Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Mir beat Nogueira -- Herb Dean stopped the match in the second round. I cannot believe that the whole UFC event slipped my mind!

To unify the heavyweight belt? Mir must take... Brock Lesnar. That has to feel discouraging, and familiar, all at the same time. I've no room to criticize Mir -- but even with this outstanding but, frankly, unexpected result, he needs to talk less, train more. Lesnar is not the same fighter that he submitted with that lethal and lovely leg lock early on in 2008 -- Oh! What a beautiful submission that was! "Word" is that Lesnar is training BJJ like a mad man. His last fight was strange to me -- he looked obviously capable of submitting or punching out, but instead allowed the ref to stand them up and restart. Boring but perhaps a propaganda vehicle? [correction -- not the Couture fight -- the one prior... about which I am pulling a blank. I ache for Randy... yes, it's true, I have a Veritable Thang for Captain America.]

HEATH HERRING. Voilà. He deserves beaucoup credit -- though I still contend that Lesnar was schooling us all.

I love the comments at Kiddeath82 writes: "SO i know brock has a good very good work ethic i mean from what i researched he doesnt even care about money he draives a little beat up car now thats a real fighter. BUt mir has the philisophical advantagde since both his parents are black belts."

Brock drives a beat-up car. Mir's parents are blackbelts. Why, it is the heady stuff of UFC commentary! Both of my parents drive Cadillacs and drink single malt scotch. Take that!
The rest of the results from Saturday night make me sad -- Forrest Griffin lost his title to Rashad Evans, the new Light Heavyweight champ at 205. Actually, it is hard to be sad about it, as there is much satisfaction in watching Evans steamroll his way through the UFC after being written off in such a rude fashion by Matt the Chin Hughes, and by Dana White, too.
But Forrest will forever be "our boy" here at Marlinspike Hall. I suppose many feel that way, having followed him since the TUF 1 Dream Fight with Stephan Bonnar. Oh... what is the hilarious moniker that Bonnar is using? Hmm. I have really not been paying attention -- in his Wikipedia entry, it is noted that following that TUF 1 fight, he was suspended for illegal steroid use. Damn it. Anyway -- he is being called "the American Psycho," and fairly leers at the camera when announced.
Wanderlei Silva must feel slightly schizoid. Congratulations to Quentin Rampage Jackson.
Cheick Kongo beat Mostapha al Turk.
Matt Hamill won. I don't like him... and am prepared to take abuse for it.

Wretched Excess: Peter Kraus

As I sit bleary-eyed in front of the babbling T.V. -- some of the more outrageous news sinks into my brain. Here is the Daily Kos version of the story, as filtered by nyceve, and presented to you below:

Former Merrill Lynch executive pays 37 million for NYC apartment (with taxpayer money)
by nyceve
Tue Dec 30, 2008 at 07:54:24 AM PST

This is a little off the beaten track for me, but it is a very real example of how taxpayer money is being wasted on bailouts for failed executives.

It's particularly important to publicize this sort of wretched excess, known as the privatization of profits and socialization of loss, as we approach the opening of the 111th Congress and the battle for affordable and guaranteed healthcare for all Americans goes into high gear.

As sure as night follows day, we will hear many say, the United States can't afford to provide healthcare to all our citizens. When this deceit gets going, please remember that a huge amount of taxpayer money is raining on people like Peter Kraus--no questions asked.

This is 720 Park Avenue in New York City. It's one of the most expensive buildings in Manhattan. Peter Kraus and his wife Jill, just paid $37 million for an apartment in this building. This year, Peter Kraus received a payout of $25 million dollars for working at Merrill Lynch for just three months.

photo credits:
720 Park Avenue, Merrill Lynch Logo

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Scream

Munch is one of those artists whose work you want to grace every room -- they have such a welcoming, warming effect. Certainly, waking up to one flashing in the middle of the night, backlit by, say, a lightening strike, is an illuminating experience.

So, it's almost official. German Expressionism has stomped all over the schmalzy poppy fields and brasseries of the lame French Impressionists.
Just kidding.

What is almost official, indeed *is* official, is that a third surgery is planned for my right shoulder area. Philosophical inquiry: When does the area between clavicle and humerus cease to be a shoulder area? [Mine may be the only Hergéveen Manor House in the region in which you will actually discover the sound of one hand clapping.]

You only have to tell me a dozen times, you cross-eyed Physician's Assistant! I get yer everlovin' drift, you emotionless cretin! [There is a storm brewing in some medical bloglets that purports to be about the usefulness of beings such as PAs and NPs. It is when you plomb the depths of the meaning of "usefulness" that the real argument, that is: how much money can Happy and Scalpel legally earn without compromising their liability one red cent? It's a riot. Yawn.] {I am being mean. The argument is interesting, and, as it touches on the nature of things, important to the future of healthcare. *burp*}

She is very nice. She has long, straight, and recently trimmed dark hair. She looks to be about 12 and speaks in a sing-song voice when saying things like, "I know it is hard."

She wouldn't know hard if I hit her.
(This is my new favorite sentence. I am going to enjoy it again: She wouldn't know hard if I hit her.)
Which, of course, I would never do -- I don't have any shoulders.
I may not have mentioned that I may decide to go left-hipless, too. But I think I will save that for when life begins to bore.

"The spacer in your right shoulder is now just a foreign body that is attracting bacteria. It must come out. You are having fevers, pain, and elevated white counts while on intravenous vancomycin. This is not normal. We cannot keep you on antibiotics indefinitely, particularly as we still do not know what we are dealing with -- your cultures are not growing any pathogens."

She has the art of S - V - O down pat. The plan, I see, is to wear me down with simple declaratives and restatements of what they think I already know. Ha! They can never know how little I really know! I should not be misoverestimated.

"But," I whine, "It seems like we are just chasing this from joint to joint, bone to bone, doing one surgery after another. It can't still be an emergency each time! I know I keep saying this but please hear me! I. cannot. do. this."

Note that most of my statements should be issued with asterisks and readily found errata sheets. My écouteurs, and rare interlocuteurs, also ought to be equiped with something like a fly swatter, to manage the pestilence of my punctuation -- it tends to swirl.

That would be pity in her eyes, however briefly -- proof she definitely does not know me. I am quite capable of producing sufficient self-pity, thank you. No matter, her tone of voice made plain her conviction that I had no choice but to play out the scenario that her boss has had her deliver.

He *may* have said the same thing to me last Tuesday. He *may* correctly have concluded that I am not accepting this thing that he sees as a fait accompli. Just because I am fluent in the language does not mean I am the least bit cartesian.

Maybe it wasn't pity. Maybe I poked her in the eyes with speed faster than light. Yeah... that's it. I poked her in the eyes -- yes, both eyes -- with a gnarly stick and was so quick about it that neither one of us saw it happen. Yeah. And where is the thermometer? Fred is hiding the thermometers...

The ID person I trust most is on vacation -- and while she can be equally assertive, she promises an open mind. I find her believable and capable of sustained argument and explanation. I leave her exam room without any still-plaguing worries or questions. Her hair is blond and blunt cut. She is tall and wiry, and wields her wit like a very sharp knife. She gets grossed out by skin ulcers. This I know because we sat together, groaning "grossssss!" at the sight of my nasty foot wound -- it is almost healed, thank goodness (and the Wound Care Center).

We call her Susan because that is her name. Susan doesn't afford me the time to develop a healthy strain of denial. She almost does the Triple Gallic Non, and does do a passable wagging finger. They say she is just a PA, but I suspect that she is the brains behind the outfit. I mean, go figure -- which of their medical staff has managed a two-week vacation at high-holiday time? That's right -- Susan has.

I am trying to understand how the passage from infected prosthetic joint to osteomyelitis means anything. It has significance for these medicos, I can see that. They think it profound, even.

Let's see: same process, slightly different medium. Certainly, once in the bone, any bacteria or what the eff-ever has it made -- I have pre-existing avascular necrosis virtually everywhere. A match made in heaven.

I am beyond depressed. I scared Fred last night -- sleeping fitfully, I kept waking up screaming. You see, as the shoulder area starts to relax and fall backward toward the mattress and the pillows -- well, it sure feels like tissue and schtuff rip and tear -- it is very painful. Horrific, actually. And, if it's my unconscious ruling the roost, I scream. All the care I take to behave well and unremarkably in my waking hours? A complete waste if I am going to scream my bloody head off all night.

Marmy stole my heart away during all that noise, though. As my wailing fades, I see Fred floating in mid-levitation, hair pointing skyward. I see the tip of Sam-I-Am's tail fleeing the scene. Dobby immediately jumps in the trashcan (there is no explaining Dobby). But Marmy? She has come close to me, she is "ack-ack"ing to beat the band, seeking in my scream some hint of syncopation for herself. She came close, she stayed, she did not leave me all night long.

Don't touch my anthropomorphism. It is a vestige of good mental health.

The Boutiqueur and I have a secret worry -- the heart. This breezy and beautiful afternoon, just as we arrived back at Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé, I had a good five minutes of chest pain. It could not have been truly cardiac -- but I am psychologically primed to fear the be-all-end-all of a "blown" aortic aneurysm.

There is a huge logical disconnect -- but the point, I suppose, is that any note taken of the heart now quickly converts to an internal seminar on what it might feel like for that sucker to really blow. The cardiologist I spoke with on the phone lacked all humor. I asked what symptoms I should learn to recognize. He laughed mirthlessly and said something like: "You won't have time to have any symptoms..."

I don't think that has any relationship with this tenacious infection -- The Boutiqueur is more correctly focused on my crappy aortic *valve* -- its bicuspidness. Bicuspidity? And the chest pain? Well, my heart rate hasn't been below about 110 in months now... Shoot, probably nothing but heartburn or a pulled muscle.

Yeah, Retired Educator! Borrow trouble, you nitwit.

Earlier this evening, I began a reread of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. I like the transparency of my mind. My memory stretches back to sitting on an old painted bedstead with a very lumpy mattress -- down in my grandparents' basement, reading Tom out loud while my Nana ironed. It would have distressed her greatly to learn that the first "real" book I ever picked for myself, and finished, was Go up for glory by Bill Russell.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thank you, and good night!

Okay, first off? I don't even recognize the preceding two posts. I am leaving them as "published drafts" because I do discern a barely familiar intent from which something might be salvaged. Not tonight, however.

I finally managed, through the magic of pharmaceuticals, to string together a three hour nap. The difference in mentation is remarkable! Several times, my own snoring almost roused me but I fought off the urge.

The medical folks who people my world are wonderful and why I do not remember their sincere dedication to helping me, I don't understand. Some of it has to do with constantly second-guessing myself. Some of it has to do with trust. Most of it is some sort of overblown pride.

Fred has been having A Day. That means -- in La Bianca shorthand -- that Fred is struggling with all that he must do versus the imperious demands of ADHD.

We needed to leave The Manor -- and that means through The Spikes and across The Moat -- at 11:30 am. I woke him in dulcet tones at 10 am, using naught but tender terms of endearment. Even so, he refused to exit the warm bed until I had furnished coffee and two perfectly cold slices of pizza pie. Finally opening both eyes at once, he ambled off in skips and hops across the cold 16th century stone paving and the fancy linoleum -- Welsh deo gratias tiles -- that leads the way to his office, where he plops down in front of his computer. This does not bode well for a timely departure, plus he is mumbling something about having my Go-To-Guy Doctor, now known simply as The Boutiqueur, learn what it feels like to wait. A noble sentiment in some farflung context, I am sure, but not in the realm of our experience with The Boutiqueur... and certainly not a position Fred has any right to adopt!

We were cooking with gas but with no food in sight.

At 11:22 am, Fred fairly flies across my field of vision and the knot in my stomach relaxes -- until I hear him cursing and see envelopes and other scraps of paper swirl upward in small vortices from the oddly planed oak wardrobe. There's nothing like tornadoes in the bedroom.

We have the following conversation:
Me: Whatcha doin?
Fred: What does it look like?
Me: We need to leave in seven minutes.
Fred: I am doing something important.
Me: Can I help?
Fred: No, you can't help.
Me: Well, at least tell me what is wrong...
Fred: I cannot find my VISA bill.
Me: Is that something that absolutely has to be done in the next seven... no, six... minutes?
Fred: {glares}
Me: Maybe I can help you find it when we get back over The Moat this afternoon.
Fred: {glaring} Fine. [He grabs a pair of wide-waled peat-colored corduroy pants and a mustard-colored denim shirt and sprints for the bathroom. Whew...]

Humming and packing up my Stuff, I hear the shower start. Between his putty skin, the peat pants, and the mustard shirt... I hope his colors run and smear.

We got there with five minutes to spare, although that included a brief stint between two tankers while the Fredster ate some of the aforementioned pizza pie and steered, if it can be called that, with his knees.

The Boutiqueur is now back in charge of my "case." We put our pointy heads together over the minutiae of my bone and joint infections, over the lacunae of information identifying the offending pathogen(s), over Fred's level of frustration, and over my bossy bitchiness.

He fears the overuse of vancomycin -- I am on my second six week course of receiving it via the PICC line, and they just hiked the dose to twice a day, even though my trough level was "normal."

He agrees with InfectiousDisease Man that the spacer impregnated with antibiotics that was inserted in August is now nothing more than a germ magnet and ought to be removed. (My index finger was wavering and waving in the air at that... but my lips seemed to be glommed together with pastry cream.)

My WBC count is 16,500. The CRP is still elevated (and the sed rate still NORMAL! How utterly odd...). No fever in the office... but back at the ranch, it shot up to 100.6.

It felt great to hear him think out loud, which let me relax, reassured that someone with plenty of brain power and compassion was there so that I could check out and put my resources toward something recuperative. Like a nap.

He has a notation in my voluminous chart (something I find very embarrassing) that when given things such as Ambien, I do NOT sleep and report "feeling weird." I do not recall this but he nods sagely and wonders aloud if there might not be something already in my "arsenal" that might work well to break the cycle of insomnia. We hit on amitriptyline and so I will try adding 100 mg tonight.

[Note that on the hint of a promise, alone, I was able to grab three hours!]

Ruby the Honda CR-V flew down the road -- zoom zoom zoom -- and I visited for a few minutes with Dr. PainDude's PA, who then gifted me with the month's worth of pain medicine. She used to work for the brother of my OS, and regaled me with funny stories of their apparently legendary antics.

Tomorrow? InfectiousDisease Man, blood draw (unless my PICC will give as well as receive, which it would not last week), a hair trim, and home.

I don't feel very hopeful when I look at my medical situation -- but I respect the hope I have seen in other people throughout the day -- and I love my Fred, and acknowledge his frustrations as being something seen only in people consumed with the rigors of breathing in, breathing out.

I am very lucky.

Thank you, and good night!

The Castafiore on Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy wants Hilary Clinton's New York Senate seat.

I, La Belle et Bonne Bianca Castafiore, want the mezzo soprano role of Carmen, despite the general contention that I am not -- {sniff} -- sultry enough.

"Tant pis, tant pis," murmure-t-on.

Kennedy told a local newsman over the weekend that she wants "to do her part" in the general goodwill inspired by Obama's election. "We all need to pitch-in" -- that kind of thing.

Unheard of!

She is reported to be an on-again, off-again voter and is not reknowned for her efforts within the Democratic party.

(Whatever that means... What does that mean? Mais, qu'est-ce que ça veut dire?)

Roland Barthes, he is not so much known aux E-U -- if you ask, no one (personne! personne!) has read Mythologies. Il en serait content, je crois. No one needs to *read* it. Ah! je ris de me voir si belle dans ce miroir...
En fait, je rigole!

Canonical images only go so far.
But I, La Belle et Bonne Bianca Castafiore, will not be the fool to underestimate them.
Death of the Author, indeed!
(Oh, puh-leeze, mes amis... a joke. Not a great or grand joke, and perhaps overdone, but -- still, a joke!)

Vous me suivez?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Aces over eights

I am passing through episodes of approximately 30-60 seconds of 10 out of 10 pain. Passing through as in stepping into the light mist of a gamey perfume -- and out again -- a delicate lunge, a tantalizing twirl into the rank emanations of owwwww -- and out again. Et ainsi de suite.

Ten out of ten: I have maintained that such a score would never be attained (by me), precisely because of what it is supposed to mean -- the worst pain imaginable.

The worst pain imaginable? Right off the bat, dès le début, I have issues. My imagination, a well-conditioned muscle, really should not be invited to the party. As an undergrad, I chose to satisfy my math requirement by taking a course in logic -- taught by a former priest whose defrocking story was mythic. I went on to almost major in medieval philosophy. Probably would have afforded me a more lively job market...

Professor Ryan made it so that this can never be just the issue of ten... because there is also the issue of zero.

In between the waves of ten are times of seven, eight -- there where I normally subsist. Ach, mein gott.

My good sense is floundering.

Fred, in Fred's goodness, is pulling chauffeur duty again this coming week. Monday: Dr. Boutiqueur, followed by Dr. PainDude. Tuesday: ID-Man and the Infusion Center Gals. Wednesday: Repeat Tuesday, plus see SuperTall PA to Dr. ShoulderMan.

Then ring in the damned new year.

Lindsay Wagner looks like death warmed over -- a great thing for a spokesperson for the Sleep Number Bed -- drab from head-to-toe in browns, a testament to verbal sepia. I am not so much sleep-inspired, looking at her, as worn out.

We've shut ourselves up in our little apartment off the roomy kitchen in the East Wing of Marlinspike Hall. Holed up. Huddled in seclusion. Not that there is anyone from whom to hide. The Castafiore is out driving Miss Daisy crazy, as we call her Sunday evening shenanigans. The felines are nowhere to be found. They did not appear underfoot at the sounds and smells of Fred Cuisine, which normally finds the trio circling our feet much as might three tiny sharks.

Three little *land* sharks, that is. Sly. Cunning. "Candygram!"

I have slept only four hours since Friday. The details before that are rather sketchy. I've not been fun to be around and seek to correct that moral failing.

Wa Hoo. Yee Haw.


My mind strays -- you may have noticed -- and I smile, thinking of my friend Diana-with-an-H and her most recent trip to Deadwood in South Dakota.

I love Diana-with-an-H. She totally *gets* me and chooses laughter as the best response to most everything. Well, that's probably not totally accurate. Better to say that I've yet to see a sad circumstance that could control her hilarious nature. Combine that with a good heart and, yep, you've got an exceptional person.

From time to time, she feels the need to gamble. To get the hell out of Dodge. {insert a westernism here} Do I live vicariously through her? You betcha. I don't believe that I've hit 10 on the pain scale since thinking of her, happy out in a snowstorm, soaking up history, and sharing it with me -- far away, wimping out, all whiney. What a gift! Here follows her email to me -- that she scribbled upon getting home -- knowing. You get that? Knowing!

(I'm so far away from ten. I feel it and I don't. The smile of friendship, even the memory of the smile -- wipes it away.)

We made it home safe and sound. As we were throwing our bags and sacks in
the house, I was putting everything away and already have a load of laundry

Rapid City was crazy with shoppers today.. We just hit three
stores and all had to do with Hunting... Cabalas-Shields-Blackhills Archery..
and then we were on the road.. too many people.

Last night, we had the
coolest trolley car driver who was giving us and another young couple a history
tour of Deadwood....

It was snowing so hard and the wind was blowing
that we jumped on the trolley car going the other direction, just to get out of
the snow....

He was talking about the Adam's Family. He was a merchant
in DW that made a ton of money and built a Mansion back in the 1800 and it still
stands today.. He also gave DW the money for the Museum. with one condition..
they never "charge" anyone to see it....

The road going to his Mansion
is also the same road to the Grave yard were Wild Bill and Calamity is buried...
You can go on tours of the Mansion also....

During the small pox break
out.. that Calamity helped with and also, every person she took care of.. did
not die.. however over 300 children died during this break-out.. and all our in
the grave-yard....

Wild Bills' Wife, who he said 'was the love of his
life" was in a Circus when they met and was said she was very pretty... Wild
Bill was only in DW for 6 weeks when he was shot...

His goal was to get
rich off of the gold in DW for his wife and him... He met Calamity in Cheyenne
WY and they both signed up to be "out-riders" for the wagon train bringing
supplies to DW... (out-riders rode ahead and checked the trails and looked for
Indians and problems)

It's said that Bill admired Calamity for her
Courage and he always tipped his hat to her....
But they say she grew up
very poor and a very rough childhood and she was built like a Man for those days
and also she never took a bath....

They say she left DW for three years
and came back with a 7 yr old child, a girl... well.. she was still such a drunk
and cuss and filthy.. that the State of S.D. came in and took the child away
from her..... She told everyone this was her child.. but the timing did not
match.. so they wonder if she might have found this child stranded.. no one
knows for sure....

They also said the Sheriff Bullock Never Once had to
use a Gun to take someone to Jail.. they said he stood 6'6 and had Gray Eye's
that looked right though you... they said he was a huge man and huge shoulders
and huge Hands..... big big Man.....

Some of the books say Wild Bill and
Comity were Lovers, but this was not true.. she said he was her "best-friend"
and she loved him but not in the sex way...

Wild Bills wife came to DW
and saw his grave and thought about taking him back East.. but decided this was
his final resting place and he needed to stay there. That was the one and only
time she was there....

This spring, lane and I are going to go to the
Mansion and Museum and Grave Yard... so I'll be sure to get pictures....

We were talking about the show DW and this guy was telling us how much
history and a lot of things are True or close to the truth of the real story....

He was telling us some kids went and stolid the Last Chinese Head Stone
two months ago out of the grave yard.. but they got caught and it's been placed
back on the grave..... So that's good.. also very sad....

We were
talking about it being BAD KARMA to steal from a grave yard... gives me the

While we were on the trolley car.. I was thinking of you
and how much you would LOVE this and the stories being told....

wanted to tell you about them before I forgot......

Christmas Day I had
Prim Rib-Ham-Scalloped Potatoes and fried shrimp.. Last night was Prim Rib and a
ton of Crab Legs... Yummy.....
Tonight.. Mom's making chili....

Okay.... Hope things were nice and quiet and pain-less as could be for

Good Night... Love Dianah
Pain? What pain? I am all smiles.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

WordleMeister of the Day: Fresca

We have a winner!

Fresca solved Wordle Challenge #1 just by giving it a quick glance. A piece of cake (easy as pie!)!

La Belle et Bonne Bianca Castafiore finds the Wordles a doltish passetemps but is fond of this Citrusy Cyclamate who recently plunked herself down in the middle of one of Retired Educator's many fab pity parties. La Fresca's appreciation of choses tintines and her hearty cries of "blistering barnacles" have endeared her to the shy, retiring diva.

I wondered whether classifying this Wordle Challenge as "easy" was fair -- but the proof was in the pudding (cake and pie). I suppose a person might be able to google his way to the appropriate citation -- Citrusy Cyclamate claims to have done so for Wordle Challenge #2 and to have easily arrived at the solution. "Poobah!" I say. "Poobah!" To her credit, she is keeping the results to herself.

La Fresca has further shown herself to be of an altruistic nature by opting to forward her used copy of the book in question to a starving child, an option designated in the official statement of Wordle Challenge rewards.
As it happens, Little Senasa in Nazareth, Ethiopia, has culinary designs on this delectable chunk o' paper pulp!

The first Wordle was a jumble of the opening of Joyce's Ulysses:

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead,
bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.
A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him
by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:

—Introibo ad altare Dei.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

War is over if you want it

Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The road is so long
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight


And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young


War is over if you want it
War is over now

--John Lennon, Yoko Ono

photo credit

Eartha Kitt

I've always said to my men friends, If you really care for me,

darling, you will give me territory.

Give me land, give me land.

(January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008)

photo credit -- Thank you, Diddy Wah

Cortical Changes in CRPS

Lifted from PubMed -- where I was directed by MedWorm, "the Internet's medical router... over 6000 authoritative RSS feeds go in... hundreds of new RSS feeds by category come out..."

December 18, 2008 European Journal of Pain

Cortical changes in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).

Karin Swart CM, Stins JF, Beek PJ.

Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Recent research suggests that changes in cortical structures can contribute to the pathophysiology of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). This review provides an overview of studies showing cortical involvement in CRPS, including mislocalizations of tactile stimuli, changes in size and organization of the somatosensory map, changes in motor cortex representation and body perception disturbances. In addition, we review experimental treatment approaches, such as mirror therapy and motor imagery programs, aimed at restoring the integrity of neural processing in the sensory-motor cortex in individuals with CRPS. The intervention effects are promising and can be theoretically motivated on the basis of established principles of neural organization, although important questions concerning the precise neural mechanisms of action remain unanswered.

PMID: 19101181 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nothing Grows

Yesterday's outing involved the first outpatient visit to the Infectious Disease doctor's office and infusion center. They were incredibly busy, having to fit five days of appointments and procedures into three.

The drill is to see the doctor or PA, then have a vancomycin level and other blood work drawn, and the PICC line dressing changed.

The following day, Fred drives back to pick up the "medicine balls" full of antibiotic that are correctly dosed for the week.

This morning, one of the nurses called to say that we have to go from a once-a-day schedule to every 12 hours because my vancomycin level is very low. We chose midnight and noon as it complements our outrageous lifestyle.

The kicker for me, though, is that my white count is 17,000.

The ID doctor said yesterday that if the pain does not let up in my right shoulder -- from which the prosthesis was removed and a cement spacer put in back at the end of August -- that he was going to recommend operating *again* and removing the spacer. I had a temp of 100.5 -- I stopped checking it when I got home from the hospital -- thinking, dreaming, of smooth sailing.

My cultures still have not grown and he finds that somewhat ominous -- to him this means either a rare bug, fungus, or TB, though the fungus and TB should not have been so very difficult to grow. He has asked the lab for 5 more days.

Where and how did I pick up a rare bug -- in my bones, no less? My understanding of the immune system does not seem to be growing, either. No, I have begun to cling to simplistic notions.

Wherever and however this happened, I hope I had a good time.

As always, more props to Fred. How much can he take? What can I do for him? Does he think of me and wish... well, wish what any normal person might wish?

Ruby* Takes My Love to Town

Fred and I went up and down the hills yesterday, Ruby the Honda CR-V happily putt-putt-putting along. For several years, my darling and I stressed and argued, pitched the various merits and demerits of buying something, anything, that rolled on wheels, was safe and easy to handle -- and what else? Oh yes! Something that could be fitted with a mechanical wheelchair lift.

Without these things, this was the drill for getting Retired Educator out of the house and loaded for transport: I ride to the old low-to-the-ground Toyota in my power chair, dragging along a folded aluminum walker. I resemble a bionic grasshopper, the legs of the walker waving in the wind like buggy antennae. It takes a few minutes to open the difficult passenger side door, and a few moments to sit and weep hysterically afterward. Woe! Woe! Alas! Alas! A few final beats to the breast, then I set up the walker in front of the chair, stand -- and, while holding onto the car door for dear life, do the Gimp Pivot. There follows moments of schizoid conversations between my Will and my Gimpiness, usually held aloud for the entertainment value they offer to the professional women strolling by. Puis, Fred carries out the manual chair and loads it in the back, cursing under his breath but waving at the ladies with a hospitable look about him. Ensuite, he plops into the power chair, balances the walker on his bony knees, and drives it all back into The Manor, plugs in the chair, finally grabs *his* stuff, and... we're off. Of course, we did a similar version of this routine upon our return home -- but usually some sort of Event Intensifier was in play, such as a full bladder -- because Retired Educator cannot manage to pee away from home without assistance, and Fred is not always made welcome in women's bathrooms.

(Forget *me* not having autonomy -- what about *him*?)

Okie-dokie -- choo? Train? Thought? Ah, yes! The first thing that comes to mind in terms of a vehicle, of course, is the Ubiquitous Clunky Van For Crippled People. They seem to come only in white or navy blue. Oooooo! I want me one of those -- big, ugly. Yep, big and ugly -- with unmentionable gas mileage. Sasquatch would have nothing on our carbon footprint.

Fred flat out refused to drive a van or a "large" SUV. Rarely does he say "no" to what I want -- excuse me as I blot the tears and *sniff* -- so I pay attention, especially since "what I want" always seems to involve a sacrifice from him. I want this new car with a lift -- but who has to load the chair and drive the car?

I watched him struggle for years, watched him hurt his back using stopgap ramps and entirely too much muscle power wielded with disdain for basic body mechanics. My "want" was, in great part, an unspoken "need" of his. In subtle ways, too, we were both caving to the difficulties of everyday life. CRPS / RSD erodes social interaction and there's a measure of discipline required to approximate "normal." It is easier and less painful to hide out at home -- but it is counterproductive and subtly will erode at both physical and mental health. I know this because as I look back at those fun times from the future of today, where the state of my health *does* prevent me from going out, I am about to descend into an ulcer-riddled, slobbering idiocy. (Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merrrrrry Christmas!)

I'm just saying: Normal changes. And yes, if pressed to do so, I might admit that my daily life is in many ways blessed. Jeez.

Anyway -- take, for instance, the normal weekly chore of grocery shopping.

Fred is a consummate consumer, very up on availability, totally knowledgeable about prices and how to factor in such things as convenience. He also happens to be one of those lovely people who could easily have taken a career detour into the culinary arts. Yes, Fred can cook! He has had the responsibility of buying and creating two meals a day for 30+ homeless men, each of whom had an active illness with some sort of comorbidity. He has had the responsibility of cooking for Whimsical Moi and La Belle et Bonne Bianca Castafiore -- which can be the source of tension headaches. These days? Well, given the cholesterol count he managed to achieve recently -- I predict arugula, tomates, brocolli and lots of steaming technique.

Yes, Fred can cook. Still, a few months ago, we had to have The Dreaded Talk.

I had to rein in his exuberance for our marvelous local Farmer's Market. Four quarter-pound bags of Ethiopian coffee beans, just enough that we soon end up with funky blends out of some sort of quasi-gourmet necessity. We are occasional fans of the light and winy Yirgacheffe and Limmu -- though nothing will ever get between me and a good honest espresso roast, no matter the country of origin. And spices, oh Lord! The makings for a dozen curries, every sort of pepper and rendition of paprika, plus the everloving let's-try-some-of-this-stuff purchases. Not an issue of price -- rather, a problem with space. I also tend to get peeved when I cannot manipulate the containers -- you try pulling out the plastic cups of cumin and coriander without spilling the cayenne, caraway, cardamom and the other C-Spices -- like yanking the lovely white linen tablecloth from under the Thanksgiving feast and ending up with sweet potato soufflé and fines herbes in your hair.

Train? Train? Choo-choo... Okay, I am back. Ummm. Grocery shopping. And "normal."

Fred is a great shopper and through the times of having to do it alone, has his own habits and efficiencies. For me, the grocery store became a social outting more than a trip for necessities -- The List may as well not even have existed by the time I am done adding to, and altering, it.

There was a period of over two years where I didn't go to the store or market with Fred. We developed a standardized list of food and household cleaners 'n stuff, to which he would add weekly specials. It got harder over time for me to remember the layout of the aisles and which brands were desirable versus store brands -- never mind what anything cost.

I could not figure out why I was so *angry* about something so small as groceries and the act of shopping. Every week, when he was done hauling in the bags and I was helping put things up, something pissed me off. Not knowing what or why, I focused on Fred. Poor Fred.

It turned out that I was frustrated at not being able to ask for, then get, things that I wanted. Bless his heart... I would whine: "I need hair conditioner." "Put it on The List -- just tell me what kind so I get what you want..."

And... EXPLOSION! "How in Tête de Hergé do I know what kind I want? And so on and whiny so forth." This would set him up for playing Twenty Questions, not to mention failure, and having to focus his sweet ADHD-addled brain on a hundred different hair products in the middle of a crowded, noisy store. I needed the experience of walking down the aisles and seeing the products, reading the blurbs, cautions, and claims. (Oh... and seeing people, talking with people, eavesdropping, playing with kids -- I might as well have been at EuroDisney or DollyWood, such fun there was!)

The day the issues behind my behavior clarified, that is the day the plan for a car and a lift was born. Retired Educator needed to venture out, put up with the pain, get tired (because tired can be a great feeling!) -- and take responsibility for getting her own wants and needs met. Not to pretend that this was ever totally accomplished, but things are better, more equitable, since we purchased Ruby the Honda CR-V. Vroom! Vroom! She's not the 1954 MG that I've always wanted, but she is irreplacable, functional, and cute.

It took a long time to make the purchase. Even in this worldly metro area, the only conversions offered seemed to be for huge lifts in huge vans... and the Fredster was having none of that. There were many arguments and hurt feelings.

Hooray for the internet! After hundreds of searches, emails, and phone calls -- we found Bruno.

More specifically, we found this Bruno:

Curb-Sider® Vehicle Lift (Telescoping Model)Model VSL-6900 -- or as we like to call him: Bruno, because Bruno is his name-o.

Okay, so we totally screwed up and it was only by grace and an extra few thousand dollars (not a ho-hum issue chez nous -- we are only squatters in the Captain's Manor, after all) that we ended up with the perfect combination.

First, we bought the car. We bought the wrong car. Luckily, we were able to rectify our error in the space of a day. Caveat emptor, caveat emptor. Changes had been made between last year's CR-V model and the 2008 and those changes impacted the very tight measurements with which we were working. Okay, we have the car. Still a few "oops-es" -- the well in the back for the spare tire... hmm. Fred designed a modification to allow us access in the event of... but you'd have thought he was changing the layout of Fort Knox by the lack of enthusiasm and help he got from the local conversion experts. The Bruno company did not want to give a blanket endorsement of the pairing between the 2008 CR-V and their lift, so we studied and debated the specs, and decided to forge ahead.

Ummm. It turned out that my wheelchair was too big by 3/4 of an inch, and there is no wiggle room in that.

So I had to buy a new wheelchair. Bull Crap Bull Skeet of Tête-de-Hergé, my health insurance folks, wouldn't spring for a new one -- actually, I did not push the issue. I mean, really:

Hi there, BCBS of TdH! I need a new power chair because I bought the wrong car to go with the right lift, only to find that my wheelchair was too big by 3/4 of an inch. It would be nice to be able to leave the house without making the Dear Fred push me around in a manual chair (my shoulders are shot and I cannot self-propel, you'll recall). His poor back hurts and he is tired -- and me? I would like a smidge of autonomy. Oh, you don't cover autonomy? Okie-dokie. I'll dip into The Our Funds Runneth Over Account and spring for the chair... you just sit back and refuse to cover those pre-op MRIs! Fair is fair.

Finally, all the money was spent** and we delivered the wheelchair, the lift, and the car to the people who are supposed to know how to marry them together. Fred sat in the waiting room much like an expectant father unable to withstand the sights and sounds of birth.

The van guys had never done this before, of course, and ended up having to redo it three times. If Fred had not made the revisions in Ruby's back floor, she'd have come out completely mangled. But in the end, we had it -- and as far as we can tell, we are the only people in our neck of the woods*** who do: a car that meets the need of a gimp but that does not scream "I ride to school on the Short Bus."

All so that I can go to the grocery store. Like normal people.


*Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town

(Kenny Rogers)

You've painted up your lips
And rolled and curled your tinted hair
Ruby are you contemplating
Going out somewhere
The shadow on the wall
Tells me the sun is going down
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town

It wasn't me
That started that old crazy Asian war
But I was proud to go
And do my patriotic chore
And yes, it's true that
I'm not the man I used to be
Oh, Ruby I still need some company

Its hard to love a man
Whose legs are bent and paralysed
And the wants and the needs of a woman your age
Ruby I realize,
But it won't be long i've heard them say until I not around
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town

She's leaving now cause
I just heard the slamming of the door
The way I know I've heard it slam
100 times before
And if I could move I'd get my gun
And put her in the ground
Oh Ruby
Don't take your love to town

Oh Ruby for God's sake turn around

**If any of you followed my outburst at The Happy Hospitalist, let's just say that these purchases designed solely so that I could leave the house without requiring the assistance of Atlas, ate up the entire "settlement." Of course, the fact that the very events behind the settlement necessitated the purchase... Oh, excuse me! Am I lapsing into bitterness?

***In Reply to: Origin of neck of the woods posted by N. Lester on May 12, 2000

: where does the phrase "neck of the woods" come from?

Here's a discussion from February 2000. Anyone got anything new to add?

: What is the origin of the phrase "In your neck of the woods" or "In this neck of the woods"?

: : Here's my theory. In the country, there aren't any street addresses. So you literally use landmarks to refer to where a person lives. Up in your neck of the woods or up the holler. On the mountain. Down on the river.

: "Neck of the woods," meaning a certain region or neighborhood, is one of those phrases we hear so often that we never consider how fundamentally weird they are. In the case of "neck," we have one of a number of terms invented by the colonists in Early America to describe the geographical features of their new home. There was, apparently, a conscious attempt made to depart from the style of place names used in England for thousands of years in favor of new "American" names. So in place of "moor," "heath," "dell," "fen" and other such Old World terms, the colonists came up with "branch," "fork," "hollow," "gap," "flat" and other descriptive terms used both as simple nouns ("We're heading down to the hollow") and parts of proper place names ("Jones Hollow").

: "Neck" had been used in English since around 1555 to describe a narrow strip of land, usually surrounded by water, based on its resemblance to the neck of an animal. But the Americans were the first to apply "neck" to a narrow stand of woods or, more importantly, to a settlement located in a particular part of the woods. In a country then largely covered by forests, your "neck of the woods" was your home, the first American neighborhood

This is an example of a "fossil" word in which an old word has been preserved in only one or two special sayings. Short Shrift is one example. In the case of Neck the ancestor words in Old Breton (cnoch) and Old German (hnack) both had a sense of "hill" or "summit"; ie identifying a place.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Flowers in the Canyons

There are times a sister needs her brother -- and I think we all could use the memory of flowers in the canyons. All photos by TW, selected text from his December 14, 2008 entry over at American Idyll.

what i'll
give you
since you asked
is all my time
take the
rugged sunny days,
the warm and
rocky weather.
take the roads
that i have
walked along
looking for
tomorrow's time,
peace of mind.
as my life
spills into yours,
with the hours,
filling up
the world
with time,
turning time to flowers,
i can show you all the songs that i never sang to one love before.

we have seen a million stones lying by the water.
you have climbed the hills with me to the mountain shelter.
taken off the days one by one, setting them to breathe in the sun.
take the lilies and the lace from the days of childhood,
all the willow winding paths leading up and outward.
this is what i give.
this is what i ask you for.
nothing more.
--judy collins ("since you asked")

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wordle Challenge Rewards

As of yet, there have been no attempts to solve any of the three outstanding Wordle Challenges. [Update -- Challenge #1 was handily elucidated as being the opening line to Joyce's Ulysses.]

Then it occured to me: "Perhaps contestants are awaiting notification of their potential winnings, those money-grubbing bastards!"

Rewards will be as stratified as the challenges themselves, which range from "easy" to "difficult." Should you successfully rearrange a citation and give the correct attribution, in addition to being WordleMeister of the Day,
you win:

Wordle Challenges #1 and #2 (Easy) --
a used copy* of the work in question;
Wordle Challenge #3 (Difficult) -- a used copy* of the work in question AND A Never Before Issued, One-of-a-Kind Commendation.

*Books will likely be obtained via and, therefore, sent to you by a third party. If you're of an altruistic bent, you can forego your winnings -- and the book in question will be sent, second day air, to the starving child of your choice.

Wordle Challenge #1

Wordle Challenge #1, Easy Level: Identify the novel that begins --

Good luck!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ce Temps Majuscule

I hope you have enjoyed the hiatus of posting here at Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé.

et la seine? elle est toujours belle, elle. malgré moi, elle l'est.

The silence is squashed. I was discharged yesterday afternoon, and while still not quite settled back into home life, Fred and I are slowly finding answers and sly techniques to get me and us through this... Time.

Ce Temps -- Majuscule.

Unfortunately, my left shoulder prosthesis is not back with me. Heart/San Francisco. Shoulder/Tête de Hergé. You can't always get what you want...

Surgery on Monday went well, in the sense that the orthopedic surgeon got me through it in great shape and did what he had to do, with panache and one arm tied behind his back.

He's very talented, and somehow "more" than a specialized surgeon -- meaning no disrespect to any other surgeons out there. Most of the orthopedic surgeons I have met are intensely disinterested in the "medical" side of my care, to the extent of neglecting it. Not so with ShoulderMan. He is on top of things and looks a bit askance when I bring up medical concerns. Still, given that *he* is the anomaly, the practice of doublechecking will not fade away any time soon.

Je reviens... Monday, late afternoon, in the hush of the surgical theatre: The prosthesis looked pretty good to him, as did the surrounding area -- not great but not nearly bad enough to explain such pain and dysfunction. He was about to wash it out and close me up when he decided to further check out the sturdiness of the prosthesis. It came loose too easily, so he proceeded to "ream" the shaft of the humerus -- as any talented ShoulderMan would do.

"It exploded with pus and gunk."

"Gunk" is a technical term and if you don't know what it means, well, I don't have time to walk you through Medical Terminology 101. Look it up. Live and learn. Walk and talk. Rock and roll.

The Christmas Mystery? Nothing will grow on the culture plates. Nothing. They are able to get MRSA from zeee nares and zeee skin -- but as for the actual Pus and Gunk? Nothing.

I confessed the pain of the left hip and the former right shoulder -- so they wrapped me up in a lovely off-the-shoulder yellow dress, a bit on the sheer side, with a lovely pair of blue gloves that gave my look the needed *pop* and off we went to interventional radiology in an attempt to aspirate yet more fluid. More Christmas Mystery, but perhaps the pains there can be dismissed due to bone-on-bone contact in the hip and overuse in the arm.

But my Infection Sensors are blipping and bleeping and splurching all over the doggone place. Still, there is nothing that can be done right now. A normal person would probably decide to relax and try to salvage the holiday spirit.

We are throwing daily infusions of vancomycin at the invader(s). Six weeks of infusions through the PICC line. (If this were a freaking Gratitude Journal? tee hee! the position of the PICC line is sooooo much better than last time! and the roly-poly plastic balls of vancomycin? why, they're all gold and silver-like, as if jesus came down and gave a fluffy baby kiss on the cheap china plastic and poof! them balls, they turned into holy ornaments! poof! tee hee!)

Just like last time.

I am incredibly grateful to Dr. ShoulderMan, his PA, and his SuperDyke nurse. This does NOT go without saying. So be sure to say it.

The hospital staff? Not so great -- but as the PA said, the solution to that is quite simple: "stay out of the hospital." Wiser words were never said.

We posted signs that said "Please do not touch my legs or right arm without asking permission. I have CRPS Types 1 and 2. It is painful. Thank you."

Yes, you got it! It was like issuing a freaking invitation: Please touch my arms and legs -- pat them, swat them, stroke them -- Because when *you* do it, it doesn't hurt at all!

Anyway, I am home -- in lots of pain, extremely depressed, and challenged -- in those basic ways that ought to be second nature. Don't make me break out that gosh-darned Gratitude Journal shit. I am alive and not in a nursing home.
There are people who care, still. Which amazes me.

When did I begin to hate myself?

A great big thank you to Dr. ShoulderMan and staff, the ID people, and All the Intrepid Nurses.

Most of all... my Fred. Dancing around my hospital rooms -- snoring in their corners -- bringing me a piece of pecan pie under the frowning visage of the Diabetes Dominatrix -- enjoying the shows on Animal Planet that we don't get at home (even if the lion gets the baby antelope) -- helping me brush my teeth, letting me pull on him so as to sit on the side of the bed.

And Fred never laughs at my bedhead.

Which makes feeling suicidal a despicably selfish and amoral impetus.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nerves are setting in

I couldn't sleep last night. I have the Hospital Terrors and was so hoping to avoid them. There are mountains of things that need to be done and my tendency to make lists has kicked into high gear.

Now it would be spiffy if I could just check a few things off.

I will be the last surgical case of the day. Apparently, orthopedic surgeons have this hangup about operating on infected joints when there is the most remote chance that a microbe will escape into the rarefied air of the surgical suite... and then jump into the open wound of another patient. My bacteria are very social.

The pain is kind of out of sight but I am not medicating for it. I am doing a modified Drug Holiday (yes, on my own; no, Shoulderman hasn't a clue). It will help me post-op. But the pain is starting to suck, so I may have to end the vacation.

Fred has gone off to... church. Here at Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé, his worshiping options are plentiful. He attends the First Existential Congregation of TdH, an interesting group of very strange people. I stopped attending over a dispute about the ordination of Transgendered Alien Republicans [TAR]. Nothing gets to me like the pointed exclusion of a group of people, even if they are TARs.

It occurs to me that these infections may be my end. Maybe their concern over the MRSA is not so puerile after all. Shoulderman has intoned that we may end up chasing these nasty bugs from joint to joint. I haven''t had the courage to tell him my left hip is hurting.

How much hardware do (well, at this point, *did*) I have?

1999-left hip fractured and pinned
2001-right hip replaced after collapse
2002-left shoulder replaced after collapse
2002-right ankle reconstructed after fall in ICU (the beginning of a Sentinel Event that ushered in the era of CRPS)
2005-right shoulder replaced after collapse
2007-right elbow reconstructed after a fall
2008-right shoulder prosthesis removed, replaced with cement spacer
2008-Monday, December 15... left shoulder prosthesis [probably, but pray not] removed, replaced with cement spacer impregnated with killer antibiotics...

We're going to chase infection in all of these possible incubation hot spots? In that same space of time, there have been four ressuscitations, three Addisonian crises, two pneumonias, many lupus inflammations of heart and kidneys, and *way* too much time spent hanging around on ventilators. My terrific luck cannot continue to hold.

Way to talk myself into a funk!

Solution? Scrub the golden toilets of the Manor! Change the bedding of the various Sleep Chambers! Clean the Moat! Mow the Wimbledon Miniature Courts! Dust the Rubens! Refinish the Velasquez! Go to town and snag more Gold Leaf for the 16th century dinette!

Ar! Temp? 101.2. Ar! Would that those First Existentialist Congregants prayed...

I have great faith in ShoulderMan. He is easily one of the top ten OS in the country, very humble, and tenacious as heck. He is also an unusually talented *doctor* -- and by that, I mean that he doesn't shrug, mutter, and disappear when my medical crapola surfaces after his surgeries. He listens, absorbs, and doesn't coddle -- the perfect combination for me and my increasingly woe-is-me attitude. He will do his part and I must do mine. What is my part, though? I have been living with pain that stays on the very high end of that stupid 10-point scale, running fevers daily, sweating, able to do less and less, not sleeping for all the pain, and... chest pain is becoming way too frequent an occurence. It is hard not to worry about that freaking "dilation" of the aortic arch.

When did I become so fearful, so tentative?

Where is La Belle et Bonne Bianca Castafiore? On those rare days where I need that Diva-Witch, she is nowhere to be found!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Common Good

In for Bob Herbert, Gail Collins writes the op-ed "The Dreaded Fairness Doctrine," published in today's New York Times.

Any mammal can obsess about fairness. (Did I mention how ticked off monkeys
get if they find out they’re getting cucumbers while somebody in the next cage
has a grape?) The real human trick is to get past the quid pro quo and try to
focus on the common good.

I forgot to mention that the purported subject is the bailout. Oh! Which bailout?

The Detroit one, the voom-voom zoom zoom zoom one. To be technical, the auto industry.

Back in October, would you have known, without checking, that bailout was one, unhyphenated word? Was $700 billion inconceivable to you way back then? (It may be that I, alone in this nation, am just still in sticker shock, still feeling snookered*. I have a good head for maths, pure preferable to applied, but no aptitude for the burgeoning field of snookered-mathematics!)

I didn't want to read it, especially how it was pitched in my email summary:
The Dreaded Fairness Doctrine
Any mammal can obsess about fairness. [My eyes fairly rolled back in my head in response to this universal cheesiness.]
The real human trick is to get past the quid pro quo and try to focus on the common good.

As a Socialist, I am considerably more grounded in reality than when I stroll around mathematically. I like my socialism applied, thankyouverymuch. So... she had me. There is nothing more despicable to me than the confusion of fairness with quid pro quo.

Collins makes a clear and simple point, rare enough these days. It can be dressed up for Senators and Congressional Representatives; It also plays well at the local playground:

The really hard lifting still lies ahead, and we cannot possibly do it if we’re going to dwell too much on the fairness thing. It’s just too easy for lawmakers to dodge the tough vote by reminding their constituents that somebody else is getting more breaks than they are.

Which somebody always is. If Senator DeMint’s constituents are going to riot over a bailout for the auto industry, they’ll wind up being met by tool-and-die makers waving torches and yelling about soybean subsidies. If the lawmakers from Alabama say their constituents do not want their tax money going to bail out Michigan, the people in Michigan are going to say that they never really enjoyed paying more taxes to the federal government than their state received in aid, while Alabama got a return of $1.61 on the dollar.

We do what is hard; We do what is right; We do it together; We recognize that now, and maybe always, need trumps fair.

How very... utilitarian. [Ar! Just checking for a pulse!]

*From The Phrase Finder:
Posted by Henry on March 22, 2004
In Reply to: Re: Behind the eight ball posted by Fred on March 21, 2004

: : Hi! Can you please tell me about this phrase? Thank you...

: If you are behind the eight ball you are in trouble. In the pool game called
: "eight ball" if you need to put the 5-ball in the pocket and the 8-ball is between
: the 5-ball and the cue-ball, you have a difficult shot. You are not allowed to
: use the 8-ball to hit the 5-ball.

The equivalent phrase in Britain is to be snookered. In the similar game of snooker, if a coloured ball lies between the cue ball and the remaining red balls, preventing it from hitting a red ball directly, then the player is snookered. The player must then play a more difficult shot, usually off the cushion although experts can make the ball swerve.

Image Credit

Friday, December 12, 2008

UFC fighter with bicuspid valve

My first, and thus far only, smile of the day? It was generated by the Google search that brought a poor fellow (a gender presumption) from Mansfield in the U.K. to this quirky blog a few hours ago.

"UFC fighter with bicuspid valve" were his search terms.

He must have been very disappointed.

And so, to help him out, I took up the search. And, like Mr. Manchester of the U.K., found nothing.

So I decided to catch up on some of my MMA reading. I came across an article at that contained some information I've long wanted to have -- UFC salaries and fight pay. This is from October 2007:

UFC fighter salaries lack rhyme, reason

Big ups to the guys at, who were able to obtain official
fight salaries for UFC 77 from the Ohio Athletic Commission. Below are the
amounts that each fighter in the main card took home that night. (Keep in mind
that the winners' totals reflect a doubling of their base salary.)

Anderson Silva ($120,000) def. Rich Franklin ($45,000)

Tim Sylvia ($200,000) def. Brandon Vera ($100,000)

Alvin Robinson ($6,000) def. Jorge Gurgel ($7,000)

Stephan Bonnar ($44,000) def. Eric Schafer ($6,000)

Alan Belcher ($22,000) def. Kalib Starnes ($7,000)

So, lots to discuss here. First of all, Jorge Gurgel earned about 35 cents for every
time he was punched in the face, which seems a little low. (I don't get out of
bed for less than 50 cents per face-punch.) His opponent Alvin Robinson came in
with a $3,000 base salary — shockingly low for someone on the main card of a UFC pay-per-view event.

Dana White insists that Stephan Bonnar is one-half of the greatest UFC fight of all time, yet pays him a base salary of only $22,000, equal to that of Alan “Huh?” Belcher. This is the part where the average MMA fan would start up with the “Dana White has no loyalty” rant, railing at how poorly White treats fighters who temporarily fall out of favor (see also: Franklin’s surprisingly-low $45k take). But Tim Sylvia was never popular, and he makes a guaranteed hundred-thou per fight. But then again, so does Brandon Vera, and Vera was never champion.

Come to think of it, that Vera figure can't be right. How does an up-and-coming heavyweight contender have a base salary that's $40,000 more than the middleweight champion's? [...]

Good observations, a good question.

My dream match, these days? I want Randy to get his long-desired fight -- within the UFC -- with Fedor Emelianenko.

Prediction? Nover and Bader will take TUF 8 tomorrow night.

And as much as I admire Mir's vast repertoire of BJJ submissions, Nogueira is just better.

"Cardio, boys. Cardio!"

photo credit

"Just when I thought I was out..."

Were I you, and you may thank your chosen deity that I am not (you, that is) -- Were I you?

I'd not mess with Fred, La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, the Retired Educator, Marmy, Dobby, or Sam-I-Am -- today.

It won't go the way you wish.
You won't come away unscathed.

"Just when I thought I was out...
They pulled me back in."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Margaret and Helen

On the advice of the good doctor over at Musings of a Dinosaur, I visited the blog of Margaret and Helen, "[a] pair of 80-somethings who have been friends for 60+ years, one of whose grandson's set them up with a blog."

It's beyond a hoot -- it's something special, almost a balm in Gilead (For me, mind -- someone feeling a tad parched out in this desert.).

Anyway, à mon tour, I suggest you give them a read.

You know, I think that's the first official recommendation of elle est belle la seine la seine elle est belle.


Feline Antics

It feels like something of a copout to post videos from YouTube. HOWEVER, this short production cracked me up, and these days, I choose to honor that which cracks me up. You've gotta love this pugnacious cat and his determination to eat... healthily. So yes, this is an *educational* and *health-conscious* amusement. (Also, instructive, enlightening, didactic, edifying, and informative)

Take it away, kitty.

"You've got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch"

Nothing gets me in the holiday spirit more than this contribution to the season from the great Dr. Seuss. It comes in handy when dealing with various grouches and nutters who seem to delight in Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa malfeasances. Of course, true Masters and Mistresses of Muck are active year round -- this is just the time when the rest of us are easy targets. We are full of unrealistic expectations, selective memories of childhood holiday wonders, rich food, and the unrelenting stress of trying to please everyone.

The Grinch anthem also plays upon the lips when a person has to deal with co-workers who are big bad meanies, like the infamous Condescending Nurse...

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
You're as charming as an eel.
Mr. Grinch.

You're a bad banana
With a greasy black peel.

You're a monster, Mr. Grinch.
Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders,
You've got garlic in your soul.
Mr. Grinch.

I wouldn't touch you, with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch.
You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness
Of a seasick crocodile.
Mr. Grinch.

Given the choice between the two of you
I'd take the seasick crockodile.

You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch.
You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk.
Mr. Grinch.

The three words that best describe you,
are, and I quote: "Stink. Stank. Stunk."

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch.
You're the king of sinful sots.
Your heart's a dead tomato splot
With moldy purple spots,
Mr. Grinch.

Your soul is an apalling dump heap overflowing
with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable
rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.

You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch.
With a nauseaus super-naus.
You're a crooked jerky jockey
And you drive a crooked horse.
Mr. Grinch.

You're a three decker saurkraut and toadstool
With arsenic sauce.

Copyright © 1957, Dr. Seuss.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Surgery. Monday, 15 December.
Exact time TBA.


The good surgeon promised to do his best to preserve the prosthesis, and I know he will...

because he is none other than:


Monday, December 8, 2008


I have been flirting with 101 degrees since Friday night. Flirt, flirt. The pain in my shoulders is steadily increasing.

We deigned to grace the Wound Care Center with our sniveling presence this morning -- and boohooed through the entire appointment.

It was mortifying.

Bless Brandi's heart (remember, please, that we call her Brandi because that is her name!). What do you do with such a patient and no doctor in the clinic? Why, you threaten to call the ID doctor, the orthopedic surgeon, *and* the Boutiqueur -- unless the weeping dipwad of a dingbat patient promises to call someone as soon as she gets home.

Which she does.

It was my first call to the Boutiqueur since his move to the new office, with the new setup, with the guarantee of being able to reach him "24/7" -- an expression that I have never been fond of.

I got the same answer that I would have received a month ago -- back in the old effed-up office, before the Grand Guarantees: "He's with patients. Can I take a message and have him or the nurse call you back?"

That, my friends, is an oldie but a goodie. I am timing him.

[Granted, I am very confused as to what he could possibly do for me. What is it about 101 that makes it a differentiating marker of some sort? What? Blood cultures? Like hell am I getting back into that damn car. I cried the whole way home and screamed during the transfer to my chair. There had best be a promise of an answer... Zut. I hate myself when I get this sick. There is this guilt that takes over -- and even without decades of therapy, I know where it comes from. The evil stepmother -- just joshing! She really is swell and I love her lots -- but everytime any of us got sick, she got mad at us. I will never forget trying to hide the fact that I had pneumonia, out of pure trepidation. She caught on when I collapsed and coughed up a lung... and she said: "What did you have to go and do that for?" You see, we were about to go on vacation to Japan... We still went. I spent most of the time in the hotel room. Hmmm. I'll clue you in on something else -- I babble when over 101. Tears, babbling, and guilt -- I have hit the trifecta.]

Edit -- and not even five minutes after publishing this! Total embarrassment. Maybe there is something to this concierge medicine after all. Boutiqueurs nurse just called -- she is the greatest. What did I do? You get three guesses. Right! I burst into tears. She is all fired up now... and the orthopedic surgeon -- who completely blew me off last week -- is about to get hit by incoming... Bless everyone's bones. I really am grateful. I really am.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hajj 2008

Still on an admittedly febrile cruise of the web, I found this site that offers continual live coverage of the Hajj, courtesy of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington. Estimates of the number of pilgrims range from 2.5 to 3 million faithful.

Edit: In what is a fairly creepy move, the Saudi Embassy checked out this humble blog within 10 minutes of this posting.
Aasalaamu Aleikum!
Ahlan wa-Sahlan!

photo credit

A la recherche

I enjoy haphazard travel in the blogosphere. With Blogger, it's as easy as a click -- look to the upper left and choose "Next Blog."

Should your faith in humanity flag a bit, doing so may well restore it. People are amazing: They have tiny babies, and little ones, upon whom they depend (despite the folklore that posits dependency as the child's role!); They make beautiful paper and Bento boxes; They make better flashlights and mousetraps; They explore rhythm and wine.

Anyway, it's the time of year wherein we desperately want to suspend our disbelief, and if you are a cat-crazy socialist... Well, you, especially, are in need... You, especially, may want to embolden and italicize your desperation.

And so, my first click took me to The Holmes Family Adventure and a world of celebration -- with not one, but *three* lovely Christmas trees in the house: the white tree, the gold tree, and the family tree. Don't miss the annual Hartford Festival of Light -- and definitely pause a moment to admire their Scotty and his various ensembles. They are clearly a family of faith, but I confess that I am starting to get the willies, so let's move on...


And voilà Gavroche, who begins her blog of visual appreciation with works by Jim Warren and has, most recently, wrenched a bestiary from the grips of medievalists (annoying folk who get their panties in a wad over something as ordinary as a lettre historiée!). Admittedly, I opened yet another browser window to welcome a wonderfully tangential blog, Chimaera, which somehow foisted itself into my blogroll. Strange how these serendipities serendip!
I had to forcefully reel myself in!

And... click!

Errrr. Okay, I love the collie and -- lacking the translation skills of La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore -- am perplexed by the rest of Treeniblogi ja vähän muutakin. But heck, the blogger is 19, from Helsinki, and loves The Lord of the Rings, both the movie and the books, so she hasn't had time to be all bad! She writes about orbits, barriers, and I am lost.
Again, love the dog -- whose name, I think, is Niki.


We're in Norway now, in Oslo -- visiting min skravleblogg! [Help, someone. Skravle = Jaw. My jaw blog?!] Aase enjoys knitting, crocheting, most handwork -- and also wants to share recipes. I confess that what most tickled my fancy was learning the Finnish for that abominable expression "LOL" -- *ler*! She has a Christmas tree widget that is counting down the days to what must be, for someone as "crafty" as she is, the most important day of the year. Her photos of Vinter i Oslo are charming -- there is a wonderful snowperson who looks a lot like Mrs. Butterworth.

I'm all aquiver as I prepare for my last coincidental click.

Ah, well. It is the price for playing an honest game. Ligeiramente Blasé. Diego, from Brazil, promises us a traumatic time as he details the quotidian, mixing his "no-good Portuguese with his Mexican," and planning to combine this doggerel prose with his propensity for... drama, for the "lightly blasé."

Good luck to you in your travels, Dear Reader! Click...
image credit: Chimaera, British Library, Harley MS 4751, Folio 6v

Friday, December 5, 2008

أنا انظر إلى الضحك لي في هذه المرآة الجميلة

Good evening from Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé. La Belle et Bonne Bianca is booming through her inevitable "je ris de me voir..." -- except that she is putting herself through some linguistic paces. Whenever I hear her relax into Italian, I am reminded how difficult it must be for her -- she is Italian, after all, even if a rabid francophile. We make no allowances and she is so incredibly fluent that it rarely occurs to me to -- "to" what? Recognize her exile? Sooth her marginalized soul? Please, this is no grand drama! She can wield whatever language she likes, whenever she likes, but she, like most of us, has this incredible fondness for having people respond to what comes out of her mouth.

En tout cas, it is sounding not unlike a papal Christmas greeting around here tonight. Around her, tonight.

I ridere a vedere me in questo bellissimo specchio!

Late last night, my Personal Physician, the Boutiqueur, e-mailed me the wonderful news that *nothing* grew in the cultures of the personal ambrosia that was the aspirate from my left shoulder. From the expansive comfort of my wheelchair, I have been Happy Dancing à la Snoopy ever since.

Actually, I just now got out of bed and while in bed was hurting too much to attempt dance of any sort. (I've been known to do a mean horizontal shimmy. Ar! If you knew the shimmy like I know the shimmy, you'd know I wouldn't be caught dead in mid-shimmy these days. I mean, really, I only have *one* shoulder at the moment and the other one is nothing but a troublemaker.)

Ik lach me te zien in deze mooie spiegel!

What is difficult to explain is my steady tendency to take less pain medication as I hurt more. It's actually not complicated and the logic is stellar, but I am receiving odd silences and regards askance in response. Dr. Paindude's PA, the Lovely Lass, added a fourth dose of 10 mg of methadone. I tried it for a week and know that it will be -- perhaps -- another week for it to leave my system. While there was less bone pain overall, there was not one iota of benefit to the specific pain that is sucking my sanity into its black hole. (Is this where women toss in the odd "LOL"?)

My preference is ibuprofen. It has the important advantage of also bringing down my temperature.

Я смеяться видеть меня в этом прекрасном зеркало!

[These things write themselves -- think Rita Skeeter with her Quick Quotes Quill -- still, the Cyrillic alphabet comes off as uppity when italicized, don't you think?]

Fred is trying to be happy about it. Neither of us think back to July, when this scenario was last in play. The Boutiqueur has conveyed the lack of results but the orthopedic surgeon, ShoulderMan, has yet to weigh in. I imagine forlorn tones as ShoulderMan calls the ID-Dudette, who has already told me that another surgery to remove the remaining shoulder "must happen."
There are times, and this is one, where I think my teetotalism is ill-advised, and is -- indeed -- contrary to good health.

أنا انظر إلى الضحك لي في هذه المرآة الجميلة