Imprisoned at Hoag – Epilogue

by Bob Sparrow

As much as I enjoyed the care I got at Hoag hospital following my knee-replacement surgery, I was not looking to return to that venue any time soon.  That plan was working up until about two weeks following surgery.  The knee was healing nicely, but I wasn’t feeling so good – fever, chills, vomiting, rapid heart rate.  So, Linda took me to a Hoag Emergency Center, where they took my temperature (103), my heart rate (140), blood pressure (off the charts either high or low, I don’t remember) and they looked me in the eye and said, “You’re sick!”

So back to Hoag Hospital I went – diagnosis: Sepsis. I really didn’t know much about Sepsis, but as I Googled it, I became more alarmed – it’s serious!  Infected kidneys and a urinary track infection were causing significant blood problems.  I was started on an antibiotic, but was told that a blood test and analysis, which would take about 48 hours to complete, was needed to find the specific antibiotic to fight this serious infection.  So, for two days, I was on one antibiotic and when test results came back, I was switched to another antibiotic for the next two days.  Neither seemed to knock the Sepsis out, so a third antibiotic was tried.  Whether it was a combination of all the antibiotics or the elevated white blood cell count that was fighting the infection, eventually the fever went away.

After five days in the hospital, I was finally released.  I felt like I was getting out of a prison camp where I was being tortured via sleep-deprivation techniques.  Other parts of the torture were, day-time TV which included a constant barrage of bad news.  Before leaving the hospital I was given a ‘mid-line’, which is a port in my arm so that antibiotics can be administered at home – which continued for another six days.

Now that I’m home, I have ventured all the way out to the end of the driveway, so I’m hoping future blogs will be a bit more interesting.

Thank you to those sending prayers and well-wishes my way – much appreciated.

High on the Hoag

by Bob Sparrow

I was not off to a fast start!

The leg was bad from the start.  Literally, from the start, when I was born, my right leg was broken.  Not sure how it happened as I was busy trying to get through the birth canal at the time.  My best guess is that when the doctor slapped my butt to start me breathing, I slapped him back and he dropped me.

It was fine through high school athletics, but in my first year of college football, I was playing cornerback (back in days when they let white guys play cornerback), and I was coming up to make a tackle, when I was not only faked out of my jock strap, but with cleats stuck firmly in the turf, my right knee went in a completely different direction than the rest of my body.  I missed the tackle, and subsequently missed the rest of that football season.  Miraculously, I went on to play 5 seasons of college football (counting my red shirt season) and two season of service football with the Navy in Japan and never missed another game because of injury.  It got banged up pretty good sometimes, but never too bad that I couldn’t play.  Playing quarterback instead of cornerback helped significantly.  Later in life, it did keep me from running a marathon, when I was on an 18-mile training run, just three weeks before the LA Marathon, and it decided that it had had enough.

In 2010, I had finally decided to have knee replacement surgery and the doctor agreed it was time, but then wife, Linda won a sales contest which was a trip to Wales to see the Ryder Cup.  I didn’t want to miss that or be hobbling around on one leg through the Welsh bog, so I cancelled the surgery.  Upon returning from Wales, the knee felt fine, so I kicked knee-surgery down the road.

Dr. Jay Patel

After 60 years from the initial injury (not counting the break at birth), surgery was finally confirmed for June 21st with Dr. Jay Patel of the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, CA.  A word about Dr. Patel; he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He then went on to earn both a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and his Medical Doctorate from Stanford University. He speaks three languages, English, Spanish and Chinese.  Intellectually, I thought we were a good match, as I had earned a BS degree (How appropriate!) from Westminster College and spoke one of the three languages that Dr. Patel knows.

Dr. Patel did my hip replacement surgery four years ago and not surprisingly, I haven’t heard a word from that hip since.  Dr. Patel continuously reminded me that “Knees are harder”.  I wouldn’t know, I slept through both surgeries, but I can attest to the real professionalism, competence, friendliness and overall caring attitude of the Hoag staff.  They are truly the best.  My surgery was on Monday afternoon and by Monday night they had me walking the halls of the hospital and on my way home on Tuesday before noon.  Those who have had this surgery know that the rehab is the tough part, and I’m told if you don’t do the rehab, you shouldn’t have done the surgery.  But I’m confident in my willingness to work hard to do what’s necessary and I have confidence in Dr. Patel’s ability – for some reason he just doesn’t seem to be a slacker to me.

Knee – before & after

It’s now been two weeks since the surgery and I’m telling my physical therapist that I don’t feel like I’m progressing like I should.  He looks at me, shakes his head, and says that I am ahead of schedule and that I should go to YouTube and watch a knee-replacement surgery and I’d see why it takes more than two weeks to heal.  I watched the video.  YIKES!!!  Glad I didn’t watch it before as I might not have gone through with it.  Saws, hammers, drills – it looked like a major construction project – I guess it was.  Watch it at your own risk!

The leg, broken at birth and woefully abused ever since, has now been fully repaired, or rather replaced, thanks to Dr. Jay Patel – and they said he’d never amount to anything.

 

 

A Laughing Matter

by Bob Sparrow

                                      “When you lose your power to laugh, you lose your power to think straight.”                                                                                                                                                                Inherit the Wind

I am not an immunologist or a doctor of any kind, I’m not a health worker of any kind either, and have really done nothing to help get us through this pandemic, except get my shots, which was mostly helping me.  So, I felt worthless in terms of my contribution to society, until I read Karine Bengualid’s article on Copyhackers about the power of laughter during the pandemic; I quote:

‘Humor offers certain emotional and mental benefits, such as establishing relationships, relieving anxiety, releasing anger in a socially acceptable way, decreasing depression and loneliness and increasing self-esteem, as well as physical benefits like increasing pain tolerance, improving respiration and breathing and exercising facial, abdominal and chest muscles, leading to reduced muscle tension.  Humor can undo physical effects of negative emotions like fear, anger or sadness’.

So, as my contribution to this whole ‘thing’ going on, I’m sharing what I think are humorous quotes and cartoons about the pandemic as well as some observations about life today.

  • A teardrop tattoo means you killed someone in prison, a toilet paper tattoo means you killed someone at Costco

 

  • Q: Did you get your two shots?                                                                                 A: Yes                                                                                                                                               Q:  Pfizer or Moderna?                                                                                                        A:  Whiskey & Tequila

Half of us . . .

  • Half of us are going to come out the pandemic as amazing cooks, the other half with a drinking problem. There is no in between
  • Half of us are going to use this time to focus on improving ourselves through meditation and getting into great shape, and half of us will have more ice cream after we finish the pizza and beer
  • Half of our recycling bins will return to normal use and half will still be overflowing with empty wine bottles
  • Regarding our bathroom habits, half will get back to normal and half will continue to horde toilet paper
  • Regarding our morning routine, half will get up, shower and go to work and half will wear a nice jacket and matching underwear to work
  • Half will go back to drinking Corona beer and half will never drink that beverage that caused this awful pandemic

Feeling better yet?

  • My husband purchased a world map and then gave me a dart and said, “Throw this and wherever it lands—that’s where I’m taking you when this pandemic ends.” Turns out, we’re spending two weeks behind the fridge.
  • After years of wanting to thoroughly clean my house but lacking the time, this year I discovered that wasn’t the reason.
  • Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well.
  • Being quarantined with a talkative child is like having an insane parrot glued to your shoulder
  • I finished Netflix today
  • Day 121 at home and the dog is looking at me like, “See? This is why I chew the furniture!”
  • 30 days hath September, April, June, and November, all the rest have 31, except for March which was infinite.

I’m putting a drink in every room in my house and calling it a pub crawl

Abort, abort abort! Re-route to 1999 when all we had to worry about was cheesy boy bands!

You know things are different when you work at a bank and two guys with masks come in, but they’re just robbing the place

Hope you got a few chuckles; it’s OK if you didn’t, I’m still going to feel like I contributed something to getting through the pandemic!

 

 

Keeping Sharp in a Numbing World

by Bob Sparrow

As we continue to wade through this era of ‘house arrest’, as a society we have become sedentary bingers.  We sit at home and binge on food, binge on drink, binge on computer time and binge-watch the latest Netflix series.  How is this affecting us physically and mentally?  Significantly!

While we here at From A Bird’s Eye View don’t pretend to have the panacea, we will pass along some information that might be helpful in keeping you physically and mentally sharp . . . or sharper.  Caveat: If you are not sharp to start with, reading this will not make you sharp.

The information herein comes from a book I recently finished entitled, Keep Sharp, by Sanjay Gupta, MD (brain surgeon).  It’s currently a ‘best seller’ so perhaps you’ve seen it or even read it (sorry for the redundancy here if you have).  It’s directed mostly at those of us older folks, who are concerned with dementia, but the principles of a healthy brain apply to all ages.  To be honest, there is a lot of scientific stuff in the book that can get a little tedious, but it helps frame what you should be doing, both mentally and physically to Keep Sharp.

The book first asks the question, “Are you at risk for brain decline?”  Gupta list 24 items that could make you at risk.  Here’s a few:

  • Are you over 65?
  • Do you sit most of the day?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Do you take meds for high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol?
  • Do you have a smoking history?
  • Do you lack social engagement?
  • And of course, does Alzheimer’s disease run in your family?

Yep, I too found myself ‘at risk’.

He also lists a number of myths about the brain, among them:

  • Dementia is an inevitable consequence of old age
  • We use only 10% of our brains
  • A crossword puzzle a day keeps the doctor away

Here’s a brief summary of the five things Gupta suggests to keep your mind sharp no matter what your age:

  1. Move – improve your cardio, strength, flexibility, balance
  2. Discover – take a class, learn a language, play games, develop a strong sense of purpose
  3. Relax – sleep needs to remain constant throughout life (You don’t need less as you get older). Regarding sleep:
    1. sleep aids like Nyquil and ‘PM’ formulas are linked to higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s.
    2. stick to a schedule
    3. avoid long naps
    4. don’t be a night owl
    5. eliminate electronics before bed – computer/tablet/phone screens contain ‘blue wavelengths’ that suppress melatonin.
  4. Nourish – what’s good for the heart is good for the brain
    1. cut sugars
    2. hydrate
    3. eat fish/more Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    4. reduce portions
  5. Connect – Crosswords get a B- for their ability to boost brain function, connecting with others, face-to-face, in person, gets an A (Understand that we’ve had some restrictions in this regard).

Not in the book, but something that I’ve found good for brain health, is a download called Lumosity.  It is a series of games and challenges that help keep the brain sharp.  After completing a number of the challenges, you can see where your brain ranks with other people in your age group. The download is free, but the Premium package (recommended) is about $60 a year.

If this helps just one person become ‘sharper’, then I apologize to the rest of you for this waste of time.

How ever you do it – hope you all keep sharp!

 

Post Script: Not so much as a public service, but because I have nothing else to do, I’ve created a 6-page summary of the book, including all the ‘at risk’ categories, all the myths about the brain, more detail on the 5 categories for keeping sharp, including the Top 10 secrets of slumber, as well as more detail on diet and exercise.  If you’re not someone who will buy and read Keep Sharp, but would like this summary, just let me know in the comment section of this post and I will email it out to you.