Ding 50!

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Aug 24, 2021

Filed under: Landmarks 74 comments

The running joke is that every year I make a birthday post about how I’m getting old and I’m going to be dead any minute now. I try to find some sort of humorous way to joke about death or aging and then maybe follow it up with a sarcastic remark about Half-Life 3. It’s a funny traditionFunny according to the standards set on this site, anyway. YMMV. but I’m just not feeling it this year. So let’s have a serious conversation about my health. 

Now, I generally dislike sharing too much information. I don’t mind telling people I have asthma, but I don’t want to list off my current medications and treatment history. That’s just weird. On the other hand, I’ve been pulling THIS bullshit for the last four months:

Shamus: Owie. I’m too sick to do my job.

The Internet: Oh? What’s wrong?

Shamus: I don’t want to talk about it.

That’s just annoying. If I don’t want to talk about it, then I shouldn’t bring it up. At the same time, I feel the need to explain myself when I fail my commitments. So here’s what’s going on…

Like I said back in May, I went into the hospital for high blood pressure. Back in 2019 I noticed it was creeping up on me. So I needed to get to the doctor. The problem was that my regular doctor – the guy I’ve been going to since 1986 when I was 15 and he was a new doctor fresh out of med school – had retired. He’d handed his patients off to another practice, but that practice was far away and the new doctor was booked months ahead of time. So I needed to find a doctor I could actually go to. 

I wasn’t crazy about searching for a new doctor during the pandemic. This was doubly hard because most PCPs have joined these stupid cartels run by insurance companies. I’m self-employed, which means I amWas actually. I’ll come back to this. uninsured. The cartel doctors either don’t want to see you, or they want to charge hundreds of dollars for hurried visits.

Now, there are affordable doctors out there, and there are clinics I could visit. But I was really shy of walking into an unknown clinic and sitting in a waiting room with an unknown number of sick people for an unknown length of time at the height of the pandemic. Being an older asthmatic, my chances of survival vs. COVID would not be good.

So I didn’t go to the doctor. I waited. And waited. And waited.

At the time, I thought the big risk of chronic high BP was having a stroke. Like, your blood pressure gets too high and so you burst a pipe somewhere in your head. This was still my understanding of the problem, even after getting out of the hospital. 

But no. This is not the biggest risk. It’s still bound to kill you, but I was wrong about what sort of death I was risking. 

At any rate, my blood pressure kept climbing until May, when I began experiencing a continuous headache as a side-effect of the elevated pressure. That’s when I went into the hospital. That brought down my BP, and I began learning the specific mechanics of what my problems were and what had been happening to me for the last 9 months or so.

On top of the risk of aneurysm, high BP gradually damages your heart and kidneys. That’s what typically kills you. Aneurysms are possible, but heart / kidney failure is the real statistical threat in these circumstances.

My heart wound up a little enlarged from the ordeal, but the doctors have all been very positive regarding my heart over the last few months. Apparently it’s ticking away just fine. Better than fine, actually. I’m not clear on the details, but I’m beating the odds in terms of people my age / condition. So that’s nice.

The bad news? My kidneys. The elevated BP evidently destroyed 75% to 85% of my kidney function.

Now, you’re born with a lot of “extra” kidney capacity. Your kidneys can lose about 90% of their capacity and they’ll still be able to keep you alive. Beyond that, and you’re facing kidney dialysis. You might even end up on a waiting list for organ transplant. I’m darn close to this cutoff point. My kidneys are just barely able to do their job. Any more damage, and they’re done for.

My kidneys are doing almost everything I need them to, but they can’t quite keep up with potassium cleanup.

How it works is this: You need potassiumPotatoes and bananas are a common source of this. to survive. Too little, and you get weakness, fatigue, and heart palpitations. Too much, and you get a heart attack. 

You’ll notice that most people don’t need to carefully monitor their potassium intake. This is because normies eat as much potassium as they like, and then their kidneys throw away the excess. That’s great, unless your kidneys are struggling to keep up. 

So I had to cut most potassium from my dietThe typical western diet is heavy in potassium and you usually consume much more than you need. and now I need regular blood tests to keep an eye on things.

So for the last few months I’ve been gradually adjusting to this new life. Some levels would get out of whack and I’d end up sleeping / fatigued all day. Then the doctors would catch it, and we’d spend a few weeks hammering out a medication / diet plan to fix things. But then the new drugs / foods would cause a new problem down the road, and we’d need more adjustments. 

This has created an annoyingly predictable cycle of motivation and depression since I got out of the hospital. I’ll get weak or in pain, and wind up on my back for a couple of days. 

“This is hopeless. I’ll be dead in a year. If I’m going to spend that time in pain, then the sooner the end comes the better.”

Then I’ll get the problem sorted out and get out of bed saying, “Bah. This is nothing. Grandpa Gilbert lived in harsh conditions and today’s medical technology is light years ahead of what he had access to. And that dude lived well into his 80s. Hypertension is a well-understood problem and I should be able to live a more or less normal life. It’s not even a big deal. This pain and sickness is just temporary.”

I’ve been oscillating between depression and optimism for the last few months, to the point where the cycle is regular enough to become predictable and annoying. 

The Plan Going Forward

My doctor proscribed me 10Mb of pill stock photos per week.
My doctor proscribed me 10Mb of pill stock photos per week.

25 years ago, my father-in-law developed high blood pressure. Rather than accept his fate and choke down all those pills and accept their constant side-effects, he joined a gym and began playing racquetball. Two and a half decades later, he’s still healthy, active, and medication-free.

It’s not quite that simple for me. I have some pain and sleep issues preventing me from getting proper exercise. I’m actually due to see a surgeon about that later this week. So far the expectation is that this surgery should be very simple, and it has a very good chance at getting me back on my feet. Once that happens, I can get my ass on a treadmill and I’ll find out how much quality of life I can claw back.

Right now I’m on so many pills that I could almost dump them in a bowl and eat them with  a spoon. They’re unpleasant and the cumulative side-effects are horrendous. I have problems digesting corn, and TONS of pills are held together by corn starch.Apparently pills don’t need to list their ingredients the way food products do? This has led to some very unpleasant trial-and-error searches for a stable medication regimen. So I’ve been trying lots of different things, getting sick, and trying new stuff. It hasn’t been a lot of fun.

The good news is that a lot of these pills are only there to deal with the side-effects of the others. If I can get rid of a couple of them, then I can get rid of most of them.

I actually have multiple appointments with different doctors this week, working on different problems. We have health insurance now. It won’t retroactively pay for the hospital stay, but I’m covered for all this new work I’m having done.

This Site

Most fans – wanting to be helpful – try to encourage me to relax. “Hey Shamus. Don’t worry about the blog thing. Just take care of your health. We’ll still be here when you come back.”

I appreciate the concern, but I don’t really need “time off” in the form of a hiatus. Running this site and producing content is actually an important part of my mental health. This isn’t a typical desk job with gossip and office politics. This is a creative outlet and I use it to give my life purpose and structure. Sure, the site is kinda frivolous in nature. When I wrote that 2,000 word essay on why space alien cognition makes me think about the problem of dick pics, I didn’t imagine I was going to solve any real-world problems. But it was fun to write, people enjoyed reading it, and the resulting discussion was stimulating and educational for me. This entire process is actually pretty healthy, and I’d be worse off if I wasn’t doing it.

Running the site gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It gives my day structure and it gives me a steady supply of healthy social interactions. Hanging out with Paul and talking about our shared hobbies keeps me from getting lost in my own little world. (I’m actually trying to branch out and collaborate more. We’ll see how it goes.)

So that’s how I’m doing. I’m fifty.



[1] Funny according to the standards set on this site, anyway. YMMV.

[2] Was actually. I’ll come back to this.

[3] Potatoes and bananas are a common source of this.

[4] The typical western diet is heavy in potassium and you usually consume much more than you need.

[5] Apparently pills don’t need to list their ingredients the way food products do?

From The Archives:

74 thoughts on “Ding 50!

  1. tmtvl says:

    Well, hopefully you find a good doctor, Shamus. And once again: happy birthday, may all your days be filled with hope, love, and happiness.

    1. Hey, Shamus, I have a great exercise program for you. It’s called get a dog and walk it!

      And then have an allergic reaction to the dog dander and die.

      Okay, NEW PLAN . . .

      1. Gordon Wrigley says:

        A dog is a good suggestion.
        The bottom line on what exercise you should do is whatever exercise you will do consistently and keep doing indefinitely. Brisk walking is pretty good in this regard as it’s more accessible and sustainable than most other options.
        The dog helps a bunch with the consistency and longevity of it as it creates a situation where another being depends on you doing your exercise.

        @Jennifer sucks about the allergy, that’s a really unfortunate outcome

        1. Lanthanide says:

          Shamus is the one who has a very bad allergy to any sort of pet dander whatsoever, he’s written about it several times in the past. That is what Jennifer was referring to.

          1. Yes. I actually did get a dog myself, and my allergies have not come up at all. It’s great.

  2. Lanthanide says:

    I’ve said it before, but I really think you should look into Beat Saber on the Quest 2 as a form of exercise. Sounds like you have trouble moving, more-so than just standing up? With recent updates to the Quest operating system, you could even potentially do Beat Saber while seated, although I’m sure that won’t be as good an exercise and the calorie tracker properly isn’t calibrated for that.

    Anyway, a 55 minute beat saber session (on Expert Plus difficulty – for some reason this comment box is eating my plus sign) can burn 650-700 calories for me, according to the calorie tracker (and when I play slower paced maps, it does report a lower calorie burn). That’s about the same as swimming for 55 minutes or running for 45 minutes. And you can do it from your own house playing a video game that tracks your high scores… I find it motivating in a way that regular exercise simply is not. It’s also a rythm game and has techno music – you like that stuff, right?

    Obviously you won’t be able to play for 55 minutes right off the bat – I initially could only do 30 minutes before I had sweat streaming down my face and was having to catch my breath. You’ll also suck at it. But you’ll be up to Expert in a few weeks if you play every day. Expert is when it really starts to become good fun, IMO.

    You can also mod Beat Saber on the quest and play your own custom songs, of which there are thousands to download, once you get sick of the sound tracks that come with the game. There’s community map editors, and given your interest in making music, mapping for beat saber could be interesting to you – you could even make maps for some of your original songs.

    Seriously you should check it out (or the other numerous fitness focused games on the Quest 2), for the good of your health!

    1. Daimbert says:

      The Switch has — or at least had — a few as well, from the more readily available Ring Fit Adventure to an actual Zumba game, I think. I’ve had to pick up my exercise due to the pandemic and gaining some weight, and the biggest problem for me is always that just exercise is boring and so I won’t keep doing it. I found that I can go for long walks since that helps me think, but trying to add a bit of an exercise bike to that didn’t work, even while watching TV, but Ring Fit Adventure works because it gives me just enough to look at and enough variety to not be boring, while allowing me to look at the TV when it’s not being all that interesting.

      Still, everyone is different when it comes to these things so if a treadmill has worked for Shamus in the past or he thinks it will work for him, that’s what he should do.

      1. Mattias42 says:

        I can second a recommend for trying Ring Fit. Doubly so if there’s already a Switch in the house.

        I’m one of those people that LOATHE cardio, because it feels like I’m wasting my time, and normally prefer kettle bells. It’s just… quick, efficient and relaxing in its own way.

        But I know that type of one-note exercise isn’t good for you long term, (though of course better then no exercise at all) so brought Ring Fit at a try to find SOME other exercise I can actually stand long term. And for me at least? Ring Fit worked perfectly.

        The nice environments. The goofy story & humor. How the various enemies & stages forces me to both try exercises I’d never bother with otherwise, AND keeps close track of how many repetitions and such you do… Was actually my most played Switch game last year, believe it or not.

        About my only complaint is that the controls are slightly unresponsive for a couple of the exercises. Still, on the whole? The game does a fantastic job at approximating your movements from just two gyros, but it does get frustrating at times when you’re CLEARLY wiggling, but the game is dead certain you’re jumping instead.

        Still, I’d highly recommend it. It’s THE single best exercise equipment I’ve ever brought. Doubly so for it’s price point, as long as you don’t count the Switch itself. Heck, even counting the console? Pretty happy with how much dang use I’ve gotten out of it.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Ring Fit Adventure has been the game I’ve played the most over the past year or so that I’ve been playing it, although I’ve taken a break for a couple of weeks for various reasons.

          The biggest problems I’ve had with it are that the reverse treadmills are really, really annoying and that there are a couple of cases where you have to do “Complete this area in less than X steps” and, since I’m not really good at or interested in the sprinting and the double jumps can get really, really annoying it forces me to work through it when I’d really rather not, or I can’t progress. I started a New Game+ and got stopped at one of those that I might have been able to overcome eventually but just couldn’t be bothered to try. For the Gym ones, they let you buy your way past it but not those, and I think that should have been done for all of them. The LAST thing a general fitness game needs is to block someone’s progress by forcing an exercise that they simply cannot do.

    2. Gargamellenoir says:

      I thought of that too, it’s just good cardio and super accessible (and a ton of fun). Of course for anyone getting into it get the steam version and custom songs!

    3. Lino says:

      you could even potentially do Beat Saber while seated, although I’m sure that won’t be as good an exercise and the calorie tracker properly isn’t calibrated for that.

      Don’t underestimate the power of seated exercises :) While it may not be the best example, my grandmother had lead an extremely sedentary lifestyle for at least a decade, and she had become very overweight. We began having daily 30-40-minute exercise sessions, for the vast majority of which she was sitting down (for those of you curious – the exercises were mostly repurposed Tai Chi and Qigong exercises; later, I started incorporating resistance bands in some of them in order to increase difficulty).

      She began to feel better, and was starting to become more active (we were this close to getting her to go out on a walk for the first time in who knows how long). Unfortunately, that same year she passed away due to unrelated health reasons. But the point still stands – you can accomplish a lot even when sitting (or even lying!) down. The most difficult part is having the willpower to start.

  3. Liam says:

    Congratulations on half a century!

    Thanks for sharing the detail. I sympathise with the whole ‘body falling apart’ feeling.

    One thing I would recommend, if you’re looking for advice, stay away from treadmills! But then that’s more my issue, I find the whole ‘heaps of effort but the scenery doesn’t change’ a real motivation killer. I’ve found cycling to be invigorating and stress relieving, but that doesn’t mean it would be the same for everyone of course.

    1. John says:

      I have mixed feelings about treadmills. Like you, I dislike the whole “not actually going anywhere” part. On the other hand, a mile on a treadmill is much easier than a mile off the treadmill. When I first took up jogging that helped me out a lot. Crucially, treadmills are also located indoors, which is nice when it’s 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside. I’ve seen people running outside–sometimes shirtless!–in those temperatures before, but my lungs just can’t take air that cold in the volume that jogging requires.

    2. Syal says:

      The elliptical bike is less exercise than a treadmill, but it’s also less stress and much easier to watch TV. Good followup to being on your feet all day too, gets the weight off your feet.

      Actually replaced my main chair with the bike for a while, but turns out that’s murder on the tailbone after a few weeks.

  4. MerryWeathers says:

    When I wrote that 2,000 word essay on why space alien cognition makes me think about the problem of dick pics, I didn’t imagine I was going to solve any real-world problems.

    That’s what you think Shamus but you may never know…

    1. Asdasd says:

      At the very moment that Shamus posted this essay, a freak wormhole opened up in the fabric of the space-time continuum and carried his words far far back in time across almost infinite reaches of space to a distant Galaxy where strange and warlike beings were poised on the brink of frightful interstellar battle…

      Happy Birthday Shamus!

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Someone mod that as an event in Stellaris!

  5. DeadlyDark says:

    Happy Birthday Shamus! For your good health, you magnificent blogger!

  6. Joshua says:

    Sorry to hear about your troubles. Hoping the surgery gets you back on track!

  7. Mephane says:

    Congrats on the ding and fingers crossed for your health!

  8. miroz says:

    As soon as you started ding!ing on this blog, I get the yearly “Oh, at least I’m not as old as Shamus” moment :)
    I hope you recover quickly. I expect some blog series on how to return to shape.

    I’m always amazed how US health system sucks and excels at the same time, depending on what you are doing in life. While on the other hand, our east-european systems just mildly suck most of the time.

  9. Hal says:

    Shamus, I sympathize with you greatly.

    Back in April, I started experiencing palpitations and chest pain. It would come and go, but there’s nothing that puts the fear of God in you quite like chest pain. So I saw my doctor, who said, “It’s either your heart, or anxiety. Here’s some pills and we’ll send you to a cardiologist.” I don’t feel anxious (chest pain not withstanding), but I was definitely ready to humor the process because, y’know. Cardiologist ran a bunch of tests and said, “I can’t find anything wrong with your heart. Let’s talk again in 6 months.”

    Meanwhile, the chest pains continued, and to the point that I went to the ER because they were so bad. ER docs did their thing and said, “Well, it’s not a heart attack, and we can’t see anything wrong on the X-ray, so . . . maybe it’s your GERD acting up?”

    So now I’m talking with my gastroenterologist, who doesn’t seem all that interested in explaining to me how any of the tests he’s running could be connected to my chest pain. Yay.

    As for me, I’m convinced this is some after-effect of having had COVID back in January (very mild.) I’ve heard quite a few stories that were very similar to mine: No history of heart issues, but post-COVID, chest pains suddenly arise that drive them to the ER, though with no signs of heart damage or heart attack. Not sure my physicians feel the same way, though. More to the point, I don’t know if there’s any real treatment to be done in that regard if it is. Long-term COVID complications are kind of an unexplored frontier of medicine right now.

    All of this to say, I appreciate having had to wrestle with feelings of mortality and complicated health issues this year. I pray you find relief in all this, Shamus.

    1. Syal says:

      As someone with a current case of mild Covid and a family history of heart issues, this news is greatly disturbing.

    2. Lino says:

      Have you checked your lungs? One of the most common after-effects of COVID is damaged lungs (even in cases where the person didn’t have fits of coughing). In any case, I hope you find out what the problem is soon…

      1. Hal says:

        To answer you and Bubble, every time I’ve seen a doctor they’ve at least listened to my chest, and my ER trip resulted in a chest X-ray, and they didn’t say anything about lung abnormalities/damage/etc. at that time. That, and breathing doesn’t seem to affect the pain (it doesn’t get worse, or better, when I take deep breaths.) So I guess the doctors have looked at all of that and said, “It’s probably not your lungs.”

        I mean, I suppose it still could be? But this was something I ran into with the cardiologist; when I asked what further tests he’d recommend to determine the cause of the pain, I was told, “Because the other tests have all been negative, anything further we’d recommend might be rejected by your insurance.” Which is kind of a terrifying thing to hear.

    3. Bubble181 says:

      AFAIK, Long covid often displays in the form of chest pains in specific areas of the chest (sometimes close to the heart) because parts of the lungs have been (sometimes very severely) damaged. Deep and slow breaths which would normally be the right course of action for chest pain, actually increase this type of pain since it puts more stress on the damaged parts. Whether or not the damage gets repaired….open question.
      Good luck.

  10. ContribuTor says:

    At the risk of being “that guy” hawking “have you tried…?” quackery on the internet…

    I’ve been reading up recently on resistive breathing training as a medically useful way to lower blood pressure. The advantage is that it doesn’t require a huge amount of physical mobility or hours of time. Still being researched, but promising! I’m currently discussing with my doctor. Might not be an option for you given your general respiratory woes.

    Trying to cite actually reputable sources:


    1. Henson says:

      Oh no! That Guy returns!

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Oh, that Guy Hawking, lesser known cousin of the famous physicist. What a card!

  11. DanMan says:

    My wife has a whole regiment of medications as well. She has fought to not go on the “meds to deal with the side effects of other meds” cycle. I know how tough that can be.

    Your comment about your number of pills makes me think of this comic http://pvponline.com/comic/2021-08-16

  12. Glide says:

    Happy birthday! Best wishes in getting healthy!

  13. Trevor says:

    Happy Birthday!

    I can’t really speak to the health stuff, but my life is made better by checking in with your website and seeing what you think about things and I love when you recommend games you are passionate about. So thank you for everything you do on this site.

  14. Lino says:

    Happy Birthday, Shamus! I’m very glad to see you taking these issues seriously, and I really hope your health gets better! With regards to taking a break, it could also come in the form of not feeling obligated to do certain types of content, and instead writing about whatever it is that you want. I think most of us come here for you and your writing style, rather than a particular type of content you write. So, for example, if you’re not feeling up to writing a big, involved retrospective, I don’t think anyone would mind if you write something less effort-intensive instead.

    In any case, hope you manage to stabilize your health, and may you have many bright days ahead!

  15. GreyDuck says:

    Happy Birthday, sir.

    You’re a bit over half a year ahead of me, and facing different types of medical-ness, but I think we can agree that getting older kinda sucks (but it sure beats the only alternative on offer).

  16. John says:

    Happy birthday, Shamus. I’ve lived with a chronic condition for about 20 years now, so I’m familiar with cycles of optimism and pessimism. It’s rough, even when you’re in an optimistic phase. I hope the surgery goes well. My best wishes to both you and Heather.

  17. Daimbert says:

    Happy birthday.

    I will say that your post in your blood pressure issues motivated me to check mine. My blood pressure was high every time I went to the doctor, and so she asked me to check it at home. But I was struggling to set up the cuff properly and so it wouldn’t work most of the time (and in attempting to fix it might have broken it). My appointment was coming up and I had decided to get a new machine and try to figure it out again, but was kinda delaying it due to convenience issues and figuring that it was probably okay, and when I saw your post about not being able to tell if it’s a problem I thought it would be a good idea to figure that out and check it.

    And it was fine. It turns out that I have pretty severe “White Coat Hypertension” and so in the doctor’s office it was always high but at home it was always good. The same thing applied to my pulse. So it’s a relief knowing that things are all right.

  18. James Young says:

    Hey Shamus,

    Sorry to hear about your health challenges. I also have asthma (although not nearly as bad as yours) and chronic back pain and it does make exercising a challenge. I’m happy to hear that you’re gradually working towards a solution. My birthday is tomorrow (and my name is JAMES Young) and every year I enjoy your birthday posts as sort of the first step in starting out my birthday. Frankly, you’ve become something of an inspiration for me. You’ve had many challenges in your life and you’ve worked through them all while being a nerd for a living.

    I’ve been reading this site for well over 13 years now and I’m glad that you get as much out of writing it as we all do reading it. If you’re intending on expanding/branching out and ever need content collaborators I’d be happy to help in any way I can. I check all the typical nerd boxes (video games, DM with over a decade of experience, board games, etc.) but I’m also a teacher, a librarian, and I’m heavily involved in running the high school esports scene up here in Canada. I imagine you get offers from fans all the time, but like…… we asthmatics with chronic health problems who have the same last name and almost the same birthday gotta stick together right?

    At the very least it’s got some gimmick potential :)

    Oh also THANK YOU FOR DOING A PREY SERIES. I LOVE Prey. I’ve played through it multiple times, and when I saw you starting the series I was like “well I guess I HAVE to play it again”

    Good luck

  19. Tuck says:

    Happy birthday and good luck on all the health issues!

  20. Bubble181 says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Since I assume you’ll get a whole bunch of “have you tried” posts and so on anyway, I won’t weigh in, but I’ll just agree right along that kidney issues absolutely suck, and that the chronic pain/illness depression-optimism cycle can be an absolute pain, and sometimes worse than the actual problem itself.
    Best of luck in conquering/managing and finding the right balance and combination that works for you.

    As someone said higher up, most of us come here for you and your brand of writing. I would happily read a post about you comparing the different types of exercise machines (a row machine gives great full-body exercise, but can lead to horribe injuries if used badly and you can’t do anything in the mean time. A regular old home trainer is boring and only good for cardio and the legs, but it’s easy to watch tv or read a book in the mean time. Everything has their ups and downs, I’m sure you’ll have your personal preference), or the different types of quack “medical” advice offered on the internet for your maladies, or what have you.

  21. MisterA says:

    Happy birthday, Shamus!

    I hope you manage to resolve your health issues and get to live an even longer and more fulfilling life. I’m a newcomer, and these past couple months of going through your blog has taught me a lot. So, I’m rooting for a grand recovery for you! (Seriously, please make it through this.)

    In the interest of collaborations, maybe you’d like to reach out to IndigoGaming? He’s done interviews and podcasts discussing video games with developers and critics for a good while now. And I think you two have similar enough mindsets and manners of speaking that the conversation would be quite compatible and interesting. Maybe check out some of his videos if you get the time to see if he’s someone you’d like to do something with (I recommend his latest video: “INDIGOCAST #6 | The (D)evolution of Role-Playing w/ NerdSlayer”).

    All the best,

  22. Dogbeard says:

    Regarding the exercise, have you ever tried joining a gym, Shamus? I get that now probably isn’t the best time to be around a bunch of people breathing heavily and touching everything, but I find it to be super helpful in motivating me to actually exercise. For me it’s hard to motivate myself to just drop what I’m doing and start exercising at home/around the neighborhood, but a lot easier to motivate myself to just go somewhere, and from there it’s just a simple “well, I’m at the exercise place, might as well exercise”. Or is “I would like for my organs to continue functioning” generally enough motivation for you?

    Also, happy birthday!

  23. SoldierHawk says:

    Happy birthday Shamus <3

    I hope things improve for you as quickly as possible, and that this coming year is one of positive change and recovering health! Not that there's much a relative stranger on the internet can do, but if there IS anything we can do to help or make things easier, I'm sure we'd all jump at the chance.

    Health is a very personal journey, but at the very least we're all here wishing you the best and cheering you on!

  24. MelTorefas says:

    Happy birthday! You have my deepest sympathies re: medications. This month is the 9-year anniversary of when I got sick (or, more accurately, of when my illness finally hit the point of becoming symptomatic), and I have completely lost count of how many different medications I have been on during that time. MedicationQuest is definitely my least favorite game of the last decade. I am glad you’ve got insurance, and doctors who are working with you. Best of luck with all of that!

  25. bobbert says:

    Racquetball is good excise and a lot of fun, but you need to be careful about hitting yourself in the face with full force. That really hurts, trust me.

    1. Geebs says:

      You also have to be careful that the person you’re playing against doesn’t find out about the rule that says that if they hit the ball into you, you lose the point. Ouch.

      1. Syal says:

        Racquetball is a game that requires a lot more padding than you ever see people wear.

      2. bobbert says:

        I never knew about that one. It sounds like it makes the game much faster paced.

  26. Patrick the organ donor says:

    You know…… the irony that you have a failing body, and I have the constitution of herd of rhinos, but have a incredibly useful consciousness, while mine is a trainwreck (carrying many other smaller trainwrecks filled with dumpster fires) is not lost on me. Or anyone that knows us.

    Tell you what: you can have a kidney if you take 3 or 4 of my neurotic behaviors and their associated pharmacological solutions. That way maybe one of us will be able to make it to age 60 without being batshit crazy. The pattern has to end eventually….right?

    Also I bought you a bag of potatoes for your birthday. Also f**k you.

    “You’re not dying! You just can’t think of anything good to do!” C. Frye

  27. unit3000-21 says:

    Happy birthday Shamus, and please stay healthy – there’s still plenty of games that really need your retrospectives, and my eyballs certainly need those :)

  28. BlueHorus says:

    Happy Birthday, Shamus.

    I was definitely going to be one of those people who told you to take it easy and not worry about the blog, but given what you said instead I’ll just engage with it as usual.
    Surely some puns will help, right?

  29. Echo Tango says:

    so many pills that I could almost dump them in a bowl and eat them with a spoon

    Obligatory video link.

  30. Tarous Zars says:

    Happy Birthday Shamus.
    I hope the doctors can help you figure out your issues.
    I’m glad writing for the site is a good outlet for you.
    I’m mostly a lurker. I doubt I have 5 comments in the last 15 years or so I’ve been reading here, but you continue to put out enjoyable content, and I continue to read it.
    Keep it up.

  31. Hang in there, good sir. Rest assured that you’re reaching plenty of people with your work, and it’s always thought-provoking.

  32. RamblePak64 says:

    Happy birthday, Shamus.

    I am bad at these sorts of things. I want to say something positive but all I can think of is how much it sounds like an empty platitude. What I will say is that statement “the body is a temple” is a crock. The body is a self-sabotaging machine whose only purpose is its own destruction.

    What a jerk!

  33. RFS-81 says:

    On the podcast, you talked about people wishing you Happy Birthday because Facebook told them. Here I am, wishing you Happy Birthday because you mentioned it.

    Happy Birthday, and good luck with your health!

    (It’s still your birthday in your time zone, right?)

  34. Mark says:

    Happy birthday Shamus! I want you to know that I am both optimistic about your health and excited to see what this site has in store.

  35. Socks says:

    int main()
    for (auto shamus : {0x70124b4242537a12, 0x4b53565a46405b12})
    while (shamus >>= 8)
    std::cout << (char)((shamus & 0xff) ^ 0x32); // 0x32 == 50 in decimal
    std::cout << "!\n";
    return 0;

  36. Dragmire says:

    Happy Birthday!

    Your initial health scare prompted a large change in my life and habits.
    I have hypertension that I’ve been treating as a ‘tomorrow’ problem(I’m 34). I now do daily morning exercise(30-40 min cardio on elliptical on workdays and 60-70 min on days off), I’ve cut energy drinks completely, I eat less in general and healthier too(also, no late eating) and I’ve structured a solid sleep schedule. Net loss so far is 17lbs, putting me below 200lbs for the first time in years(I’ve gained 2 belt holes!).

    Thanks Shamus for talking about your experience, it’s given me the kick in the pants I needed to live a better life!

  37. Smilodon says:

    Happy birthday! I’m a few hours late on the day but oh well, it’s still the 24th somewhere.

    High blood pressure can be a surprisingly nebulous pain in the ass at times. My father has been dealing with it this year and the only consequence he’s had is twice he’s gotten fairly bad chest pains that go away while he’s waiting at the ER for someone to actually see him. So it barely has any noticeable effect now, but because it can cause problems long term it’s still an issue to worry about even when you’re feeling fine. At least you’re aware of it and able to try to address it, even if the ways of doing so can be a real drag. Good luck with it!

  38. Mr. Wolf says:

    I was going to celebrate your birthday by listing all the cool guys in their 50’s I could think of, but none of them have the medical conditions of somebody twenty years older.

    You’ve just ruined my entire day, Shamus. How could you be so selfish?

  39. Dreadjaws says:

    Well, happy birthday. I’m late, but in my defense I’m also in a bit of health issue. Nothing like yours, it’s just some allergy/rash, but I’m having to do a twice-a-week treatment for it on another city and that means little sleep, lots of traveling and nearly nothing of internet usage every tuesday and thursday.

    I really hate this. I’m tired all the time, I have to deal with several new expenses and I have even less time for entertainment than usual, but if I don’t do it I will literally scratch myself to bleed. I’ve gotten only marginally better in the last couple of months, so I guess it’s going to take a while.

  40. Smith says:

    I still think you look kinda like Alan Tudyk.

  41. Magerose says:

    Wishing you health, love, wealth, happiness and just everything your heart desires. Happy Birthday!

  42. Benjamin Paul Hilton says:

    Man, I specifically remember I started reading this blog just before “ding 40” so, thanks for ten years of content.

  43. Aitrus says:

    All the best, Shamus, from an internet rando.

  44. Alberek says:

    Hang in there Shamus!

  45. Algeh says:

    Happy belated birthday!

    Corn sensitivity sounds extremely obnoxious to manage, since it’s in everything and it’s not one of the designated “common allergens” that get extra label attention. If possible, try to build a relationship with a pharmacist who is already used to dealing with oddball issues so they can help you figure out if any of the different generics, with different “inactive” ingredients, would let you avoid corn by switching to a different brand. (This only works for meds that are off-patent, obviously.) You could also try a compounding pharmacy. All of this is a nightmare to justify to insurance companies, though, so you’ll have to investigate if it’s worth it for your particular combination of problems and available tools.

  46. Cuthalion says:

    Late happy birthday! Hope you’re able to get everything fully under control health-wise soon.

  47. Duoae says:

    Hey Shamus, congratulations on another year conquered!

    I can’t imagine how bummed out you must get during those cycles of depression/lack of energy.

    I do know one way I can help, given that this is my industry, though bear in mind I don’t live in the USA. The companies I’ve worked for have sold to the NA market so I presume what I know to be factually applicable to your situation.

    There are definite requirements for listing the composition of medicines – WAY more so than food products. There are numerous ways to get the information on which excipients are used in formulations for tablets and capsules. First is the leaflet that is usually provided within the box (where you can check the other ingredients section for “maize starch” – the Pharmacopeial name for it.

    Then there are the various public assessment reports which are issued by various national medicines bodies around the world and are used as a way to provide information to the public on medications. So, if you’re not finding excipient info on a website or in the patient leaflet then searching for “public assessment report solpadeine plus” (for example) would bring up one from one of those bodies. Look under the composition section.

    There are also quite a few websites dedicated to patient information for drugs too. I don’t frequent these but this is just one I found while I was compiling this post.

    Hopefully this was helpful.

    1. pseudonym says:

      For US citizens these things can be found on the fda site. There is a service called fdalabel there.
      Here is an example for omeprazole (for stomach aches induced by acid surplus, it is a proton-pump inhibitor) https://nctr-crs.fda.gov/fdalabel/services/spl/set-ids/e7a9bd1c-9d47-4c2b-9373-b8f2139c5207/spl-doc?hl=omeprazole

      It lists the inactive ingredients at the bottom. Including corn starch in this case. So hopefully fdalabel helps.

      Also, much belated happy birthday!

      1. Shamus says:

        That is SUPER helpful, thanks!

        1. pseudonym says:

          I am glad you find it helpful, Shamus. Thanks to Douae I was reminded how to find this. All drugs have to be registered before they can be used in most countries. These registers are usually public. I was browsing the Dutch one lately (https://geneesmiddeleninformatiebank.nl). I figured that there had to be a USA equivalent and that the FDA would be the one maintaining it. (I also work in public health, so it was a short leap for me.)

          I also find that the FDA not only publicizes the label, but also the approval report which contains all the research they conducted to determine it was safe. It also includes some recommendations for use. While all this useful patient information should be on the label it can also be enlightening at times to read these reports. (I didn’t find the database for this, but using search on the fda site worked just fine).
          The Dutch geneesmiddelenbank actually contains the report and the label side by side, so that is super convenient.

          And I also hope Douae reads this. It is nice to be able to work together in a wordpress comment thread to help someone across the globe. Thank you Douae, for being such a nice person. I always like your questions on the diecast as well.

          1. Duoae says:

            Thanks for the kind words, Pseudonym! I always try to help whenever I can :)

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