Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fooken Ayslund

Maybe you should rethink that vacation my doctor said.

Maybe you should rethink that vacation physical therapists 1-4 said.

No! I said.

I mean, just because I'd been having shooting pain down my leg for months, was no reason not to go on vacation.

Because my squeeze the Cheez and I really need a vacation. A nice, romantic, just-the-two-of-us-and-the-millions-of-strangers-in-a-crowded-metropolis good time, the kind we haven't had in ages.

It'd been hard enough to find nine glorious days when my work schedule and his work schedule lined up. Hard enough to get past the panicky arguments in the travel section of Powells over where we should go. Hard enough not to drop dead at the cost of booking airline tickets, let alone the B&B, with the dollar sucking as it does on the world market.

Now that we'd done all that, nothing was going to keep me from going. Not searing pain. Not doctor plus physical therapist admonition.

When are you leaving? the doctor asked Wednesday morning, eying me in that M.D. means real doctor way they have.

The day after tomorrow I said, eying her in that Macaronimaniac means real maniac way I have.

She scribbled something doctorishly illegible on a piece of paper, and told me I was about to meet Pearl. Magical Pearl.

Pearl is so magical, not only could she read what the doctor wrote--but, upon reading it, she could get my deadbeat health insurance to approve a same-day MRI, and then magically schedule self-same MRI for within one hundred and twenty minutes of the time I stood before her.

Which is how it came to pass that by the end of that very day, the neurosurgeon had joined the chorus urging me not to go on vacation.

Something about a ruptured disc and a long flight and really who would want to go on vacation with Cheez when instead she could be having back surgery?

But surely, back surgery wasn't going out of style. I mean, I could go on a wouldn't-it-be-loverly vacation, THEN come back to back surgery. Or so I figured, when I went to bed Wednesday night.

Only to wake up Thursday morning to hear the nice man on the NPR saying something about a volcano in Iceland grounding all air traffic to Heathrow.

Granted, all the pain killers I'm on are making me kind of groggy, but volcano in Iceland?

People, it's got ICE right in the title. How much hot lava can there be, way up there?

Enough, we now know, to screw me, the Cheez, and millions of others out of the pleasure of defying medical authority.

Well, maybe not everyone affected was flying, or trying to fly, against doctor's orders. But still, it made me wonder when Pele the Volcano Goddess joined HealthNet's list of Preferred Providers.

Icelandic volcano. What are the chances? I wondered to my college roommate Little Orphan Annie, who'd spent eight hours the previous night flying halfway to Copenhagen and back again, thanks to Mount Nbdycnfrkinprounsit.

Slim she answered matter of factly, sucking down what was clearly not her first martini of the day.

Slim enough that when I told a co-worker, he responded Don't you mean, Greece's economy has failed, causing riots across Europe and that's why you can't go, because that at least is somewhat plausible.

Of course, Greece's economy--and the rest of Europe's--is screwed in no small because of the gross fiscal negligence of a certain other pseudo-European nation that shall go unnamed. Unnamed because none of us can pronounce any of its proper, or for that matter its improper, nouns.

It's been a hundred and eight-nine years since the damn thing last erupted Cheez noted you'd think that would give them enough time to send out a press release.

By Friday morning, we had both cell phones and an assortment of laptops fired up, trying to figure out if there was any chance of us going anywhere. Would all those hours spent poring over travel guides and boning up on Brit history by watching Anne of a Thousand Days and Mary Queen of Scots be for naught?

Well, at least the latter gave us enough appreciation for hard-drinking, hot-blooded Scotsmen to appreciate this guy in a Hooter's hoodie.

So that's what we're reduced to. Quoting a guy in a Hooter's hoodie. Which is what we do every day when we check the NATS update to see if there's any chance our rescheduled flight (for later this week) will actually take off.

I suppose it could be worse. The volcano could have trapped us once we were abroad. Like a certain someone who's probably done pining for the fjords after the flight ban left him to take a taxi home from Norway.

And I suppose it could still happen. The volcano could calm down enough for us to get to England, then kick up again, keeping us from leaving.

Note to our cat sitter: we just laid in 140 pounds of litter. Have a great time while we're gone!

Or all that Icelandic ash could just keep pluming its way across Europe like an Abba cover band. In which case, it's back to back surgery after all.

Monday, April 12, 2010

So Much for Sit-Down Comedy

Want a challenge? Trying saying Socks suck ten times fast.

Not enough of a challenge? Try doing it while putting on your socks--without sitting down or bending forward.

Forget the heartbreak of psoriasis. Welcome to the suffering of sciatica. Or, as my college roommate so helpfully put it, isn't that something our grandmothers used to get?

That would explain all that time her grandmother spent on the kneelers at Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering. Because sitting pretty much is perpetual suffering, as in the most painful experience I can have, these days.

The more comfortable the chair, the more it hurts. If Torquemada had access to Lazy Boys, he could have stamped out Judaism and Islam in about ten minutes, provided all the Semites were also Sciatic.
I have actually stood my way across America, on any number of commercial flights in the past several months. The worst was the one from New Orleans to Denver, because to quite literally add insult to injury, the New Orleans airport was bedecked with banners for the AAOS conference. You know, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

If only any of them had been able to get so much as a Swiss Army knife through airport security, I would have been happy to have them cut me open right there on the Cinnabon counter.

Then there was the hotel room in San Francisco. I mean, I'm sure it was just random coincidence that the staff put me in the disabled suite. Unfortunately, the disabled suite is for someone who can't stand up. Not little ol' Macaronimaniac, who can't sit down. Try crawling onto that low-riding commode without bending, I dare you.

hey make all sorts of accommodations for people who need to be seated. But nothing for someone who needs to stand, my friend Rachel commiserated. You should protest!

Which maybe I would, except that this is definitely not the week for me to hold a sit-in.

Or even a lie-down. Sleeping hurts. Unless I take Vicodin and Flexeril, in which case sleeping is only mildly uncomfortable. And something I want to do twenty hours a day.

Of course, everybody is being very nice. They are giving me all kinds of advice. Because being told what to do when anything you do causes deep physical pain, is apparently meant to at least relieve you of the need to decide which self-inflicted agony to pursue.

Although some people swear by chiropractors, I have avoided them, believing they are generally considered to be quacks. Of course, I think the folks most likely to promulgate this belief are physical therapists.

Physical therapists, I am learning, are quacks who assign homework. Basically, the PTs I have seen (a mere four, though I'm sure you've also got one to recommend) have banned me from yoga and bicycling and anything else I might want to do. And then they give me exercises that are suspiciously like yoga. Except prescribed by someone you pay a helluva lot more to than your yoga teacher.

Then they ask whether I am better yet, and when I am not, they tell me I need to come for more physical therapy.

We have you try something, and if it helps the pain, you keep doing it. If not, we try something else, explained physical therapist number two, who I'm pretty sure was wearing a Wehrmacht uniform under her Adidas track suit.

I can't imagine how I would manage without this level of professional support. I couldn't possibly figure that much out on my own. Not as long as I'm holding onto this wet fork I've stuck into an electric socket.

Which reminds me, someone did just recommend an acupuncturist she swears will do the trick.

The most disturbing part of all of this is that nobody really knows what causes the pain. Supposedly, it has something to
do with some part of my spine which can only be described through an analogy to a jelly donut.

So basically, the puff has gone out of my pastry. Leaving big gobs of raspberry filling all over my nerves.

Not to mention gobs of toothpaste on my shirt front.

I'm serious about the toothpaste. You try expectorating a mouthful of dentrifice without bending forward. Makes the socks seem like a walk in the park.

And it's not like I can put anything in the washing machine, cursed low-water Euro-eco front loader that I have.

So if you notice someone standing up on public transit, or lying down in the middle of a meeting, wincing so badly you can hardly make out her soiled shirt front, please come over and say hello.