Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tangent: Imagining a positive event never happening makes us appreciate it more

"In Studies 1 and 2, college students wrote about the ways in which a positive event might never have happened and was surprising or how it became part of their life and was unsurprising. As predicted, people in the former condition reported more positive affective states. In Study 3, college student forecasters failed to anticipate this effect. In Study 4, Internet respondents and university staff members who wrote about how they might never have met their romantic partner were more satisfied with their relationship than were those who wrote about how they did meet their partner."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

You don't live in Haiti

The tragedy in Haiti hard to miss. The death toll will likely reach 200,000, with over 300,000 injured. Infrastructure is destroyed, the already weak economy is shattered. How can you complain when your water is still running and you aren't forced to live in a crude shanty-town? Thanks to The Ovarian Lottery, you can sleep without worrying about the roof collapsing on your head.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Roger Ebert cannot speak, eat, or drink

I mentioned that I can no longer eat or drink. A reader wrote: "That sounds so sad. Do you miss it?" Not so much really. Not anymore. Understand that I was never told that after surgery I might lose the ability to eat, drink and speak. Eating and drinking were not mentioned, and it was said that after surgery I might actually be able to go back to work on television.

Success in such surgery is not unheard of. It didn't happen that way. The second surgery was also intended to restore my speaking ability. It seemed to hold together for awhile, but then, in surgeon-speak, also "fell apart."

A third surgery was attempted, using a different approach. It seemed to work, and in a mirror I saw myself looking familiar again. But after a little more than a week, that surgery failed, too. Blood vessels intended to attach the transplanted tissue lost function, probably because they had been weakened by radiation. A fourth surgery has been proposed, but I flatly reject the idea. To paraphrase a line from "Adaptation's" orchid collector: "Done with surgery."

During that whole period I was Nil by Mouth. Nobody said as much in so many words, but it gradually became clear that it wouldn't ever be right again. There wasn't some soul-dropping moment for that realization. It just...developed. I never felt hungry, I never felt thirsty, I wasn't angry because the doctors had done their best. But I went through a period of obsession about food and drink. I came up with the crazy idea of getting some Coke through my g-tube. My doctors said, sure, a little, why not? For once the sugar and a little sodium wouldn't hurt. I even got some tea, and a little coffee, before deciding that caffeine addiction was something I didn't need.