Friday, May 23, 2014

Fred's Day

A repost from Memorial Day weekend 2011. Familiar themes and stories that 
can always bear repeating, and the times beg remembrance.


Raise your hand if you think Fred should win some sort of award for putting up with me. {hand::in::air}

He's a total stud.  Despite wrenching the good heck out of his lower back, he's mowed the Lower Top Forty, resurfaced the Simulated Wimbledon courts with fresh sod and made Topiary Master Works out of the boxwood hedges.  He even chased wayward cattle back through the cavernous hole in the rock wall, back over to the Monastery side of the apple orchard -- where he found Abbot Truffatore, bald pate a-dripping and a-shining, down on the scarred and knobby knees that perfectly bisect his bowed legs, working alongside Father Tom and The Tomettes, The Penitent Cohorts -- all of them scrubbing the Red, Red Rose Garden flagstones with toothbrushes.  Again.  Those Crazy Cistercians.  (It about kills me.  There's clearly a great story there, but The Boys weren't talking, insisting instead on the discipline of reverent silence -- The Kill Joys! And since Fred was more interested in wandering bovine than in what might've so humbled the Hoity-Toitier of The Brotherhood, that leaves me and my investigative reporting skills.  I'm on it!)

Even before finding Truffatore on his knobby knees, Fred and I have suspected something was amiss over in the Monastery-Down-The-Road.  They've yet to submit an application for a booth at the upcoming ManorFest, and -- tic toc -- time is winding down! The Abbot has only sought weekend refuge in Marlinspike Hall once thus far this year and that was, understandably, to avoid having to say all those celebratory guitar masses of Bin Laden's death.  He wasn't so much his usual trembling skein of misfiring nerve fibers as he was just plain old wearyGuitar masses will do that to you.

Some are saying that the security of their biggest income draw (and center of their worshiping lives) -- The Holy Foreskin -- has been compromised.  Rumors abound that keeping it in a domed pastry tray was an idea born for trouble -- on the basis of humidity alone.  On the up side of things, Father Clem's doing well in therapy and nothing not meant to burn has gone up in flames for over 8 months.

Anyway... as soon as we decipher the Monastery's Mystery, you'll know.

Hey... It's Memorial Day weekend, and while for some of you lazy gits that means decorating the graves of the Confederate Dead, for me, it's French Open TimeYeah, yeah, yeah, died to protect my freedoms, way of life, whatever... but oh-h-h-h, wouldya look at that down-the-line backhand?!

No offense to Novak Djokovic, good citizen of Belgrade, but I need for him to step aside -- just for this tourney.  Given his early draw, that may happen.  (At least, it may in the sense of "On any given day..." -- a phrase that I never thought would recur so frequently in this godforsaken blog!) Yes, but given how incredibly hot he's been playing?  He may need to be brought low by a pinky blister that obligingly morphs into a pseudo necrotizing fasciitis.   I'm just sayin', Lord.  This was meant to be all about Nadal, not some clown who has managed to string together a mere 37 wins in a row...

And Borg, of course.  (Bjorn remains the only subject of sports photography ever to have graced one of my bedroom walls.  Legs, people, we are talking legs... and face... and scruffy little beard... Hmmm, I think a short Pause of Adulation is in order.  I once tried Borg's incredibly high tension on one of my own wood rackets -- let's just say that neither my shoulders nor my legs were able to exert any control over that action.  80 pounds of *ping* is hard to manage.  Remember that!)

I love tradition.  And Roland Garros, to me, should be Nadal's Place.  2009?  What about it?  Clearly, an aberration.  That was the year the lad was so confused about clothing.  Droopy drawers, muscle shirts, none of it exactly suitable to his body type.  (Maybe it was just the pants:  His butt was clearly too big for his pants;  He wasn't comfortable, and I squirmed on his behalf.) 

Everyone was confused.  New York Magazine noted that it was also the "year in which Federer's look tipped over into full-blown prissy self-parody." 

I don't have the energy to go there.  I am not a Federer Fan.

Today was the last day of qualifying.  Play begins Sunday.

I need the distraction.  Best form of pain relief there is, distraction.  I needed distraction yesterday!  That's when Fred really earned my gratitude, renewed my respect.  Never mind the chore of navigating the absentminded sort of traffic we get here in Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs), never mind his aching back -- he also had to listen to me fret, then had to sit in one of the more uncomfortable waiting rooms of our connaissance, and tolerate my tears.

I had a 1:30 appointment with the pain management dood at the world renowned catastrophic hospital for brain and spinal cord injury.  You know, the place with that weird statue out front -- a bronze of a kid in a wheelchair hoisting a javelin.  When we rolled past it at 4:30, on our way out, my eyes could barely focus.

I gotta say, though, that my opinion of Local Talent rose quite a bit throughout the afternoon.  Except, perhaps, my opinion of the absentminded drivers.  We kept encountering people who did not appear to be even conscious, much less alert.

I've only met with this doctor, in an official "appointment" kind of setting, once before -- the day I went a-begging for inclusion in their subanesthetic ketamine infusion program.  He gifted me with hope that day, and he gave that gift some renewal yesterday. 

To quickly review, I had two courses of infusions, for a total of six treatments.  They never really did anything and I've been pretty depressed about that.  Toward the end of the second round, I emailed Dr. Schwartzman, you'll remember, and found out more about the protocol in use at his Philadelphia clinic.  He was kind enough to issue an invitation for evaluation, with the added incentive of offering an "expedited appointment," as his schedule is full until 2013.  The invitation was not to show up and be treated, pronto presto, but to undergo evaluation.  The ketamine treatment would be deferred until... later.  Another trip, followed by other trips, as there are required "boosters."

I was excited and felt like maybe all doors were not closed to me, after all.  I can be so stupid.

My doc yesterday conducted his clinic according to a brilliant master plan.  As they escorted me down the hall and past all of the examining rooms, my head was swiveling to the left and right, and when ushered through the door to the Ketamine Room, I began stammering "No-o-o! I'm not here for Ketamine today!" They laughed and stashed me behind Curtain #4.  The doctor scooted between "rooms" on one of those dreadful rolling chairs.  The bad thing, and to me, a very bad thing, was that you could hear everyone's business.

[It was instructive, though, to actually get to hear a couple of drug-seeker spiels.  The stomach turns at the blithe story deliveries -- "Could you write a prescription for my husband?"  "Can you believe it?  I spilled a whole bottle of pills in the toilet!"  And always, there were specific suggestions of "[y]ou know what might work better?"]

I thought, Hmm, I can do that... With a twist!  So when he got to me, I pitched the idea of giving Ketamine another shot, but by a protocol as close to Schwartzman's as possible.  Then I sat back and waited to be laughed at, or condescended to, or whatever.

He was so nice, so amenable, so cool about it.  And I was left wondering whether it had always been just that easy -- people waiting for me to ask for what I want, people waiting for me to lead instead of follow?

Beginning June 13 and ending June 23, we've scheduled six infusions, all of them to be at least 200 milligrams.  In Philly, it would be ten infusions in twelve days.  Here, I'll get six in ten -- the most that they can fit in.  I am very, very grateful.

Other stuff -- he wants an endocrinology consult (adrenal failure, avascular necrosis, diabetes, Hashimoto's, Cushing's, and what not...) at one of the med schools, and also I'm to take a refresher course in biofeedback.
Like the first time we met, he pushed, and pushed hard, for me to give Prialt a try.  I was hoping that just refusing implantation of a pump would settle the issue (my way!) but then he came up with doing a couple of injections right into the intrathecal space as a sort of trial.  I told him I'd think about it... That's the best I can do.  If anyone out there can share some *positive* experiences with the Snail Juice, please do!

He could have made a longer list -- I'd do it all just to have this last shot with Ketamine treatment -- under a more rigorous protocol.  He did say something about my shoulders, something about bringing some "resolution" to that "issue."   Noted, but with a bit of an eye roll.  Like I haven't been trying for three years now.  Like they aren't killing me...

Speaking of killing me, he then engaged in dubious tactics that were responsible for the aforementioned tears.  I believe the conversation went something like this:

Him:  So... what will you do if the ketamine continues to fail, if there is nothing left to try?
Me:  {cleverly avoiding the question} That's why giving it another go is so important to me.  This is probably my last chance.
Him:  So... do you have a plan in mind for how to kill yourself?

Holy Mother of God, that was unfair.  Fred opined that it was a "Sixty Minutes" interview tactic -- you know, the one where they shift gears so fast that the engine falls out of the auto body... 

I was so pissed off at the question that I did the only logical thing and burst into tears.  I mumblemumbled something, don't remember what exactly, except for the inimitible "whose life is it anyway?" that fairly exploded from between my lips.

I probably told him that yes, I did indeed have a plan, didn't everyone? I might have mentioned that I consider suicide every single day, and have for several years.

For me, the day pretty much ended at that moment.  I would have liked it to, anyway.  Lots of paperwork ensued, and some creative scheduling.  Fred was pretty much not on my mind until I finally made it out the door and into that sucky waiting room (the clinic is held in the middle of this "catastrophic" hospital, so the waiting room feels very exposed and its furniture... unfriendly).  There he sat, head bent over his book.  The smile on his face when I finally showed up was precious.  So much so that I promptly dumped the contents of my purse onto the floor, because, of course, having him bend down to pick it all up for me was really a plot to work his cold, stiff back muscles.

He gave me permission to cry, and so I found myself laughing.  He reviewed the "60 Minutes" technique with me again, and had me howling.  Traffic was stop-and-go, even on the freeway, but we never seemed to get stuck.  We made up reasons for the Existence of Endocrinologists.  Without me mentioning my DIRE NEED, he pulled into the local Yogurt Emporium so that I wouldn't be bereft of the fermentation necessary to five months straight of oral antibiotics.

And the boy bought himself a nice bottle of wine, too!  (Don't your Yogurt Emporiums sell wine?)  He didn't get his usual buttery Chardonnay but a Gewurztraminer and Riesling blend instead. 

That was Fred's day (with me stuck smack dab in the middle of it).  A prize, an award, a hefty stipend, the man deserves something.

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