Red tide rising

During the NFL game last night between the Eagles and the Cowboys, the announcers talked about Tony Romo’s back injury and the procedure he follows before each game. That started me thinking about my own back pain and what I witnessed during my 20+ year career in x-ray. As an x-ray tech with a flexible schedule, I sometimes worked with in-patients, out-patients and in surgery. I x-rayed people suffering back pain before surgery, during surgery and after surgery. Even better, I was able to question post-operative patients about their results.

Most people were helped by surgery. However, some were not, and some of those people suffered terrible pain. Although I have constant, low-level pain at the L5-S1 level on my right side, I would never submit to the risk of surgery unless my pain was much more intense. Back pain is a constant fear among health care providers. When I suffered a strain, the pain usually departed after 2-4 weeks. I stressed my back shortly before retirement and I expected that the pain would depart after I retired. That was four years ago and it has not happened. A daily Tylenol offers some relief. However, I must be very careful how I move and what I do. I require a very soft and supportive chair. If I sit on a hard surface, I feel immediate pain which quickly ascends my spine in a red tide of pain and hammers at the base of my skull.

Some people are helped by the injection of an anti-inflammatory medication into their back in what is called a facet injection. On average, the patients I saw required an injection every six months. Tony Romo is receiving an injection on a weekly or more frequent basis. I would caution everyone to take good care of your back. Each of us receives only one body during our lifetime; no one can give us a new one. Much money is involved in professional sports and a quarterback usually is very well paid, but no amount of money can compensate for a lifetime of pain. Take care of yourself; modern medicine cannot solve all problems.


In case you haven’t noticed, FOX News has gone to 24/7 coverage a la CNN’s coverage of the missing Malaysian flight. Only FOX is using Jonathan Gruber’s comments to attack Obamacare (Affordable Care Act). What FOX and other media outlets are not mentioning is Gruber’s role in Romneycare which Obamacare copies. Beware one-horned oxen that only gore to the left.

EBOLA woes

The news media are stoking EBOLA fears. They start by saying EBOLA is very difficult to transmit. Then they list all the activities of the latest victim as though those activities might lead to the spread of the virus. Please. A person is much more likely to be mugged on a NYC subway than to contract EBOLA from a fellow passenger. Perhaps EBOLA will win in the end because the virus is smarter than humans.

Travel ban

President Obama has decided a travel ban to and from the EBOLA-striken areas of West Africa is not necessary.  I support  his decision because he has more information on the subject than I do. Many Republicans want a travel ban because they oppose any and all decisions the President makes. If he decided to impose a travel ban, they would criticize the terms or timing or both.

The Wild Shore by Kim Stanley Robinson is set in the near future when the rest of the world takes action to prevent further US aggression and arms sales. Secretly they smuggle 200 nuclear devices into the country and detonate them at the same time destroying America’s cities and manufacturing capabilities. This sets America back 1000 years and puts us in the Dark Ages while the rest of the world lives peacefully in the 21st century. A travel ban is imposed on the US, no one allowed in or out.

This is a good book to read to see what a travel ban means when the shoe is on the other foot. The Wild Shore is the first book in a trilogy in which the other books are more hopeful. Book two in the series is The Gold Coast and the series concludes with a vision of a golden future in Pacific Edge.

Kim Stanley Robinson is a writer of science fiction with a healthy dose of science. His Mars trilogy, Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars is set in a future where mankind is making a home for ourselves on a Mars gradually being terraformed (made earth like). His vision of America in the near future where climate change has produced stronger storms and a rising ocean level is contained in another trilogy, Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below and Sixty Days and Counting. One man’s vision of our near future that is challenging, but optimistic.