Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maybe Dr. Horse Ass Had a Point

After a couple days, I relented and tried the prescriptions Dr. H. Ass had commanded.

I've had three or four new lesions since then, but that's not enough time to see if what had been prescribed is effective. Except the salve, a steroid thing that did NOTHING for the itching and burning of the lesions, or for their healing. 

Late last week, I got a call from my doctor, saying I needed to go in and discuss the results of a recent bone density scan. Today I had that appointment.

Yeah, yeah. Due to my age, my lack of exercise for lo, these many years, my vitamin D deficiency, my calcium deficiency, and did I mention, my age, my bones are not in real good shape. We settled upon a strategy for the bones, but then revisited the itchies. Dr. H. Ass said the eruptions could be due to nerves, which -- God knows -- in my body are shot to smithereens.

We (my doctor, not Dr. H. Ass) talked about how I felt and reacted to stress stimuli, and now I'm taking a drug that she says will restore a balance in my neurotransmitters,  allowing my brain to explain to my nerve endings that "No, you don't have to fight or attack or run, things are going to be okay." That would be nice. 

So, the moral here is that women who are older need to get more aggressive with exercise. Beat the shit out of things. Gain some weight so that your hips don't get the idea they can go on vacations.  Take vitamins D and mineral calcium.  Stay active. 

Oh, and avoid stress. 


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Horse's Ass

Have I ever mentioned that I have no patience with pompous people?

This morning I had an appointment with an allergist about the recurring burning lesions on my body. My regular doctor was stumped as to what was causing them, so she referred me to the allergist.

My appointment was for 8am, first one of the day. I got there five minutes early, filled out the ubiquitous paperwork, and waited. And waited. Around 8:15, Dr. H. Ass ambles in the door and goes to his office to ... finish his coffee? Have a good long scratch?

At last he opens his door and calls my name. He introduces himself nicely enough, and then proceeds to interrupt me repeatedly while I'm telling him about my symptoms, using a very haughty tone of voice. To him, I'm ignorant of his specialty, and therefore, stupid. "There is no allergy shot for Spandex sensitivities," he sneered, as if I had asked for one. "Only avoidance."

When I explained that I had thrown out all my garments that had Spandex, he pressed his lips together and suggested I'd used a jacket or some shirt that I didn't know had Spandex.

Finally he looked at the lesions. "Those are insect bites," he pronounced primly. When I said they weren't, he suggested that my dog has fleas, and the fleas were biting me. "Don't the other people in your family have these spots, too?"


On and on, with me getting more irritable by the second. Finally, he said, "Obviously you've come into contact with something that causes an allergic reaction. Take an antihistamine and administer an anti-itching cream." He wrote two prescriptions, one for Allegra, which I've taken in the past and has no affect on me whatsoever, and for an itch cream like your basic hydrocortisone stuff.

"Wait," I said as he shuffled his papers dismissively. "My husband found something online about skin eruptions as a result of ibuprofen. What are the chances this could be from ibuprofen? I've had to take a lot of that this spring."

His narrowed eyes showed me exactly what he thought of online medical information. "Anything you find in FDA-approved medicines lists 'rash' as a possible side effect. But the chances are very low that ibuprofen is causing this."

I nodded, thanked him, let his office assistant make another appointment for me in three weeks or so. The prescription is in my paper-shredding pile, the appointment I'll cancel in a few days. The last thing I want to do is put my health care in the hands of someone who cannot tell when he has offended his patient.

It's too early to tell, but I stopped taking ibuprofen for the lingering ache in my neck two days ago, and no new lesions have erupted.

Yes, I am ignorant of his specialty. And he's ignorant of mine. He's going to make a great character in a story.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Burning House

An email conversation I had this morning with the trust officer of Mom's bank indicated fairly clearly that my mother's caregivers are dishonest.

What had been a series of apparent screw-ups on the caregivers part, and studied, careful moves on our part has become a rush to get my mother to a secure facility and preserve her meager assets, while the caregivers lie and scramble to cover up their peccadilloes.

I've told the bank that the day that my mother is moved out of that house, the doors and windows have to be secured and the front door's lock changed. Otherwise, we fear the place will be gutted by the morning caregiver's boyfriend's buddies.

Mom's neighbor said to me, "You know, if she was just enjoying being in her own house, I'd tell you to let her stay there. But she isn't. She doesn't know where she is anymore, and those people aren't doing their job."

Poor Mom. She kept all the evils of the world at bay for sixty and more years, but now the old dragon has no fire left. God help us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pain, And What It Does For You

So, I have a herniated disc in my neck, and when it is grumpy, it sends pain down to my shoulder blade, up to my neck, cascades down my deltoid, through my biceps, burns the shit out of my forearm, and messes up my hand.

Traction reduced it from an incapacitating agony to just a dull pain. At times, now, I don't even notice it.

If I hold still, and think about it, I can feel whispers, shadows of it all down my arm and into my hand. It's a deep pain, nothing anything I can do to touch and alleviate the sensation.

After the worst of the experience, I'm glad that I was honored to have felt that pain.

First, the pain allowed me to understand what chronic pain sufferers have to live with. It's horrible, no release, no escape, no hope. With chronic pain, you can't live well, sleep well, interact well. You long for drugs to make the pain go away, but your choices are "forget it" or narcotics -- and those fuck up the rest of your life.

I never really understood that before, but I do now. A whole spectrum of sympathy has been opened up for me. That's a good thing.

Second, faced with the inescapable pain, I had a choice: I could writhe and curse, or I could offer the pain itself up as a prayer for the good of Mankind. Let that prayer burn, that the world would someday realize that Life is sacred. The pain becomes a holy thing, not because God wants people to hurt, but because I want my hurt to be for a reason, a quest, something beyond my body. I have the choice to give that sensation up as a gift, to perhaps reduce the suffering of others.

Finally, with these realizations, the weight of the ache hanging on my shoulder and arm tonight, I don't grimace and say, "Damnit, will this ever be healed?" but instead, "Hello, old friend. The world needs our prayer."

My prayer is that those in perpetual pain may know some rest, and that the world can come to know that all life is holy, from conception to grave, in health and in suffering, in beauty and in ugliness. In the image of every living creature is the will of God, and in the face of every human is the reflection of the Christ.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Winds of War

Windstorms are horrible.

Every particle of pollen and dirt flies through the air sideways, infiltrating screens and open doorways, impacting people's sinuses like Howitzers. This one has gone on for at least a week, subsiding a little from about 4am to 8am, but the rest of the time flinging shredded paper bags into the shrubbery, leaves and dusty filth into the swimming pool, dehydrating the lawn and gardens, and killing my eyes and nose.

A flurry of dust-devils are spinning back East, where my mother continues to decline into Alzheimer's. One of her neighbors called me yesterday, in desperation. Things are not well in my mother's house, where she has contractual 24/7 care. "We know they're leaving her alone at night," the neighbor told me. "And that one girl's boyfriend is hanging around there when she's looking after your mother. He's been arrested for drugs already."

Great, just great. 3000 miles away, what am I to do? The company that provides my mother's care is bonded, but what does that mean if one of the employees is feeding her boyfriend on my mother's bank account?

My sinuses are compromised by our wind, and so are my heart and my mind by the revelations of Mom's neighbor. Everything hurts.

Tomorrow, a family friend is going to go to Mom's house and see what is up. I fully intend to be with him on cell phone as he checks it out.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Kentucky Derby 2009

Holy Smokes, what a race!

First let me say up front that NBC is about as competent at covering a horse race as a fat snail in my garden is at running an adding machine. NBC should not even be allowed to enter Churchill Downs, let alone cover the Derby. They have no understanding at all that the Kentucky Derby is a HORSE RACE, not a fashion show or a People Magazine extra. People, people, people, over and over again, with really inane questions and screamy interviewers.

We want HORSES, NBC. It's a HORSE race. HORSE. HORSE. HORSE. Can you ever get that concept?????

All right, I've got that off my chest.

I looked at the histories and the trainers and the owners and the horses before the race; not as much as other years, but some, and narrowed my picks down to Pioneerof the Nile, Dunkirk, and Musket Man. Pioneerof the Nile was a Baffert-trained horse, which is always a plus. Dunkirk had a great track record ... but he was a gray, and grays hardly ever win. (Shut up, it's true.) Musket Man didn't have an impressive record, but he was coming on strong from behind in his races, which could indicate some strength and a learning curve.

But oh, oh, oh... what a race. Dunkirk stumbled badly coming out of the gate, and with the crowded muddy track (19 horses), a few steps in you could hardly make out the color of the horses or their jockeys' silks. It wasn't until the last bit that a mud-spattered animal came shooting through the whole pack of horses as though they were standing still and streamed ahead -- the completely overlooked 50 - 1 odds Mine That Bird.

Odds of 50 - 1? That's like saying, "Here's a dollar, my good man, hold your horse still so that my dog can piss on his leg."

I still cry when I watch footage of Secretariat winning his races in 1973, but I will always laugh with glee when I see Mine That Bird win the 2009 Kentucky Derby. At the beginning of the race, he was so far behind you could understand the 50 - 1 chances and dismiss him. Right out of the gate he got slammed by the horses on either side of him. But jockey Calvin Borel did some major juju, let his horse get overlooked, and just aimed that fine horse right up the rail.

I've seen horses come from behind before, but I don't ever recall seeing one come up so fast. Well, maybe Secretariat, but he was a different kind of horse. Mine That Bird slid through the crowd of horses like he was greased.

He cost $9500 as a yearling. My horse, Duquesne, was a cull cutting horse who, had we wanted papers for him, would have cost $5000 as a two-year-old, and even at his 18 years, I wouldn't sell for $11,000. Poor young Mine That Bird was a bargain-basement buy. They even gelded him because he wasn't considered good enough for breeding stock. Whoops.

And while his jockey hooted and whooped in abandonment at the wonder of the win, Mine That Bird trotted along, completely at ease, tilting his ears back to listen to his rider, perfectly behaved, and with only a tiny bit of sweat on his legs and neck.

That kind of speed in a field that big? That kind of aplomb after a major adrenaline event? I'll wish healing rest on that horse for the next two weeks, and look for him in the Preakness.