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

An Appeal to Blogger ShadyNorma

This morning I woke with more neurological weirdness.  Also, much sadness, grief, brief flits of joy, and a massive jolt of paranoia.

Then there was the sensation fueling the need to walk fifteen feet to the bathroom with the sole aid of a beautiful, blue-flowered cane, and that undescribed sensation was quite near overwhelming.  You're welcome.

What could so dissuade a person in such a state of need?  Oh, come now.  You must be one of my unfamiliars!  Why, yes, of course, it was that indescribable, incomparable pain, swelling and SimultaneouslySadisticPain&Swelling&Crunching-of-Smooshy-Joints.

If you're an adept at English Language and Orthography in the Preferred Style of Concision?  First, you'd never be able to type THROUGH such agony as a pain management "distraction" technique, and B) you've probably left my blog site by now, having rewritten this entry:

She woke cranky, had to use the bathroom, but found it too painful to walk. In a display of writing weakness and abuse of the English language, she took to badmouthing her small imaginary audience. It is in this wretched state that we leave her for something worthy of copying to our Gratitude Journal, before we watch the afternoon stretch lazily before us as we scrapbook and down sweating pitchers of Gin-and-Tonic with a group of nattily-dressed undoubted girlfriends.

Stuck in bed, and with three cats stuck to me, I took half of my day's allotment of breakthrough pain medication (taking care not to die laughing) and said the magic words:  "I will begin to feel much better in 15 minutes, 30 minutes, tops." 

I also attempted to break free of the feline attachments, with about as much success.  Marmy hissed and reattached herself to the other hip. Buddy was kind enough to re-circumnavigate his perfect circle, this time without his huge tail poised upon my swollen knee.  Dobby purposely stepped on my shin in replicating Marmy's philosophy, giving me a well-timed very un-Dobbish glare.

It was two hours past their feeding time, and Dobby is on a diet.

Using the cane and two grabbers (for differing purposes), I retrieved the laptop from its sleeping position and wrestled it onto a pillow to approximate an extensive, flat lap. Eyeballed emails. In a check of Feedjit, I noticed yet another group of blog visitors to an Ochoa=Turd entry, one with a new comment.  

And off I went on a comment binge.  The Ochoa=Turd addition turned out to be spam -- quite appropriate. Then older comments hit my eye (ouch) -- as in, see the post previous to this one!

It's now many hours later, during which time, yes, I made it to the bathroom, and then to the wheelchair, then to my few morning duties.  Yes, yes, I fed the Feline Triumvirate and they proceeded to lose all interest in me until my return to bed.  But!  But  I also made Fred his beloved sheet cookies of whole wheat flour, honey, almonds, raisins, and oatmeal.  The seasoning and leavening recipe portions are, regrettably, proprietary.  In so doing, I managed to burn my effed-up right hand when I forgot that parchment paper WILL slide off of a cookie sheet if said sheet is being tossed in a hot oven at a very odd descending angle. Yes, I spent a good few minutes feeling stupid.
Then I tended Buddy's unique version of hairballs.  Yes, he managed to avoid most of the easily cleaned flooring in favor of a seagrass mat.  Yes, I was tempted to allow the impact of Time to make those two huge blotches blend in with nature's rug, but concluded that was just too gross.

Back to bed I finally made it.  My right foot was now huge, as was the whole lower leg and knee, but did I abuse my pain management agreement and take a second breakthrough dose of medication? No, I did not.  I finally remembered the now cold coffee I'd made, timed to be ready just a few minutes after the extrication of the granola cookie mammoth from the evil hand-searing oven.  The cookie was now fully cooled, as well.  So die the dreams of our early waking, when that waking is, however, late in the eyes of The World.

Needing distraction again, and the Marlinspike Hall Domestic Staff (Genetically Indentured), Fred, Bianca (and therefore Sven, on TWO counts lazing in!) -- all now with the addition of well fed cats strewn about The Manor -- continuing their snoozing...  It must be a Tête de Hergé National Holiday, as there are a bunch of new ones this year.  Happy September Eighth!

I took up the laptop again.  I'd left the browser open to the tab listing the massive blog commentary since its inception in 2008, and on an OCHOA=TURD post.  (How many of those trailblazing posts are there now?  How many courts have ruled him the High Idiot Poster Boy for Doctors, Insurance Companies, and Malevolent Employers in all things related to CRPS?  And how many people have died, wasted away, or otherwise have become useless souls because of his greed, his lies and his handlers' infamy?)

I found these two comments left by a Blogger named ShadyNorma, whose Blogger profile is now blocked, and by my BFF/alter ego Bianca Castafiore:


  1. I saw a doc at OHSU who wanted to send me to him, as she put it he is an expert on CRPS. Glad I did't go.

    I have had it for over 3 1/2 yrs.
    Got so sick of the Docs that don't believe, lost my job, on SS, and broke! Work Comp says if I have it its not bad enought to recognize. I have never never experienced pain like this ever! I have in both hands after having Carpal tunnel release. That doc was a comp Doc Too.

    There are many days I think about killing myself just to stop the pain. But at least at this point I can't inflict that kind of pain on my loved ones.

  2. shadynorma, have you ever been seen by a good neurologist? have you joined there is hope out there, and competence! insist upon it, would you, please?

    as for the idiots who don't believe it exists, or who owe their existence and souls to insurance companies and workers comp, frustrate them with calm truth -- they hate that!

    if you can, simply refuse to deal with them, because they are nothing but a waste of your time.

    i think of killing myself every doggone day -- but then, who would run The Manor, who would safeguard The Haddock Legacy?

    shadynorma, lay it on the line with your loved ones -- and band together to make the best of life. get that pain treated, develop a treatment plan, fill your life with distractions, and live on!

    please come see us again, and tell us how you are doing. if you can get away, we'll keep a suite in the east wing all spiffy and full of flowers, ready for you to spend a long weekend, or the winter...

  3. ShadyNorma, I apologize for not chasing you down, chatting your ear off, listening to your story.  I apologize for not listening well, and not doing it repeatedly.
  4. Because one of those first thoughts, mixed in with prayers for my brother GB, aka "lumpy," and for Kate, and for Brayden, was a Lament, a drawn out wordless moan, complaining at having to live another day in what I consider a life without quality.
  5. Because, ShadyNorma, it's the phantom part of CRPS pain and spasms and swellings-unto-bursting and doctors/nurses who won't spend a few hours reading competent neurology, pain, and cutting-edge (O, for that cutting edge magic bullet mixed metaphor for cure!) research, rather than spouting a regurgitated source that was already dried putrid nonsense ten years ago!  It's that phantom pain that makes the people who honestly love and adore you have to walk away, to save their sanity, so that they can -- they and you both hope -- walk in again.
Because, ShadyNorma, this is the ONLY aspect of CRPS pain over which you have considerable control.  You can find answers for it, and with time and relentless application, achieve a measure of pain relief.  

I made a mistake about 2 weeks ago, after being admitted to the hospital for cellulitis in my right CRPS Type 2 (the old "causalgia").  I never claim a "10" on the infamous pain scale.  The scale is meaningless to me now, as I am NEVER below an 8, not really, and I reserve "the worst pain [I] can imagine" -- a ten -- for some unimaginable future.  So while being interviewed by the admitting nurse, I claimed a "9." This apparently triggered an automatic question on her handy-dandy bedside computer program asking about suicidal tendencies.  So used now to my former "team" who understood both the disease and my refusal to lie about suicide, I told the nurse, in what had to be an "inappropriate" affect:  "I think about suicide every day." 

I saw her whole body freeze.  Then I heard the follow-up question:  "Do you have a plan?"  In an appropriately serious tone, I answered, "No, of course not.  That's just a bad joke among people with CRPS." 

Too late.  My thoughtless honesty had "triggered" a psychiatric referral -- which thankfully never came. Someone, the charge nurse, I think, came in and explained that I'd set the big red ball rolling, and as he had some insight into intractable, long term CRPS, we worked that out.

ShadyNorma, the truth is that we can live through any physical pains, but when the people we HAVE to turn to when that pain becomes unmanageable show us deceit, disbelief, disinterest, and then give substandard, outdated "treatment," or no treatment at all as a result of that mindset?  Well, we are worn down and do become intimate with the seductions of suicide.

But you take that bazillionth cleansing breath, live through it (hopefully!) and tighten the circle of knowledgeable, up-to-date practitioners.  You try to get rid of your anger, or creatively vent it (are you blogging?), you honestly face suicide, probably daily, and by bringing it into the light, you defeat it.  Day by day.

You can contact me through a button on the left hand side of my Blogger Profile Page -- and I hope you will, as I care about how you are today, and what the past four years have been like,

© 2013 L. Ryan

Some Favored Message Artists

I love it when my eyes act up.

Having a Ulysses kind of day, I recalled a post of the same title, here on the imitable elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle.                                                                                                                                                                                 (Yes, I've reached the end of all things new, and am having to repeat the various endings of the interwebs.)

Yes, it was a jaw-drop of a coincidence to see that this previous post had been writ almost two years ago to this day, excepting and accepting the six day gap!  O, synchrony!

I doubt that anyone else in the history of reading typeface has confounded "perils" -- a good, solid,
Ulyssean, er, Odyssean poetic word -- with "penile," and did not miss a beat, a meter, a sound, a meaning!

But what really launched my ship?

The comment section!  

Honorable mention, with a musical interlude midway through the sonorous reading of the citation, goes to the belovèd TW and his learnèd reference to tumblr's #whatshouldwecallpoets.

But she who takes the cake is Mary and a rant that you can tell will never be totally excised from her system.  My assumption -- go ahead, buffoons, and snicker! -- is that Mary's reaction was born, not of Odysseus and Merwin, but of  Anaphylaxis, Ulysses, and Tennyson, for Mary is of the Isles, and therefore inopportunely allergic to pretense. 

Should she be reading THIS post, she's likely absented herself briefly for a go at a cuppa tea, despite her disabling stiff upper lip, as she waits, as patient as Penelope, for her emergency epinephrine injection to work...

Hoping Mary will again join us, and repeating the promise of a freshly-made-up guest suite here at Marlinspike Hall, decorated in her obvious preference for Victorian shabby chic!  (I learned that on my final whirl around the internet, at Pinterest!)

I love poetry, although I must admit my taste is not as classical as yours. I like the English poets, Wordsworth's "Daffodils" Betjeman's "A Subaltern's Love Song" are 2 of my favourites, mostly because they are about places I know very well. The children had to learn a poem over the weekend when they were 8, which pi**ed me off considerably as I worked full time. I had more than enough to do in my free time than teach little children in my down time. So each child recited to the school on the Monday morning, Spike Milligan's (do you know him, a British legend) poem here copied in full.
They don't have any stones,
they don't have any pips,
they don't have any bones and that's why I like chips.


And so now, today, a whole six days in advance of the anniversary of the post, and seven days before Mary's own comment (the account may settle if we take heed of the time differential), here are Betjeman's "A Subaltern's Love Song," and Wordsworth's "Daffodils," neither used with Anyone's Permission.

 A Subaltern's Love Song

 Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
 Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,
 What strenuous singles we played after tea,
 We in the tournament - you against me!

 Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
 The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
 With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
 I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

 Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
 How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
 The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
 But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

 Her father's euonymus shines as we walk,
 And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
 And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
 To the six-o'clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

 The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
 The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
 As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
 For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

 On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
 And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
 And westering, questioning settles the sun,
 On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

 The Hillman is waiting, the light's in the hall,
 The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
 My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
 And there on the landing's the light on your hair.

 By roads "not adopted", by woodlanded ways,
 She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
 Into nine-o'clock Camberley, heavy with bells
 And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

 Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
 I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
 Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
 Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl's hand!

 Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
 Above us the intimate roof of the car,
 And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
 With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

 And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
 And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
 We sat in the car park till twenty to one
 And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

-- John Betjeman



I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

--William Wordsworth

And, to honor the Honorable Mentioner, a choice at true random from Tumblr's #whatshouldwecallpoets:

How I feel when readings insist on live music in the middle

* a tip o'the hat to all of y'all (my mixed medium contribution to today's art)!

© 2013 L. Ryan