9/25/08

Of Lumps and Monkeys.

It was an interesting couple of weeks, and I'm glad to say I can share some good news with you. It appears that I'm going to be around for a while longer, which is very good news for me, if not for my Arch Nemesi. What can you do -- you can't please everybody all of the time.

I had a bit of a health scare last week. This resulted in me learning way too much about the things in your throat and what can go wrong with them. You would not believe all of the nasty possibilities. Here's some unsolicited advice for you - never search Google for these terms: throat, bone, bump, lump, larynx, esophagus, Adam's apple, lymph nodes. If you do, you will be utterly convinced you are going to die within 6 months, and then you will freak out a little bit and rent the movie "The Bucket List" before you realize you don't have the money to actually do any of that stuff because you aren't Morgan Freeman or Jack Nicholson.

Long story short, I ended up in my GP's office getting my neck felt up. Being the ever-cautious fellow that he is, he sent me for a CAT-Scan of my head and neck, and set me up with an ENT specialist, which did nothing to allay my fears. Since the appointment was the day after the scan, they gave me a CD of the scan results to bring with me, which meant I had approximately 14 hours to become an expert at reading CAT scans, which is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.

Even though I was easily able to locate the area in question, and learn a lot about bone density, contrast dyes and all 257 slices of my own head, I lacked other potentially useful things such as a medical degree and any clue as to what the fuck I was looking for. I saw some lumps and bumps of bone that I couldn't interpret, then I went to bed and slept like a stone, by which I mean a stone that happened to be sleeping in a clothes dryer for 8 hours.

The next morning, I sat in a waiting room with my wife, listening to people talking through holes in their throats that were far south of where their mouths were, which also did nothing to calm our respective nerves.

The doctor was great -- he showed me the CAT-Scan and how to interpret what was there, and then said the magic words: It's nothing to worry about. I think we both wanted to kiss him. I don't know about my wife, but I was totally going to use tongue. Basically it came down to me having a slightly irregular hyoid bone, which is something that, until two weeks ago, I never knew resided in my neck. After doing the research however, I discovered that it's the only bone in your body that isn't connected to any other bone, and it helps provide structure to your breathing tube and anchors your tongue. Go figure.

We have a dear friend who is currently fighting breast cancer, and I can't even imagine how hard it is to face down something like that every morning. I only had to think about it for a week or so, and the experience was eye-opening enough for me to see how truly brave she and others like her are. (If you pray to a god, or even if you don't, please send her some positive vibes.)

The down side of this whole thing was being scared out of my mind for a week. The upside was a slap to the side of the head that reminded me of what's really important. I suddenly had a fresh, new appreciation of my life and everything and everyone in it. Call me crazy, but I'm going to try to hang on to that feeling for as long as I can.

There was another upside of course, and that was I got to see some pretty wild pictures of what my head would look like if you brought it to the local deli and sliced it up with a meat saw. Let me tell you, there are parts of my skull that would keep Marilyn Manson awake at night. If I ever start a Death Metal band, I'm going to use this particular slice and call my band HYOID.

Here's our debut album cover:



In other news, I finally have a new roof on my house, courtesy of four drunk monkeys with nail guns. OK, they weren't really drunk monkeys, but that visual is funnier than if I just said "guys." Seriously, just once in my life, I would like to have contractors at the house that I didn't want to immediately kill and bury in the backyard. If I ever get laid off from my job, I think I'm going to become a general contractor. I will differentiate myself from the others in this business by (a) doing what I say I'm going to do, (b) doing it when I say I'm going to do it, (c) doing it for the price I initially agreed to, and (d) severely limiting customer exposure to my ass-crack. I am pretty sure I will retire a wealthy man.

I think my main problem with contractors is that I know how things are supposed to be done, even though I've never done them. Unfortunately for me, I know the difference between shoddy workmanship and a good, solid mastery of a skill-set. Also unfortunately for me, I am not always able to pay top-dollar for good, solid mastery of a skill set. Perhaps I have an inflated sense of my own abilities, but I am pretty sure that, given enough time, I could have done a much better job than they did, even considering the fact that it would have been my first time.

Luckily, I was able to work from home for a few days so I could keep an eye on their progress and say things like "Hey, you're going to have to rip off the first 3 feet of shingles and redo them because you forgot to peel the backing off the ice-and-water shield." Or: "Did you happen to notice that the line of shingles that form the transition between the front porch and the main house roof looks like it was nailed down by a drunk monkey?"

So they ripped that out and did it over, too. Sigh. Thousands of dollars later, I have very little confidence this roof isn't going to leak come spring, but I guess we'll see. At least they're gone now and temporarily out of my life. He signed a 5-year warranty against leaks, which I realize means almost nothing, especially coming from a contractor.

On the plus side, I know where he lives and I have plenty of room left in my back yard. Anyone want to help me dig? You can even toss in a contractor or two of your own if you need to free up some space in your freezer. Seriously, I don't mind.

Feed my self-esteem at humor-blogs.com.

Update! Warranty claim number one: It's been raining all day, and I now have water dripping from my soffit onto my porch. I have a feeling this isn't going to end well.

43 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:54 PM

    I have two lawyers and a cable guy....can I still help dig?
    *Rusty*

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  2. Glad you're ok! Here's too good health.

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  3. We went through three seperate contractors to get our kitchen "done". It's still not complete, but at least we have running water again.

    Glad you're ok. Ditto on the good health wishes.

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  4. Glad you're "back" and are doing well these days. I'm sure many of your readers were wondering if all was well the last couple weeks.

    In any event, welcome back! And enjoy your weekend.

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  5. That is one AWESOME album cover. You should totally print it out and use it for the CD of your CT scan.

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  6. I'm glad everything is OK ~ and I'm sending good thoughts for your friend ~

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  7. I have a handy man I can toss in!!

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  8. Glad you are back, even happier that you are going to live!

    Don't go having a heart attack or anything while you are digging.

    Your humor was missed.

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  9. I'll help dig if I can throw my boss in!

    Glad you are doing ok. I had a similar scare in my soft palate about six months ago.

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  10. Staci M.12:22 AM

    Glad you are OK (physical health wise) :)
    Praying for your friend.
    I've got a good shovel and some people in mind...

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  11. I had a scare last year- new dentist told me I had "tumors" on the bottom of my tongue and sent me for further evaluation- two days later. I was convinced I was going to die, thanks to Dr. Google and the dentist. Turned out that I simply have a "unique" tongue. This all happened right before I turned 40 and it made me appreciate being alive and not care about my age.

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  12. Michael5:57 AM

    Your ignorance about the location of the hyoid bone shows that you are not adequately availing yourself of the many crime procedurals available on network and cable TV. A broken hyoid is indicative of strangulation.

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  13. I had a 274-slice MRI done of my brain last November. My neurologist found a "spot" in my brain, has changed his mind twice since then as to what it is.

    His exact words, I believe, were "We don't think it's a tumor."

    Needless to say, I'm right there with ya.

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  14. Glad everything worked out okay with your throat thing. Scary!

    And OMG, our entire house was BUILT by drunken monkeys. Drunken monkeys with brain damage. On meth.

    The first year we lived here, our power kept going out. Long story short, the main line they put in to the house was completely the wrong size. (Or something; I don't speak Electrician.)

    Earlier this month, in the course of replacing some flooring upstairs, we learned that a large number of air/heating ducts in our house were either not connected properly to the vents, or not connected AT ALL. As a result, we've been (a) cooling/heating our CRAWL SPACE instead of our rooms, and (b) growing a series of lovely mold colonies in the vents.

    So yeah. I think you're going to need a bigger back yard. And a backhoe.

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  15. I've always suspected you were slightly irregular.

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  16. I had something similar last year, but the doc decided to be funny, and told me that he had bad news...

    They found something out..

    I was going to be just fine.

    I really could have killed him in that office, and not lost any sleep over it.

    You get trained monkeys? I want your contractors. Here they just use some version of an elephant with a claw hammer.

    Grats on the bill of health, and keep the humor coming!

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  17. I'm glad that you learned about the hyoid bone. It's a pretty neat-o one, as far as boring bones go.

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  18. Want to see the MRI on my back? We did it 9/11/2008.....Twilight Zone time. There are all sorts of terms on it. Herniation, bulges, nerve pressure, theact sack intrusion, and my favorite, Dessicated. Means suck dry by some vampire spider that got into my lower back. Neurosurgeon said "you have not had a neuronic event" My first Physical Therapy, well first in 15 years, was yesterday. They did electro shock on me for 10 MINUTES....I think they enjoyed it.

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  19. Christina9:24 AM

    I'm so glad you're in good health! It definitely puts things into perspective. P&PT are going out to your friend and her family.

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  20. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Wow, what a new concept. A homeowner that knows how things are "Supposed" to be done yet hasn't ever done it. Maybe watching a little too much Hometime. Yet you seem willing to not hire a professional with the skills, because you can't afford to. Don't you see that by hiring someone cheaper, with no insurance I'm sure, you are perpetuating the cycle of fly by night contractors who give those of us in the business for years a bad reputation. Thanks for your help

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  21. Congrats on not croaking. The internet would be a sad, sad place without you. Also, I would totally buy a copy of Hyoid: slice of my face. I've been a fan since their single "Metaltastasize" came out.

    I know the feeling though: I had a pre-cancerous lesion removed from my face this year. I'm TWENTY NINE for christ sakes!

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  22. I can see where teams of cut-rate drunk monkeys wandering around would make it hard for the pros who actually do work.

    But the drunk monkey teams means such good blogfodder!

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  23. wow, Anon #2, peace out already

    JV, stay healthy.... oh, and here...

    http://www.skulladay.blogspot.com/

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  24. Add another one of us with a similar experience, mine was prostate. So glad you're fine. White-lighting you and your friend.

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  25. kristina12:33 PM

    Wow. Glad to hear you are alright. My thoughts are with your friend. This morning my significant other and his other family members are at the hospital (2,800 miles away from here), turning off the life support for his brother who has cancer riddled throughout his body. Sometimes life sucks...

    On another note, you sound like you need Mike Holmes to come to your rescue with the house.

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  26. Anon 2, don't be a d-bag. First, this is a humor blog. I exaggerate for effect. Second, I didn't hire illegals to shingle my roof. Plus you don't know me, nor the type of work I'm capable of. For the record, I do quite a bit of my own work, and even manage to approach professional levels in much of it. I build windsor chairs and furniture as a hobby, so I'm not entirely without skill. When I say I know how something should be done, that means that given enough free time, I could do it, period. The fact that I've never done a large roofing project doesn't mean I've learned all I know about good roofing from television.

    As to your other point, I got 4 quotes, and I knew the cost of materials. I got copies of insurance policies, I called the insurance companies to verify, I got references and checked out some of their other work; I believed a recommendation from a family member. There's not much else I could do. I still picked the wrong contractor, or maybe had I spent 12 grand instead of six I would have gotten the same job and been even more unhappy with it. So to put it as snidely as you did, you're welcome for the help. And also welcome to not read my blog anymore if you don't want to. But if you're just having a bad day, that's ok too. No hard feelings.

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  27. My mom had an Xray done because of a neck ache and her doctor said he found a spot on her lung, said it might be cancer. On second opinion they decided she had moved while the Xray was being done. Because she was still alive and all, since they hadn't killed her yet.

    Nothing like a fake death scare. Here's hoping you are all good from here on out.

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  28. If you add "promise not to use your bathroom for mid-afternoon number two, with the door open, around the time you might arrive home from work, plus also your bathroom faces the door you will walk through when you arrive" to that list of skills, I will hire you ANY day.

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  29. Great news that you're just lumpy, and not dying.

    I'm hoping that wikipedia will start offering degrees based on what you read there...

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  30. The contractor in my freezer isn't my problem - it's the tax assessor who's taking up all of the room with his stupid fat ass.

    At any rate - count me in on digging the hole.

    As for your health - WHEW!!! That must be a huge relief. I voted for you at HB because there just ain't no sunshine when you're not the top of the heap. Seriously. I don't like it.

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  31. Bex, I get so many people telling me they can't vote...I sorta gave up over there I guess.

    Rusty, toss'em in!

    JML, thanks.

    SWC - three? Man...I can't imagine.

    muskrat, thanks man.

    melodie, that's a fantastic (and funny) idea.

    bobbie, thanks. I appreciate it.

    Kenju, they don't react badly with tax assessors do they?

    Persnick, I'm in great shape otherwise.

    LLL, he has to be dead first. No screaming bosses. That's just unnecessary.

    Staci, thanks.

    Ag, did you bite his finger next time? "oopth, thorry."

    Michael, I read that! And you are right, I don't watch those kinds of shows.

    BAG, holy crap. Did you get a straight answer yet?

    Badger the same thing happened in our old house! That soft ducting stuff just falls apart after a while.

    Sandi, you're not wrong.

    Jor, I didn't say trained.

    Ray, holy crap. just...holy crap.

    Thanks Christina, It's much appreciated.

    Glen, stay out of the sun dude.

    Liz, you're right. These guys weren't quite that bad.

    Carly, thanks for that.

    Bill, at least my throat only involved fingers on the outside!

    Amanda, Done.

    hyp, thanks man.

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  32. No, no straight answer yet. They're still "reviewing" my scans and other information gathered from recent tests. It's not exactly an easy thing to live with, but I'm managing.

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  33. Dear Sweet Johnny:

    That's because they can't ONLY vote for YOU. Now don't get me wrong, you are da bomb and are most deserving of all they try to give you.

    So I'll tell you what - as a small sacrifice to you, I'll be their "someone else". As in "Well, I have to vote for someone else a couple of times before I can vote for the 15 minute lunch, so I may as well vote for Bex." Something like that.

    I'd do it for you, Johnny. (That's how I roll, yo.)

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  34. Yeah never look up health problems on the Internet. I learned that after looking up something about some pain in my leg and ended up apparently needing it amputated.

    I am so glad you are okay. :)

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  35. Glad to hear you're healthy...as far as contractors are concerned, I know a whole bunch that should never be allowed to even swing a hammer. Can't tell you how many times we've finished our job (HVAC)come back a couple of weeks later and find our duct crushed and utterly destroyed by plumbers and electricians. Hack and slash.

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  36. Dear Bex:

    That's crap. Why should people be forced to vote for someone else? The model is flawed. When I get an ice cream they don't make me get one strawberry every other time I go even though I like chocolate.

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  37. I'm pretty sure Shakespeare's rough draft said "First let's kill all the contractors". Very glad you're okay.

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  38. I don't know what a soffit is, but I'm guess it's one of those things that you don't want to see dripping.

    I envy you the rain, though, I really do. In order for us to get any rain, there has to be billions in hurricaine damage somewhere nearby. Aaannnd, we're back to almost 90 degree days. I am going to move somewhere with a fall, I swear it. Maybe next summer, if my current job is any indication.

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  39. Johnny - like everyone else I've been wondering where you were! So glad you're back (and healthy, too)!

    (Am I the only one who has an awesome contractor? Workers showed up every day, took pride in their work, did a terrific job, no delays, priced as quoted. LOVE THEM.)

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  40. One good thing about renting (read: nearly abject poverty) is that I never have to pay for things like leaky roofage, I just call the guy who owns the house. I think we're better off that way, since the area of Himself's brain that should be concerned with 'inspect-identify-fix-replace-household-y-sparkpluggy-soffity-things' is all full of books and poetry and words. And I'm only useful if the house-fixing involves hitting a hydrant and putting the wet stuff on the red stuff.

    I'm glad you are okay; been through the scans and scares and vague doctor-concern language myself. Its no fun and tends to buzz in your brain like a poorly-received radio station through all waking hours.

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  41. at least they didn't stick anything your butt.

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  42. Glad to hear you're ok.

    For the blog's sake of course. I could give a rat's ass about you...

    Perfect analogy on the ice cream by the way.

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  43. Thank god!!!! You are fine..
    Take care.

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