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Water Water Everywhere...

(or "Where the hell has shaogo been lately?")

A recent significant health setback has me filled with anger and self-pity. So serious was my condition that a hospitalization (yeah, yet another hospitalization) was indicated. Basically there's a lot of fluid accumulating in my abdomen and chest cavity. Worse, both of my lungs have been reduced 25% in capacity because of fluid being in them (a rather painful condition even when the pneumonia is not caused by a virus).

Time to Pay the Piper

The icing on the cake? Pages of diagnoses in the form of physician dictation, electrocardiograms, MRI, and CAT Scans which describe my overall health condition as being similar to the condition of an automobile which has been run absent any maintenance to speak of since about 1965. We can also suffice it to say I've been deemed "morbidly obese" by my doctor.

My symptoms include episodes of Atrial Fibrillation, shortness of breath (take a Glad garbage bag and put it over your head for about a half hour and you'll know how I feel sometimes), high blood pressure, and a general feeling of weakness accompanied by dizzy spells. The machines spell it out much more clearly; I need a Roto-rooterâ„¢ for some of my veins. I must lose at least a hundred pounds. My liver is slightly enlarged and so fatty it's the human equivalent of foie gras. One of my kidneys is operating at about 45% of capacity and they don't yet know why.

The good news is that my heart is strong, my lungs are already showing clearing because I've quit smoking (I just haven't told you all lest I "fall off the wagon" and decide to light up at a time of stress. Interestingly, I was so extremely sick of smoking that I no longer crave tobacco. I hope I stay that way).

I always look for the silver lining on the dark cloud. What I could find immediately was the fact that hospital television has now entered the new millenium. No more scratchy antenna-accumulated signal. Instead, a hundred channels in digital color. So at least I could keep my eye on The Learning Channel or The History Channel and learn something. (No food channel for the time being 'cause all I needed to see was a platter of marinated lamb chops ready to go on the grill and I'd have thrown my bed-pan at the screen.

An Angel Appears

A dietary worker brought me my tray for lunch one day and took the time to ask how I felt. I responded, "lousy." She told me that my affect revealed not so much physical pain as pain of the heart. She offered "I know it really stinks to have to be here, but why don't you turn on the news channel and see what they've gotta deal with in the mid-west, what with all the water and all. God's treatin' you alright compared to some of those poor folks who lost everything..."

The transformation of my mindset from misery to gratitude happened so fast it was amazing. I rang the nurse's bell and asked that the same food service worker return to my room if she had the time. The answer was the usual healthcare professional "neither yes nor no" kinda thing. And indeed, I waited anxiously until the same wonderful lady returned the next day at lunchtime to give me a tray (which happened to be, thankfully, more substantial than was the luncheon of the day before).

I told this woman that she'd dramatically adjusted my attitude, in a positive way, and I thanked her profusely for doing so. She told me she assumed that since I had a private room I had a little money, so why not send some to those who need it. I told her my business was doing very poorly but that I'd do what I could. I also said that I'd said a prayer of thanks to God for her words of wisdom and would continue to.

Now, things got a bit sticky when we discussed God. I'm a Buddhist. She's a fundamentalist and is convinced that unless I accept Jesus as my savior I'll burn in hell for all eternity (when whichever malady I'm afflicted with is successful at the execution of the coup de grâce.)  This amazing woman, who had a family at home to tend to, and who had to take the bus to work because she couldn't afford a car, came up to see me after her shift had ended. Indeed, even asking the nurse in charge was risky so far as her job was concerned. Suffice it to say I called a friend who has a livery and had a car take her home after we talked.

And talk we did. For at least an hour and a half. The topics were many but centered around how God occasionally visits troubles, trials and tragedies upon us from which we must learn.

It soon became apparent that my own tribulations pale in comparison to those she bears. Little did I know that her life had been impacted by challenges so similar to the ones I suffered it was downright scary.

Freedom, at a Price

After a routine physical, my doctor had asked me to go to the hospital, where he'd made arrangements for a bed. I made it clear to him that I needed a room with at the very least dial-up internet service if not Wi-Fi. He said that no such thing would happen. I told him I'd have no part of it and would rather wait in a hospital outpatient setting than languish in a very expensive bed. He also told me that if I didn't assent to his wishes, he'd have me hospitalized in a looney bin on the grounds that I was intent on doing harm to myself.

Let me make this crystal clear. When someone tells me that my freedom will somehow be compromised I don't take it lightly. In fact I threatened him with physical harm.

Doc was prepared for this. He told me where to drive and that if I was more than an hour late he'd have a warrant put out to have any law enforcement agent have me confined. He was gentleman enough not to mention the fact that he could've had me jailed right then and there for suggesting that I felt like "opening up whole new vistas of understanding of the pain experience for him with the aid of a piece of iron pipe and his knee-caps."

He repeated his request that I present myself at the hospital. Three words describe how that felt: "boy, does that suck!"


Everything turned around as I got off of the highway exit for the hospital. I began having chest pains; not angina but the kind one experiences during a panic attack. 'Twas the great fear of the unknown. My hands shook. I turned up the air conditioner, found a parking space and waited for five minutes before getting out of the car.

The fact that not one person out of the five at the admissions desk knew why I was there gave me a brief, albeit false sense of relief. I finally found someone who told me that instead of Thursday I was to have come in on Monday. So then a phone call was placed to my doctor's office which, after an hour, set them all straight.

I sat on a chair in the hospital's waiting room for no fewer than three hours. At about two hours, I asked how things were going and was told by a triage nurse to just be patient because they'd not expected me so soon. I asked her if I could go across the street and have a bite to eat. I offered up my cell phone number but she told me to sit tight. She finally agreed (at 4:00 p.m.) that I should be spared any more waiting-room blues if I could spend them eating a piece of cherry pie a' la mode or something similar. I'd had nothing but a Pepsi since about 11:30 that morning and had read just about every waiting-room magazine but for Vogue. Between you and I, my brief glance at Vogue gave me the idea to sneak out and buy some cosmetics and a sun-dress and really fuck with their heads.


"So I see you're here for detox. What're you detoxing from?"

What the fuck?!

I told the nurse I hadn't any idea and she better find out why my doctor committed me in the first place 'cause I was going to invoke my fifth amendment rights from here on in.

In short order another lady who seemed to be in a supervisory position explained patiently that my M.D. had decided that he'd put me into a hospital for a week to expose me to Alcoholics Anonymous and see how I do without having any liquor/pills/pot close at hand. I told her that I have no pot "close at hand," take only pills that are prescribed by a doctor and frankly wouldn't miss booze for a week.

I Ain't Gonna Bore You

There is nothing, absolutely nothing worth writing about spending a week with about fourteen other people who were alcoholics, pill poppers, and junkies. It became evident that most, if not all of these people a) had been there before and b) were having their care paid for by the state.

In a nutshell, I'll give you highlights:

  • The medical staff was rather astonished that I did not require tranquilizers because in fact there was no "detoxing" necessary.
  • I felt like I came from a different planet because during the educational groups and discussion sessions it seemed I was the only one paying attention. And there was marvelous advice being handed out with regard to how one feels and handles one's feelings.
  • The food was awful. But every cloud has a silver lining; most of the things that were served caused me to fondly remember the school lunches of my impoverished youth and how grateful I am that I don't have to eat this stuff anymore.
  • Last I heard, people went to hospital to get well. I was awakened at least twice every night for the testing of my "vital signs" (blood pressure, pulse, etc.) Suffice it to say that after a week of this I was so sleep deprived I felt like a zombie.
  • A good thing: Father's Day is tough. I had excellent therapists to discuss my sadness and grief with during the first Fathers' Day since my dad passed away.

Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty I'm Free At Last!

Ever since my long-time doctor retired I've been seeing this other fellow in the practice. I am going to seek a better doctor. The reason? More than one member of the "team" on the "detox unit" told me that perhaps my doctor didn't know what was wrong with me. He probably feared I was drinking to excess but feared more the idea of sitting me down and suggesting that I stop drinking and perhaps go to an A.A. meeting or two to check it out.

Am I pissed? Yes, I was. This was a hell of a way to spend a vacation. My absence took its toll on my wife and staff, who basically were not able to communicate with me because I was relieved of my cell phone upon admittance. I am no longer pissed off, however. I'm going to get a second opinion about the symptoms that got me in the hospital in the first place. And I learned a lot about myself. Hell, there's a strong possibility that I'll sign up for their outpatient seminars and discussion groups.

Ok, I'm sitting here, it's 11:15PM and I'm annoyed.

I felt that I finally needed to reclaim that 160GB drive. My computer is set up with a 320GB for assorted datas (movies, pics, videos etc.), a 160GB drive holding a XP os with SP3, and an 80GB drive holding XP SP2. The reason for this is I originally planned for 2x80GB in RAID 0, mirrored onto the 160GB, but I never got around to getting the second 80. I didn't use the SP3 drive anymore, because I used a release candidate, which was a bad idea. Slowed everything down.
At this point in time, I also had a friends 40GB drive in the system, which I was going to format and do a fresh install on, as a result of it being SP1, and being in a bad way due to his bad organisational skills.
Seeing as everything was on the 80GB drive anyways (except for steam, more on that later), I just decided to ghost the whole 80GB drive over to the 160 for more space.
When it finished, I then decided to ghost my friends drive onto the 80, as I would then just be able to copy all the needed files and settings over to his drive afterwards.

Some might see what's coming

So I do both ghosts, then go to boot into my XP drive...


Oh bugger, I think to myself. So I open the BIOS to make sure that i'm booting from the right disk. I am. So I reboot, and again, nothing. I think that I might be able to recover the boot sector of the disk using the windows disk, so I pop it in. It loads all the drivers fine, then, the dreaded Blue Screen.
I reboot.
It loads all the drivers again, then Blue Screens again.
So I go back into the BIOS to check if I may have accidently ballsed it up, when I realise what has happened. On my motherboard (an Asus P5B Deluxe), every time I go into the BIOS, it sorta just forgets my CPU multiplier setting. It sets it to the highest value it can find, which is far too high in this case. It only forgets the multiplier

Weird, huh?

So I change it back, and finally, it gets into the windows setup. Except my installation isn't there.

I sigh to myself, and strap in for the long haul.

I dig out my old PartMagic live cd, and pop it in. I recover what's on the 160GB drive, but I hit a snag. it recovers the old MBR, as well as the new one. And neither was named, and I never checked the properties of the new one. So I do an "Eenie-meenie-miney-mo" and hope for the best. It recovers the MBR, and I reboot. Again.

And whaddya know? I forgot that PartMagic boot records aren't recognised by Windows, which is why the cd was in the very bottom of my drawer in the first place. I decide to cut my losses and just copy my Documents and Settings folder over to the 320, then reinstall Windows and copy it back.

Just then I realise something awful. My entire steam directory, and all backups thereof, were perhaps somewhat stupidly on the 160GB drive in its original condition. All 17GB of it. And I have a 512kbps link, and a monthly limit of 12GB.

Ah well, nothing I can do now.

So I copy all the files across, then reboot, and setup windows. At last, something is going right. It installs, then boots like a charm. "Whew"

I install all my drivers, then reboot. Except it doesn't.

At this point, I almost put my head through my brand new LCD screen, and I'm sure I fractured a knuckle when I hit the desk. Seriously, typing hurts.

As far as I can make out, Windows put all its data on the 160GB, but put the MBR on the 80. I'm not even sure if it can do that, but the 80 is now C:/, which, of course, has nothing on it because Ghost screwed up the transfer from the 40 to the 80 as well. So I power down, disconnect the 80 and try again.

So, right now as I'm typing on the laptop I forgot we had, it is 12:04AM, i'm reinstalling XP (again), and I just wanna go to bed. And I lost my phone, so I can't call my friend and ask him to bring his HDD along with him when he comes into town tomorrow, because we have the same games on our Steam accounts.

But, i've got to wait for the second install to finish, which is going to take "Approximately 37 Minutes"

I guess the moral of the story is: "Never, ever trust Symantec with your computer"


Update: Somehow Windows has buggered up in its drive software, and now the 320 is C:/ and the 160 is D:/
Which is totally not right and I'm fucking well going to bed. I'll sort this crap out in the morning.

Update (2): Okay, installed drivers again the next morning, reboot, and windows is missing again. I have nfi why, but i'm sick of this shit.

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