Latest news on my debilitating health issues. I’ve suffered some major health issues, and discovered I have degenerative spine disease which is the root of most of my spine problems which started in or around 2004. My first surgery was in Dec of 2009, a year later, suffered trauma from a sudden pressure on the back of my neck thanx to some dude at Defcon party, you know who you are. Everything was ok until early in 2014, I started feeling that same back pain I was suffering from back in 1009, but it progressed much further, starting early march, About the time I was invited to the home brew computer club reunion, in the Bay Area. A few weeks later, was invited to speak at the hacker hostel, when at that time the pain was getting horribly bad.
My ride back to Vegas was somewhat delayed, so was invited to see Mike Davido. The son of an old high school friend, and learned a lot from him, but mostly that he’s a top player in Battlefield 4.
I eventually made my way via BART to the CalTrans station to Dan Kottke’s house (early apple employee) until I was finally picked up after stop in salinas.
After returning him, I immediately tried to get into seeing a pain specialist, but my referral got lost 3 Times, but eventually saw pain doctor who ordered an immediate MRI. I almost had to be carried into the office. He gave me a pain shot, and directed me down to Desert Radiology for the MRI. It took another 3 weeks before the doctor had to review it, and said it was a herniated disc. The disc was bulged out about 5cm pressing into my spinal cord. He never even mentioned surgery, but in my mind, and from experience last time, I knew I was in for surgery. After fighting and many phone calls later to health care partners (a network of doctors who takes united Health Care patients.
About that time, I was negotiating some contract work in Thailand, and there was no way I was going to turn down this job. I consulted my pain doctor and was given the go for. 30 day stay in Thailand, by that time the benefactor was already assembling the team. My pain doctor gave me cortisone injections or nerve root block injections which in the past would last about 3 months, but not this time, it only lasted 48 hours. I had two more injections after that, then On 21st of July I headed out to Thailand on a grueling 25 hour flight with 3 Connections. Luckily the airlines provided me wheelchair service, and eventually made it, But already, the cortisone shots were already wearing off, so only had about 2 days of walking, but after taking 3 Falls, my benefactor eventually got me a walker which helped, and the Dream hotel I was staying at provided wheel chair service to the restaurant. So I didn’t get the chance to look around Bangkok, but I’ve been there twice before, and it’s like any other south East Asian city, except the signs would be in different language. I had to deal with learning enough Thai alphabet to know their Unicode equivelants.
One week later, we had to travel to Koh Phangan, an island off the S, China sea, a popular resort, especially on the full moon, I was so depressed I couldn’t attend the full moon party, but while there I worked like a dog, swimming for exercise, while Aaron, my best friend and old workout buddy would carry me on his back and gently put me on the motor bike for rides around the island and swimming every day.
He would bring me breakfast in the morning, compliments of my benefactor and client as I worked like a dog, learning this new language Ruby on Rails, which I was totally ignorant of, not to mention the Thai alphabet of 44 characters.
My job was to process gobs of data into another form used by his product, but since I’m under NDA, I can’t talk about the specifics.
Before going to Koh Phangan I went to a Hacker FEST in Bangkok, and met this very talented ROR programmer and instructor who installed it on my laptop. His name is Zack Siri, a really wonderful person, taking the time to install Ruby on Rails, which I never would be able to do on my own. My benefactor was ecstatic, when I introduced him to Zack. Who eventually wound up hiring him.
Not only have been having to do this work, I would have to stay up from 2:30 am until daylight when the USA was awake, dealing with trying to find the right people to talk to, and more important when they are in their offices (usually from 3-5am). I must have made about 200 calls per night to the USA, all free, compliments to google voice. I even had it setup so my local USA number would ring my phone while in Thailand (or any other place I happen to be in the world, as long as I’m in WIFI range. Thailand is great, about 80% of all restaurants have WIFI.
Koh Phangan’s wifi is barely able to watch YouTube, but after about 1 am I can watch my favorite movie on PopcornTime.io, far more recent movies then Netflix, which is blocked anyway. And I found the best VPN to use is goldenFrog, so I can watch any American TV program I want, when most are blocked.
I finished my job amazingly, time to go home and deal with my health issue. About 2-3 weeks before I would go home, I would use google voice to make free calls to the states, making arrangements with my Insurance company, making sure my referrals are going through. Every day, there would be some glitch I would have to roll over. Most of the glitches caused by the staff of my primary care doctor under Health Care Partners, my group of doctors. Being assured my referral was going through, I would call again and again, They got to know me very well, and did respect my call limits of not after noon or before 8 pm.
While in Bangkok, I saw a neuro surgeon, who after seeing my MRI, told me I was lucky to be walking and recommended immediate surgery. Note to those people seeking cheap medical care in Thailand, it’s not that much cheaper, I was quoted 1,200,000 baht ($1 = 32 baht) you do the math.
My return home on Asiana airlines operating from Korea. Flight from Bangkok to Inchion Korea was ok, but I had a 9 hour layover, not to mention another 3 hour delay. Luckily, I was able to talk the Asiana airlines to give me access to their lounge for $30. Free WIFI, free food and drink, nice work area with plugs for my iPhone, iPad, and laptop, so I put in about 7 hours of billable work.
The flight back was better because I popped two Aambians which My return home on Asiana airlines operating from Korea. Flight from Bangkok to Inchion Korea was ok, but I had a 9 hour layover, not to mention another 3 hour delay. Luckily, I was able to talk the Asiana airlines to give me access to their lounge for $30. Free WIFI, free food and drink, nice work area with plugs for my iPhone, iPad, and laptop, so I put in about 7 hours of billable work. the edge off, and lucked out and got an isle seat. But going to the bathroom I had the stewardess practically carry me to the loo. It was Funney as I hung on To her shoulders as she practically carried me. I observed that all Asiana airlines stewardess had to wear hair buns. Unfortunately, in Korea, the hours in the US was like 4 am, so no calls there were productive.
Landing in USA, a wheel chair was waiting for me as I was taken through customs, I blew through customs in 7 minutes, not counting claiming my bags. I asked the border officer to say aren’t you welcoming me to the USA, he smiled and said Welcome back. He was a cheerful old chap.
Since I missed my connecting flight to Las Vegas, they put me on American Airlines flight, again, I had to go to the loo, and a male stewardess carried me there. Walking now was out of the question. I had to wait for everyone to deplane, then the airlines brought in a skinny wheel chair that fits between the seats, my shoulders were barely wide enough to slip down the isle. When I was finally off the plane, I switched to a more conventional wheel chair and taken to baggage claim where Tolga, Christime, and my workout buddy Dario was waiting, they got me in the van, and was finally on my way home. Dario carried my up the steps…. Finally home. I hired Dario to help sort out my apartment, and move some furniture around, but I only stayed there one might, I knew this would be the last time I would enter my bedroom.
Jon Jon had found a ground floor unit next to my other one, and move in was 1 sept. My stay at the TLC rehab was for 20 days, so I would have to leave them on 26th of July.
My next task was to arrange for an ambulance to pick me up on the day after I arrive in USA to take me to my primary care doctor, so they came and had to somehow get me down the stairs, and managed to get me on a stretcher. I was push ahead of the other 40 patients waiting, and dr Kermani instantly said get him to the hospital fast. The question of what hospital to go to, I said Sunrise… Based on Jon Jon’s recommendation, Good choice. Best hospital in Vegas, so Sunrise it is. I was immediately admitted into Triage, and within an hour, I saw a neuro surgeon, spine doctor, pain doctor. They asked me what pain medication I can take, remembering my last surgery, I told them anything but Morphine, I vomited my guts out last time I had that, so he gave me OxyContin, oxycodone, and just about any narcotic you can think of. I vomited my guts out on first day, then they started Being more reasonable and got me Dexamethasone, Methadone, Dilaudid – happy switch (hydro morphine).
My sickness started to go away. In the very beginning, the doctors were not even thinking of surgery, then they all had an emergency meeting, and immediately scheduled me for surgery on Sat 28th of July.
I was in intensive care, but somehow I had a horrible relaps, 4 medical workers worked their ass off bring me back to consciousness. I literally died… I saw myself in the hospital bed floating above me, Shortly a bring light was becoming me, but I saw the doctors pulling me back. If I had gone towards that light I would have died. Don’t even let anyone tell you there isn’t life after death, I saw it with my own eyes, the experience was really strange, and beautiful at the same time, now makes me a believer there is some God.
My reaction was a combination of the medication and pneumonia, and other life threatening issues and conditions, I immediately placed in intensive 24/7 care for 2 days, them moved to a less intensive care, I was in the hospital for 8 more days befor being moved to rehab. I had a choice, back to google, to make my decision, I chose the TLC care facility because is has WIFI, closest to home, nice pleasant surroundings, and my fellow patients are all over 80 yrs old.
I said to myself, I have to be walking in 20 days. No ifs or bits about it. Very depressing, but I do manage to join people in the dining room. Most are victims of stroke, all in wheel chairs including me. I was not allowed to get out of my wheel chair. If I have to pee pee, I do it in a plastic urinal, then summon nurse to empty it. During day, I’m allowed to go to the bathroom, but under nurse supervision.
They tied a snitch wire on me, so if I exit the wheelchair it goes off and the nurses come running. I figured out how to disable it, after all, I’m a hacker, but I decided not to mess with it.
Going poo, I can to call the nurse to wipe my ass (now embarrassing), I cannot bend that far since my spine is just a rigid thing. They say I can do it later after lots or therapy.
Therapy are the usual exercises I won’t go into detail here, but my right thigh is so weak I can barely stand or put any weight on that leg, so, lots of leg lifts with light weight packs and going up the stairs is still on the verge of impossible, like today I tried to step up on my right leg, I couldn’t do it. But right leg, was OK. So,lots of practice on the walker, where I realize I have zero balance.
They only give me 1/2 occupational therapy (things I have to do at nome) and PT physical therapy, which consists of the theraband – luckily I know zillions of exercises on that, and I talked them into letting me take one in my room.
The PT guys were very impressed with my progress, they even let me in the gym for extra time, and I intend to take every minute I can, unless I get sore.
This is it for now, I hope this satisfies your questions for those. To on Facebook or Twitter. I must cannot answer all your linkedIm messages for link requests. I must have gotten over 3000 email messages, so I hope you won’t feel offended if I don’t answer them.
John (the Crunchman)