Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tumultuous Times... (And a Defective Antibiotic That Costs $221) As mentioned in this previous journal entry, I was going to talk about a pretty bad skin disorder that I developed on my neck, face and upper body earlier last month. I contracted this disorder on the night of February 10-11...when a small mosquito flew into my room (of all places in a 2-story house that I lived in) and bit me on my upper left arm. Next thing you know, on the following day, I woke up with four purple bumps (pustules? I dunno) around my neck, another pustule on the lower-left part of my lip, two bumps on my chin, two other bumps on my left cheek, plus another one that formed on my nose, and a pustule (which would get really bad over the coming weeks) that grew right in the middle of my left eyebrow. I also have three pustules on my upper body; one on my chest and two on my left side. At first, I thought these were the result of dust mites or bed bugs that struck me in the middle of the night at the same time the mosquito did, or at least me breaking out in hives, but little did I know...this was something much different.

(I also had a few cysts that formed underneath the skin of my right arm. Woopty-friggin-doo.)

Some of you are probably asking, "How the heck can you develop such skin conditions on your face when you were merely bitten by a mosquito?" To that question I answer, "I don’t friggin’ know." (Though I'm wondering what kind of damage could be done to a person in my condition who was bitten by a malaria-bearing mosquito. Don't feel like Googling about it 'cause I'm sure there's no info on such a scenario.) Most of my family members say it's because my autoimmune system is out of whack...which isn't farfetched considering I was coughing pretty badly the week before this disorder happened. I was coughing so badly that I thought I had come down with a bout of bronchitis—and went to the doctor to get treated for it. Speaking of doctors, I think I'll list each of the times, in chronological order, I went to a clinic and regular medical offices to speak to these highly-paid, overly-cautious and antibiotic-happy individuals...


First Doctor's Visit (February 7, 2012):

I went to an Urgent Care clinic near my house to seek treatment for my coughing after the doctor I usually go to (who's been the family doctor for many, many years) was out on a two-week vacation. The doctor I spoke to at the clinic prescribed me the antibiotic Azithromycin...which seemed like it helped only on the first day I took it but was largely ineffective in stopping my coughing during the four other days I had to take the medication. However, the doctor gave me a good random piece of advice before I left the clinic: Don't assume you have a fever till you check your own temperature. Don't have a thermometer at home? Buy one. You may think I stated the obvious, but you don't realize how clueless some people are about this.


Second Doctor's Visit (February 13, 2012):

I went to Urgent Care again 'cause not only was my coughing not going away (plus I had trouble breathing), but I developed a stye on the upper eyelid of my left eye. The doctor prescribed me a ProAir HFA inhaler for my coughing/breathing difficulties, and recommended that I treat my stye with warm compresses. (Gee— I already knew this from researching stye treatments online earlier in the day, Doc.) In terms of the bumps on my face and body, he decided to take a sample from the pustule that was on my chest. He first used what looked like a long toothpick to poke at the pustule, and then he used his own fingers to squeeze the pustule so that pus would come out of the bump and he would place the pus (using a long cotton swab) inside a container that would be sent to a lab for testing. The results would come back in 3 days. In terms of treating my bumps, he prescribed Doxycycline...which is used to handle a wide variety of bacterial infections, including those that cause acne. I WISH the crap on my neck and face was acne...but it wasn't.


Third Doctor's Visit (February 17, 2012):

I went back to Urgent Care to find out the lab results for the pustule the doctor squeezed-dried 4 days before (the results came in on February 17). According to the report, what I had was cystic acne and a case of sebaceous cysts. This would apparently turn out to be false...according to the first dermatologist that I would go to a couple of days from now. The doctor also told me to keep taking the Doxycycline since it would be useful for the non-cystic acne/sebaceous cysts on my face, after I told him earlier that this antibiotic didn't seem to be working. He was wrong.

(On an appreciative note, at least the doctor gave me a contact list of all the dermatologists in my area before I went home.)


Fourth Doctor's Visit (February 21, 2012):

The family doctor who was out on vacation for 2 weeks was finally back in his office, so I paid him a visit. Not to ask him what the stuff on my face was (like the doctors before him, he didn't know), but to get a referral to see a dermatologist. He also prescribed an antibiotic for my eye stye...too bad it was complete crap. I forgot what the name of this antibiotic was (name starts with a 'C'), but based on what I read on the Internet (yes, I'm well aware of the cardinal rule in not believing everything I read on the Web), this antibiotic was usually prescribed in the form of eye drops. My medication was in the form of tablets. This antibiotic must be the best medicine ever developed if it's sophisticated enough for its contents to travel from my digestive tract all the way to a tiny bump that was lingering on the upper lid of my left eye. Of course this antibiotic wasn't. Just another waste of money. (Sorry Dad.)


First Dermatologist's Visit (February 22, 2012):

Out of all the medical visits I've made so far, this was the most discouraging one. Immediately after he walks into my room, the dermatologist already has a bewildered look on his face. He vehemently disagreed with the Urgent Care lab results about my bumps being cystic acne or sebaceous cysts. And to show that he was obviously not going to be the doctor who helps me treat this disorder, he kept repeating, "You don't have insurance. You don't have insurance." My Dad was on hand to tell the dermatologist that he and my Mom were the ones paying my medical expenses—even if it was in cash—during this ordeal (God bless 'em), but it would fall on deaf ears the next time I saw this dermatologist. He did, however, do something productive by taking a biopsy of my bumps. (Originally, it was going to take 3-5 business days before the lab results came back...but the lab wanted to conduct more testing on the biopsy samples, adding 2 to 5 more days to the wait.) He removed a bump from my left cheek and the one from my nose. Have you ever had a needle jammed into the side of your schnoz before? It really hurts.

(The dermatologist prescribed Mupirocin ointment for my bumps. It was ineffective.)


Second Dermatologist's Visit (March 9, 2012):

Did I say that the last dermatologist visit was the most discouraging doctor's appointment I've ever had? Nope— It was this one. I don't know whether to blame my Dad who answered the phone or the receptionist who called and provided faulty info, but I was in for a let-down during the March 9 meeting. 3 days before that day's appointment, the receptionist at the dermatologist's office called my house and said the lab results were in, and that everything appeared negative. Which was good news. And apparently, according to the receptionist as told by my Dad, the dermatologist wanted me to come in and discuss treatment options. Which was terrific news. Unfortunately, this would not be the once he entered the room after I arrived for the appointment, the dermatologist had that bewildered look on his face again and said he still didn't know what my disorder was. So instead of getting treatment, I was told that more testing needed to be done. And to make the situation more bleak, he didn't want to incise more bumps from my face for fear that they were gonna grow back. Greeeaat. And let's not forget the fact the dermatologist once again lamented that I didn't have medical insurance.

With one setback after another, I got pretty emotional at the fact I was still far from being treated. Did I do anything like get teary-eyed or even cry during this meeting? No comment. Let's just say... The dermatologist told the receptionist not to charge me for this appointment—and even referred me to a professor at the University of Southern California's (USC) dermatology department to seek answers on my predicament. The dermatologist said I might get a more inexpensive treatment at a private institution like USC's medical center than at the local offices I've been visiting so far. [Which turned out to be COMPLETE B.S. I think my Dad paid around $130 for the first appointment I had with this dermatologist. Seeking a consultation at USC alone would've cost between $240-480. And the professor I was referred to didn't even take so-called "out-patients" (or something like that)...which is what I apparently was.]

You can pretty much say that my trip to the dermatologist's office has been a debacle. What I want to know is, did the receptionist get her info wrong when she told my Dad on the phone that the dermatologist wanted to discuss treatment options? Or did my Dad hear the receptionist wrong or just flat-out lied to me to get my spirits up? Hmm.


Third Dermatologist’s Visit (March 14, 2012):

After checking out a list of dermatologists that I got from the Urgent Care appointment on February 16, my Dad and I drove to a hospital in Glendora to seek the help of a dermatologist there. Once we arrived, the meeting was pretty low-key...considering the fact I had absolutely no expectations as to what was going to happen, and my Dad showed the dermatologist (who specializes in laser and cosmetic surgery) the lab results that the previous dermatologist received. After staring at the paperwork for a while, the dermatologist left the room for a couple of minutes. He then came back with a handful of Duac Topical Gel ointments (which were free samples) to give me to use on my bumps. They were slightly effective...but mostly for the bumps on my neck. He also prescribed the antibiotic Clarithromycin (also known as Biaxin) for me to take—since apparently, the only thing I wasn't tested for during the previous doctor/dermatologist visits was mycobacteria. And Biaxin was gonna be the treatment that would wipe out the mycobacteria in my body (if I had any, which I obviously hope I didn't)...after I've taken this antibiotic for 30 straight days.

How many of you are wondering which antibiotic I mentioned in this journal entry costs the ridiculous amount of $221? If you guessed Biaxin, then you are CORRECT! Which is ironic...'cause not only does this medicine NOT work (several bumps on my face have actually gotten bigger since the March 14 appointment), but out of the four antibiotics I've taken since early February, this one causes the most side effects. I have a sick taste in my mouth (since the Biaxin can change the way you taste things), I have a completely dry throat in the morning, my right eye (it's the left one that has the stye) is starting to get irritated and watery during the day, and the cough (which I still have to this day) is aggravated by the dryness of my throat and the nasty taste inside my mouth. And I still got at least a week more before I finish my supply of this overpriced, overly-ineffective pharmaceutical product.


So to sum things up, my situation really freakin' sucks. I'm still far from even remotely learning what this disorder is. My next appointment with the most recent dermatologist is this Monday, April 2nd...though I might not necessarily blog about what happens during that meeting. (Look how friggin' long this entry already is!) I've been stuck in my house since early February (haven't worked since late January)—the only time I go out is when I see a doctor. As mentioned earlier in this Blog, the growth on my left eyebrow has gotten really the point where I'm unable to do a warm compress on my left eye, or even wear my eyeglasses. (The stye has worsened to the point that when I get watery-eyed, it's mucus that comes out of my left eye's tear ducts, not water...causing my eye to sting in the process. Which is really bullsh*t considering how often I want to break down each day for being in this predicament.)

It's just daunting and frightening to think what needs to be done for me to look normal again. I see no light at the end of the tunnel, I see no silver lining in the clouds. Sorry to get all emo on you now, but life can really be cruel to you. I sympathize with cancer patients, victims of tornado disasters and people living in war-torn countries. But staring at my reflection in the mirror daily, I can't help but have the urge to scream out in anger everyday.

Life didn't just throw a curveball at me, but it hit me in the crotch with a football and knocked me unconscious with a blow to the head by a hockey puck. Who would've thought 2012 could indeed be a doom-and-gloom year?

I'm sorry that I couldn't type a more inspirational entry.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Real-life U.S. Navy SEALs soar in the wild blue yonder in ACT OF VALOR.

Safe House, The Grey, This Means War (I possibly would've watched it), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Act of Valor, John Carter, Project X (five words for these last two films: movie-hop at the theater), 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games and most likely Wrath of the Titans, American Reunion, Lockout and Titanic 3D...

These are all movies that I've missed and will likely miss since contracting a very severe skin disorder on my face and upper body earlier last month. I’ll possibly write more about this in a future Blog entry.

Jennifer Lawrence takes part in a kill-or-be-killed competition in THE HUNGER GAMES.

Monday, March 26, 2012

James Cameron fits a casing onto an instrument package atop the Deepsea Challenger submersible, which took him to the bottom of the Mariana's Trench on March 26, 2012 (Guam Time).
Brook Rushton / Deepsea Challenge

Props to filmmaker James Cameron for successfully diving to the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, and to be more exact, the deepest point on Earth. At 7 PM, Pacific Daylight Time yesterday, Cameron's Deepsea Challenger submersible was lowered into the water 200 miles off the coast of Guam. After a 2 1/2-hour descent, Cameron safely landed on the surface of the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep, which has a depth ranging from 35,768 feet (10,902 meters) to 35,814 feet (10,916 meters). Cameron spent about 3 hours exploring the "lunar-like" landscape (Cameron's own words)...taking some soil samples (even though the sub's robotic arm wasn't operable because of a hydraulics leak) and filming the outside environment (in 3-D) before returning back to the surface in a 70-minute ascent. Not surprisingly, Cameron is planning to go back to this vast, undersea frontier in the future.

James Cameron is ecstatic after returning from his trip to the bottom of the Mariana's Trench on March 26, 2012.
Mark Thiessen / National Geographic

I think it's totally awesome that Cameron would go on such endeavors when he's not making blockbuster movies such as Avatar and Titanic (whose actual wreckage he visited in the Atlantic multiple times). It's not much of a presumption to say that his experience at Challenger Deep will no doubt influence Cameron's vision for Avatar 2 for when he begins pre-production on it a few years from now...especially considering the fact that Avatar 2 is supposedly set to take place underwater.

An artist's concept showing the Deepsea Challenger submersible being lowered into the water.

James Cameron was also involved with the MastCam (Mast Camera) instrument on NASA's Mars-bound Curiosity rover. Originally, the MastCam, which are the two main cameras aboard the rover, was suppose to have zoom-in lens that would've allowed Curiosity to shoot movie-quality videos and 3-D images of the Red Planet's landscape...videos and images that Cameron would've no doubt combined into an actual film to mesmerize the public with. Unfortunately, due to budget issues, NASA shelved the zoom-in lens...with Curiosity having static ones installed instead.

The Mast Camera instrument on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.
NASA / Charisse Nahser

One wonders what kind of amazing film James Cameron would've made if he had real 3-D pictures of Mars at his disposal. No doubt the imagery would be as amazing as anything we see in Avatar or from NASA's other deep space missions. I also seem to recall that he wanted to visit the International Space Station once...being a 'space tourist' whose achievement would've no doubt resonated in Hollywood and space aficionado groups alike. To get back to what has actually been achieved, we can be thankful that Cameron is sharing his journey (and future trips) into a 7-mile-deep watery abyss with the rest of us. As the saying goes, the ocean really is the last unexplored frontier.

An artist's concept of the Deepsea Challenger submersible at the bottom of the Mariana's Trench.
Acheron Project Pty. Ltd.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Photo of the Day #2... I love Burn Notice. That's such an awesome TV show.

Absolutely, Fiona. Absolutely.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Photo of the Day... This awesome image shows Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian BASE jumper, about to leap out of a custom-designed balloon capsule to skydive from an altitude of 71,581 feet on March 15 of this year. Baumgartner reached a top speed of 364.4 miles per hour, and continued to freefall for 3 minutes, 43 seconds before deploying his parachute and safely landing at a spot that was about 30 miles from his launch site in Roswell, New Mexico. This venture was in preparation for Baumgartner trying to conduct the highest freefall ever by skydiving at an altitude of 120,000 feet...which should take place this summer.

All I can say is, if "spacediving" (which is essentially what this is since Baumgartner has to wear an astronaut suit) was made available to the public, it would totally be more expensive than a skydiving trip above Mt. Everest (the total price of this trip is around $20,000, I believe)...and definitely (and obviously) pricier than a HALO Tandem jump (which can cost as much as $3,495). Unless I play the Mega Millions lottery and win $290 million (which is what the jackpot is currently at), I’ll just stick with saving money for HALO Tandem, thank you.

Austrian BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner is about to skydive from an altitude of 71,581 feet on March 15, 2012.
Jay Nemeth / Red Bull Content Pool

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dumbf**kery... Last week, one of my friends shared this photo on Facebook after it was posted by someone else on the social network site. Presumably, this bumper sticker is a play on words for "Don't Renege In 2012"—which would make this sticker pretty stupid in that what it's actually saying is don't back down in re-electing Obama this November. I didn't vote for Obama in 2008, but even I think that the racist douchebag who came up with this sticker deserves a swift kick in the ass...

...though I’d like to see some clever anti-Mormon slogans if Mitt Romney is elected President eight months from now. I kid, I kid.

Racist sticker.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quotes of the Day... These two images were recently posted by my friends on Facebook. Just thought I'd share them with ya.

Don't be disliked and this won't happen to you.

This is how people become nostalgic fools, like me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thank you, Derek Fisher, for all the contributions you've made during your many years playing with the Lakers. I'll never forget the '0.4' shot you made against the San Antonio Spurs back in the 2004 playoffs. Have fun with the Houston Rockets now.

Oh— And you can exhale now, Pau Gasol. Get back to the level of playing that won you three trips to the NBA Finals and two championship rings. That is all.

Derek Fisher scores the '0.4' shot of 2004.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Videos of the Day... If you're someone who's completely indifferent to Carl's Jr.'s long-lasting marketing campaign that objectifies women who wouldn't be caught dead eating junk food in real life, check out Kate Upton's Southwest Patty Melt commercial below. By the way, this is the Director's Cut, not the version that airs on TV. So if you're a feminist or someone under the age of 18, please close your browser 'cause hot T&A is shown...

Plus, if you're a fan of Adriana Lima (again, close your browser if you're not), Chuck Liddell and Mötley Crüe, check out this extended version of Kia's Super Bowl commercial. Why can't I have awesome dreams like the dude has in this clip? Oh well.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Go Beach! Props to Cal State Long Beach, my ol' alma mater, for defeating UC Santa Barbara in an NCAA college basketball game yesterday. The final score was 77-64, with the 49ers winning the championship of their Big West Conference tournament in Anaheim, California...allowing them to proceed to the next round of the March Madness tournament.

Next up for CSULB: Playing as the No. 12 seed (despite having a nice season record of 25-8) in the West Regional and squaring off with No. 5 seed New Mexico (27-6)—the Mountain West Conference champion—this Thursday in Portland, Oregon.

Go get 'em, 49ers!

Players of CSULB's men's basketball team celebrate after defeating UC Santa Barbara, 77-64, in the Big West Conference title game on March 10, 2012.
AP Photo / Alex Gallardo

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Goodyear Blimp flies over my old elementary school in early February of 2012.

Incoming blimp! Just thought I'd share these two camera phone pics I took of the Goodyear Blimp as it passed over my old elementary school about a month ago. I was sitting in my car, waiting to walk over to the school's church (I'm Catholic) to attend evening Mass (on a Saturday) when the blimp made a slow but noisy appearance above the parish. I know... Nothing spectacular about this. Especially considering that Angels Stadium (of Anaheim) and STAPLES Center (where the Lakers actually play basketball without acting like they have pickles stuck up their asses) aren't exactly close by. That is all.

The Goodyear Blimp flies over my old elementary school in early February of 2012.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Photo of the Day... This cool image of a Red Planet twister was taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on February 16 of this year. What a totally awesome picture...though I doubt someone living in Indiana or Kentucky right now would appreciate this snapshot as much.

It's amazing how beautiful Mother Nature can be when there's no human presence around to cause a cool whirlwind phenomenon like the one in this photo to become something deadly and tragic (though due to its weaker gravity and thinner atmosphere, Mars generates twisters that are a lot less potent than the ones here are Earth). Just sayin'.

An image of a Red Planet twister, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on February 16, 2012.
NASA / JPL - Caltech / Univ. of Arizona

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Promotional artwork for ASSASSIN'S CREED III.

Assassin's Creed III... Check out these cool promotional artwork and teaser trailer from Ubisoft's latest installment in the popular hitman video game franchise. Word has it that this character will be a Native American named Ratohnhake...who wreaks havoc on the British (the trailer below may obviously hide the fact that he's also confronting the Yanks as well) with his tomahawk and other assorted sharp-edged weapons during the American Revolution. Interesting historical backdrop there.

Assassin's Creed III should be out in stores by October 30 of this year.