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July 30, 2003


For the past 4+ months, I've been experiencing the agony of sinusitis. Coupled with my chronic reactive airway disease/asthma, I was pushing the limits of my tolerance for discomfort. Having finally reached the breaking point (and at the persistant urging of my wife), I made an appointment to see an otolaryngologist (aka Ear/Nose/Throat doctor) on July 16. After a brief endoscopic examination of my nasal passages, the doctor ordered a CT scan of my sinuses. To my surprise, the CT scan revealed a severely deviated nasal septum and (less surprisingly) a LOT of swollen membranes. The doctor recommended reconstructive surgery (septoplasty and turbinate reduction) to repair my septum and return my breathing to normal.

Yesterday, I had the surgery. Although it was the first time I had undergone surgery, I wasn't apprehensive at all, astonishingly. I guess I was so ready to have my sinus pressure relieved that it over-rode any possible anxiety. It was also the first time I had been put under general anaesthesia. The anaesthesia was the weirdest part for me — all I remember was a warm feeling traveling up my arm from the IV, followed by the administration of oxygen. Everything went black from there. When I awoke, it was two and a half hours later. Apparently, I had lost quite a bit of blood in post-op, and the nurses were a bit worried when I came to. Fortunately, the only immediate side-effect from the surgery was a bit of nausea (from swallowing blood) and some localized pain in my face. Administration of an anti-emetic took care of the nausea, and a little dose of morphine took care of the pain.

The morphine itself was amazing. I can see how people get hooked on opiates. Not only did the pain go away in a matter of minutes, but I was also in a state of euphoria for the remainder of the day. Today was a different story. I don't feel quite as good, my nasal membranes are swollen shut, and I'm on all sorts of medication for pain, swelling and infection. The good news is, I don't have splints or gauze shoved up my nose (my doctor used a new microsurgical technique which does not require them) and my nose isn't dripping blood like a stuck pig.

Supposedly, it will take up to four weeks for me to realize the results of the surgery. This is a relatively short time to wait, and if my breathing improves markedly, it will be well worth it. There's even the possibility of my asthma going away as a result of the procedure. Time will tell.

July 10, 2003

A Sad Day

We had to put one of our cats, Marcel, to sleep today. He had been suffering from renal failure for the past 2.5 years. We had been able to prolong his life via subcutaneous fluid injections, but the outcome could not be avoided. He reached a critical stage last weekend, and went on a downward spiral from there. By Wednesday evening, he was literally just skin and bones. His kidneys had completely shut down and he was slowly being poisoned to death. We knew it was time to let him go.

I was with him when the veterinarian administered the injection that ended his life. No matter how prepared for his death I thought I would be, it was extremely painful to watch him go. It was like watching a light being dimmed. I will never forget it.

As much as we both miss him, we are comforted by the fact that he lived a wonderful 12 years. And, we know he is in a better place now.

July 06, 2003

Star Wars Galaxies

I have a new addiction, and its name is Star Wars Galaxies (SWG). The highly anticipated MMOG from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) was released on June 26. I received my copy on June 27 and have spent the last week or so learning the mechanics of the game. I was accepted into the Beta test, but did not play enough to learn a great deal about the game. So, I'm essentially starting with a clean slate.

The game has an incredibly steep learning curve. It is completely skill-based, meaning there are no "levels" like those found in other MMOGs. Your character advances by using his or her skills, such as healing, making weapons, harvesting resources and so on. After you've chosen your character's race, you start off with a basic profession — scout, artisan, entertainer, medic, marksman or brawler — and make your way through a series of skill trees toward a master profession. You can ultimately give your character up to two master professions depending on your choice of goals (some professions like Bounty Hunter are more skill-intensive and do not allow for a secondary master profession). I started with the Scout template and plan to make my character a Droid Engineer, with a secondary profession as a Creature Handler.

In spite of the bumpy launch (the login servers were down all day on the 26th), SWG has had a surprisingly good launch. There have been a few bugs popping up, but these have been taken care of on a daily basis (SOE has been patching the servers daily). And, there is a significant amount of content in the game at launch. This is a departure from other MMOGs (AC2 in particular) which have launched with a mere shell of the game intact. In addition, SOE plans to offer a monthly storyline with ongoing events and quests to keep the player's interest. To date, only AC has successfully pulled this off. Hopefully SOE can do the same.

With all the things to do, I'm definitely enjoying myself in the game. It will be interesting to see how SWG evolves over the next few months and years. With the exceedingly saturated MMOG market right now, SOE has its work cut out for itself to distinguish the game from its competitors.