i biked down to mass general hospital this morning for my 10:15 follow-up appointment with my doctor. it was a bittersweet visit since this would be my last, now that i've switched my health insurance. i've been going to MGH for close to a decade now. hopefully in a year or so i can switch back under a difference insurance plan.
my doctor saw me and was about to fill out a lab work slip when i reminded him that i'd already came in earlier in the week to get my blood taken. he noticed my potassium level was low, which shouldn't be the case when taking an angiotensin II receptor antagonist (ARB) like diovan. if anything, my potassium level should be high. that made him think that i might have hyperaldosteronism, a medical condition where the adrenal glands overproduce aldosterone, which decrease potassium levels in the blood while elevating blood pressure. he seemed pretty excited at a possible breakthrough in solving my mysterious HBP, but then i told him the bad news that i was switching out of MGH because of insurance reasons. he gave me instructions on what i should tell my new doctor and hoped i'd be able to return to MGH someday.
at one point my cellphone rang with my WGBH boston chime noise. "that's a cool ring," my doctor said, and busted out his brand new iphone 4 that he got yesterday.
so whether or not i have hyperaldosteronism isn't certain yet, but it gives me a chance to switch my HBP medication. just last week it was reported in a medical study that ARB's led to an increase in new cancers. hyperaldosteronism can be controlled by medication, and in some cases surgery might be required if the cause is a benign tumor growing on the adrenal gland. i've had HBP for 18 years now, pretty much half my life. it'd definitely be a good thing if modern medicine can finally find a cure for what i have, not just control it.
since i was already in boston on a friday, my city trip wouldn't be complete without a visit to the nearby haymarket. today's haul: bag of basil ($2), seedless red grapes (2lbs./$2), seedless black grapes (2lbs./$3), red cherries (3lbs./$6), navel oranges (10/$4), and strawberries (2 boxes/$2).
not wanting to deal with the street traffic, i decided to take the more circuitous charles river bike path back home instead. normally i'd get to it by cutting across boston common to the sky bridge over storrow drive, but ever since my trip to the south end 2 weeks ago, i learned that i can also get onto the path from the longfellow bridge near the charles/MGH station.
the ride back to cambridge was uneventful, and i stopped off at the cafe first to drop off some loot. i didn't have lunch yet (it was actually rather early, just around noontime) so my mother made me some homemade beef broth noodle soup with hand-drawn noodles.
after i got home, i took a shower before heading back out again, this time taking the motorcycle to belmont. i had to let hailey out to use the bathroom and it'd give me a chance to inspect the garden, even though i was just there on wednesday.
one of the tomato plants my father got from the korean supermarket has the biggest tomato flowers i've ever seen. normally the pedals on a tomato flower curls back (resembling a yellow rocket with flames shooting out the back), but the pedals on these flowers were outstretched. i wonder if that means the tomatoes will be unusually large as well.
it'll be just a matter of weeks before we'll have some fresh cucumbers to eat. i'm surprised it's even able to produce just one cucumber since the plants themselves still seem stunted from the initial transplant shock. it's probably because these cucumbers are excellent producers, bred as F1 hybrids.
the mysterious allium flowers are also colorizing and the color is: magenta! so these are in fact the same magenta alliums i planted more than a decade and a half ago but haven't seen for the longest time. they were just laying dormant, waiting to be dug up and replants. they'll be a pretty sight once they've all bloomed. too bad they couldn't coincide with the blue alliums, which already bloomed a few weeks earlier.
i identified an insect today that i've seen before but didn't know what they were called: giant resin bees. at first i thought they were some deformed elongated carpenter bees (they're about an inch long). they definitely were hanging out by the old carpenter bee nest hole on a wooden post. apparently giant resin bees don't make their own nests, but use old ones left behind by carpenter bees. resin bees can't even eat through wood the way carpenter bees can. there was a bunch of them, flying around and chasing one another. the one by the nest hole might've been the female, while the others were attracted males hoping to mate. the female will lay eggs inside the hole (along with some pollen balls for food) and the larvae will emerge as adults next summer. giant resin bees are a non-native species, having made their way from asia to the united states during the 1990's. they're essentially harmless, but scientists are still researching if they're displacing any native bees.
finally, there's a terrible stink in the backyard. the problem is our compost bin, which is mostly grass clippings (green), with no brown ingredients. my sister has a paper shredder which i used to shred some supermarket circulars. that still wasn't enough to mask the strong ammonia smell. i need to get my hands on a big sunday edition and go to town with the shredder. it's weird seeing grass clippings mixed in with strings of paper, like office trash mixed with garden refuse (looks kind of gross). i'm hoping the paper will reduce to a point where i won't know it was paper.
i left soon after my sister came home. i felt tired, not sure whether it's due to all the biking i've been doing, or my low potassium level.