2017 A To Z Challenge – E

Challenge2017

I know that, according to my own, self-imposed schedule, I should have had a post composed and ready to publish today, about the letter

Letter E

Just about the time the daily A to Z Challenge bloggers were posting their offerings for the letter E, I contracted a case of 48-hour flu. By the time I got back to the computer, it was too late to acquire a list of possible theme words.  Between the virus-induced mental incapacitation and the lack of inspiration, nothing got written.

The situation was made worse by bureaucracy. One of the drive motors on the daughter’s power wheelchair seized, and Murphy worked overtime to ensure clerical catastrophe.  What should have been a (bad enough) two weeks inconvenience, has become more than three months of dragged-on denial of service, before the Provincial disability office finally decided that it’s too expensive to repair a 13-year-old chair.

New rules say that, since she doesn’t need it all the time, she can’t have a new one.  Now she has to break in a new case worker, and jump through all the hoops to find an acceptable handicap scooter, for which the Government will (eventually) pay monthly rent.  Winter cabin fever was bad enough.  Now, the nice summer weather is here, and she still can’t get outside and be independent.

Besides the afternoon-long, hour drive up the highway and back, for her anti-pain treatment, this means that I have taken her shopping several times, to the Farmers’ Market, twice to her dentist, once to the next city to pick up cheap, bulk, dog and cat food, and each week to a counselling forum which helps her deal with the physical and emotional problems of having her loving, supportive son 500 kilometers away.

Eighteen months after being told that the wait time would be 12 months, the wife was finally contacted by her orthopedic surgeon, (the same guy who installed my artificial shoulder ten years ago) and was told that her first knee replacement, the right, was a go.  This required two trips to the hospital to fluff their paperwork.  The first was a mere two hours, the second, an extended, four hour clerical comedy show.  At least it’s finally going ahead.  On June 27th, Hobble-Along Cassidy meets Dr. Stabby McStab-Stab in a dance to the death.

All of this means that, instead of having time to write my usual, knife-sharp, crystal-clear, diamond-hard posts which inform and entertain you, you are being afflicted with this whiny, apologetic, idiosyncratic, fogbank collection of Excuses, for my E contribution.

Thanx for your sympathy, and I hope to see you in a couple of weeks with something a little more solid, for the fabulous letter F.

A To Z Challenge D

Challenge2017

I have some alien DNA in me, though I think many of you have suspected that for some time.

For the letter

Letter D

I think I’ll write about DNA

DNA

I woke up the other day. (And congratulated myself for doing it.) I crawled out of bed, threw on a grubby tee-shirt and a pair of track pants, went downstairs and began the ‘feed and water the animals’ routine, including me.  I walked into the living room. I sat down in my big easy chair.  I picked up the day’s newspaper – and absently scratched my right leg.

WOW indeed!  Just from gently touching it, it was now intensely itchy – and a burning kind of sore.  A spot about the size of a silver dollar, 6 inches above my knee was hard, hot, red, swollen and inflamed.

When I complained, the wife told me to come over to her chair and pull my pants down. There were times in the past that that could have led to something interesting.  The only way I know that is because I have it written down.  I can’t remember.

This thing had an even redder spot in the center. What the Hell was it?  Necrotizing fasciitis – that ‘flesh-eating disease’?  Better not be.  I’m so chubby that it could die of indigestion.  A cat scratch?  There would have been more than one, and a scratch, not a single point.  An insect bite?  I seldom go outside, and when I do, I wear heavy jeans and boots.  A bedbug bite?  There’d be more than one, and the sheets are clean.

In my It’s In The Jeans post, I already showed how much alien human DNA I have in me.  I don’t need any non-human DNA.  I don’t want to be like that guy in the Alien movies, and have a mouthful of fangs erupt from my chest.

When I mentioned it to the wife’s podiatrist a couple of days later, he suggested it might be a boil. I still have a scar on my right forearm from a teenage boil.  This ain’t growing, and it’s no boil.  When the wife looked at it, her best guess was an ingrown hair, and she promptly proceeded to do exactly what we tell teenagers not to do with a zit.  She applied two thumbnails, and popped it.

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Like teenaged zits, she forced some of the poisons back into the surrounding flesh, making it look almost like a bruise. I spent the next week, slathering antiseptic cream on it, trying not to scratch like a kid with chicken pox, and hoping that my DNA was stronger than any old alien DNA.  I’m back to what passes for normal, but perhaps only because the alien broke his lease, and abandoned this condemned structure.   😉

Oops! Was I supposed to put a medical warning at the top??  Sorry about those photos.  Eye and brain bleach is available in the lobby at reasonable prices.

A To Z Challenge – X

april-challenge

I’m going to dip into the healing waters of medical treatment, and for the letter

Letter X

I’m going to talk about Xrays.

X-Ray

Once upon a time, Doctor Kildare, or Marcus Welby MD would hold your TV hand and solve your medical problems with a reassuring smile. More recently, Dr. House proved that a good doctor could achieve the most baffling diagnosis in a single episode.

THEN THERE’S REALITY

About a year ago, the wife developed a cough. Not a cold – a chronic, hacking cough.  After a week, she also got a sharp pain in the muscles of the bottom ribs, below her right armpit.  After another week or more, the cough was still with her, and the pain in the side got worse.  Neither of us was sleeping.

She called her doctor, and got an emergency appointment. He listened to her, (maybe) and told her to go for an X-ray.  The next day, Wednesday, I took her to the lab.  The doctor was to be faxed the results.  No call from the office on Friday, or Monday.  On Tuesday, she called the office, and the clerk told her that he had not found anything on the X-ray….and had gone on 2 weeks holidays.

The next day, the son dropped her off at the emergency ward at 8:00 AM. I didn’t get a call to pick her up, but went down after lunch to find her, and dug her out about 4:00 PM.

An eight hour stay, and, despite her telling them that the pain was in the muscles of the lower, right chest, they insisted on taking another X-ray, to check for a heart attack.  When that showed nothing, they wanted to do a CAT-scan, to check the lungs, but she’s allergic to the dyes that they’d use.

They decided, instead, to do a Gamma-ray scan.  This showed that, because of the pain, she wasn’t breathing deeply or strongly enough, and the bottom lobes of both lungs were developing fluid.  Not finding any cause for the sharp pain, they released her.

The next day, I took her to the ‘Medical Group’, for a clinic-style, first-doctor-available visit. We got a kindly, retired English doctor, recently moved to Canada, and willing to make a few bucks by filling in part-time for the likes of the one on vacation.

He actually listened to her, and quickly found the source of the pain by reaching over and palpating (touching) her, something that no doctor, nurse or technician had done. He wrote a ten-day prescription for a broad medication – something with a powerful painkiller, a muscle relaxant, and an anti-inflammatory.

He told her to take the pills, and wait another week and have yet another X-ray taken, and book an appointment to see him a couple of days later.  The pain quickly disappeared, and she (almost) stopped glowing in the dark.  When we went back to see him, he still couldn’t find anything in the results.  Of course not! It’s a soft tissue injury.

After three X-rays and a Gamma-ray scan within two weeks, it still took a British Marcus Welby-like fill-in doctor (doubly-named Dr. John Brodie-Brown), relying on his touch and intuition to solve the problem by treating the symptoms, rather than with shiny tech-toys.

A week later, I was reading the blog-post of a lady bicyclist. She wrote that she had developed the same symptoms as the wife.  A doctor diagnosed it as ‘costochondritis’, an inflammation of the nerves that control the breathing muscles.  It’s known, but not common, among people like bikers and runners, who gasp and pant for extended periods.

Even with the best of treatment, (Which very few of us ever get) it is still often up to us to diagnose our own problems, and insist that we get full and proper care.  😯

Empathy Thrust Upon Me

Medicine

Of all the things I hoped to be when I was young, a wrinkled bag of aches and pains wasn’t one of them.  Some while ago, BrainRants, a mere stripling in his mid-forties, published a post about all the pains and strange body noises he was accumulating.  Bloody amateur, just wait till he moves up to the pros.

Through a confluence of good genes, a relatively physical lifestyle, and a modified Mediterranean diet, I am far healthier than many men my age.

Several years ago, a doctor at a clinic remarked to the wife, “You have a lot of things wrong with you.  Nothing that will kill you, but a lot of minor problems.”  Between prescription meds and supplements, she downs 20 to 25 pills a day.  She has a general surgeon who has removed a couple of skin growths, a urologist, a rheumatologist, a podiatrist and an osteopath.  I drive her to a cancer clinic and an airway clinic for monitoring.

Until recently, I was exempt from all that.  I had sympathy for her, but didn’t really know what she went through.  All that has changed.  It started innocently enough, about 15 years ago.  She convinced me to take an antihistamine each morning, for allergies.  Then it was a Vitamin B tablet.  I don’t know what it does.  I don’t ask. I am a husband, Yes dear, Yes dear.

Vampire

Next was Vitamin D, I took a tablet a day.  Last year’s blood test revealed that I am low on Vitamin D.  It has to do with my vampire lifestyle schedule – up all night, sleep all day.  I don’t get enough sunlight.  (It burns!  It burns!)  The doctor insists that I take two.  I take a multivitamin tablet laced with something to keep my retinas from deteriorating.

This year’s physical revealed that I have ‘Old Man’s Disease’, my prostate is swollen.  It also showed that my thyroid is running a bit slow.  Perhaps that’s a small part of my weight gain.  I am now taking medication for both of those.  Only ten pills a day, 9 of them before breakfast, and a heavy-duty pain pill a couple of hours before dawn, to help me get to sleep.  I now take four ‘little blue pills’, and not one of them made by Pfizer – although the doctor did offer me Cialis.

I’m on a call-back list for a Neurologist, from my eye problem of a couple of years ago, but my Ophthalmologist visits are down to once a year.  My long-time Optometrist recently died suddenly, but I’ve found a nice young female replacement.

The duct of a fat gland in my back stopped up and it swelled a bit.  Nothing to worry about – until it infected and grew as big as half an orange, making it difficult to sit or lie down.  It burst before I got to see a surgeon, but now I’m on his call list, because another gland is swelling.

Because of the enlarged prostate, I have an appointment to see a Urologist.  I’d sooner suffer another colonoscopy.  You’re going to push what, up where?  I’m waiting for an appointment with a Dermatology surgeon because I have a couple of suspect skin growths.  I have yet to acquire a Rheumatologist, although the most recent spike of incipient arthritis had me barely hobbling for a week.

I have had empathy for the wife and daughter (and any of the rest of you who suffer these accretions of ‘minor’ problems) thrust upon me.

The most unfair thing about life is the way it
ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot
of your time.  What do you get at the end of it?
A death. What’s that, a bonus?

I think the life cycle is all backwards.
You should die first; get it out of the way.
Then you live in an old age home.

You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get
a gold watch when you go to work. You work forty
years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement!

You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you
get ready for high school! You go to grade school,
you become a kid, you play, you have no
responsibilities, you become a little baby, you
go back into the womb, you spend your last nine
months floating…you finish off as a gleam.

Here’s hoping that my list of pills and specialists doesn’t grow to match the wife’s, but even if it does, it beats the alternative.  (Did I mention that my ass gets sore from sitting at the computer too much?)

Minutia IV

During the recent Provincial election, I saw two high school students vandalizing an election sign at the side of the road. I know they were high school students because they were wearing the red plaid kilts of the nearby Catholic school.  That’s right ladies and germs, two teenage, female, Catholic students, kicking the shit out of a sign of some candidate who they, and presumably their parents, disapprove of.

Defacing election signs is a federal offence! That’s how Charley Manson got his start.  He obtained a blank Department of Interior check, and made it out to himself for $5, and did time in a federal prison.  Once released, he broke into a Post Office and stole the “leave a penny” tray, netting 98 cents, and did time in a federal prison.

Released again, he convinced a young female to “work” for him, transported her across a State line to provide her services, ran right into the Mann Act, and did more time in a federal prison.  So, if you’d like your Good Christian daughter to be Charley’s girlfriend in prison, send her to a Catholic School and urge her to freely express her political opinions.

We used to hang a bird feeder on the fence near the back of the property. The birds we attracted would eat seeds like sunflower, but would throw on the ground, all the millet.  As a result, I have about 200 square feet of lawn that’s millet plants.  It’s soft, it’s green, it covers, but it’s not grass!

The wife planted a couple of chive plants in a small bed just beyond. Over the years, the chive has seeded itself further and further into this bed of millet. I mowed the lawn the other day, and when I reached this area, it smelled like I had a gasoline-powered salad shooter.

I have found two new ways to irritate telemarketers. They’re easy to identify.  The phone rings, I pick it up and say Hello, nothing happens for a second or two, then suddenly the line opens on their end and you can hear30 or 40 voices babbling in the background, and somebody starts to say, Hello, Hello??, usually in a Paki accent.

Previously, when this happens, I just say nothing and make a game of how many desperate Hellos I get before they finally hang up.  Recently, two cats climbed into my recliner and poured a bucket of soporific on me, and we all had an hour’s nap.  I awoke, partly because I had to pee, but more urgently, because the plate of nachos I had for lunch, c/w refried beans, was starting to rock and roll in my digestive tract.

Just as I decided I could extend the nap another half hour, the phone rang, and I got to hear “Kevin” (Gupta) babble. Too tired to even reach to hang the phone up, I just laid it face down on my stomach, and let him talk to my borborygmus – Hello? (rumble, rumble) Hello? (gurgle, gurgle).  After a while he went away, and I pushed Off.  Now I worry that my stomach may have ordered something from him in Paki, and I’ll receive a lifetime supply of curried chicken and basmati rice.

More recently, I was in the kitchen, trying to accomplish two simultaneous chores and arguing with a cat who wanted to drink from the filtered faucet, Meow, Meow, Meow. In the midst of all this, suddenly the phone rang, and I was treated to “Kevin’s” brother “David” (Sanjit).  As soon as Mr. Hello came on the line, I laid the phone, face-up on the table in front of the thirsty cat and let him explain, Hello….Meow, Meow, Hello??….Meow, Meow!  Let Paki “David” figure out how the cat answered the phone.

There is a shortage of doctors in Ontario. Most doctors are turning away potential patients.  Recently, I heard the female brains behind the Money Mill,  advertising on the radio.  Here, slightly paraphrased, is what I heard.

“Hello, I’m Doctor Packrat. I operate a cosmetic clinic in Cambridge.  Other clinics have estheticians and technicians.  If you’d like to safely increase your beauty, please come to our clinic.  We have only doctors and nurses.  None of them is actually trained in cosmetology.

We have Internists with queasy stomachs, Pediatricians unable to treat children any longer because of convictions and restraining orders, and Ob/Gyns who were too lazy to get out of bed to deliver babies. You are guaranteed to lose weight because all of them have been extensively trained in surgically extracting every last dollar from your wallet.”

We recently attended the Free Thinkers meeting at the new venue. While the food, choices, price and access are all good, I am not thrilled with the room.  It’s all flat, hard, walls and windows.  The reverberations quickly raise the noise level to intolerable.  I took along the son, daughter, grandson and fiancée.

Since I can talk to any of them, any time I want, when I entered, I quickly sat on the far side of the table next to a new female. It turned out that the reason she had attended was that she was angling for the Liberal nomination in the next Provincial election, and was out shaking babies and kissing hands, as well as taking the measure of various local groups.

Perhaps because it was me sitting beside her, but she was surprised and impressed at the depth and breadth of knowledge of politics, history, psychology, sociology and religion. This was not a group that she could bullshit to.

She wants to work to oust the Federal Conservatives, “Because they’ve had their time.” without offering any other reason or alternative. Like the Religionists, it’s because, “We’re entitled – and they’re not.”

LXX

Black Forest Cake

 

 

 

 

I hope you’ve got a big block of cheese, ‘cause I’ve got a huge jug of whine.

I’m finally officially old!  I know I’ve been gently hinting about it for a couple of years, but I just passed into my eighth decade. (Don’t say passed to an old person!)  I couldn’t even bear to put 70 (shudder!) up as a title, I had to use Roman Numerals.  Last year was worse, 69 looks so untidy, and has that sexual connotation.  69, rendered in Roman Numerals, probably spells out some despicable word.  LXX isn’t much better.  It looks like the title of an Alzheimer’s Porno flick.

He was as old and hard as the candy I keep on the table.
When she walked into the room, his heart stopped.
He had an ass like Cal Coolidge.
Blow into my hearing aid, she cooed.
Rick’s pants weren’t pleated anymore.
Teeth in, or out?
She caressed the balls of his walker legs.
It was a position called “The Reverse Rocking Chair.”
We watched Wheel of Fortune, and he gave me an ‘O’.
Finally she whispered, “That’s what I call an early bird special!”

Last year, I got accolades from acolytes. I got a party, and partiers, and a poem.  I got followers, fun and frivolity.  I got drunks on my lawn, and kilts, and bagpipes.  This year all I got, was older and grumpier, and I’m already overqualified.

That’s not exactly true. I also got more aches and pains, and less stamina and attention span.  I got the names of several new doctors, and the chance to experience some new medical procedures – oh thrill, oh joy!

Time waits for no man. He’s dragging me, kicking and screaming – well, shuffling and mewling – into the future.  I guess, as long as I can see the green side of the sod, all is well.  I keep checking the obits in the newspaper.  I haven’t seen my picture – yet.  I just came home by bus, from the terminal.  (Don’t say terminal to an old person!)

If any of you want to stop over to mow my lawn, or drop off some birthday cake – I’d happily settle for a cupcake, even without a candle – try not to arrive between 6PM and 7. That’s the time I take my nap, so that I have enough energy to compose another post for tomorrow.

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For this birthday, I’ll have another reason to be grumpier than usual. I’ll be living in “interesting” Chinese times.  I will be getting my asshole reamed.  My G.I. guy (gastro-enterologist) has decided that I don’t need to learn to deep-throat.  I don’t have to have an endoscopy.  I don’t know why my G.P. couldn’t figure that out, but on Monday, the day after my birthday, I have to go to hospital for a colonoscopy.

We had the daughter and grandson over for a celebratory meal on Saturday. As soon as they left, I stopped eating solid food.  Sunday is nothing but clear liquids – chicken broth, ginger ale and apple juice – oh, yum.  L  Through Sunday, and Monday morning, I have to down four liters/quarts of Drano cleansing liquid, to flush the old pipes out, generally being no more than six feet from a toilet.

If they find anything interesting, perhaps I could post pictures – whenever I can sit at the computer again.  We might even solve the Jimmy Hoffa disappearance.  “You know, that chair felt lumpy when I sat down.”

Since, hopefully, I’ll be feeling no pain, the wife gets to be chauffeur. After they’ve rectum at the hospital, she gets to drag my ass (literally) home.

My next couple of posts may be a bit (more) grouchy, but I’m sure that, after I’ve Alice Cooper-ed the head off a batty Jehovah’s Witness or Paki telemarketer selling duct cleaning, I’ll be safe to approach without the tranquilizer dart gun. Wish me luck.  Here I go, ass first (as usual).

Stoned

 

I should have mentioned earlier, that I’ve become a new Grandpa, well….adoptive.  Earlier this spring, another of my pet rocks had a baby.

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This is Momma Stone.  We took her in when we found her, pregnant and abandoned.  You can probably tell, from her patient demeanor, how she’s been able to put up with me for years.  She just sits quietly at the corner of the garage, enjoying the warmth of the sun when she can, and reporting to me, the amount of rain and snow we’ve had.

One of her daughters, a nice little egg, has been hanging around out on the back deck with a few other teenage stones.  I convinced them, when they’re not busy tweeting and texting, to hold down a plastic cover on a small table.

This spring, when I wanted to put the cover out again, I gently picked her up, and found that Jack Frost had sneaked into the back yard and slipped a little moisture into her.  She gave birth to an even smaller stone, right in my hand.  Mother and child are doing well.

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Inclusions like this happen millions of years ago, when erosion breaks off chunks of the original granite of the Earth.  They roll into stream or oceans, and are tumbled around and abraded till they are smooth and rounded, and finally are covered with fine sand, lots and lots of sand, and then, piles of water.  Over millennia, the pressure of the water compacts and solidifies the sand into sandstone, and these little Easter eggs are often concealed forever.  It was only luck that gave us these two.

****

Speaking of becoming the parent of a small stone….On a recent Friday, I had agreed to take the daughter, LadyRyl, and her friend, and three of the friend’s cats, to a veterinary, fifteen miles away, in the next city.  While daughter and I waited, her cell phone burbled.  Since grandson only works till noon on Fridays, I suspected it was him checking in.  She shook her head and handed the phone to me.

The wife told me not to be any longer than necessary returning home.  The son, Shimoniac, works midnight shifts.  He had gone to bed at 11:00 AM, but had wakened about 1:30 with pain and nausea.  After throwing up food he ate three days ago, and then nothing but brownish bile, it settled into a sharp, grinding pain in the lower right quadrant.

Getting the two gals and three cats back into the car, and home, was like….herding cats.  Finally accomplished, I got back home to find son in the recliner, with an ice pack on his abdomen.  It can’t be his gall bladder; they took that out 20 years ago.  The wife had her appendix rupture when she was a child, and was worried about that possibility.

Get some outdoor clothing on, grab your Ontario Health Card – and off to Emergency we went.  Like every other place, hospitals have gone electronic, and do-it-yourself.  You touch a screen to print your admission form.  You get to sit with a triage nurse, but you swipe your health card to prove that the Government will pay, and to enter basic information.

There was a large flat-screen monitor on one wall, displaying the Emergency Department page from the hospital’s website.  It gave driving and parking directions, paying special attention to the road work that shuts down several local streets, right outside the hospital.  It also showed that they were currently treating 23 patients, with 18 waiting, and an estimated wait time of 3.5 hours.  It’s 4:00 PM.

Pleasantly, surprisingly, they called him at 6:00 o’clock – only a two hour wait, but the hard part is still ahead.  Not knowing if or when I might get supper, I got a hot chocolate and a toasted bagel at the in-house Tim Horton’s.  I read parts of an abandoned newspaper, and filled in the crossword puzzle.  At 7 PM, just as I was going to ask about him, they informed me that I could go in and see him.

He had had his blood pressure taken, had blood drawn for testing and, despite being dehydrated from the vomiting, had managed to provide a urine sample.  They were going to do an ultrasound, but decided that a CAT-scan would provide better information.  They were going to inject him with an organic dye for contrast, but, for what they suspected, didn’t need it, and decided against it.  They were also going to inject a pain-killer – but the CAT-scan was free right now, so off he went.

I went for another walk to combat stiffness, and he got back around 9 PM.  He got his pain shot, and we waited.  Usually stoic like me, he doesn’t often complain about pain.  When the admitting nurse asked him what it was like, on a scale from 1 to 10, he told her that it was a solid ten!  The pain shot soon had it down to a throbbing three.

The son had been treated by a Doogie Howser MD-young Canadian doctor, named Robert Beaver.  He was accompanied by his resident minion, an even younger oriental Doogie Chen, who does all the scut work.  They returned just before 10:00 PM, and told him that he was the proud parent of a 5 MM kidney stone, which was about half-way down the tube to the bladder.  5 MM is the size of lead in a mechanical pencil.  It’s amazing how something so small can cause so much pain and internal upset.

In and out in just six hours, it wasn’t the best day either of us ever had, but, all things considered, not bad.  He should pass the stone on his own, if he drinks lots of liquids.  He was be contacted by a urologist about a week later.  If the problem has gone away, he won’t need an appointment.  If not, we start talking about lithotripsy, to break up this tiny stone with guided sound waves.

Until either of those occurs, he gets to exist with the help of the same high-octane pain pills that I recently received.  Ain’t life fun??!  😕

P.S.  Two Mondays after, the hospital just called to confirm a Tuesday morning ultrasound appointment that the doctor’s office *forgot* to tell him he had.  Wish him luck today.  😯