my jaundiced eye

the absurdities of life

Month: April, 2015

brunhilde

brunhilde

Well loyal readers MJE is back in the saddle, or on the barstool, after a brief roll through the operating room this morning. In less time than it takes to have your tires balanced and rotated I was relieved of one tumor and one lymph node. I was escorted into the surgery wing by Nurse No Nonsense who ordered the requisite strip down and issued me regulation socks and inflatable calf massagers.(!) Off with even my brand new fluorescent pink and turquoise underpants purchased just for the occasion. Then William the Irradiator arrived to pump me full of radioactive isotopes (felt like springtime in Nagasaki). Next up Dr. Nirvana the anesthesiologist. Out came the bad life style choice checklist, again. The hooch habit question was met with a resounding “Yes indeed, as much as possible.” I then relayed the fact that I hail from New Orleans and he nodded knowingly and said, “Got it, went to Tulane Med School” and moved right along. Then Dr. Mackie “the Knife” arrived and we were off to the races. Two minutes later I was headed for planet Percocet and beyond and woke up a couple of hours later to find myself half a six shooter short and bound up like a china doll in 1920’s Shanghai.

Made it home, Percocet in hand and headed for bed. The OB&C was wolfing down some BiLO sushi when I heard him bellow my name. Apparently a friend was at the door bearing gifts but the attack hernia had struck mid-California roll and he couldn’t move. Well neither could I so he had to waddle to the door, pants mid thigh. God help the person on the other side, that’s an image not easily erased, or explained. He then promptly took to the bed where’s he’s been ever since.

But several days ago, upon the advice of Dr. Susan Love in her opus magnum, The Big Breast Book, I learned that I would need a special post-surgery brassiere. After an exhaustive search I chanced upon the “Brunhilde.” at the Hanes foundations outlet store. Tipping the scales at about two pounds and larger than a fox terrier, it provides more support than an iron lung. Watch out kids, MJE is riding with the Valkyries now!

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the annual physical

annual physical

The OB&C is just back from his annual physical. I had preemptively emailed the doc to bring up the one thing I think might actually be lurking about :Alzheimer ‘s. His family is riddled with it (admittedly his mother had so little upstairs that it took a good long while to tell) and I think it might be a good thing to do what we can to put a plug in that brain drain before the tub runs dry. As my loyal readers know, the OB&C never met a personal medical problem he didn’t want to hold on to like a toddler to his pacifier. Sadly, his doc refuses to enable him and he always comes home feeling glum because he hasn’t been diagnosed with some terrible affliction. He was incredibly hopeful when he left for the appointment as he had so many possibilities for bad news: the improperly repaired (and still incredibly painful) hernia, leg cramps, free floating anxiety, dizzy spells, insomnia, tingling in his hands, skin carbuncles, toenail fungus and a tick embedded in his left buttock. Surely the probability that the doc might find something seriously wrong, given all of those maladies had to be a statistical slam dunk.

Instead he returned home, despondent. Dr. Lafeet once again told him that was in excellent health except that he is overweight, doesn’t exercise enough, takes way too many meds and drinks like a fish. The poor guy dragged himself through the house like a whipped dog, collapsed into his armchair, and directed me to open a bottle of red wine tout de suite and pour him a whomping glass just to get over the crushing disappointment. Good health to a hypochondriac is like sunlight to a vampire. Excruciatingly painful.

I offered to give him my breast cancer if it would make him feel any better.

what can brown do for you?

UPS- %22what can brown do for you?%22

MJE is just back from her pre-op appointment. Nurse Holly was my angel of mercy today. We went through my medical history, medications and bad lifestyle choices, yet again. When she got to the drinking bit, the max option was 3+ a night. She allowed that she sure couldn’t get through life without her daily ration of wine and marked me down as a “moderate” imbiber, bless her heart. From there to drawing blood, a task at which she declared herself to be particularly adept. Well couldn’t prove it by me, (one too many last night Holly?)…holy cow, felt like I’d been worked over by rookie acupuncturist. But then the EKG: perfect! I requested that certified copies be sent to my children who are of the opinion that my heart is a non-functioning organ like tonsils or an appendix. Wrong! it works fine but it just doesn’t give a crap.

Then on to finding a notary to stamp my “Advanced Health Care Power of Attorney.” Toddled over to my bank first where there is a notary who can sign everything but powers of attorney. She helpfully directed me to the UPS store in the Walmart shopping center. There, above the screeching din of the packing tape dispenser, I tried to communicate the need for a public notary who could put an official stamp to my last wishes. The manager, Gomez Addams, declared that for $5 a punch he could do the deed. But I was short a witness. I needed more than the taping fool in the back for this business. The notary suggested that I check the computer game store next door for a spare literate. Well as my readers know it’s not easy to find a literate person in even the most promising of milieus, but a Walmart shopping center is certainly the least hospitable environment in which to search. But search I did. Sadly the game store was manned by a single large lesbian who refused to leave her post. She suggested I try the Mexican restaurant two doors over. Hmmmm, I pondered the legality of the signature of an undocumented resident in this capacity and decided to broaden the perimeter. I spied a slum lord furniture rental place and made a bee line. Some half witted kid was listlessly dusting massive television screens and I asked if he could take a second out of his busy day to come witness my signature. I might as well have asked him if he’d be able to rent a tux and limo and take me to the prom. Tonight. And bring a corsage. Completely baffled, he lethargically kicked it up to management via a second equally diligent employee. I’d have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that discussion. After a protracted pow wow in the manager’s office, Thing 2 reluctantly emerged looking like she was about to face a firing squad.

So back to the UPS office with my new old friend Cha-qweeta. I laid out the paperwork, and Gomez, Cha-qweeta and the nameless packing tapist set about our business. In five minutes, in the UPS office in the Walmart shopping center my directives for end of life decisions were rendered legally binding.

it’s all in the book

it's all in the book

The other night the OB&C and I were having dinner and I was having a bit of a sinking spell, as me ole mudda used to say. He assumed a peckish tone and asked why I was so goddam moody. I suggested he might like to leaf through the informative book that Nurse Navigator had given me, Breast Cancer is a Bitch and No One Wants to Hear About Yours which might enlighten him about what might be going on, breast wise and otherwise. He immediately shot back in a highly defensive manner “Well, YOU never read the book regarding MY recent extremely debilitating medical ordeal, The Heartbreak of Hernia Repair.” He got me there. The poor sod hadn’t even had a nurse navigator to get him through the ordeal of having to be driven to and from the out patient surgery center, helped up the apartment steps, into his jams and into bed and then play step and fetch it for an interminable period of time. Nor to lend a sympathetic ear to his weeks-long complaints that the doctor hadn’t done a damned thing, it hurt worse than before, he could still feel it (that also required a sympathetic eye as he poked and prodded his nether region on a continual basis), and he’d almost certainly need another (traumatic) surgery to finally get it right.

I guess MJE and the OB&C could both take a few lessons in being “mindful” of one another’s suffering.

nurse navigator

nurse navigator

As my readers who’ve paid attention (and give a rat’s ass) may suspect, MJE’s been diagnosed with a wee bit o’ trouble,  bumpulous on chesticle. Nothing she can’t handle and she does hope the experience provides oodles of good material. But so far so boring, “Strip to the waist, put on the gown open to the front” rinse and repeat. Pretty sure everyone within a 20 miles radius has gotten a gander at my six shooters by now. Feel like a middle-aged stripper doing five shows a day. But there was a bright light yesterday when I received a call from Nurse Amy who chirpily introduced herself as my “Nurse Navigator!” Huh? and went on to describe herself as “my new best friend.” Whoa nelly, back off Ames. Besties? Hmmmm. Let’s see, can you handle long boozy lunches and rally in time for the 5pm cocktail gong, or cut someone to shreds with a withering glance or caustic quip, or make merciless fun of your family? What about never mentioning avocados, or talking about god’s will (until Jesu Christe himself comes knocking on my door and turns a six pack of club soda into a couple of bottles of nice cab I will remain a non-believer), or your golf game, especially your golf game. Oh and are you prepared to be almost totally ignored until I need you to do something for me? Pronto. Not so much eh, too much pressure? Got it. Totally understand.

But you’ll still be my #1 NN and that’s something.

my kingdom for a hernia

 my kingdom for a hernia-1

Dear readers, MJE very much appreciates your outpouring of support and encouragement regarding my medical situation but all that tea and sympathy is driving me into a diabetic coma. I would request that you follow OB&C’s example. As most of the civilized world has probably heard, he had a hernia repair several weeks ago. He is totally and completely obsessed with his progress, or lack thereof, and issues hernia updates more frequently than CNN issues Breaking News reports. When I tried to clue him in on my biopsy results I could hardly get a word in edgewise. When he finally he came up for air he said “oh, you’ll be fine, but my hernia…”. Now that’s what I call putting things in perspective. It reduced my diagnosis to the level of an ingrown toenail and brightened my spirits to no end. Tough love baby.

don’t worry be happy

don't worry be happy-1

Ironic, given MJE’s last post that I should receive a crappy medical notice just this past week. But as my loyal readers know MJE is nothing if not an optimist, glass half full, etc.   That was a joke, I am a bottle ¾ empty kinda gal for sure.

But in the spirit of looking on the bright side, my first step was to make a beeline (on the sunny side of the street !) to Galatoire’s for a long boozy lunch. For those poor souls who are unfamiliar with Galatoire’s, it’s a 100+ year old restaurant that, aside from switching from gaslight to electric bulbs hasn’t changed much since it opened. You specify your waiter when you arrive signaling your status as a regular. If you don’t have one you get a newbie and sit in Siberia. Our waiter is Imre the Hungarian. He’s been there forty years and took over after Michel (my mother’s waiter) retired. Imre is wonderfully old school, hand kissing and all, plus he’s an enabler par excellence. Any ethyl alcohol request is met with an immediate heavily accented “Good idea, thank you.” The OB&C and I were joined by SOB who was in town for a wedding. Knocking on forty and having lived in Atlanta for too many years, SOB, after having gone to Galatoire’s all his life, took a look around and realized that Galatoire’s is a Technicolor dining experience in a sea of black and white restaurants. It’s not that the food is the best in the world, nor the décor, although I do love the tile floors, ceiling fans, flocked wallpaper and mirrors lining the walls (better to watch people across the room), it’s the whole ball of wax. The portly waiters in their often too tight black jackets, white shirts and tiny bow ties, the unhurried pace, the weeding out of riffraff clientele by a now quaint dress code requiring that men wear jackets and an atmosphere of civilized, convivial, well-mannered debauchery. Lunches stretch for hours. Last time we went, the OB&C and I were the last people left, just us and the waiters having their dinners before the evening rush. Some people never leave, they just stay on for dinner.

So, after a couple of rounds of bloody marys and bottles of wine, oysters Rockefeller, crabmeat maison, gumbo, soft shell crab, trout meuniere and Brabant potatoes we sauntered over to the “Slavery in New Orleans” exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection. Somewhat (but not completely, thank god) sobering subject matter but was relieved not to see my maiden  family name among the owners. The OB&C’s family hails from the dreary heartland of the country so he was safe. While my forebears were all sitting on the porches of our plantations drinking mint juleps and having our mammies tighten our corsets or our house servants step and fetch it, they were slogging away inventing the steam engine or electric light bulb or something. Well, good for them. New Orleans made its own not insignificant contributions to the betterment of society with the creation of the sazerac and the gin fizz, both of which are equally enjoyable under a lamp shade, candlelight or in total darkness. No electricity required.

death defying decisions

death defying decisons-1

MJE is by nature pretty controlling, not to an unpleasant degree mind you but I just like to be in the driver’s seat as often as possible. So, sticking with the automotive analogy, when my car starts petering out I want to make sure that the mechanic doesn’t do something stupid, unnecessary and expensive when it just isn’t going to make the car last any longer. To wit, I’ve been perusing materials pertaining to end of life (human not automotive) decisions.

Well it turns out it’s a bit more complicated than I thought. Fortunately, there is a 26 page guide and questionnaire put out by the Death, Near Death and Certain Death Society that those of us who are not immortal should consider completing and sharing with our doctors and health care proxies. Given the subject matter the title is catchy and upbeat, “The Tool Kit for a Better Death!” It’s divided into nine sections, or “tools” for you to keep in your “death toolbox. “ For example Tool #2 is “Are Some Conditions Worse than Death?” Hell yes, the OB&C’s family reunion I have to host in May. There are a lot of “What If” questions like “If you are in severe or untreatable pain on a scale of 1 to 5 do you “Definitely Want Treatment or “Definitely Do Not Want Treatment.” Really? Who the hell is going to say I definitely do not want treatment except maybe members of Masochistics Anonymous. Or “How Do You Weigh Yours Odds of Survival” well last time I checked no one is getting out of here alive so I’d say 0% on that one. Tool #5 is “After Death Decisions to Think About Now”, isn’t that an oxymoron, how can I think about them now when I am alive when they are decisions to be made after death? Tool #6 includes a helpful section entitled “Five Times to Re-examine Your Death Wishes…” It’s the five D’s: Decade, Death, Divorce, Diagnosis and Decline. Seems like one of those might be a day late and a dollar short so I recommend sticking to just four of the D’s.

FYI, there’s a quiz at the end so pay attention!