Farrell Comes To Visit

(not) Meteorologist Farrell Meisel at Studio5E, Irvine

Farrell Meisel came to visit today. He’s the International Man of Mystery, an ex-pat living in Baku, Azerbaijan. He’s on leave for a few weeks and home in the Palm Springs area.

Farrell played a pivotal role in my TV career. He cast me as the male co-host for PM Magazine/Buffalo. It was my first full time TV job.

I know Farrell about 10 minutes longer than I know Helaine! After I met Farrell on the phone and accepted his offer of a job I rushed from the WIFI radio studio, rounded a hallway and knocked down a new girl in promotions — Helaine! We met as I was giving notice.

It was important to me that Farrell approved my studio in-person. And he did. He even took a spin in the chroma key.

The Balancing Act

By the way — all my doctors and other medical professionals I deal with say, “Don’t read that stuff.” Seriously. Every one. Now comes the balancing act. I want Creon’s effects, though not quite as strong as they are now. I’m checking with my oncologist today if it’s OK to self dose?

24,000 U Creon capsules.  It take one with meals and snacks up to 3-4 times a day.It’s been six days since I began taking Creon, a drug to replace enzymes my pancreas no longer makes. It has been, so far, a pretty big success.

CREON and other pancreatic enzyme products are made from the pancreas of pigs, the same pigs people eat as pork. These pigs may carry viruses. Although it has never been reported, it may be possible for a person to get a viral infection from taking pancreatic enzyme products that come from pigs.

Hooray for me!

I’ve stopped taking Imodium and cut way back on Zofran and Compazine, all prescribed “as needed.” At one point I was dosing for my stomach five or six times a day.

That’s the good news. The bad news is my blood sugar has spiked.

Because of my Whipple surgery and cancer treatment half my pancreas is gone. The rest is sort of functioning a little. I’m diabetic and inject insulin and ingest Invokana every day. Until now they had effectively zeroed my diabetes out.

What’s happening isn’t unexpected. Blood sugar is the number one concern on Creon’s list.

The most common side effects include: increased (hyperglycemia) or decreased (hypoglycemia) blood sugars, pain in your stomach area (abdominal area), frequent or abnormal bowel movements, gas, vomiting, dizziness, or sore throat and cough.

By the way — all my doctors and other medical professionals I deal with say, “Don’t read that stuff.” Seriously. Every one.

Now comes the balancing act. I want Creon’s effects, though not quite as strong as they are now. I’m checking with my oncologist today if it’s OK to self dose?

As for the blood sugar, my endocrinologist (I’m collecting a full set of specialists) is having me feel my way to a slightly higher dose of insulin. The pen I inject with has a very easy method for controlling the amount I get.

In so many ways this reminds me of setting the chroma key this weekend with Larry. Every control affects other controls. It’s all just a balancing act.

Even with the cancer gone, this cancer stuff takes a lot of work.

There’s This Law We Need

Humira and Enbrel are on TV all-the-time. That’s because they cost around the same as a baby Lexus. Here’s the law we need. Every commercial for a drug must carry the list price in the same typeface and style used by the most prominent text in the ad. It must be on long enough to be comfortably read.

Are there enough drug commercials on television? I can’t turn on the set without seeing happy people conquering life altering problems.

If your drug is aimed at a subset of a subset of a subset of humanity how many pills can you sell? How can they afford this advertising? It’s not volume!

The specialized drugs you see advertised on TV are there because their list prices run in the tens of thousands of dollars per year.

There’s a new one for excema which caught the Times’ attention.

The drug, to be called Dupixent, will carry a list price of $37,000 a year, a hefty price tag for patients who are increasingly being asked to pay a larger share of the drugs they take. Still, its price is a bit lower than many other commonly used biologic drugs, such as Humira and Enbrel, that treat other skin diseases. – NYTimes

Humira and Enbrel are on TV all-the-time. That’s because they cost around the same as a baby Lexus.

Here’s the law we need. Every commercial for a drug must carry the list price in the same typeface and style used by the most prominent text in the ad. It must be on long enough to be comfortably read.

It seems silly that the United State government, probably the largest purchaser of drugs in the world, gets the worst of all deals. You’re on the hook for me through Medicare. You’re being taken to the cleaners.

The New And Improved Studio 5E

In retrospect I should have caught it. When built and installed the studio camera and lighting were mostly eyeballed in. I was learning. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. It worked, so I never went back.

Me holding an HD chip chart. This ‘photo’ is actually a frame of video. The colors look crisp and bright. All the grays are distinguishable. The chroma key is clean.

I made a presentation for a potential client last week and was very disappointed they were disappointed with my studio’s video.

They were right. In retrospect I should have caught it.

When built and installed the studio camera and lighting were mostly eyeballed in. I was learning. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

It worked, so I never went back.

Me and Larry Fitzgerald on the patio.

This weekend it was time to get everything in spec. Larry Fitzgerald, friend from his Channel 8 New Haven days came by. Larry’s an editor based in Burbank. He cuts packages for Miss USA and Miss Universe every year and does a lot of reality shows. A lot.

At Channel 8 he was our production director in charge of all studio activities. He was the perfect assistant (and by assistant I mean I did everything he told me to do).

All these adjustments control the keyer. We’re attempting to remove a specific shade of green, but at many different brightness levels. It’s magic.

We moved the camera forward, the lights back and removed some diffusing paper. For those counting I’m getting around 29 lux on my face while standing on my mark.

With a “chip chart” we calibrated the camera. We checked the colors on a vectorscope to make sure the phase was correctly set. White is now white! What a concept.

There’s additional light hitting the green wall with the diffusing paper off. That meant starting from scratch resetting the chroma key. This process lets me stand in front of a blank green wall and look like I’m in front of a map.

My TriCaster’s keyer likes the additional light. It’s delivering the cleanest key I’ve gotten.

OMFG — the waveform monitors are showing exactly what they’re supposed to show!

As you can tell from the photo, Larry’s pretty pleased. Me too. My gear is capable of looking as good as any HD studio. It’s my fault it didn’t look that way last week. It does now.

I’m One Of The Doctors

Each pill is a specialist. Two (I alternate) are for nausea, one helps my stomach digest food more efficiently with enzymes and the last one no one wants to hear about. Seriously, you don’t.

Creon retails at over $8 per pill. I take 3-4 a day.
At the moment I’m taking four different medications for stuff going on in my stomach–all adverse reactions to treatment. The cure is chemical.

Each pill is a specialist. Two (I alternate) are for nausea. One helps my stomach digest food more efficiently using enzymes. The last one no one wants to hear about. Seriously, you don’t.

A few are taken at meals. Others every four hours. One is as needed, up to eight times a day. It’s confusing.

Do they interact? Yes. Therein lies the rub. Interaction has brought a new problem, also unmentionable.

I have a fairly good understanding of the dosing involved. Now I’ll start adjusting schedules until the pills and my stomach are happy together.

I don’t expect my doctors to do this. I’m not sure how they could.

Oh — and pills are expensive. I’m not sure who pays list price, but Walgreen says my insurance saved me $838 on the last one alone. My end was $13 and change. When I can I get my pills from the insurance company’s mail order pharmacy which usually has zero copay.

A few months from now my medical obligations will fade away. I’ll be in observe and report mode with regular testing. Medical intervention should slow down, maybe stop. Until then, I’m one of the doctors.

You Know That Healthcare Thing?

Dear America —

You know, the healthcare thing that got shot down today because far right Republicans couldn’t agree with moderate Republicans? There is a way to get a better deal than what Obamacare is now.

COMPROMISE!

Bring in the Democrats. Make a deal. No one said Obamacare can’t be better.

There are 192 Dems. You don’t need to convince every one, just thirty or so. On the other hand, there is no compromise from the Freedom Caucus (aka Tea Party), the Republican’s most conservative faction.

Our nation’s history is filled with bipartisan compromise. It’s part of our nation’s strength.

For a few decades I helped negotiate the union contract at Channel 8. It’s a difficult job I’d never want again.

In the end both sides compromise to make a deal they can live with. No one gets exactly what they want, but both sides are invested in the outcome. And it’s tougher to be a dick in a face-to-face negotiation than it is in a press release.