Monday, January 30, 2012

Postoperative Life With CRPS: A Nature Morte [video]

In what is increasingly a shocking bit of news: I am still here.

Here's a rough video that proves the point [rough on the eyes and the ears, rough-hewn, and myriad other roughness].

As I feel held hostage by CRPS / RSD, I probably ought to have forced my swollen, inflamed, and utterly wretched dough-thingies hanging off of my bruised forearms... WAIT! Hands, they're called hands!

Right! So I should've held a newspaper in my... *hands*, today's headlines and date prominently displayed. For my next trick, I could hold up a card bearing my CRPS Kidnapper Demands -- maybe between the constantly flexing, flexing toes of my left, my left foot.

As a blogger, one of my first goals was to intelligently work My Left Foot into a post. Seamlessly. Et avec panache, du style [d'un style incomparable, même].

Fait accompli. Also:  Après nous, le déluge!  Much more apt.

Programming detail: At the time of filming, I had banished an exhausted but cutely cross-eyed Fred and the pink-boaed, broad-toed Bianca Castafiore from our regally appointed apartments here in Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs). Of The Feline Contingent, only Dobby deigned to stick around. And he was already regretting it.

To my dedicated politicos:  I had a rare lucid moment at the :50 mark, at which time my eye was drawn to a postcard featuring President Obama, causing me to mutter something about distinguishing my gratitude to him for life, but perhaps not so much for quality of life.  {Wink, wink, finger aside the nose}

NOTE: If you are newly diagnosed with CRPS/RSD, the state of my body is in no way predictive of what your body will do. Shoot, Dear Soul, you are probably going to be cured soon -- get yourself to an experienced neurologist! The spectrum is broad, is all I'm saying...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

All Through The Night

This post has a soundtrack, courtesy of Ms. Lauper:

An unlikely pairing of two phrases got me through the night: Sí se puede and Work the problem.

Sí se puede has multiple derivations, of course, but is mostly driven -- at least here at Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs) -- by President Obama's use of it as a candidate, in a concession speech after losing the New Hampshire primary to Hilary Clinton.  It won me over then, and it comforts me now.

I still use, however, my beautiful blue Hillary for President water bottle. I also have a Teachers for Hillary tee shirt, also a predominantly beautiful and democratic blue. [Leave my sentence alone.]

I share certain proclivities with our current Secretary of State.

Anyway, sí se puede figured a prominent foreground for me, as I lay screaming and moaning the names of God, all through the night.

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama - New Hampshire Primary
Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
Nashua, New Hampshire

I want to congratulate Senator Clinton on a hard-fought victory here in New Hampshire.

A few weeks ago, no one imagined that we'd have accomplished what we did here tonight. For most of this campaign, we were far behind, and we always knew our climb would be steep. But in record numbers, you came out and spoke up for change. And with your voices and your votes, you made it clear that at this moment – in this election – there is something happening in America.

There is something happening when men and women in Des Moines and Davenport; in Lebanon and Concord come out in the snows of January to wait in lines that stretch block after block because they believe in what this country can be.

There is something happening when Americans who are young in age and in spirit – who have never before participated in politics – turn out in numbers we've never seen because they know in their hearts that this time must be different.

There is something happening when people vote not just for the party they belong to but the hopes they hold in common – that whether we are rich or poor; black or white; Latino or Asian; whether we hail from Iowa or New Hampshire, Nevada or South Carolina, we are ready to take this country in a fundamentally new direction. That is what's happening in America right now. Change is what's happening in America.

You can be the new majority who can lead this nation out of a long political darkness – Democrats, Independents and Republicans who are tired of the division and distraction that has clouded Washington; who know that we can disagree without being disagreeable; who understand that if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence that's stood in our way and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there's no problem we can't solve – no destiny we cannot fulfill.

Our new American majority can end the outrage of unaffordable, unavailable health care in our time. We can bring doctors and patients; workers and businesses, Democrats and Republicans together; and we can tell the drug and insurance industry that while they'll get a seat at the table, they don't get to buy every chair. Not this time. Not now. Our new majority can end the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of the working Americans who deserve it.

We can stop sending our children to schools with corridors of shame and start putting them on a pathway to success. We can stop talking about how great teachers are and start rewarding them for their greatness. We can do this with our new majority.

We can harness the ingenuity of farmers and scientists; citizens and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil and save our planet from a point of no return. And when I am President, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our troops home; we will finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan; we will care for our veterans; we will restore our moral standing in the world; and we will never use 9/11 as a way to scare up votes, because it is not a tactic to win an election, it is a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.

All of the candidates in this race share these goals. All have good ideas. And all are patriots who serve this country honorably.

But the reason our campaign has always been different is because it's not just about what I will do as President, it's also about what you, the people who love this country, can do to change it.

That's why tonight belongs to you.

It belongs to the organizers and the volunteers and the staff who believed in our improbable journey and rallied so many others to join.

We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come.

We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.

Yes we can.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.

Yes we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom through the darkest of nights.

Yes we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.

Yes we can.

It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.

Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can.

And so tomorrow, as we take this campaign South and West; as we learn that the struggles of the textile worker in Spartanburg are not so different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas; that the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in America's story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea – Yes. We. Can.

The other allusion, work the problem? It's from the character Gene Kranz in the 1995 movie Apollo 13, played by Ed Harris, of the beautiful blue eyes.

Let's work the problem people. Let's not make things worse by guessing.
Here is the slight, but deft, unpacking required to make the phrase function -- from the blog Getting to Excellent, written by "business intelligence and performance manager" Caroline Eveleigh:

I can find no evidence that the words “work the problem” were uttered with the regularity that the film footage suggests, but I can imagine something similar might have been said.

As tempers and personalities flare and flash it is tempting to get defocused with who did what and why, instead of what needs to be done. NASA couldn’t afford to defocus; this was a critical time for them. They knew the eyes of the world were upon them, and that they were working with difficult and untried technology. They also knew that mistakes could mean the loss of life of their colleagues. I can’t imagine anything with more pressure.

So those 3 simple words encapsulate quite a lot:

  • Stay focused on the issue
  • Don’t let irrelevant details take attention away from what needs to be done
  • Keep focused until the problem is solved

Having a process to solve problems can save time and tantrums, and improve the final outcome:

  • Identify and define the problem
  • Determine possible causes
  • Agree the cause of the problem
  • Evaluate possible solutions and select one
  • Implement the solution
  • Check that the problem has been solved

Not all our problems are rocket science, but that doesn’t make them any less important in achieving our goals.

I appreciate the inclusionary nod, there at the end.

To what problems did my raving mind apply both the pragmatic and the visionary aspects of my two "can do" phrasings?

Home alone [essentially, or whatever], very sick, legs edematous to an unbelievable degree, and spasming with less than 30 seconds respite between cycles, febrile, pain at 9/10, considerable moaning/yelling, and need to -- in a very particular order --

  • Sit, and then stand, up
  • Sit down in the wheelchair
  • Disconnect from a vancomycin medicine ball, and then flush, a PICC line that is in the right upper arm, using only the right hand/arm [there are two 14-inch extensions]
  • Secure those two extensions so that they are not flying about, as Buddy the Freakishly Large Kitten greatly desires them
  • Self-propel the wheelchair to the bathroom door, using the ever-available right arm, alone [dragging legs, as they proved unable to bend enough to get feet on the foot rests]
  • Stand
  • Open bathroom door
  • Walk to toilet seat
  • Hang on to towel bar
  • Drop the scrub pants
  • Sit on toilet seat
  • Do the deeds
  • Perform the hygiene
  • Stand
  • Find the waist drawstring of the scrub pant, pull 'em up
  • And... so on

For what it is worth, I followed both the integral step breakdowns and the loftier rationale, the work the problem and the sí se puede.  If only the next instance of need would not follow so quickly, and with buggers of little modifications [left knee now buckles, right foot is slick with leaked lymphatic fluid].

Thank you for your attention.
The Gimp