Turning the corner?

My recovery fun continues. I’m still having this ridiculous nerve pain, and I’m pretty tired of it. Hard to believe it’s been more than four weeks since my surgery. I called my doctor last week, and they referred me to a neurology pain specialist. Of course, it being a holiday week, I couldn’t get in to see them until mid-December.

Is it just me, or do you find it a bit odd that a patient in unrelenting pain can’t get in to see anyone a little sooner? They keep telling me to go to the ER, but they can’t get me into a regular clinic. Yep, I think our health care system’s a bit discombobulated.

My doc hasn’t ever seen this nerve pain, so she just kind of looks at me oddly and has no idea what to do. (Which isn’t that different from how she usually looks at me, to be honest.) At my last appointment, I was left in an exam room that had one of those little sheets of paper on the wall that showed the new 10-point pain scale. You know, the one with a little smiley happy face and “No Pain” written down by the zero, and “Some Pain” and a not-so-smiley face at the 4, and a scrunchy face and “Lots of Pain” up around the 8.

I figured, since I had some time to kill, that it could use an edit. Once an editor, always an editor.

So between the time the nurse got my vitals and my doctor arrived, I had found a Sharpie and drawn a few more faces on the chart. It wasn’t really big enough, so I just kind of drew it on the wall, which luckily was just a nice cream color and didn’t have some crazy wallpaper that would have hidden my talented sketches.

By the time the doctor came in, I’d gotten quite a bit done. I’d added numbers 11, 12 and 13, with a new face at that last one. I have to admit, it looked kind of like Edvard Munch had drawn it, with eyes wide open and the mouth contorted in a scream. That one I labeled “So Much Pain I Want to Kill Someone.”

Then I added a few more levels — 14, 15 and 16. I got another face up on 17, too. This one was madly contorted, with the eyes screwed shut and a scream of pure agony pouring out of its little cartoon mouth. It was straight out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting, and I called it “Kill Me, Kill Me Now.” (OK, my sketches might have been a bit derivative… I’m a writer, not an artist.)

My list topped out at 20, where the little face just had Xs for eyes and a twisted mouth frozen in rigor mortis. Sometimes simplicity is best.

I offered to let UTSW use my additions for free, but they didn’t seem too interested. Although I do think they appreciated the offer, because as I left, I could swear I heard one of the nurses say something about not ever making me wait to see the doctor again. That was really sweet.

My plan is to try to push through this so I can get back to work by the end of the week. David Archuleta, the adorable Idol guy from a couple of seasons ago, is visiting the hospital this week, and our big holiday parade rolls on Saturday. It’s my first year with the parade, and we get a lot of media for it, so I really want to be there. It’s a big deal, with lots of floats and clowns and balloons and performances. And about 350,000 people watch it live, plus another kajillion or more see it on TV. I’m pretty stoked about being part of it, and my coworkers have been working so hard on this for months and months.

Unfortunately,  my doc has to sign a sheet of paper to let me go back to work, and she doesn’t seem to think I’m ready, for some crazy reason. So I’m going to have to be amazingly persuasive. Maybe I’ll make her some brownies, or praise her latest research paper, or casually mention that I’m a PI who can completely eradicate all evidence of her existence from all governmental databases. It will help if I can actually walk upright into her office this week, instead of dragging myself along the floor and crying.

Speaking of walking upright, I finally got rid of my wheelchair yesterday. I figured it wasn’t helping me get any stronger, although it sure did help clear out a path in crowds. But I do find it helpful to have something to lean on as I walk. I figured out the perfect solution — one of my trekking poles I got for my hike through the Himalayas and up to Everest’s base camp. They’re fiberglass, adjustable and have rubber tips that don’t slide on tile. Perfect, I thought. Plus, they make me feel really fast, because they’re bright red. “Zoom!” I think, as I totter off at a mind-blowing speed of  7 feet per hour. Plus, it helps keep strangers who have no sense of personal space away from me and my sensitive front side.

That is, until the usually sweet and mild-mannered D started giggling at me and my red zoom-y stick. It came to a head tonight, when I actually put on real clothes for the first time in a month so we could leave the house and go to an actual restaurant for dinner.

Me: “Wow, lookit me go! This stick is really helping me.”

D: “What? Your ski pole? Don’t you think people will wonder why you have a ski pole at the restaurant?”

Me: “What? It’s not a ski pole! It’s a trekking pole, and it’s helping me walk!”

D: “Looks like a ski pole. Everyone thinks it’s a ski pole.”

Me: “What?? It’s not a ski pole! No one thinks it’s a ski pole!!”

D: “Yes, they do. But if it helps you scoot around, that’s great.”

Me: “‘Scoot’? ‘SCOOT’? I’m not ‘scooting’! Ooooh, I’m gonna… Oooooh.”

D: “I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”

She’s taken such good care of me in the past month, of course, that I told her she wasn’t. But I am investigating a couple of new uses for my lovely red trekking pole. Whack! “Oops! Sorry, D! So sorry!” I was really pretty convincing, I think.

After all that, we did make it to the restaurant, though, which was quite an accomplishment. I even put on blue jeans, and buttoned them! Yay, me. It was the first time in a month I hadn’t worn my comfy Mr. Potato Head PJs or scrub pants. I even wore my new red birthday cowboy boots, which I hadn’t worn before my surgery just in case I got bad news. I figured if I was going to die, D could return them. I always save our receipts.

Now, of course, I plan to wear them often. Maybe even to the parade, being red and all.

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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4 Responses to Turning the corner?

  1. the south in my mouth says:

    Sorry your recovery is taking longer than you’d like. After my surgery I was all about the scrub pants. The first time I put on jeans I thought I was going to die. It’ll all get better. But patience being a virtue gets lost when you just feel lousy all the time. I’d decorate the hiking stick/ski pole for the holidays. Best to you, Catherine

  2. bartoo4 says:

    You make me paint real funny pictures in my brain. Except for the pain part. I’m making a scrunchy face for you. Feel better!

  3. Phil and Lois says:

    Hey Super Girl. What are you going to do for an encore? you seem to always outdo the last. There is a NAPA parts store in Carrolton, in case you need spare parts. I’m a good friend of the owner and can get you a discount. The parts are new…not refurbished…heheheh… We wish you a speedy recovery and say hi to D!

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