Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day 2013

The first of three Memorial Day reposts, this one from just last year.  Have a great weekend, Dear Readers!

Memorial Day.  I feel obliged.  Guilty.  I'm a military brat;  I'm grateful to the men and women who have done... duty.  

My dad was a career military man, in the Air Force for 29 years.  He loved it, believed in it, hated it, distrusted it, gave it his all.  Believed ridiculous things that had pure truth in his world of absolute values -- like his explanation for having to row the boat across the Delaware for General Washington... that was what he thought I needed to understand about Vietnam. 

Talk about a rift.

I am an ungrateful military brat, confused by the world, confused by the military, confused by random violence, confused by organized violence, by terrorism, by conventional and unconventional warfare, by the deaths of men in the name of women, by the abuse of women by men frustrated unto violence, but not conscious of where their resentment originates, by the hypocrisy of all of us. Confused by drones, torture, international law ignored, domestic law ignored, nature's laws ignored. Confused by myself, angered at being compartmentalized, angered that the compartments fit, so cozily.

I merge Memorial Day and Veteran's Day in my head.  I'd rather we just have Veteran's Day, as there are so many veterans who return to us dead, and alive, at the same time.  They gave their all, too.  We're too at ease with the beating of their hearts and the spikes and waves obtained from electroencephalograms as proof enough of their living.  

Eleven years ago today -- though not exactly -- so let me restate that.  On Memorial Day in 2002, I fell in the St. Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta Intensive Care Unit, and one of the results of that fall was CRPS, which showed up within two hours of the fall and the injuries sustained.  The story is told elsewhere on this blog, and if you've been a reader here for even a brief time, you know that my case of CRPS is one of the more severe sort -- a life-ender, in all the ways that matter.

So every Memorial Day since that one in 2002, I have a strange day.  All is odd, all is out of sync.  I wake with grand plans for celebration, odd, in that I don't celebrate most holidays. So, I wake with odd menus going round the brain, mostly fresh, spicy, creative food dishes, and time set aside to think of those who serve. My mouth moves, larynx and pharynx function, but sound is late or skewed. Thoughts jumble and I'm out of joint, and not just in the usual literal sense.  Until it hits me -- Oh yes, I've something else to commemorate.   

At least I know enough now to look at each person I see, write to, think of, and know that they, too, have their own private commemorations going on, that they allot time, heart, neurons, photons, and blank eyes to theirs, as I do to mine.  I imagine other people are better behaved.  You see, until I remember what's wrong, that I am having some kind of minor anniversary-driven PTSD bit of a tantrum, I just feel raw and mean.  While I was slaving away in the kitchen, Fred was collapsed under the weight of an undeniable nap attack, and that pissed me off.  I did not need him;  He wasn't neglecting to do a darned thing, in fact, he was likely worn out from a recent attack on vines.  Evil vines. 

I put hard-boiled eggs and pickles in the potato salad for him.  It's his fault that I am feeling raw, odd, out of sync, and joint, and whatever else I've complained of thus far.  No mention of pain, or how hard it was to cut a cooked potato. Definitely not a word about pouring boiling water on my thigh (the same thigh I marinated in salmonella just a few days ago, ginger and soy sauce, chopped chicken parts, a good massage, and spuh-lurt, salmonella lap!).  My thighs, recipients of incomplete dishes.  At least today's immersion was just hot pepper, highly salinated, starchy water, with some of my oldest brother's last green peppers artistically strewn about.  

Better than dropping something heavy and sharp, like a blade, some sort of chopping device, tip down on the second toe of an already amputation-envied right foot.  Just joshing!  I missed this time!  (I'm sorry, that was mean.)

A beautiful dressing was prepared -- of yogurt, fresh garlic, Thai chili and fish sauces, an unbelievable amount of pepper and dill, with oft-adjusted grains of kosher salt. Three mustards.  I know it sounds overwhelming, but it wasn't.  It was perfect.

Fred "served" in the military, in war time, but drew a map-making mission in Africa. He left much behind but not his life, and gained much as well, and not just in beautiful love-making with beautiful Ethiopian women, not just in falling in love with baboons, and a certain aridity. He discovered aimless freedom.  Drank a lot, drove fast in the desert.

Last July, after the Father-Unit just laid down and died, I wrote this:

A scattering of his ashes is planned for Atlantic waters, and there don't seem to be a bunch of laws standing in the way.  Not like over at the western end of that state, where some weenies decided to regulate drifting cinders.  That was my first choice, somewhere (actually, "somewhere" very specific) along the Blue Ridge.  Then a California friend, a busy mother, ceramic artist, perpetual redesigner of kitchens -- but reportedly, by kin, even, a god-awful baker -- someone who eventually went to med school and, I'm willing to wager all my investment income -- income so piled high upon itself that it is seeping out of my Gringotts Wizarding Bank magical money jail cell -- solves more medical mysteries over coffee in her torn-to-pieces kitchen than in some speckled formica-ed San Franciscan examination cubicle... 
Anyway, Margaret, this California friend, began sending me a local artist's series of Point Reyes note cards, a national park, a "national seashore." A shore, headlands, grasslands, beaches, a forest, even.  [I am notoriously challenged directionally... A trip up the Pacific Coast Highway meant the Pacific was on the left, the forests on the right.  The return trip required the PCH to be on the right, the woods to my left.  The weeping driver asking for directions, thank God, was *always* to my left, as The Great American Writer Wannabe refused to allow me to drive his Mustang.
Margaret wasn't campaigning that I scatter my ashes anywhere in our nationally shared Point Reyes park.  It just came to bright me, it came as a longing, as a fulfillment.  And it turned out to be a pain in the caboose:
• A permit is required for all areas. • Remains to be scattered must have been cremated and pulverized. • Scattering by persons on the ground is to be performed at least 100 yards from any trail, road, developed facility or body of water, and 440 yards seaward from the shoreline on the Pacific Ocean. • Scattering from the air will not be performed over developed areas, facilities or bodies of water and will be performed at a minimum altitude of 2000 feet above the ground. 
Just at that point in your After-Existence when you're looking for the few people left who love you to have a freeing moment, a laugh in the wind?  Bullet points.  And I gotta say, "pulverized" kinda kills the good mood. Of course, I suppose that if my already cindered remains were not put through some huge spice grinder, I'd shift from a figurative to a literal portion of the Giant Floating Garbage Patch.
I do appreciate, though, the posting of allowable driving speeds.  It reads like a marvelous poem:
15 MPH: • The unpaved section of Mesa Road • Oyster Farm Access Road • Mount Vision Road • Estero Trail Access Road • Marshall Beach Road • Sacramento Landing Road • Chimney Rock Road  
The following sections of trails open for administrative vehicle use: • Sky Trail (from Limantour Road to Sky Camp) • Bear Valley Trail (Bear Valley Trailhead to Glen Junction) • Coast Trail (Limantour Road to Coast Camp) • Drivable sections of the Inverness Ridge Trail (Limantour Road to the Mt. Vision Road) • Marshall Beach Trail • Stewart Trail (including Glen Camp Spur Trail from Stewart Trail to Glen Camp)  • Lighthouse Road from the parking lot to the Lighthouse Visitor Center • Bolinas Ridge Trail • Randall Trail 
25 MPH: • Limantour Road (Sky Trail to Limantour Parking Lot, including the road to the southern parking lot) 
Yeah, so now?  Just put me in a cardboard box, mix with some perlite -- me and some Home Depot volcanic glass -- and plant something that you don't think I'd kill.

Ayer como hoy.

I remember, not just today, but every day -- too much memorializing, too much memory.  Not enough now, not enough sloughing it off, saying:  "Who knows? I sure don't."  Saying, yes, I know, a woman soldier has just been blown sky high by an IED;  a young man has lost his life in jihad.  A child has curled up like a sea shell, dead of simple starvation, food withheld by a brilliant blockade.  A shaman dies in the wilderness, or trips, and tumbles down a crevasse, smiling.  Cheney and other war mongers count their money, and regret getting a human heart.

I've always wanted to understand, as a Jew must understand, the meaning of mitzvah/mitzvot
Literally: commandment. Any of the 613 commandments that Jews are obligated to observe. It can also refer to any Jewish religious obligation, or more generally to any good deed.
Not having anything left to accomplish on my Memorial Day 2013 list, I thought I would actually read the 613 commandments, as sorted out for my lame brain by a website called Judaism 101.  Numbers 598 through the end of the list, at 613, deal with... war.  I knew the random firings of my neurons would come through once again, that being all that I am at the moment.


598.  That those engaged in warfare shall not fear their enemies nor be panic-stricken by them during battle (Deut. 3:22, 7:21, 20:3)
599:  To anoint a special kohein (to speak to the soldiers) in a war (Deut. 20:2)
600:  In a permissive war (as distinguished from obligatory ones), to observe the procedure prescribed in the Torah (Deut. 20:10)
601:  Not to keep alive any individual of the seven Canaanite nations (Deut. 20:16)
602:  To exterminate the seven Canaanite nations from the land of Israel (Deut. 20:17)
603:  Not to destroy fruit trees (wantonly or in warfare) (Deut. 20:19-20)
604.  To deal with a beautiful woman taken captive in war in the manner prescribed in the Torah (Deut. 21:10-14)
605:  Not to sell a beautiful woman, (taken captive in war) (Deut. 21:14)
606:  Not to degrade a beautiful woman (taken captive in war) to the condition of a bondwoman (Deut. 21:14)
607:  Not to offer peace to the Ammonites and the Moabites before waging war on them, as should be done to other nations (Deut. 23:7)
608:  That anyone who is unclean shall not enter the Camp of the Levites (Deut. 23:11)
609:  To have a place outside the camp for sanitary purposes (Deut. 23:13)
610:  To keep that place sanitary (Deut. 23:14-15)
611:  Always to remember what Amalek did (Deut. 25:17)
612:  That the evil done to us by Amalek shall not be forgotten (Deut. 25:19)
613.  To destroy the seed of Amalek (Deut. 25:19)


That clears everything up.

I guess this is another post you will have to forgive me.

It doesn't fit tightly with my theme, nor follow the narrow limits of my text, but I discovered that my favorite of the 613 mitzvot is #578:

That the procedure of cleansing leprosy, whether of a man or of a house, takes place with cedar-wood, hyssop, scarlet thread, two birds, and running water (Lev. 14:1-7) 
Let's just think on that for a year, shall we?

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.

Memorial Day

This is a repost of my Memorial Day 2009 publication. It resonates, as Grader Boob faces great struggles, and could give a hoot about tennis this year. I miss our annual Brother-Sister exchanges over the various Opens and Wimbledon, etc. But I look forward, as well, to renewing that old tradition next year, and starting some new ones this year.  

Turn, turn, my wheel!  All things must change
To something new, to something strange;
  Nothing that is can pause or stay;
The moon will wax, the moon will wane,
The mist and cloud will turn to rain,
The rain to mist and cloud again,

  To-morrow be to-day.
-- Longfellow, excerpted from "Kéramos"


[do you recognize the racket to the right? my first, my favorite!]
It's that time of year again, hooray!

Men's Singles Draw

Women's Singles Draw

The greatest joy, though, comes in the form of communication with the Brother-Unit known as Grader Boob. Some siblings talk every Thanksgiving Day, or on birthdays -- The Grader Boob and I arrange our lives around tennis Grand Slam events.

Of course, it is also Memorial Day. (Please to ignore the grinding sound of my shifting gears.) A day of remembrance "of those who died in their country's service."

There are so many ways of dying, but I won't belabor the obvious -- nor mention the scrambled grey matter of the walking brain-injured, the stress-disordered, the illusionless.

When I was in high school, the adults around me thought I was a phenomenal writer. No, I was a phenomenal people-pleaser, terribly hyphenated.

We had to write an essay for English class, and "the best" was to be submitted in the local VFW lodge's Memorial Day Essay Contest.

I wrote something that was very good, that was quite facile, as all discussions of war and death ought to be. It's not the most subtle of things.

Not Crispus Attucks, killed during the Boston Massacre -- not anyone whose name we know and parrot -- just someone -- that's who figured in my essay. SumDood. Killed -- and Killer -- in the Revolutionary War.

He's not "just a boy." He's not a white-haired geezer. He is intelligent and understands the theories and desires behind the idea of revolution (but not the red coats and ramrod-straight lines of his purported enemies).

Reality is a lot like a very bad movie.

He faces off, squares his body to the face and the body mirrored back at him -- though he has no bayonet, he is just as well-equipped for this ridiculous point-and-shoot exercise -- fish in a barrel.

There was a lot of lyrical writing at that point, ephemeral and awful.

I brought the boys, the men, to the moment of firing their guns. Muskets. Weapons.
Water Balloons. Slingshots. Whatever.

Not bullets, but balls.

The average soldier armed with a smoothbore flintlock musket was expected to fire off a shot every 20 seconds.

What was he doing in those 20 seconds? A lot.

According to the Continental army training manual, there were 13 steps to firing a musket. In short, a soldier had to get a cartridge, tear it open with his teeth, put a little bit of powder in the firing mechanism, put the rest of the powder and a gun ball down the barrel, ram the ball and powder home, cock the musket and fire.

The musket was not an accurate weapon, so even after all that work, the soldier didn’t have the greatest chance of shooting his intended target.

I've always loved the mathematical notion of The Limit, and felt it could find no better bastardized application than that of an ever-approaching, never-arriving bullet. Ball. Buckshot.


Death by some projectile or other, tossed about by generally nice young men, scared, but not scared enough. Those wise enough to not be found in front of a gun were safely closeted somewhere, designing the raids, envisioning the massacres, ordering the taking of a hill, a lane, a town, signing treaties, drawing up important documents, sometimes weeping and proud. Yes, but.

Yes, but probably more mindful than your average war-mongers, the cause being just and all.

We certainly are thankful for the sacrifice.

My essay did not so much end as fizzle, extinguish, tire of the wait. In it, the two shooters actually manage to see one another, to wonder -- a bit -- at the other's world. In my essay, one shot was enough to kill -- but the moment managed to stay an eternity.

In that same moment are men and women dying today -- and I am forever out of high school, undefeated on the tennis team, voted most improved at almost everything, french-kissing that enlisted boy with the cystic acne (in the park across from school, remember the smell of autumn leaves, a smokey sky, the unfiltered Camel), making out with the pitcher on the baseball team the very first night of Junior/Senior weekend (sloe gin fizz), happy as a clam, they tell me later, running running running into the surf, screaming because I always knew The Limit was just a construct for snotty kids hiding behind an education.

Please God, don't let it be my "way of life" or "freedoms" for which they fall.

Please don't allow that Crap Thought, that neat turn of phrase, to gain more of a hold.

I so look forward to speaking with The Grader Boob, to laughing, to bolstering my picks for the semis, for the championship. To forgetting the shrunken men at the VFW lodge, long dead now, who called me "honey," and gave me a $500 U. S. Savings Bond.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dr. Huddleston: A Presumption, I Presume?

Here is the back story, in short.

If you are a regular reader of my blog -- and bless you if you are [Free Parking for a year behind the Animal Husbandry Facilities PLUS Backstage Passes to Gounod's Faust and Dressing Room Access to Bianca Castafiore and her Entourage] -- then you know that I have CRPS.  Whoopy-Dee-Doo!

Having been told by the best of the best that there remain few treatment options, having skimmed the crème de la crème, so to speak, I set out to treat the disorder by trying to quench any fiery symptoms that insisted on flaring up.

Such as the screaming ninny, crazy-making spasms.

Armed with my new insurance, I began the shift from the known quotient of my team of physicians over the last twelve years to some newbies -- who look marvelous on paper.  Luckily, from an Infectious Disease and Orthopedic standpoint, I have retained my former excellent docs.

Not so for the Nutty Neurologists.

I dutifully requested a neuro referral, which was quickly granted.  I studied the roster and saw one that looked particularly promising, given the specific troubles I've been having.  He touts himself as a movement disorder specialist and researcher.   One Daniel E. Huddleston,  MD.

My first appointment with Huddleston was to be on 12 May 2014.  As a few of you know, I was in the midst of several family health crises, one of which trumps my problems, your problems, and possibly even the situation in Syria and the Ukraine.

Fred and I were weary, and his ADHD kicked in that morning, and despite allowing extra time, a wreck and getting profoundly lost all worked together such that I arrived 21 minutes late.  But, no excuses. The Huddleston refused to see me.  I believe I dissolved in tears, as the effort to get there had taken much out of moi, and the brain of moi desperately wanted to be elsewhere, anyway.

I was offered an appointment with a perverted sadist, the famed Dr. RJW.  That unbelievable encounter was commemorated recently in a post titled "Jose Ochoa, Famed Medical Turd, Has Doppelgänger in Metro Atlanta."  Read it now, if you have not already.  Dr. RJW decided that I had, not CRPS, but "postherpetic neuralgia," or shingles, and opined that I "could not live in this much pain," wanting to throw mine arse in the hearsepital, so as to reinvent the wheel and make wheelbarrow loads of cash.  Strike that last sentiment.  He was more likely not a greedy doctor, just an incompetent one.

This morning, as I waited to hear pathology reports and bad puns from Grader Boob and his new reality as a cancer patient, I thought I'd ease a little tension by tending to some overdue business.

First, cancel the follow-up appointment with the incompetent Dr. RJW, and attempt to reschedule with the self-aggrandized Daniel E. Huddleston, MD.  Not knowing how this new system works yet, after I successfully cancelled with the one and scheduled with the other, it seemed appropriate to make sure The Huddleston was amenable to seeing me, given my 21-minute snafu on 12 May.

The new insurance monolith has a nifty email system that enables patients to contact physicians.  I'm sure it is the bane of their existence.  But, I'm appreciative of it, as an email is infinitely preferable to phoning, sitting on hold, and listening to bad bad music.  It also beats the crap out of having to go somewhere...

And so I present you with the history of my correspondence with the Hubris of Huddleston, going back to 11 May, the eve of what shall forever be known as the "Neuro Exam Rape."

I will shade my parts in the healing shade of green and back Dr. Huddleston's purple prose in labile lavender.

Daniel E Huddleston, MD
L. Ryan
5/11/2014  8:28 AM EDT
Dr. Huddleston, I have my 1st appt w/you tomorrow morning - should have composed this email much earlier. I want to let you know ahead of time what my most pressing concerns are, as KP appts seem to be clock-driven! I've had CRPS for 12 years, 1st as CRPS type 2 in my right leg and left arm, then, with "spread" to the left leg and right arm, as well as part of the face. Pain is obviously a problem, but other things supersede pain issues at the moment: horrible, distressing spasms/cramps/dystonia/what-ev-er that last many hours at a time; general disorientation as to where I am in space (where is my arm?! is that my left or right leg?!); hands and feet not responding as I hoped (or "clutziness," and getting "stuck" while trying to walk), and lastly, high BP that I think is related to CRPS, and for which I'd like to try (per a KP pharmacist's suggestion) clonidine or nifedipine rather than what I am on. I hope this email is not irritating, I wanted just to help organize my first visit.

The next day: Neuro Exam Rape by Dr. RJW, after Huddleston refused to see me, as I arrived late.

Today, hope springing eternal, I made another appointment, at which time it seemed only fair to double check his willingness to see me.  Ergo, this email:

Daniel E Huddleston, MD
L. Ryan
5/21/2014 12:25 PM EDT
CRPS, legs 
Scheduled to see you 12 May 2014, I was late and lost the opportunity. Instead, I saw Dr. Wilensky. That proved unsatisfactory. I have suffered worsening of CRPS symptoms as a result of an aggressive exam. I opted for you, to begin with, because of your stated interest in "movement disorders." I rescheduled with you at the Southwood location for 21 August. Please let me know if you are amenable to seeing me. I've had CRPS for 12 years. Dr. Barry Mccasland, no longer available under my new KP insurance, finally classified it as "total body." My main problem now? Spasms that are painful and debilitating. Dr. W increased my baclofen dosage and that HAS helped, but I fear taking too much. I will proceed with the plan to try again to see you on 21 August, unless you object. Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Attached is an image of my legs, site of most spasms (from foot to hip, small of back).

 I did not expect a response, really, and certainly not within hours, but there it was, and here it is for your reading pleasure:

RE: Trying again to see you

Printer-friendly version
L. Ryan
Daniel E Huddleston, MD
5/21/2014  4:01 PM EDT
Hello Lisa,

I would like to help you, but need to be able to see you and examine you in the office to do so. I do consider CRPS in most cases to have a psychogenic basis or at least a significant psychogenic contribution. Often this is not the answer patients are looking for, particularly when they have seen multiple providers. Again, I haven't seen you so cannot draw any conclusions at this point, but this is an issue I don't shy away from because it is frequently the "elephant in the room" and is a potential route to improved quality of life for many patients. For skin changes (which appear to be a concern based on the photo you sent), I would also recommend that you consider seeing dermatology. I look forward to seeing you at your appointment with me. 

Dan Huddleston, MD

Let's see.  He's another Jose "The Turd" Ochoa fan, plus he decides that I am "doctor shopping." Why else would I see "multiple providers"?

I looked into the abyss.

L. Ryan
5/21/2014  4:21 PM EDT
Would it make a difference to know that there are documented lesions, that I began with "causalgia"? Psyche/soma is no elephant in my environs, but I also do not wish to waste my time. That said, I will probably cancel. I've been through an evaluation with Anne McKenzie-Brown at Emory, subanesthetic ketamine at Shepherd, put up with a doctor who wanted women from his church to apply an herb wrap cum prayers... I don't think I need to put up with much more. My case is complicated with an untreatable osteomyelitis, and other junk. 
No need to think about it. I'm done.

And, Dear Readers, I am.  Done.

I will dutifully see the Pain Management Folks, dutifully follow up with the Primary Care Doctor whose knowledge of CRPS extended to... "Wait!  I know that.  That's like RSD.  Reflex something-something. But more importantly, what the heck is wrong with your legs...?"

One day I will laugh about it, you say?
No, Friend, those days are over.

© 2013 L. Ryan

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

mooji, my secret pleasure, my present need

"try and believe it's so simple. even the disbelieving mind cannot stop you. you watch the disbelieving mind and it says, 'it cannot be so simple.'"  the mind, that sumbitch trickster.

like never before, i need my mooji, because i appreciate lazy enlightenment.  i'm not a practitioner, an adept, and yet, in my lazy secret times, i get my mooji on.

besides, i tried reading psalms, as in all of them, and was rewarded with diarrhea.  the good news of the psalms episode, so doggone bourgeois, was that my heart rate slowed to a loving pace when i sang the praise psalms, and my heart showed no attraction to the i-am-good-king-david-bless-me-with-long-life-but-my-enemies-please-smite-and-their-little-babies-too -- selah -- psalms.  even the priests for equality translations cannot rinse the clotted blood off those lusty tunes.

(i am not sure that replacing male pronouns and re-imagining the texts by an assumptive removal of its "barriers" is actually a service to the texts or to the reader, anyway.  in fact, i am sure that it is not.)

i used to piss off my pastor when i read the psalter, because i never edited out the offensive warring revenge sections.  i mean, really, come on -- they are there. deal with it.

more in the mood to listen than to speak, chant, or sing, i figured my heart rate might also respond to mooji's dulcet tones and occasional giggles.  also, i like his nose, and his general chubbiness. i like his good-natured ribbing of the man featured in this episode, a man who is deathly afraid of death, and clearly is actively dying.

i mean, that's what this guy is about. his "i am" is in an analytical "alas" from which he is not going to recover. if you can't see it, well, go get a hearing test, then an eye exam.  if we could check the obits about six weeks from the date of filming, we'd find this guy's write-up.  i like mooji's clear frustration when dying dude comes back for his follow-up, mentions "knowledge," and is rewarded with a "shut up and listen." ha!  then mooji disses dying guy's mantra idea.  that's a bad, bad mooji, fat hands a-wavin'!

he clearly enough told the man to zip himself and his "i am" up in his sleeping bag for a good week, and he comes out with mantras and, sniff, KNOWLEDGE. poor disintegrating man, poor mooji.  but thank god he didn't die in that sleeping bag.  that would not have been good. he'd have putrefied and ruined the retreat for the other campers.

confession, not good for my soul, particularly, is excellent for you, because i gotta warn you that the musical interludes in these retreat videos are cheesy, and performed by self-absorbed, shiny-faced white women of the western world, of the indeterminate age such flat and uninspired guitar diddling requires. so fast-forward through the inspirational toneless tunes.  i mean, she can't work up enough tension in her fingers to really fret those frets into producing one truly resonant chord.

tepid.  i hate tepid.

oops. as i said earlier: like never before, i need my mooji, because i appreciate lazy enlightenment.  i'm not a practitioner, an adept, and yet, in my lazy secret times, i get my mooji on. 

it's my sin, my guilty pleasure, the massage i cannot have for these knotted, twitching muscles but can for this ridiculous enemy, my raucous mind.

i used to run away to the monastery to get my mooji on, and to see dear brother william, the perpetually punished brother, who had to scrub the cathedral floor with a toothbrush for serving me apple juice and fig newtons in place of a denied communion.  i loved that reprobate monk. but though they've installed an elevator and i'm not allowed inside the cloister, i still like the nosebleed section of the church, especially during the night-watch, in the time before vigils.

my brother walks his first pass of what i imagine as one of those tree-lined lanes late this afternoon -- wait, do you share my image, know it?  i think of van gogh's les Alyscamps, a matched painting pair he made in that region in, or near, arles, there where there is a roman necropolis lined with trees, poplars, and studded with stone sarcophagi, little stone stèles, little petrified poplar mockings.

beware petrified poplar mockers! ar!  ar!  ar!

i imagine grader boob stooped and shaking like the very confused pilgrim who comes before mooji in this video, "Stay in the I Am."  the lazy guru, unfazed by this sweaty, panicked man who looks and acts as if death has him pencilled in for tomorrow, at ten. or, my mind manages to squeak, "no --  between four and five-thirty, with check-in time for pre-op at one, so really the first parameter is correctly one, one pm, or thirteen-hundred, though he'd best allow time for parking, unless he's gonna use the valet service, which i think would probably be the best bet.  yes, yes, that is for sure:  valet parking tomorrow is de rigueur, totally the blushing best of mindfulness."

and i know, having passed through our reproduction of the hall of mirrors in the palace of versailles earlier today, that it's not grader boob sitting there emitting the acrid pheromones of fear, but me, the sister-unit. i am exactly that screwed up, reflective, reflexive.

"you have to stop, and catch up with your words, so that you can really see what you are saying."

opposite its 17 windows are 17 mirrors of the same size.

"maybe you can just ex-hale these things away."

this growing fear:

"a changing over of power from person to presence, 
and things seem a bit jumbled up for a bit... 
my being is detoxing..."

yes.  yes.  that would be it.

here's mooji!

Uploaded to YouTube by Awakening to Truth, the channel dedicated to "the satsang dialogues of Mooji, combined with music and images."
Published on Dec 5, 2012

Monday, May 19, 2014

Take two or three of these, and call me in the morning...

A tip of the hat to Wendy, a Wyoming Facebook friend, for sending this prescription my way. I'm setting out to update the music that gets me through the night. My little MP3 player is about to lose its Yo Yo Ma 
-- following the last in, first out trading rule when my technologically personal 1-seater Greek Theatre, "an amphitheater concert venue," begins to run out of memory.

Take two or three of these, and call me in the morning:

Uploaded to YouTube by Geoffrey Castle:

Published on Sep 21, 2012In the jungle, the mighty jungle! I love this song. It's become a favorite song for me to do when I've got kids in the audience. Did you know that the original version of the song was written by a Zulu in the townships outside Johannesburg?

Everything you see, and hear, is created live. In one take. Find this song, and 19 more, on my double CD set The Deep Well Sessions!

TO: Find out more, download music, concert and tour calendar, get in touch, and much more please visit:

This video was produced by Tongue and Groove Media, Seattle. Find out more about them at

Deep Well Studios is located in Woodinville, WA USA in a handmade log cabin style building with 30' interior ceilings... Awesome place to make a record...

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight", also known as "Wimba Way" or "Wimoweh" (and originally as "Mbube"), is a song written and recorded by Solomon Linda originally with the Evening Birds (Song by Solomon Linda originally titled just "Mbube"),[1] for the South African Gallo Record Company in 1939. Originally composed only in Zulu, it was adapted and covered internationally by many 1950s pop and folk revival artists, including The WeaversJimmy DorseyYma SumacMiriam Makeba, and The Kingston Trio. In 1961 it became a number one hit in the U.S. as adapted in English by the doo-wop group The Tokens. It went on to earn at least US$15 million in royalties from covers and film licensing.
In the mid-nineties, it became a pop "supernova" (in the words of South African writer Rian Malan) when licensed to Walt Disney for use in the film The Lion King, its spin-off TV series and live musical, prompting a lawsuit in 2004 on behalf of the impoverished descendants of Solomon Linda.

Published on Oct 25, 2012 This was the title track for my first solo CD. It's evolved enough that I thought it was worth re-recording for this project. I really love how mysterious the intro is, and then in the middle suddenly it's Latin! And then back to mysterious again...
"...a pure, uncluttered masterpiece." -- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

And just to pleasure more of your senses, Castle's Mist on the Mountain made me think of my beloved San Francisco and its environs. 

Therefore, this famous Wikimedia image:

Out of fog: Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in fog and crepuscular rays. The image was sent to Dr. Andrew T. Young,. Here's his description: "... it's unusual to see these shadows so clearly at such an oblique geometry: usually, the crepuscular rays are best seen in forward scattering, and much less well in back-scattering.But here, you're looking almost at right angles to the illuminating rays." Panorama stitched from images photographed at the same time, the same date and the same place. 

Technology May Kill Us. Or Not.

REPOST from 2012 -- No need to explain why!

I just had one of those belly-shaking, pew-rocking laugh attacks.  Completely out of the blue.

insane laughter wave
"actor laughing insanely. large diaphragm capacitor microphone direct to sound forge"

Technology is, therefore, good for something.

1.  Earlier today, The Fredster and I were trying to enter the formidable Network Key into our wifi recovery program.  Once we figured out where it was hiding, we each took turns writing it down.  Why?  Because he had a go at it and failed and the yelling began.  I hate the yelling.  So I jotted it down and quietly gave it a go myself.  Soon enough, I was screeching.  Then began The Great Discussion of the "O" versus the "0." At that point, we were on the phone with India.  India was no wiser on the issue but stayed on the phone with us for half an hour.  As I got ready to discard the 3rd-notice envelope and the dirty napkin we'd used for our number jotting, I noted discrepancies.  He had an "F" where I had a "4."  I had a "P" where he had a "5." Did I mention that I have glaucoma and cataracts?  So I put on a third pair of glasses and rechecked the Router-Lord-of-the-Universe Thingy.  First, I solved the O/0 problem.  That helped a lot right there.  Then I replaced the F and the P.  Sneeked past the internet-deprived Fred who was beginning to have withdrawal symptoms.  And voilà: Take that, India.  Fred was happy, all was well.

2.  So I got online to check with UPS tracking on a package that should have been delivered Wednesday.
It appeared to have been sucked into a vortex between two tiny towns about 10 miles apart.  So I had a helpful online chat with a UPS representative.  She solved the problem by referring me back to the sender, Best Buy, which made no sense, so I promptly did it.  Best Buy initiated an inquiry that will take 3-8 days. "Okie-dokie, then. Uff da to ya!" said I, in my best Fargo. Then I filed a report online with UPS.  I am happy to report that all of this consumer proactivism has had the following result:  the UPS online tracking site now reads. "Your package has experienced an exception."

3.  Earlier this week, my half-sister notified me, via the much hated Facebook, that my mother-unit had an appointment with a neurologist to be tested for Alzheimer's. Ever the polite one, I inquired today as to the outcome. I have a weird fear of Alzheimer's as it was the basic cause of death for both my step-grandmother and my stepfather, and my stepmother is showing ominous signs.

I'll give you a minute. 

[toe tap, toe tap, toe tap]

Got it?

Water has been thicker than blood for most of my life, and I still have to research basic kinship terms.  "Nephew, cousin, uncle," and then the linguistic peripherals, "thrice-removed, demi-, half-, step, second, great, long lost..." and the ultra-confusing "in-law, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, old family friend [wink::wink]." 

Much easier to remember?  Friend / Not-Friend. Water? It quenches thirst like nobody's business and is the most powerful force in the world.

Anyway, the upshot is that Mother never made it to the neurologist.  As she was getting ready, her implanted, top-of-the-line defibrillator started going off. And off. And off.

And by "as she was getting ready," this incredible half-sister further clarified the ever-shifting maternal apocrypha this way: she meant that the sweet mother-unit was in the bath tub. Or shower.

Now, these good kin live in a small town, where, apparently, a favored pastime is listening to emergency scanners -- and my half-sister began getting phone calls at her work place before the ambulance even arrived at our Mother's home, site of this most terrible technological attack..They got her to the hospital, where they repositioned the leads... and gave her some pills to keep the defibrillator from working.  She is okay, but barely.

At a loss for words, I said The Standard, trained in it by this somewhat overwhelming sibling.

Bless her heart.  
I'll pray for her.

And then, a few hours later, I started laughing.

Buddy, the Outrageously Large Baby Maine Coon cat, chewed through the wiring of my brand new heating pad, and for dessert, demolished the Wii Remote. I had planned to reduce the day's stress with a hot game of tennis doubles for bedridden gimps.

Mwa ha ha!

The Universe's message for me today?

"You are experiencing an exception..."

Buddy and his, "What?" Look of Innocence