Pain, Therapy and Lapin Gardening

So my cousin has posted an ultrasound of her baby on social networking sites. I hate when people do that. First of all it’s icky. Second of all it’s yucky. Third of all it’s tacky. My cousins keep doing this too, as if I want to see the strange sea creature/squirrel shaped parasites invading their abdomens.

Anyway, this ultrasound is really early. So early that it’s mostly space and just this tiny bean you kinda have to look for. There are a million people ‘oohing and aaahing’ in the comments, but I’m terribly tempted to ask her if she’s sure it’s not just a big fart. Trapped gas man, it’s a bitch.

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Okay, so I’m in a fabulous mood, as if you can’t tell. I’m snarky and sarcastic because I’m in an exorbitant amount of pain and there isn’t really anything I can do about it. I can’t even sleep (it’s nearly three a.m.). It’s been about ten months of this, and after numerous tests and one serious week in November where the doctors told me to brace myself for cancer, all they can come up with are shrugs and theories: another mass, a random tiny hernia, or muscle damage. The only way to really tell one way or the other or to do anything about it is to have an exploratory surgery. Now I’m sorry, but I don’t want random surgery. I have many reasons for this, the most significant of which is I’m convinced that the surgeon will come up with nothing or with more shrugs and I will have endured all of this for nothing. Not to mention that the doctors will stop taking my complaining about the pain seriously.

This means that until I decide to do the surgery, or my insides explode, or this stuff takes some kind of turn, every few days I will experience different levels of pain in that area. Tonight (or this morning, rather), I’m hurting badly. I took a pill for the pain but it hasn’t even taken the edge off. So not worth it. It’s bad enough that I’ve been taken to the ER twice and both times I was sent home with drugs and more shrugs. Rhymey.

On top of all of that, things haven’t been working out so well for me. I’m completely skint, unemployed, and frankly unemployable at this point. Plus all of this other stuff is weighing on me. I wrote this long blag post (a two-parter!) about what’s been going on, but it’s so terribly personal that I’ve not posted it. Yet. There is always the possibility that I may egg up, especially when one considers I’ve not a lot of followers and only a few of those actually read my posts and only two or three of those actually know me. It’s basically about how I’ve taken up therapy and how I have a colourful history of despising therapy and everything that goes along with it, and why.

As for this therapy thing, I’m fairly certain that I’m failing at it. Seriously, I think that maybe I’m doing it wrong. I don’t really talk about anything, and I don’t know what I’m supposed to talk about. And I talk to the therapist about her problems too. I know there’s this period of time in the early days (which is where I’m at) where you talk to your therapist about stuff just so she can learn about you and know what you’re on about (to discover and exploit your weaknesses). But I am still rather unsure.

___________

And in banal life stuffs, I grew lots of seedlings and plants for my garden, spent two days with Thunderball excavating and ravaging the very Earth, only to have this random apocalyptic downpour today eviscerate all our hard work. After all that, only about three plants of the hundreds we planted are still standing. I feel like the Charlie Brown of gardeners. Everything I touch get’s ruined.

But something exciting and interesting did occur in gardening. Our garden patch is about four feet by twenty feet. So in the soil turning and weeding phase on Saturday, Thunderball took one end and I the other and we worked our way towards the middle. About four feet in Thunderball suddenly stops her violent assault on the land and says “Uh, what is this?” She tosses over a wad of fluffy white fur, so naturally I ask: “Is something dead?” So she pokes at the spot with the garden fork and receives a terrified tiny squeal from the pile of furry earth. After she jumped away, we inspected the spot and discovered:

Bunny Seeds Germinated June 7 2014 01

Thunderball took this sessee shot.

Yes. That’s right. Babies. There were five or six tiny baby bunnies in there, all blind to the world. So now it’s like FUCK, we’re a mommy. So we’ve cordoned off that section of our garden (which will be devoted strictly to sunflowers), and recovered the nest we’d uncovered with an upturned bin. I keep periodically paranoiacally checking up on them, as I now feel responsible for having inadvertently uncovered their crèche, basically erecting the equivalent of a flashing neon arrow pointing right at them (hence the protective covering). Two days after finding them, I checked on them again only to find they were even closer to the surface with even less stuff covering them. I was amazed at how much they’d developed in only two days. They went from being blind and dark furred to being larger, open-eyed and more active and alert (although, clearly still too tiny to be on their own). Their little ears are still flat against their heads. According to some wildlife experts that means they are around 5-7 days old now.

I was so upset at seeing them almost completely exposed that I did some research to see if there was something else that we should have done or should be doing. But the wildlife rescue experts say that I did exactly the right thing, covering them back up and putting the bin over them. Now we just have to hope that they survive to adulthood despite living in a backyard that is full of raccoons and skunks and cats (That Cat and That Other Cat have both been sighted recently), not to mention our dog.

Plus they are so adorable one wants to take them in and love them forever (or at least until they reach their forever), but every wildlife place is like NO YOU CANNOT KEEP THEM. Shut up! You can’t tell me what to do! I am a paranoid mama bunny, hopped up on painkillers and out for blood! I do what I want!

“There is love in holding. And there is love in letting go.” – Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures

And there is love in mauling a Animal Control officer. Just saying.

 

 

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Hamster Cardiology, Rabbit Euthenasia and Synthetic Pain Management

crane

When I was a kid, somewhere between the ages of 8 and 10, I performed surgery on a hamster. I removed worms from its pericardium, and put them on a slide.
I still have the slide.

Now, dear reader, I suspect you have some questions. I mean, that first line is upsetting in itself. And yet, not too surprising; little kids are known to do such things. They torture bugs: burning ants, dissecting beetles, and tearing the wings off of flies. They take apart little things like frogs and minnows. All of this of course is done generally out of curiosity, and only occasionally out of psychopathy. Most little kids don’t even get the significance of their actions and feel that perhaps they can glue the little things back together and everything will be okay.

So that last bit there about pericardia and slides must have really thrown you.

Would it help if I mentioned the hamster was part of a laboratory trial, and the laboratory in question was at Harvard University, and that the entire procedure – from sedating the little guy (which I remember to this day as being a strange combination of horrifying and cute) to the surgery and subsequent staining of the slide sample was all done under the supervision of one of the head researchers in the trial?

What was I doing in a major experimental research laboratory after hours performing life saving surgery on a cute hamster? I DON’T KNOW.

Well, I sort of know, but it’s not really important. What is important is that this really happened and it would go on to support a long held belief in my family that by now I would be a doctor or a veterinarian and I’d be successful and happy and at the very least smart and stable. Well aren’t I a colossal disappointment?

I think however, the most significant thing about this particular childhood incident is the fact that whenever I replay events in my mind, I imagine that the hamster in question is clothed. I believe this has everything to do with how it reacted when it was going under sedation: it rose up on two legs, then sunk down into a very human-like sitting position – on it’s rump with it’s little back legs stuck out straight in front of it and it’s tail sticking up in the back. Its jaw dropped open in a dumbfounded sort of way, its tail drooping, before finally falling onto its back – hind legs in the air.

Despite how human and adorable my rodent patient, I had no trouble going through with the procedure. I followed every direction, did not get ‘grossed out’, and later I found the worms on the slide endlessly fascinating. I was remote, practical, professional and clinical. And I was still in primary school.

So fast forward some decades later to last summer, when I woke to find an amazingly horrific sight: my ancient rabbit (we suspect him to have been at least fourteen earth years in age), Killer, was in a condition so awful I can’t say here what it was. Let’s just say that it was so disgusting that when I FREAKED THE FUCK OUT and ran for help NO ONE BELIEVED ME. It was so unimaginably awful all I could keep saying was “Why is he still alive?”

This prompted the urgent and immediate necessity to put him out of his misery. And I, as the only person in the house not in cowardly denial, was the obvious one tasked to do it. So I tried and found that I couldn’t; I just couldn’t. I don’t know why exactly. It needed to be done, it was the merciful thing to do, and I knew this. I cried and I vomited and then I cried and vomited some more but I couldn’t do it. I even went so far as to try and poison him with prescription painkillers but (not surprisingly) he wouldn’t drink or eat anything. I didn’t know what to do.

I often wonder what happened to me between then and now – between hamster and bunny – that made me change. Especially when you consider how absolutely shitty life has been to me. I mean, why am I suddenly kinder and not a serial killer? Where did I go wrong? Why couldn’t that clinical, in control reserve that allowed me to cut into a hamster as a child help me now? I mean, I call it up more often then you’d think. So why, when I needed it the most did it fail me?

When bad shit happens I’m usually the only one in the room with their head on straight. Be it driving somewhere with Mum when lost, calling 911 when someone needs emergency care (and riding in the ambulance), taking everyone’s shit when someone dies – I’m the one who keeps everything together. And seeing as I have an awesome case of panic disorder, this is really saying something.

I keep finding myself wishing I could tap into that clinical 8-to-10-year-olds’ magical detachment. I think these days it would really help.

Ultimately BB put Killer down, and it’s been a few weeks since my last nightmare about it. But I can’t help but wonder and question, all the time, why I was so weak.

So…

I have to take vicodin more often. It makes me write the BEST blag posts ever. Really.

Yeah, so I’m on painkillers. WOOO! Or, if you’re me: woo.
I hate being on drugs. I don’t like feeling out of control of my brain – understandable, especially when you consider it’s all I’ve really got going for me.

Last Friday I spent in the ER at a not-so-local local hospital, and after a few hours of agony where they determined I was not in fact a drug-seeker, they gave me an intravenous cocktail of painkillers and antiemetics which was just… awful. Granted, it dropped my pain level from a 7 to a 5 and at one point a 4.

This is the World's Most Accurate Pain Chart. Possibly the ONLY accurate pain chart. It was created by Allie Brosh. (Please don't sue me.)

I borrowed this from Allie Brosh (please don’t sue me). It is the World’s Most Accurate Pain Chart. Possibly the ONLY accurate pain chart.

But it also did a few awesomely shite things like give me mushmouth and make me a bastion of profundity, dropping such gems as: “I hate my hair now. It’s not fair that my hair can’t be purple anymore.” (Tear slips down cheek).

When they put it in the IV, and then into me, it HURT. And I mean, it was like suddenly hot lead was being poured through my arm, across my shoulders, out my other arm and down through my head into my neck. It physically felt as though a great hot weight was suddenly forcing me down. And the taste in the back of my throat was awful.

After they sent me home I spent the night having crazy fucking vivid dreams and hallucinations. I literally could not tell awake from asleep, and I couldn’t do anything about it but ride it out. This resulted in my not taking ANYTHING for the crazy pain – that is nowhere near resolved – for the next few days. Not an unreasonable reaction under the circumstances.

Unfortunately I can’t keep up the pain side of things, and have succumbed to the prescription I was sent home with.
Right now I’m just trying to head the pain off at the pass until some better plan arises. I am taking the ‘conquering a migraine approach’.

So that’s been fun…

Spague! 2013 and The Year in Nifty Acquisitions

It’s only February and things have already started going hinky. So I’m going to spam you with all of my 2013 Year In Review type blagging, relatively at once. And out of order too. So that’s going to happen…..

Now.

Okay. Now before we begin with the next subject, I think that I should make it plain that I have a really bad cold – or the Spague, I’m not quite sure. It’s not like I’ve been tested or anything. So, if I’m short, or angry, or tetchier than usual, that’s pretty much why. I’m not excusing my behaviour, no, no, no. There’s no excuse for that. I’m just explaining it.

I also want to say how I think it’s weird that when you get a cold at first, like in the first hours or whatnot you think you’re dying. Just. Ugh. But then after a few days, it’s old hat. As if you cannot remember a time when you could breathe freely through your nose, your facial tissue consumption was at a reasonable minimum, and your voice wasn’t that of a three-pack-a-day-for-forty-years smoker. Or when you weren’t taking mass quantities of fever reducing medications.

This segues nicely into this brief piece I’ll call:

The Year in Nifty Acquisitions                  

In the moments before the pilfer party officially began at my aunts house, I was privy to a look-see and given a stack of post-its with which to call ‘dibs’. On the dining room table were a bunch of random little tins and toiletry bags full of my Uncle John’s emergency supplies – nail files, first aid and etcetera. In one was a tiny little glass bottle marked ‘Empirin’, full of pills which promised to ease my fevers, aches and pains of the head and shoulder, and possibly cure the common cold. I should point out that it was upon acquiring said ‘Empirin’ that I developed this cold (or Spague). So…

Cures What Ails Ya

Cures What Ails Ya

‘Empirin’ is just another brand name for Aspirin, and in fact Aspirin itself was the Bayer-Pharmaceuticals brand name for acetylsalicylic acid, but it was a brand name that got too successful and they lost control over it. Therefore we now call all forms of acetylsalicylic acid ‘aspirin’, much to Bayer’s chagrin.
Don’t ever say that I don’t teach you things.

I also snagged me the World’s Coolest Wallet. After letting the wallet I’d had since high school (a hippy dippy hand woven number), disintegrate beyond all hope, I decided it was time. So, I did what any normal person would do – I scanned copies of my favorite Sandman images (mostly scenes from the Rook Parliament story Abel tells) with which I intended to make my own badass wallet out of scrap vinyl. But then of course, life happened, the wallet became yet another project put on hold, and so I just continued to use my old wallet, which at this point was just a suggestion of it’s former purpose, as it was now mostly wool fibres clung together with elastics secured around Library Cards.

So there I am this summer at the Davis Flea, browsing a stall, when lo, it appeared before me. The World’s Coolest Wallet. So naturally I leave without buying it. Only to regret it instantly, knowing that the hipster populace of Davis Square would be completely drawn to its amazing awesomeness and when the Flea opened up a week later, it would be gone. Of course, I go back the next week, unable to find it at the vendors stall amongst all the other vintage purses, clutches, wallets and handbags. Thinking it had vanished into some Tufts chumps’ kitsch collection, I began to turn away disappointed when I spy it, peaking out from another rack, waiting for me.

(See that bit right there? That's where all the blood went...)

(See that bit right there? That’s where all the blood went…)

And here it is. Note that it was never before used, clearly purchased as a souvenir upon some gringos’ trip to Belize some years ago. Note how it has no wear, with only some minor fading along the spine from sunlight exposure. Note the tooled depictions of the Al-tun- ha temples of human sacrifice, and be envious upon hearing that their bloodshed is depicted not only on the front, but on the back and inside as well. Note that the inside also contains many convenient zippered compartments, as well as a compact mirror for blinding my enemies.

wallet 2 sm

This year, I also acquired a heap of randomly awesome and kindhearted things from friends and co-workers of my Mum. I should say right now that Mum is a ‘federal employee’, basically in an opening-sorting-stamping-categorizing-whatever-of-the-mail capacity. This basically means that every time you send some douche-y, passive aggressive note, outright threat, or anything like that, the big bad gummint isn’t the one reading it or getting it. It’s a bunch of really nice people just trying to get by on minimum-to-just-above-minimum-wage who you are threatening or hurting. (Not that the gummint doesn’t take notice. These things get ‘handled’ by the proper authorities: you know, it being a federal offense and whatnot.) It should also be noted that every time something stupid happens, like federal employees getting a pay cut, it’s these people and never congress or the senate who take the hit. Whenever the government shuts down or there is some sort of federal emergency, these same people are expected to work without pay, their mortgages and rents be damned. And I think it should be known, for the record, that when congress retroactively paid wages to the people ‘laid off’ by this years shut down, they gave the money they were supposed to retroactively pay these federal employees to themselves. As a bonus. Because that’s just what congress needs, what with all their free health care and lucky-for-life wage situation: a bonus.

So this year, these same people who spent about three weeks forcibly unemployed and unable to pay their bills, donated a TON of yarn for my knitting hats for bald kids project. Seriously. Epic amounts. So much, in fact, that I’m also considering spreading out and knitting hats for more than just the brats. I may begin knitting hats for the homeless as well.

Some of Mum’s friends also sent me some interestingly amazing things like LPs, kick ass cameras (like an Ansco land camera and a Brownie Holiday), and some things even more surprising.

Which leads me to my next obnoxious entry: The Year In Music.

Until then.

Just a note – it turns out I didn’t have the Spague after all. It was SPARS. It was pretty awful – I was upwardly mobile one moment and flat on my back hallucinating the next (I hallucinated Patrick Stewart!) . I know what you’re thinking: “When did you get a chance to go to Space over the holidays? And you didn’t get vaccinated? Are you insane?” Well, you’re right. I was careless. I spent the holidays in the People’s Republic of Cambridge and as you may know, the PRC often borders Space Beijing, where SPARS is rampant this time of year. So even though I only passed through it briefly on the way to grandmother’s house, it was all I needed to contract the virus. It took a few weeks, a bottle of Tylenol and a few days of laryngitis but I’m over it.

Big Bad Storm Behaviour and Overstimulated Deer

The tomato soup is trying to kill me. It’s in my stomach searing it’s way out as I write this. Dear Glob. At this point I am doubting that this is even tomato soup after all. Maybe it’s Gorgon blood or worse yet, lava. And not that, you know, firey explodey kind of lava either, but the slow, oozy, seepy kind of lava that is still amazingly hot, but you don’t even notice it as you walk by until you realize the reason you’ve just fallen on your face is because your legs are gone. That’s what’s going on in my stomach right now.

In the world today New England is battening the hatches for some apocalyptic snow storm. As per us’ for this time of the year. I am hoping that this pending storm won’t warrant a reaction similar to that of last year’s big snow. Last weekend we had a heavy, wet snowstorm that dropped about four to six, and was a complete surprise to us locals. All the local meteorologists were at a loss for words (which was awesome). And for the first time in a long time, there was no stupid driving, ridiculous panic or rushing of super markets. I know this, because I was actually in a grocery store when the storm hit, shopping it up (like you do). We just looked out at the rampaging sky, shrugged it off, and went about our business.

It was like the awesome ‘old’ days when we New Englanders, people renowned for their curmudgeonly ways (a friend once explained to some Californians that what we have is called ‘crustiness’ so there’s no need to call the cops), did not give in to the bullshit hype that the media is always bombarding us with. ‘Scared people are good citizen-consumers.’ (Angie Simbert, Memento Nora). Most of us just got crabby and didn’t bother to shovel. And besides the Patriot’s were playing the next day, as I’m quite sure Mark Whalbergs ‘ neighbors would find out the hard way.

So now we must wait and see how we fare with this coming storm. I seriously hope the good, smart, angry people of New England refrain from ransacking the local grocers of all their milk and Pop Tarts.

On that day in that very grocery store I had an incident. I was struck by a moment of panic. Not a full blown ‘attack’ as it were, but a close call nonetheless. I was moments away from a full on crisis however, when something occurred to me. Earlier in the week I had watched a Nature documentary about deer and how and why they’ve been moving closer and closer to human beings, basically overtaking U.S. suburbia. They explained how deer have super shitty eyesight, which I didn’t know, even worse than human eyesight. They also explained that the whole deer-in-the-headlights phenomenon occurs because the deer is actually so over stimulated by all of the sensory input around it that it physically can’t move. It’s literally paralyzed by its’ own senses. And as I was wandering the wrong direction down a frozen food aisle and slowing to a stop in my newly giganticized local grocery, it occurred to me that this same phenomenon was happening to me. I knew what I had to do, I knew what I had to do to feel better about what was happening to me, and yet I couldn’t get myself to move or function properly. I was freezing up from sensory overload. Which makes sense, if you think about it; all of my worst panic situations occur when I’m driving, when I’m in a store, or other large facilities by myself.

So what I can derive from this lesson is that I am apparently a deer in disguise. Huh. And here I always thought I was a whale. A SPACE whale.

As seen here, the surprise storm inconvenienced Cobble the most.

As seen here, the surprise storm inconvenienced Cobble the most.

Okay, so it’s the next day now, and wouldn’t ya know – it didn’t snow. At all. All the schools closed, the governor cancelled his speech and everything was shut down for a bright sunny day. Temperatures did plummet however, if you can call going from somewhere in the forties on Monday night and then being -2 degrees on Tuesday night plummeting. Aside from closing down everything preemptively for naught, I think we did pretty good. No stupid accidents or traffic jams, and no racing to stand in line for an hour at the grocery hugging a quart of milk (that you just knocked an old lady down for) to your chest.  So well done, us I suppose.

I do worry however, that there will be too many people outside or otherwise unable to keep warm this week in these apocalyptic temperatures. I wonder if there is any way to get the statistics on that. Is there an accurate, officially tally? I’m not just saying this either, I genuinely stay up nights over this. How can we be the richest, ‘greatest’ country in the world, and yet people still freeze to death every year? Or go hungry? Events like this just drive home how flawed and ineffectual capitalism is.

And on that note.

Typewriters and Canscer Scares

So I have somehow inherited (if this is the proper word for it) the typewriter of a beloved and popular uncle. By inherited I mean, I posted on Facebook how I wished I had a proper, old-school manual typewriter (as opposed to my much beloved electric Smith-Corona) and a cousin told me that he wanted to give me my uncles’ typewriter which was rescued from the rubbish when they cleaned out his house after he moved away from the old neighborhood.

I don’t know much about the typewriter, other than my uncle loved it. He was a letter writer apparently, and he took very good care of the instrument while it was of interest to him.

Sufficed to say, although the typewriter I had in mind was a turn of the century Remington, I am much obliged for this specimen. With every tap of the keys my Smith-Corona slams the hammer against the paper with enough force to pierce it – and indeed on occasion it has. It is an angry thing and quite appropriate for my artistic purposes. Am curious to see how I will fair with this new noise; it seems a might bit tamer than the bitter THWACK! of my old electric. Now all I need is ribbon and I should be all set. I am looking forward to penning another chapter or short story on it in the future.

Typewriters of Famous Writers

Once I have done something to facilitate the accessibility of mine hovel (to some degree of efficiency) I shall commence with the disparate and fictitious nonsense such is my literary career. Which are just fancy words for ‘once I get all my ducks in a row, I shall shoot them’.  Every time I manage to get some of the crazy out of my head and on paper all I get is a stomach ache for my reward. I have a few people I force to read my crap and ask for advice, but I don’t know. Not that I don’t trust them, it’s just maybe I need a wider sample? Or better yet – no sample at all?

In other news, probably more pressing, my surgical endeavors were successful. Thus far at least. Phil has been removed and is living somewhere off the grid. My foot has a badass scar, and as we all know, chicks and hotties dig scars, so perhaps this will all work out in my favour one of these days. I am healing nicely, the stitches, bandages and the boot (I had to tromp about in a boot of doom and keep my foot otherwise elevated) came off after three weeks.

The biopsy revealed no canscer – Phil was just a freeloading asshole. I had hoped at least for teeth and some hair, just for fun, but nope. The nerves in the area will be a bit raw for a while, and I have to keep an eye out for unusual colorations or swelling, but otherwise I was sent away from podiatry with a clean bill of health. So huzzah for me.

Like I have mentioned before, this is not my first cancer scare. This is like, my fourth in the last decade. So, although I should be more upset that this keeps happening, there is nothing more I can do. I eat crazy healthy, I even try to grow my own non GMO food. I try to exercise. It’s just how it is I guess.

In fact, the day after the stitches came out I had my annual intestinal probe. They found another giant adenoma, like they did during my first cancer scare. With my intestinal disorder I have a seriously elevated risk of colon and other cancers of the digestive tract. The first time was like Defcon Five around here, everyone in a panic, me keeping everyone together. Then I got a big speech from the gastro-doc informing me that although I don’t have cancer now, the polyps he removed were an early form of cancer. He told me I basically had stage zero cancer and that there wasn’t much that they could do other than be more vigilant. So my colonoscopies went from every three years to annually, with intermittent testing in between, and my cancer risk has gone from ‘elevated’ to one-in-three or one-in-two chances of getting ill.

So that’s going to be fun.

My biggest issue with getting sick is everyone else around me; these things freak everyone out more than me. So if it seemed that I was nonchalant about Phil I wasn’t trying to be coy; I was just trying to downplay it and see how things turned out before reacting. Or overreacting, rather. My family is populated with amazing, giving people. But it’s also populated with worriers – as in ‘worry-myself-sick’ worriers – and people who make other people’s misfortunes their own personal tragedies. Plus, since the dawn of e-mail and Facebook the rumour mill is alive and well and surprisingly even more ill-informed than ever.

So my colon is clean – yet angry, and my foot is sore but healing.

I didn’t get to go to Blick after all, because I am TOO BROKE, but I did manage a copy of The Ice Palace by Tarjei Vesaas for one of my classes. It was really good and worth it. I was surprised and not surprised at the same time that my library didn’t carry it, and that in fact none of the libraries in this part of my STATE had it. So maybe when I am through with it I may donate it. Maybe.

I am a selfish bitch.

Philectomies and Hazardous Waste

Yesterday morning I had my surgery. A Philectomy.  It was… an experience.

The surgery itself went really well.  It took less time than they thought it would. Phil was surprised so he didn’t resist much when it was time for him to be escorted off the premises. I was home a few hours later.

But.

A few things went down that I was not so happy with.

It seems that everywhere I go these days I get paired with the new guy, or the intern, or the trainee. This day I got new surgical nurse Jarod, who was all right I suppose. It’s just, you don’t want the guy who supposedly knows what he’s doing also to be the guy you saw the automated security system reject over and over again until someone inside came out to bail him while you were waiting for someone to call you to your (possible) doom. You don’t want the guy who is taking your vitals and entering your information into the computer not knowing how, or not knowing where the equipment is or how any of it works.

Then there is the waiting and the awesome, esteem-building johnny they make you wear. And it’s freezing.

When the anesthesia team comes in, I was not really in the mood for anything else to go wrong. I should mention that at this point I hadn’t slept at all the night before, I hadn’t been permitted to eat or drink anything after midnight, and so I was completely off my game with exhaustion. I was so thirsty my lips were cracked and bleeding. The anesthesiologists’ assistant came in, and she was nice, told me what she was going to be doing: setting-up IV’s and then monitoring me while I was out, and later helping me wake up. Then the anesthesiologist blasts in, introduces himself, and then leaves. He appears frazzled in a demented mad-scientist sort of way. He has little circular band-aids all over his face where he apparently had shaving difficulties. As you can imagine my confidence was positively BOOMING right about then.

Up until this point I wasn’t so much nervous as tired. I just wanted to get on with it. But then the anesthesiologist’s assistant starts trying to start an I.V. She ruins the only good vein I have left, because she tried to use a too-large needle on my very dehydrated veins. I was so dehydrated that it took at least fifteen minutes for her to start the I.V. in a terribly painful spot on my wrist.

While all of this is going down, the co-surgeon comes by with the surgical nurse for the meet and greet. This is in the midst of the a.a. shredding all the veins in my arms. I was trying to be cool about it, but it was painful and I have had an irrational fear of I.V.’s since I was a child (and apparently that shit does not go away, even after years of blood infusions and transfusions, and hospital stays for Crohn’s problems and dehydration). So I’m trying to talk but am having difficulty making eye contact.

Then the crazed anesthesiologist bursts back into the crowd of now seven people surrounding my bed, just as his assistant gets the I.V. going and injects the first sedative, to tell me – and surgeon No.2 – that he just talked to my doctor and they’ve decided that instead of putting me under they are going to give me a local, a nerve block and put me in ‘twilight sleep’. Then he turns to me and says “all right?” No. Not alright. I try to ask if this means what I think it means – that I will basically be awake while they cut open my foot and separate egg-shaped Phil from the nerves (and vessels) that control movement and feeling in my toes. But now I can’t talk and faces are getting hard to differentiate, and they are doing something to my hair, and the walls start melting and people continue talking to me all at once as they pull the bed away.

And it’s even colder and they shift me onto the surgical table and put a screen across my chest so I can’t see the gore, all the while assuring me that I’ll be asleep and won’t really need it. And then it begins.

The nerve block is basically like an epidural but for my leg, not my spine. They give me more drugs that make me feel like I’m underwater; like the air pressure was just raised from fifteen cubic lbs to one hundred. They start prepping my foot and I can still feel EVERYTHING. The yellow gunk they pour over my foot, the taping, everything. My pulse must have jumped because the a.a. starts rubbing my head and telling me everything is okay. Then I guess they wait for the stuff to really kick in on the leg-numbing front, then begin.

So I am not sure what they thought was supposed to happen or why this would be a better idea than knocking me out. Maybe my insurance changed its’ mind about how it wanted this to go down, whatever. All I know is, I fucking felt everything. It didn’t hurt, but I can feel moving, tugging and cold. I was aware. I heard the surgeons saying “Damn” and muttering to each other. People kept telling me to close my eyes and asking each other why I was still awake. They kept adjusting the medication which just made the drowning feeling worse and made everyone’s words melt together.

What is it with sedatives making reality melt? Or better yet, why is reality so meltable?

At one point something went awesomely wrong with the nerve block and I felt EVERYTHING. And I gasped but it came out garbled and mangled. My blood pressure went crazy and made it all the harder to breathe. There was all this rushing around and this unbelievably awful sound in my ears, and then it was over. It probably lasted a minute or two but for me it was forever.

When it was over they wrapped me up and started bringing me down from all the druggins. The a.a. kept stroking my head and whispering that it would be okay and that I wouldn’t remember any of this later. Yep.

In post op they put me in an empty ward alone with a nurse. I was across from the room where they have refrigerators full of juice and stuff for the patients and staff. So I got to watch interns sneaking beverages which was pretty funny. I was seriously cold and couldn’t get warm. And it turned out not to be in my head, either – they were having trouble bringing my body temperature and pulse rate up. I don’t know what my temperature was, but my pulse monitor would go up to 53 and then drift back down to 39 and all the alarms would sound. That’s why they kept me separated with my own nurse.

Finally they let my family in and then the surgeon came in all happy and self-congratulatory. I still couldn’t properly talk or I’d have strung together more expletives than he’s probably ever heard. I’d say Belg*um so many times I’d be imprisoned for verbal assault. He declares that he’s changed his mind about the crutches, since I’m supposed to be off my feet for three weeks at least anyway. He gave me a big boot to walk in instead and reminded me to always keep it elevated.

They asked me if I was ready to go and I said yes. They asked me if I’d like to pee first and I said yes. They asked me if I’d like a wheel chair and I said not to go pee and they said fine. Then they left me in front of the bathroom and I was on my own. As in, they didn’t come back. I had to walk back to the car without crutches or assistance, drugged, with a numbed, recently dissected leg.

Assholes.

Then, for the piece-de-resistance: when we got home my pharmacy called to inform me that my health insurance rejected my prescribed pain killer and substituted something significantly less effective instead. So right now I am on waaay more than the prescribed dose of something which is having no effect on the pain in my foot (or my head at that matter), but is making it rather hard to read or watch television.  This is bad as I have to read two Melvilles by tomorrow night for one class, and Frankenstein by Tuesday for another. (I would have started the Shelley earlier, but I didn’t think it would be a good idea to read it before having surgery.)

I have good reason to believe the insurance company was also responsible for the sudden change in anesthesia and the lack of crutches. I’ll find out more and deal with that later.

I’ve been typing this thing for over three hours, mostly with my eyes closed, so I hope you can follow it.
I hate being on drugs. When it’s too much and I can’t function outside of my head it’s upsetting. When it’s too much and my head is fuzzy and/or my thought are garbled I panic. Right now I’m in the upsetting category. I can’t express myself properly verbally, but if I take my time I can type. It makes me frustrated and I sound like I am snapping at people when I’m not. It also makes it easy for people to misinterpret me, ignore me or do things I can’t stop. So my mind churns on, getting into a nice lather and I start thinking things I can’t properly express. It’s hazardous, and a waste of my energy, time and fabulous grey matter.

Right now am seething because as soon as we came home, my parents, happy with the surgeon’s post-surgical spiel set me up in bed and then jumped on the telephone. They called all the people they had already told, but called a bunch more who weren’t informed. And it was both of them on two phones. I couldn’t stop them. All I had asked was that they not tell anyone they didn’t have to until after the biopsy results. That’s it.
Calling people with ‘good news’ is too early: while I don’t think it’s at all cancerous, we don’t know for sure. I don’t think anyone should have to worry while they wait either. That’s why I’ve only told the people who NEEDED to know, who were close to me and would you know, catch on to the fact that I had been crippled for a month.  So now my grandparents know and they are pissed at me that we didn’t inform them. They have SO much bad shit going on over there right now, and if there was an Olympic prize for worrying, my grandmother would be the all time gold medal champion. They’d have to come up with a platinum medal to adequately give her her props. Worrying about my biopsy results is the LAST THING she needs.

Now am angry with my folks for doing this. It’s not just that it’s pre-emptive, and it’s not just that it’s gossipy. It’s because they never listen to me, and they always tell my business, especially my secrets. It’s disrespectful and hurtful, and when I point that out they disagree and continue to do so.
So it’s understandable that I don’t like to tell them anything. Especially since, as giant overgrown children, if you tell either of them that you are upset with them, or that they are doing something to upset you, they immediately become defensive and get angry at you. It’s ridiculous and nothing gets sorted and everyone walks away mad.

Such a healthy environment, don’t you think?

The hospital just called and told me to take all of this other stuff with the prescription painkillers, and now I am SLEEPY.

I’ll leave you this picture of my new guitar. For no reason.

Wilson in all her glory.

Wilson in all her glory.

My Brain Revolts and Phil Gets Evicted

Lately I’ve been extraordinarily busy. Things have gotten complicated, and stressful.

(But really, what’s new?)

This past spring, on top of my Stanford physics classes, I took some free classes from UPenn. Then I signed up for three classes over the summer – lit classes from Brown, and one from the University of London via Coursera called “The Camera Never Lies”.  I thought that was a reasonable amount of learnin’ to aspire to, until the fateful moment when everything started overlapping – at one point I had one physics class (which was delayed at start so it was late wrapping up), a Greek mythology course, two Brown lit courses and a design class all at once. Each lit class requires me to read a book a week, write a paper and possibly take an exam, the myth class had similar reading requirements plus exams and the occasional paper, the design course had prototypes that needed blueprinting and building (and documenting on the interwebs IE: building a website), and the physics class had, well, physics: math, math, math, exams, problem sets, and of course, math.  Plus hours of lectures and notes for each class.

As you can imagine, it was around this time that my brain tried to escape. It made a valiant effort, but I managed to get it to behave – mostly by promising that it was going to get better. And it was going to get better, and I knew from the get-go that overlapping may happen in some circumstances and would happen in others, so it wasn’t too much of a shock. It just was a bit more than I was expecting. (‘Twas better-in-theory I suppose.)

I took my brain to see the Star Trek movie (because Cumber—-ch was in it, and fukkin Sylar so it was inevitable), after which it agreed to stay in my head and not fracture into different people. Again.

The Phil Face gets you into the Nightosphere.

The Phil Face gets you into the Nightosphere.

While all of this was going on, something strange had been developing. Completely unbeknownst to me, and without any sort of permission or anything, a mystery mass began squatting in my foot. This is the random medical issue I mentioned here.  I have so much weird health bullshiz that I pretty much didn’t think anything of it. I just named it Phil and drew the Phil Face on it. But it started getting uncomfortable and so I had it expertly appraised.

Turns out Phil is a vascular mass, and he is painful because he is growing up through a junction of nerves and important vessels in my foot. Everyone who has looked at it – from my GP to my dermatologist – has said the same thing: that it’s in a really bad spot. You’d think a mass growing in the bottom of a foot would be worse, but nope, I found worse and it’s right… thar <points to Phil>.

Phil

They’re not sure what Phil is exactly, and he is going to be removed and then biopsied at 7:30 tomorrow morning in one of the top hospitals in the world. How that happened, I dunno, but it did. So in the middle of my school mayhem, all of this craziness is going down, tests and scans, trips into Boston. I went from waiting to ‘see what Phil would do’, to minor medical procedures, to okay we are going to remove it right… NOW. In a week I had a surgical appointment, a miracle GP approval appointment, phone interviews, pre-op interviews, and all my ducks in a row…

I haven’t really been nervous about this new development or anything. I think I’ve been awfully good about a lot of things that happen to me, and that are happening to me. But two incidents have made me anxious. The first was an unrelated dermatological appointment, in which my doctor – curious about Phil – checked him out. He went a tad grim and wrote a note to my podiatrist requesting biopsy results. The second thing that got me nervous was the pre-op appointment with said podiatrist. We talked about the pathology, and how important it was. He basically told me that it could go either way, and we have to be really careful because of my family history. This made me nervous because my family history is this:

In the mid 2000’s my cousin had a mass removed from his leg. They thought it was a cyst but found that it was melanoma. He beat it, or so they thought, for on his five year checkup they found it had returned, and spread to his bones. They spent the next year and a half trying everything they could but it was of no use and he died in 2011.

So right now, I have a mass in my foot that my doctors thought was a cyst. But it’s not. I’m going to have it removed and it may or may not be cancerous. If it is, I am not afraid so much of the cancer.( I think cancer should be more afraid of me.) However, there are factors in my life that are very unreliable, and I am finding myself aware of how alone I will be in this. That is not to say that I don’t have friends and family who will help me. It has to do with the family I live with and how they will deal with this sort of thing, should it come up. I feel as though in a lot of ways they won’t be reliable, and I don’t know if I can be sick and take care of them the way I do now. It’s complicated, and I don’t really want to get into it that much, but that is where I’m at in my head.

Also. Despite my request that this is kept under wraps until we know what is going on, my mother went and told some people anyway (one of her awesome little quirks). One of those people is my aunt, my cousin’s mother. So you can imagine how upset she is over this, and how upset I am that she had to find out like this. I don’t need her going through this again, you know? She shouldn’t have to worry. I don’t want people freaking out, and I don’t want people reacting until we know there is something to react to. Things tend to get blown way out of proportion in my family, and I just need all my ducks in a row before I have to deal with everybody else.

Surgery is tomorrow – or rather – Phil get’s officially evicted tomorrow. Bastard squatting was bad enough, but stealing utilities? Naw, bitch gotta go.

In lieu of flowers, send LPs and ukuleles. Ocarinas are also acceptable.

And on that note, I’m off.

Oh and by the way, after I wrote that last post I finished Theogony and aced an exam on it. Consider that bitch smote.