La La How The Life Goes On

Archive for September 2010

As many of you know I have had ongoing back problems as a result of being on prednisone for so long. Prednisone is the Wonder Drug in that it does what it’s supposed to do in spades. It is also the drug from hell because it makes you fat, bloated, sleepless and osteoporotic. Yep, it leaches calcium from your bones double time, causing them to crumble. Which is precisely what happened to my spine: six compression fractures. Of course I went for months (including a trip to China) not knowing about the fractures and assuming that I’d just really pulled some muscles or something. When my Primary Care doctor (who I’m ditching, but that’s another story) finally referred me to a physiatrist, I got an MRI that showed a fracture. But then she said it would heal on its own and prescribed more physical therapy. Not until my transplant doctor’s Nurse Practitioner took a look at my MRI did anything of note happen. She took one look and said, “Yeah, you have one fracture but you have a few other areas that look like they’re going to go at any minute. And, btw, while you’re on prednisone, this will not heal on its own.” Next MRI, I had 6 fractures. Which led to yesterday’s kyphoplasty.

Kyphoplasty involves them inserting long needles on each side of the collapsed vertebrae, inserting a balloon to reinflate it, then pumping in some polymer cement to rebuild the collapsed area. I was SO not looking forward to having that done, but at the same time I was desperate for some relief from the pain and the general limitations I’d had to put on my life (ie, couldn’t bend over to empty the dryer, couldn’t sleep lying down, couldn’t wear anything but sneakers, couldn’t really lift Baby Sister, couldn’t lift grocery bags). I seriously was living like a frail 80 year old rather than a 38 year old mother of two.

So yesterday was the big day, and it was a prescription drugfest. I was given fentanyl so I could actually withstand lying on my stomach for the 3 hour procedure. Then I got the “conscious sedation” anesthesia (the kind where you are able to hear and experience everything; you just don’t care because you are sleepy and happy). Hoo boy. They do not fool around with that. At first I was sure I was going to feel everything because I felt very awake and very not anesthetized. The nurse asked how I was doing and I was certain that the drugs were not getting into me because I felt completely normal. Which is why I’m not a medical professional, because I don’t recall the next five minutes, and I don’t totally recall the next two hours. I remember feeling something hurt at one point and saying so, at which point I think they upped the IV, because it is a total blur. I do recall thinking, “What if I fart while they’re doing this? Oh my god! I hope I don’t have to pee…” Truth is, while you’re under (although I guess in the case of conscious sedation, you are over/under, right?), going to the bathroom is the last thing on your mind, if anything is on your mind at all.

So the procedure ended and I was wheeled back to recovery, where time seemed to warp…and the drug aftermath began to take its toll. I arrived around 10am, then I opened my eyes and it was noon. Then I barfed. Ate some crackers and ginger ale. Woke up, it’s 1pm. Barfed again. Got some zofran for the nausea, got picked up by the Dada and the girls around 3:30. Tried to talk myself down from barfing the whole ride home. Felt certain that I would get home and go straight to bed because I felt so unpleasantly unwell from the drug withdrawal. The Dada then mistakenly gave me straight-up cranberry juice (I had asked him to kindly give me half cran/half water just because I was so thirsty from not eating or drinking since the previous night). I immediately started saying, “Oh no, oh no oh no,” ran to the bathroom and barfed.

The bad news: I had to do it in the sink because I still could not bend over because of my back. The good news: I immediately felt better. The further good/bad news: My kids apparently are not at all concerned about me, even as I retch green bile into their sink. No indeed. As I was upchucking, the Dada was trying to get them away from rubbernecking at the door. I was saying, in that nasty mid-gurgle voice, “It’s okay; I just don’t want them to be frightened or alarmed. Mama is okay, girls. (Bleaaaaah! Retch!) Mama is just (Bleeeaahhhh!) fine.” I needn’t have worried. Baby Sister was up on the step stool watching the whole thing with great interest, seemingly unaffected by the grossness or drama of it all–and clearly not at all concerned about me in the least. Bambina was in the hallway watching, I thought out of concern and maybe from her past anxiety issues. Nope. She was simply waiting for me to finish barfing so she could ask if she could eat the crackers the hospital had sent home with me.

La la how the life goes on. 🙂

I love that line. I’m sure it’s from lots of places, but for me it’s from the movie Amadeus. They’re wheeling the clearly demented Antonio Salieri in on his 18th century Viennese wheelchair and he is making the sign of the cross and repeating to all the patients, “I absolve you, I absolve you.” It’s a powerful scene because it shows the deplorable mental state of this sad man while also illustrating his preternatural sense of personal importance.

Which segues nicely into my list of all the people I forgive this High Holiday season:

1. The kindly-looking senior citizen in a giant Oldsmobile who got out of his car and started screaming, “You fuckin’ whore! You fuckin’ filthy whore! Fuck you!” at a lady in an SUV who’d had the temerity to take what he perceived to be “his” gas pump location. I forgive you for being such an angry, scary and unnecessarily threatening person with zero ability to manage even life’s smallest disappointments or irritations. For so thoroughly embarrassing your poor wife who was cowering in the car as you unleashed your diatribe on a total stranger who meant you no harm. For reminding me that sometimes cute old men can still be assholes.

2. The people who collect money “for charity” at the intersection. Because you put on a yellow traffic vest or some zazzle.com homemade t-shirt, slap a xeroxed sign on an old white bucket, and expect me to just hand you money out my car window because your organization is so clearly very legit. I mean, how stupid am I supposed to be? If you are legitimate, nothing devalues your mission more than acting like panhandlers–especially when you provide no information whatsoever about that mission, not to mention the rank organizational arrogance of thinking you should get money without making any kind of pitch beyond, “Hey, you’re trapped at a red light and I’ve got a bucket.” If you are not legitimate, then mazel tov on looking exactly the part. Either way, you are not having my money. But here’s some disdain. Oh. Right. I mean, disdain wrapped in forgiveness.

3. The computer guy at “boston’s mac connection.” If you ever saw Jimmy Fallon’s “Computer Guy” character on Saturday Night Live, then you know who I was dealing with: a guy who is in the business of helping people who are not proficient in the back end of computing; complicated by the fact that he is full of impatience and dislike for people who are not proficient in the back end of computing. It must take a toll on one’s soul to rely on people you hate for your livelihood. Anyway, I was there because my Mac drowned when my bottle of water accidentally opened in my bag and fried it. The cute hot guy at the Mac store offered condolences…before trying to sell me a new $1000+ model. Nice. Then he referred me to Computer Guy to get my photos off the deceased hard drive, since every pic I took in China with Baby Sister is on there, not to mention my extensive ITunes library, full of The Killers, Barry Manilow and Outkast, and all of my previous writings/drafts/story ideas (mostly full of killers, men on the down-low and outcasts).

So I called The Computer Guy, who said, “Just bring it in and we’ll get it done!” I drove through the winding streets of the Greater Boston area, only to find out that I was supposed to bring my own external HD with me to receive the data. I was also given the bad news–with extreme bad attitude–that the only thing coming off the computer would be the photos because, ‘blah blah computer speak, TPS reports, defrag, root kernel blah blah.” Great. So I drove home and came back the next day with the required hard drive. Saw that it was my nemesis behind the desk, braced myself for his haughty disapproval of my luddite self. What happened? Computer Guy did not remember me. Had no recollection of either a) telling me to come on in! b) telling me JUST 24 HOURS BEFORE that I’d to come back with a hard drive or c) saying that only photos could be retrieved. It’s like his entire day is such a continuous unrelenting seething session that each moronic customer simply melds into the next. So, Computer Guy, I forgive you for giving me bad information, for giving me the runaround, for acting like I’m as dumb as dirt because I don’t happen to be educated in computer technology (perhaps forgetting that “dumb” people like me are the only reason YOU have a market). But I’ll forgive you more if you recover my Deee-Lite and Duran Duran catalogs.

My list goes on, but since Yom Kippur ended and it’s taken me days to finally finish this post, I’ll leave it at that. After all, I’m now working on my list for NEXT year.

It’s my Yom Kippur resolution to blog more regularly. What? You’ve never heard of a Yom Kippur resolution? Perhaps you are not well-versed in my particular denomination of Judaism. There are of course the Orthodox, the Modern Orthodox, the Chasids (who are, I believe, orthodox but not all orthodox are chasids), the Conservatives, the Reconstructionists and the Reform(ists? ers?). I’m sure there are a few more. Including mine, which is Known far and wide (by which I mean in my house) as MSU: The Make Shit Up wing of the tribe. Hence the desperately important liturgical and theological concept of the Yom Kippur Resolution. And kosher bacon-wrapped scallops. And blogging on Yom Kippur. And the practice of observing only 7 days of Passover instead of the standard diaspora 8, on the theory that if 7 is good enough for Israelis then it’s good enough for me. You know how it’s five o’clock somewhere? Yeah, well, after a week without bread or pizza or anything leavened, please believe that it’s day 7 somewhere. I mean, it’s Passover for everyone, right? So if a Jew in Israel is eating pizza why am I still on the matzo? We have clocks and calendars, y’all. I can webcam into Tel Aviv and see my fellow celebrants eating The Leaven, but I insist on not eating it for another whole day because a thousand years ago they didn’t know if it was the right day? You go on with your bad self if that’s how you roll; I wish you godspeed and happiness. But you can meet me at Panera when you’re done. I’ll be the person with her head buried inside that big bread bowl filled with bread soup doused with croutons.

But back to Yom Kippur, the holiday we are currently “celebrating” if you can imagine that a liturgy involving God deciding whether you live or die in his Big Book of Naughty or Nice Jews is a celebration. It’s the most solemn day of the year, the culmination of the Days of Awe which began at Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is the holiday in which you must atone for your sins, against God and against other people. I like Yom Kippur in one sense because it requires you to actually apologize to the person you have wronged in order to seek forgiveness. It’s not an opportunity to show up in temple and confess your sins to God so he can wipe your slate clean. It’s an opportunity, a requirement, for you to do the person-to-person work to clean the slate yourself. I like that. Where I struggle is, as usual, finding the humility to repeat the damn liturgy which is all about how great God is and how much a pimple on a stinky bum I am. My entire being resists saying any of that stuff, so I really, really struggle through Yom Kippur services. Partly because, IMHO, the liturgy is wildly outdated, rotely regurgitated, and therefore borderline meaningless to most of the people saying it. But also partly because I am the Living Tautology of Arrogance: I will not bow before God and say what a self-involved shit I am because who the hell is He to demand that I do? All of which simply reflects that I am indeed a self-involved shit who needs to learn some bowing. You see my dilemma…. 😉

So where was I? Oh yeah. I’m going to blog more. Most likely on Shabbat.