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Just an inconsequential check-in

I’m working on a post for tomorrow or Saturday that’s heavier on real content. But I also promised (or threatened) that I’d post whatever the week delivered. So here goes that.


On my first week (allegedly) offline, Robert Burns’ line about how best-laid plans “gang aft agley” was a dominant theme.

I thought I would spend the week thinking Deep Thoughts. But.

Notice I’m posting this at 5-something a.m. In other words, nope, not from the library. From my cozy flannel-lined bed with a big pot of tea on the warmer beside me. Which is nice. But.

I spoke too soon when I wrote that I’d managed to quit Comcast after a mere three tries. I should have realized that, Comcast being Comcast, the fact that I had their written agreement to end my service on February 2, followed by multiple confirming emails that, yes, they were going to end my service on February 2 … did not in any way imply that they actually would end my service. Ever.

This is the company that directs all attempts to quit it to their “retention” department. The company whose seven-day-a-week chat line for ending service yields only the information that nobody is on duty, ever, and oh hey, give us a call instead!. The company that, if you do call or allow them to call you (which I won’t), uses “retention” scripts written by psychologists for maximum manipulation not only to keep you on board but to entice you to buy more and pricier services. The company so notorious for its arm-twisting to keep any customer from departing that people wishing to become former customers have resorted to lying about their reasons (“I’m entering the Peace Corps and going to Malawi”) so the company will “permit” them to exit.

In short, the most hated company in America, beating out such giants of customer service as United Airlines and such pillars of honor as F*c*b**k.

And here I thought that I’d actually get away from them after a mere three attempts. Ha!

Of course I love having Internet. But that’s just the problem; I love having Internet. So much so that I want it GONE. Still working on that. Deep Thoughts must wait.


The week has also been occupied with minor, but brain-consuming, medical matters, with several doctor appointments including a trip to an out-of-town oral surgeon.

The good side of this is that Commentariat member RW has taken it upon himself to fund the tooth extraction — with extreme gallantry and sometimes over my protests. Thank you AGAIN, RW.

The good side, too, is that next week a nasty, infected root-canaled tooth will be out of my head. It’s been unsymptomatic, but friends and readers may be right to suspect the bad tooth has something to do with my formerly iron immune system turning to mush.


It’s funny, though. When you get inserted into the medical system after years of self-care and doctor avoidance, it’s like being in a scary sci-fi movie — and not one where you get to be the hero.

Tech. It changes fast — and not necessarily for the better.

I thought it was hot stuff when, at last month’s exam, my town dentist took instantly computerized xrays rather than those old cardboardy films. Golly gee whiz, Ma.

But this week at the oral surgeon’s, everything was so much higher tech I thought I was in one of those movies where they harvest your organs and give your innards to oligarchs who crave immortality.

I had my first experience with a panoramic xray — where you just stand in place and the machine goes ’round and ’round your head.

I previously thought that taking temperature by sticking something in the ear was the Latest and Greatest, but the surgeon’s staff read my temp by simply pointing a gadget at my forehead and not touching me at all.

Then everything — xray, blood pressure, heart rate, and I don’t know what else — was projected onto a giant screen for the enjoyment of staff, patient, and every casual passer-by in the building.

Now, this may all be familiar to you guys who regularly hang out in the medical world. To me, it was novel and rather terrifying.

The surgeon’s staff also made me fill out more extensive paperwork than anyone, ever. And (oddly) not one word of it had to do with teeth. His office staff now knows that I consume about one alcoholic drink a month, that I’ve never had cancer, that I had my tonsils out at 16, and that I’m taking vitamin C, elderberry, and monolaurin for my immune system (thank you, FM, SF, RW, JW, D3, and Ellendra, among others).

Even with my selective dodging and weaving (never fill in the blank for SSN or give a home address if you can help it), the deep queries convinced me of the outfit’s organ-harvesting intentions before I ever stepped within the ominously whirring circle of the panorama machine.

But. I had to laugh. Because his fancy four-foot panoramic projection of my facial bones barely even suggested the infection in that tooth (which is apparently just getting started). For a good look at the problem, the surgeon had to have his assistant call up the xrays my small-town dentist emailed him. He projected the dentist’s view of that troublesome tooth and concluded that, yes, it should be yanked.

Whatever that impressive panorama might reveal to someone who knows what to look for, it didn’t do much of a job revealing … the very issue for which I was there.

But OMG, it was all terrifyingly impressive.


If you don’t hear from me after I go in for the extraction next week, you’ll know I was right about the organ harvesting business.


  1. Joel
    Joel February 7, 2019 6:57 am

    Report any new abdominal scars to your local commissar immediately to ensure he gets his cut of the profits from your donation, comrade!

  2. Owl
    Owl February 7, 2019 9:19 am

    “If you don’t hear from me after I go in for the extraction next week, you’ll know I was right about the organ harvesting business.”

    Don’t worry about it. I still have one kidney.

  3. Bear
    Bear February 7, 2019 3:40 pm

    If you want monolaurin, this would be a lot cheaper. According to my reading, about half a teaspoon would give you around 3,000 mg. That 15 ounce jar would give you 180 servings.

    Coconut oil works out to about three cents per dose, vs. $.26/per of Ultimate Monolaurin.

    Or you could just eat Mounds bars.

  4. Claire
    Claire February 7, 2019 5:38 pm

    3,000 mg of coconut oil doesn’t equal 3,000 mg of monolaurin, though.

    I’m new to this and there’s someone here who can explain much better than I. But as I understand it, 3,000 mg of coconut oil equals only about 90 mg of monolaurin. So no, it wouldn’t be less expensive, considering the dosage.

  5. Claire
    Claire February 7, 2019 5:40 pm

    “I still have one kidney.”

    You should probably keep that. 🙂

  6. E. Garrett Perry
    E. Garrett Perry February 7, 2019 11:44 pm

    Heh. I know the feeling. After a heart-attack scare back before Christmaquanzayulukkah, I ended up on a wagon and then spending a night in the hospital for the first time since I was 6. Before we even left the bus station where we met the ambulance, the EMTs and GP in the back (Czech ambulances come with an actual Doctor about 50% of the time) already had me wired up for EKG, O2 saturation, and a warfarin drip. By the time we got to the hospital in Kolin, about 3mins away, they had a good start on my medical history- such as I could deliver through my chattering teeth.
    The SciFi-seeming aspect didn’t really start until they determined that it -wasn’t- a heart attack. Then it was Imaging Time! Now I’ve had a chest X-ray before, twice in the US and once at a private clinic in Prague. In all three cases I felt rather as if I were being microwaved by a rather distracted Viktor Fronkunšteen in his labor-ah-tory, and the process took some time. Not in Kolin! In our dinky little regional hospital I half expected to see Miles Vorkosigan come stalking out of one of the labs pursued by a covey of Duronas, and the actual picture-taking took less than a second, as opposed to the five-plus seconds of my previous encounters. When it was CT-scan time, the nurse not only explained the procedure, but gave me a helpful information sheet which among other things outlined my upcoming radiation exposure in Gray, milliSievert, and Roentgens. The CT machine was so new the damned thing was -silent-. It was like being inside the brain of a BMW engineer: “Hmm…this is lovely…I like the lines…bet it looks great in green…probably last fifty years too…but when something eventully DOES break, something tells me it’s expensive. Even if it’s the cupholder.”

    And then I spent a sleepless night as the only English speaker in an open cardiac ward. I guess some things really don’t change.

  7. deLaune
    deLaune February 8, 2019 3:58 am

    My hospital stay in August / September was no fun. Fortunately, I was in an induced coma during all of the sci-fi testing. This was my second time in a hospital; last time was 42 years ago (shrapnel removal). How long ago was that? I could smoke in my hospital room!

    Then I spent four sleepless days and nights in the ICU (open ward). Every night was “interesting.” For example, one night a nurse had a nervous breakdown. She locked herself in a restroom, screaming for two hours.

    Another fun night featured a 6 foot (+) orderly, waving an L-frame S&W at the rest of the staff. A tiny nurse, no more than 5′-2″, talked him down. He surrendered his pistol and fled. The doctor on duty spent two hours making sure everyone had their stories straight. The incident “never happened.”

    But I came out of it with the same number of organs as I started with (I checked for extra scars).

    And…I negotiated my bills down from $561,000 to $50,862. Tax deductible. If I had signed up for Obamacare when it first started, I would have been out-of-pocket by $7000 more.

  8. Claire
    Claire February 8, 2019 6:10 am

    deLaune — Wow. On all counts. Are you sure you weren’t in an inner-city hospital in Chicago or L.A.?

    Having lived in the area dominated by the Mayo Clinic, I’m familiar with those “incidents that never happened” to maintain the reputation of the establishment. I once listened to a long drama on a police scanner in which a doctor was kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to a place south of town, where the perp was caught and the doctor released unharmed. I couldn’t wait for the details in the paper the next day. But of course there was not a mention. Nor was there ever any news of the late-shift nurses sexually attacked in parking lots. So it goes when your town lives or dies on its ability to attract well-heeled patients from around the world.

    But I’ve never been as close to one of those “non-incidents” as you were. Yikes. And all the while you’re lying there near death!

    At least they didn’t harvest your organs. I guess that’s something.

  9. Claire
    Claire February 8, 2019 6:11 am

    E. Garrett Perry — Very impressive, and I’m glad it was no more than a scare.

    Who pays for all that “BMW” medical care, there in the Czech Republic?

  10. E. Garrett Perry
    E. Garrett Perry February 8, 2019 11:07 am

    Health insurance over here is compulsory and partly subsidised at the insurer’s end by the Gov’t. We pay a little under $100/month equivalent for full coverage at all public hospitals and doctors, along with most private clinics- bar the ones that only accept huge amounts of cash from American, Canadian, and British medical tourists (totally A Thing btw, especially for destistry). The thing is that all the insurance is private, but the Gov’t subsidises a certain percentage of the insurance company’s overhead, mostly related to perscriptions and surgeries. That leaves the insurers free to compete on price, especially on preventative care. It’s kinda like what Romneycare and Obamacare were -sold- as, but run in a very small country/ecosystem by people who know how to make huge byzantine bureaucracies actually function. They work slowly, but they work properly. Czech Vogons also aren’t nearly so awful as in the US, mostly because of their excellent relationship with the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.

    There are definitely problems, beginning of course in the moral realm in regards to tax support and compulsority. Our taxes, however, are 12.5% on income if you’re self-employed, and 15% if you work for someone else. We also carry additional private insurance just in case, with a payout cap of €60,000 (German company, gofig). I was nervous about that and asked our rep if we could get more coverage, because a single bike accident and overnight stay in the US could easily exceed that. She laughed uproariously, and then informed me that the only way I would need anything close to that would be if someone cut my head off. The amount of money which the medical bureaucracy in the US chews up is absolutely obscene, driven partly by the size of the ecosystem, partly by good old fashioned corporate socialism, and party by the incredible costs of malpractice insurance. Czech doctors don’t have malpractice insurance because Malpractice which results in injury is not a Tort here; it’s a Felony, with serious jail time and HUGE fines/restitution paid to the victim and/or caretakers/family.

    Now there are systemic problems of course, especially oncology in areas which the Communists used for waste disposal (Let’s dump Thalidomide in the rivers!) or Uranium mining. Colon cancer rates here are the highest in Europe, and cirrhosis/liver disease is pretty up there too- unsurprising considering the diet. For non-essential invasive procedures, especially public dental care, the wait times are just plain silly at times- by buddy Z. waited three months to get a chipped tooth repaired- hence why lots of people, my family included, keep separate supplemental insurance which covers private clinics for non-essential care like chipped teeth, consulting a dietician or physiotherapist, or cosmetic surgery. However, for speed and accesibility of essential procedures, the CR leads all of Central Europe, the entire former Warsaw Pact, Italy, Ireland, Spain, and the UK. Just from personal observation, the quality and speed of care are at least on par with the US doctors and hospitals I’ve used, and private clinics are simply in a different ballpark entirely. Older doctors who were trained in the Bad Old Days tend to be exactly the dogmatic, pigheaded sexist jerks one would expect, but between ageing out and being creatively boycotted with best-quality Švejkovina, they’re quickly being replaced.

    I’m not saying this system would work in the US, it wouldn’t. The US is simply too damned large for this system- probably any system- to function properly at all, let alone function -efficiently-. A system like this would implode under its own weight back in the US, worse and faster than Obamacare’s slow-motion cratering. For the Czechs (and Anglo medical tourists), however, it works as well as anything else and better than most.

  11. Claire
    Claire February 8, 2019 11:25 am

    Thanks for that, E. Garrett Perry. Interesting system. “Impure,” of course, but perhaps saner than our present mess.

    I agree with your observations in that final paragraph.

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