding under your Hotel room door in the morning to let you know to stop worrying about baking your brains out and put on some gloves and extra socks.

Speaking of which, it's 46 here today...I need to go put on a t-shirt myself.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Living In Slow Motion

An Hour's Work Takes All Day Now

It's a warm but dreary day here on the Georgia coast, so at least I can't feel guilty for staying inside all day.

Although my improvement and progress is obvious to outside observers, it's still really frustrating living inside a nearly five decade old body running at about 75% efficiency...with a restrictor plate or other obstruction bolted to my carburetor.

I made it through yesterday without a nap, got a pot of less than perfect chili cooked, and made my meeting with my Chili Cookoff partner in time to come home and collapse on the sofa.

Then something amazing happened--I managed to sleep for six hours in a row, awakening about seven AM rested but still operating at something less than full speed.

The balance of the day will be spent making short trips off the sofa to do things like clean the ashes out of the fireplace and stagger through some more paperwork, and I may reward myself with a late morning nap just for the fun of it if the urge strikes me.

I wish someone could give me a giant shot of adrenalin or something to pep me up. I guess only time will tell...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Chili Cookoff Ensues

To Cook, Or Not To Cook?

My friend and popular Blackwater Grill restaurant owner John called me last evening to check on my health progress.

Apparently the rumor was out among some of the other contestants that his head Chef (that would be me) was potentially calling in sick for this upcoming weekend's Chili Cookoff, and they had stopped by the restaurant to gloat and drink beer in celebration.

Well, I've got news for them...come 10 AM this morning I'll be standing in the checkout line at the grocery store with a few items, the London Broil is already thawed out, and a gallon test batch of chili will be finished in the pot in time for a 4:00 PM strategy meeting over at Blackwater in the afternoon.

The only way I'm missing next Saturdays' event is if they haul me back to the hospital...and my newly modifed colon needs some chili therapy anyway so I can kill two birds with one stone this week.

Wish me luck...If you will.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Here" Versus "There"

"Now" Against "Then"

Having earlier returned from the back yard after smoking half a cigar, I'm now busying myself laying on the sofa reading the Internet while Pat and Missy the Turbo Pup make a visit over to the beach to enjoy the afternoon's glorious weather.

Let's see...yep, it's now up to 72 degrees F outside, while up in Knoxville it's...

MOSTLY CLOUDY AND 44 DEGREES F (with a chance of snow Tuesday night thrown in for good measure.)

After nearly five years living here in paradise, all I can say is...

Oh the Humanity!!!

(time to go back out and finish that cigar now.)

Slowly But Surely

Test Driving My New Innards...

I'm finding out the hard way that it's not very funny what laying flat on your back for 24 days does to your physical abilities.

That, and having a couple fewer feet of small intestine than I started the month of February with has me dragging myself from the bed to the bathroom to the sofa and back in a daily rotation of boredom and indignation at not being able to fend for myself by myself. Of course Pat and Missy the Turbo Pup do what they can for me and their efforts are greatly appreciated..but still...

I have a literal TON of paperwork and other stuff to do around here, but it's all I can seem to do just to get through the days and not pinch my guts trying to stand up too fast. I did manage to leave the house for a light Mexican lunch (one enchilada...whoop te doo) yesterday, but most of the time the hike to the mail box is about as far as I've ventured thus far.

I hope something changes...and soon.