Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hunter Thompson

I  am the Hunter Thompson of illness, continuing to function under all sorts of adverse mental conditions, a skill learned the Hunter way in my youth that has served me well through the years.  I kept teaching to the bitter end of 

kidney failure.  I taught my class this morning before my dialysis.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

dire wolf

six hundred pounds of sin, the wolf knocked at my door last friday.  kidney failure is almost as bad as liver.   there was a horrible taste, a horrible smell, nausea, confusion.  I couldn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep.  

but there is dialysis, an alternative and it suddenly seemed wonderful

monday I had a permacath line put in my chest and I went home to wait for my first dialysis treatment on tuesday.  one am i woke bleeding, and meg took me to the ER where i bled slowly all night (bad care).  had my first treatment tuesday morning and felt enormous relief.  back to the hospital they plugged theleak.  now, two treatments later i am feeling much better.  

so now it is 3 hours a day, 5 days a week hooked up to a machine.  meg and I are learning to run the
machine ourselves so we can do it from home.  it is very much like running a physics experiment.
just have to get used to the fact that that red stuff flowing in and out is my blood.  

but it is not time take away.  it is giving.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

calculus of variations

i am about to start the topic of variational calculus in classical mechanics.   The idea is that you describe motion as a trajectory (path) in time, and you imagine other paths than the one actually followed.   we call this imagined path the varied path “del-x”.   A key idea is the difference between this type of variation and the derivative from ordinary calculus,  usually called dx:   The derivative compares position at different times, where-as the del-x compares positions at the same time. 

What is he difference between dreaming and hallucinating?  Dreams occur in an imagined time-- events can happen as fast or slow as necessary.  in this sense
they are derivative, the time in which they occur is as imagined as the dream itself.   Things can be imagined to happen fast or slow.  Hallucinations, however occur in real time.  They are analogous to the path variations.  As I experienced them, they could not be sped up or slowed down;  they had to be lived through.    In the course of many long hours, they became more elaborate and ritualized.   For example, with my bed sheet as keyboard and mouse I was typing long paragraphs on the wall and ceiling.   I was seeing all the objects in my room as geometric shapes,  then projecting them onto the walls in two-dimensions and trying to draw lines through all the shapes using my mouse.   this would become more difficult as people would bring supplies into my room and leave them.  the holes in my ceiling tiles needed to be organized into patterns.  yes, pattern recognition needed to be done everywhere.  The hair on the head of the nurse become an elaborate pattern recognition problem, deconstructed into various geometric shapes.  mountains and stars appeared in the window that needed to be catalogued.  Over my shoulder, a man was standing on a platform against the wall praying.  And then one night I was talking in great detail about Egyptian astronomy with a doctor from “the institute”  who was able to dazzle me by spinning his arms.   (There was the clock on the wall above the bathroom door).   But the point is it went on and on, in real time.  Which was two weeks, day and night.   Towards the end, reality started to mix in but is was always hard to tell what was real and what wasn’t.  Meg was there, and our friend Susan.   But so was the little girl in the corner that Meg couldn’t see and the family of young Jewish immigrants that came and camped in my room after Meg left at night.  Please leave and let me get some rest!  

But all this in real-time.  calculus of variations.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It’s all in your head, Carl

Of Carl Jung’s red book, this site ( quotes Jung:

In 1944 Jung suffered a nearly fatal pulmonary embolism and heart attack.  For three weeks he floated between life and death.  During these weeks he had several transformative visions: 
“It is impossible to convey the beauty and intensity of emotion during those visions. They were the most tremendous things I have ever experienced. I would never have imagined that any such experience was possible. It was not a product of imagination. The visions and experiences were utterly real; there was nothing subjective about them; they all had a quality of absolute objectivity.”

Sorry Carl, it’s all in your head.  Hallucinations are a door into your unconscious mind, but anything “collective” comes from what one has learned in life.  There is nothing universal or transformative that is being revealed.   

To all those who try to make more of it than that (prophetic, archetypes, ... ) I suggest doing some mind altering drugs and getting back to me.   That would give you a hint.   What I experienced was way beyond what any mere drug could do.   Active, seeing and hearing hallucinations.  The most intense completely disconnected with reality,  and some lesser that incorporated some aspects 
of reality.

Jerry Intervenes

waking up deaf in my left ear was a real shock.  I visited this ENT doc who told be I would never hear again in my left ear.  

'You won'd like it, but I will tell you how I know.  I dissected cadavers and found that the nerves (in patients who had become deaf from intubation) had been killed by a latent virus."

 What was the number he had dissected?   Was there only one class of such patients?  

 How about seeing if you can measure nerve currents?  I asked. 

 No one at Mayo has heard about the technique developed 20 years ago at LANL of measuring micro-Tesla fields with a SQID helmet and imaging brain currents.  

Imagine my relief when later that very same day I started to pick up a little bit of Jerry in the left ear.  Very faint and off key at first, but it grew louder and
better every day.  I was as if Jerry had personally intervened on my behalf!


dear friends.
on Jan 1 I started triple drug therapy for hepC--  latest antiviral (telaprevir), ribavirin and  and interferon.  They had treated
some 50 liver transplant patients this way at Mayo.  Interferon and hep C both interact in complicated ways with the immune system.

On around the evening of Jan 25 I developed a shaking chill fever. Meg called an ambulance and toke me to UNM hospital where I was put in
the medical ICU.  Some three days later, Meg was unhappy with my care at UNM.  Just as I was slipping into a coma, she got me
on a med-vac flight to Jacksonville, at the last possible moment that I could still be transported.

At Mayo, Jacksonville a team of some 6 doctors and nurses worked on me for 3 hours to stabilize me and then struggled to keep
my blood pressure up over the next 2 weeks.

I hallucinated throughout this period, and for at least a week on and off after I came out of the coma.

I awoke from the coma incredibly debilitated.   Just standing with help was virtually impossible.  My toes on
both feet were frost bitten (from the low blood pressure).   I was deaf in my left ear (seems to be resolving).

Since then, I have been fighting , fighting to come back. A little bit each day.  making steady progress on my recovery no

Everyone tells me how very very sick I was, and how close I came. 


Saturday, March 9, 2013

septic shock

“The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget!" "You will, though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it.”

The night of January 29th I got a shaking-chill fever. I had had these episodes a number of times since November, 2011 when I had liver transplant number four. However, this time I was on a triple-drug therapy for hep-C. One of the drugs, interferon, has complex effects on the immune system, both boosting response to the hep-C virus but suppressing other immune responses. Meg and I realized I needed to go immediately to the hospital. Rather than have her take me, I asked her to call an ambulance.

At UNM I was put in the ICU. Despite being in the place for the most seriously ill patients, the attending physician didn't appreciate the severity of my illness. My kidney's had shut down, my blood pressure was dangerously low, my breathing labored. In Meg's medical parlance, I was circling the drain. She was able to get Mayo, Jacksonville to take me as a transfer. By the time the arrangements were made, I was on a ventilator set to Max and "max pressors" to keep my blood pressure up. Mayo warned Meg that it was dangerous to transport me, that I could very well die in transit. She realized that unless I got to Mayo there was no hope. At Mayo a team of six doctors and nurses worked on me continuously for three hours. It took the work of a brillant doctor at Mayo thirty-sic hours to stabilize me.

All this I was to learn much later. The purpose of this memoir is to record what I experienced. After entering UNM, I remember Meg telling me that they wanted to put me on a ventilator. I had expressed my fear of dying this way as a "fate worse than death" many times in the past. She told me to do it for David (our youngest child, then 14). After this I descended into coma/delirium. Why record these bizarre hallucinations? If you are reading this, I must confess it is entirely as personal psychic therapy. I know of no other way to get them out of my head than to write them down. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

on being dead

In my delirium,  I saw a and heard the "test pattern" that they used to play at the end of the television broadcast day... nothing more will ever happen. I am dead.
I didn't actually see this picture.  What I actually saw was a very bright circle with a small black dot  at the center.  And I heard the buzz.   Its interpretation as the end of broadcasting was immediate.

The statement "I am dead" is self-contradictory, since it uses the verb "to be" which obviously you are not if you are dead.   This is an example of the difficulty in conceiving one's own death.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

world of pain

wed evening had three screws put in my hip to hold fractured bone in place.  screws in bone-- feels as bad as it sounds.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


MRI last thursday revealed a fractured hip.  Maybe there was some gout inflammation as well, but extreme pain could have just been the fracture.  At any rate, they wanted to put in a pin to stabilize the joint last friday, but instead I kept my travel plans and went to NYC against Drs orders.   Now back in Abq I am going to see an orthopedist this morning.   Meg says the pin insertion is a short operation that likely requires a hospital overnight.  I will have it done at Presbyterian Hospital which has slightly better accommodations than UNM.