I don’t want to jinx it, but …

On Friday, I handed back the first essay for Contemporary Moral Issues, the course I’m TA-ing this semester in the philosophy department at McGill. This time, I tried something new: Before I handed back the paper, I told them all to wait at least twenty-four hours before they talk to me or email me to dispute their grades, so that their emotions could settle.

After handing back their papers, I could see a number of furrowed brows and dismayed looks, but (perhaps out of pity for me—I told them I had periodontal surgery that week) none of them tried to demand a re-grading before leaving.

It’s now been about 68 hours (at the time of posting) since I handed back the papers, and no one has emailed me to complain about her mark.

This is wonderful! Could it be the case that all of my students are so mature that they are willing to simply accept my critiques of their papers, take responsibility for their work, and try harder for the next essay without complaining?

I guess I’ll find out tomorrow during my office hours. On the upside, I now have a fresh bottle of prescription pain killers. :)

University applications

In a previous post, I was very explicit about just exactly how I feel about applying for university programmes. Today I will continue that rant.

First, I would like to point out that McGill’s website was updated this week to reflect the documents that I sent them in mid-January. That is to say, my application was due a month and a half ago. For this application, all the supporting documents on the checklist were sent two and a half months ago. For those of you who are counting, that means that the supporting documents were a month early. And it is only this week that they are bothering to let me know that the documents were received.

Further, I was emailed two days ago by the person who is processing my application. She told me that I was missing a document!

This shocked me, because there was a checklist on the McGill website that I followed very closely, and I made sure to do every single thing on the list that I could, even to the inclusion of vaccinations and starting to investigate CPR courses. I had a red pen, and I checked off everything on the checklist when I did it, and I got it all done well in advance of the deadline.

Somehow, I was expected to know that another document (a table indicating which science prerequisites I have fulfilled) was required, even though McGill provided a checklist, and this document was not listed there. In their defence, the table is available on their website, but really, if you’re going to provide a checklist of required documents, in a PDF labelled, “Application Instructions,” I think you forfeit the right to complain if one of the applicants fails to submit a document that is not mentioned on that checklist.

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood because I had surgery on my face two days ago, but does anyone else think that I’m being unreasonable to expect that the “Required Documents” checklist on the “Application Instructions” PDF for a university programme be an exhaustive list of required documents?

I was given until the 30th to hand it in. It took all of 15 mins to gather the information. I put it in an envelope and hand-delivered it to the address myself yesterday. I’m still kind of frustrated, though.

I wonder why there aren’t any economic pressures keeping this sort of thing from happening. I mean, if a normal, private, for-profit business was run with this sort of efficiency, it would never survive.

Recovering from surgery today

The last time I had periodontal work, it was a smaller operation. All the guy did was pull my gums down to cover more of my teeth and sew them in place so they wouldn’t pull back up again. The guy even gave me a mirror before the operation so I could watch!

This time, it was a little more complicated. He took a length of tissue, about a 0.5 mm thick from the roof of my mouth to graft onto the gums in front of my bottom teeth. The guy said it was “enough to make a brother out of it.” I don’t do enough periodontal surgery myself to comment on whether or not this was the case.

On the upside, since he took it all in one long graft, he’s only charging me for one operation, which he would normally do in two. This saves me some money. Actually, it saves me a lot of money.

I could tell that this one was more complicated, because the guy didn’t give me the mirror until after the operation was done. Somewhat disconcerting: I saw the doctor accidentally drop the graft of tissue from my mouth between removing it and attaching it to my gums. It happened when the person operating the suction machine knocked his hand. I didn’t see where it fell. Probably on the little bib that they put on me before the operation.

I was afraid for a minute that he would have to take another graft.

It’s probably not a big deal though. If the tissue is going to survive being drugged with general anaesthetic and then cut out of my mouth and then sewed onto another part of my mouth, it’s probably going to survive a drop like that. I saw him wash it off afterward, anyway.

He said that I’ll feel all right probably today or tomorrow, but in 3–4 days, I’ll feel like I have an infection. We’ll see. He’s right for the time being: I feel okay!

On the way home, they gave me an ice pack for my face, to help with the swelling. The thing about ice packs after periodontal surgery is that, due to the anaesthetic, you can’t tell whether you’re not putting a cold part of the ice pack on your face, or whether the ice pack itself isn’t cold, or if it’s just your face being numb, but you’re doing it properly.

My lower lip feels like it’s a metre thick.

Periodontal surgery today

This morning at 9h30, I will have the last of the periodontal operations that my dentist recommended last summer. I’ve been having surgery on my gums because apparently my teeth are too long. Last November, he went in and pulled the gums down over my top teeth. Today, he’s gonna take one part of my gums and put it over my bottom teeth.

The guy says that my gums aren’t a problem now, but that they might become a problem in a few years, if they’re left going the way they are. I’m just glad that my PGSS health insurance covers part of it. (They don’t however, cover nearly as much as they say they will on their website.)

On the upside, I’m done all my marking (for the moment) and I don’t have any other particular meetings scheduled for the rest of the day, so I can just recover. Or at least, that’s the plan.

I specifically asked for the Borg implant

Maybe next time
Maybe next time

I had a minor accident a few weeks back, where I suffered a blow to the head. I didn’t think it was too bad, so I didn’t end up going to the hospital for it right away.

I didn’t plan on going to the hospital at all, actually. I had a great black eye, and I just told everyone that I got into a big fight.

Come to think of it, “I didn’t think it was very serious, so I didn’t go to the doctor” is a theme that recurs in my medical history a lot.

It wasn’t until my eye got infected that I went to the hospital. I went in, told the ER doctor my symptoms:

“Itchy eye, red eye colouration, headaches, watery eyes, runny nose, sore throat.”

She took my temperature, blood pressure and heart rate.

“You have a fever, Mr. Carlisle,” she told me, struggling with my last name (French Canadians have a hard time figuring out the silent S), “When you blow your nose, does the phlegm have any colour?”

“Yes, in fact. It’s black.”

“Black?” she asked, surprised.

You know that you have something good when your symptoms shock the ER doctor. I blew my nose and proved it to her.

I sat in the waiting room until another doctor came to see me, and pronounced that I had pink eye, and was about to send me on my way when I asked if the pink eye would explain the fever that I had.

“Fever?” she asked. That’s two ER doctors that I shocked.

She started feeling around my skull at that point, seeing where it hurt and didn’t, and decided to send me for a CT scan. I dripped my pink-eye tears all over the CT machine. I’m sure that the next 5 patients to use it will get infected, thanks to me.

When the results came back, she told me that I had broken my right orbital floor, and the tissues surrounding my eye were actually falling down into my sinus. That would explain the fever, sore throat, and the blood in my phlegm. There wasn’t any bone supporting my right eye, so it was literally falling through my face. I would need surgery.

I was sent to see an ophthalmologist, who told me that my right eye had fallen about 3mm from where it should be. On the upside though, he told me that I still have 20/20 vision, and that there’s no nerve damage or damage to my retina. The only problem is the broken bone and the pink eye.

I was sent to see the surgeons who were going to fix my face, and they sent me home for a week and a half, to let the infection go away, so that they don’t let it get inside my skull. On Friday, August 6th, I had my surgery, and despite my specific instructions that they replace my right eye with a Borg-style implant, they only put a metal plate in my skull, to fix the bone, and put my eye right back where it should be. I will make a full recovery and require no bionic implants at all.

The swelling has gone down almost entirely, and I’m feeling good. I think they must have made the incision into my head somewhere inside my eyelid, so there won’t even be a scar.

There were only two really scary parts about this whole thing:

1. When I am put on morphine, I have hallucinations. Not really bad ones, but I consistently have them. This time, I seriously believed that if I stopped consciously thinking about my breathing, then I would stop breathing, and probably die. I was very afraid to go to sleep.

2. When I mentioned to the doctors that I’m a MA bioethics student at McGill, they had a sort of “we better be on our best behaviour now” thing going on, which scared me. What do they think they can normally get away with, that they can’t with a bioethicist watching?