Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Good Night [repost]

the last of this series of reposts, each evidence that there is nothing new under the sun, I chose this one over 9,579,323,042 nearly identical others because my beloved sam-i-am is featured in it, asking for "an under." i don't know how he and i devised that whole "under" thing, or, for that matter, any number of other unique communications -- i just know that that was a huge part of sammy's charm and that i miss him. o readers, i am having such a hard time.

and yet? on the food network, this week's iron chef america challenge involves tongue (duck, lamb) and cheek (halibut, beef). tongue tartar, anyone? one of the judges just opined that he was looking forward to "the textures." i can relate. i really can.

i am working on several new posts, and if i can keep from deleting them, they should appear atop these nasty old reposts within the next few days.

tongue and cheek, ew.

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****     *****

Lemonade from lemons? Me? Not likely. Still, it being one of those days, I am trying to find some good in it, and am trying to *be* good, which is the considerably taller order.

I was up all of Saturday night from pain, but was very distracted from it by a rocking Australian Open men's final. While part of me feels so bad for Federer, things being, for so long, seemingly equal. Now, though, with this Grand Slam on hard court and Federer being well (he had mono last year), Nadal is clearly the better player. Yes, I know, "on any given day..." As a tennis fan, I am thrilled with this rivalry. I am thrilled by any hard fought five set match. Shoot, I am one of the crayzees that dearly wishes the women could move from best of three to best of five, as well. There should be no issues with conditioning in today's competitive tennis world. Anyway, it has been 21 years since the last five-set Aussie Open final -- Pat Cash versus Mats Wilander. 21 years. Wow.

I dozed through the women's final the night before! P-i-t-i-f-u-l. Something needs to give with the women's draw as the finals, more and more, seem to happen in the quarters and semis! Safina? Why did she even show up? Who wouldn't have preferred seeing Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic battle it out? It seems like the departure of the Belgian contingent has taken away the magic. As usual, the Russians and Serbs are coming... I just wish they'd hurry up and establish themselves.

Serena's nose must have grown a yard. This is what she said after the match:
"Dinara was hitting the ball so hard that I had to go for broke, that was all I could do to stay in there. Dinara, thank you so much for putting on such a great show for women's tennis." I don't allow "OMG" on my blog... but if I did, this is where I might be tempted. Williams' wins the Hypocrisy Award and I am sure Safina might have picked up on this wee bit of condescension.

My brother the Grader Boob and I are always in close contact during tennis Grand Slams. Some people rely on birthdays, Christmas, those times of year. Not us. He told me last week to expect our Xmas gifts on Wednesday, and that my birthday cadeau might come next year. I wish we could agree to abolish gifts altogether.

I don't know what he is teaching this semester... I will have to wait, probably, until his first professorial meltdown. I always get to hear about those while they are still fresh! For some reason, he thinks I have wisdom to share. Ha.

I wonder how the other Brother-Unit, Tumbleweed, did over the weekend, what with all the betting activity on Super Bowl Sunday. (He's a bookie.) He emailed me that the thing he dreads the most seems to be happening with increasing frequency -- elderly folk trotting up, and saying, "I've never bet on anything before in my life! So how does this work?"

Last night, I spiked quite the temp and between that and lack of sleep, I was fairly miserable. Hot and cold, shivering and sweating, I prayed for some rest. And I got it -- only in hourly spurts and with cats. The Felines were in on it, I swear.

Sammy was chief prosecutor of the war. Marmy took the roll of Head *Ack*er and she seemed to enjoy standing on my chest *ack*-*ack*-*ack*ing away. Occasionally, she hissed -- a new behavior she is trying out. It's effective, garners her attention, but the attention is confused -- we've no clue what she is hissing about and suspect them to be gratuitous. Even the other cats ignore these verbalizations, fairly rolling their eyes in boredom. Should she add claws to the act, that will change, for sure, as she is well known for her deadly accurate slashing ability.

My Little Idiot, the Dobster? He is sent into the fray when I am alert enough to have a Cute Reflex. Dobby is disarmingly precious, and knows it, but as he is a certified Little Idiot, he cannot be obnoxious about it. I hate to be "one of those" pet owners? But? Dobby is perhaps the cutest, most intelligent of all domesticated cats. Ever.

I'm glad to have *that* settled.

The Felines are a wonderful gift from God and a fantastic source of comfort when I am so sick -- and terrific bearers of fun and distraction always.

They are so accustomed to my reclined body that they treat it much like an edifice. There are ports of entry -- they all want to hang out under the quilts and blankets, curl up under my raised knees -- and holy cow this is starting to sound like pet porn...

Anyway -- the concept of asking for "an under" must be understood. While it is true that a cat could burrow under the quilt from any perimeter point, the only correct and point-worthy entryway is over the left shoulder. And they know it. So while they might each half-heartedly attempt a foray via the feet, or under an elbow, they know that the One and Only True Path is along the left clavicle. (I have to stop saying "shoulder." I don't have any freaking shoulders anymore. I may *never*, at this rate, have a shoulder again. I am likely to be forever shoulder-less. Does anyone remember the "ruth-less" episodes of Firesign Theatre? I must keep laughing, I must keep laughing, I must keep laughing -- in between bouts of deep despair.)

Oh, Jesus. How did I get stuck on my woe-is-me again? The cats -- back, *ack*-*ack*, to the cats.

So they have learned what amounts to "knocking" at the door. Sure, they first attempt to get what they want without having to acknowledge B. F. Skinner, but they end up knocking. Sammy is the most endearing at it, I don't know why. He has always been able to project this very shy look and that's the look he adopts -- he drops his head and peers up at me with "big eyes." He waits until I ask, "What do you want?" and then, he takes his paw and taps several times on the ersatz shoulder. He also understands when I say, "I'm sorry, there is no Under under here." At those moments, he changes looks, adopts one that is pretty haughty, turns and stalks away.

The cat knows there is an Under under there and that I am just being petty.

Apparently, last night, The Felines decided that my penchant for sleep was me being petty. yet again. And for the first time, "knocking" knew a new context: waking me up. It's hard to explain the incongruety of my nascent dreams as they attempted to incorporate this physical *thud* *thud* into some sort of cogent storyline. Near nightmares? More like Kitty Cauchemars!

I found a way, ultimately, to make them stop. Surprisingly, it involved kibble. After a feeding frenzy, we all napped until 9:30 am. I started the day off with a temp of 100.6.

It's afternoon now, and I am topping off at 101.3. Not that great of an increase, but this is on top of Tylenol and ibuprofen. And it is all happening despite my daily dose of prednisone. I don't understand the dynamics of it, but most of my doctors will tell me that it is "impossible" for me to have a fever on prednisone. Well, all of this effing impossibility has been going on, almost DAILY, for over 14 months. I am ready for the impossibility of fevers. The banishment of sweats. The disappearance of dehydration. And emotional lability. And INSOMNIA!

The ceiling has probably not yet been met -- as it usually peaks in the late evening.

Most of the day has been spent meeting physical needs, checking tedious things off a tedious list.
Folding clothes, washing clothes, towels, sheets, washing dishes, putting up dishes, a little vacuuming (the price of having three cats), some dinner prep. Plus, I ate an organic apple and a small bowl of kettle popcorn, drank one diet cola and lots of water. Gee whiz, how can I complain about daily tedium?

I am not "supposed" to be doing most of these things... but here at the Manor deep deep in the Tête de Hergé? It's hard to get good help!

I am sure that I don't help my pain levels by vacuuming -- and wheelchair vacuuming is, in a way, more demanding than reg'lar vacuuming. But I assure you, it beats the upset that will happen should I have to see cat hair on my favorite raw silk pillows for one minute more than is necessary. The same goes for dinner -- having a good, healthy dinner with Fred and Bianca beats the heck out of some sad microwaved stuff eaten alone. Besides, Fred's cholesterol is sky high and someone has to counteract frozen pizza and sausage being added to anything edible. I love him. I want him to live forever, and healthily. Vibrantly. Joyfully!

Every fifteen minutes, I stop and rest. Sometimes the rest period lasts 24 hours! Not today, though. Today, I am dedicated to the proposition that Retired Educator can be worn out and, being worn out, sleep.

Where is all that laughter coming from?

The lack of sleep is hell on CRPS/RSD. I have had a severe worsening of it in my right arm, which figures, I suppose, since it seems the infection has returned there. But I also get to reexperience the symptoms that I remember from the very beginnings of the disease -- the shooting, lightening-like electrical impulses to individual toes, for example. They rarely occur when I am not febrile, infected, fatigued. I experienced many more tics and spasms when this tired.

There is a funny side to it -- for when it hits, either the shooting pain or the tic/spasm, I cry out involuntarily, and it is loud -- short, and loud, not unlike a BARK. Fred will roll his eyes but, at least, knows never to ask "What's wrong?" Nothing pisses me off more. I don't know why... it is just that I spend almost all my time fighting pain and part of me feels that he ought to know that -- he ought to know what is going on. Yet, given that I end here, and he begins there, how could he?

In two days, I see the orthopedic surgeon again. The poor man. He did my right shoulder replacement back in 2005, then removed the prosthesis last August -- needing two surgeries to get what he felt to be an acceptably clean field. He removed the left shoulder prosthesis in December... and now is going to have to go back in on the right side to remove what appears to be an infected shoulder spacer. In the interim, suspicious pain has set in in my left hip and lower back. My bloodwork sucks -- but just as in the preceding instances, nothing grows on cultures taken from these regions. Whatever is infecting me remains unknown, despite four aspirations and despite clearly infected samples taken during surgery and before antibiotics. Oh -- antibiotics! After each surgery, I have had 6 weeks of i.v. vancomycin.

As I said, "poor man." He is tops in his field nationwide, and I trust his skills implicitly. That is why I am so scared -- because he cannot forsee how this will end. He told me that he can see us chasing the infection from bone to bone, joint to joint. (Initially, we thought the infections were restricted to all of my orthopedic hardware -- then he discovered it hiding deep in my left humeral shaft... It literally exploded when he began to investigate. So osteomyelitis has been a new term to add to the list. This apparently means something -- I just don't know what.)

If the pathogen, be it bacterial, fungal, or whatever-al, were known, I think he would feel much better. So I don't know -- do we schedule this next surgery as we have the others, in haste, or could I possibly wait a while? I had hoped to be able to really rest and recover in this down time, but that isn't happening. Pain, fever, discomfort, and increasing disability and depression -- THAT is what's happening. Hopefully, and yes, probably, he will lead the way and be able to tell me what is best -- because I am so far down that I am not reasoning all that well. It shows even in my writing in this blog -- I barely recognize myself.

During the writing of this ridiculous post, I am glad to report that Sam-I-Am sought out, and received, permission for An Under. He is currently ensconced under a bright yellow blanket and a lovely, worn quilt -- and under a pair of aching, burning knees. He radiates a warmth that I really don't need but whose message of camradery I do embrace.

The Fredster, for his part, bought a DVD to watch, and some comfort snacks (whose cholesterol content I will have to approve). More importantly, he is willing to hang out with me. Even La Bonne et Belle Bianca has invested herself in the effort.

Good cat. Good partner. Good friends.

And, hopefully, a good night.

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