Wednesday, October 20, 2010

This is Way Too Much Information

The saying goes something like this, “everyone has one, an opinion and a hole in their butt.” Women have them, men have them, children have them, and even senior citizens have them. We need them, we have doctors especially for them, we laugh about them, and Marty finds amazing humor in talking about them, the hole in our arse.

For the last week Marty has been laughing at me because of the hole in my posterior. You are about to get entirely too much information and this is way too long, I know that, but what follows is a big event in my life and for reasons that will become painfully apparent I have learned an entirely new way for my body to say, “hey, wake up I’ve got a surprise for you."

About a week ago I began to feel a bit of pain “down there.” It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t something new and I did all of the requisite pain “down there” kind of remedies. I complained to Marty, told her I had pain in the hole of the butt and she said, “I’m sorry” and then laughed as I rose gingerly from her bed and waddled down the hall. At least I was providing some comic relief for my bride.

The pain steadily increased. I didn’t sleep well that night, the ibuprofen was providing no relief and I found it amazing how often one uses the internal muscles of the butt to sit up, to get up or roll over. Every time I moved it hurt.

I had planned to tough it out for the week to see if the home remedies for hole in the bottom pain would finally take hold. By the morning I had given up on being tough and called my doctor and managed to get in to see him that morning. I told the good doctor of my pain and for my troubles I got to assume the position, elbows on the table, pants down around the ankles. I told the good doc what I was experiencing and he looked a bit concerned and said it didn’t sound like typical pain “down there” kind of stuff. He performed the requisite exam (I know, ewww), asked about fever, gave me a couple of scrips and said call back in two days if I didn’t have marked improvement.

I did not find any relief over the two ensuing days. I waddled as I walked, Marty laughed as I waddled and I could only find comfort in my bed on my side. I went back to the doctor as instructed, it was a Friday.

He looked at me and said, “You know, people are going to start talking about us if you have to keep coming in here for this exam.”

I said, “Yeah, we have a hell of a relationship going, I just can’t look you in the eye anymore, but then I guess that’s not what you’re looking at anyway. Maybe you should read some poetry, or something like that.”

We went back to our uncomfortable, but now familiar positions and he did his job and I winced with pain. He said let’s see a surgeon today. In 15 minutes I had an appointment to see a colorectal surgeon that afternoon.

Colorectal surgeons used to be called proctologists. The best advice for picking a proctologist, check out hand size and never go to one that can palm a basketball. I walked into this guy’s office and was immediately impressed with the size and appointments and thought there must be good money in hole in the butts.

I met the doctor, we talked, had a mini-date and he told me to remove my pants and cover up with a flimsy paper blanket. Here I got to lay on the exam table as he wheeled up his stool and put on his head lamp for a better view. I heard him snap on his rubber gloves and when I heard a “thrmmp” sound I said, “That wasn’t me” trying to introduce a little fart humor into a really uncomfortable situation. “No, I know,” he said, “it was my KY jelly.” I’m thinking we’re having fun now. I’m just hoping I really don’t have an attack of flatulence as he peers intently at my tookus.

Dr. Procto (an alias) says I think you have what is called a perianal abscess. Go ahead, look it up, find pictures, it’s impressive. He says it needs to be fixed by draining it and he can do it in his office right now but it would hurt a little bit, just a little bit, but draining the abscess would provide immediate relief. I figured the pain couldn’t be much worse so I breezily said, “Give me a bullet to bite on and bring it on.” My bravado did not last long.

A really cute 30’ish woman who I had already met came in to assist. I’m thinking, can this get any more humiliating. My ass is bare, there are bright lights on it and two people are getting all kinds of sterile (I hope) metal instruments ready for an introduction to the most delicate part of my posterior.

What follows next can only be described as, well, really, really painful. The doctor said I’m going to give you a couple of doses of pain meds and then drain the abscess. His assistant, the really cute and I’m sure competent medical assistant that I will never be able to look in the eye again, grabs my right cheek (not the cheek on my face) and pulls up while the doctor jabs me several times in a very private area with needles meant to alleviate pain. The pain the needles created was a lot worse than hurting just “a little bit.”

I have to say I don’t know exactly what was going on back there, it’s not like a bordello with mirrors; I can only go by what I felt and I felt pierced, sliced and squeezed. I have been through some painful stuff, I have had broken bones, but I have never cried out in pain. At some point in time I was clambering in bare air for something to grip, gritting my teeth and trying really hard not to kick and I finally just hollered, “Ooooh, that’s more than a little pain.”

“Almost done,” Dr. Procto said as he pushed just a couple of more times. “You will be happy to know my diagnosis was correct and the abscess is now clear.” Tears are running down my face onto the exam table and I think, “Was there a doubt?”

The doctor starts putting gauze up my heinie to tamp the flow of goo and blood from the 2nd hole in my butt and suggested I go buy some panty shields. I can’t resist, “So to top off this painful and extremely humiliating experience I now have to wear feminine hygiene products? What a great day.”

It took me a minute to get up which was good because I couldn’t look the doctor or his assistant in the eye. I sat up, no pain; I stood up, no pants yet, but no pain. I got dressed, set up a follow-up appointment and had no pain. It was a relief to be able walk without hurting. I took a tentative cough, it was okay, but I didn’t want to push it too hard. It seemed the assault had reaped great rewards.

Now I know this is way too long, I know this is way too personal but I write this to make my wife laugh and to say those of us with hole in the rear issues require a support group, I’m thinking NAHIB, National Association of Hole in the Butt Issues. Or, maybe just PIA, because that’s really what it is all about, a pain in the ass.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Here's Blood in Your Eye

Blood, just a small drop, barely noticeable welled up in the left corner of her right eye. She coughed hard several times as just a tiny bit of blood began in the right corner of her right eye and slowly started to trail down her cheek as she continued to cough. I carefully pulled the long thin catheter from her nose as the blood from her eye moved further down her right cheek.

Erica quickly took a soft tissue and dabbed the tiny bit of blood from Marty’s cheek and said, “That’s new.”

“Yeah”, I said, thinking, “I hate new.”

We sat Marty up from her supine position in her bed as she gasped for the air I had just suctioned from her lungs along with the sticky phlegm. I looked at her right eye and didn’t see any more blood pooling in the eye. I didn’t see any sign of broken blood vessels or any redness in her eye, only the tiniest remnants of blood and tears.

Marty struggled to catch her breath and to breathe normally as I looked at her and as calmly as I could I got her attention on me and said, “Everything’s okay, take slow deep breaths.” Erica gently placed the nasal cannula under her nose and turned on the oxygen. Marty’s breathing slowly began to return to normal as the trauma from the suctioning abated.

I looked at her eye again and could not see any sign of blood and I internally decided to ignore this new event. I was an experienced caregiver, I had seen “new” before and in most cases it was nothing more than an anomaly, a one-off, I could be cool for a change and not obsess about this little event.

It was late. Marty had settled into her bed comfortably, Erica was with her, I went to get ready for bed. I sat in the living room and ruminated on what had just happened. It was bound to be something simple. She had coughed, she had coughed really hard as I had suctioned, it must have been just a small capillary that had burst and leaked a little bit of blood. That was the simplest, most straight forward explanation. I checked on Marty and Erica one more time, they were resting, I went to sleep.

By the next morning I was patting myself on the back for my practical coolness in the face of “new”. I really wasn’t all that cool. Virtually every thought I was having focused on why Marty had blood in her eye. I was beginning to obsess and coming up with all kinds of very unlikely scenarios. It was time to call Great and Wise and see if he could see her today and make sure she wasn’t going blind in her right eye or having a hemorrhagic stroke or some other exotic ailment. I called and one of our friends at the office, Angie, figured out how to squeeze us in to see the good doctor.

When we got into the office I told Great and Wise about our rather harrowing experience and he began to examine Marty, looking at her eye, looking in her ears and last taking his little light and looking in her nose. He kissed Marty on the cheek and looked at me asking, “You ever seen the guy on David Letterman that can suck milk in his nose and shoot it out his eyes?”

He walked over to the ubiquitous chart on the wall diagramming the face, the nose, and the sinuses and pointed to where the tear duct runs down into the nose. He explained, “She has just a small cut in her nose where it bled just a little last night. I imagine when you put the catheter in her nose you nicked it just bit. When she was coughing so hard it probably pushed the blood up the tear duct into her eye pushing a bit of blood out the tear ducts. Just like the guy with the milk only with blood.” The man is a genius.

We left with me thinking better thoughts while talking to Marty about how weird and interesting this whole event was. My initial intuition was right in that it was an anomaly, but it was a really strange anomaly I could not over look. I guess that sort of defines anomaly.

I later relayed this story to Jerry and Luann, Marty’s brother and his wife. Jerry immediately identified with the story in that Jean, Marty and Jerry’s mom, used to literally shot smoke out of her eyes. She would inhale the smoke from her cigarette in her nose and push it through the tear ducts out of her eyes. Jerry said she didn’t do it often because it hurt. I bet it did.

Clearly the body will do some amazing things if you can shoot milk, smoke or blood out of your eyes. I have to tell you it’s really freaky to see it and I’m about tired of learning of new and fascinating body facts. I have become a veritable font of useless anatomical information. If I’m ever on a game show or if you need a phone-a-friend just let me know it may have happened to Marty.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Heights Same Life

I was introduced to a concept called the Ladder of Inference by a unique and marvelous consulting group from Dallas called Ann McGee Cooper and Associates. The essential idea behind the ladder is we all tend to make assumptions about events, build on those assumptions and make conclusions based on those assumptions sometimes without ever validating those assumptions. In other words, at times we make stuff up based on what we think we know, not what we empirically know.

Being the somewhat intuitive over reacting fellow that I am, I do this a lot, always have. The other day I was taking a shower (I’m very modest so everyone please close your eyes while reading this, and don’t go oooooh) when I heard my cell phone start beeping with a text message. Now I don’t get a lot of texts and most come from Nikkie, one of our caregivers. At the times she was taking care of Marty in Marty’s room as I showered.

Here’s how the ladder sometimes works. I get a text, I think it’s from Nikkie who knows I’m taking a shower so why would she text me, something must be wrong. My adrenalin starts to pump, slowly starting to overtake my normal good sense as I continue soaping.

My mind immediately starts to rationalize and list the calamities that might have occurred, another stroke, seizure, heart attack? I think it is most likely a seizure and Nikkie can’t leave Marty’s side so she texted me, good for her, good thinking. Now I move to, oh shit, we are going to have to up the anti-seizure meds, it’s going to make her sleepy, she won’t get out of bed and the new medicine will mask other symptoms, this really sucks.

I wash off as quickly as I can without panicking and momentarily think of running out of the bathroom with just a towel to help Nikkie and check to see if Marty is still breathing and recovering from the seizure. I decide to check the text instead. It was from Verizon telling me they had drafted my account for the amount of my bill.

I stepped down a couple of rungs on the ladder but I still hustled around quickly to dry off and dress (you can open your eyes now) because what if my superhuman intuitive powers were detecting some anomaly with Marty before it actually happened.

I walked out of the bedroom and into Marty’s room as fast as one can and still maintain cool points. Marty was dressed, sitting up in bed drinking Gatorade watching some lame move on the Hallmark channel. I said, “Everything ok?” I got, “Just fine,” from both Marty and Nikkie. I decided to step all the way down the ladder.

This is life, it’s certainly my life. I stand at the foot of the ladder of inference daily, sometimes I start climbing and stop, sometimes I get all the way to the top before I realize I don’t like heights and rational thought starts to creep in and I climb down. Ann and Duane, thanks for teaching me about the ladder. I still climb it from time to time but at least I know what I’m doing.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Smokin' and Jokin' in Heaven

I don’t know how we got there. I never do, I just look around and there we are, sitting outside having another one of those conversations. We were sitting out on our patio enjoying a recent spate of cooler, meaning not over 95 degree, weather in central Texas. Marty really likes sitting outside and just soaking up a few rays. Invariably, without the competition from the TV or other distractions we talk, we actually kind of dialogue. Somehow, some way the subject of heaven and hell became the topic du jour.

Since I’m something of a provocateur, I looked at Marty and asked, “Do you still believe in heaven and hell….as a real place?”

Marty replies, “Yes, don’t you?”

“Not so much anymore,” I said. “I don’t know about places like that. I kind of think of heaven as something we can’t and don’t understand.”

Marty, “Well I still do.”

I just can’t resist so I continue, “Do you think you are going to heaven some day?”

“I don’t know.” Marty says.

A little surprised I asked her, “What about hell, you plan on visiting there?”

“Not unless I have to, no.”

About this time a small wind blew through our back yard and moved some of our wind chimes enough for them to make their music. We both love wind chimes and the sort of natural tones they drift into the wind. Before Marty got sick, right after her father died, she told me when she heard wind chimes it was like her father was talking to her. Consequently I bought more wind chimes.

As the wind blew and caused the chiming she looked at me and asked,  “What do you think he’s telling us now?”

“I imagine he’s telling us he’s up in heaven telling jokes and bossing everyone around. I can just imagine you and your dad in heaven telling jokes.”

Marty mulled this for a minute and said, “I don’t think so, my humor isn’t really all that heavenly.” She’s right, her humor has always been just a tad bit blue, actually a lot blue, but I suspect God would be fine with that because Marty can be really funny and really ribald.

In her previous life Marty was an inveterate story teller and heavy smoker. Smoking was her personal demon and she still feels guilt for having smoked all those years. She wasn’t one of those aggressive, in your face kind of smokers, but she liked to smoke and it was something she did not let go easily. She hasn’t smoked since January of 2006 but she still won’t admit she has quit. She plans on starting again the first chance she gets. All of which leads us to smoking and heaven, or smoking in heaven

Marty, “When I get to heaven I’m going to start smoking again.”

“No, you can’t do that in heaven,” I said. “They don’t have smoking there.”

“Yes they do,” she insisted. “There’s bound to be a smoking section there.”

Okay, you can’t tell dirty jokes but you can smoke, as long as you’re standing in the right spot, maybe like the smoking cage at the Las Vegas airport where they put all of the smokers in a glass room so the non-smokers can point and ridicule. I can see it now, sitting on heavenly clouds in a smoke filled glass room puffing away on your Marlboros with St. Peter calling out, “smoke’em if you got’em.”

I don’t know if any of this is right and I don’t plan on finding out any time soon, but I bet if you are in heaven’s smoking section they will be telling dirty jokes and laughing.