Tag Archives: humor

That Which is Me

I usually don’t focus on how sick I was. Mayhap I’m hoping that if I “forget” it, I won’t have to relive it.

But I was. Sick, sick, sick. So sick it made me sick to my stomach. You know, holding-the-bile-down kind of sick while you try to function with every single cell on fire, and without letting on how vilely ill you truly are. I even withheld the truth from my rheumatologist. The real one, not the “fake” one who let this disease land me in the emergency room, excuse me, emergency department.

I’m fine, I would say, not letting on that it took every drop of willpower to lift myself off of the waiting room chair, which I’d been locked into for hours, and walk as unobtrusively as possible down the hallway to the exam room. I refused to show that every step was agony. I was a pretender, pretending that nothing was wrong with me.

The lab numbers told a different story of course. Your blood cannot lie as well as you can. But, hey, everyone has an individual tolerance for pain, a pain threshold all their own. Therefore, he accepted my story that it hurt here and there, but not too bad. When in truth the pain was so bad I wanted to run down the street screaming, except that I physically couldn’t do that.

And then, everything changed. I don’t really know if it was gradual or all at once. But I’m pretty sure that what jump-started the process was me taking a breather from my job. That’s all I thought it was. I’ll just rest a few months, I thought. Those months turned into years, and still counting.

And then my kid graduated and went off to college. Check! Last kid launched.

And then, I started to actually pay attention to me. I was no longer a pain-wracked automaton. I was a person, a person with needs and wants. And my biggest want was for the pain to go away. I was feeling better, thinking better, the brain fog was all but gone and I realized that I wasn’t going to continue to go downhill and die.

I was going to live! So I began to celebrate, with spirits. No, not with THE spirits, but the spirits that come in a bottle. In the Before, I could count the drinks I had during a year on one hand and have fingers left over. I went from being a near teetotaler to having one drink, maybe two, in a single week.

And that numbed the pain even more. Not the orange juice with the dash of vodka or the glass of sweet white wine, but the thought that I was letting myself enjoy life, whatever life was still left to me.

And that loosened up my inhibitions, voilà, to the winds. I grabbed my pen and I began to write, and write and write. Millions of words either gushed forth or were purged from my lowest depths. A catharsis, or an enema for the soul, who’s to know?

All I knew, know,  is that my new-found energy and sense of well-being was the biggest high money could buy. I exercised, or maybe exorcised, my bane away. I don’t know what produced more endorphins, my daily workouts or my renewed sense of self.

Or perhaps it was the anxiety seeping out of me,  along with the steady flow of blue ink from my pen, that made the difference. Who needed a couch when I had my blank page? I found me on those pages, and though my writing did tend to lean toward the hopeful and sentimental, it did sometimes take a turn toward the naughty.

But nice.

DELECTABLE

 You look so sweet,
so smooth and slick. I
wrap my hand around your
stem. My fingers grasp and
gently tug that which is you to
bring you close and firmly wrap
my lips around your rounded rim
whose velvety feel brings forth
ambrosia the gods themselves
were not allowed. I take a sip
inhale deep the silken fluid
clear as the light that
gushes forth, ever
so sweet, blankets
my tongue. I
swallow
deep
and
lick
my
lips
so’s
not
to
lose
a
drop
of
savory dew, that which is you

 (© 2011 Irma A Navarro)

 

 

 

 

 

The Worst Patient

When I was delivering direct patient care, we were given a two-hour window during which to administer medications. If a med was scheduled for 1 p.m. (1300 in hospital-speak) it could be given between noon and 2 p.m. (1200 to 1400). It was one of the ways Administration acknowledged that we nurses had a lot on our plate and the day was only so long.

I don’t know if this is still the case at the bedside as I’ve been gone a long while now, and I don’t expect to ever return. The curtain has lowered on those days, but I am reminded of that window every time I take my own meds late. Or forget to take them at all.

These days I have only one patient’s needs to meet. There is only one patient for me to give primary care to. Only one patient whose meds I have to keep straight in my head. Me.

And I find that it’s not any easier. One does not simplify things, especially when that one researches and investigates every little thing. And at times does not even comply with the treatment.

I once confessed to the Nurse Practitioner taking my history that I was noncompliant with one medication. She paused in her note taking to look up at me, then we locked eyes and laughed. It’s common knowledge that doctors and nurses make the worst patients.

As it stands, the nurse in me is trying to come up with a workable plan of care for the patient in me. For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of making a MAR for myself (Medication Administration Record). Or would that be on myself?

We used to get the MARs every day from the pharmacy; they covered 24 hours’ worth of documentation. I don’t need to get as specific, but I would at least need to list all my meds and the times they are due. That way I would be able to check them off, sign off on them so to speak, as I take them. And thereby no longer wonder did I take that calcium this morning? Or that Gabapentin last night?

As it is, there’s no way to tell. I have so many things on my mind, so many things that need to get done. And subconsciously, I don’t want to take my meds. Or more accurately, I don’t want to have a reason to need to take my meds.

But alas, I do.

I already have my phone set to alert me that Wednesday is Methotrexate Day. Unfortunately, every day is Plaquenil Day and noon seems to come around all too quickly. I swear there are less than 24 hours between noons. Or maybe it just seems that way. It’s that old noncompliance thing tugging at me.

So I’m thinking a “MAR” should keep me on the daily straight and narrow. Back when I supervised three separate nursing units, my last task each day was to list all the things that needed to get done the next day. Those were the steno-pad days, before the now ubiquitous computers. I would leave the hand-written list on the center of my desk so it was the first thing I saw upon opening my office door.

And it really worked. I got so much done that first year; it still makes me tired just thinking about it. But they do say that if you write down your goals, they are more likely to get accomplished.

It’s definitely come time to make myself another action plan. I just have to decide on the form, or the format. A dry erase board comes to mind. But I don’t think I can find room on the wall for one that big. Anyway, I don’t want it front and center, spoiling the “décor” of my home office. So I’ll design it on my laptop, then print it out so it can join the jumble on my desk.

I’ll program my phone to remind me to look at it. Or for it.

What Is Going On?

I have a foot. Actually, I have two, but one is acting up. Acting up so very, very badly.

It started a few months back, perhaps several weeks ago. I’ve lost track. I thought nothing of it at first, but then the pain began to visit me more and more often. Often enough for me to stop in my tracks and pay attention.

I remember telling the PA, “My heels hurt.” He stopped tapping on his laptop long enough to glance in my direction.  I could read his expression, Meh.

“I know with age you start to lose the padding on the soles of your feet,” I hurried up and said to fill the silence.

He nodded and kept on tapping. My life story, or at least my RA life story, used to be a file inches thick. Now I don’t know. It’s held within a slim, flat black box with cold, hard keys. It makes the operator of it a little cold and hard, I think. Not because that’s how he is, but because he has to pay attention to where his fingers land; before he could write with his pen while still looking at me like he was interested in what I was saying.

It’s a dichotomy. I try not to interrupt his tapping, yet if I don’t speak he has nothing to tap about. Anyway, I just wanted it for the record. My heels hurt, but not that day. Though I was a little stiff from sitting in the hard waiting room chair for two hours, I didn’t have much to complain about that day.

On the next visit, I told the doctor, “My heels hurt sometimes. “ Just in case he hadn’t read the previous notes. He glanced up from his iPhone and smiled at me, then his eyes went right back to the screen.  He is on the cutting edge, treatment-wise, always researching each new step from every angle.  So I said nothing further. I trusted he would store that little nugget regarding my feet and pull out the magic formula when the time came.

On this visit we were more concerned with having to add Plaquenil to my cocktail, so my feet were low priority. “I want to see you in six weeks,” he said, making himself a note. “When are you back? How long will you be gone?”

I love a man who listens.

“I’ll be back by then,” I said. I’d told him I was traveling to see my baby granddaughter.

By the time we left, I had an angry right foot. It could be somewhat mollified with Advil, Tylenol or Aleve. They took turns stifling the fire. The pain made itself most at home in my right heel. I’ll rest it; it’ll be fine, I thought. Hah!

It was busy, busy, lots to do. Strolling down Bourbon Street was fun while it was happening.

“Oh, my God,” my daughter exclaimed. “That bar was in Bar Rescue.” She had all the backstory portrayed on the TV show about the rivalry between it and another bar up the road. I stopped and looked at it; it didn’t look like much from across the street.

And that was exactly the trouble. It was across the street.

“Go inside and look around,” I said. “I’ll wait here with the kids.” She is a bar aficionado. Wants to own one day. (!)

She stared at it for a bit, then shrugged and kept on walking. I was relieved. As long as I kept moving, I could quell the fire. My synapses were busy concentrating on other parts of my body, but when I stopped, oh my! Even the sugar high from the beignets was not enough to distract my brain from the pain while sitting.

I blamed the extra activity for the acuteness of the pain, but once I returned home and had all the leisure I could desire I had to find another culprit.

Maybe I fractured something?

Could it be RA being its mean old self?

Yesterday, I couldn’t bear weight on my heel.  Walking on the ball of my foot hurt exponentially worse. It was so bad, I saw stars while I limped from room to room. And I thought twice before moving. Did I really have to go pee? Right then? Could it wait a bit?

I went to bed with one thought: see my PCP, get an Rx for an x-ray, and then hobble over to the diagnostic center.

Today it barely hurts and I managed to walk the grocery store without a problem. I’m stumped. As Wolf Blitzer would say: What is going on?

 

 

 

Quality vs Quantity

quilt

 

As I toil away on the next quilt, I notice that repetitive motions make the going difficult. 

I find that if I mix it up, the cutting, the pinning, the stitching, the pressing, it goes much easier. My body doesn’t get the chance to stiffen up and ache.

So I stand at my cutting/work table for a little bit. Then sit at my sewing machine for a while. And from there, I stand at the ironing board pressing each piece just so. Always pressing toward the dark side.

I always laugh when I think of it, the dark side. The idea is that the seam allowance won’t show as much if you press toward the darker fabric. But I can’t help thinking that applies to life itself. At least, to mine.

RA is the dark side. Trying desperately to recruit me as a permanent resident. Well, hell no, I won’t go!

I see the doc next week. I will stress quality vs quantity. I am more afraid of pain than I am of death. To me death is nothing more than a library filled with books, real books, and all eternity to read them.

I am not being morbid. Death comes to us all, as the saying goes. It’s something inevitable, unavoidable. We can do nothing about it.

But, life. That we can do something about. If we want to.

A few years ago I stopped working in order to increase the quality of my life. I’d lived in a fog. Pain had taken over the driver’s seat and left me trailing behind. Only I couldn’t bring myself to actually quit, to sever those long-held ties. So I just didn’t go to work one day. Months later they tenderly let me go with a letter that said: let us know when you want to come back.

Today that fog, that malevolent mist, is circling, beeping inside my radar screen, waiting for the opportunity to make its undesired approach. But I won’t let it land. My little traffic controller is acutely aware of it; it’s been in the trenches before. Surprise is no longer on RA’s side.

Still, sometimes it causes me to do funny things. For instance, I unwittingly wrote this title backwards at first, quantity vs quality. Freudian slip perhaps?

And today, while in the lab’s waiting room, I almost burst out laughing. I went to catch up on my emails and opened my DailyWritingTips newsletter. Today’s topic was on “gratuitous capitalization.”

Only I misread the title. I read gratuitous capitulation.

I’m still laughing. I’m thinking that would make a fantastic title for a short story.  The possible storylines are endless!

BTW, this isn’t what the quilt will look like. I was just playing around with the possibilities. Life is full of them, you know. Possibilities, that is.

Amazing Friend

Is there a more beautiful word than ‘friend’?

One who takes the time to know the real you.

Who thinks of you, even when far away.

I am lucky to have such a friend.

Though going through some hard times,

she took the time to think of me.

And surprised me with this T-shirt.

I am awed and amazed.

In six little words it touches on my nursing and editing work,

and my Grandma status.

editing

Yes (comma) let’s save lives and not eat Grandma.

Thank you again, my friend.

I hope I am such a friend in return.

Beautiful

She keeps popping in and out as I work at my desk. Every few words I have to stop typing to see what she needs. Her tiny flashlight that’s blue and not pink. A Beanie Baby kitty that sits among my books. Paper from my printer to draw a green robot.

Finally, she bounces in wearing totally different clothes and shoes.

“Why did you change your clothes?” I’m amazed she’s such a quick-change artist.

“I want to look beautifo.”

“You know where you look really beautiful?”

She eyes me expectantly.

“In your chair watching Sponge-Bob.”

She sucks in her breath and runs.

The Tin Woman

This streak of cold days makes me feel like I need oiling. We had a reprieve yesterday, if you can call it that. I was still freezing. The day before, I went around the house wrapped in a blanket. I do have sweaters and jackets, even though living in South Florida you’d think I wouldn’t need them. Isn’t that why all the Snowbirds come down here? To get away from the cold?

A blanket just seemed much more soothing. And what makes me colder is the fact my work is done sitting in place. Movement would warm me up.

In fact, two days ago, I started my work while still under the covers.

“Aren’t you getting up?” asked my husband.

“You realize I don’t have to get out of bed to do my work?” I replied with a smirk.

Ah, the joys of beta reading and editing. But eventually, I had to go to my desk and my office used to be the attached garage. It’s got my sewing and writing needs all neatly arranged but talk about cold! Houses down here are built to stay cool, so when it’s cold outside it’s freezing inside.

Eons ago when I was young, I spent eight years in Michigan. I can still see myself running around in jeans and a simple leather blazer in zero degree weather. I was in my twenties, what did I know? Today I would need snow pants and two parkas. That attire would guarantee I could not move about easily.

This weather serves the same purpose. I can’t move around easily in my virtual snow gear. The cold turns me into the tin woman. Wish someone would come around and squirt some oil into me.

blizzard

After a blizzard, the scooped up snow was taller than I was. But at least, I was wearing a sweater dress on this cold day. Albeit, a very little one!

Burnt

I find myself lost today. Missing what I thought was a loyal and trusted friend. One who knew more about me than I knew about myself. One who could anticipate my needs and my wants before I even knew I had them. We’d gotten so close over the past few years, we were almost like one thinking entity.

And then overnight, poof!

Gone.

Now I’m left trying to put the pieces back together. My browser, my search engine, my late-night research partner, my crutch left me last night. Don’t know where he went, but he took years of research with him. I suppose a computer geek can help me find him. I prefer to think it’s a him. Somehow it seems more natural to think of a him leaving me in the lurch.  (Sorry, Guys!)

I’m now trying to get cozy with Internet Explorer. We used to have a relationship years ago, and then I left him. For him who shall remain nameless. Never thought I’d get burnt for doing that.

But all my sites! All my siiiiites. Just to log into my online editing class took some sleuthing. I had a lesson pending from yesterday and there’s a new one tomorrow. True, I have two weeks to complete them, but I have enough on my to-do list; I don’t want to get behind. Besides, it’s so interesting; I’m learning stuff I never even considered about editing.

After entering key word after key word into Google and coming up empty, I finally remembered I’d emailed the link to someone. I managed to get back in that way and do my lesson. Abbreviations and Hyphens, Blibliographies and Copyrights. Wow, who knew all the technicallities involved?

Yes, I had the address written down in my class notebook, but I was too flustered to go through 200 pages of notes. Now I’m having to add my trusty sites to my “Favorites” one by one. And there were hundreds. No way can I remember them all. Thankfully, my desktop is peppered with icons. I can link from there.

In time I got the main ones listed: my news sites, my writer’s groups sites, my dictionaries (both English and Spanish), this blog and last, but not least, Pandora Radio. For what is life without music? I can get along without my bestest friend if I have to, but music, no way.

And now that I’ve relearned how to open new tabs on Explorer, I’m good to go with my soundtrack running in the background. I’m buiding a new Donna Summer station. Boy, does that take me back. Back to when there were no computers to fail us, or to help us. I might have gotten burnt, but like the phoenix, I rise.

My Lover, My Friend

I’ve been trying to say goodbye to my friend called Prednisone. Or at least, so long. He’s a good buddy to have around at your beck and call, as long as he knows his place. His place in the medicine cabinet, that is. But, I think he loves me more than I love him, because he’s gotten a reprieve. Not only will our connection not be decreased, he will stay on board a bit longer.

I was all set to start our goodbye process, a process that can take weeks, even months. We’ve been intimately involved since March when my right hand suffered a blow, or rather a blow-up. It became so swollen and painful, it was basically rendered useless. My left hand jumped into the fray and compensated as best it could, but the only thing that tore at the devil called Pain was my bestest friend.

Candy, I used to call him, though he is a bitter pill to swallow, literally. Every morning he’s there, waiting patiently for me. I want him, but I don’t want him, even though he does make me feel good, spry, nimble, young again.  Like a lover, he gives me a good feeling all over, once that initial swallow of tea takes him down into my innermost.

We will have to continue our relationship through the rest of the year, I suppose. He has a new area to caress and concentrate on. My chest, right over my heart. How ironic is that?

Costochondritis, my doctor calls it. A fancy word for swelling of the cartilage that connects each rib to what is commonly called the breastbone. This pain is not as severe, but then I don’t use my chest like I do my hands. Though one thing it does have in common with the hand pain is that it’s there all the time. All the time.

So, when I leave for The Big Easy in a few days, my good buddy will be first and foremost on my list. I was going to take him along anyway, as insurance. Now, he will go with me as assurance.