Another wondrous achievement. But between MIT and Cal-Tech they couldn’t find someone to write it up without using “incomprehensively” in the 3rd to last paragraph:
Albert Einstein predicted, in 1916, that entities with enormous mass, speeding to combine with each other through gravitational forces, would send forth a “gravitational wave”, a wave which would momentarily warp time and space. 100 years later, scientists devised instruments which finally proved him right. After decades of struggle to obtain funding, the NIS finally brought two LIGO systems into play in the U.S., and almost immediately detected a gravitational wave:
The wave, begun when two black holes merged a billion years ago (and a billion light years away), warped the length of the laser measuring devices by the very small (predicted) amount – 1/1000th the diameter of a proton, measured over the 4km length of the instruments. Not a negligible warp though. The tiny ripple in space/time fabric was initiated all those years ago by a release of energy fifty times greater than that of all the stars in the known universe. Einstein was puzzled, though, by what he called “spooky action”, now usually referred to as “action at a distance”. The now measured and proven ability of particles to instantaneously influence the state of other particles. And by instantaneous I mean faster than the speed of light, which in Albert’s stuffy little nicotine warped world was pretty much “top end”. I considered titling this piece “An Infinite Period of No Change?” to honor the steadfast philosophy of a fellow blogger, but decided, by a hair, that Albert should get the header.
“A 51-year-old male had a two year course of ulcerative colitis unresponsive to medical therapy. Despite steroids, metronidazole and 6-mercaptopurine, the patient suffered exacerbations with 14-16 bloody bowel movements per day and progression from left sided to pancolitis. The patient was positioned for total colectomy and J-pouch.”
Positioned indeed. That is not me pictured. I was only forty four when I found myself in this situation in the Spring of 1999. The memories are a little vague, not from age but due to the stunted condition of my memory at the time they were formed. Extremely malnourished, I’d dropped from 186 lbs. to 143 lbs. in just a couple months. Not enough meat on my buttocks to keep me from sliding through the toilet ring. I do recall months of trials with various diets and drugs. I recall the Dr. who initially told me (early on) that “The worst case scenario is you’ll lose your colon”. But I only saw him once or twice. During the same interview he asked,
“Have you been tested for HIV? Is there any possibility that you have ever been exposed?”
“Well….no……and um….I suppose it’s not impossible.”
It was another doctor who told me the results. Dr. Holtzapple. Old Dr. Holtzapple. Shortly into my only appointment with him, my week of worry needed to end.
“What about the HIV test?”
“The HIV test was negative.”
I broke down, thanking God mostly that I had not ignorantly harmed anyone else, because by then I was sure that my own death was fairly imminent. Dr. Holtzapple then put his hand on my shoulder, and I drew in a deep breath. I’d never felt anything like it.
Within a week I was hospitalized, then in and out of hospitals for a few weeks, all the while failing, fed through veins, losing weight. Eventually spent a straight month in the hospital with no food passing my lips. All of the medications our dear pictured man had and more. Scans galore. Various gastroenterologists took turns making grim vs happy diagnoses/prognoses, the cheeriest of them being “Very disappointed” when endoscopy disproved what his belly kneading had told him. It was time to consider surgery, and a surgeon was shortly dispatched to my bedside. Dr. Simon seemed decidedly non arrogant. He was confident though.
“So Mike, do you want to keep your colon, or do you want me to take it?”
“Uh….I think I’d like to keep it.”
“Well, we really need to consider the facts. You’ve been here for five weeks on TPN and you’ve gained no ground. Maybe you’ve lost a little. I really think you should let me take it.”
“Tuesday. I’ve got a Bar Mitzvah to go to this weekend.”
“Well…be careful…I need you.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t get drunk.”
With only the vaguest idea of what I’d consented to I questioned the nursing staff over the weekend.
“Where are they going to cut?”
“Oh, it will probably be a midline incision.”
Tuesday came and went, eight hours in the OR, (see the 50 photo sequence of our man above as he continues his journey…not for the squeamish) and eventually, over a continually horrifying two years (ostomy take-down, fistula surgeries), I got better. Had a chance to tell Dr. Holtzapple about his healing touch. Had a chance to thank Dr. Simon for saving my life. Had the chance to ponder my confession to Fr. Castronovo, and his visit with the relic of a saint whose name I can’t recall. Rode the bicycle hard over sixteen miles of hill country yesterday. Too tired tonight to do anything but blog.
She recalled how well prepared he’d seemed. How he’d breezed past her booth to a stool at the counter. Clean khakis, a bright red knapsack, some sort of double hat. A bucket cap fitted so well over a baseball cap, or a type she’d not seen before. Doffed, it revealed a good haircut, short on the sides in salt and pepper, and well chosen eyeglasses. He’d pulled off one upper layer at a time, three in all, as if testing the atmosphere in steps, and settled on a somehow still crisp button-down shirt. Two waitresses had recognized him, one moving opposite him behind the counter, the other to his side to view his cellphone offering. A picture or two, she’d decided. About five-ten, medium build, possibly retired – it was a late Tuesday morning after all. Mid sixties to early seventies. On a bike or afoot? He puzzled only a moment over the soup choice, and when a waitress delivered his ice water with a hefty slice of lemon he plucked the fruit from the rim of the glass, put it whole into his mouth, chewed it for ten seconds and swallowed.
I recently had a go at designing a “real” webpage. Picked WordPress for a platform, not realizing I’d have to learn a few tricks to jump from blog format to “static page” business. A free theme with limited customization (unless one wants to edit code – I’m now convinced I do not). Have a look. I’m helping boost a local boy.
Did I forget to rant last year? It’s possible. I didn’t even know which teams were involved this year until the game was well underway. The giveaway Facebook remark evolved into a discussion of the relative strengths of two natural enemies, the bronco and the panther, with a leading authority attesting that panthers would be dispatched by healthy adult broncos, but enfeebled broncos could be catfood.
The cacophonous halftime show drew the ire of a former NYC mayor, who called a costuming nod to a 1960’s black rights group an “insult to the police”. Thanks Rudy, for going worldwide with your nonsense and luring me into watching the benignly trashy Beyonce act.
It was only at the diner on Tuesday that I heard reference made to the Superbowl singing of the national anthem. Frank had had a bunion carved from his foot on Friday, and Tuesday was his first day out of the house. He dismissed questions about his plastic bag wrapped left foot and got straight to his main concern.
“Did you hear that bitch sing the national anthem on Sunday?”
Alice, who had, said she approved of the singing, others demurred, and I vowed to watch it and report an opinion. My report of approval on Wednesday was rebutted with “Somebody should have shot the bitch.”
I’m gonna give Gaga an “oh hell no” on the hairstyle and an “oh shit yes” for the rest. An interesting piece of timing, I understand the Blue Angels had her performance on headset, along with instructions from a flight coordinator. A couple seconds off? Go to coda.
GAGA BRINGS IT HOME
“The dinner went well?”
Marlene often asked questions with her back turned.
“Riotous, as expected. But a success.”
“In order, G-ma arranged a near formal entrance for herself, by way of a perceived slight. Possibly by me.”
“What did you do?”
“The tables and chairs were crammed together to accommodate everyone. She chose an impossible route to the least accessible chair in the room. I advised against it, offered to convey her plate while she re-routed.”
“She exited the room, of course.”
“Yes, caused quite a ripple, but Nene handled her. Simply said ‘Mom? What’s going on?’, then went into the kitchen and ushered her back. By then everyone else was seated and five people had to rise to let her pass.”
“A triumph all around.”
“And then Nene opened with ‘Does anyone here like Donald Trump?'”
“She’s not always as sweet as can be, is she?”
“She said it sweetly, and her brother actually let his hand start to rise. I believe he stammered a couple words before the din of scorn overwhelmed him.”
“He’s been listening to his buddy Joe.”
“Joe, yes. You unfollowed Joe because of his tirades didn’t you?”
“I didn’t unfriend him.”
“Did I say unfriended?”
“Outside of that it was pretty much all Gigi’s show.”
“She’s a sweetie. She was supposed to be a teacup.”
“And cost ‘Jack must not know’. I remember.”
“She attacks the biggest dogs. She’s fearless.”
“A Yorkie the size of a small cat, yes. Everyone was warned again about feeding her scraps. The near death experience, the pancreatitis, was recounted yet again to make sure we were all in line about it.”
“Can’t be too careful.”
“Of course she came pleading to everyone during dinner. I’ll bet she was next to me ten times. Very polite with the ‘I want something’ look.”
“Of course not, I doubt anyone did. But by dinner’s end she was being scooped into people’s laps and petted.”
“Even closer to the food. That’s a bit perverse.”
“As it turned out, the begging wasn’t about the food.”
He left it silent, smiling until she broke down and turned.
“What are you talking about? Why are you laughing?”
“In the end she went under the table and peed on G-ma’s foot. She’d been begging for an hour to go out. Couldn’t get it across.”