When Someone Turns On The Light At The End of The Tunnel

Oscar Gordon

A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget.

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43 Responses

  1. Wow, good luck, Oscar. I really hope it works out for you.Report

  2. Joe Sal says:

    I hope it goes well for ya.Report

  3. Richard Hershberger says:

    A few years back we were hearing about stem cells as a magic bullet. That hasn’t happened, but there are a lot of less dramatic treatments popping up using them. Good luck, and good PT!Report

    • Kim in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

      Chemistry is dead, long live biology.
      Please don’t mistake press releases from starveling companies as actual medical information.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kim says:

        Please don’t mistake press releases from starveling companies as actual medical information.

        I have no idea what this means…Report

        • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Chemically treating illnesses is dramatically losing effectivity (put simply, we’re not coming up with as many antibiotics, etc as we used to.) in propping up stock prices.

          Stem Cells (and proteins, and biological based stuff in general) hold a lot of promise of new and interesting (and expensive) treatments (like Humera). Also, with the RW going nutso, there’s plenty of reason for Bayer and company to hype the everliving shit out of the only thing that might keep them in business in fifty years.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Kim says:

            Thank you, much clearer, and very salient.

            Much like biomimicry is making inroads into engineering, what we are learning about activating the body to cure itself is pretty exciting (like immunotherapy for cancer).Report

  4. Doctor Jay says:

    That sounds really wonderful, and I wish you the best.Report

  5. Morat20 says:

    Good luck. 🙂 Sometimes, despite all the crap, we do live in an age of miracles. And “Oh hey, we’ll just regrow some cartilage there buddy out of your own body, none of this transplant crap” is pretty darn miraculous.

    (HSA’s are limited because they’re not really intended to cover your entire medical costs, but to cover your deductible plus a fairly reasonable amount of out-of-pocket. Since they can be invested, inherited, etc, they wanted to cap it to prevent some fun possible workarounds for inheritance. It’s way too low, though given where HDHP deductibles have started to settle. Double what it is might be better. It’s not like many people max them out, though).Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Morat20 says:

      I know, and I don’t even have to float in a bacta tank for it to happen.

      And yeah, $10K of HSA is probably more reasonable, even if it rarely gets maxed.

      I was hoping to get this scheduled straight away, but I have to deal with the VA first, and as usual, that will take time.Report

      • Kim in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        If you put in $5k this year, and $5k next year…
        (Remember, these are designed for people who will start them young, and then have a nice $20k nestegg).Report

        • Morat20 in reply to Kim says:

          Doesn’t do you much good when you’re 40, have a family, and your company says “We’re switching to all HDHP’s next year”. And then your first year on the plan is the most expensive year, medically, you’ve ever had in your life. By like a factor of 5.

          I ended up the year 13k out of pocket on a 10k out of pocket max, which was a lot more than the 6.5k maxed HSA I had. (Admittedly, that extra 3k was a fun in-network/out-of-network SNAFU that was enough our fault to make the bill stick).

          2015 sucked, is all I’m saying.Report

  6. Burt Likko says:

    One thing I wasn’t quite clear on — would these be your own stem cells? It would seem so — and if so, how are they harvested? I’m not a scientist (of any sort, much less the kind that knows details about this stuff) but I thought stem cells in adults are created only in bone marrow. So that means you’ll have to get a bone opened up and some marrow harvested. Ouch.

    A small price to pay to eliminate a significant pain and impairment for the rest of your life, I’m sure — but for those who have ethical freakouts when stem cells are mentioned with respect to medical procedures, an assurance of sorts that people will not be playing with these basic building blocks of human life casually.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Yep, mine, my own, my precioussss stem cells.

      They do a bone marrow aspiration from my hip. They don’t need a lot, so it isn’t a large procedure. I’ll be awake for all of it. They’ll give be some local anesthetic, but only in certain areas, because anesthetics are toxic to stem cells, so they can’t be present at the harvest site.

      It’ll suck, but when you live in near constant pain, you develop a hell of a tolerance for it, especially if I know it’s coming and can kind of prepare myself for it mentally.Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Burt Likko says:

      The particular cancerous thingy Kevin Drum has required them to harvest stem cells — they did it by pumping him full of a drug that increases stem cell oroduction, and then basically hooking him to a machine that would pull blood in, filter out the stem cells, and shove it back in his body. Sorta like dialysis, really.

      He had multiple sessions of that. I think they needed a good amount, and it was safer (and far less painful) than getting enough via bone marrow. (The drug has some side-effects, so I’m sure the trade off varies).Report

  7. greginak says:

    Good luck. Modern medicine, for all its faults, can be miraculous.Report

  8. Maribou says:

    I’m really glad it seems to be working out, and I hope you get a real improvement. I know what you mean about “when you live in near constant pain”. It actually took years to figure out that I have a high pain tolerance, because I just thought it was that awful for everybody.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Maribou says:

      because I just thought it was that awful for everybody

      I have to remember that when my wife gets hurt and doesn’t just “walk it off”.Report

      • Maribou in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Yep. I had a sister who can and has broken bones without really being bothered, another sister who is immobilized by a sprain. The physiology of injury is really different between them, not just the “toughness factor” or whatever.

        (Also, pain threshold is separate from pain tolerance. Low pain threshold and high pain tolerance was my fun combo. Doesn’t mix well with chronic pain in terms of getting help, though it does mix well in terms of living an active life compared to others with my set of chronic illnesses.)Report

        • Kim in reply to Maribou says:

          Sadly, I knew a friend who broke bones at the drop of a hat (well, not literally, but nearly so. carrying a bookbag meant broken bones, sometimes). She mostly just dealt with it.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:


          Does that fall under sensory processing stuff?

          Mayo and I are wired similarly to what you describe. LMA also seems to have it but not quite as extreme.Report

          • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

            @kazzy Sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question. Which “that” are you referring to?

            … or maybe you’re using “sensory processing” as a term of art / childhood development as opposed to just the plain sense of the words? Like, you’re talking about sensory processing disorder? If so as far as I know it’s a separate thing but might be a symptom of the latter – just not coextensive with it. If not, well, yeah, pain is a sensation so …

            Not trying to be difficult, I just went to respond to your comment and realized I didn’t really understand.

            If it helps, in my particular case, the low pain threshold, high pain tolerance, probably has to do with my abuse history. Though that really doesn’t explain why my other two sisters have a) high/high and b) low/low … not without getting into the psychology of Being The Oldest, anyway.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:


              No worries! I’m no expert but my quasi-informed opinion is that we now recognize sensory processing as a spectrum (or really a series of spectrums (spectra?)). So some people — like me — are more hyposensitive with touch… If I hug you I’m liable to squeeze real hard and not realize and if you hug me without squeezing real hard it will barely register. Others are more hypersensitive. At the extremes you may reach a point of being “disordered” (Mayo was tested and was that direction but not past the line). Then you have hearing (judging from your requests regarding the Leaguefest restaurant, you may be on the more sensitive side… I’m low here also) and other stuff.

              Some of this is genetic but because it is “wiring” things can be rewired — intentionally or otherwise.

              But I don’t know enough to know if everything relating to senses — such as pain — are related.

              I do know I often burn myself because the pain doesn’t register fast/strong enough to pull away before damage is done. And romantic partners (rightly) can complain I’m too rough… Esp if they are on the other end (as Zazzy was). “Stop squeezing me!” “I barely hugged you!”

              Then you have sensory seeking (also Mayo and I) but I don’t know exactly the relationship there.

              It’s really fascinating stuff especially the touch/physical because of how much of human interaction is physical and how folks with different wiring may feel like they’re speaking different languages.Report

              • Atomic Geography in reply to Kazzy says:

                For what it worth, the “sensory processing” angle is part of what makes my life interesting. I can be in pain and not know it. Karen will look at me and ask, “Is anything hurting you?” because I look like I’m in pain – facial expression, how I’m carrying myself etc. Prompted by her, I’ll do a body scan, and sure enough, something hurts.

                If I see myself get hurt, or its chronic pain that I expect, the pain registers more clearly. Severe pain registers normally.

                The point is that the pain registers on my body without necessarily registering on my awareness.Report

              • @atomic-geography That happens to me too. In my case, just because (I think) I’m historically usually in pain, so if I had to pay attention all the time, I would never do anything except sit around noticing that I’m in pain.

                But now that things are more copacetic, I have to literally check in / do body scan stuff. “Why am I making this face; oh, I think my hamstring hurts… Gee, self, hamstring seems to be hurting quite a lot. Maybe we should try one of the things we know helps. Starting with maybe unclenching it?” *sets timer to check again in 20 minutes and see if painkillers are needed*Report

              • Maribou in reply to Kazzy says:

                Well, ok, in that sense, yes, they’re related. People who are hypersensitive to touch, purely, also have low pain thresholds for external stimuli (burning, squeezing, etc.). But people who are hypersensitive to touch for other reasons (eg being on the autism spectrum) don’t always have low pain thresholds. And I don’t know if purely hypersensitive people also have low pain thresholds for other things. Don’t know how hyposensitivity works either.

                I only mind being squoze / touched when I am already in a substantial amount of other pain (which is more days than I’d like). If I’m not already in pain, I want all of the squozing :D. And sometimes even then as long as it isn’t a surprise and I’m in control of it. My stuff is very clearly very abuse-related (for reasons I’d rather not get into) so I don’t know that it is at all generalizable.

                Also, this is not terribly relevant, but my problem with hearing is literally only about processing and not painful discomfort. I can’t *sort* or tune out sounds unless the baseline is quiet, or some sounds are much louder than other sounds – in which case I automatically tune in to the loudest sounds. If I’m in a loud room, I can’t focus on the conversation in front of me because I can’t tune out everything else. If other sounds are objectively louder than my companions, it feels like I can’t *hear* the conversation in front of me or nearby because of the other sounds – I don’t have a filter. Meanwhile at a rock concert or a public square or with headphones on, I am perfectly comfortable with it being ALL OF THE LOUD. More comfortable than is good for my ears, probably, although my hearing is above average for my age. Meanwhile I know other people whose ears just *hurt*, or who feel dizzy or otherwise physically upset, if things are too loud.

                It is all fascinating, I agree.Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Maribou says:


                The filtering thing is a big one I think about with young children, both auditory and visual. While they all have different ways of filtering, we try to strike a balance between a space that is neither over nor under stimulating. My current school — with our Reggio inspired approach — puts even more emphasis on this, especially visuals. Many would call my classroom drab because it lacks the BIG and BOLD primary colors and BUSY BUSY BUSY bulletin boards of typical early childhood classrooms, what with all our neutral tones and natural materials. But the children fill it with color — literally and figuratively — and there is a palpable change in how they function there versus higher stim environments.

                Even seemingly little things — like turning off the A/C when conducting meetings or turning down the volume and brightness on the doorbell-monitor system we need to keep in the space goes a long way towards situating the children for success.

                Thanks for clarifying about the noise stuff. I know many people who struggle with loud noises. I have weird hearing — I like TV and radio loud to the point that people assume I have poor hearing, but then I’ll be the only one to hear the song quietly playing in the background of the store we’re in — but I really throw people off when I complain about silence. Even if you aren’t bothered by loud noises, most people understand that loud noises are bothersome; we all have a threshold at which high volumes are unpleasant. But most people don’t understand the inverse.

                I’m a weird dude.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

            Pain threshold is…weird. I mean for starters, there’s no real good evidence that pain is objective in the first place! (And some evidence that it’s not — that is, you break two people’s arms identically and there is no guarantee they will feel the same “amount” of pain, even before things like subjective pain threshold/experience in managing pain comes into it).

            There’s a reason doctors ended up using the chart of faces thing — it’s really impossible to measure pain in any clinically useful way.

            How all that’s tied up into processing of sensation, past experience, genetics — is unknown. It’s a pretty big question mark and it’s not like our bodies evolved with a fine-tuned pain response. Pain is the body saying “SOMETHING IS WRONG STOP DOING THAT FIX IT”, so really as long as the brain gets the message and has a strong incentive not to continue doing that thing, it’s all good. In terms of reflexive response, it doesn’t matter if that broken wrist is a 6 or a 9 on the pain scale — you’re not going to move your wrist if you can help it.

            (Fun story though: Those faces on the chart? My mom was in a great deal of pain but refusing to admit it, and the nurse basically badgered her into acknowledging it by pointing out the was saying “2” but the face she was making matched “6” and lying about the pain was just going to make the problem worse, not better. )Report

  9. DensityDuck says:

    I think they’re limited to 5K because otherwise people will use them as a tax dodge.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck says:

      I can understand that, but come-on, $5K for a family as a tax dodge? – oh man, don’t let those poor & middle class folks have any kind of tax shelter beyond retirement savings…Report

  10. Aaron David says:

    Good luck on this @oscar-gordon ! And let us know how it turns out.

    I am asking that for myself, as I too have and old car crash injury that is paying dividends 30 years later. I wrapped my dads RX7 around a drainage ditch at 90mph in high school and among other injuries shattered my No. 1 rib and left collar bone. Now I have OA in that area, getting injections to keep the pain at a manageable level. I too would like that to be a thing of the past.

    So, again, Good Luck and here’s to your future health!Report

  11. Best of luck on this.

    And, selfishly, I’ll ask you to keep us up to date as things progress. It’s fascinating.Report

  12. It’s great when you find something that makes a real difference with whatever difficulty you have to carry around. Or when that difference finds you – sometimes it’s as much that as the first.

    So 22 years ago about – that’s about the time of my brain injury. I’m guessing you’re about 20 years younger than I am. Part of my auto-rehab was walking in the woods. For me it was great physically and emotionally – a kind of homecoming. I hope it can be that for you too.Report

  13. Kazzy says:

    Is this what Kobe had done in Germany?Report

  14. Guy says:

    Pretty sweet.

    I’m surprised to hear you can still bike with a knee like that, though. Shows what I know about biking, I guess.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Guy says:


      The lack of cartilage only comes to the fore when the knee is under heavy load (like climbing stairs, or doing lunges or squats). Biking is a different load profile on the knee. Of course, if my bike only had one gear, and I was doing mountain biking, it would suck. But road riding with 27 gears means I can dial in the load.Report

  15. Oscar Gordon says:

    I will post updates as things progress. I see the VA next week to get the process rolling to find out if they want to do it in-house, or if they’ll reimburse me for it.Report