Saturday, October 23, 2010

Getting All Up In There

During my recent stay at the hospital, there were a lot of ups and downs.  Well... a lot of downs.

One of the things about being down and out to the point that you aren't allowed to get out of bed is the process of elimination.  Yeah, it's all fun and games, sitting around being waited on and veging on Vicodin, but sooner or later the inevitable is going to happen.  Sooner or later, you're going to need one of these...
I've never had the pleasure of using a bedpan before and I can assure you, I wasn't lamenting that fact.  I could have died a happy woman, having never used a bedpan.  I could hold it for a long time to avoid this indignity!  But, sadly, even my bladder of steel was not up to the task. 

So, after thinking about it for a long time, I pressed the call button for the nurse.  And waited... and waited... and waited.  Until who should appear, but a disinterested, young, male orderly.  Where the hell did this guy come from?  Up to this time, I'd been cared for in a speedy manner by a sympathetic cadre of female nurses and LPNs. But, I've never held someone's sex against them, so I requested a bedpan from this early-twenty-something guy who looked like he was hung over and only humoring me in order to get beer money.

With a sigh, this supposed angel of mercy left the room.  He returned a few minutes later and told me to roll over, reaching gingerly from a distance to set the bedpan next to my hip and telling me to press the call button when I was done.  What?  No instructions?  No encouragement?  This guy gets a zero for bedside manner. 

Now, after one has spent hours avoiding the necessary task, one becomes bloated to the point of not being able to complete the task.  (Never mind the fact that you're laying there picturing where all the excess liquid from the past 36 hours is actually going to land.)  Finally, after about a half hour of waiting, a very unsatisfying trickle emerges... only to go precisely where I was imagining it would probably go...

When the orderly returns he rolls his eyes as I inform him that not everything has hit the pan.  "You need a pink pad," is all he says.  He gets the requisite pad which serves to protect the bed from my ass, hands it to me and leaves.  What?  No expert installation of the pink pad? No offer of baby wipes?  No tender ministrations?  I realize my ass is not as young and firm as those he's probably used to seeing, but COME ON!  Give me a freakin' break!

Luckily, I never saw this fine specimen of a young man again. 

When I finally decided to try again, I was rewarded with a sweet, motherly LPN who was only about fifteen years my junior.  She gently helped me assume the proper position and gave words of encouragement.  And after some success, she returned to "neaten me up" with soft wipes.  Ah... to be cared for so gently and expertly!  I heart this woman!  Although, I nearly lost it when she asked...

"So... do you want me to get all up in there?  I like to keep my ladies clean!" 

Now, there's a woman who takes pride in her work!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

From Klutz to Bubble Woman

Great news!  My friend, Cherie (of the House of Evil where people who enter break limbs), offered to make me a suit out of bubble wrap to prevent further injuries.  Then I remember something I'd seen that would offer another way to protect myself as a bona fide klutz.....



Perfect!  Definitely the safest mode of ambulation for accident prone people such as myself.

Then again, maybe not....

Damn... it's always something!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why I'll Never Become a Crash Test Dummy

 It's amazing what you find out about yourself by reading.  While sitting around with my leg propped up, I have plenty of time to catch up on that stack of books I've been meaning to read. 

I just finished Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers last night.  It's probably not something I would have picked up on my own, but my friend Nancy happened to have it when she was in the ER with me last Sunday and it turned out to be quite fascinating.  Basically it tells about the many ways cadavers are  used in science... from anatomy classes, to crash test dummies, to ballistics, to determining causes of plane crashes, to discovering new alternatives to cremation and embalming/burial. 

One of my favorite sections was about the use of cadavers in crash tests.  Seems there are certain things that the typical plastic crash test dummies can't measure.  So, occasionally, they've used actual cadavers or parts thereof in crash tests.  Whoa!  Now that would be a cool way to contribute to scientific inquiry!  Sadly, though, I'll never be able to will my body to be a crash test dummy.  It seems klutzes need not apply.  My broken bones would prevent my cadaver from being any use to the crash test laboratories.  Damn!  That would have been a great way to make a contribution! 

Then there was the chapter on alternatives to burial or cremation.  Strangely, I liked the idea of being flash frozen in liquid nitrogen and then bombarded with ultrasound to be broken up into little bits that could be used as fertilizer.  Cool!  (Literally & figuratively.)  I'd volunteer for that one!

So many things I just hadn't thought about before.  Guess this whole invalid thing is expanding my horizons! 

Now... what to read next?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Out...

After a few weeks of vegetating, I figured it was time to get back to living life to its fullest.  Following a wonderful walk in the woods with Vlad on Sunday afternoon, a friend invited me over for a wine & hot tub evening with a couple of women friends.  Sounded like a plan!  Off I went.

So, with glass of wine in hand I walked out onto the deck beneath the evening stars....

... and promptly missed a step in the dark.

The glass of wine went flying up into the air, I hit the deck (literally), the wine came splashing down on top of me, and I heard something pop... not a good sign.

It didn't look good, either.

So, smelling like a wino, I went for a little ride in the ambulance to the hospital.  I spent the night in the ER, went to x ray three times, was splinted four times before they got it right and was wheeled into surgery around 12 hours after arriving at the ER.

Luckily, my friend Nanodance followed the ambulance and kept me company for awhile.  She also left me with perfect reading for the hospital:

My friend Ann broke into my house, (setting off the alarm and having a lovely chat with the security people,) and raided my domicile for the necessities of life... clean underwear, toothbrush and computer.

My friends Heather, Emma and Cherie brought me contraband DP (the perfect thing for getting those important bodily functions moving again.)

So, here's the wrap-up of my fun evening out...

Diagnosis:  broken fibula and dislocated tibia.
Treatment:  plate and screws in fibula, yanking, pulling and splinting for tibia.
Length of hospital stay: 3 nights.
Recovery time:  4-6 weeks without putting any pressure on the leg, then physical therapy.
Fun Drugs: Vicodin and a blood thinner that I get to inject into my stomach every night for the next four weeks. EWWW!  (I'll need the Vicodin to get up the nerve to do that.)
Means of transportation:  old lady walker, using my leg with the torn ACL & MCL to try to hop around the home.  (Ann also went out and bought me a new leg brace and a raised toilet seat... just to make things easier... and to make me feel even more like an old lady.)
Recovery Location:  My dear friend Shamra's house. (Remember the chickens?) 

Good times!  Good times!  So glad I went back out amongst the living!

But, seriously... don't I have the most awesome friends ever?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumn Leaves

I love the fall.  There's something about the smell of leaves on a bright, crisp, sunny day.  Those days when a sweater feels good, but the sun can still warm you up enough to leave the sweater unbuttoned as you crunch through the leaves. 

Vlad was born in the fall 23 years ago on October 8th.  He was originally slated to arrive mid to late September, but showed up 2 1/2 weeks past my due date.  At the time I was beginning to think he was never coming out of there.  But, he finally did.  His first outing was to the pumpkin patch when he was about a week old.  I remember taking him in the Snugli and having a little old lady chastise me for not having a cap on his little head.  He had about three hairs at the time.  Now I can't drive past a pumpkin patch without thinking about that day. 

Vlad's coming home this afternoon and we're going to go for a walk at the Thousand Acre Swamp together.  It was his choice for how to celebrate his birthday.  We'll crunch through the leaves and enjoy each others' company.   With luck, we might spot a deer in the woods.  Then we'll come back to the house for some apple cider and talk about the past year and all that he's accomplished.

I can't think of a better way to spend a fall day!

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Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week.  You'll be glad you did! 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Burning the Midnight Oil: A Magpie Tale

Whatcha doin' grandpa? 

Just burning the midnight oil.

What do you mean?  It's not that late.  Why are you burning oil? 

It's just an expression we used to use when I was your age.  It means working late into the night.

But why oil?

Because before we had electricity, we used oil lamps in this old farmhouse.

Oh, you mean back in the olden days.

Yep, I guess so...

You really are old grandpa, aren't you?

Ah, my lovely, you have no idea.

Do you still have the oil lamp?

Sure do!  It's over in the cupboard.

Can we get it out?

You bet.


What, dear?

I like burning the midnight oil with you.

I can't think of anyone else I'd rather burn it with.  Come on now, let's tuck you into bed.  It's late.

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Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week.  You'll be glad you did!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Crawling Out of My Hole

Every once in awhile life throws me for a loop.  It's not any one thing, but a series of setbacks that puts me in a hole that becomes difficult to climb out of.

Within a 12 month period, I lost the job that I'd been immersed in for 15 years and that had become my identity, I went through all my savings before finding a new job, I lowered my standard of living so that the first time in 30 years I'm living paycheck to paycheck, I fell down my attic stairs and re-injured my knee, a bunch of stuff in my house started falling apart at the same time, (water coming through your living room ceiling is NOT a good thing,) my mom died and then as the icing on the cake, Hickory the Wonder Dog died. 

Despite all that, I was holding my own until late August.  Then with the approach of a new school year, I was reminded of the cumulative losses of the past year.  I suddenly felt alone and bereft.  It seemed like I lost my identity. Life became overwhelming.

I began isolating myself, managing to go to work but then coming home and sleeping a lot.  I stopped taking care of myself, stopped eating well and let the housework pile up.  I was essentially becoming a zombie.

I knew I'd been wallowing for too long when Jon Stewart came up with his Rally to Restore Sanity.  Sure, I know you're thinking, "Hey, CatLady, it's not always about YOU!", but it felt like a personal invitation to me at just the right time.  Plus, I started getting emails from Quirky and Jayne and Linda, asking where I was.  Finally, a lifeline back to sanity! 

So, this week I went to the grocery store to buy some vegetables instead of junk food, I got a haircut and I started seeing friends again.  I shuffled off to Buffalo to take Vlad to dinner and realized after I got home that I spent the entire day without any knee pain.  Amazing!  So, I must be getting better.  No more wallowing in self-pity... because that really is totally unbecoming.  I guess it's time to crawl out of my hole.
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