Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sleep, Domesticity, Present Participles 'n Stuff

This is a post found hiding in the Draft Pile... and every crackerjack editor on site is scratching his head, as there's no discernible reason for it to be lurking in the stacks.  It's not great.  It's not terrible. Some of it makes me laugh, but the jokes are for insiders.  Some of you ARE insiders, so there, that's justification enough to let it see the light of day. From textual archaeology, I am dating its origin as May 2011, give or take a decade.

Photo of the Hejrl Hede "Living Museum"

Good morning, and I really mean that!

Okay, so I have a Kotex pad wrapped around my leaking leg, kept in place by a long string of gauze, tied in a cute little bow.  I haven't showered in what I even consider "a while," and no one, not Fred, not La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, and not a single member of the Domestic Staff here at Marlinspike Hall, the ancestral home of the Haddock clan -- NO ONE -- fed the cats.  They are circling my leg, alternately mewling and hissing;  It's making me nervous.  It's also kinda hypnotic.

But hell fire and damnation, I feel so much better than my last effort at consciousness!

Nothing beats, apparently, taking both tizanidine and baclofen at the same time -- when you are totally desperate to stop your leg from spasming, jerking, and flying around the room backward.  I reached that point of desperation at approximately 2 am, and slept until 10 am, without once waking.  I feel so much better... it is beyond description.

So is this how it used to be, at the end of a *good* night's sleep?  I guess so.  I could learn to like this.
Heck... they ought to bottle this. 

Oh, the intricacies of pain, the psychology of it.  I wonder if I could manage my pain, possibly with one hand tied behind my back (with soft organic cotton, please), were I simply able to SLEEP?

The bed is soaked.  From my leg.  Totally gross.  All I can think to do (besides lots of laundry) is to wash the mattress down with soap, water, then alcohol?  Maybe use some Resolve?  (I dunno?!)

Unfortunately, we recently switched to a modern mattress, swapping our old woollen one for The Castafiore's Sleep Number Bed..  In a puzzling move, she, much like the ultra-sensitive Princess in the Hans Christian Andersen Pea Story, sleeps on a pile of the things now -- mostly feather, as was the want of the wealthy in Medieval Times (and ever since).   For historical accuracy's sake, as well as for her famous degenerative discs, the feathered layers are carefully interspersed with fresh straw ticking, and other mattresses of felt, wool, the straw's chaff, even grasses and seaweed.   Thank goodness, she gave up on the rice and oat chaff, which she only managed to crush into oblivion within a minute of her nightly repose.  The Agricultural Minister of Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs) has even consulted with us about his plans for the year's cereal crops -- so much depends upon Bianca's bedding choices.

Yes, you suppose rightly -- she is the bane of the Domestic Staff! In fact, we can only get a Mattress Freshening Crew to service Bianca's peculiar tastes thanks to the intervention of her personal... umm, well, thanks to the intervention of The Cabana Boy's biological father, Sven Feingold.  (It's a long story that involves diagramming the genetic aspect of our housekeeping staff's indentured inheritance.)

She even has the ornamented canopy, to top things off just so.  Her bed is so wholeheartedly medieval that the rest of her apartment fairly screams in Renaissance dissonance (remember, she once redid everything in the style of François 1 -- shoot, she *replicated* the man's bedroom and charged admission...).  See Anacoluthe

I think it might be that her sleeping chamber now resembles something of a stage.  Yes, that's the unconscious draw for The Milanese Nightingale.  Even going to sleep is theatre in the round around here...

Although there were canopies and curtains, these weren’t the full four poster beds with poles at each corner which started to arrive in the 15th century. In the late Middle Ages the best beds had hangings draped from a frame which was suspended from the ceiling beams (see left), sometimes supported by a tall bedhead too, and often with a canopy called a tester or celure. The actual bedstead was usually an independent structure within all the finery. Beds tended to be quite high and might be raised further by being set on a platform.

Hmmm. It would seem that not even a great night's sleep can cure me of my tendency to... what? Think in a lateral way? That's what I prefer to call what others might mistake for Wandering Dementia.

And, as I so frequently inquire: Whose blog is it, anyway?

So, beds.  A straw mattress is not such an ancient construct, did you know?  Actually, a bit of background reading tells us that the mattress form is probably not ideal for straw -- "loose" straw is preferable, in terms of comfort. 

Like all important domestic matters, our greatest needs require the steady, quiet attention of a string of present participles.  Stocking and cleaning the kitchen.  Milk, eggs, flour, and coffee or tea -- good coffee, good tea, mind.  Making bread (which is why it's not on the list).  Filling the salt cellars (from sea to celery).  Separating the recycling and taking out the trash.  Keeping a handy supply of toilet paper. Cleaning the toilet.  Doing the laundry.  Changing the straw, the various chaffs, the grass, and the seaweed in your mattresses.  Or, perhaps, in simpler places than The Manor I live in, just flipping the mattress and exchanging the Egyptian-cotton-high-thread-count sheets with some regularity.

Feeding all sentient beings, and tending the rest.  (Or:  Feed the cats, damn it, and water the tomato plants!)

Yes, feeding the cats is part of the domestic glue that keeps us going.  Is it really all that hard to remember, given that our Feline Remnant can be disturbingly vocal?  Do we need to relegate feeding our indoor pets to one of the inherited tasks taken on by the genetically-engineered Domestic Staff on site?  I think not.  And harrumph!

Okay, so, yes, I have written this strange little post over the course of several hours, adding a word at 9:30 am and a phrase at noon.  As I've done so -- enjoying my day while accomplishing some of what I've listed in the preceding paragraphs -- the strangest thoughts have presented themselves. 


Is there anyone else out there who has an extra-coverage, odor-absorbing Feminine Pad strapped to their shin?

Can I find a soul mate who understands how wheelchairs will track dirt all over the damned place, which is why one should sweep up after one's precious self?

Will I ever be able to find a quality elevated toilet seat, cushioned, maybe, with arms?  (And if I find it, will I be able to afford it, or will it join other such items on my Christmas Wish List?)

Can bandages soaked with serosanguinous fluid be safely recycled, and if so, do I put them with the aluminum or with paper and newsprint?

Is it ever acceptable to return a kitten adopted from a no-kill animal shelter (given an unrepentant and undeterrable penchant for chewing wires transmitting important data, such as blog posts)?

As the fog dissipates

I've been putting off blogging, though each day, lately, has proffered plenty of blog-fodder!  My head is not screwed on correctly, my memory is pretty faulty.  The people, animals, things, and activities that normally are my nominal saviors have fallen down on the job.  Or wised up!

Housekeeping:  The brave Ethan Hallmark died a few days ago.  You already know about the effervescent Brayden Martin.  His mom Maranda, brother Mason, grandmother Robin are blessed with the support of many friends, family, and memories.  Maranda's many off-the-cuff phone vids of a giggling Brayden, which, quite frankly, were starting to drive me crazy, now show themselves each as little jewels, shining, shining.  She did a great job raising that child and simply mowed down any circumstance that even hinted of getting in the way.

We were going to give Brayden one of my spare power chairs (that's right! my riches know no end!) and were even trying to make some adjustments and improvements, because he was a little boy, and, well, I am not.

Sven got out the Marlinspike Hall Treasury of Blowtorches and reconfigured the mind-boggling cloverleaf pattern on the underbelly of the chair.  Bianca Castafiore offered free picks of fabrics from her costuming collection that has clothed thousands of operatic divas over the years.  When she saw me with a glue gun and her precious Christian Lacroix courtisan costume (Hey! It was in the pile she said I could use!) -- she manhandled me.  Pins in her mouth, pinking shears, and microsurgical instruments strewn about, she cursed me, though I couldn't quite tell to what I was being condemned, or in what language. I heard some gutturals -- she may have gone Germanic on me.

Finally, spewing pins everywhere, she hollered -- and yes, Milanese operatic divas can and do "holler" -- "Retired Educator, you bilious brain fart! Brayden loves ORANGE and THIS is a wheelchair, hardly conducive to being covered in crinoline and skin-irritating brocades. What is wrong with you?  Go look in the mirror. You have "crétine" tattooed on your forehead..."

A courtisan costume designed by Christian Lacroix for the SF Opera's , "The Capulets and The Montagues,"
at the SF Opera's costume shop on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012 in San Francisco, Calif.
Photo: Russell Yip, The Chronicle / SF

Well, in the end, it was beautiful and no one would ever notice our judicious use of duct tape.  I tried to ignore Captain Haddock's remark that it looked like a jeepney.

But something we'll cave in and call "circumstances" intervened, and our jeepney-opera inspired reinvention of a power chair ended up with a local woman who "needed me one of those," and we were glad it went to be of use for someone.

Brayden on wheels.  Laughing Brayden. That's mostly what Maranda showed us.  Well, there was courageous Brayden, miserable and steroid-cheeked, but still giving a thumbs-up, and laughing on command.  Such bravery in a kid gets its own reward, and so I am, guiltily, happy for him.

Ethan. I worried about Ethan, not in any specific Ethan-way, but in a general why-do-these-kids-have-to-be-so-god-damned-perfect way. Whenever he was presented in normalcy, and this young man had a lot of rugged, good other young men who visited daily, that's when I connected with Ethan.  As anti-hunting as I am, it was thrilling to see him "bag a buck" a little over a week before he died.

And I have no right to knock the ways in which people survive, and survive in horrid circumstances. My own circumstances lead me to find comfort in beauty, less and less in books, paintings, movies, and the quieter stories of derring-do, more and more in the actual eyes of actual people. Okay, okay, I'm also in awe of people who do the darnedest things.  I'm thinking of the Infectious Disease PA -- one funny and smart Ava Cooper -- who had a burning desire to see the underside of my Accursèd Right Foot.  Now, this could have been accomplished in several ways, most of which would have been painful, as the Accursèd Right Foot has taken on life in its own inimitable, separatist way.

Did I mention PA Cooper's outfit?  No?  Well, she reminded me of me, some mumblemumble years ago as I trekked about Berkeley and walked from UC-B to San Francisco, over the Golden Gate, and into Marin.  In other words, she was cute.  Black leggings and a striped tunic, happy to be alive. I think she had sparkles on her shoes, not sure.

So she lays down on the freaking floor of this exam room in the Infectious Disease Clinic, her left ear on the pristine floor, black hair cascading over the antiseptic tile, and peers at the butt ugly sole of mine foot.

I mean, doggone, woman, I'd be glad to prop this useless appendage on that green plastic chair over there... or you could lay down on top of god-knows-what bacterial Soup of the Day!

But it just confirmed my gut knowledge that ID specialists are unique and special, in other ways beyond their quirky, nerdy science.  Same goes for the guy we call "Sherlock," Dr. Phillip Brachman. The man cracks me up.  He does me the honor of taking whatever I say at its value.  Last time I saw him, I was sobbing, rocking, in misery.  I felt, however, that he needed to know I was listening and capable, even with snot running down my face and badly applied eye makeup smeared in avant garde fashion into a hairline fade.

"I only cry when I spike a fever or feel really rotten but it doesn't mean that I'm not HERE."

Only a good doctor would address that with a slight nod and continue his Sherlockian machinations with computer and pharmacists online and on the phone.  He does not remember the day that I decided he was the cat's meow.  It was way back at the beginning of the Lose-A-Shoulder-To-A-Biofilm-Infection saga.  Maybe 2007 or 2008.  I was in the hospital and for some reason, in isolation (musta been one of those MRSA scares), and had the deep need to exit my bed and get into my wheelchair.

Isolation rooms are often neglected rooms.  Things are brought in that can't then just be taken out, without a hullaballou of cleaning.  So my bed was surrounded by every bit of equipment imaginable, from IVACs to bedside commodes (3 for some reason that I don't even want to know...) and extra bedside tables.  It was a sea of redundant medical schtuff.

I managed to climb over the rails, not pull out any i.v.s or detach monitoring devices, keep the foley catheter intact (though I forgot to nab the drainage bag, still hooked on the bedrail) and shove a path to the wheelchair.  It's *possible* that I was febrile and hallucinating.

Once ensconced in my chair, I surveyed the room and burst into... you guessed it... tears!  There was no where to go, no direction to point my joy stick, that was not blocked by redundant medical schtuff. And look!  My foley bag is over there, and I am over here!

The door to my isolation room pops open, and Dr. Brachman's head pivots about, figuring I must be in there somewhere.

He sees me trapped in the corner, surrounded by beeping machines, poop contraptions, and mobile tables with immovable wheels.  Dr. Brachman (formerly "Infectious Disease Dood") never wore protective gear.  No bright yellow paper suits for that guy, and rarely even any gloves.  :Lots of handwashing, though.

Anyway, even at that point in my experiences -- I was almost medically virginal -- I already knew that doctors don't "do" stuff.  They leave that for "someone." Someone in Internal Medicine. Someone in Radiology. Someone in Ortho, in Pain Management.  In this case, I would expect an even less elucidated "someone," like a lowly nurse, or the even more lowly patient care technician. But Dr. Brachman crowed something like, "Let's get you out of there."

In super hero fashion, he tossed equipment to the left, to the right, out the window, shoved stuff into the bathroom, and soon cleared a path...

So that I could humbly go back to bed.

The story doesn't tell well.  But it does mark the moment when I knew this guy was kind, smart, and funny as hell.

I don't want to lose you in this swirl of time traveling tale-telling.  Fast forward to... September 10, 2014.  I THINK that was the day.  It was referenced above as the weepy, snotty-nosed visit to Dr. B, after lo, these many years.  I saw him, was in unbelievable pain, so unbelievable that I'm not even going to throw adjectives at it.  He wanted several things.  A biopsy.  He actually went and dragged a dermatologist into the room ("She was wandering around the halls.").  He had, with a straight face, assured me that I did not want him wielding a knife or any pointy instruments. The dermatologist laughed at the both of us and did the standard, "I wouldn't touch that with a 10-foot pole" routine, and made dire threats about what would happen if the skin broke or were breached -- "It will never heal."


Next he wanted to use a new antibiotic, administered intravenously, but only once a week.  It was the new gorillacillen: Dalvance (dalbavancin).  No matter that it wasn't in my insurance carrier's formulary and that getting it to the nearest infusion center would require calling out the National Guard. Oblivious to the fact that while he was an established Super Hero, the rest of the organization was peopled by mere hard-working humans.  "We'll work out the details.  I am trying to make things as easy as possible on you." Be still my heart!

Finally, he wanted an MRI. I tried to squash that idea, knowing how much orthopedic hardware is buried in my corrupt flesh, but he muttered something about "the radiologists will figure something out." This after everyone and their brother (and their sister) had wanted MRIs for the past 5 years but were denied, every time!

And Lo! (the Angel of the Lord), if his nurse didn't come sprinting out to the very carpeted waiting room, where I was gently waking a dangerously tired and grumpy Fred. "Your MRI is this afternoon!"

She handed us the order as well as the address of the place (far, far away), complete with a map. I don't know if I blogged about the rest of the day -- it had the makings of concretizing any loose PTSD symptoms Fred and I had managed to scrape off our souls.  The directions turned out to be to a Dental Urgent Care facility, located in the boondocks of a half-occupied strip mall.  A missed photographic opportunity, for sure, was the look on the ultra-plucked, hyper-blushed "fresh" country face of the 19 year old dental receptionist's face.

Me, red-eyed and sweaty, with a leg that looked like Mt. Vesuvius about to make history:  I'm guessing that you guys don't do MRIs here.

Bug-eyed receptionist:  No, ma'am.

There followed the saga of how phones don't help ya much when your call swirls at 28 mph in the perpetual vortex of "Customer Service Representatives are busy helping other customers.  Please continue to hold. Your call is very important to us.  For faster service, try logging on to!"

Have I been less than kind lately when speaking of Dear Fred?  Yes, I have, even if only in my very cranky, confused brain.  The man told me, not terribly politely, to "shut up, just shut up," and grabbed the sheath of helpful paperwork out of my right claw.  We were, of course, late now for the bleeping MRI.

Fred managed to do the following:  figure out where the nurse had intended to send us; close his eyes and retrace our meandering path to the strip mall, and (after opening those beautiful eyes again) drove us to a neutral point on the map now in his head.  And then, gasp!  He stopped and asked one of the indigenous  population where "X bleeping road might be." He was given landmarks, the only one which either of us remembered being a "Waffle House."

Yes, of course, we got there.  I forked over a $350 co-pay, and the lady said I was lucky because some poor soul had coded in the MRI suite and "they're still working on him, so they're behind anyway!" Hooray!

Anyway, we got it done, but the rest of the week was difficult due to my leg not appreciating hours on the road, and so on, and such froth.  The new antibiotic was all set up for Friday, then cancelled Friday morning.  I ended up in the ER/ED again, admitted again, and Plan C, D, or E was implemented.  Got a PICC line inserted and was started on Daptomycin.  Home nursing was set up.

Doctor Brachman went on vacation that Thursday, bless his bones.  Several nurses suggested that he might be autistic.  At my protestations, they'd say, "O! You like him.  Well, he's very talented at what he does.  People say he's a genius." Wily, crafty nurses.

Things began to go swimmingly.  The next four days saw slow improvement, and Fred easily fell back into the PICC line routine, and with good humor.  I was able to briefly stop observing my own navel lint, and consider the lives of people I love.  Somewhere in the middle of all that, Brayden died, Ethan was suddenly on hospice, Kate McRae suffered her third brain cancer relapse, my Lumpy Brother began radiation (complete with his own stories of clusterf*cks), my Amazing Stepsister continued to amaze in her care of our declining stepmom.  Even the stepmom amazed, as she unveiled the "dark side" of her personality, yelling at sweet Lumpkins, "Why aren't you here helping me?" That must have felt like (yet another) punch in the stomach for sweet Grader Boob. Anyway, I caught up on almost everyone's misery, finding strength in these beautiful people suffering so much more that I ever had or will.  They were still laughing through the tears, and I was tired of being snot-faced, so I did some cosmic chuckling.

Then we hit the next Wednesday.  You probably won't believe this.  We had an 8 am appointment with the Pain Management folks, a good thing as I had pain in need of management!  We also had found -- on the revered website -- and printed out the directions to this fifth new facility. Fred read them over, I double checked addresses, it looked easy as a deep dish cherry pie.

They were woefully wrong. Particularly the direction which had us turn left off the interstate exit, when the facility was about a half mile... to the right.  Easily a dozen roads bore the same moniker but swapped designations -- road, street, circle, parkway, lane, path-to-hell.  Fred didn't yell or snap quite so much, having witnessed my careful preparations up in the Computer Turret -- and getting up to the Turret in my condition was no easy feet.  Feat.

Again, the indigenous peoples of Jonesboro rose to the occasion, and our sanity-saving landmark this time was a "Steak and Ale."

I know!  I did not think there were any Steak and Ales left in existence, not that I'd ever frequented one.  Before Fred, and even ten years into Fred Time, I was a vegetarian.  If I had more red blood cells, I'd be going back to it.

So we got there... my leg now throbbing and growing, CRPS going nuts from more car stress.  Ruby the Honda CRV is a true babe, but when Fred is in NASCAR mode, she's not the smoothest babe on the road.

They refused to see me.  I begged, finally, waving about the directions, squealing nonsense about how "It wasn't our fault... y'all fucked us again!"  That got me a short visit with the local Nurse Ratchet.  She actually looked at the directions, shook her head, disappeared for 10 minutes, during which time a humming, blank-faced Fred went in search of coffee but only found grape-flavored vitamin water -- and then she returned and said, gruffly:  "Okay, she'll see you."

There's more, but I want to get to the following Monday, somehow.  The rest of Wednesday the 17th we shall cover with the gauzy curtain of faulty memory.  Thursday, Friday, and most of Saturday were lost to me -- big ass fatigue and a CRPS tantrum, fever, the right hand a lost claw. The last half of Saturday, I perked up.  For some reason, the infection in my leg seemed to be localizing again, kind of going back to its original look of a lone volcano in the middle of the top of my red and purple foot.  By Monday morning, I was pretty sure the thang was gonna blow.  "Good thing," thought I, "that Super Home Health Nurse Cindy is scheduled to come change my PICC dressing and draw labs. She can tell me if it's gonna blow -- and what the heck to do if it does!"

Poor Fred had been up all night, hitting the hay at sunrise.  So I decided to get up and toodle around the Manor, doing very small tasks and tending to very small animals (the Captain's husbandry interests in miniature species shows no sign of flagging... and then, of course, there are the three cats).  I let up whenever the volcano rumbled, but needed to be up to let down the drawbridge and pry open the mock and heavy Florence Baptistery doors to let the good nurse in.

Cindy is the first health care worker I've ever felt comfortable with in my home (Hey, we may be squatters, but we love Tête de Hergé and the Haddock ancestral testament to wild imperial-and-material-ism!).

And she was about to put on a show of ingenuity.

As I finally sidled up to the fanschy-panschy hospital bed in my Road Warrior wheelchair, and finally maneuvered mine arse onto its thin mattress, my piece o'shit right leg gently knocked the laptop precariously perched on the leg of the bedside table.  I watched, in what seemed like slomo, as it tipped gently onto the top of that piece o'shit foot, the high point of which, Mount Vesuvius, appeared to be its desired end point.

Yelling, yelling, whining, etcetera. Nurse Cindy rescues foot, only to find red thick and very pussy lava flowing underneath the electronics.  As if of one mind, we both said:

"We need to get a culture sample of that!"

Nurse Cindy became Nurse MacGyver.  She helped me haul the rest of me into bed, then sprinted to her car, and around the vast Marlinspike Hall in search of sterile implements.  In the end, with sterile gauze, she sucked up some of the "sample," placed it in a sterile vacutainer, and wrapped the whole kit-and-caboodle inside a sterile glove, then raced off to deliver it to a lab.

(The lab refused it.)
(But Nurse Cindy of Coram showed her worth that day!)

She also showed us how Fred now needed to, in as highly "clean," if not "sterile" conditions, change the bandage on the still-leaking foot, 3 times a day.  The first time he did it, I tried not to scream at Poor Fred as he donned gloves, removed the nasty, bloody wrappings, then SCRATCHED HIS NOSE.  In a well-modulated voice, I reiterated the instructions about what his hands were supposed to touch, and not touch, mostly for his sweet protection.  All I got was a "Did I really scratch my nose? I don't think so." Then he scratched his ear.

Fast forward to Wednesday, fast becoming my day of woe. September 24, 2014.  The day that went off without a hitch!  We knew where our appointment was, there was little traffic, we were even early!  And then I met the funny and smart PA Ava Cooper, the woman who plopped on the floor just to gaze at the sole of my foot.

I failed to mention that, thanks to Nurse Cindy MacGyver's instructions on wet bandaging, we had kept the volcano flowing... so that PA Ava Cooper could take a culture sample using the boring old typical tools of her trade! She acknowledged that the foot and lower leg were once again crappy looking (I forget the medical terms).  Another week of intravenous Dapto was ordered.  And we were back at the drawbridge a mere hour-and-a-half after departure.

The other thing I failed to mention was that late yesterday, a message came to me that there was a test result.  We weren't exactly expecting anything to grow, given the Dapto and all, but damned if something did not show itself:  serratia marcescens, or as I like to call it, "S. Macarena." It's been labelled a "secondary" infection, and so, in secondary fashion, a second antibiotic has been added. Blame is assigned to immunosuppression.

The new antibiotic makes me fart.

There are worse things, and these productions are near odorless, although annoying.  Dobby, for one, is not amused. Buddy and Marmy look alarmed, gaze about, sniff, and then go back to sleep.

I'm very vague now, depressed over my hand, though I snagged an appointment for October 7 for an OT "treat and evaluate, make new splint" session.  I also gave up on the arseholes in Neurology, the Doctors Huddleston and Wilensky, and am going to give Dr. Cole a shot at not hurting, and possibly, helping me.  Though I think it's too late for this hand.  But maybe she can take on the new neck jerks, head jerks, visual anomalies, and the everlovin' leg conniption fits from CRPS.  Pain is, as the kids say, ridiculous.

There's also so much going on in our world, on this Earth, that has me fascinated, terrified, and full of crazed opinions.  I want to blog about Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Algeria, France, the U.K. (and Scotland!), not to mention all the home grown idiocy this republic is producing, the degradation of politics, the apparent impossibility of holding office and holding on to one's ethics at the same time... I also want to make some kickass cat videos.

And I want to comfort Maranda, but cannot, don't know her well enough, don't speak the same language, no way I could!

But I can leave you with this recent photo of Ethan Hallmark, a remarkable cancer patient, and its young victim, but also a cool and ordinary kid.  As the fog dissipates, smiles and damp eyes gather in the wake.  You can read Ethan's story, as faithfully recorded by his Mom, at CaringBridge, HERE


Maranda loving on Brayden... and vice-versa!

© 2013 L. Ryan

Friday, September 19, 2014

by way of explanation...

i feel like my life is a bad short story -- no longer feeling that thurber vibe -- that is being passed around a truly sucky creative writing class for bad peer editing.

yes, it's a pity party.

i am also sunk in a weird origami configuration designed by my equally moody hospital bed.  why don't i "fix" it?  well, l'il mister know-it-all, no configuration seems to help.

you see, we had another perfect storm drop by for a day -- yesterday.  that would be wednesday. instead of recovering through blessèd unconsciousness, sleep just made my clothes stick to my dirty, sweaty body, and the setback to my leg does not encourage me to travel on foot to the bathroom to wash up.  too much information?  you gotta be kidding me.  o, what i have left out!

my right hand is really getting into its new and sudden reinvention as a lobster claw but as someone who enjoys having hands, i'm going to go with... dissociation.  denial.  maybe anything that starts with "d," though please exempt me from diarrhea.

what?  you want decorum?  well, it is a "d"-word. another "d"-word in play around marlinspike hall? d-d-d-d-aptomycin!

think good thoughts about these short infusions of dapto -- because after 5 straight days of improvement, one day as clusterf*ck has made my right leg bright red, red hot, and is causing me to see red, as the intense i-am-gonna-explode-strep-and-staph-through-this-shiny-thin-crimson-skin feeling mounts.

considering that i toned down the actual levels of clusterf*uckedness that was encountered at the time of the writing of the following email, and considering that it left out all that came after?  well, to tell the truth, i'm ashamed of having sent it to my sweet cancer-fighting, ignorance-smasher of a brother... but relieved that i could get it out of my system.  i assumed things were gonna get better overnight, of course.  i am, of course, a bona fide idiot.  my bona fides is writ large throughout this blog!

the dear brother unit?  lumpy, of grader boob fame?  he sweetens.  i know that we all waver in our glucose levels... and remind myself that he has every reason in the world to be an addlepated sour puss.  well, bless him if he's faking, and bless him if he's not.  just bless the boy.

my hopes of goading him into regaling me with his accumulation of medical snafu guffaws, and tales of his own narcissistic pity pit mud roll-abouts?  pure projection on my part, as they don't exist in lumpy's world.  his few medical stories are kind-hearted, or born of pure consternation.  as opposed to tainted consternation, like mine own, which incorporates blame, lots and lots of blame.

anyway, my first instinct on surviving half of wednesday was to check emails, hoping to hear from ANY AND ALL SIBLINGS.  oh?  did i have the CAP button locked.  oopsies.  dimpled oopsies! wouldn't want my siblings to think i was YELLING at them.

yes, damn it, i know, they are working, all of them, and working hard, and not at things they love. STILL!

okay, so i checked my inbox and found, in the middle of leftist, "progressive" donation-grubbers, this gem from the aforementioned lumpy:

Wanted to check in to see how your latest medical adventures are going.
Hope you're finding some relief--you deserve it.
Had an angry talk with Mom yesterday, which ended with her hanging up on me. Don't quite know what to say to her when I call back. I think I finally got some of the vitriol that she usually dumps on [ANOTHER SIBLING].
Well, quite the family!
Love to you and Fred and the clowder!

a word about our mom!  she's a very sweet lady, especially if you're sort of the black sheep stepchild who doesn't irritate her by helping her with wound care, appropriate living facilities, the general loss of independence, and advancing dementia.  in other words, i don't call, and i don't help out -- so i am golden.  she has developed a mean streak and has little inhibition.  given her advanced vocabulary and gift for drama (she's forever a ballerina to me...), i bet her tongue lashings are sharp, indeed.

hopefully, when brother lumpy calls back, she'll not remember their prior encounter.  

that sweet little email was all it took for me to spew forth the accumulated bile of my small bad day, even as i was cognizant of his suffering.  a soul had reached forth, a hand had come through the fog -- i was surely going to snatch that soul, and wring that hand!

and i did:

first, i love you!  i love you for even ASKING, since you know i'm gonna bleccckkkk it out anyway.  there's no definition, of which i'm aware, for "bleck," but trust me, it's the appropriate word...

second, i love you again!  i love you for asking when you now have tales of your own that make mine but childish diversions.

we just walked and rolled in the front door, not speaking to one another, not out of anger, just from being drained of our humanity. i don't know if fred still loves me, but i know we're great friends.  only true friends are able to flip the "i am not mad at you; i cannot speak to anyone right now; thank you for understanding; check back with me in, oh, an hour or so, when the nurse arrives!" switch, wordlessly.

but it does leave me lonely!

we drove 100 miles when -- done "right" -- 25 would have been slightly more than expected.  i don't do well in the car, pain-wise, and cannot imagine how you handle things like curves, bumps, swerves, seatbelts, and spasming legs crammed between canes and backpacks.  surely there's an effing APP for that?

whose rotten directions caused this extended trip?  kaiser permanente's own directions, verified, triple-checked, printed out.  we got to the pain management appointment at 8:40 instead of 8 AM and therefore they refused to see me.  

we produced the directions and begged.  a nurse deigned to pass our begging forward, and lo!  the CNP agreed to see me after all. she was nice, and only screwed up a few things!  then, i was sent to pee in a cup for a drug screen.  i told her that i'd recently been given i.v. dilaudid and morphine, various doses of fentanyl, percocet, and god knows what else. 

"but no street drugs, right?" quipped mary jo.
"you betcha, no way!" -- i chimed in, reverting to fargo linguistics.

the lab waiting room held all of 3 waiting people, and 2 of them were "care givers." so we did as instructed and took a number.

the lab tech was sweet as all get out.  he looked at me, a grinning fool, one foot the size of a purplish-red house, the other doing a private tap dance, one hand splinted and sporting a dangling PICC line, the other gripping the backpack that bianca castafiore swore was gonna make life easier than my old purse.  oh, yeah, and the wheelchair, revving its engine like some fancy back street race car.  then he said these beautiful words:

"let's see what we can do to make this easier on you, ms. profderien!" 

a wonderful man, that man.  and i didn't get his name so that i could fill out an online praise form. something positive is needed as ballast to my soon-to-be-submitted grievance about having to pay $369 for drug screening every month!

we were then sent to neurology, as everyone opines that my brain is a mess, but there was not a living soul on that third floor, my lumpy brother, not a one!  fred, still endeavoring to speak, and in kind tones, asked, "can we go home now?"

okay... getting lost on the way home was my fault.  i violated the "no talking" rule and fred took the east route of some highway when we needed the north-southwest-slightly eastward exit/merge.  i did not violate the "no talking about sickness, pain, discomfort, or death (actual or desired)" rule.  no, i was ranting about how lefist/progressive groups were clogging my email inbox with diatribes and manipulative guilt trips that were identical to tactics that leftist/progressive groups adore pegging as right wing, extremist evil ways.  i'm not a giver at the koch brothers level of "generosity," but every penny i give carries more inherent value than one of their fat earlobes. i will make phone calls on behalf of gun control, for or against legislation, and to promote decent legislators (3 in the last 2 years.... one of the three, the county CEO, is on trial now, another, a crusading county commissioner, just pleaded guilty to fraud, and the third hasn't even gotten a traffic ticket, much less doctored the county budget -- but he's not yet been elected! 

surely my political ramblings did not distract fred, causing us to go 20 some miles the wrong way?

however, the look on his face at that point nicely conveyed what words could not, and so i've not spoken since... while he is de-stressing by slamming doors, cabinets, and breaking dishes!  i haven't been able to get in the belovèd bed because of the need to wield a mop between breakages.  i don't want the nurse to think i am unable to "keep house," or she might toss me in the freaking LTAC (look it up... they keep saying that's where i'd be "most comfortable," the asswipes).

the nurse was to be here a half-hour ago.  no, 36 minutes ago.

oh.  what did you ask? ah. a ridiculously terse, two-liner:
Wanted to check in to see how your latest medical adventures are going.Hope you're finding some relief--you deserve it.

the i.v. antibiotics are working, but slowly.  this morning's adventures made the right leg double in size, but soon i'll have it elevated and all will begin to shrink.  the nurse will draw blood, change the dressing, fred will nap and rejuvenate, and i'll peck at this keyboard to all my virtual friends, a surprising number of whom live in wyoming and the dakotas.  yep, a bunch of cowgirls -- for real!

okay, blessings to you, because typing this full-of-woo email has given the 15 mg of generic percocet time to kick in.  you've allowed me to type my way back to moderate sanity.

the hand, unlike the foot, is not improving. one of the things my new pain management CNP "helped" with was my referral to occupational therapy -- changing it to "physical therapy." PT does not treat HANDS.  why, no one knows.  OT owns the hands.  so now i get to start over with an appt to the wrong specialty.  smile, smile, smile!

NOW... what in heck did mom go off about?  i am now SCARED of the woman! that teeny, sweet lady! does she know ANYTHING about your afflictions (southern gothic lingo now... it's a regional tour!)?  i won't mention mine -- hard to believe, but i usually don't go on and on about it.  i was hoping the namenda would help her dementia but there is no drug that cures having one's world turned upside down, just when a person ought to be able to expect some respectable stability.  and missing a loved pet is just like missing a family member.  where IS daisy living, anyway?  "rehoming" sucks as a verb, but that's the verb to use.  dear OTHER SIBLING must rehome roly-poly daisy.  

i've heard nurses say countless times that little old people fight an uphill battle against cognitive decline as soon as they lose their home environment, and it breaks my heart that mom is caught in that scary place.  THAT OTHER SIBLING is a brave, strong soul.

and you, mein dude, you must respond very well and very quickly to these bursts of precision radiation.  you're overdue decent pain relief. you deserve lump shrinkage, an appetite, a cooperative, pliant, compliant  gut.  


yay!  nurse and confused nurse trainee came, took blood, left gloves and used supplies strewn about.  but they taught me a new joke.


"what do you call a cow with no legs?"
also, the not-so-successful:  "what do you call a cow with 3 legs?"
LEAN BEEF.  (i did not get it.)

i kiss you gently on your lumpy skull.  anything, anything i can do, just ask or bark the order.  it's done, it's yours. thank you for reviving your joshing, gentle voice -- but you can still be any damn way you please.  we are resilient in Tête de Hergé.


okay, i'm done.  peace on ya, on mom, on us all!

smooches galore --

retired educator

© 2013 L. Ryan

Sunday, September 14, 2014

i have happy fingers!

i've no idea where the title for this post came from, but that's what i was merrily crowing into the air when i woke up -- that would be the first waking, around 5 am.

since last i wrote you, darling readers, so much has happened, and enough time elapsed between frustrations, that the tale should be told by a reincarnated james thurber.  it could easily rival the stories of his grandfather in the attic, the great flood waters on main street -- were a reincarnated thurber around.

i'll check the closets.  you never know.

another hospital stay, from which i was delivered last evening.  it was not so bad, except for the usual incredulities.  and the foot that looked like this on thursday --

now looks like this:

ah, but i flag already.  we're waiting on a cheery-sounding home health nurse named linda to trundle across the drawbridge with the magic antibiotic elixir encapsulated in those clever elastomeric devices.  fred will have the honor of attaching the medicine balls every day, and linda or a linda clone will check up on us, change the PICC line dressing every few days, and draw labs.  i already am having an allergic reaction to the overnight reaccumulation of med/surg supplies, delivered by courrier "stat": alcohol wipes, syringes of saline flushes and heparin flushes, and something called "lab in a box," about which we are beginning to create bad jokes.  

and fred's hands are already shaking, as PTSD shadow memories of the horrors of early 2012 creep back into both our heads.

so i quickly revisit my joyous cry that met the day:  "i have happy fingers!"

unfortunately, i was given the funereal announcement of "this is your new normal" regarding the changes in my right hand.  it's pretty close to non-functional and getting more painful.  the index finger, however, is making a valiant stand.  a wondrous OT named carol actually constructed a specialized brace at bedside.  it looked like a combination cooking demonstration and high school shop class.  she had a non stick frying pan and a supersonic hairdryer-looking thingy, and strange little molding tools.  she heated the brace material to 160 and molded it to my claw, then went to work like a mechanic-slash-sculptor.  when things cooled and hardened, carol deftly softened edges and covered the irritating parts -- and that would be... every part -- with some sort of moleskin.  we drew a crowd of admiring spectators.

so it's neurological, part of crps, this nearly overnight reconfiguration of my hand into a claw.  hence the funereal "new normal" crap-out.  that phrase is like fingernails run across a chalkboard and gets no reaction from me except contempt.  no treatment to try?  nothing?  just this blithe "new normal," as if further disability to an already disabled person must be no big deal.  it's just my dominant hand. that leaves a damaged left hand, which, they don't ever recall, is at the end of a limb that lacks an anchoring shoulder.  so while it may work, it has a very limited range of motion.

"new normal." i'd like to bop someone on the nose, the sad, ineffective person who came up with that defeatist phrasing.  see, once that phrasing becomes the adopted line, any reaction from me that betrays my contempt for the wussy concept can then be labelled "denial," allowing the health care practitioner to go "tut, tut."

"tut, tut," goes the health care practitioner.
"bite me," responds the frustrated patient, waving her fugly hand around, hoping to land a lucky jab or a consciousness-depriving haymaker. Health care practitioners have glass chins.

then there were the physical therapists intent on telling me that i cannot possibly wash, dress, or feed myself, and wouldn't i be happier "somewhere else," rather than in the luxurious but demanding surroundings of marlinspike hall?  that's when i cry.  blubbering fool, i say intelligent things.  "not yet." "i can do it, i can do anything."

then i am saved by laughter, because the inevitable arrives:  "you simply cannot live with this much pain -- you just can't!"

part of the reason my pain levels were off the available charts (when we zoomed outta there last night, there was a bevy of nurses working feverishly with poster board and sharpies, making new charts to accommodate a revised pain scale), was due to a medication error that we decided not to divulge, preferring to laugh in the hyena manner.

a lovely, pragmatic group of hospitalists spearheaded the attempt at my care.  they decided that i was grossly undermedicated for pain, bless their everlovin' hearts. the first prong of the attack was intravenous dilaudid which made me grin like a perfect fool, and enabled a marvelous nap.  the heart of the new design, though was to begin bumping up the dose of the fentanyl pain patches i wear for three days at a time.  my usual dose is 100 mcg.  we decided to go to 125 mcg, and to be more liberal with the amount of breakthrough medication i could take.

at the time of these pharmaceutical decisions, i had a very nice RN who was, however, attached to The Big Book of Nursing by the hip.

"i have your new patch here, would you verify your complete name and date of birth, please?" she exhaled in a single breath with a friendly mouthcentric smile.'

"alter ego to bianca castafiore and januarymumblemumblemumble," i proffered.

then the idiot in me said, "you do know i am wearing a 100 mcg patch already, don't you?  should i take it off?  it just went on yesterday..." (they're also kind of pricey.)

"oh, goodness me! remove it immediately!  we cannot let you use medication from home! tut, tut!"

so i ripped it off and she disposed of it using universal precautions and a brow-furrowed, lip-pouched face of disdain.  then, wrinkles smoothed, order restored, she applied the new patch to my upper right arm, which i cannot reach with my left hand, but no matter!  here we were, nurse of the Big Book and i, improving my plight by mutual admiration.

my pain levels went wild.

that's about as descriptive as i care to get.

when we dumped my backpack and rucksack on the bed, i began the task of sorting through paperwork and cats, getting back on schedule with my meds, dissuading buddy from playing tether ball with my new PICC line, the usual. i made a pile of "important papers to look at when i'm able to read at a first grade level."

one caught my eye -- a prescription.  it was for several boxes of 25 mcg fentanyl patches, "to be added to her supply of 100 mcg,"


after having fred peel off the latest patch, it did indeed turn out to be a 25 mcg patch.  The Big Book of Nursing accords "doctor's orders" the reverence of the tablets of law descended with moses from mount sinai. so i'd been given, not a 25% increase in fentanyl, but a 75% decrease.

anyway, i'm home again.  that's progress.

postscript:  it was a cindy and not a linda who trundled over the drawbridge, right on time and neat as a pin, smart as a whip, pragmatic, and satisfyingly swift in the completion of her duties. plus, the new abx can be injected over 2.5 MINUTES.  piece o'cake. she did an early dressing change and so won't have to come back until wednesday.  an excellent cindy. all interested siblings and other sweetie-pies, i spoke with lumpy, the former grader boob, and he sounded better than he has for a long while. by which i mean there was some laughter, more specifics supplied about his lumps, and some elaboration of the 15 days straight of palliative radiation he's starting next week.  true to form, he has concerns for the techs who will have to work weekends radiating people's lumps. oy!  he retains world master status at deflection and minimization arts, as well as at owning my heart.  he's already had round one of student conferences, and hearing his lively tone, i hope he can hang in there with classes, somehow, someway, because he was himself again. he was living.

brayden martin's memorial was yesterday -- i had planned to plan to try to go, but couldn't. i saw a video of it that served a purpose.  kate mcrae's surgery went well and she should be out of ICU this weekend.  in very sad news, ethan hallmark went to clinic expecting to get chemo and instead went home on hospice as they discovered "hundreds" of tumors in his abdomen.  ethan may only live a few more weeks.

i hate cancer.
but i have happy fingers!

© 2013 L. Ryan

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"No parsnips whatsoever": now with an encouraging update!

Yes, it IS a repost, originally published on 10/2/2013.  It was a time of governmental crisis, if that helps you thumb through your mental calendar.  I drag this post's silliness back into the light due to the reconvening of Congress tomorrow, and the feeling that reunion has provoked in the pit of my stomach since, roughly, November of 2008.

This time around, though, I'm borrowing the strategy of Organizing for [cough::cough] ACTION and promoting this pertinent, uplifting, and helpful video:

We now return you to the original post of 10/2/2013...


I feel, and I feel strongly, that when faced with such crises as a government shutdown and the likelihood of the US of America defaulting on its debts by not raising, pro forma, the debt ceiling, that stories about cats, food, and the state of the weather are what is called for.

Not that I couldn't join the thousands, millions, more likely, of bloggers who are writing of hostage-taking, perverse manipulation, and the apparent ignorance of the basic process of how laws are passed and changed in this purportedly representative government model.

I am reminded of the stupidity that this country's freedom fighters, back in the eighteenth century, noted on the part of their enemy, the British Redcoats.

First, they wore bright red.
Second, they stood in straight lines, in the open, as it was felt a good British Redcoat should.

And that was how our ragged, dirty troops slipped behind trees and into ditches and picked the suckers off, one by one.

I was sort of hoping that the Democrats and the many, many reasonable Republicans would remember that former stupidity, that adherence to what did not make sense and that led to many young, innocent Brits dying in a ridiculous manner... and that they'd start fighting smart, in a way that might actually preserve lives, that might allow for the passage of a Clean Resolution, with no George III-type addenda, and then move on to raise the debt ceiling because, everyone knows, the debt ceiling must be raised.

This blog either turns now to cats, recipes, health updates (You should see my right leg!  It's a HOOT!) or you and I can weep together over the likelihood of my investments (READ: all I have in the world) circling the drain and being sucked into the vortex of idiocy that defines, at this point, everyone in government from the President (still one of my heroes) to Harry Reid to John "Cry Me A River" Boehner to my congressmen and senators.

We will begin with cats.

Marlinspike Hall cats are, by virtue of living in Marlinspike Hall, spoiled rotten.  They receive attention equal to that offered Queen Elizabeth's weirdo Welsh corgis.  I'm sorry, but those strange little dogs belong on poofy pillows and shouldn't be passed off as "herding dogs." What do they herd, stunted rats?  My very rapid perusal of expert opinions on these bizarro-looking canines explain that their miniature legs serve to allow them to "nip" at the heels of livestock.  Okay.  I was expecting something about digging tunnels and "nipping" at the hind legs of the aforementioned rats.  Or mouses.  Meeces.  Mice.

Um, cats.  Right.  I was distracted by the leader of the Republican Party, Rancid Prepubescence, announcing that the RNC was going to pay to keep the WWII memorial open since President Obama shut down the country.  I don't believe that Fred would slip me LSD in my Diet Ginger Ale but these days, whom can one really trust?

You have got to be freaking kidding me?  Bachmann rejoices that the country has been shut down -- literally says that this is what she wanted to happen -- but then arranges herself as a rescuing first responder for a group of elderly veterans who were about to suffer the indignity of her own actions?  I think there is some mental disorder, a personality disorder, that covers this kind of behavior but the label escapes me.  And I've too many labels already handy for Michele Bachmann.  Her label directory is full and the DSM-IV points her to falling under the aegis of BOTH Cluster A and Cluster B in the Axis II Personality Disorder section.  I ain't qualified.

But you know what is coming on the telly?  The 1967 version of Doctor Dolittle, with Rex Harrison! Perfect timing, for you may have noticed I'm having trouble sticking with my resolution to ignore the nutcakes, the wigged-out -- our leaders.  Give me a good honest Pushmi-pullyu any day.

Interesting that Doctor Dolittle came out the same year as The Graduate, In Cold Blood, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night.  Hey, all I said was "interesting." No other commentary.

I actually have never seen the whole movie -- I tried because I was an enormous fan of Hugh Lofting's books.  My thanks, once again, to my stepmom for her guidance toward childhood classics that I surely would never have read without her placing them neatly in my lazy ambulating way.  She did the same with Jane Eyre, Harriet the Spy, Little Women, Little Men, and all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  And The Little Prince.  Of course, she also cut pages out of a book I wanted, fearing for my young innocence.  The dangerous book?  The Making of a Surgeon! How do you thank someone for such gifts?

Speaking of Mother-Units, the biological Mom is hopefully having a turn of luck, thanks, as is usually the case, to a group of good people.  Enough said, except... again, how do you thank someone for such gifts?

Okay, cats.  Ahem.

1.  Buddy the Outrageously Large Maine Coon:  forever a kitten.  We continue with the Wire Wars.  After nearly destroying our Xfinity connectivity with his love for a good wire chew, I wrapped the area he was accessing with bubble wrap, studded with little pieces of gauze drenched in Witch Hazel, for which he has great antipathy.  To avoid spending more money on earbuds chewed into little pieces, I took the last pair and encased it in electrical tape -- not thinking, of course, of what a strange impression this would make should I want to listen to music in a public place.  Well, this has worked well for the last three weeks.  Last night, I was tuckered out, set my mp3 player to its usual 90-minute sleep mode, and floated away to my darling Nina Simone.  Somehow, someway, I slept a good, long time, but in the process removed the earbuds and tossed them aside among piles of pillows and bits of quilt (Dobby eats textiles, and has chewed my quilts with great joy... and I often get to extract quilt stitching from deep within his bubbly belly).  Upon waking, of course, Buddy had chewed through the small area that was not wrapped against his sharp teeth.  I fussed and yelled at him, and he looked at me, pleased, clearly hearing "Congratulations, Buddy, Good Boy!" instead of "%(&$##))*&@!"  And then he demanded breakfast.

2.  Dobby, the used-to-be Runt, the Forever Number Two:  Let me clear up a concern I may have caused. I keep the quilts trimmed of loose threads, but he's a devil with those tiny claws.  Dobby is watching Doctor Dolittle intently, at the moment.  Or maybe he is fascinated with Polynesia, the parrot.  No, he's enthralled with the horses and cows, too.  Dobby remains the Peacekeeper of the Manor.  Today, he broke up a near fight between Marmy Fluffy Butt, his mother, and the aforementioned Buddy.  Buddy is huge, tough, and pretty darned strong and quick.  Marmy is tiny, tough, and quicker.  Her strength lies in her perfect technique, not in musculature.  Anyway, back to Dobby.  He also was shut up in the closet again today, a frequent happening.  He doesn't cry, or scratch, or do anything to let you know he's been trapped.  He just curls up and naps, secure in the knowledge that we're not so dumb that we won't figure it out at some point. He clearly has no clue as to how many closets there are in Marlinspike Hall.  Luckily, we know which ones attract him to begin with.  Any closet with fine, museum-quality linens.  Any closet with delicate knits that attract cat hair like nobody's business.  But mostly, Dobby chooses closets that contain my freshly laundered clothing.  Nothing expensive in there, nothing in the least historically significant.  However, they make the perfect spot for shedding, and if one has been ill-behaved in some way, for hiding.  Unfortunately, in Dobby, stress of any sort causes him to denude his small body of all hair... so when I put on clean clothes, I have to put the lint roller to immediate use.  Bless his little bones, Dobby keeps me sane.  He demands what he wants when he wants it, will put up a determined little fight for it, but if he cannot have it just then, will love you anyway.  His clue that it is time to be groomed (his obsession) is my morning keg of coffee.  My notion of what to do, after the careful brewing of my keg of coffee, is to drink it, at leisure, while perusing the latest news about... well, let's not get trapped into talking of the news again!  But to Dobby, it signals the true beginning of the day, and that means the taking care of him.  He has his own (cheap, purple, and plastic) comb and brush set and proceeds to remind me of its existence by knocking them to the floor.  Then he apologizes.  And gets his brushing (the comb is but a pawn in his game), including a finalizing, invigorating belly rub.  Everyone should have a Dobby.  On his inner right thigh, in the tiniest of Cyrillic print, almost invisible, really:  "Dobby: 90% angel, 10% house elf."

3. Marmy Fluffy Butt.  Also known as "my girl." I've told her story many times, but once more won't hurt anyone.  She and her brother, who we also took in but who had suffered so much, he did not make it, were feral street cats.  Somewhere in their short pasts, for they were only 8 months, according to the vet's estimate, they had been indoor pets but were abandoned.  She was, as the Bible might say, sorely pregnant. As tiny then as she remains now, her belly barely cleared the ground.  And she trusted no one.  She fought for every scrap of food, long after the need for fighting was gone.  She tolerated us, and when her "time" to be delivered arrived, she seemed glad enough to have us around.  Fred, especially.  Fred is a wonder with children and with animals.  None of that silly adult pushing, that obnoxious adult knowing-better-than-anyone-else nonsense.  He greets child and animal and then follows suit.  If ignored, he good-naturedly pulls away.  If tolerated, he'll sit nearby with a good book.  If encouraged, he'll offer some sort of smile and a treat.  I kind of push things a bit, not understanding why my love and best intentions don't make child or animal my best friend on an immediate basis.  Go figure.  Anyway, Marmy was not the most maternal of mothers.  "Resentful" might be an appropriate adjective.  Plus, she decided she was done with this "giving birth" nonsense after she had produced four beautiful kittens.  Unfortunately, there was one more -- Dobby
-- waiting in the... wings.  So Fred stepped in and delivered him, deftly, beautifully.  It was touch and go, and then we were in fear that Dobby was a bit touched in the head from lack of oxygen, for he did things like climb to Marmy's head instead of seeking out her life-giving milk.  In fact, all the creature seemed to do for weeks was climb.  Very happy to be at the highest available peak, he didn't seem to notice hunger or thirst, warmth or cold.  Well, obviously, he survived.  Marmy remained feral for almost two more years, terrorized and terrorizing.  Then, for no reason we've ever discovered, she decided we were fine, and became a love bunny.  She's flipped back and forth several times, again, for reasons we cannot divine.  Except for one instance -- after a vet visit that resulted in a tooth-pulling and an overnight stay.  She gave us the silent treatment for a good three months after that.  When she does choose to show affection, she's unbeatable. She nuggles close, she butts her head against a spare hand, and she tells you of her woes in her best "*ack*-*ack*" tones, and bewitches you with her beautiful eyes.  It is best not to be offended when, for no discernible reason, she huffs and puffs and swirls her tremendously fluffy tail end in your face, and stalks off.
Today, I was blessed with having Marmy show up "*ack*-*ack*"ing for a good brushing.  She must have heard about the goings on in Washington.

Oh, no!  They are throwing Dr. Dolittle into an asylum.  You know who needs to be in an asylum, don't you? Those animals in D.C.!

I tried.  I would keep trying, and regale you with stories of the dinner I concocted tonight, except that I didn't concoct a darned thing.  Two Nathan's hot dogs on whole wheat bread, with yellow mustard.  My legs are hurting, my shoulders blah blah blah blah blah.  And blah!

Hooray... the monkey stole the keys to the carriage, the horses took off without the guards and drivers, and the bloodhounds refused to hunt, the Doctor is saved!  And now everyone has set sail to the North Pole... which Dr. Dolittle carefully points out "has not been discovered yet," so they're keeping that bit of knowledge to themselves.  Actually, they're looking for the giant pink Sea Snail but don't know where it is.

This is altogether too realistic for my taste, suddenly.

Have a good night, everyone.  And thank you, Hugh Lofton!

"Then Jip went up to the front of the ship and smelt the wind; and he
started muttering to himself,

'Tar; Spanish onions; kerosene oil; wet raincoats; crushed
laurel-leaves; rubber burning; lace-curtains being washed--No, my
mistake, lace-curtains hanging out to dry; and foxes--hundreds of
'em--cubs; and--'

'Can you really smell all those different things in this one wind?'
asked the Doctor.

'Why, of course!' said Jip. 'And those are only a few of the easy
smells--the strong ones. Any mongrel could smell those with a cold in
the head. Wait now, and I'll tell you some of the harder scents that
are coming on this wind--a few of the dainty ones.'

Then the dog shut his eyes tight, poked his nose straight up in the air
and sniffed hard with his mouth half-open.

For a long time he said nothing. He kept as still as a stone. He
hardly seemed to be breathing at all. When at last he began to speak,
it sounded almost as though he were singing, sadly, in a dream.

'Bricks,' he whispered, very low--'old yellow bricks, crumbling with
age in a garden-wall; the sweet breath of young cows standing in a
mountain-stream; the lead roof of a dove-cote--or perhaps a
granary--with the mid-day sun on it; black kid gloves lying in a
bureau-drawer of walnut-wood; a dusty road with a horses'
drinking-trough beneath the sycamores; little mushrooms bursting
through the rotting leaves; and--and--and--'

'Any parsnips?' asked Gub-Gub.

'No," said Jip. "You always think of things to eat. No parsnips

[illustration and quote from lofting brazenly stolen from the blog Basic North]

© 2013 L. Ryan

update on kate mcrae, via caringbridge

Surgery postponed

Brain surgery has been rescheduled for Wednesday morning at 7:30 am, due to a more emergent case.

We will try to update more details tomorrow. For tonight we are just tired and incredibly heavy hearted. Grateful for the prayers.

Photo By Holly McRae Jun 28, 2013 -- Kate showing *attitude*!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Out of the stinking crypt, he warns: noli me tangere

For a brief period of time, I neglected this blog late last year, and perhaps into the beginning of 2014, largely due to an effort to work on my poetry and increase the length of some of my short fictions to something akin to book length.  Every group is political.  Every group leader, and definitely every group "owner," is charismatic, meaning that relationships too easily dissolve into dichotomies that are known to be false but working out the truth can be just the distraction to drive a working writer away.
So I left, downloading, I thought, all of my work -- in case I wanted to get back to work on any of it, if I ever regained the sang froid and the imagination necessary to such travail. This evening, I received an unexpected email from this writer's site, telling me that one of my poems had received a new comment. No writer of small literature can resist a comment ("maybe it will help me grow..." actually means "maybe someone really liked it!"). The reason I could not recollect the poem was that it was a final volley aimed at a truly scary individual, constantly posing as someone else in private messages, hitting on vulnerable individuals, claiming a mastery of zen, but mocking zen at every opportunity, mocking everyone at every opportunity, until he could not keep track of his games, therefore his game pieces promptly developed a new pastime of biting the gamer on the ass.  This was my chunk of butt on my way out -- and he apparently JUST found it!  Aloeswood was his moniker, hence my addressing "Aloe's Wood."
So it's an ad hominem poem, I am sad to say, and yet -- I like it.  It is, by definition, a fallacy.
But what poem is not?

Out of the stinking crypt, he warns: noli me tangere
Aloe's wood, you forget yourself.
Easy enough to do under
circumstances, bobbing just
under water, long lost


As an aside -- though I held
an incarnation of you dear --
I also hold the piquant
long steel stylus,
the stylus styled to replace
Jesus' reaching, trembling,
wanting and weak, weak 
hand, the stylus made
for the sticking

into you,

or lamb, or a pigeon's heart,
when I do voodoo kebobs
on the deck on
warm summer nights. 

At the last electric flutter
of the urban bird's misfiring
pump, I squawk this truth:
How much you do hate
the Zen you "study"!
A scholar's pet, you


Which is granting you
a huge mofo of a self-deception,
but you must know I strive

but for peace.  Ho!

[Hiding in my room / safe within my womb...]
I've always loved the brief smack 
of the organ after

Don't talk of love
[organ smack
organ smack]
I've heard the word before; 
It's sleeping in my memory. 
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died. 
If I never loved I never would have cried. 
I am a rock, 

I am an island. 

It's such an insipid song 
and I've heard people
reference its zen while
just a reprobate few of us
hear Buddha's high-
pitched giggle.

She said:


You could not have known
not without hiring
some tired detective,
how dear to me,
is the Magdalene.

So it's a throw-down, man-boy,
if you can girdle your womb
for the duration.

[I'll be gone in
twenty-nine days:


The most important words
to pass between them,
midst balm-imbued
greasy hairs waxing
dirty sweat-stinking 
mildly hairy skin

(maybe hairless altogether,
by design or by aesthetic)?

The most important words
hit on by sixteenth, seventeenth
century Italians,
some lesser Dutch

(Who are the Dutch?),

the always overlooked

-- for edginess --

Spaniards, elongated, the spike,
the piercing spine put second

and even later, still, even as tardy
as the nineteenth century,
the Brits, on whom the whole
idea is lost

[You've some Brit in you,
I believe.  Some offshoot,

All with oiled bristles
painting plump and ivory hands
on a single brazen marble tit
(Courtesans with your selfsame
madly timed grimace
meant to charm:

Twirl and twist the nipple --


Pull it long, taut taut taut,
rub the nub
zenzenzen zoom zoom)

The words that mattered
and summed, that added
surfeit to globs of tint

were noli  me  tangere


The instant zen
of spiritual anatomy.

Author Notes

© 2013 L. Ryan