Just a brief health update: I appear to be better. I still have some tenderness in my wrist but my arm has recovered.
I have a large "port wine stain" vascular birthmark on my right hand, arm, and shoulder—very difficult to grow up with, but merely a cosmetic disfigurement as an adult. It's an odd thing, though...medicine doesn't really know a lot about these kinds of birthmarks. Only about one in 10,000 people has one (only lottery I've ever won), and they're not fatal. So they just don't get studied.
Actually they are fatal in one way—there is a higher than average suicide rate among us in adolescence.
But I've noticed various oddities in my body over the years, even away from the site of the birthmark. For example, my right leg is stiffer and cramps more easily than my left. And it seems like it must be having some sorts of effects that aren't immediately obvious. My supposition is that the irregularity in my vascular system in my right arm had something to do with the atypical pain I experienced in the weeks following the angiogram procedure.
Looking back on it, I wonder if my cardiologist might have thought I was fishing for narcotics when I complained about the pain. I meant to tell him that as a recovering alcoholic I'm exactly the opposite—I wouldn't accept much in the way of painkillers even if they were offered. Hospital painkillers trigger a lot of relapses among addicts. That's what happened to me the last time I relapsed—came home from an operation with a bottle of Percocet, and when that was gone I craved alcohol. That's the relapse that eventually led me to rehab, and lasting sobriety, in 1990. It's another reason you want to avoid addiction.
Oddly enough, my primary physician seemed to have the best handle on it—he diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of swelling and internal bruising and clotting. He gave me some simple exercises and treatments to try, and the first exercise I did caused extraordinary discomfort followed by immediate relief. So I think he was probably right.
As you know I get interested in everything, but this is not a big deal. My problems don't amount to a hill of beans in this world. (Casablanca reference.) Lots of people go through much worse things than this all the time. My issue was a minor thing; it just happened to impact the way I make a living—and my ability to post here! Thanks very much for your patience while I recovered.
I'm still a little reluctant to type a lot—I can definitely feel tingling and discomfort in my right hand when I do—but the worst seems to be over and things are definitely improving.
More TOP coming up soon. Geoff has written a nice review of William Neill's important new retrospective book that I'll post tonight or tomorrow. And I think we'll do the "It Must Be Color" by ones or twos...I need some kind of help, some kind of mechanism for getting over my blockage with that. I don't know why I can't get it done.
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