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!