Category Archives: In All Seriousness
…..you’re minding your own business, when your dog decides to rip your arm off?
Does that just happen to me?
Well, she was unsuccessful in the aforementioned rippage, but only by a thread – no really, the surgeon said I’ve got a thread of tendon left. I imagine it there, hanging on by its little tendon-nails and screaming at me every time I move my right arm that it’s doing its best, that I am not making this easier and that..
…”I’m giving it all she’s got, Captain!”…
It might be the pain medication talking, though. I can never be sure.
So, um, yeah, I’m going to have to have THREE tendons in my rotator cuff repaired. Apparently, there are four tendons so one of the little guys escaped injury and is now trying to do the work of ALL THE TENDONS at once. This results in moments of blinding, excruciating pain. Followed by hours of agony. And the whole thing starts over again.
But, it only happens when I move, sneeze, breathe, you know the stuff we rarely do.
The surgeon said words like “mess” and “extensive” when describing the damage. I’ve torn those three tendons, the bicep tendon, and then there’s something wonky with my collarbone. He’s going to flay my shoulder, poke around a bit, attach things where they should be attached, clean out the debris that doesn’t need to be there, stitch me up and send me on my merry way.
He also said the anesthesiologist will insert a nerve-block catheter thingy (it’s a technical medical term, I’m very learned in these things now) to keep my shoulder/arm numb and pain-free for FIVE days post-op.
When he told me that part I nearly kissed him. However, since we’d just met I thought it’d be best if I waited until after he’d filleted me and fixed all that damage before moving to the next level of our burgeoning relationship. I’m telling you, though, there’s going to come a time when I kiss that boy for relieving me of all this pain.
Between now and then, though, there’s months of rehab/therapy, many days/nights of pain, gallons of tears, a mind-numbing amount of medical bills that (thank God) my insurance will mostly take care of, lots of whining on my part, and I hope to come out the other side with the world’s first arm worthy of a major-league rookie pitcher (of advanced years). You think I’m joking, but seriously kids I am setting the bar that high for me.
I have to. It’s the way I am, I have to push myself to do more, to do better, to go a little farther each time. It helps me focus on the task at hand, and the small victories are oh so sweet that way.
It was only four times yesterday I thought to myself that I needed to call and check on Mom.
That’s down from five times last Monday.
It’s been a month. Holy shit.
I can’t bring myself to even open the big pouch from the funeral home. It has all the acknowledgement cards, the guest book, and all that shit I need to send thank yous to the people who came or sent flowers, or baked pound cake (which I may, or may not, have eaten every last morsel of).
For now, it sits on the floor of my room…my she-cave…the one room in my house filled with just me stuff. It’s judging me for being so damned intimidated by a friggin’ leather pouch, and probably fake leather at that, isn’t it?
This will get easier, right?
When a larger-than-life character departs from this world it leaves a big hole. A ginormous, gaping wound of a hole if that person is someone you love-despised.
That someone, for me, was my mother.
She died on April 25th, 2016.
I just typed that my mother died and I still can’t wrap my head around it. Granted, she was not young nor in the best of health, but her death was very sudden (heart) and unexpected. I mean, six hours before she left us I was talking to her and her last words to me were “I love you, baby”. She was in the hospital, having been admitted that morning with chest pains, and we were still awaiting test results. The EKG was normal and all they’d found so far was she was dehydrated. Then they found her on the floor, unresponsive, and with no clear code status in place (no idea why, but that got missed on the admission questions to my nurse-sister) they resuscitated her for AN HOUR. By then, the mom we knew was gone. It just took another 24 hours for her body to catch up.
She was exasperating, exhausting, funny, mean, smart, vulnerable, beautiful and flawed.
And I loved her awful…and sometimes did a terrible job of that, but she knew and I knew in the way only mothers and daughters can know. It’s that tie that binds, for good or bad.
R.I.P. Mom, and give ’em Hell up there. Lord knows you are capable.
Well? Is it?
Is it YOUR fault?
And, in many ways he’s right.
What say you?
There are a few blogs I read all the time. They range from the silly to the stupid, the ridiculous to the sweet.
And then there’s Dr. Grumpy.
He claims to be either a neurologist or a Yak herder. Some days, I can’t tell which is true.
Other days, he rants about hilarious patients, formidable hospital administrations, stupid insurance companies, and his teenage children.
Mostly, he seems slightly out of touch with the Average Joe.
Which leads me to believe he really is a Yak herder, and lives in Nepal. Or a neurologist with little comprehension of what people not making six-figure incomes have to deal with when it comes to health care.
Honestly, I can’t tell.
In general, though, I like him. Not that it matters to the doc, but there it is.
The comments on his blog are often enlightening, too.
Other doctors, PAs, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals chime in and it’s those people I take issue with the most.
I have lamented, ad nauseum, about the “invisible diseases”, the pain-centered illnesses like fibromyalgia, CFS, arachnoiditis, and CRPS and the treatment sufferers get at the hands of callous health care people.
I get that one can become jaded at the constant barrage of people looking for the pharmacological quick fix. I. Get. That.
What I don’t get is how a doctor, or any other healthcare professional, can look me in the eye and dare to tell me I’m not sick, I’m not hurting, I’m making it all up.
Don’t get me wrong, Dr. Grumpy never goes there. But his followers, the ones who comment, they do. Often.
I always try to point out their ignorance, and am sometimes met with hostility. Sometimes with disdain, and sometimes with arrogance.
I’m rarely treated with compassion.
And that’s what’s wrong. We, the people suffering from the silent illnesses, we deserve the same compassion as the cancer patient, the anxiety patient, hell the “every” patient.
I’ve given up trying to get that compassion from the cold, hard, world-at-large. I’m very lucky my pain doctor is understanding, and that my pharmacist is someone I’ve known for over 20 years. I rarely, if ever, have to deal with the sideways glances and raised eyebrows at my monthly ‘scripts that keep me upright, productive, mobile and happy.
I’m one of the lucky ones, and that too, is so wrong.
Just yesterday, a single sentence from a Facebook friend led me to ponder something I take for granted.
I am a chronic pain patient, most doctors’ worst nightmare, and I am tired of being treated like a second-class citizen.
Among the litany of ailments, which I won’t list here, I have fibromyalgia.
I can see the virtual eye rolls from those who think that fibro is a “garbage can” diagnosis meant to shut up the patient who presents with debilitating pain, exhaustion, and memory issues. And, it was just that. Until some dedicated scientists and doctors began to really study the disease.
All of this has little to do with this post, but I use the first few paragraphs to set the stage for the real reason I’m writing.
It’s the shame, the guilt, the overwhelming feelings of inadequacy that so many chronic pain patients experience.
We feel it every time we have to explain to a doctor that yes, we hurt, and yes, we understand your lab work doesn’t give any indication why.
We feel it every time we encounter a pharmacist, skeptical as to why we need yet another month’s supply of an opioid medication.
We feel it every time a family member or friend – always well-meaning, of course – tells us about the latest breakthrough in treating chronic pain with home remedies like beet enemas and anecdotal evidence that it worked for someone’s brother’s wife’s mother.
Or worse, when friends and family tell us we just need to get up and do more…everything. Walk, exercise, go vegan, deny gluten, and drink lots of water. I mean, if we did all that we’d be fine, right?
We look normal.
We (usually) act normal.
We desperately want to be normal.
We don’t want to wake up every morning more tired than when we went to bed.
We don’t want to hurt from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes.
We don’t want to feel like we’re slogging through molasses that gets thicker as the day wears on.
And so many of us don’t want to have to rely on a pill to get us through the next day, the next few hours, until we can take another to dampen the pain to the point of making it possible to function for a while.
Mental health gets a bright spotlight, and almost everyone is understanding and caring. Take a pill to elevate your mood, or keep you from going all stabbity? That’s considered a good thing.
Chronic pain patients don’t always get that same TLC.
And we need it.
….there’s never, ever, not ever, not for one minute…a dull moment in my life……..
Christmas went well. It was a hunnert degrees outside, and Santa looked like he would melt inside his suit when he visited the gaggle of screaming grandchildren gathered to meet him on Christmas Eve.
Months of preparation and the entire gift-opening extravaganza was over in 12.4 minutes.
The adults at my house engage in a White Elephant gift exchange. The concept, for those who don’t know, is to gather gawd-awful items you already have, wrap them prettily, and then every person gets a number and we pick packages based on if we’re first, second, and so on. After the first pick, the next person can either ‘steal’ a person’s gift or get a new one from the stack. And so it goes.
The idea is to give someone you love a hideous/disgusting gift. It’s a Christmas Spirit thing.
Of course, there’s always that one relative who doesn’t get it. That person invariably brings a truly magnificent gift. This year, it was a giant bag filled with gorgeous household knick-knacks, wall hangers, and so on. It was the FIRST gift picked, so you just knew the receiver wasn’t going to hang onto it.
Except the receiver, my youngest son, literally guarded his loot and threatened anyone who came near. He looked like a dog guarding the food bowl as he’d place his body between the would-be thief and the bag…growling and giving the thief the stink-eye.
The kid’s got game when it comes to intimidating looks.
I thought we were going to have a brawl a time or two as shouts of “cheater!” and “That’s not how this game is played!” fell on son’s deaf ears.
For my part, I’ve got so many knick-knacks and crapola around already I’m thinking of changing my name to Pier One Kirkland’s (got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?), so I didn’t want a giant bag with more dust collectors.
In the end, son got to keep his big bag and I got a coloring book and crayons..perfect..no, really, perfect for when the grandkids come over.
I think we need to explain the White Elephant rules one. more. time.
Christmas Day is usually quiet and laid back at our house. I won’t get out of my jammies all day, unless we have company for dinner – which we did this year. It was still quiet, as all the grandkids were occupied with their new stuff.
The very next day I came down with the latest version of norovirus. This was the day we were supposed to start taking everything down because the day after that we were going to visit my mother some 700 miles away. Instead, I spent a day and a half praying to the porcelain gods and wishing I could sleep until it all passed. I mean, really…you get the pukes and a raging fever with body aches all at once. Seriously? ONE is bad enough, why oh why do we have to get both? Then, I spent the next four days (three of which were at my mother’s house) with a come-and-go fever, cold sweats, and zero appetite. Good times.
But, it doesn’t end there…as we were preparing to leave on our long road trip (a day and a half behind schedule) – and let me tell you just how excited I was for that, having been so sick so recently – when my sister’s frantic calls and texts began. Her husband was admitted to ICU with sepsis. How he went from a healthy, cutthroat, corporate attorney to death’s door can be attributed to the medical profession. He had a biopsy, it got infected, then it really pissed his body off and he wound up in the hospital for a solid week. He’s home now, with a PICC line for antibiotics. Out of the woods, be definitely still on the mend.
And that was just last week…hell, part of last week. The rest, though, was anti-climactic after all that led up to it.
I even rang in 2016 asleep, on the couch at mom’s, for the first time since I was a child.
It was a hint for this year. Keep it quiet, dude. I need my rest.
Previously on awesomesauciness….
My devoted reader was subjected to my whining over my mother’s verbal abuse. Yay for mother-fecking-hood, amiright?
That’s where our story resumes…
The next day Mom called and after trying to claim she didn’t remember even talking to me the night before, and me calling shenanigans on her, she apologized.
So, we’re good there. For now.
My stepfather is now home from the hospital and on hospice care for dementia and congestive heart failure. I tried to warn my mother that it would be near-impossible for her (no spring chicken herself) to attend to his physical needs at home and much as I detest nursing homes, well sometimes that’s what you have to do.
Less than 24 hours after he got home, Mom called 9-1-1 again. This time it was because Dad had gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and proceeded to wander about the house before curling up on the floor in the fetal position refusing to move. Mom got the paramedics to get him up and into bed.
One day home, one night with little sleep for Mom.
Guess who she called the next evening? Me. To tell me how “hard this is”, and how “tiring it all is” even though she refuses to allow nurses or attendants at the house in the evening.
Guess why. No, just guess.
Okay, you’ll never guess because you don’t know her.
But I do.
She starts hittin’ the bottle about 4:00 p.m., and no nurse, aide, or attendant will stand for that kind of behavior.
I just don’t have anything to offer her at this point. He’s dying, but in the meantime he’s living and he needs way more care than she can provide.
And, my give-a-damn, while not busted, is seriously bent.
No, no it wasn’t.
You know how sometimes you accidentally pause while channel-surfing on one of those “reality” shoes, based in the Deep South, where everyone is mad at everyone and the women get into shouting/shoving matches and they’re so angry you can’t make out the words even though you’re pretty sure “bitch” is used a lot?
Take that, and imagine it in your ear.
And imagine the person in your ear is your mother.
Further imagine this is a one-sided argument, and you spend most of your time trying to figure out what she’s talking about.
Add in the fact that your stepfather is currently in a locked psych unit, the real reason for your mother’s tirade is her fears and frustrations at what might happen to her husband of nearly fifty years.
And then remember that the screaming in your ear is still going on and you’re a fully-fecking-grown woman and dammit you will NOT be treated this way.
Then imagine the tirade abruptly ends before you get a chance to tell your mother that as she slams the phone down in your ear.
I didn’t get much sleep last night.
I admire this brave woman, but more so I admire her brave family and friends.
Tell you something else, after watching friends and family die horrid, lingering deaths I believe a move to Oregon (unless Texas allows it) might just be in my future should I face the same fate.
I do know one thing, even if I got a case of the scaredy-cats after finding out I had some terminal illness, I will not subject myself or my family to endless rounds of therapies with little chance of success. Just keep me as pain-free as possible and let me go.
And, you’d be surprised how many in the medical profession say the same. Some go so far as to say they’d refuse all medical interventions for terminal illnesses should one strike them. These people are faced with patients and families, long past the point of no return, dealing with painful, emotional, endless goodbyes and they say, no way..not me…
I agree. How about you?