entertainment technology and the dialysis patient experience and that Windows 8.1 upgrade such a long time

I love technology but now and then the romance gets a little difficult

I was surprised at how long it took to up from Win 8.0 on a laptop and a desktop. By far the longest version upgrade of PC software I have ever experienced and I have been doing this awhile.  I did personal computing before Windows 3.0.


Zahnkranzpakete (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Certainly Windows 8 is an interesting and enjoyable interface.  The upgrades went fine.  So far, so good, knock wood.

For convenience, especially at Dialysis, I carry an iPad2, was reading my Sony Ereader books on it this week. I just wish the tablets had 250gb of storage, not 16. Hard to carry a decent load of digital TV shows or movies with just 16gb for copies from my iTunes selections.

With four hours in the dialysis chair with very modest sized desklet wings on the chair, I find a laptop can be too heavy in the lap for that amount of time.  Those little desk flaps can be locked up or released and dropped down. The chairs are old and sometimes the wings drop on their own.  A poor bet with a laptop and its weight. There are numerous power plugs near to the dialysis chair and so I can plug in easily and not have to rely on the battery power.

GE electric fan from early 20th century.

GE electric fan from early 20th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then there is the cooling issue with the vents on the bottom surface of the laptop.  I drag with me a very light lap desk with raised grooves on one side to allow the laptop vents to breathe.  Works okay.

Sometimes the nurses growl mildly at all the crap I bring with me to dialysis including the computerish stuff and paper on a clipboard, pens and a couple of “paper” books for reading.  They have learned to give me a moment or two extra to “nest.” I guess I am terrified of being bored out of my mind for four hours.  Many days a moment arrives in dialysis where I have to talk myself out of screaming, tearing myself free and running out of the place Patience has never been a strong suit in my life.  Perhaps I never had it early on because I somehow knew I was going to need boatloads of it to get through dialysis and all the ancillary moments of extreme unction it bring with it.

By and large dialysis patients seem to handle it surprisingly well but then if you ask the right innocent question, that facade dissolves instantly and a snarling, bitter reply stings out when they let loose how they really feel. I guess we hide a lot of that from nurses and doctors.

The dialysis unit provides a television for each patient on a huge telescoping, spring mounted arm.  I used to watch TCM and its brilliant vintage movie programming.  Then the hospital administration figured out how to save some dollars by skinnying down the cable contract and we lost some 15 channels. The patients are expecting some day soon to be asked to pay a charge per day for TV service but it has not happened yet.

The TVs are 12 inch screen CRT old picture tube sets.  The major trouble with them is the earphone input.  On a few of them you need to monkey with your audio jack to get sound of them.  Sometimes we need to ask the nurse for a small piece of tape to get it to stay in the perfect position to keep getting sound of the TV.  The hospital clinic provides free headphones, bought at the Dollar Store. I prefer my own ear buds.

Looking Back ~ Philco Predicta Television, 1958

Looking Back ~ Philco Predicta Television, 1958 (Photo credit: e r j k p r u n c z y k)

I don’t know where they get replacements.  I doubt they still make these. I know these picture tubes are environmentally nasty with a ton of lead in their glass.  The hospital is probably sourcing refurbished units of this kind of TV.  We all look forward to new flat screen midget TVs some day.  I find that TV programming in the mornings has little on offer to interest me.

Although lately the reality TV aspects of the Senate of Canada scandals and the Rob Ford slow pirouette of self-destruction are quite interesting in a can’t turn away from the car crash kind of way.

Tonight at home on the sun porch with the pitch black scene of Georgian Bay outside I am watching 1986 movie Quicksilver with Kevin Bacon, Lawrennce Fishburne, Paul Rodriguez.  A bike messenger movie with no cell phones in NYC. My God how things have changed.

A slightly trimmer Louis Anderson is in it as well as the heftier model bike messenger.  Jamie Gertz plays the love interest.  They all look like babies.


Had my angiogram on Tuesday. The verdict is I am viable for a kidney transplant. My heart is not too bad it seems. I started hemodialysis a little over four years ago. In Ontario when you start dialysis you start on the transplant list. This was the final test. Worst part of kidney failure aside from long treatments each week, some fifteen hours, is the restricted diet. I can start dreaming about eating bananas again.

My nephrology dialysis treatment is done at a small satellite unit with 8 dialysis machines.  Treatments are done Monday to Saturday with a morning shift and an afternoon shift.  My treatments are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with my run the longest in this unit at 4.5 hours. Most other patients have 3.5 or 4 hours of dialysis.

Since I began dialysis three fellow patients have rec’d kidneys.  Sadly four patients have died.   I am very happy to hear this news about my viability.  I hope it works out all the way to a new kidney.

don’t do this

William J. Gibson

William J. Gibson

For some reason I decided to drive myself a little bit crazy this week.  I was trying to learn two things at once: to get more out of Windows 8 by adding apps and getting familar with apps on my iPad2. Tis a wee bit confusing to do this.

One observation,  numerous times when using the Windows 8 apps I find myself beginning to reach for the screen to swipe only to stop mid gesture because my laptop is not a touch screen.

I like both of these packages.

In some ways the iPad2 wifi 16gb is the better device to bring to dialysis, it is simply less bulky than the laptop.

I am beginning to suspect that the dialysis nurses are growing a little tired of me and my nesting habits at the dialysis chair.  They are impatient to get the setup for starting the dialysis treatment, the insertion of needles in my fistula and a host of machine settings.

I usually have a coffee container, two pens, a clipboard with notepaper, a set of earphones, then either the laptop or the iPad2.  Some days I bring in a paperback or two that I am in the process of reading.  :Plugging in the laptop can take a moment when I squeeze past the chair to reach the wall plugs.  Some patients come in with a set of earphones for the wall mounted tvs.  One ignores tv and brings a single book.  I am the most elaborate nester.  My dialysis run is the longest at 4 hours and 30 minutes.  The others are 3 and 4 hours.

It is a shame that there is no free wifi for patients available to patients in the hospital where the dialysis clinic is situated.

considering a digital hiatus

The second week of January is going to be hell on wheels.  No way around it.  So I am considering indulging a notion of mine that has been bumping agianst my forehead for a couple of months, namely, the taking of a break, a sustained break from the digital texture of the contemporary life.  Kind of climbing out of the warm water of the tub and de-pruning for a while. Part of the blame for this is the thoughtful writing of Craig Johnson when he has Walt Longmire stop and listen and take in the feeling and sound, smell, the whole of the Wyoming scene and its often perverse weather.  Maintaining detailed connection to the land and the air above it.

This evening we had a brief period of freezing rain, that evolved into some wet snow.  The ground now a little treacherous.  This afternoon it was green and bone dry.

This is the time of year when I am glad I was able to change from the mornings to the afternoons for my dialysis treatments.  I never enjoyed convoying with slow snow ploughs on Highway 12 heading over to Midland and then to 93 and Penetanguishene and its hospital where the dialysis clinic lives.  I was glad to get the afternoon, although everytime I glow in that change it quickly slips away when I remember that the reason why I got the opportunity to change to my liking is because the full afternoon dialysis shift had an opening  because a patient died.

I try not to let my dialysis, my kidney failure, be the overwhelming defining fact of my life, but truly the three treatments per week, some 18 hours when you add in driving times and the times to get on the machine and then off the machine after the four and a half hour dialysis run, they seem to me be three enormous boulders in the river of my week.  I have to steer by them in my leaky canoe.  Sometimes I dance in the water on my way, most weeks are more like  impact crash tests and sometimes it is my head not the canoe prow that strikes the three boulders in a row. It has been four years of dialysis and I am still getting the hang of it.

database prototype built while getting my blood cleaned in Dialysis run

built a simple prototype database in the first hour or so of my dialysis treatment this afternoon…so built one hand  ed in Microsoft Access 2007….to hold information for an archaeology/heritage inventory for townships in Simcoe County.

I am the “long” guy on my dialysis shift, four and a half hours.  Most patients have their blood cleaned and excess fluid removed for  3.5 to 4 hours.  I go three afternoons per week. I Started dialysis in November of 2008.  Dialysis patients sit in a chair that resembles an easyboy recliner. Patients are given access to individual small television sets with earphones.  Some watch TV, some read, some nap. I use my laptop a couple of times per week.

I dug in on this after a presentation last night to the heritage committee of Springwater Township.   Jamie Hunter, curator of the Huronia Museum, and me, a member of the Huronia Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society and a semi-retired technical writer and Access Database systems analyst ( that is a little bit puffed up but not too outrageously), made the presentation which I had built in Powerpoint.  The two of us did wel and the committee seemed sold on the idea of gathering this information about First Nations archaeological sites,  early Euro-Canadian properties and still-standing heritage buildings.  A lot of information has been recorded but it is somewhat scattered.  A database is a good way to gather and share this information.

I am a little rusty in Access and need to brush up on a few things like  one to many relationship table linkage.  Today I built a primary table, one query, one online entry form, and two reports…..with a single test record.

I screen captured the form and the one columnar report and placed them in the revised Powerpoint slide show for use with the next township heritage committee.

It is always best to have a specific project to achieve when trying to learn or relearn software.