Saturday, February 26, 2011

I had no idea I was so important

So, Becky has the pain in the butt assignment from her sociology class. She has to read 15 of 23 articles in one of her texts. For each, she has to answer three questions. The issue at hand is that Becky doesn't find the reading nearly as enthralling as a good fantasy or horror novel. In order to process the information she's reading and answer those pesky, she often discusses each article with me.

My thought on the matter: it sure would be helpful if I could read some of this stuff so I knew what she was talking about, other than getting her translation of the readings. Thus, I copied down her list and started running a Google search for them. That's when I read, The Uses of Poverty: The Poor Pay All. That's also when my supposed value, (and the value of all poor schmucks across America), to society increased a hundredfold.

I mean, where would the employees of the local welfare office be without having someone like me to process paperwork? Or the clinic doctor who steamrolls through patient rooms, barely hearing my complaint and scribbling out a prescription before moving on the the next patient in the assembly line? A philanthropist can't be very philanthropic without having yours truly as a worthy cause to throw money at cheap housing and clothing, right?

And for those who work, there are the wonderful jobs that those with a decent income wouldn't dare look at. The poor work the fields, scrub the toilets, and fry them fries. Do you honestly think anyone with an upper-class status will ever say something as dire as, "I hope that application I put in to Pizza Hut goes through"?

There was a point where my old friend, Mush, (whom I haven't spoken to since Stu was sick), had parted ways with the practice in which he was to become a partner. During that time, sheerly out of boredom, he grabbed an application for a Starbucks. Mind you, he didn't get it because he was sincerely looking for work; he did it for the laugh. "Rob, in the section for education...There wasn't enough space. There was no room for my biology major, my med school, and my MD PhD."

Overall, this little essay points out things I already knew. I just didn't know that I knew them. That is, I never applied my occasionally cynical mind to the usefulness of poverty and the impoverished. When I was firmly part of the middle class while growing up, I was essentially taught to look down on the poor, as they were the lowest of the low. They didn't even qualify as pariah. And the article was right, in that those living outside of poverty have some...unusual ideas about the lives of the poor. I don't think finances has anything to do with one's drug use or sexual deviations...you simply hear about it less from those who are well-off.

Oddly, while reading this particular piece, my mind drifted toward Star Trek, or the world that Gene Roddenberry created. His version of Earth was one of advanced society, where people wanted for nothing. Mankind had become unified in its direction and purpose, and poverty was simply something one read about in history books. I have to wonder if we will every take these constructions of our minds, such as social classes, and have the power to eliminate them so that all can receive their needs without having to struggle for them.

But until that day comes, I guess I'll be over here, the source of employment for social workers and clinic doctors. I'll be the guy buying discount bread that's a lot closer to its expiration date, as it would be a shame for food to go to waste like that. And I'll remain an excellent source for some philanthropist, who'd like to give me a leg up by publishing a book or two for me, )while also managing to scam me out of any royalties).

Then again, maybe I won't sit here and take it like that. Maybe I'll...I dunno...Find a beautiful woman, marry her, and get my butt in gear to do some real writing, and publish my work on my own. (And I'll scam myself out of my royalties without someone's help, thank you very much!)

DFTBA!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mystery solved

This recovery from surgery has been too smooth. Sure, the incisions became infected, but that's par for this particular course. Beyond that, there doesn't seem to be much pain, and my mobility is almost back completely. The surgery was all of 12 days ago, and I've been able to walk without aid or a significant limp for the last few days. (If I do limp, it's because of pain in my right foot.) So I had to wonder, what on Earth did the doctor do in my knee, if anything at all?

(Oh, sure...Just stepped away from my computer, and to make me a liar, my knee cried out in a bit of pain.)

Anyway, today was my followup appointment, in which sutures were removed and questions were asked about my recovery. This was all done by the nurse. As luck would have it, however, the doctor was at the front desk, working on a few files. So I flat out asked him, "Did you actually DO anything in there?"

As a matter of fact, he did. Some of the cartilage was torn, and I believe he said a tendon or two had apparently been roughed up. He went in and cleaned up the mess. Either he's VERY good at his job, or it wasn't nearly as messy as I thought. Ego demands that he take credit for it, which he did.

That, of course, kicked open the door for me to make my bad jokes. "Y'know, if a stranger knocked me out and cut me up, I'd file assault charges. Instead, I pay you to do the same thing." (Insert doc chuckling.) "It's kind of depressing that I've needed surgery four times since last May, and all of them by you. At this point, I own 25% of your life. Your house, your car, your kids' educations..."

I was getting into the flow of my little monologue, when the doc interrupted me right at that point. He said, and this is an exact quote, "I'll let you know if I need anything else."

That was it. He'd won. The very concept that I should run out and injure myself so he might buy a new flat screen TV was too funny for me. I was done and on my way.

So...without stitches to pull, I've been moving around a lot, and I'm discovering my knee remains a bit tender. Like when I received the nerve block on my foot, I think I shouldn't overdo it right now. My plans of continuing to pack this week...will have to wait until next week. Better to take it easy and heal properly than stress the knee and make it bad all over again.

And that's it for now, folks. DFTBA!*

*DFTBA is something I recently picked up online. It's a phrase used by nerd-fighters all over the world, and I'm in the process of adopting it. It stands for "don't forget to be awesome." And none of us should. =)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Because one is never enough

Problems, that is. One problem just isn't enough for me. No, I have to suffer through multiple issues at the same time. It's as though one comes along, and arrives with a few friends. They "party" on my existence, and then leave simultaneously. And the results...? My body gets trashed along the way.

I had the surgery. No big deal. I'm healing up so well from it, generally speaking, that I'm practically able to walk. But the incisions became infected, and so I ended up on antibiotics. I was given these meds when I saw the doctor the other day. (Technically a nurse practitioner, but you all know what I mean.) I was also given antibiotics for the mystery pain in my head.

And this pain...? This pain is BAD! So bad, in fact, that when it starts reaching its peak, I debate going to the ER despite the fact that I'm supposedly taking meds for it. It's so bad that my regular pain meds, and those prescribed for post-op, aren't enough to give me proper relief. And the very best part of it is that I have no idea what it is.

Okay, that's not 100% true. I have some ideas. But at the doc's office, it was decided that it wasn't a tooth. My teeth are bad, but there doesn't appear to be an immediate issue. My gums also don't appear to be infected, which is usually the source of pain SIMILAR to this. I say "similar" because it's never been this bad before. I also feel a specific spot inside my head where the pain might be originating, but the nerves in the face tend to be so hypersensitive and interconnected that it could be an ear infection making my sinuses feel like they're the problem. That's my guess, by the way. I'm feeling some pressure in my sinuses, so I'm thinking I might have sinusitis. Which would be really weird for me to have without a runny nose.

But...I hurt. I hurt a lot. Ask me from hour to hour, and I'll be sure the pain is coming from a new spot every time. It's coming from beneath my jaw...then my sinuses...then a tooth...then my ear...and then my gums...On and on I go, and they can't ALL be infected. Can they?

What's more, I dare not try to look up my symptoms online. Why? Because then it will be cancer. It'll always be cancer, regardless of the symptoms. Got a pain? It's cancer. A cough? Probably cancer. Racing heart. Yep, I'm afraid it's cancer. Not long ago, a Playgrounder asked about a pain he had in his heel. Since it was an open forum where there are no known doctors, I gave him sound advice, (go to an actual doctor), and then my UNprofessional diagnosis of cancer. It was heel cancer, of course. Then I went on to say his wavy hair was hair cancer. His wide smile...? Smile cancer. The shorts he tends to wear in every picture...? Shorts cancer.

It's always cancer, I tell ya!

Well, I spoke with Becky about this mystery pain this evening, and told her that if the pain remains bad by tomorrow, when I've been on the antibiotics for a couple of days, then I will head for the ER. Attempting to go on as I have is going to kill me, and no cancer will be involved. It's just that the pain is so bad that I've started taking my post-op painkillers, which I don't need for my knee, for this facial/head pain. I'm taking them as prescribed, but I'm sorely tempted, no pun intended, to just keep taking pills until the pain goes away. If I continue to do that, I'll end up shutting down my respiratory system, and that'll be the end of my happily ever after with my beloved Becky.

But once - just once! - I'd like to have ONE problem, and ONLY ONE, instead of two or more.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The more you know...

...the more you tend not to like someone...or something...or whatever.

Remember Nick, the nice guy I mentioned some posts back? Well, his relationship attempted to bloom again after it was supposedly over...and then it was officially over. His semi-psychotic ex made claims that she would calm down over his desire to occasionally hang out with friends, and he decided to test that. He didn't even have to wait a day. She was off to the races, losing her mind over the fact that all of his time isn't dedicated to her.

So he left her for good, and has been camping out in our living room since. It's been more than a week, and I'm slowly starting to get a different side to the drama. Y'see, during the fist break-up, Nick stated that he did, indeed, have "some" growing up to do. One would think it was somewhat akin to my housemates, who are perfectly happy to do nothing "adult," save pay the bills while ensuring their fed and clothed. They like their toys, just like other supposed grownups. That is, they like REAL toys! (If ever a Nerf war breaks out, Ray is armed to the teeth.) I'm just as guilty; Becky bought me LEGO for Christmas, and I was overjoyed.

But today I reached a breaking point with Nick. Part of it is the fact that the right side of my face hurts a great deal. I have no idea what's going on in there; I'd blame a tooth, except that it feels as though it's a different tooth every hour. I think my gums are infected.

So I head into the bathroom to brush my teeth...again...and look down on the floor. The other day, a single article of Nick's clothing was lying on the floor. By today, it had become a pile. Now I understand that he doesn't have his own official space here in the trailer yet. That'll happen when I'm gone. But the bathroom floor isn't a laundry hamper. What's more, I should even have to SAY that. Oh, the guys have occasionally left an article or two behind when they shower, but it eventually gets picked up. This was a PILE!

So what REALLY happened between Nick and his ex? Was it really 95% her and 5% him? Was it the other way around? Or was it a nice 50/50 split? From what I'm starting to see, I'm inclined to believe that last one.

I also find myself growing somewhat closer to Cody. I actually enjoy his dark, misanthropic humor. And he's a huge child when it comes to electronics. He'll be assembling a computer for Becky as soon as the parts arrive. To him, these are the toys he loves to play with, and he'll be a much happier camper tossing together a "Frankenputer."

As for Ray...Well, I get the sense that Ray will be relieved when I go. I'm "a responsibility," and that's not something Ray wants to handle. Some of his bad habits are getting worse, and it's starting to cause tension here.

Strictly involving me, and no one else, I'll give an example. As I mentioned, I just had surgery. (I'm actually getting along quite nicely, with the exception that the incisions are quite tender; they might be mildly infected.) Sunday night rolled around, and Cody comes into my room to let me know that everyone will be leaving the house for five to six hours. Now ehen it comes to notifications, Cody usually tells me things at the last minute, and by then I tend to know about things. But this time, it was very much like, "Surprise! We're leaving you alone for many hours, gimp! Good luck to you!" Where Ray would have told me hours before, I was finding out mere minutes before the fact. If it was a situation where Ray had received a call at the last minute, and was THEN telling me I'd be alone...Well, that's a different story. This was a planned event that was shared with me mere moments before Nick, Cody, and Ray were out the door. And telling me has usually been Ray's job.

I could go on about some of the other things I'm noticing, but what I've said is enough. Nick has more that "a little growing up to do." Ray seemingly doesn't want to be bothered. And I have a greater connection with Cody than every before. Go figure.

And keep in mind that much of this rant is being fueled by pain. If my head/face continues to hurt like this, I'm going to have to pay a visit to the ER. I'm trying to hold out until my doctor's visit tomorrow, but...G-d! It hurts SO MUCH!!!

I'm going to try and rest now. Becky will be available to chat with soon, and I should let her know that a possible hospital visit is looming. Be well, all. Or, at the very least, better than I.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Three little words

Well, I had the surgery yesterday. No one seems to know what the doc did while he was in my leg. When I came to, I asked the nurse, who promptly checked my chart, only to find the note, "Left knee arthroscope." Heck, I could have put that note in there, as I knew that was what was going to happen the day the doc said he'd operate.

There's really not much to report, other than the staff starting to recognize me at the hospital. I wouldn't be shocked if they just started reserving a room for me, with hand-picked staff to handle my goofiness.

And I was goofy. I was a bundle of nerves prior to the surgery, and made numerous bad jokes in an effort to deal with the stress. My BP was 137 over 83, I believe, which is high for me. Also, a semi=pleasant surprise, my blood sugar was 60 even. Not high at all, which was good, but just low enough for them to want to get more glucose into my IV, just to play it safe.

Today, I have two issues. I'm sore, and the muscles up and down my left leg feel incredibly tight. It's as though the muscles want to be doing anything other than relaxing. I've put a call in to the doctor's office to find out if there's anything that can be prescribed to get my leg to rest. And the soreness...? It feels like it's directly under my kneecap, bringing to me the belief that the doc may have shaved down some arthritis here. For all I know, it wasn't a tear of anything causing my kneecap to roll, but the very shape of the arthritic growth.

None of this has anything to do with the title of this post. No, the title refers to the two-minute call I had with Becky when I arrived at the hospital. She said I could call her that early, (7:30 AM her time). And then my lady-love just wakes, there's a tone to her voice that is much softer than the rest of the day. When she said, "I love you," it was simply so tender that it immediately warmed my heart. And I needed that so badly yesterday morning. It made facing the surgery a bit easier. Because my last leg surgery had me rushing to the emergency room the same night, I needed the boost that only love can provide. Well, my sweet, beautiful Becky provided, which and it helped a great deal.

So, as if writing one of my love letters right here on my blog wasn't enough, I love you too, Rebecca (whatever you last name is). I love you tremendously. You give me strength when I think it's fading. You heal my soul when I think life is too rough. And I plan on spending the rest of my life showing you how much you mean to me.

That's it for today, gang. I need to get my tuchas back to bed. Be well.

EDIT: It's a few hours since I posted this, and I was awaken by a call from the doctor's office. First of all, nothing can be prescribed for my muscle issues. Not medication, that is. The doc wants me to head for physical therapy, which is easier said than done. It's not easy to arrange rides of late, as Ray's car is dead, and everyone else works. The other thing I was told is that my vitamin D level is extremely, extremely, extremely low. A prescription was being called in for that, and I am to take the dose for the next six months. For reasons unknown, I'm imagining a pill the size of a cow that I'll be told I have to swallow whole.

And none of this changes the fact that I still love Becky for being my personal miracle. =)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

That was...

...interesting. And somewhat annoying, too. You see, I had me a busy day, yesterday. And by the end of it, I not only wanted to collapse, but actually did.

The morning began with tests that should have been ordered weeks ago, but someone wasn't on the ball at the surgeon's office. I needed to get an EKG, an x-ray and had to be phlebotomized again. (Okay, that last isn't a real word, but it sure sounds real.) Mind you, every time I'm required to get an EKG and a chest x-ray, I get nervous. I'm always afraid they're going to find something that will be a byproduct of being a diabetic 36 years. And the blood draw...? Well, that was for something new. The surgeon's office is looking to see if I have a vitamin D deficiency. When I was told this, I commented, "Oh...you think I should be drinking more milk" The nurse immediately told me that I couldn't drink enough milk in a day if I'm as low as they think I am.

Great. I'll be able to add rickets to my list of illnesses.

Okay, it may not be actual rickets. But the doctor's office suspects something because of all the arthritic pain I've been experiencing. If it happens that my vitamin D levels are low, they'll get me on a prescription level dose of the stuff, which will hopefully help.

Okay...I get home from the hospital and tests, and had all of an hour and a half to rest up before having to head out to my pain specialist. This time, I didn't get that pesky shot in my foot. Why? Because the last shot still seems to be working! (If not for my knee issues, I'd be walking a bit better.) I received a refill for my meds, which have been helping with the new pains of late, and I'm due to follow up the day after Becky is due to arrive next month. That will be my final visit with him, and I'll be receiving a copy of my medical records from him at that time.

Okay...I went and got my refills, head home, log on to City of Heroes in preparation for the regular Monday night raids, and give Dad a buzz. Once the raids are done, I blogged about my chat with Dad...

...and I was instantly done. The day had been much more than a physical strain, but mostly an emotional one. Between worrisome tests and then chatting with Dad, my brain had had enough. If I didn't lie down, I would fall down.

I think it interesting that I'm actually aware of that particular situation. I mean, there are people who find themselves suddenly tired and feel the need to get rest, but few understand why they have that sudden need. I apparently know exactly what it is: mental stress is demanding my brain shut down so I don't have to deal with certain realities.

Not that my dreams are much better. I often have nightmares in which there are people whom I don't like from my past, and sometimes a great deal of violence, which I also don't like.

So I fell asleep...only to have Becky give me a call to tell me she'd be home late. I tried to tell her earlier I might end up sleeping later, but she either forgot, or didn't think I'd actually make it to bed. Well, I did. And the next time I awoke, it was much to late to call her back. (Although I should have gotten revenge! Wake her at 3:30 AM (her time) for having woke me at the unreasonable hour of 8:00 PM (my time)! So there! =P ) I ate, and went back to sleep.

I didn't wake again until after 8:00 AM. All told, taking out for the few times I was awake, I slept 12 hours. And the truly amazing part about that is that I slept without the help of Xanax. I usually need the meds to help me get decent rest. Not this time. I got me twelve hours of unmedicated rest. It's like a Christmas miracle without the Christmas!

Anywho, I need to get going. I have one day left to try and get some packing done, and then I won't be able to do much for at least a week. Fourth surgery since last May. I'm hoping it's the last for a while.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Dad is a Timex...

...he takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'.

I spoke to my father for a bit this evening. There are aspects of him that make me want to yell at him. Then again, he's been through quite the ordeal, so he's off the hook...for now.

There's no way to confirm this, but I personally think this little trip to the hospital started when Dad took a fall. He was supposed to go to a wound care center. He has sores on his legs that are very painful and don't heal well. While he's not a diabetic, his legs act as though he is. Well, Dad went out to his car to clear off the snow and ice so he could be on his way, when he took a spill. He couldn't regain his feet, so he laid there for about ten minutes. As he told me this story, I asked about his cell phone. His response...? "Oh, I had that on me. I was going to wait a while longer before dialing 911. Luckily, someone found me and got help."

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Days later, I find out he and Mom have colds. Gee, perhaps a nearly 80-year-old man lying in the wet snow for a while was the cause? Nah.

Early the next morning is when I got the call about him being in the hospital. Mom didn't have much to report, so I've had no details...until now. Dad says that the fluid in his lungs was a combination of pneumonia and congestive heart failure. He ended up in the ICU for this adventure, and was downgraded today. He's not in a regular room, but something in between. He hopes to be in a regular room in the next few days, and might even be home by the time I have my knee surgery on Wednesday. But I think that's just wishful thinking on his part.

I also think Dad dodged a bullet. I told him that he gave us quite a scare, to which he said he was scared too. There isn't much that scares my father. Many years ago, when I was working for him, we were at the family business when he started experiencing chest pains. I suggested he get himself to a hospital or dial 911, to which he replied casually, "Nah. I have a few things I want to finish up. I'll stop at a hospital on the way home." You know...like stopping at McDonald's for a burger, Dad would just stop in at the hospital to have a quick chat, then go home to watch TV. It wasn't quite so simple, as he ended up in the hospital for almost a month while they got his heart worked on. Years later, he had a triple bypass with a mitral valve replacement.

He doesn't scare easy, but this one got to him. And I don't think discussing it in greater detail would have been much of a comfort. Thankfully, he wasn't as stubborn as he was years ago with the chest pain, or I'd probably be trying to get to NY for a funeral.

The good news in all of this is that the heart failure doesn't seem to be a chronic condition. I'm not going to have to sit around waiting for the next time, thinking that it could be around the corner at any moment. Sure, that could still happen as a random event, but the odds are reduced.

The one thing that kind of bothers me most right now is that I've been unable to give him grandchildren. He'll have them one day, but I fear he's nearing the end of his existential stay. I'm sure I'd get no argument from Becky if I were to suggest we get started on the whole family thing right away, but we're trying to stick to a plan of not having kids until she's done with school.

Why is it that when things look so good in my life, there's always just a few details that are...off?

I think I'm going to spend some time cuddling with my wife before my fiancee gets home from work. Be well, all.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Why now, Dad?

Why did you choose now to become sick? I'm trying to pack before I have surgery next week, and I'm moving to PA in early March.So I'm just a bit busy, and you choose NOW to have difficulty breathing?

*sigh* I'm trying to take it in stride. I might even sound flippant about it. But my Dad was rushed to the hospital Wednesday night because he was having difficulty breathing. According to mom, he has a lot of fluid in his lungs. That was the report I received at around 7:00 AM yesterday. Moments ago, mom (my step-mother) called again to let me know that "they" are hoping to remove the intubation tube from my father's throat; that there's a lot of fluid in Dad's lungs, and it has to be removed slowly so as not to cause issues with other bodily systems.

But all of this information is by way of a nurse to my mom to me. If you've every played the game of Telephone, you know that the message can change, and unless you talk to the original source, you don't know what was said the first time around. I would ask for information so I could call the hospital...but I have the sense that mom would rather I didn't. Besides, bothering the nurse when I'd rather she be taking care of my father isn't exactly smart.

The reality is that I'm pretty scared. Dad will officially be 80 next month. To my uneducated ear, it sounds like Dad has pneumonia. To mom, it sounds like congestive heart failure. Neither is good, as both can lead to death. And it's making me a little crazy as to what I should do at this moment.

My first instinct is to run to NY. I want to spend time with my Dad, and allow him to see how much I care; that I came running when he needed family the most. (G-d knows Barry isn't going to go see him.) Alas, there would be nowhere for me to stay once I reached NY. It would take the generosity of a millionaire to afford a motel, as when I went to see Stu when he was sick a few years ago.

But even if I had the financial capacity to run to Dad, I have doctor appointments. I see the pain specialist on Monday. I have surgery on Wednesday on my left knee. I'm paying a visit to my PCP on the 16th, as I haven't been to that office since May of last year. On top of that, Becky will should be here on 6 March, the day after my father's birthday, to move me to PA. She'll get a couple of day's rest. They, bright and early, we'll pack the vehicle with what little I own and spend the next two days on the road. Then, and only then, will I have any kind of real time to myself to run to the aid of loved ones in medical distress.

Of course, if my father were to pass on, I'd drop everything. That's the reality of it. I would even cancel the surgery, as my painful knee is not a life-threatening situation. I'd also cancel various doctor appointments, rescheduling if I can. And if not, then I'll simply have to wait until I'm in PA to address my medical needs. (Nothing that would kill me will be ignored. I can live with pain, but will adress things like my diabetes first. A dead Rob visits no one.)

And now, I need to go and start getting ready for my pre-surgical visit at the surgeon's office. This is where they sit me down and tell me what to expect...as if I didn't already know, as this guy has operated on me three times since last May.

I hope those who are still reading are having a better time of things than I am. I suppose that's the long version of: BE WELL!

EDIT: The intubation tube was removed and Dad called mom to let her know he was doing okay. That was a relief for all of us.