Friday, November 16, 2012

On Vegas, Near-Death Experiences And Video Games

Vicki and I got home last night after a six-day trip to Las Vegas with my brother, Richard, and his wife, Meena.  I had a lot of anxiety about the trip, for months beforehand, because I travel so poorly and wasn't relishing the idea of inflicting that reality upon my brother and sister-in-law.  Little did I know that I'd not only be sick for the trip, but would actually get sicker as the vacation went on!  And yet that's exactly what happened.

I'd gone to the doctor with a persistent sore throat about 3 weeks before our departure date, and was given a prescription for a nasal spray to address my diagnosed "post-nasal drip."  About 10 days later, my throat was somewhat better but my chest was now congested and I was coughing extensively, so back to the doctor I went.  That particular visit netted me nothing but assurances that it should pass on its own and a suggestion to use cough suppressants and Tylenol in the meantime.  As it proceeded to not get better, my concerns about the trip to Vegas continued to grow.

I actually considered cancelling out and just sending Vicki without me, but she seemed to really want me along, coughing or otherwise.  I tried to prepare the other two travelers for what they had awaiting them, but I don't think I did it justice.  Within a scant few hours of getting together last Friday evening, though, I'm guessing they got the idea.  I've never coughed so much, or with as much obvious distress, as I have for the past week.

Vicki had a great time, however.  She partook in the three main activities of Vegas: gambling, shopping and eating.  I tagged along, as best I could, but sometimes had to bow out just to give the rest of them a break from my hacking.  We did take in a Cirque du Soleil show that was amazing - "Love", featuring Beatles music - and I kept it together for most of that, except whenever the dry ice would hit me.  Other than that, the cigarette smoke in the casino made it particularly hard to breathe, and I was brutally ashamed of how little walking I could do before being exhausted, but somehow I survived.  I expected to drop dead at any given moment.

On the flight home yesterday, my left ear wouldn't pop when the plane descended toward Detroit, and I was completely deaf in that ear for the next several hours.  This morning, I booked my third trip in a month to the doctor, and Vicki accompanied me this time.  Looking into my left ear, the doctor said, "That doesn't look good at all."  Apparently I now have an ear infection - maybe always did, although she looked in that same ear two weeks ago and didn't see anything - and am on amoxicillin.  I also had chest x-rays done, which I'm told came back clean.  I'm still confused as to how the ear infection could be causing all the trouble I've had for the past month, but on the other hand maybe the amoxicillin will just wipe out all vestiges of the virus.  I can only hope!

When we got home last night, Emma was excited and relieved to see us after the better part of a week by herself.  I took that to mean that she'd missed us, just as we'd certainly missed her.  She had a million things to tell us, and stayed up late to bring us up to date on everything.  This morning when she left for school, I think she was on the verge of tears at the thought of leaving us for the weekend.  But she'll be back Sunday night and then the three of us should have lots of quality time together between now and the Christmas break.

While Vicki did most of the shopping in Vegas, I did manage to come home with something I'm quite excited about.  Rich and I spent Wednesday afternoon going to comic stores.  Before you jump to any conclusions... that was his idea!  Seriously.  And he wouldn't even hear of skipping the final store we'd scouted out, as he told me, "No, I was promised three comic stores, and three comic stores is what I expect to see."  At the second store, Alternate Reality Comics, I saw a great display of original artwork on the wall and got talking to the owner about it.  He has an impressive collection of the stuff, including some pieces I'd love to own, but it was his jaw that dropped when I casually mentioned my Watchmen page.  It was clear that getting one of the extremely rare Moore/Gibbons pages from that seminal series was something he'd always aspired to, but hadn't managed.  Unfortunately, none of his artwork on the wall was for sale, but I did spot an item I've only ever heard of, but not seen: the 17" x 13" hardcover Original Art Edition of Alien: The Illustrated Story by Archie Goodwin & Walt Simonson.  It's a massive art book featuring a comic book adaptation of Alien along with lots of other goodies related to the film.  Since I was missing Jonesy, big-time, I figured getting something that's sure to include his namesake was a good idea.  It should make an excellent addition to my Alien collection.

Emma had kindly brought in the special package that I'd pre-ordered months ago, which had arrived on Wednesday while we were away: Call of Duty Black Ops II.  I was thrilled to see it, but also frustrated that I felt too sick to even try it out last night.  Instead, it had to wait until this afternoon to be unwrapped.  I've now played 3 or 4 online Team Deathmatches, and surprisingly have an early kill-to-death ratio of 1.82:1.  Usually I start off terribly, amassing a KTD well below 1.00 at the beginning, and have to struggle to bring it up to respectability.  Somehow this time I've gotten lucky and been put in games with total noobs, resulting in the impressive early stats.  I'm not going to complain, as I definitely needed a pick-me-up.  But I also don't expect it to continue.

My other near-death experience involves my laptop.  It decided to encounter serious hardware problems of some sort literally an hour before we left for our vacation a week ago.  Vicki and I had to scrap the plan to take my laptop, and took hers instead.  She was nice enough to let me use it extensively during the time away, which provided a much-needed balm for my sick self.  However, I spent considerable amounts of time worrying about having to deal with my computer when we got back home, and was quite depressed and stressed about it.  When we arrived last night, I powered it up just so I could see what error message it was giving, and lo and behold! it came up fine.  I don't know what the problem was last week, as I didn't have any time then to look into it, or if it's likely to reoccur anytime soon.  But at the moment it's working fine once again.  Strangely miraculous, that.

And that's the past week, in as much detail as I can manage in my weakened state.

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