Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irons in the Fire!

School has started back - the first week was crazybusy, but with fairly easy-to-manage stuff when viewed individually.  The trick is that the stuff didn't come individually, but rather attacked in battalions, which made keeping the importance of various things in perspective a bit of a trick.  (Forced perspective, perhaps?)  Too many irons in the fire . . .

My nose continues to heal from the recent sinus surgery - I spent Friday morning at the doctor's office discovering just how many different suction tools can be utilized to clear out the *ahem* "debris."  I'll have another couple of these appointments for Dr. Nostrildamus to check on his work and my healing.  (I must say, it wasn't something that exactly hurt, but it sure felt weird, even after the "yummy numby" stuff, which is applied to strips of gauze which are then gently stuffed up each nostril and then left to [no kidding] "marinate.")

The blog post I co-wrote with FryDaddy was published as part of the ongoing Buffy Rewatch - check that out here.  I'll have another one in about a month, but this one was specially special, as it concerned the Season Five episode "The Body," which has always packed such an emotional punch for me.

I've spent the last few days fine-tuning my chapter for an upcoming Whedon project which is to be published by Syracuse University Press, who has some very definite ideas about citation style and formatting madness.  I think it's done, but I'm taking one more look at it tomorrow before I send it off to the editors.  So many little things to fix (along with the big one of "switch all of the internal cites and references to Chicago author-date style" which made me go, "Huh?"), it wouldn't surprise me if something slipped by and I want to avoid that if I can.  I'll own my mistakes, but I'd rather they not be the boneheaded kind.

FryDaddy and I are back to our commuter marriage, since classes have also started for him.  In a way, it was fortunate that we both had writing projects this weekend - he's drafting a chapter dealing with Farscape as a allegory for the Cold War - but I'm already looking forward to next weekend, which we have ruled off as a "we're married; let's act like it" weekend.  Between the doctor's delicate anteater-crossed-with-an-Electrolux procedure and the writing, we didn't have much time to enjoy each other this weekend, and we got spoiled over the summer.

Well, this too shall pass.

Post surgery, I'm discovering that I don't have to hack and cough to clear the clutter from my throat, which means I can push myself with exercise more.  Still not training for any marathons, but it feels good to stretch.  As a reward for hitting the gym today, my toenails are now a gleaming shade of dark, dark purple.  Think black and you'd not be far wrong.

It's all about the small rewards.  And surely I deserve one for (a) not biting the doctor, (b) getting a publishing project another step towards completion, and/or (c) keeping my sense of humor during the first week of the semester, among other alphabetized items.

And I like dark purple.  And the glow from the fire with all those irons in it is actually quite pretty.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nosey About Surgery

I try to post here every week, but I'm a bit behind due to some recent surgery.  I'm well on the way to recovery now and thought I should probably update.  Be warned - while none of the following content is exactly graphic, there's a certain amount of ewwww!  That's simply to be expected with Things Surgical, so let's be grown-ups about it.

The surgery itself was considered routine, but let's face it.  Thanks to amazing advances in medical technology, "routine" is used to describe heart bypass surgery.  It is a mistake to confuse "routine" with "no problem."  Even if the procedure has been done to the point of boredom by the surgical team, your body is still undergoing assault and trauma and you're not likely to feel that great afterward.  In my case, I was dealing with two separate and distinct procedures involving two doctors (no, there was no volume discount on the billing, but at least we could double up and not do this twice).  First, Dr. Gullet, my throat specialist, would go into my trachea with a tiny li'l light and a tiny li'l camera and a tiny li'l laser to cut a star pattern in the scar tissue in my windpipe.  Then he'd gently spread the cut tissue and laser away as much excess as possible, thereby widening the airway.  Scar tissue always comes back - the goal is to (pardon the pun) stretch out the time between surgeries through medication, exercise, and diet.  But I'll keep seeing him always.

Now that's the "routine" part to me.  The surgery involves general anesthesia, but it's short - usually less than an hour.  And it's miles better than it would have been say, thirty years ago when the solution was a tracheotomy and I'd have been breathing through a tube forever.

So let's wave a thankful goodbye to Dr. Gullet and let him go off and do other work on vocal disorders.  Next up to the plate, we have Dr. Nostrildamus, whose specialty is nose stuff.  This is the guy who was going to break and reset the deviated septum that had slowly smushed half my sinuses, then painstakingly rebuild my mutant sinuses which had openings that needed to be closed and closures that needed to be opened.  He would be doing very delicate work from inside the nose, just under the eye sockets.  This was going to take time.

And it did.  Both procedures took approximately five hours. We started a bit later than expected - operating rooms are booked, but things sometimes happen and I don't want anybody pounding on the door and rushing my docs, so we have to be patient while being a patient.  Still - that whole "fasting after midnight" thing is easier when you have to be at the day hospital at 6 am than when it's later.

The surgeries went well - or so I'm told.  As with all good anesthesia, it came with amnesia.  Don't remember a thing.  I could very well have declaimed on literary theory in the recovery room or cussed like a longshoreman on leave - I don't know and they (wisely) won't tell.

But - ow.

I've never had "big" surgery before.  I've never had to stay overnight in the hospital before.  I come from very Calvinist stock and, provided you don't see bone, you simply soldier on.  We were having None Of That.  I was so drugged, hungry, and overall puny that my hands were shaking eating my post-operative applesauce. My feet seemed to belong to someone else entirely for all the good I was having in moving them.

So this is the romantic part.  If you're going to be sick and puny and whiny with pain, it's absolutely marvelous to have someone else there with you.  FryDaddy and I have reached a new level of intimacy that has nothing to do with Victoria's Secret and everything to do with those vows we took more than a year ago.  Face it, my health affects him and his affects me.  So we have to be able to talk about all sorts of things that polite company doesn't discuss and we have to be able to do it without averting our eyes or blushing too much.  (This blog is for public consumption, so let's just say this - anesthesia takes a while to wear off and pain medication has some unusual effects on other parts of the body.  As the book may tell us, everybody poops, but things change after surgery for a few days.)

My nose had "discharge" for two days after the surgery and it was heavy enough to be issued a "nasal dressing" which is a fancy way of describing a thingamabob that straps over your ears and runs under your nose to hold a gauze pad in place so you don't constantly dab at your healing schnozz.  (Yes, the name of the device is real.)  Yes, you look ridiculous.  No, the nurses won't loan you a Sharpie to draw a mustache on the gauze.  It's hard to sleep in, too.  As the nose heals, there is a surprising amount of crusty blood and gunk.  You can't breathe all that well, although stents have been inserted in your nose to help with that.  You just have to tough it out and it'll take longer than you think.  If you have good doctors - they ARE Board-certified, right? - you don't even have black eyes after all of this, but don't think that you're okay.  You're not.  I've been running on about half-throttle for the last few days (due some to the lack of sleep and some to the lack of good breathing and some to the drugs - there was infection in those sinuses) and that's pretty much typical.

But yesterday I had the stents taken out.  (The packing in the sinuses stays for about another week.)  Easy-peasy.  Snip, snip and out come the stitches then gentle pressure and gravity remove the stents which OH, MY GOD, THOSE THINGS ARE HUGE!  AND THEY WERE IN MY NOSE?!? WHAT'S GOING ON HERE??  Yes, I asked to keep one.  I washed it carefully to make it pretty before I posted it here.  The almond is only provided for scale - please don't put either of these up your nose yourself.

Two other asides in this lengthy post - one, when taking out the stents, Dr. Nostrildamus wore one of those Norman Rockwell headbands with the metal disk thing.  I suppose it's intended to reflect light up into the nose, but maybe he's a worshiper of the Egyptian sun god Ra.  Having those stents out feels so good that I don't really care.  Also, that doctor's office has a lady on staff who - seriously - pushes a little treat cart around the the waiting room to provide patients with coffee, candy, and granola bars.  Amazing.  Still plenty of healing to do, but the breathing is already improved.

And that's what I did on my summer vacation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I Will Not Bite My Nails . . .

Nail-biting is a bad habit and usually done as an outward sign of anxiety.  I don't usually engage in it, but lately - well, who could really blame me?  After all, among the things that are on my squirrelly little mind these days . . .

1. Congress is behaving like a large group of spoiled children.  Not wanting to make hard decisions that might cost them votes (oh, no!), they elevated foot-dragging to a near art form, reluctantly raised the debt ceiling (sort of) and then skedaddled from D.C. as quickly as possible to pout in their home states, which led to . . .
2. The FAA furlough mess.  Upwards of 70,000 people were facing furloughs (way to go with that job creation stuff!) because the two houses of Congress couldn't decide how to/whether rural airports should be subsidized by tickets purchased at much larger hub airports.  Sure, that wasn't the only issue.  There was a big fuss about how to get around a labor ruling that would make it easier for airport employees to unionize.  (Let's be clear on that one.  The new rule would require a simple majority of the votes cast to be in favor of unionization.  The old rule would require a simple majority of everyone who's eligible to vote to cast votes in favorregardless of how few/many actually show up to vote.  We don't run Presidential elections that way.)
3. Then Standard and Poor's downgrades the credit rating of the United States and investors begin to act like Chicken Little.  These are the same jackwagons, by the way, who kept many investment banks (Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns among them) at "gold" ratings the banks did not deserve as the banks were in the middle of free fall.  So I'm not sure how much weight I want to give this development, but it's still a Something That Must Be Dealt With.
4. On more local news, classes begin next week and, while I've spent my days on the Hamster Wheel of Paperwork, it seems that there is so very much to get done so that the first day is smooth.
5. I have surgery scheduled in a few days and, minor though it is, I'll admit to being a bit jumpy at the prospect of spending the night in the hospital.  FryDaddy is doing  his best (which is quite good) to reassure me that all will be well, but I'm still nervous and want this to be done with.
6. I have a writing project due in less than a month that involves learning and applying the Chicago style of citation, about which I know exactly nothing aside from the fact that I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with adding commas to deep dish pizza.
7. All of which adds up to -- diet? What diet?  Bring on the fried chicken and pimento cheese and just back off so no one needs to get hurt, Drake!

As far as I'm concerned, there's plenty there to cause nail-biting.  So then my job becomes to search for solutions.

Well, I can't do much about the first three.  Write my representatives, be polite, be persistent and know that America is large enough to withstand any number of idiocies.  (But they do seem to be grouping, don't they?) I try to keep in mind that people -- everybody -- really are doing the best they can with what they have, but some days, that's a harder point of view to maintain than others.

As for #4, who am I kidding?  The first day will be smooth, despite the fact that there will be things that are not quite done.  It'll work.

As for #5, I've got some of the best surgeons in the Southeast, if not the country.  We're talking about relatively minor procedures; I'm just a teensy bit of a wuss about being knocked out and out of control as my insides are being reshaped.  (Although the prospect of performing sinus and throat surgery on myself should make me quake with a totally different kind of fear, don't you think?)

As for #6, I'll learn.  Fast.

And #7 - well, that's a battle to be picked another day.

I've been told that there are some days that you just do your level best to get through without screaming at people.  Come home, pet your animals, wash your face, say your prayers, and go to bed.

And I realize that in life, sometimes you give the advice and sometimes you take it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hunger, Satisfaction, and Dessert

I've been hungry a lot lately.  Well, Mockingbird, you might say reasonably, that'll happen when you're trying to lose the last seven pounds or so.  Rumbly tummies are to be expected.

And I say "fie" to reason!  (I actually do that sometimes.  It leads to a great number of very strange looks in public places and to those people, I often add a stout "harrumph!" to my previously-mentioned "fie"! Umm, I'm digressing here, aren't I?)

Strange how things go in groups.  (Shakespeare had something to say about that, as I recall.)  Yesterday, small Ramona, our god-daughter, was doing the readings at church.  I cajoled FryDaddy into getting up early enough on a blissfully sunny, perfect-for-sleeping-in Sunday to go in support of the young one's efforts.  He manfully pulled himself together (and poured himself a travel mug of coffee for the service - unusual for church, but hey! not at all a bad idea, provided he doesn't use the hymnal as a coaster), but I left without breakfast.  Not so bad, until I realized that the first reading was about "eating what satisfies" from Isaiah.  As if I weren't already keenly aware that I had skipped breakfast, the Gospel reading was the re-telling of a very few bits of bread and fishes being made to feed thousands.  By now, I needed a snack!

Later, we took Ramona to see the new version of Winnie the Pooh.  By the way, if you haven't gone, do.  The film is just delightful, old-school animation, complete with a cartoon short (narrated by Billy Connolly!) a the beginning.  But again - all about hunger.  Pooh must ignore his own Rumbly Tummy to search for Eeyore's misplaced tail.  And I'm trying to be all good, foregoing buttery popcorn and Junior Mints for baby carrots and grapes.

Sigh. One can only be so good for so long.  Then the dietary Mr. Hyde comes out.

Supper last night was a large pizza and Klondike bars.  (That's right - "bars," as in plural.) And it was perfection itself!  Heck, due to some cash register glitch, we were even given the pizzas.

I've beaten Mr. Hyde back into submission today, but I don't regret a bite of that crust nor a drip of those bars.  My goal is to get healthier, not saintlier. I'm so very, very fortunate that when I'm hungry, it's because I've chosen to be so, not because I can't find or afford food to keep the rumblies away.  So yeah, I'm back to "being good," but let's not take that too seriously.

But I'll still take absolution for those Klondike bars from anyone who feels qualified to give it.