The fun never ends


Well, I was right. My last blog took me hours upon hours upon hours to write. My attention span is about four minutes, on a good day, it seems. I thought for sure by now I’d be losing my tenuous grip on my sanity, bored out of my skull and raring to do stuff. Those of you who followed my CaringBridge site throughout my chemo/radiation will remember all of the big plans I had for those months off of work.

Yeah. Right.

This trip is much the same. Plans, plan, plans… nothing too major. Reorganize all of my photos. Learn to play the guitar. Alphabetize and cross-categorize all of my CDs and different size screws in the garage. Discover the solution for the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture math problem and collect the $1,000,000 prize from the Clay Mathematics Institute. Routine stuff.

Instead, my days have been spent on important stuff, like taking 15 minutes trying to lift myself out of bed. Showers take about an hour. Letting the dog out and back in… oh, hell, where’s the dog?? Hang on, I’ll be right back.

I finally got stir-crazy last week, and a visiting friend/nurse from Nashville got me a wheelchair and took me to this new Christmas store a friend has been raving about. (Hi, Erin.) It was great fun to get out, except for the parts where I got into the car, rode the three miles over there, and got wheeled around for 14 minutes in a cheap wheelchair built to maximize every bump, such as grains of sand. In addition, this store is jam-packed with all kinds of stuff, making it resemble less of a store than an obstacle course. After one really tight turn and an inch less of clearance than we needed, I heard a loud noise and suddenly found myself covered in small embroidered canvas bags, little hand-painted plastic mugs on which Santa appeared to be Chinese, and dented tins of caramel corn marked “2009.”

Worst of all, my coupon was expired, so I didn’t get to save $1.47 after all. Damn.

But hey, I got out of the house for a bit.

I also thought I might be able to make a dent on my holiday shopping via the web. Note to self: Don’t do that anymore while taking drugs with long names, because things sound better than they really are. And I’m just saying, it’s possible that those drugs make it easier to hit the wrong key on your computer. I’m thinking that’s why the UPS guy has over the past week delivered a live giraffe, a small fluted ashtray made of recycled belly rings, a box of 17 window screens that fit none of our windows, and a blue evening gown made for someone who’s 6-foot-1 and weighs 18 pounds.

I am super, incredibly, crazy bummed out that I missed the Ray LaMontagne concert last week. We had great seats, but despite laying around all day and taking extra meds, I just couldn’t get into real clothes and the car to get there. It was also the day that the big wreck shut down I-30, so there’s a good chance we’d have gotten stuck in that traffic jam with me screaming in pain and missed the concert anyway. That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway. I went to bed that night with his new album playing on my iPod, which is practically the same as being right there in front of him, right? Um, hmm.

My 26 staples are gone. My doc removed them a bit early last week to see if it would help this crazy nerve pain. It hasn’t, really, but it was better than watching any more daytime TV.

They promised it wouldn’t hurt to take them out, and they even showed me the little specialized staple-remover thingie that looked like of like an ancient medieval torture device but costs 347 times more. I thought a pair of needle-nosed pliers would’ve worked just fine, but no, they had to have this special thingie to jack up our health care costs.

It was kind of fun to see their freaked-out looks when I screamed every time they got the little metal thing anywhere near the staples, though. I like to see doctors sweat. Makes ’em seem more human. We had a lovely routine going: she would go for the staple, I’d moan, she’d pull it out, I’d scream, her hand would get shakier and I would then ask D how many more. Apparently this whole event has made me unable to subtract one from 26, then two from 26, then three from 26… I guess I’d better not count on that million bucks from the Clay people after all.

D, of course, was unable to answer, either, despite dealing every day with advanced probability statistics like “.00099365 in 7 billion” and DNA science and loci and other weird science-y stuff. This wasn’t because of an inability to do simple math, but because of her well-meaning but ill-advised “squeeze my hand so it won’t hurt as bad” offer.

I think she wants to take that back now, although that nice purple color on her fingers does match several of her work suits.

The real problem with getting out and about, though, is the fact that I still can’t stand anything touching my incision and those whacked-out nerves along it. I am convinced that this is due in large part to the MRI they forced me into while in the ICU. MRIs, you see, are just big magnets that superheat any metal — including metal in your body, like staples and such. (At Vandy I once saw ink from a jailhouse tattoo pulled right out of someone’s skin in an MRI. It sounds like a cool episode of “House,” was although not so much for that guy.) They said they’d cut off the MRI above my staples and even gave me a “kill switch” button to push if the pain got too bad. But they also gave me a huge dose of Ativan and morphine before the scan, so I couldn’t have pushed the button even if the whole bottom half of my body had burned in half and fallen right off the table. Plus, there was that whole “you could die without this” thing, which kind of encouraged me to not push the button.

Anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter now why it happened. Just that I can’t wear pants. No matter how much my lovely bosses want me back, I think the whole pants thing might be a problem, since I work at a kids’ hospital and I imagine it’s policy that all employees must wear pants. When I’ve gone back to the doctor, I’ve had to wear scrubs, which I can leave tied very loosely, therefore limiting my bloodcurdling screams. At home, I just wear PJs very low on my hips, making me look just like a rap star, except for the part about me being a white, middle-aged woman who creaks around like an arthritic 97-year-old who’s spent a lifetime in the Siberian coal mines.

It will matter more to me down the road if I still can’t stand up for more than 45 minutes at a time, which is so far my limit, despite tomorrow being my three-week anniversary of my alien-baby-removal. I’m just going to keep looking on the half-full side of the glass.

If anything will drive me out of the house and back to work, it’s daytime TV, for sure. What is this garbage? So far I’ve found 86 judge shows, where dentally challenged people facing legal issues agree to let a celebrity wanna-be scream and berate them in exchange for getting their lawsuits resolved. There’s a Jewish judge, a black judge, a female Hispanic judge, a small cantaloupe-sized alien baby judge. (Wait, I might be confusing that one with something else.) All of them are snarky, mean and have absolutely nothing in common with the dignified judicial people I know. Eww.

So I gave up on those shows, figuring HGTV home renovation porn was a safer bet. Love home renovation shows. Unfortunately, I found myself in the middle of a Vanilla Ice house-flipping marathon. Couldn’t look away; it was like a train wreck, happening in slow motion due to my pain meds. First Vanilla drove his kid around in his convertible with no seat belt, an egregious error to someone who works in a kids’ hospital. Then I watched as his crew put in a jillion dollars’ worth of landscaping, BEFORE thinking about having to put in pipes for the sprinkler system. Oops. Are people really buying houses this guy’s working on? Holy crap.

Luckily, I’ve been saved by the wonders of DVDs. My friend Ann from Nashville brought all six seasons of The Golden Girls, which I haven’t seen in years. I’ve only seen a handful so far, but they’ve resulted in inadvertent giggles that popped open four staples. The first season of Modern Family helped open up another five.

The rest of the staple-ripping has occurred from a continuing flow of small pieces of artwork delivered from my coworkers at Children’s. Oh. My. God. It says right there on my discharge paperwork: “Do not read really funny jokes, drawings or small pieces of artwork from funny people.” So what do they do? Inundate me with that very stuff. Man, my doctor’s gonna be mad at them when I staunch the bleeding and make it back to her office to be restitched up.

I have decided, after being on narcotics for several weeks now, that I have a crush on that Robert Pattinson guy. (Hi, Peggy.) And I really like complex, intricate jokes, like “Why was the boy covered in gift wrap? … Because his mother told him to live in the present.” And “what kind of birds always stick together? … Vel crows.” Loving them. And loving the Meals on Wheels, too. If not for these wonderful little gifts, I’d weigh only 7 pounds now and would have to be weighted down with rocks in my pockets on these windy days.

D left on Sunday for a work trip, leaving me alone for the first time since O-day. It went well, I think. I managed to get a lot done, like brushing my teeth and watching another Vanilla Ice show. I even tottered to the front door for my food delivery, which is good because since I’ve usually been in bed in the late afternoon, my work people were getting suspicious that I had really died in the OR and D was covering it up so she could keep raking in the gourmet food.

I’m keeping an eye on my work email, though all I’ve really been able to do is forward certain things. I’m still a bit afraid to actually try to make any important work decisions, although I’m planning to make one or two this week. I hope they don’t take as long as this blog. I figure the more I write, the faster my brain will get back to “normal.” (Notice the quote marks.)

Thanks for all of the good wishes, cards, flowers, food and FB posts!

About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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3 Responses to The fun never ends

  1. aron says:

    There is plenty funny here, but what cracks me up is that Erin Clarke and I are debating whether the Grinch (who will be performing a book reading after the tree lighting) is naked. At the beginning of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” he’s not wearing anything, then he adds a Santa jacket to go B&E all of the Who houses, but he’s still not wearing any pants.

    If you have to wear pants, shouldn’t the Grinch? Just asking.

  2. Peggy Phillips says:

    OK, I guess Crystal and I will have to share Rob with you now! But that’s all right. We don’t mind.

    Also wanted to tell you I agree about staying off the internet after my brother’s post-surgery experience. He went online a day after being release from the hospital (still on pain meds) and paid his Macy’s bill. It was $35.61. He paid them $3,561.00. They kindly gave him a credit balance of $3,525.39. It took us two weeks and hours of conversations with people from India to Ohio to get his refund back.

    In the meantime, my sister and I were trying to get him to take us Christmas shopping. He didn’t go for it. Must have been off the hydrocodone by then.

  3. Crystal says:

    Wait a tick, when did I agree to share Rob with any of you. I’m forgetting that conversation.

    Laurie, when are we getting “smashed?” (I mean at SmashBurger of course for fried pickles and big, greasy burgers. I’ll break my diet for you!) :0)

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