Thursday, May 28, 2015

Yo, Rush, Can I Borrow Some of your Oxy?

I heard through the grapevine that a kind friend wanted to loan me her old laptop so I could continue to write no matter how crappy I was feeling while the Cancer Crazy Road Trip gets underway.  It was such a sweet offer and immediately conjured up visions of The Artist all tucked up under the coverpanes (pink with flower sprigs, a nice rosy checkerboard pattern, maybe a stuffed white woobie-rabbit under an elbow) while the Muse dictates.  Tap, tap, tap, wondrous insights about Life and Death flowing easily from under my fingertips.

It was such a lovely picture and I thanked the friend of a friend who put the idea forward and said I'd certainly keep that option in mind but for now I was still able to shamble out of bed and sit at the compute, a crazy dog lady wandering around the house at the odd hour.

The problem with writing while sick is that sick always takes precedent. When it's a choice between a trip to the toilet or the mot juste, the crapper wins out every time. That's the one iron rule of the human body.  It's wishes will be heard.  The rest is just icing, illusions that we are in control of our fates and masters of our souls. 

Souls? Maybe. But toilet time? Ah, not so much.

And pain.  Can't forget that little demon.  It's the great interrupter -- one constant, stuttering "D'oh!" in the brain.   The slap upside the head that stops the mot juste search in its tracks and substitutes inspired verbiage for getting up and stomping around for a while muttering, "Ow, Ow, Oh, crap, Ow." 

The Docs like to speak of "pain control," nowadays.  Or "Pain management."  That's a new field of study.  A welcome one to be sure, since for too often pain just hasn't been effectively dealt with or understood as the killer it can be. Truly.  Pain hammers the body something awful, adding insult to injury.  Both physical pain and psychic pain.  It's all hard.

But our allowable drug formulary in our weirdly drug-addled country is totally inadequate to the job. (And, to be fair pain medication carries with it its own tricky damages as well.  Tough needle to thread.)

Even "imaginary" pain is an amazing hammer.  When I ended up in the emergency room with the first inkling of what was coming down on me, the CTs indicated a ureter blockage and the Docs thought, "kidney stone's stuck." The pain, they said, was as bad or worse than childbirth pain.  Real knee-buckler stuff.  And out of curiosity (once the morphine IV was making life bearable again) I asked the Doctor about this and was told that the kidney, per se, didn't have any nerves.  Neither did the ureter.  Not like other organs or parts of your body.  So I asked him how in the world a little thing like a ureter tube, a tiny bit of wibbly flesh could generate such hideous pain? 

Well, turns out that the ureter isn't "in pain," but the inside of the human trunk is absolutely bathed in nerve networks, all surrounding all the vital organs. And when the body, in it's "gut wisdom," senses that something life-threatening is amiss inside you, all the nerves start firing off like claxons. So even though the ureter in this case wasn't actually being "harmed," i.e. cut or damaged, the nerves figured that something was up to no good and all hands better get on  deck. Which they did.  Loudly.

Later this morning I'm headed in to see a Nurse Practitioner (the coming thing on the medical front due to the lack of doctors in our brave new world) to see if we can come up with some practical "pain management" that keeps me "comfortable" without turning my brain to mush. 

Which is going to be a trick since I've lived with some degree of  pain for so long I really don't have an idea what "comfortable" means any more.  I suspect on the scales they use -- Zero being no pain and 10 being OMG! -- my zero would be somebody else's 2-3.  Like what an luxury to be able to say "zero."  But you don't get to a certain age without carrying with you all the dinks and donks and blows and falls you've inflicted on your body.  Rattling bag of bones and ouchie tendons grumbling along making the best of it.

Which, let's face it, is about all we can do.  Grumble and open our bag of tricks and see if any of our nostrums help ease the way -- eye of newt, way cool hemi-sync earphones and glorious new age hemi-sync music that's supposed to reset your brainwaves or maybe bring in some short-wave messages from old Earl out there in Hog Hollow West Virginia, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or lovely aroma therapy.  

And if it works without exacting too high a penalty, it's all good. Including getting out of bed at odd hours and scribbling into the quiet morning.  Or snuggling down in the coverpanes with a laptop, though using that that platform might be too tempting to get distracted by a e-book or a movie.  Sitting upright at my computer in the office/den does have the added benefit of resembling "work," so I can claim I'm not frittering away my  time. 


Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Thanks for keeping us in the loop, as painful a loop as it is. Your story has taken an unexpected turn, for sure, but it is told as well as it ever was.

Sandra Gore said...

Scibble away! I love to read your thoughts dressed up in your special Calhoun humor.
Got my fingers and toes crossed that the new patch does the trick.

Vita Miller said...

The medical community finally acknowledged pain a few years ago and it is now tagged "the fifth vital sign"; hence the scale of 1 to 10. It is also a signal, warning that something is amiss and "oh-oh better find out what is wrong".
Your medical providers should be able to bring about a comfort level that is acceptable without sending your brain totally into "la la" land. Alternative therapies like acupressure, acupuncture, etc. do compliment and sometimes lessen the need for the powerful opiates that are prescribed. My two cents.

Churadogs said...

Vita, good two cents. It's certainly a critical component.

Cherie said...

I so love your writings Ann and so glad we met so many years ago and have stayed in touch. I am so sorry you are going through this. As unbelievable as it may seem, I feel so much more sadness that you are going through this than someone else I knew who did awhile ago. Do the best you can Ann, while you learn to live, while dying. Love you. Xo