Friday, March 18, 2011

Enter the Cheesehead, Goo goo g' joob

This is... well, he has no name yet, except for Muenster, which we don't anticipate choosing as a permanent moniker.  Part of a litter discovered abandoned at a nearby horse farm, the rescuers gifted each kitten with the name of a cheese.

I dunno.  He's more of a Camembert, don't you think?

He is full of bad habits -- he bites (to the point of drawing blood and leaving little vampiresque punctures that hurt like the dickens);  he chews (more like a puppy than any kitten of my acquaintance);  he hisses and growls (given Marmy Fluffy Butt's aggression, understandable); and, in an apparent homage to Dobby, he climbs, and climbs, and climbs -- insisting on the highest ground.

The guess is that he is a Christmas 2010 baby, now approaching 12 weeks.  Exactly like a stubborn toddler, he plays to the point of exhaustion and then stubbornly fights sleep.  We have had a tendency to nod off while attempting to convince him of the benefits of slumber.  It's embarrassing.

The Feline Remnant is slowly coming around, although the outcome of his relationship with Our Favorite (and Only) Girl, Marmy Fluffy Butt, has yet to move beyond her active efforts to kill him.

Dobby is fascinated, pupils wide, pink nose sniffing, even taking gulps of mouth-whiffs.  It was a relief to not hear him pacing and calling all night long.

The efforts to save Uncle Kitty Big Balls, Fred's Little Boy, amounted, in dollars, to $2200.  Ouch.  But again, we made the decision, we would make the same decision today, so it is just time to pay up and thank the professionals for their hard work on his behalf.  I knew that I'd have to sell some shares of stock in order to cover the recent flooring adventure, so now I just have to dip a little deeper.  I am thinking of becoming a vegetarian again, and of giving up colas.  Cutting back on coffee.  Putting a moratorium on all non-essential purchases.  Selling my soul.

Fred is exhausted.  I just checked on him, and he's passed out, The Gnawing Cheesehead passed out with him, held close in the crook of an elbow.

He has been my stalwart companion this week, has Fred.  I don't express anywhere near often enough how much I love him -- in a daily, regular, unexciting way.  Add to that steady fondness, when he loves me through a hard time, I seem to lose all capacity to thank him, to show him how much he means, how thoroughly blessed I am.
1871 illustration by John Tenniel
Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

Wednesday afternoon, when I was doing pre-op stuff at the hospital, I kind of got swept into a back area before he got to the waiting room after parking Ruby, the Honda CRV.  It was one of a handful of times that I considered screaming his name, calling for help, for a salvation-oriented Knight of Marlinspike!

The first stumbling block was my fever.  Explaining to them that it's kinda status quo for me, that part of the point of the portacath was to make future endeavors like i.v. antibiotics that much easier... did not help the nurse's list of rules, according to which you just don't allow febrile women with high white counts to have surgery on some sort of ridiculous whim!

Then, just as I calmed that storm, she decided that I needed to be interviewed by anesthesia, even though I was just going to be sent into a twilight sleep for the very short and easy procedure. 

I am not sure that you can be a regular reader of this scintillating blog without having read at least one good rant about the events of May-June 2002, when I "acquired" CRPS during a hospitalization that was essentially a recreation of the Book of Job.  If you need a refresher, you'll find some of the details HERE.
Part of the rotten doings discovered by the State during their investigation were some problems in how the Anesthesia Department conducted itself.  I know the extent of the subsequent anger directed toward me because my pain management doctor at the time chaired that department... and chose to attack me during my next visit to him.  What he said to me was ludicrous;  The way he chose to strut his omniscient stuff, demean, misrepresent, and attempt to terrify me?  That was more criminal than ludicrous.

That is one way I know, with certainty, that St. Jo's and its doctors and nurses never really took responsibility for harnessing me with unending pain and terrible, worsening disability, for ending my career, for wiping me out financially, physically, emotionally, for probably being at the root of my current infection problems with osteomyelitis.  I know from hearing him yell and whine about how a 2-day investigation caused him and his underlings some temporary and fixable upset.

How dare I? was the essential tenor.

Shit.  Here I am, weeping again, furious, tired, so very damned defeated.

So... the rep from Anesthesia was apparently sent in to make a point.  I planned to reply honestly but as shortly as possible to any questions coming from them.  But who would start such an interview by saying this:

"So, in 2002, you came to the hospital to have your ankle repaired..."

What?  My mouth was flapping, but no noise came out.

Finally:  "Errr, no.  I came to have a shoulder replacement.  But there was a failure to supply me with stress-dosed steroids and..."

Ever so quickly, and with evident pleasure, she interrupted:  "We did supply you with appropriate steroids.  I have the order right here, and the notation that it was given..."

Still floored that we were even having this conversation, I told her I wasn't surprised, that I was sure that chart had seen numerous changes over the years...

It went on like that.  She either did not know or was coached to believe that the repair of my ankle was not a separate and elective hospitalization.  She told me "That's not so..." when I tried to explain that the ankle fractures occurred in the hospital, that I had arrived at good old St. Jo's with two good ankles, in fact.  I told her about the shoulder replacement, the code, ICU, the fall, the embolectomy, the g.i. bleed, the concussion, and finally, yes, the ankle repair -- all part and parcel of the same hospitalization.

"That's not so..."

I had a fever, of course, and was functioning on little sleep and a bit of sadness.  This was what I had feared -- being attacked while alone.  I vividly remembered that deaf nurse on that May day hissing at me... "Get up, get up.  Your leg is not broken.  Get up!" I vividly remembered my ankle hanging twisted in an unnatural way, rapidly swelling and turning purple.  I had just hit my head and my arm, was lying on the floor, alone with this strange nurse who spent most of her time without the hearing aid upon which she was dependent.  I was in ICU, had not been out of bed, much less on my feet, in over 5 days.

I vividly remembered trying to get up, trying to do what she said, trying not to make her more angry (she was quickly closing the door to my "room" as she hissed her directive to get up, get up, get up).  I remember the pain of trying to stand on that mangled foot, the terror of trying to please someone who may well have been crazy and who had control over me.

"That's not so..."

The surgeon who put in the port is a great guy and I am really glad to have had access to him.  Whether he knew "who I was" or not, I don't know.  All I cared about was getting that intravenous access to fulfill the demands of the doctor doing the ketamine infusions.  I just wanted to slip into the hospital and slip out again before triggering their memories or mine.

The surgeon was satisfied with the blood work we had done last Thursday at my Go-To-Guy's office.  We even called to make sure there was nothing else he needed, as far as pretesting, and was told that I just needed to sign some papers the day before the procedure.

I knew better.  I knew they wouldn't let my being on their campus go unchallenged.

Suddenly, I needed an EKG.  I needed more bloodwork, I needed this, I needed that.  Attempting to get out of it, I told them of our conversations with the attending surgeon.  Averting their eyes, the nurses mumbled that the orders were coming from... Anesthesia. 

I found some emotional reserve and said just one more thing before shutting down:  "All I ask is that tomorrow, when I come for surgery, you keep Dr. Steven S. away from me.  Keep him the hell away from me."

When I was finally back with Fred, who was getting worried about why this short appointment was taking so very long, it seemed the perfect thing to do... to go to the shelter to find a cat to save.

And so it was that in the midst of my ridiculousness, we adopted Muenster, The Cheesehead.

Yesterday, the day of surgery, everyone was polite, helpful, professional.  And, amazingly, most seemed not to know anything of the events of 2002.  What was also touching?  When they left my side, brow furrowed at how my history just did not seem to add up (How did all of this happen to you?  I fell down.) -- they went to read my chart.  The next time I saw them, I heard things like -- "I am so sorry you've had to go through all this..." 

It's nine years late and totally insufficient, and I was so grateful to hear it.

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