Saturday, May 23, 2009

When I find myself in times of trouble...

The thing is, it ought to boggle the mind, but it doesn't anymore. It made me laugh, that's about the extent of my oh-so-shocked reaction.

If you've been paying attention, you know that The Fredster and I have been loading up Ms. Ruby the CR-V a couple of times a week and heading down to the Infectious Disease Dood's Place, just for kicks. And once there, well, it would be rude to donate blood and run, so we usually stay a polite few-to-six hours.

We're almost family, at this point. We've witnessed firings and hirings, flub-ups and triumphs, all from the comfort of the Infusion Center. We even watched President Obama's inauguration there, a crowd of doctors and nurses, aides and techs, secretaries and delivery folk.

Fred even has an intense and personal relationship with their chairs... I think that he sleeps, these days, better when ensconced therein than at home.

Even if you haven't paid attention, you know that I've been feeling increasingly like crapola since my last hospitalization and requisite surgery to replace one clunky shoulder spacer with another, as signs of infection in the joint/humerus continue. See? Give me the slightest opening and I feel compelled to bitch and moan, loudly, and with great feeling. (It's not my fault. I'm sorry.)

The response chez the ID folks has been to steadily urge me to contact my orthopedic surgeon, which I was loathe to do, since Dr. ShoulderMan's response tends to be a surgical one (crazy, huh?). But I finally did contact him yesterday, through his nurse and clinical assistant -- via email.

The response?

"I just spoke to Dr. [ShoulderMan] and he wants you to contact your infectious disease dr. I am so sorry you aren’t feeling good. Let me know what the Infectious Disease dr. says."


Bless her bones, she is wonderful, as are the surgeon and the PA. I don't think it is avoidance or "the run around." I think they're right, actually. The orthopods have been working like crazy to stay ahead of the infections and to give me a functional skeleton. It may be something of an overstatement, but not in my present frame of mind -- I think they've saved my life a few times over.

The ID folks, on the other hand, have had the luxury of treating me as if I were an intellectual point of dry debate. Many is the time I've been tempted to call out: "Point of order! Point of order!"

We cannot keep doing surgery after surgery -- the risks are clearly too great.

Anyway... I don't know what I am supposed to do. My "concierge" doc, The Boutiqueur, has to stay somewhat on the sidelines, as he doesn't have privileges at the hospital in question -- most of his work and his colleagues are far across town. He has maintained a close telephone connection with everyone and sees me about once a month. But what can he do for me, in this highly specialized situation?

I guess I will keep taking my meds, showing up at my appointments, gritting my teeth through this pain, sweating through these fevers, hooking up to these vancomycin medicine balls, lusting for sleep.

Because who knows where I am supposed to find relief, or go for help when in trouble?


Hey, maybe this is one of the twisted ways people end up in the ED/ER, where their presence is, predictably, maligned...

As my stepmother used to say: "There ought to be a law!"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Great Gate of Theleme

The fever is in my eyes this evening -- fecund burning, staring, staring. The felines are fed, Fred is in deep communion with his Important Work, tucked safely away in his office, in the big black chair. When I am not looking, he spins round and round in that big black chair, and goes woooooooo!

You can't fool me.

When febrile, I do the darnedest things. I put dirty clothes in the dryer, thereby cutting my workload in half. I sometimes throw away our flatware. That kind of thing. Oh, and I cry, but the tears are meaningless. Really!

The life of a feverish brain is fascinating. For example, look at what I put by the bed to read this afternoon: Thurber! Rabelais! It is my habit to read several works at once. The principle that guides my choices is the simple requirement that there be dialogue, a measure of synthesis that I hope results in something new (small nod -- and a wink -- to crazy Pound) between my delicate pink ears.

Rabelais' bawdy Gargantua and Pantagruel amuse me at a good quivering belly level, much as James Thurber can send me into ladylike throes of snorting, hooting, and general hilarity.

I am that rare scholar who juxtaposes at will, at whim, for whimsy! Indeed, I am Treasurer of the Local Chapter of Academics for Whimsy. Through me are channeled the elegant guffaws of an early humanist benedictine monk and physician, delicately intertwined with the comic doodles of a comedian of the Common Man, subset urbane (Polite, yes. Polished? Not so much.).

A footnoted Wikipedia entry tells us that:

Thurber had two brothers, William and Robert. Once, while playing a game of William Tell, his brother William shot James in the eye with an arrow.[1]

Now *that* is a factoid begging for a desperate graduate student from the Midwest.

(Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit! Anyone! Do you not shake your head in wonder? I know I do! Why, I begin to believe we *can* do anything.)

Aw, crap, my head is still shaking.

Anyway, I defy you to make it through The Night the Bed Fell without mirth, merriment, and milk up the nose or to refrain from intoning "choo choo" to Bolenciecwcz, as he struggles with his modes of transportation. It's a universe of self-effacing gentle men chez Thurber. We all know a Walter Mitty. Cough. Sniff. (Okay, so I am sometimes myself a vaguely heroic, altogether inscrutable, brandy-downing, suicidal puppy-biscuit buyer.)

What inspired me to place the sketch, the flip of a wrist short stories alongside something so... well, gargantuan as Gargantua and Pantagruel?

Brow furrowed, I carry my finger down the chapter listings, see How Gargantua, in combing his head, made the great cannon-balls fall out of his hair, laugh out loud, and go on, sick hot brain, sick hot eyes, trying to remember, hoping that dandruff humor is not going to be my answer. How Panurge had a flea in his ear, and forbore to wear any longer his magnificent codpiece. Ar! Still, no...

Ahhh. Here it is, Chapter 54. That little bit of nothing that I'd like at the virtual entrance to this blog, on the tombstone I will have, on a refrigerator magnet, as something slightly oily in the water.

The inscription set upon the great gate of Theleme [Abbey]:

Here enter not vile bigots, hypocrites,
Externally devoted apes, base snites,
Puffed-up, wry-necked beasts, worse than the Huns,
Or Ostrogoths, forerunners of baboons:
Cursed snakes, dissembled varlets, seeming sancts,
Slipshod caffards, beggars pretending wants,
Fat chuffcats, smell-feast knockers, doltish gulls,
Out-strouting cluster-fists, contentious bulls,
Fomenters of divisions and debates,
Elsewhere, not here, make sale of your deceits.

Your filthy trumperies
Stuffed with pernicious lies
(Not worth a bubble),
Would do but trouble
Our earthly paradise,
Your filthy trumperies.

Here enter not attorneys, barristers,
Nor bridle-champing law-practitioners:
Clerks, commissaries, scribes, nor pharisees,
Wilful disturbers of the people’s ease:
Judges, destroyers, with an unjust breath,
Of honest men, like dogs, even unto death.
Your salary is at the gibbet-foot:
Go drink there! for we do not here fly out
On those excessive courses, which may draw
A waiting on your courts by suits in law.

Lawsuits, debates, and wrangling
Hence are exiled, and jangling.
Here we are veryFrolic and merry,
And free from all entangling,
Lawsuits, debates, and wrangling.

Here enter not base pinching usurers,
Pelf-lickers, everlasting gatherers,
Gold-graspers, coin-gripers, gulpers of mists,
Niggish deformed sots, who, though your chests
Vast sums of money should to you afford,
Would ne’ertheless add more unto that hoard,
And yet not be content,—you clunchfist dastards,
Insatiable fiends, and Pluto’s bastards,
Greedy devourers, chichy sneakbill rogues,
Hell-mastiffs gnaw your bones, you ravenous dogs.

You beastly-looking fellows,
Reason doth plainly tell us
That we should not
To you allot
Room here, but at the gallows,
You beastly-looking fellows.

Here enter not fond makers of demurs
In love adventures, peevish, jealous curs,
Sad pensive dotards, raisers of garboils,
Hags, goblins, ghosts, firebrands of household broils,
Nor drunkards, liars, cowards, cheaters, clowns,
Thieves, cannibals, faces o’ercast with frowns,
Nor lazy slugs, envious, covetous,
Nor blockish, cruel, nor too credulous,
—Here mangy, pocky folks shall have no place,
No ugly lusks, nor persons of disgrace.

Grace, honour, praise, delight,
Here sojourn day and night.
Sound bodies lined
With a good mind,
Do here pursue with might
Grace, honour, praise, delight.
Here enter you, and welcome from our hearts,
All noble sparks, endowed with gallant parts.
This is the glorious place, which bravely shall
Afford wherewith to entertain you all.
Were you a thousand, here you shall not want
For anything; for what you’ll ask we’ll grant.
Stay here, you lively, jovial, handsome, brisk,
Gay, witty, frolic, cheerful, merry, frisk,
Spruce, jocund, courteous, furtherers of trades,
And, in a word, all worthy gentle blades.

Blades of heroic breasts
Shall taste here of the feasts,
Both privily
And civilly
Of the celestial guests,
Blades of heroic breasts.

Here enter you, pure, honest, faithful, true
Expounders of the Scriptures old and new.
Whose glosses do not blind our reason, but
Make it to see the clearer, and who shut
Its passages from hatred, avarice,
Pride, factions, covenants, and all sort of vice.
Come, settle here a charitable faith,
Which neighbourly affection nourisheth.
And whose light chaseth all corrupters hence,
Of the blest word, from the aforesaid sense.

The holy sacred Word,
May it always afford
T’ us all in common,
Both man and woman,
A spiritual shield and sword,
The holy sacred Word.

Here enter you all ladies of high birth,
Delicious, stately, charming, full of mirth,
Ingenious, lovely, miniard, proper, fair,
Magnetic, graceful, splendid, pleasant, rare,
Obliging, sprightly, virtuous, young, solacious,
Kind, neat, quick, feat, bright, compt, ripe, choice, dear, precious.

Alluring, courtly, comely, fine, complete,
Wise, personable, ravishing, and sweet,
Come joys enjoy.
The Lord celestial
Hath given enough wherewith to please us all.

Gold give us,
God forgive us,
And from all woes relieve us;
That we the treasure
May reap of pleasure,
And shun whate’er is grievous,
Gold give us,
God forgive us.

Over on, I come across Nelson Richardson's Listmania! List, entitled "A Shelf from Theleme Abbey." Guess what Nelson Richardson says of his Listmania! List? He says:

"Books have lineages. I like to read ancestors and descendants, slowly and repeatedly, going up and down the chain through time."

There's always already someone wonderful out there, ready to save my butt.

Thurber and Rabelais: Separated at Birth?

Carry me back to old Valhalla...

Behaving My Way To Happiness

I feel absolutely ill this morning, and hence, this may be the day for me to give the surgeon a call. The Infectious Disease PA thinks I have already done this... but I've been too afraid. Stupid? Sure. But that's my stupid reality! My best option may be to email his nurse and lay it out for her, see if it's okay to wait until June 9.

Dick Cheney going "head-to-head" with Obama in dueling speeches on the "war" on terror? There are so many things that are just plain wrong with this scenario -- I don't even want to get started. Cheney appears delusional to me. Specifically in terms of "grandeur."

Guantanamo -- I support Obama's plan to close the effing place down, but I understand the Congress' response that a clear end game needs to be posited first. Do I think that is really the problem with passing the bill clearing the needed bucks for the much overdue eviction? No. It seems to be a case of "not-in-my-backyard." As in: the remaining prisoners need housing but them raghead terrorists aren't gonna live in my state, no sir. Earlier, as in last week, Dems were upset that Obama intended to continue using the military judicial system in some of the more clearly hardcore cases. Too harsh, too much a continuation of failed policy. That's a heck of a disconnect.

"Disconnect." One of the newly bandied-about terms we've all come to love. The old switcheroo from verb to noun that hip English-speakers love to effect.

My Infectious Disease Dood presented my case to a group of ID doctors last night. I fully expect to arrive at his office, my second home, and find a cure a-waiting. Something like a shot of Cure-All in the booty to resolve all ills.

But Madame! Were you not just recently at the Infectious Disease Dood's place? Why are you going back for the third time in a freaking week?

Because the Uber They phoned yesterday to say that my labs from Monday are all wacky and they desire more blood.

After I donate, we are going to pick up the brave and singular Uncle Kitty Big Balls, who ended up having major surgery yesterday, losing not just a "toe," but also about half of the associated metatarsal. Puss, diseased bone... apparently, he's quite the little copy cat.

I don't regret spending money to help my animals regain their health, but in the space of two weeks, this wee one has incurred a small fortune in vet bills. We didn't even ask how much this latest surgery will be. Oh, and she found yet another abscess on one of his back legs. It is clear that The Fredster took his infected self in just in the nick of time.

Drew Peterson. No celebrity would be the best response -- no Dr. Phil Chase for Ratings -- no Entertainment Tonight. Just put the man under the jail... forever.

Well, I have to wake up my beloved chauffeur in a few minutes, and I'd best use that time to wash up, get dressed, make him some café and whole wheat toast. The toast is a compromise. While I was in the hospital, he started an awful trend in breakfast food -- two bologna sandwiches. I was shocked to even find that stuff in my fridge. I am not sure what he was putting on the bread, either -- I suspect mayonnaise. Ugh. {waves of nausea}

Ah, it is 8:36 am and my temp is already 99.9. MwaHaHa! Oh, God, what to do when vancomycin doesn't work?

Okay, shaking it off. Behaving my way to happiness. Be the change I wish so to see. Later, Doods and Dudettes.

Oh... please enjoy this latest photo that I have pilfered from one of TW's blogs. He is a canyon man, a lovely man, and sometimes a sister just needs a brother. What drew me were the tonal qualities. It fairly hums.

TW captions the series of images which includes this one with:

I am
to journey
hand in hand
with my
strange heroes
and to survey
the surging
of life,
to survey it
the laughter
that all
can see
and through
the tears
and unknown
by anyone.

--Nikolai Gogol

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

it's not my fault. i'm sorry.

So we are waiting patiently for the vet's office to call and tell us that Uncle Kitty Big Ball's toe has been successfully chopped off, but a watched phone never boils.

In the interim, I have been battling my persistent vegetative state. My motivation? The surly look from The Fredster last night, when I called out, "Ooooo, Fred! Would you mind, heh-heh-heh, hooking me up?"

Twice a day, roughly at noon and midnight, he connects me to my "medicine ball" full of vancomycin -- which involves washing his hands, flushing various lines with saline and heparin, disposing of trash, and so on. By midnight, he's entitled to a slight attitude. But the surly look? It's rare that he lets that loose on me. Surly progressed to outright hateful when I posed the question that I keep forgetting is forbidden: "Are you alright?" That engendered a plain-but-effective glare. Unfortunately, I had a follow-up question, the first having been so well received. Yes, the inimitable: "What's wrong?"

After slamming in the heparin, unclamping the old medicine ball, he turned around and walked out.

I turned out the lights in the bedroom and just sat on the side of the bed, strangely calm. There are moments when I am profoundly grateful that I'm as old as I am, as experienced as I am. I just sat... thinking of Fred's day. How had it begun?

Too early, that's for sure. How had we greeted one another?

I complained and asked for a favor, straight away. Did he have to tend to my needs often during the day?

He had to do some housework that I would normally do, and also fend off my commentary about it. He had to drive a good distance to the Infectious Disease Dood's office to pick up my week's supply of vancomycin, and take Uncle Kitty Big Balls to the vet's place as well. That ate up about four hours of his day. Later that evening, around 10 pm, he went grocery shopping -- to get me the yogurt that makes the vanco bearable!

Oh, there were a few loads of laundry done somewhere in there, as well. Dishes...

Normally, I'd seek Fred out immediately after a touchy encounter, and not sit on the side of the bed, in the dark. I would force a smoothing-over. I would insist on forgiveness and clarification.

I felt very calm, and very tired. I went to sleep and didn't wake up until 5 am -- a long stretch, for me.

I finished the laundry -- managing to transfer the heavy wet clothes to the dryer by judicious use of my "grabber" and various curses that apparently work as magic words. I sort of managed to fold them -- at least, they occupy less area than prior to my efforts. After being literally thrown into the closet, well, they are, at least, clean.

I fed everyone.

I washed my hair -- no mean feat. Cleaned the microwave, mopped the kitchen floor -- twice. Readied the syringes for the day. Wrote some emails. Worried about some finances (without finding any relief).

And when Fred woke up, I spied out the best time for him to "hook me up," as close as possible to the noon hour.

I was proud, inside, that I could foresee nothing for which I would have to beg assistance today. I was determined to do for myself whatever needed doing.

The Infectious Disease office called mid-afternoon, while he was out washing the car. How was I? Have I been infusing the vancomycin as prescribed? Uh, I am what I am, and yes, of course, I am a dedicated doser.

My blood work from Monday came back all wacky.

The PA is insisting I come back in to have more blood drawn.

Fred has paused mid-task, and looks to be soaking up the sun. My Darling Ruby, the Honda CR-V, is fairly glistening, all dappled-happy. My guy sees me looking out and waves, points proudly to my shimmering car, then turns his attention to filling up the bird feeders.

In my head begins the litany: it's not my fault. i'm sorry. it's not my fault. i'm sorry. it's not my fault. i'm sorry. it's not my fault. i'm sorry. it's not my fault. i'm sorry. it's not my fault. i'm sorry. it's not my fault. i'm sorry. it's not my fault. i'm sorry. it's not my fault. i'm sorry.
LATE-BREAKING NEWS ON UNCLE KITTY BIG BALLS: He is out of surgery, which proved to be more extensive than anticipated, in that she had to take about half of the associated metatarsal bone as well as the "toe" itself. She also found another abscess on the other hind leg (which was already nursing a pretty severe one...). Poor baby. He has to stay overnight, as they are oxygenating the wound and she wants to monitor the output, etc. He must think that his life on the street is far preferable than the one we have condemned him to... So, tomorrow, we liberate the cat after I donate blood at the ID Dood's Chop Shop.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Continuing Saga of Uncle Kitty Big Balls

Bless the little guy's bones.

The cat that Fred rescued -- whom we still call "Little Boy" or, at times, "Pickle Head," and occasionally, "Uncle Kitty Big Balls" -- is going to have one of his toes amputated tomorrow. Poor thing, he's been through the ringer.

We've faithfully administered antibiotics (he gets his when I get mine), washed and soaked his various wounds in betadine solutions, and applied constant love and affection, served up with mounds, piles, platters of food.

I'm not terribly happy with the vet, who never bothered to x-ray this rear paw -- the "thumb" of which was clearly dislocated, at best, and abscessed, at worst. Okay, so my parameters are off -- because today, she doesn't know what is at work in Little Boy Pickle Headed Big Balls -- in fact, she wants to biopsy the leg.

I am proud of Fred for stepping up when he did to adopt L'il Big Balls -- even if it did feel ever so slightly manipulative as I lay in the freaking ICU, struggling to breathe... No, I was doing well at the time and knew already how much he identified with the day-to-day struggles of this beat-up cat.

I mean, he looks rough.

Scruffy as all get out, shaved by an apparently shaky-handed vet tech, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Bill the Cat. Initially, we thought his bite wound to that rear paw was improving but over the last few days, it clearly pains him to put weight on the leg, and the various inroads continued to bleed after soaking -- and there is also considerable swelling. What has been confusing is the improvement in his overall condition, probably just the result of being fed regularly, and loved generously. Last night, we watched him limping around and decided to take him back to the vet for the fifth visit in two weeks.

So think a good thought for the little guy. How he has maintained such a sweet spirit while living as a stray in a fairly unfriendly [to cats] area, we dunno.

Me? Thanks for asking! I am almost up to 101 this afternoon, have incredible pain in the left shoulder -- the spacer is very clunky and I can hear and feel it grinding. There is pain simply to touch, and the whole area wants to explode. I am waiting to hear about yesterday's labs.

And I am extremely depressed.

The ID PA yesterday asked me if I wanted to go to Mayo.

My "case" is being presented tomorrow night.

God, I am depressed. Would that I had Uncle Kitty Big Ball's steadiness.