Sunday, May 27, 2007

An offer you can't refuse.

You might be interested to learn your Mob Nickname. Mine, you will not be surprised to discover, is "The Enforcer."

Back up, bitches! We've got some dancin' to do.

Blame Scott.

Scott wrote, "Thanks for the pictures 'cause you're absolutely right, visiting the Foro Italico with only three days in Rome was indeed way down on my list of things to see and do. Truthfully it wasn't even on our list! But now that you've perked my interest I must google this and take a better look at it."

Apparently Scott does not know me well enough to know not to even vaguely encourage me to talk about Mussolini's impact on the city of Rome. I tried to play it cool by connecting to Timed Finals before, but now someone has shown interest and you will all pay.

First, Scott mentioned googling the Foro Italico, which I realized was something I had not done, so here are a couple of links to sites with decent information and photos.

Italy Cyber Guide gives a little of the post-Mussolini history of the site (PP and I were trying to remember when the Olympics were in Rome. He guessed 1964 and was close: 1960). They include a photo of the entire track and you can see the little muscular dudes ringing it, even though they look like little white specks. If you are looking for more close-ups, you might consult this book, which provides thirty-some excellent b&w images of the statues. And this is an absolutely awesome article about the pool and its mosaics--with tons of excellent clear well-lit butt-shots--I mean photographs of the mosaics--definitely check it out.

Sporty types and especially soccer types might be interested to know that the Stadio Olimpico was renovated in 1990 for the World Cup, and that both AS Roma and SS Lazio play there. I see that the Italian Open tennis tournament also happens there. If you read Italian (and really, even if you do not), Wikipedia has a decent, if very brief entry about it, with a couple more photos. And if you want a look for yourself, why not book a night at the Youth Hostel just up the street? Oh right, because we are not really youth anymore. Curses.

But those of you who have visited Roma on a tight itinerary have also seen Mussolini's impact. How could you miss it? He was the dictator of "clear out the detritus" and "let's build wide avenues I can hold parades on."

Did you approach St. Peter's this way?

Before Mussolini's day, you could not have, as the only way into its piazza was through windy little streets. He cleared out a big section of town--full of neighborhoods of windy streets--to build this avenue. If you were to go to the Vatican back in the day, and walk into that piazza, then the world's longest basilica would scare the bejeezus out of you because it is SO MASSIVE, and it is almost impossible to get all of it into your eyeballs. But thanks to the via della Conciliazione, you can watch it grow from a great distance, and get used to it before you walk in. Is that the reconciliation? Or was Benito trying to keep the Vatican from sneaking up on him?

I am certain that most Roman itineraries include a journey to the Roman Forum, and perhaps some of the other fora, like the Forum of Augustus, the Markets of Trajan, etc. Well, before Mussolini, there was not a vast avenue through the middle of those, either. I am talking about the road (now called via dei Fori Imperiali, then called via dell' Impero) that connects the Piazza Venezia (and the Palazzo Venezia, home of his famous balcony) to the Colosseum.

You probably traveled on or looked down that road, but you may not have noticed these maps:

There is a whole series of them, built into a retaining wall, and they document the various stages of the Roman empire--something our Benito was very interested in.

What about these flagpoles?

After the war, Italians broke the hatchet heads off the fasci, but they are still fasci! Anyway, Mussolini built this road specifically to make a connection between his government, housed in the Palazzo Venezia, and ancient Rome. He was subtle that way. And never mind the important archaeological material lurking underneath that roadway.

There is more--like the church that Mussolini had moved so that it would not be in the way of one of his building schemes. Or the various houses--many of them dating from the medieval period--that were demolished to make the tomb of Augustus (previously a closed-in concert venue with amazing acoustics) more visible. But these, my friends, are stories for another day.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Don't you wish you were me?

First, another swim, which went fine, although I was less tolerant of the pain of scar-tissue-bashing than I was on swim #1. Then, breakfast out with my favorite PP (and I even remembered to wear extra layers so in my cold-sensitive post-surgery slow metabolism state I could endure the SuperAirConditioning). Now we are home again, and I am listening to the new Balkan Beat Box, which I just bought at my favorite record store. I'm about to get off the computer and go knit.

Does life get any better than this?

Friday, May 25, 2007

In international swimming news...

Timed Finals notes that Rome is doing renovations in preparation for the (aquatic) World Championships, to be held in 2009 in the city's Foro Italico.

Have you been to Rome? And if so, have you visited the Foro Italico?

I bet you have not, unless you were there for a good while, or have a particular interest in architecture of the Mussolini era. (That obelisk reads "MUSSOLINI," btw.) The sports facilities were built then, and originally called the Foro Mussolini--that's right, an echo of the many other fora in the city from the city's ancient imperial period. Hmmmm... I wonder why Benito was so interested in that era.... Anyway, the Foro Italico is well outside the historical center, requiring a rather elaborate busride (with connections), so that, combined with fascism's non-hotness means hardly anyone sees it.

Anyway, the now-called Foro Italico is in a bit of disrepair.

Nevertheless, short of EUR, it is the best example of how Mussolini's urban vision wanted to build a modern version of ancient Rome.

Check out the statues encircling the running track:

Talk about muscular male athleticism! An entire statue series dedicated to the male bum.

There is a piazza there with (frankly) amazing black and white mosaics. They are an imitation of mosaics discovered at Ostia Antica, an ancient Roman city located between the actual city of Rome and the sea. Here is an example of a mosaic from Ostia:

And here is what the mosaics in the Foro Italico look like:

You probably cannot read the entire text, but it says, "L'Italia ha finalmente il suo impero," or "Italy finally has its empire"--taken from a speech given by Il Duce when Ethiopia was conquered. Some empire. (And sorry for the weird angle: have you ever taken good pictures of floor mosaics?)

Anyway, the natatorium also has some pretty elaborate mosaics, celebrating human athleticism.

I wonder what these "restorations" will look like. I am not a fan of fascism, but it would be a horrible shame if this remaining relic of Mussolini's vision were wiped from the face of a city that bears so many traces of so many visions.

[UPDATE: There is more about the Foro Italico and the wider context of Mussolini's city plan for Rome at "Blame Scott."]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Get this.

I swam at swim practice last night.

It hurt like hell, I was horribly out of shape, my strokes were completely out of balance, I am not adjusted to LCM, and it was the best time I have had in months. I did a total of 2000 LCM, with breaks at almost every wall. Of that, 1600 of it was swim, with long-blade fins, 300 kick with long-blade fins, and 100 BR kick with no fins.

I have not been to practice at all (or had any real exercise) since April 16, and before that it had been since the end of January since I had swum in earnest, instead of kicking. Sure, there was a period in March when I was doing a little swimming here and there, but never more than about 1000 yards.

Did I mention how great it was? SO great. I looked at my arm in the morning and saw that it looked completely healed, and then I was buoyed along all day at the thought of being in the water again. When I got there, I was scared out of my mind, and let me tell you: nothing says, "Welcome back, Jerky!" like seeing the pool formatted for LCM for the first time.

Even with the big fins, and my ebullience at being in the water, I had more than a few "WHERE IS THE WALL?" -s.

I did some freestyle, a good bit of breaststroke, and some backstroke. The BR was easiest of all, since it is an underhand stroke, and I have more mobility there, but even so, I could see that during the power phase of the pull (which, believe me, I was doing gently, not powerfully), my right hand was near the surface (as normal) while my left was a good 8 inches lower. That's OK: I'll get that back. Freestyle was tough: I had to really work to get my left elbow high and around. And backstroke was maybe in between, although I know my hand was entering the water at between a 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock position. Maybe this is a good thing: I usually tend to overreach. But it was hard to keep the arm in the right position during recovery, as it was so much easier to recover wide. I am stiff today, and I slept like a baby last night. Isn't that great?

But here is the really random part: Guess who was at swim practice? You're right! My shoulder surgeon! No I am not making this up, and it was not some kind of pain+euphoria-induced hallucination. He is a triathlete (and he swims with a torn rotator cuff...) and had been talking about coming to our team's practice. Last night was his first time. How weird is that? Because we only have a couple (50 m) lanes, he was even in my lane.

It is not very often that you can ask your lane mate, "This pain is good, right? It's beating out the scar tissue?" and have him say "Yes, it is excellent therapy," and know that he is not yanking your chain.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Walking, talking question mark.

So is it a bad thing that now I take a shower every single day, and wash my hair when I do not need to? That I stand there and relish that wonderful water flow for longer than I should?

The little PICC-line hole in my arm is healing so beautifully. I have been cautioned by, oh, all the mothers in my life not to swim too soon, but to let it heal up completely. No worries! It is doing it on its very own. But I am feeling that itch for chlorine.... Patience, young Jedi.

And I have agreed to help the real coaches of our team teach several swim clinics this summer to summer-league kids. I am so excited about that. The way the clinics work is that there are four stations, and I am in charge of streamlines and pullouts. This is cool for two reasons: 1. I probably would not be the best flipturn teacher, since it has been so long since I learned that skill, and 2. I have pretty rockin' streamlines and pullouts, if I may say so myself. Or I should say, I HAD. This will motivate me to bring the mobility back in time to do the demonstrations I need to do without flinching.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Is this some kind of joke?

Dear Experienced Knitters,

Are double-pointed knitters some kind of devious trick designed to insure that new knitters lose their mind, or else their eyesight? I have been trying to learn to knit socks using #2s, and HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I AM LOSING MY MIND. I know that some of you swear by these things, but how in the world do you use them? How do your fingers not cramp up? How do you even see what you are doing?

Help me, experienced knitters. You are my only hope.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Let me tell you, my friends, how to take the perfect shower:

1. Wait three weeks and one day since your previous shower. During the intervening time, you may bathe and you may wash your hair in sinks, but you will never feel your regular clean.

2. Choose a shower with fabulous miraculous wonderful beyond your memory water pressure.

3. Use scented soap.

4. But stand there for a while in the water falling down on your head, before you break out the soap or shampoo or washcloth.

5. Take your shower in a house with a smoke detector right outside the bathroom, but do not remember to disconnect it. This way you are never certain whether your perfect shower might end at any moment, with chaos and loud noises and drippy tracks from the shower to find a chair and then try to disconnect the damn deafening thing.

6. Find out afterwards that someone did a deal with the gods, so the blasted alarm never once interrupted you.

7. Wash your ears for the first time in two weeks and one day.

8. Wash your hair with both hands because now both arms reach (somewhat) comfortably over your head.

9. Let the water rush down over your hair and body for as long as you can possibly stand.

10. Isn't that amazing?

What a lucky goddess.

My apologies for wiggly post last night--but thanks to those of you who sent such supportive things. All the nice things that so many of you have written over the last couple of months, as I have been enumerating blah after blah--well, it has reminded me what a lucky goddess I am. And how much goddesses need friends.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A simple question.

How do you tell a person that you have had enough of them in your life?

I am not talking about those people who honest and truly you have had enough of--the people you wish you did not work with, the people you should not have dated, the people who cut you off in traffic.

I am talking about the people you love. What I am wondering is, when do you say, if you are in a position of having to say, I am ready to go now. I will not see you again. You and I both know this and it is the way it is.

How do you say to this person, thank you for everything you have done to make my life richer, to be a very real piece of my experience on this earth. Thank you for being one who had the brilliant smile, one whose voice always lit up when I walked in the room, one who made me feel so valued, so precious. Thank you, and now I have had enough, and I am going on my way, so that you can do the ugly things you have to do between now and the end of your life, but I will not have to see them. How do you say to that person, I have more important things to do now? Than spend days with you as your body betrays you? Than deal with what those drugs are doing to your brain, even as they are helping you deal with that pain? How do you say, I am going back to my life now.

Can someone please tell me this?






Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm nobody, who are you?

Magpie tagged me with this fun meme, and she picked a good moment, because,

I am in the mood for a meme.

I am blogging while infusing my antibiotics.

I am visiting my parents in Virginia.

I am envious and enjoyous of my father's beautiful flower garden.

I am gaining back the weight I lost in the hospital by snarfing down my mother's wonderful cooking. (What could be better???)

I am enjoying seeing friends and family who I only get to see when I visit here.

I am missing the PP, Jacques Monod, and Tut (a.k.a. Sazha), who did not travel with me.

I am sad that my grandfather has terminal cancer, but ecstatic that I am able to visit him this week and plaster his beautiful smile in my memory.

I am in the middle of four knitting projects: one tank-top sweater, one tote bag, and two top secret projects.

I am full of ideas about what to knit next.

I am counting down the days until I get my PICC line out.

I am counting down the days until I can get back in the pool.

I am frequently frustrated at what a production being a non-driving invalid is.

I am enjoying having the windows open and breathing in the spring breezes.

I am learning patience.

I am tagging [UPDATE: names deleted--let's have a free-for-all!] anyone in the mood for a meme.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

PICC up the pieces (say what?)

I was thinking yesterday, as I was infusing my antibiotics, what an amazing piece of technology the PICC line is. Thanks to it, I do not need to have someone prick my arm and find a vein every time I need my antibiotics, and they can draw blood through it, too. Basically the way it works is that they put a needle into a vein in your arm, then somehow feed a lengthy tube up the vein until it reaches a more central vein. In my case, the intravenous line goes from the middle of my upper arm up to where my shoulder and neck meet. But here is what it looks like on the outside:

That little golden ball you see is the antibiotic, and these things are also amazing. They are sort of pressure-packed, so that as soon as I unhook the little valve in the tubing that connects the antibiotic bomb to my PICC line, the pressure of the ball starts pushing the drug into my body: no need for gravity to do the work, as with a traditional IV, and therefore no need for one of those metal carts you usually see with people on IVs.

Today we went over to the infusion center again, for what I hope to be my final blood draw. (Typically a home health nurse would come to the house to do that, but because I will be visiting my parents next week, that is not possible, and they must do blood tests and change the dressing on the line once a week.) There was a bit of a wait, because it was busy in there today. The PP was waiting in the waiting room (of all places), and got to talking with the other people waiting on people getting their infusions. (Many people either choose to--or must, for reasons of insurance--get their antibiotics infused in the doctor's office, so it is open seven days a week.) It turns out that everyone in there was there because of an infection that resulted from surgery. And I learned in the conversation in the infusion center itself, that one woman, whom the others call "Saint Teresa," had been coming in there since the fall of 2005. That is once a day, every day, every week, every month, for more than a year and a half!

The whole experience has made me both marvel at the achievements of medicine, and wince at the reality of how dangerous it is to be hospitalized. And it is all a lesson in patience.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Start wearing purple for me now.

I am chipping away at my list of 10 things to return to my life. Technically, first I need to add number 11, the thing I had forgotten on the original list, and it is a double, namely
11. Wearing pullover shirts and back-clasp bras.
I hope there might be progress on this one over the weekend, but I can tell you that there has been significant progress on #4, 6, 8, and 9. Last night I made the (albeit, very simple) sauce for the fish that the PP grilled. Now granted: this is not the same as cooking an entire meal, but it is a start! And now I can read THREE paragraphs and sometimes even FOUR in a row! And my hair is looking less and less stupid. And I can even sleep for a while on my right side. Life is great, ain't it?

But most important, NUMBER ONE. That's right, folks. I am cutting back on the pain meds, which means that I got to have a glass of wine with dinner last night. HOW GREAT IS THAT???? I can tell you with complete honesty that the lack of wine in my life was making me wanna walk like a camel. And I can further tell you that the juice of the vine has never been so perfect, so delicious....

But what I really wanted to tell you is that the Start Wearing Purple Sweater is DONE. I had been lacking the #9 circular needle to finish the neck, but I got that on Thursday, and yesterday I did my first ever circular knitting (Magpie was right: it was no big deal) and finished the darn thing. I may have mentioned that my cat Jacques Monod is in love with the sweater. Here is photographic proof:

The night when I blocked it, I had it lying on a towel on the kitchen counter, drying. I was in the other room, but I heard this sound, like a cat jumping onto the counter. When I got out there, there was Jacques Monod, rolling on her back, on the sweater. I wish I could have gotten a photo of that.

Anyway, here is the finished item:

The pattern came from Hip to Knit, and I made it with this yarn (Hibiscus Heather). The PP thinks it is so awesome that now he wants one. Luckily it is a unisex pattern, so I do not have a big math project ahead of me. [UPDATE: He changed his mind, and picked out something else so we will not be too his-n-hers.]

Please note that this is the world's simplest sweater: there is not even armhole shaping in the front and back pieces, which is why the shoulder line hangs down my arm so much. But I am extremely proud of this, partly because I managed to finish the thing, and partly because (and please forgive me for boasting) it fits perfectly. This is partly luck, and partly the miracle of making your own clothes--namely, that you can tailor them to your bodily irregularities.

Here is my situation, and it makes shopping for clothes a challenge: swimmer shoulders. No, no, no, I am not talking about rotator cuff problems (for a change), but rather about having more developed shoulders than the typical female. Hence, I usually have trouble finding tops that are comfortable but not sacks. Granted, the sweater is sack-like, but I achieved precisely the sack that I wanted by shortening the sweater itself (I am short-waisted) and lengthening the sleeves (I have longish arms--no ape jokes, please).

And it really is rather smashing, isn't it? Perhaps I'll have another glass of wine tonight, just because I am so awesome.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Magpie did this, and you know how I love a bandwagon--particularly one devoted to poetic form!

You may often have wondered, "Isis, what form of poetry are you?" Well, thanks for asking:

Short, terse, unfriendly,
Yet sometimes quite emotive;
I am the Haiku.
What Poetry Form Are You?

But if you are not satisfied with that, the quiz notes that if I were not a haiku, I would be a triolet:

If they told you I'm mad, then they lied.
I'm odd, but it isn't compulsive.
I'm the triolet, bursting with pride;
If they told you I'm mad, then they lied.
No, it isn't obsessive. Now hide
All the spoons or I might get convulsive.
If they told you I'm mad then they lied.
I'm odd, but it isn't compulsive.

What Poetry Form Are You?

Oooh! French troubadour forms!

Top secret news for fans of Isis: not long ago I was invited to take over editing a fairly well known handbook of poetic forms. I have been struggling with whether to agree to do so. I wonder if this is some kind of sign?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I'm sew tired.

I am about halfway through the sewing needed to finish up the Start Wearing Purple sweater. Too bad it will be all done just in time for Not Sweater Season. But still--I never tire of the magic of mattress stitching, even if it is tiring doing all the work.

For those of you who are not People of the Knitting, mattress stitching is used for attaching two pieces side-by-side. So, for instance, I am using it to join the front and back of the sweater, and to turn the sleeves from flat pieces into little arm-holding tubes. The magic of the mattress stitch is that you wind your darning yarn back and forth around the stitches on each side, and then you tighten it up, and PRESTO! the gap between them disappears, and unless you are looking closely, the two pieces look like one solid piece. Pretty cool, eh?

And I have not knitted all day, even though today is my "day off": no doctor's appointments, no visits from nurses, no visits from physical therapists. I suppose if I get this sewing done, then I can get back to the good stuff.

Of course I am short one #9 16" circular needle set needed to finish the rollneck on the sweater.... Perhaps I can bribe a friend into taking me to the yarn store this afternoon.

In other news, I have started a list of things I used to take for granted that I should not have. Here are the first 10:
1. Drinking red wine.*
2. Being able to lift more than 5 pounds with my right arm.**
3. Driving.*
4. Reading more than a paragraph or two without nodding off.
5. Showering.***
6. Bowel regularity.****
7. Swimming and/or exercising at all.
8. Making it through the afternoon without a nap.
9. Cooking for myself.
10. Putting my hair up in a way that does not look stupid.

* I can do this again once I am off the super-duper pain meds.
** I cannot lift more than that now, because more lifting than that could put stress on the PICC line. We do not want to have to reinsert the PICC line.
*** Cannot get the PICC line's dressing wet.
**** Sorry for TMI

Monday, May 07, 2007

I want to be starting something. (also shoulder update buried rather deep in)

It is knitting that has saved my sanity this time.

Too many of the things I often rely on--swimming, drinking, you get the idea--are verboten these days, so it is so very lucky that I took up knitting back in February. The knitting did not get much press at the time, because I started knitting the same weekend our house was overrun with gypsies, and after that, what kind of story does knitting make?

At that time it made a knit, knit, knit, knit, knit kind of story, because it took me a while to learn to purl. But then the story went scarf, scarf, scarf, scarf, as I made one for the PP, one for myself, one for my dad, another one for the PP, another one for myself, one for a friend, another one for myself. Or maybe it was more like scarf, scarf, scarf, hat, because I did make a hat for the PP, too. Alack and alas, all this happened too late in the spring for him to really wear them, but he was a Boy Scout growing up, and he likes to be prepared.

Then I thought SHAWL, so I picked out a pattern, ordered some yarn, dealt with some ridiculousness around the order, and finally got the yarn. By then, though, I was working on a sweater, better known as the Start Wearing Purple Sweater. Presently, however, it is the Don't Start Wearing Purple Yet Sweater Bits, but the point is I have not yet started on the shawl.

Plus then some other things happened, like I picked up a knitting magazine and found a pattern for an actual summer knitted garment that now I am making. Plus I tried out a hat pattern I was eager to do, had fit of fits trying to achieve gauge (live and learn). Also other things I do not want to detail here for now.

But the point is that although the shawl remains unstarted, the hat is now finished (I look smashing, if a bit hot, in it). Also, the Sweater Bits are drying from their blocking baptism in the kitchen. And perhaps tomorrow I will sew them up.

The PP has been wondering why I have had all these almost finished knitting projects with little stringy tails hanging off them, waiting to be finished. "Because that takes sewing," I said. "And what I like is knitting."

But today, because it was the kind of day when things don't exactly go according to plan, I have been sewing. As I said, the hat is done. I have even secured some safety pins and added them to my notions bag.

Aha! And even the notions bag is exciting, because I BOUGHT IT TODAY. Do you know what that means? I WENT TO A STORE. It was so exciting. I even dressed myself first. I bought toothpaste while I was there.

The real reason I was at the store, though, is that I was getting my pain and nausea meds refilled, from new scrips from my shoulder doc.

More exciting than all this, though, is that I got my stitches out (no more dressings on the left shoulder!!!!!) and the doc says they look great. Plus he moved my arm around and said I am making good progress on my physical therapy. He told me that during the surgery he had a good look around in there, and saw that there is a small, but not dangerous, tear in my labrum. That, he said, might have been causing the pain I was feeling, but it is not a condition that will worsen with use. He confirmed that there are no tears in the rotator cuff and that the tendons look good. He did find some "debris," which he removed during the flushing out of the joint. This included not just some stuff that was a product of the infection, but also some material that he himself debrided from the bursa, and which may have been irritating the labrum and/or other parts of the shoulder. In short, he thinks that it is very likely that the pain I was experiencing will not recur. AS LONG AS I DO MY ROTATOR CUFF EXERCISES REGULARLY.

All that remains now is to get the antibiotic regime completed and get the PICC line out. Once that happens, and the incision point for the PICC heals, I can GET BACK IN THE WATER!!!!!!! The shoulder doc wants me to start swimming again as soon as I can, to regain the strength in and around the shoulders, so that the joints do not weaken further.

But the best part about all this is that the prospect of getting back in the pool in a few weeks does not seem like an eternity. It would have, in the past. I know that part of what makes me more calm about that timeframe is the HELLISH PAIN I have gone through in the last couple of weeks. But another part is the knitting, which I now dearly love, which gives me something else to be excited about, which produces soft pretty things from the work, and which is rather meditative in the process.

I have started several new projects, and although I was going to start yet another one tonight, I backed off that, because it requires a cast-on technique I am less comfortable with, and I did so much physical therapy tonight that I was pretty sore until I took an extra pain pill. So tonight it is the easy new project--seed stitch, seed stitch, seed stitch. But that is fine: I love seed stitch, and I love the process.

Thank you, Knitting.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Random 10: Driven by a strange desire Edition

Here is something I am looking forward to, more than I can really express: being able to sleep on my sides. I had been accustomed to avoiding sleeping on the left side since I started having trouble on that shoulder, but I am SUCH a shoulder sleeper, that I spent much of the night on my right side. As the pain in the shoulder got really bad after the arthrogram, though, even that got difficult, because having the shoulder lean left or right felt bad. And now, with the PICC line in place, I cannot do it at all.

Occasionally I have tried sleeping on my stomach with no pillow. I told my mother that on the phone recently, and she said, "I thought that was bad for you." I asked her, "What, are you worried about SIDS?" She laughed and reminded me it is bad for your back. I told her I was not really thinking of this as a long-term but rather a temporary solution. But that does not work so well either.

So it is all night on the back for me. Not that I sleep that constantly, because of the drugs and all the napping.

But one of the interesting things about all this is that I seem always to be on the verge of dozing off. That means that often I start dreaming before I even fully fall asleep, which makes the veil between the waking and sleeping times a very thin and fluttering thing. These are thin times, as the Celts would say.

Or maybe it seems that way because of all the time I have for contemplation, which makes me more open to noticing small pleasures and surprises in life. Yesterday the doctor changed my antibiotic, so I had to go to the infusion center at the hospital to have it infused (instead of doing it myself at home). When I got there, there were three people receiving their own particular infusions. I was struck that in however long they had been coming there daily, they had all gotten to be . . . I am searching for my adjective here. They all seemed to enjoy talking to each other, and seemed to enjoy each other's company, and seemed to be doing something more than just passing the time. They reminded me of the retired men you see eating breakfast together at Hardee's, or a knitting group, or people taking a water break during a pick-up basketball game, or a Red Hat Society, or a book club, or the French Table, or any such group of people who do not necessarily have more in common than that one shared interest, but there they are, having a great time. They had given each other nicknames, they liked to tease each other and the nurse, and it was the most warm, friendly group of people you could imagine. As people came and went, the conversations shifted slightly, and of course there was some talk about the infusions themselves, but mostly it was this strange warm thing in an otherwise sterile, artificially lit room.

I felt like I had been given a glimpse of something special, a world usually roped off from the well. It made me feel less bad about my own situation, and not because these people were so worse off, but because they had taught me something, all without really thinking about it.

Haven't done this in a while:

1. "The Carnival Is Over," Dead Can Dance, Into the Labyrinth
2. "Jolie Blonde," Queen Ida and her Zydeco Band, Caught in the Act
3. "Come Running," Van Morrison, Best of
4. "The Kraken," Squirrel Nut Zippers, Perennial Favorites
5. "Anansi Abstrakt," D. J. Spooky, Songs of a Dead Dreamer
6. "Great Balls of Fire," Jerry Lee Lewis, Best of Sun Records, Volume 1
7. "Grace Under Pressure," Jade Fox, Gilles Peterson Presents: The BBC Sessions, Volume 1
8. "What Is It This Time," Jamie Lidell, Multiply
9. In 3's," Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
10. "Alla Gossar (All the Young Men)," Triakel, Nordic Roots: A Northside Collection

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Phenergans Wake: The short version.

There was one point this weekend where the nurse said, "I am going to give you the Finnegan injection first. That should help with the nausea."

"Finnegan?" I said.

"Phenergan," she said. It turns out to be an anti-nausea drug, not a major late modernist epic of surreal proportion. Though the experience was surreal too.

* * *

When I went to see the shoulder specialist on Friday, he determined that there was indeed an infection in my shoulder joint: hence some of the pain. In addition to the regular scary things about infections, particularly those caught in a hospital (in my case, the hospital where I got my arthrogram), the bacteria can degrade the cartiledge of the joint, so he wanted to get it out immediately.

Hence the surgery scheduled for Friday afternoon (i.e. cancelled physical therapy appointment, which, Joe, I believe might be the same as physiotherapy). So I went home and grabbed some things, and the PP picked me up and took me to a different hospital for the surgery. The checking in took a good long while, because it was short notice, but eventually we were checked in and waiting for a good long time in my new room (private!). They had to wait for my breakfast to be digested, and run bloodwork, and then wait for an operating room to open up, and then I had surgery around 6:00 p.m.

It seemed to go fine, and in addition to flushing the infection out of the joint, the surgeon got some "debris" out, which he thought might be related to the original pain. The whole procedure, including the knocking out and coming to, lasted about two and a half hours.

Then I spent the rest of the weekend and most of Monday in the hospital, letting the anesthesia wear off, taking pain medication, letting the wound heal so that they could take the drains out, getting my strength back so I could walk easily to the bathroom or up and down the hall a bit, removing the old IV line and putting in a PICC line (is like an IV but which can stay in the body for many weeks), and beginning physical therapy to get range of motion and strength back in the shoulder.

Now I am home, having come home last night around 7:30 p.m. I can hardly express how relieved I am to be home, but perhaps this example gives some sense: it is so nice not to have anyone come into my room at 11 p.m. (after I've been sleeping a couple of hours), turn on the lights, empty the trash, turn off the lights, and slam the door on their way out. Not to mention all the needle-sticks. And not to mention that for my first meal after 24 hours of fasting (with some IV drip I guess) was a breakfast consisting of a biscuit, sausage links, and grits. (Had no one heard of soup?)

But we are home. I still have a PICC line in, which allows me to get my antibiotics injected everyday, and it allows them to draw blood without sticking me yet again. Last night I had a bath! I am still taking some pretty prime pain meds and yes, the pheneran for nausea. I understand the antibiotics will probably go 2-3 weeks. In the meantime I do physical therapy 3 times a day, and a therapist comes to the house 3 times a week.

Just wanted to fill you in. Obviously I will not be thinking about swimming for a while, but once the PICC line is out, I may begin some water therapy.