Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Honey, Catching Flies

The short version:  My hands may be a little bit less painful but not remarkably so, and not so clearly as a result of the third ketamine treatment (@115 mg) that I'm willing to sing hosanna in attribution, in "agreeably positive connotation."

The longer short version:  This "subanesthetic" experience was unpleasant.  The only redeeming moments came in conversations I may (or may not) have had with Fred, again The Sentinel at the foot of the bed.  I confirmed with him today that we had a lightening-fast, telegraphic conversation about Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt.*  He guessed that I was speaking of Reinhardt by my mumbling something about "stride guitar" -- which, of course, is not the preferred terminology.  [That would be "parallel harmony."]
He laughed today at my experience under ketamine -- me high as a kite, inventing guitar terminology from barely understood piano language, and him, so correctly discerning, so remarkably inferring that we made some serious, actual conversational headway about European jazz in the 1930s.

Of course, in the very next instant -- an instant in K-time being anywhere from a nanosecond to two hours in length -- though, in width, it's longer -- anyway, in that next instant, I was perplexed by the screw-top to a Diet Coke.

I did not sleep and pray that next time I do, that next time being iin two weeks, as I begin another cycle of three infusions, the dosages going ever higher until I find "my" dose -- the least effective dose.  Hmm. The lowest dose that is effective.

I cannot stop my body from... doing things.  I found it incredibly helpful to remove each extremity, as much as was possible while wired up and attached to monitors and pumps, from any extraneous touch.  I held my arms carefully in the air, my fingers configured into what must have looked like a tantric claw in my effort to escape those currents of air that only I could feel, and *did* feel, as pain.  Worse, though, are cords, wires, plugs, tubing... dear God, if doctors and nurses honestly understand this, why do they not know that the wire from, say, the pulse-ox thingy attached to a finger becomes an instrument of torture in a person with allodynia?

Also... lanyards holding hospital ID badges, and stethoscopes hanging around *your* neck that hit *my* leg when *you* attempt to adjust a blood pressure cuff on my *left* upper arm by leaning across the bed from the *right* side...

Yeah, I know, I am done with the *x* effect.  Sorry!

Everyone, once again, was remarkably proficient and kind.  The promises of relief are now being tempered with words of vague doubt, with caveats, emptor and otherwise.  My case is "severe."  My case is "rare."

I listen to the woman on my left, in Bed Five.  She does not know why she is there.  She does not know what drug she is about to receive, and even when they tell her, she does not know.  I listen to her being asked to sign an informed consent form.

I listen to the man on my right, in Bed Seven.  He is an old pro and does little beyond cracking wise and snoring.  The doctor stops by to see him and jokingly rips him a new one for having gone to the emergency room for pain meds.  Fred rolls his eyes.  I roll mine.

I have "a moment" when the same doctor visits me and says my informed consent form is now "out of date," and would I please sign a new one.  I tell him I've never signed one before and he briefly loses the capacity to speak.

It's true.  The doctor who interviewed me in the clinic deferred that bit of paperwork, claiming he wanted it done "at the last minute," when they were sure they could get a line in (plus other bits of verbal melodrama, including blithe references to my particular "risks").

I signed it.

The rest of my hallucinatory experience was a kaleidoscope of sepia (yes, I saw in sepia, sometimes without opening my eyes), being trapped in monolithic ice bergs (a recurring nightmare), and hilarity that I wish I could have shared with Fred -- or even the Lady in Bed Five.

Because her whimpering broke my heart, over and over again.

I started crying and I remember an aide repeatedly asking "What's wrong, honey?"
[As I think my hands were extended in the air like spastic crabs and my feet were twitching to some bluegrass that only I could hear, I'm pretty sure she was worried...]
But instead of explaining how the Lady in Bed Five, who didn't know what was happening to her, was breaking my heart, I kept saying:

"I hurt."

Not exactly a news flash.

So the Lady in Bed Five was up and out of there a good twenty minutes before I regaled Fred with stories of how far away the floor was as he valiantly tried to load me in the wheelchair so we could beat rush hour traffic (yes, we have rush hour in Tête de Hergé -- we are just rushing toward something different, differently).

One regains normalcy very quickly -- within minutes of turning off the drug, actually.  Physically, there are a few problems, at least for me -- headache, nausea, dizziness -- but nothing to a magnitude that merits much complaint.

I am always hungry, in spite of the nausea.  And, as Fred rushes me a little, I have ended up in dire need of a restroom once we hit the highway, where there is, alas, no restroom.  Then I get a wee bit crabby.

Yes, so it is fine, afterwards.  You can, I believe, choose to remember everything that happened, or you can forget it.  Your choice, really.

The bottom line to everything.

My difficult times come in the evening, when I realize that my pain is no better, and is even sometimes worse, by virtue of what I put my body through.  And the day after, I am so exhausted that I do little beyond sleep.

Why am I doing this again?
Because there is nothing else.

Next week, I see the doctor and dread it.  He is something of a cult figure there.  Let's just say, when other patients blog about their treatments at this place, you can read their bated breath at his mention.   He smiled.  He didn't smile.  He was in a good mood, a terrible mood, an indiscernible mood.  I could give a royal shit... I want to know my magic number.  I want him to crank up that damned dose, give me some of this famous pain relief. 

Or maybe I'll stroke ego, as needed.  Honey, catching flies.

[Oh, the port?  Still unusable!  It boggles my mind the number of people who kindly pulled together on my behalf so this stupid port could be installed in my chest, "immediately" -- just so Dr. CultPersonality might be appeased.  The infection is better, but the rate of healing seems to be a tad slow.]

I'm sorry for being Depressed instead of Grateful, Bitchy instead of Hopeful.  I vacillate.  Grateful and Hopeful don't inspire many blog posts but I assure you that they are among my favorite emotional dwarfs.

* tip of the hat to Tully

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