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   01.29.06 || Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

For all my frequent readers, yep all 3 of you, this is what you don’t want: gallstones. Yes, they are super painful, nothing you do makes the pain go away, very unbearable. It really hurts in the center below your breast bone. When you have a stone blocking the bile it is extremely painful, and you will probably be rolling around in pain, so heed my advice: avoid at all cost.

I speak from experience, and this is by far something you can controllably avoid. I've been having problems that my upper abdomen would hurt, not constantly, but would wake me up at 4 AM just rather hurting. Sometimes the pain would move around to my lower back on the right side, but not that often. These are the symptoms I had, no throwing up, fever or other symptoms that other people have. I've done lots of research online, trying to find out what my problem was (at 4 AM) and I've come to the conclusion, with no doctor’s help, that the problem I had was gallstones.

So after my second trip to the Emergency Room at Kishwaukee, (thanks Krissy rushing me there, I owe you what it costs for an ambulance;) ) I got a doctor that actually thought it was gallstones also. Requesting the tests he should to diagnose gallstones he found that indeed I had “many” gallstones. I felt that I should do something about this. The biggest problem being that I was in the middle of losing my parents health insurance and getting my own insurance from my job, which the insurance isn’t going to start till March 1st. So I'm going to have to use what’s known as COBRA, basically an extension of my previous insurance till I get new insurance.

Either way, Wednesday night I was admitted to the ER around 8 PM, and by midnight I was being prepared for staying there for the night. My surgery to remove my gall bladder would be either first thing in the morning, or later in the afternoon. After a restless night of pain the doctor came in around 6:30 AM and said that my surgery wouldn’t be until 3 or 4. So I attempted to sleep all day Thursday, drugged up on morphine (which didn’t do anything for me) and other pain meds.

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Surgery (the non-cut-you-wide-open surgery to take out your gallbladder) went well, about an hour total from what I hear (I couldn’t tell, I was knocked out). During recovery I did a lot of sleeping, as usual. They kept me over night, and Friday morning the doctor came back to check on me, and said I could leave at any point, he was happy with my recovery. At 7 AM, after another night of not sleeping well (the nurses had to come take my vitals every 2 hours) I sure didn’t want to get up and have to leave.

My parents came around noon, and that’s when we prepared to leave. Everything is rather sore, but not near as bad as before surgery. Friday included a lot more resting, sleeping in a normal bed was painful too. You’d be surprised how much you use your stomach muscles, even lying down.

As of today, I'm doing pretty well. Still definitely sore, but I can move around pretty well now, short of breath sometimes, everything isn’t quite back to normal. I’ve been working on the recent video for CCT, so I've had lots to do as far as that, but I'm doing pretty well now. That’s all folks, hope it was informative.

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   01.19.06 || Elburn Metra Station

I spent three years traveling to downtown Chicago every summer, and school breaks, and my daily commute would include driving out to the Aurora Metra station and hopping on a train there to get downtown. My commute was 2 hours each way from DeKalb or from Yorkville for that matter, and I heard about this station going up in Elburn. Well as usual now I'm done with that job the Elburn Metra Station will be up and running Monday the 23rd. I really don’t know how much time it would have saved me, probably 20 minutes or so, but a 4 our commute to work vs. a 3 hour 20 minute does sound more appealing. Maybe those commuting from DeKalb back home to Chicago will get more use out of this line.

This just reminds me of how in high school I had a 25 mile (about a half hour) commute to high school. When I started traffic wasn’t great but wasn’t that bad. I'm talking about the western suburbs, more so Orchard Road in Aurora. In the past few years that area, and even farther west and southwest is growing like crazy. With more houses come more cars, more people commuting. So anyway come near the end of my years in high school traffic was getting pretty atrocious. This is a two lane road that is always backed up, at least a mile, with little other routes to take. So what do they do, soon after I graduate they make Orchard road four lanes, alleviating lots of the traffic problems. Figures.

While were on the high school subject our school decides after I leave to put TV’s in every classroom. Why couldn’t this happen while I was there?

So now that I'm out of college, NIU has every right to do some drastic change. Like build a brand new Engineering Building (even though I think it’s less than 10 years old). Or solve the parking problems, or at least make some drastic change to help the situation.

What’s next? Who knows, time will only tell. But it won’t happen till I don’t need or use it anymore.

I'm sure everyone has this happen to them, obviously those who graduated from my high school before they built the brand new one I was in, a year before I started, felt this way.

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   01.09.06 || Los Angeles

The last weeks of 2005 consisted of lots of travel for me. The week before Christmas I went to Las Vegas with Krissy to visit her brother, and the week after as a graduation gift from my parents we went to Los Angeles. So Christmas night we boarded our flight to LA to spend some time as tourists. Obviously I can't go anywhere without taking multi-thousand pictures, so I've condensed that and have links here to pictures from that day.

An addition to the pictures from this trip we actually had GPS on my computer. It was quite cool to use, and it also allows for making GPS Trail. You can zoom in, get directions with it, it talks to you, very nice navigator. So while we were doing our touristy stuff, I left GPS trail on. You can't stalk us because we’re not there anymore, but here's where we were: The blue line is our GPS Trail. Here's a closer view of our LA GPS Trail .

Day 1 -- 12/26/05
Recommended from our hotel we decided to take VIP tours to see the main attractions of LA. We wanted to take a tour company to see the main things, and we could go back to them later in the week, so we got to see all the main attractions, and they let us walk around at a few. Then we proceeded to our hotel, Beverly Garlands, and got checked in. They also provided a shuttle bus to Universal Studios Hollywood, so we waited around for that, and went to the City Walk at Universal. Then we ended the day with a ginormous dinner at Saddle Ranch Chop House.
>> Day 1 Pictures

Day 2 – 12/27/05
We started out by checking out the Hollywood Sign, come to find out that the sign is not lit up at night. Being a ‘landmark’ I thought it would be lit up. We decided to head out west to Malibu Beach and just tour along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway). Rather interesting drive, seeing all the houses, built on every level of the mountain. We also watched the sunset while we were on the Malibu Beach Pier. Then headed back and waited in line for like 45 minutes to drive through the Light Festival in Hollywood.
>> Day 2 Pictures

Day 3 – 12/28/05
Starting out driving by the NBC Studios where Jay Leno tapes we headed down to Bel Air. What an amazing amount of money goes into those houses; grand entrances, steep slopes, small driveways. Then we headed back to Rodeo Drive. Walking in that area there were the shops that sell the $1500 purses are interesting, but more interesting to dad and I were the cars that drove by. Bentleys, Rolls Royce, Porsche, these cars that drove by worth more than a house, amazing. I have a picture of a Bentley; its worth from what I could find online is about $140,000. I'd be scared to have that on the road! Then we made our way over to Venice Beach. It’s not a clean place to be, lots of “art” (graffiti) there. More interesting is the vast variety of people there, many different cultures. Another interesting thing to see is the west coast was expecting high tide and big waves when we were there, so they were building up the sand on the beach to help keep the water back from the buildings. A cookout at mom’s cousins’ house ended our journey today, and we also moved our hotel location to Mission Viejo, CA.
>> Day 3 Pictures

Day 4 – 12/29/05
The fourth day into our tourism we headed down to San Diego. It’s only a little over an hour drive and we stopped at La Jolla Beach where we found many resting seals. Off La Jolla Beach you can see the scatter of houses everywhere on the mountain along the coast. In California people aren’t afraid to build on the largest slopes. The larger the slope, the more houses there were. As we headed south through San Diego we went out on to Coronado Island, even though it’s more of a peninsula and found this tourist hotel, Hotel del Coronado. It was huge and nice, but looking after we got back the hotel rooms start at $260 without a coast view, more like $350 a night with a coast view. Then we stopped at the beach along Mission Blvd in Coronado for sunset. Only being a few minutes from Mexico, we had to go down to the border to see what it was like. Surprisingly it seemed like there was quite a few people going through to the other side. Avoiding crossing the border we didn't spend much time there, and headed back. We hit what seems to be typical CA traffic coming back up to Mission Veijo.
>> Day 4 Pictures

Day 5 – 12/30/05
Our last day in LA included driving more on PCH and seeing all the sites we could. We made it up to Venice beach again, and then made our way to return the car and get on the plane back to Chicago. Weather in LA while we were there was in the mid 60’s, pretty nice actually, and it was in the mid 30’s in Chicago.
>> Day 5 Pictures

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