once more, with feeling

This time next week, I will be without uterus.  And although my menstrual cycle as of September wouldn’t have predicted it, it has managed to work its way around by being a little late here and a little early there to give me one last farewell blast.  Yes, it’s a two period month and the second one just started tonight.  Worst part?  I’m under orders to “try to avoid” any NSAIDs this week.   You know, because I’m having a hysterectomy next week.


My body is a system, a big complex system.  What makes it complex?  Not the spark of spirit, not intelligence, not even my quirky and sometimes evil sense of humor – all that is what I’d term “metaphysical complexity” and it is in fact not proper complexity.  It is an analogy, parasitic on the proper definition of complexity for meaning.  Even the stupidest piece of living meat is complex, in the proper sense.  It has dimensions, embedded levels – it’s parts are related to one another in multiple, sometimes apparently redundant ways.  The resulting meat is more than the sum of its meaty parts.

So this piece of meat would like to know why it is that despite the meat presenting wrapped in a package that includes unmistakable signs of complexity, both proper and metaphysical, the meat is considered as a simple collection of unitary parts each of which is allowed a limited set of restrictively defined relations to the others.  Yes, I would like to know this.

This is the thought I am having this AM prompted by two things.  One is that I was replying to a friend who asked about surgery.  Is there an increased risk of cancer with endo?  So far as I had been told, no.  Turns out I was told wrong.  Oh, hey don’t blame the doctors too much. The last time I was told anything about that was years ago when I was first diagnosed.  Did the guy who did my second lap assume I had subscriptions to all the relevant medical journals?  Nah, but he might have disagreed with the studies.  Or maybe it was just the subtle kind of error in judgement that creeps in at the seams of medical communication and discourse.  A massive failing of common ground.

The other thing is that I will be doing histories again today.  The import of this is as follows:  when confronted with a history form, my gut reaction is to list everything because I assume it might be relevant.  Because I know I didn’t go to med school (and don’t subscribe to the relevant journals) and therefore who am I to cherry pick on what my doctor “needs to know” in terms of my health?  If I want a comprehensive analysis, I should give as much valid data as possible.  And so I try.  And yet I’ve had the “huh?” reaction before.  Most relevant here, I’ve had endocrinologists seem disinterested in my endo and I’ve had gynecologists who are disinterested in things like the chronic diarrhea and cyclic hip pain.  And I can’t get started on orthopedic surgeons.  There isn’t enough time for me to work through my irritation with that bunch.

So it is with this lovely attitude that the meat prepares for the several hours preop appointment this AM at the Big Ass Teaching Hospital today.

pre-op appointment tomorrow

I’m assuming there will be med students.  And histories.  I hate histories.  I hate giving them, I hate the looks.  Hrrmph.  Well, I doubt I’m anything they haven’t seen before.  I just hope they don’t fuck up my history with biases or discount something important.  That is always my concern.

In addition to my medication list and list of “shit that’s wrong with me”, I have a list of questions.  I have no idea if tomorrow’s venue is the appropriate ones for them, e.g. “what can be done to lessen complications of anesthesia like nausea?” “what sort of pain control will I have postoperatively?”  But I’m bringing them anyhow.  I’m resisting the urge to bring everything.  They can ask and I can fax if necessary.  I’m not in the mood to lug the whole thing around.  Oh for the electronic medical record.  Why the hell isn’t it here yet?

christmas day – a visitor

My sister was over christmas eve.  As usual, she asked about the little “caramel colored kitty” who lives outside my neighbor’s house.  “I haven’t seen her since about a week before Max died” I told her.  I’d made a few trips up the driveway behind my neighbor’s house to see if the kitty was around and asked about her to the woman who lived in that building.  I saw no sign of the cat, but the neighbor assured me that she and several other cats were living back there under the porch.  “Oh it’s so sad!” the neighbor lamented.  This neighbor had previously tried to convince me to take in the kitty but back then, Max was still very much alive, and Max didn’t like other cats one bit.  I told her this.

So on christmas day, after not seeing the caramel colored kitty (she’s a black and brown tiger with a lovely warm, light brown coloring on her belly and legs), we found her.  She greeted me with her usual running, long meow “maa-aaaa-aaa-aaa!” as she trotted along, tail up and green eyes shining.

By Christmas evening, she was set up on our glassed in front porch.  By late Christmas night, she was in the much warmer basement with a makeshift litter box (which, to my delight she more or less knows how to use), a can of cat food, and a little bowl of water.  Also, a box with bedding in it which she chose not to sleep in, opting instead for the orange cloth suitcase perched atop a waist high stack of folded moving boxes.  That’s where I found her sleeping this morning.

small brown and black tabby cat on a chair.

Anya, getting comfy in her new home.

And so today, my husband and I plan to brave the swirling, developing blizzard to go get some flea and tick drops so we can let her in to our home for more than a few minute, highly monitored visit.  I’m deathly afraid of ticks, having caught lyme disease in 2002 from sitting outside patting a quasi-stray cat at my old apartment in the New England Outback.

The cat has a tentative name:  Anya, after a character in the Buffy TV series.  It seems to fit.  I’m going to try to get her in to a vet this week, I’m off work for the week and I think I should be able to manage this.  We’re hoping she’s healthy – she seems to be but until we get her checked out, I won’t feel comfortable fully letting down my guard and bonding with her.  She is quite cute.  I hope this works out!

freudian gift buying

I stopped on the way home to pick up confections for co-workers.  Not the faculty, they can buy their own damned candy.  But the long suffering staff, they deserve candy.  Nice candy.  And even the one I’m not overly fond of, I would be lost without her good graces and so I do what I can to keep her happy.  Yes, ’tis the season of office bribery.

Anyhow, I got the candies, very nice gourmet candy, for each of them.  Applying the rules I learned as the middle child, they got the same mix so there would be no fighting (no seriously, the one for whom this could be seen as a bribe can sometimes be rather jealous and petty, we’ll call her PCW, “petty coworker”).

Got all the way home, was telling my husband that I stopped, and I realized one of the hand picked candies is a flavor that PCW is utterly averse to.  It makes her sick.  And I know this.  I know it very well.  So well that I occasionally use that scent to keep her away from me, only when she’s been truly awful.  I swear to god though, this was not consciously on my mind when I picked out the candy.  I am at both amused and mildly horrified at my gaffe.  Thank god I caught it tonight!

snow happens

What is it that makes people drive like morons in the first snow?

Even in regions where every year, it snows.  More than a little.  More than rarely.  Did they forget how to drive in the snow in just 8 to 9 months?  That doesn’t seem plausible.  Are we all just skating the edge, running against the clock, trying to get in under the wire and with the first snow, we are still in denial of the change that makes us need to adjust what “leaving in time to stop at the store on the way home” means?  This has my vote, this or something like it.

In some ways, I think the first snow could be seen as like the onset of a new symptom in a chronic illness, or the return of a troubling one which you had hoped was gone but knew probably wasn’t gone for good.  You over do it.  You don’t accommodate for it, not initially.  You still try to run run run and get everything done.

And then you hit the gridlock, hell, you become the gridlock.

In addition to the first snow denial that was in full effect for this evening’s commute, there was also the not negligible effect of the cities and towns not being prepared for actual accumulation.  Why should they have been?  The weather forecasts predicted dustings only.  And here I sit, watching three to five inches pile up outside and wonder “will I get out in time to get to the doctor’s tomorrow”  and when I get there, will it be worth having raced to get there in time?

Probably not.  But I’ll try anyhow.  Otherwise, I may as well just crawl into a cave for the duration.

On the bright side, at least with winter, we know approximately when the symptoms (chills, unsteady gait, limited range of motion, risk of falling, and overall slowed activity and metabolic levels) will abate.  And on the other bright side, ok the slightly tarnished by the sort of misanthropy of this sentiment “bright” side, there is a sort of “ha! now you know how I feel every day!” aspect for me here.  Thought of getting up and out fill you with dread?  How will you get to your car?  From your car to your office?  Will you end up sweating into your work clothes from the exertion of simply trudging to the bus stop?  Welcome to my world.

On that note, to my fellow drivers in the “first” snow, I say buck up, accept reality and slow down a little for the love of god.  You’re not helping anyone, including yourself, if in your haste to deny the new constraints of your environment, you end up crashing.

No tannenbaum

Husband and I decided if we didn’t get a christmas tree this past weekend, we wouldn’t be getting one.  With this being such a busy time of year, mostly what I wanted to do this weekend was sleep.  Hence, no tree.  Truly, this year I feel quite apathetic about christmas.  Often, I have an ambivalence that swings from tepid interest to severe stress and/or annoyance.  This year, I’m mostly feeling “meh” on the whole thing from tree to stockings, from giving to getting.


I am nearing the end of the exceptionally busy part of my year.  Of all the work I do, about 20% of it is concentrated into 3 to 5 days at the end of the semester.  Today is the busiest.  Resourcefulness, a touch of OCD, and the willingness to cajole or crush conversationally always with the intention of achieving the goal means I get through usually ok.  Oh that and being sick.  See, being sick taught me that you can’t count on yourself to be functioning at 100% (or hell, realistically 150%) so you’d damned well better make hay while the sun shines – I was feeling pretty ok for a while there and wasn’t super busy so I used that time to teach myself some MS Office magic, to prep my work area, to ensure the room I work in was going to be physically appropriate for my unpleasantly demanding body.

I am thankful I had the time and energy to take those little bites out of this work in advance.  This year’s volume was the heaviest they’ve had since there have been records (a whole 2 years…yes, little tiny colleges and little tiny hospitals share something in common – an unwillingness to upgrade their institutional tech from 1972).  Boss is nutty and is stressing all the staff out.  The faculty are overloaded and cranky.

Not that this week hasn’t taken a toll.  My hip is KILLING.  The joints in my right hand are starting to hurt so bad I’m having a hard time gripping the steering wheel when I drive.  My intestine is not even on speaking terms with me.  I believe it is planning something very bad.  The not vertigo dizzies have visited me every day, along with a few of those episodes of feeling as if my body is a tuning fork someone will not stop hitting.

However, there have been two things that made me laugh so hard yesterday tears were streaming down my face.  One may have been mild hysteria.  I happened to escape from my work station a few times yesterday and saw my boss – her vest was on inside out and a sheaf of tags was sticking straight up like some kind of plumage (my husband called it her “crest”, adding “oh god run for the hills!  She’s displaying her mating plumage!”).  I saw her repeatedly throughout the day and apparently no one bothered to tell her.  I work in a nearly all female office.  We notice these things and we tell each other.  No one told her, and that includes no one on her many trips out of our office for meetings.  At about 3, this just struck me as absurdly funny and fitting.  It’s the smallest little thing, just to say “oh your tag’s up!”, but apparently people are not even willing to expend that little effort on her.  I think this is probably not so funny out of context, but god damn did it make me laugh yesterday.

The other thing is a site called Damn You Autocorrect! Do not read while you are sipping your coffee.

makes the world go around

That’s right.  Money. Just paid the bills and all.  And I’m thinking about my upcoming medical time off without pay.  Yes, a minimum of 3.5 weeks without a dollar coming in from me.  I think it’s going to be a meager christmas this year.  I’ll have some overtime pay after next week (finals always means extra hours…I’m going in for unpaid extra hours today) but that won’t be a hell of a lot.

However, I do believe it is worth it.  Assuming the surgery goes well that is.  I miss time, often without pay, for medical stuff.  I don’t think the hysterectomy will be a magic bullet.  I do entertain fantasies that some of the bowel stuff will clear up once old “boggy” is out of there.  I know that is a long shot though.  But boy, that would be god damned awesome.  How much time I lose to the intestinal fuckery is something I can’t bring myself to calculate (because it would depress the hell out of me) but which is massive, especially if I include all the symptoms caused or worsened by my current, prolonged state of malnutrition.  Oh and the clothing expenditures from when I unexpectedly lose 10 pounds after a bad two weeks or so.  There’s not enough space in my closet to cover the range of sizes I require in a given season – from 6 to 12…that’s a big spread folks.  And invariably, when I finally retire a size or break down and buy something to replace formerly retired sizes, my weight changes.  A lot.

But, as unlikely as it is that the bowel will improve post-op, it is about as likely that surgery could in fact cause some bowel complications.  So in short, I see this as a bit of a gamble – still, it’s one that I think has good odds for paying off or at least breaking even.

that time of year

It’s finals.  Ha, you thought I meant christmas.  It’s that too, but final exams loom so large and immediate that the holiday is only a very hazy twinkling on the horizon.  In the lead up to this most busy time of year, I have had a few real sucker punches.  One is that I received notice that a parent of favorite student worker died.  This seemed unexpected as the student had not mentioned illness.  Yesterday, I found out that the death was due to suicide.

There is no discussion, only whispered talk.  I find this problematic and distasteful.  Worse, one person who had said initially that they would sign a card for the student has, since learning of the cause of death, become reluctant to put their name on it.  Why?  The student’s parent still died.  It is still a loss – all the more potent due to the circumstances.  I know a card is not going to make it all better, but the student feeling alone and forgotten certainly won’t help either.