On Medical Things, and Life Altering Events

It’s been one year now. So, this is a bit of a long one. If you’re not interested in medical details and such, then you might as well skip it.

What actually happened?

One year ago, on May 12, 2022. at about 2 in the morning, I woke up with what could only be described as the worst headache ever. You may think you’ve had some bad hangovers, but no… This one wins… It wins all the trophies for pain.

Simulation of MRI

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had just had an aneurysm. Deep down in my brain, in the left hemisphere, near the center of the brain itself, a blood vessel had just erupted and started bleeding into my head. I have seen the MRIs, and while I don’t have a copy of them yet, I’m working on obtaining them.

At the time I didn’t know this, but I had maybe 10-15 seconds of consciousness remaining to me. So what do you do when you wake up with a headache at two in the morning? Answer: I rolled over on my (left) side and fell back asleep. Hey, I’ve had some hangovers in my time. Plus, like I said, I was about to lose consciousness… whether I wanted to or not.

(As I have recently learned) The human brain is a rather unusual organ. It may only weigh about 3 pounds and constitute 2% of your body weight, but it also takes 20% of the total oxygen you consume, and it does that whether you’re awake or asleep. It gets its oxygen through blood, and it is super greedy about it too. A bleed in the brain basically means that the blood is not going to the brain tissue anymore. And as far as the brain is concerned, that’s like a major catastrophe. As an emergency measure, your heart starts beating rapidly, and your blood pressure skyrockets.

However, with a hole in a blood vessel in your brain, this also means it starts pouring a lot more blood into that area. That blood increases the pressure in the brain itself and starts pushing outwards on it. The result is the brain’s expansion until the interior surface of your skull is pressing against it. Increased intracranial pressure (ICP) is the term, and the effects caused by it start with headache, then rapidly go to seizures, coma, and very quickly go to death. There really is no upside to this.

So that headache that woke me up was not actually the aneurysm. It was my ICP rising so fast that it was causing a headache. That headache turned quickly into unconsciousness and from there, well, it didn’t get any better.

When I eventually woke up, it was 8 in the morning. I thought I had slept for 6 hours. In fact, I had missed a whole day, and slept for 30 hours. However, that was not immediately apparent, because I was preoccupied by the fact that no part of the right side of my body would move.

What had happened is that the blood flow into my brain, along with the blood pressure of ~280/180 (guesstimate, probably much higher, and way more scary) had caused the increased intracranial pressure. Along with the fact that I was alone, in the middle of night, I basically stayed like that for 30 hours, until the pressure dropped enough to where I could regain consciousness. Or, you know, didn’t… Not waking up was the most likely outcome there.

But at the time I actually woke, I was unaware of all this, because all I knew was the right side of my body would not move. That is one hell of a thing to wake up to. Therefore, I knew that I had had a stroke. It was a hemorrhagic stroke caused by the blood flow into the left side of the brain, which flowed down with gravity (because I had rolled onto my left side), and that blood flow had touched the motor and sensory cortex. It also grazed a part of the temporal lobe. The result left me temporarily unable to move or feel anything on the right side of my body. (The left side of your brain controls the right side of your body and vice versa. It has to do with the wiring. Don’t worry about it.) It also made speaking extraordinarily difficult.

By the way, brain mapping is a fascinating thing to study. Obviously, it’s not at a stage where they can say “this part of your brain does this” and so on. But with new technologies, they’re really getting there. They have made new discoveries as recently as 2021, and are improving the technology all the time.

Get on with it

Anyway, by the time I woke up, the miracle had already happened, because I was still alive. By all odds, I should not have been. Back of the napkin math tells me that I had maybe 1 chance in 15 to survive all that. The aneurysm could be a 50/50, the bleeding into the brain, plus the increased ICP for 30 hours with no medical treatment at all… Heck, even the fact that I rolled onto my left side and thus the bleeding was to the left, as opposed to the right, which would have likely bled onto the temporal lobe and the corpus callosum… Yeah, I should be dead. Sometimes the miracles happen while you’re asleep.

But back to it; I had just woken up and couldn’t move the right side of my body. I deduced stroke, and immediately tried to call my parents. Obviously, I should have immediately called 911. However, I wasn’t exactly thinking very clearly at the time. It turned out that I did not have the correct phone number for my parents, so I called my sister instead. I got my mom’s number from her, called my mom and told her I had had a stroke. Once she had that information, I hung up on her and then called 911.

Note that I could not accurately speak at this time. It’s somewhat difficult to speak when you can only move half of your face. I could make myself understood if I tried really hard, but I had to be really deliberate about what I said. So all these calls were rather interesting. I don’t know how long it took me to make the calls, but it was not a short amount of time.

Trip to the hospital

At this point, I was laying on the floor of my bedroom. I could not exactly walk, obviously. However, I did manage to get dressed, of a sort. It took the EMT’s about 20 minutes to arrive and by then I was mobile enough to where I figured out how to hop on one foot. So I hopped myself out the door and onto the stretcher. I realize that this didn’t make any sense to the EMTs. At that point, I didn’t care. I knew that it was an emergency, even if they did not fully understand what the problem was.

So, they Uber’d me to the hospital and after a bit of arguing with the nurses, more or less directly to the MRI, where they determined that I had, in fact, had a hemorrhagic stroke and from there, I went to intensive care.

Basically, the event had already happened, and there was not much they could do, except give me lots of drugs trying to lower my blood pressure. Even today, I’m on four different drugs to keep my blood pressure in check. By the way, blood pressure drugs suck, and have all sorts of hidden side effects. As I post this, I’ll be taking a trip to the pharmacy to pick up my next three month supply of these same drugs. They may suck, but they don’t suck as much as dying.

I was in and out of consciousness for a couple of days. Had they not been able to get my blood pressure down enough with medication, I would have died, again.. So, I guess increase those odds to be even worse.

Fortunately, I did eventually respond to the drugs, and then they moved me into a recovery/recuperation area where I stayed for about 4 weeks. I rather rapidly gained the ability to move again and slowly learned to walk. I did not enjoy my time there, and I lost about 20 pounds. The PT/OT was rather useless.

I have no doubt that such therapies are useful for people, so don’t get me wrong. I just found them useless for me, because they were moving far too slowly. I realize that the goal is to gradually work your way into it and to feel your way safely through it. But I know my own capabilities and that was not nearly quick enough or useful enough.

I tried to communicate that to the therapists, but I wasn’t good at communication by then, and I did not get the results I wanted from them. I was frustrated and making a better recovery without their help. Despite their help in fact, as they were deliberately trying to hold me back. And yes, that is their job… which is why I wanted the hell out of there as fast as possible.

Back to the living…

With my parents help, I got out of the hospital and spent about 4 weeks at their house. I learned to walk again, more or less, and have now spent the last year or so on my own and at my own home, back in Memphis. Basically, in my comfort zone. This has been my home for 16 years. It may be small, but it is definitely mine, and I know everything about how to behave, move, and live here.

What I have learned from this experience is that brain injuries suck. Obviously. Also, take high blood pressure seriously. That shit will kill you. My blood pressure had always been high, but I did not really put much thought into it. If you have high blood pressure, see a doctor and get some meds. Don’t wait for the need for them to become this bad. And if you have frequent headaches, tell your doctor. That was the only indication I had before of the aneurysm, but I didn’t do anything about it.

I also learned how dependent I am on my hands. Being unable to type for the most part has left me a little unsure of what to do. But most importantly, I’ve learned that I have to be in a place where I feel safe. I did not do well at the hospital or in my parents house, because those are not my home. I needed to be at my home.

It has been a year now, and I can type again if I need to. However, I have gotten fairly used to using speech to text programs and that is quite effective. I can walk fairly well most of the time, however, any long distances, and I need a cane, mostly to support my back. Lately, my back muscles have been a problem because, well, half of them didn’t work for a long time. That makes it difficult to walk or sustain any kind of sitting position for any length of time.

Most recently I have started getting feeling in the right side again, by which I mean I can tell temperature again. This after the last three months of it being essentially freezing on my right hand side. Seriously, the entire right hand side of my body was freezing at all times. It was not actually freezing, but when you can’t tell temperature and you start getting feeling back, then all you sense is cold, no matter how hot it is. And yes, that sucks just as much as it sounds like.

Last August, as I was sitting on the patio outside of a local bar, I essentially got heat exhaustion. It was a hot day, but I couldn’t have told you that. I only noticed when I went back inside into the air conditioning, that I was having trouble. Fortunately, my kind bartender noticed, and she got me ice water while I essentially had to cool myself off. I was much more careful after that.

But just the other day, I picked up a cold drink with my right hand. I had a sip, and I put it back down. It was only then that I realized that the drink was exceedingly cold in my right hand, because my hand started hurting from the intense sensation. But, I picked it up and put it down without dropping it, just by instinct. That is immensely reassuring.

So I’m gaining more control over my right hand (which takes some effort) and am able to do tasks I couldn’t do before. I can see now why they say recovery is a full two year process, because it’s going to take every minute of those two years. Unsurprisingly, video games helped a lot. Sometimes my hands might twitch, but that often helps in video games. 🙂

What’s next?

Back in September 2022, I went to San Diego for Wordcamp US. On reflection, I should not have gone. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun and it was good to help me get going and see everybody. However, I was not ready for it, at the time. I was tired, I was annoyed (at myself) most of the time… Basically, I was crippled. And at the time, I didn’t really understand what that meant. I was really having a hard time of it. I didn’t get anything substantial out of attending, and didn’t give enough back to other people that I would have preferred to. It made me feel rather useless at the time.

Now I’m looking at Wordcamp US this August in Washington, DC. For one thing, it’s a hell of a lot closer to me. That helps. And with a whole year of recovery behind me, I feel I’m probably pretty up to the task. But the fact is, quite simply, that I am still crippled. However, now that I know what that means, it brings on a whole new level of knowing what speed I am capable of. I know how to go at my own pace better, and not to push too hard.

Before, I was frustrated by the things I could not do. Now, I’m happy about the things I can still do. And knowing that it’s going to get better with time, well, that is all-important. If you are attending, I look forward to seeing you there. 😀

Home, home again

Well, it’s been like two months and I spent none of that at home. After the stroke, my parents picked me up, and I’ve spent the last month with them.

Now don’t get me wrong, but I moved away a long time ago. I need to be at home. And their place just isn’t home. I need to be in my home. My place. So, welcome back to Memphis. 🙂

So, now it’s a matter of recovery. Over the last month, I’ve had time to figure out about walking again. And learning to control my right arm. I’m satisfied to say that I can successfully barely use a mouse. And that’s actual progress. Moving my fingers, grabbing the mouse, adjusting the length and depth of movement. It takes some effort. Harder than you think. Pretty much everything is harder than you think.

Walking is improving too. I don’t need to rely on a walker as much, and my shoes barely scrape the pavement as I walk. As I heal, I have this tingling feeling in the right side, and that will eventually go away. So really it’s just a matter of time, until I get proper feeling back.

The work continues.

Well, it’s been a minute or two, hasn’t it?

Been a while since I last posted here. What can I say, been busy? Even during COVID and such, I was a bit caught up in work and such.

Well, here is a good reason to bring y’all up to date. Bottom line, I had a stroke.

I think the term is “left side cerebrum hemorrhagic stroke”. Basically, its what happens when a vessel bursts in your brain, and dumps a ton of blood on your body, flooding that hemisphere.

Funny thing, most strokes you are asleep for. No warning given. And when you live alone, no notice while you sleep thru 24 hours of it. Fun.

It happened mid-May. It’s been three weeks now, I’ve been having some memory issues and some severe movement issues. You think that would be obvious from, like, that it was a stroke, but it’s sort of like having your whole body go numb.

Nevertheless, after 3 weeks in recovery, and having gone from a bag of meat to a functional human being again, I’m doing okay.

Anyway, I’m headed home tomorrow, which is the first step of putting life back together.

I still hope to be at WCUS in September, depending on whether or not I’m fully walking again by then.

The Last Heist: It’s pretty awful

Watched a movie this morning. One of those straight-to-video-on-demand ones. You can get it for $4 on Amazon, if you like. I’m not going to link to it, because you should save your cash. Buy half a beer instead. Better investment of your time. Silly me, I spent the $4.

It actually has a great premise. Here’s the plot: Heist movie. Bad guys rob a bank to get at a safety deposit box with $100 million in it. Except that one of the people in a bank turns out to be a serial killer… played by Henry Freakin’ Rollins.

Now, that sounds pretty awesome, right? Like Die Hard, but twisted. Well, for a such a great idea, they really turned out one terrible movie.


First, let’s get this out of the way. If you love Henry Rollins, then you’ll find that his performance is very good. He’s actually not in the movie a bunch, which is probably the main problem with it. But when he is on screen, he completely is the whole movie. Best acting in the film, and he’s just playing a guy who is covered in blood, standing perfectly still, and talking a little bit like a very calm crazy-eyed preacher. Not a whole hell of a lot of “range” in his performance is my point.. and still he’s the best in the whole movie. By a mile.

The second best acting in this film is that of the burrito truck guy who has like three lines near the beginning of the movie and is never seen again.

Everybody else: they really, really suck. Like, their performances are easily the worst I’ve ever seen. Stilted, awkward, not delivered as if they’re, you know, in any form of stress. No, because either robbing a place or being held hostage is a totally stress free environment.

The robbers are naturally a diverse cast of men, women, one black guy, etc. Standard. The guy that plays Washington (aka the black guy) actually isn’t half bad. He manages to eek out a bit of stress from the situation, but he just doesn’t have the necessary material to work with here. Not his fault. He’s okay, I’ve seen him before, but I’m darned if I can tell you in what. Probably a CSI episode or something.

But the point is that you actually want Bernard (Henry) to kill them all, partially because they’re stupid and annoying, but mainly so that Henry can get more screen time. Seriously, he has so little screen time that it looks like they shot his scenes over a weekend or two. Given the rest of the movie though, that’s probably true.

In fact, this kind of looks like the type of movie you make when all your budget involves borrowing props from other movies being shot nearby, and using locations where your brother works or your friend has the keys for the place over the weekend.

None of this is helped much by the horrible effects that they used. Muzzle flashes don’t look like that outside of photoshop, guys. Guns don’t fire that way. The ridiculous CGI cartoon like pinging of bullets against the walls that somehow fail to do any damage, even when you’re firing an automatic rifle at what is clearly sheetrock… It’s that bad. And the performances of every single actor shooting any form of weapon here really, truly, showcases that they have never actually shot a gun in their life outside of a Call of Duty game. Nobody really stands up, screams like an idiot, and does a one armed rapid fire spray of bullets. This isn’t a video game, you idiot. Despite your Payday style masks.

Oh, by the way, since the budget clearly couldn’t afford things like blanks for the guns (the gunfire is all just mimed, seriously, it’s that bad, I could go on), so where’d they get a bank to film in? They didn’t, instead it’s a “safety deposit box location” in what appears to be the warehouse district. So, today’s color scheme will be “gray”, and “dark”. Most of it looks filmed inside what looks like disused office space, probably over the weekend.

Any good heist story has twists, and the twists in this particular story number about 8. All of them are easily spotted well in advance, of course, because the script is laughably bad. Arguments between characters seem to exist only to pad out the runtime, which is thankfully short to start with. Every argument makes no sense. Every character is unlikable because of it. Every action taken by the would-be-robbers is stupid in the extreme. None of it makes a damn bit of sense. And every plot element is not only explained, but explained multiple times.

Early on in the movie, they move to a backup plan, which involves opening a hole into an old disused elevator hidden in the building. Fair enough. One guy starts breaking a hole in the wall in a back room.
Later on, we see him continuing to break this hole in sheetrock and bricks.
Later on, somebody asks for his progress on making said hole.
Later on, he has dug said hole, and we discover that voila, there’s an elevator door behind it.
Later on, we see him wander off to the electrical closet to try to get power to it.
Later on, two cops who broke in and are sneaking around find the elevator doors and move on.
Later on, the power comes on, he wanders back, and we get a shot of him pressing the call button to get access to a now working elevator.
Later on, when the bad guy is talking to the corrupt cop, the corrupt cop says something like “so, was your backup plan to use the elevator?” and bad guy says “you know about that?”.
Later on, corrupt cop uses the elevator and we get a shot of him pressing the freakin’ call button.
I mean, at some point, shouldn’t an editor recognize that he’s padding the film out pointlessly? The whole movie is like this, in many ways. The story as filmed would better fit into an episode of a TV show. And not a very good TV show.

Because you’re not going to see this movie, and you shouldn’t, then I feel okay spoiling the ending for you. Henry lives, pretty much everybody else dies. I don’t even consider that a spoiler. He’s clearly the (anti-)hero of the piece, and he’s a crazy serial killer who cuts out people’s eyes. Everybody else is simply so unlikable that you want that guy to win. Which, of course, he does.

Henry, please, go back to making good films. Remember when you had that role in Heat? I know it was a long time ago, but come on. You’ve clearly got the chops to be in good films. We still love you, man. 🙂

Thoughts on Hearthstone

Hearthstone is a game I like to play when I get a few minutes here or there. Fun to play, the matches are relatively short, new cards appearing every so often keeps it interesting. If you have not played it, but want a fun and free game, give it a try. Works pretty good on phones, great on tablets and PCs.

Whispers of the Old Gods Logo
And there’s a new expansion coming out next week

Anyway, here’s my thoughts on the recently announced nerfs which will be accompanying the new expansion next week. If you’re not into Hearthstone or gaming, you might just skip this post. 🙂

Continue reading “Thoughts on Hearthstone”

On Terry Pratchett


When I was a kid, I found about Sci-Fi and Fantasy novels from my dad very early on. He had quite a large collection, including an original paperback of Dune (in sadly terrible condition), lots of the ERB Princess of Mars collection (NSF kids, BTW), and all sorts of assorted good collections from the 60s and 70s. Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, just everything. About 200 to 300 novels.

At one point he was going to toss them. I stole the whole lot instead and took it to college with me. Now they sit in my bookshelf, because *hell no* you’re not tossing those! 🙂

In something like 8th grade, I discovered Douglas Adams in my school library. Sometime shortly after that, I discovered the Discworld of Terry Pratchett. Instant addiction.

When I was in college, one summer, I was staying at home. I was probably around 19 or 20, and working for the summer, as a computer salesman (yes, seriously). My dad had a predilection for late-night reading back then. Lot to do during the day, people bugging him all the time, best to do his reading alone, when he could smoke, at some time after 10 pm. Simple. He used to borrow from my collection (his, which again, I totally stole and told him I was doing so), but which also had many of my own added in.

One night that summer, he chose to read “Moving Pictures”.

I woke up to my dad *screaming* in laughter. He came into my room, at about 2 am, turned on the light, and in between fits of giggling, read this back to me:

‘What’s it called?’ he said cautiously.

‘We call it Evil-Minded Son of a Bitch,’ said the newly-appointed Vice-President in Charge of Camels.

‘That doesn’t sound like a name.’

‘ ‘S a good name for this camel,’ said the handler fervently.


I laughed along with him, and proceeded to inform him that a) yes, I had read the book like a dozen times, and b) it was 2 in the god damn morning, let me sleep you son of a bitch, I need to be at work at 7 am, jackass.

Here’s the thing. Thinking back on that, that particular quote isn’t actually funny without the backstory and setup. It’s a straight-man joke. It’s the kind of joke you need setup for in TV shows. That’s how good Terry Pratchett was. You had this entire mental image of the surroundings, the people, the background, the backstory, everything necessary to make that joke *friggin’ hilarious*, without ever seeing anything but black text on a white background. Terry was simply that good of a storyteller.

Tonight, I received in the mail “The Shepherd’s Crown” from my Amazon pre-order. I have not opened it yet. I actually teared up when I looked at the package, because Terry died back in March, and I have not fully dealt with that fact yet. I have read and reread everything Terry Pratchett ever wrote, oh, hundreds of times. I have memories of me and my dad laughing over his prose. I know excessive amounts of details about the Discworld and can quote ridiculously long passages from the novels for no reason whatsoever.

Laughing along with Terry at his insanely funny parody of the crazy world around us helped me through sometimes, especially when I needed to laugh rather than weep at the silliness surrounding us all.

I’m not sure I can open that package from Amazon. I’m sure I will, eventually.

But, you know what? I miss you, Terry. Thanks for all the laughs, especially when I needed them the most.

How WP affected me

Since everybody else is doing a blog post about how they got started with WordPress, figured I might as well give up my story too. Hey, a blogger’s gotta blog. 😉

Originally, this was a story about WordPress. But I’m not posting it on my WordPress blog, because as I wrote it, I found that this isn’t a story about how I use WordPress, as such. It’s a story about how using and working with and on WordPress has impacted my own life. So it’s on my personal blog. This may reduce the number of readers, but whatever. 🙂

This is long. So, click through the more link to read it.

Continue reading “How WP affected me”

How to cook properly


Not “man show fire to meat and then eat it while it still squirts and pulses.”


“Medium rare” = “good vet could get it up on its feet in an hour or two.” That’s not cooked with fire. That’s threatened with fire.


Start seasoning steak and before you know it? You’re French. No. I go to my personal butcher and say, “Give me a piece of meat that’s been sawn off an animal.” And they throw me a chunk of animal. And then I say “Show me the animal this meat was sawn off.” And they show me a picture of a crying cow with a gaping hole in its side. And I say “Did the animal cry when you sawed my piece of meat off it?” And they show me a Ziploc bag full of cow tears. And I say, “Rub that on my steak! Let that be my seasoning!”