Just about a week ago, I made an observation that now bothers me a great deal:

Should this series end at #969, well, now you know why.

As if.

We pick up the story from last week, where walking had become bothersome and occasionally painful. One learns to compensate quickly enough; I adjusted my gait to the point where I was basically falling forward, and catching myself on the nearest immovable object. This not only worked, sort of, but it tended to reduce the occasional random lightning bolts of pain.

And it kept working until slightly after midnight Sunday, when I missed the bed entirely and bounced off the floor. It took me somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes to drag myself up and onto the bed; I sustained several sets of rug burns, and not in the way one wants to get rug burns, either.

Came Monday morning, and falling forward wouldn't work anymore; the point of contact with the floor, my right shoulder, wouldn't bear any weight if it could help it. Color me immobile. "This," I decided, "was a job for 911." Came the paramedics. Instant problem: little cart cannot be pushed through the front door, owing to the highly perverse floor plan. So they had to walk me outside, kinda sorta, before tying me down and loading me up. Didn't hear a single siren, either.

Now hospitals push all my scare buttons more or less continuously. And none of those buttons is quite as formidable as the one marked MRI. I'm here to tell you that 32 minutes of MRI is the practical equivalent of 64 minutes of Metal Machine Music at 96 decibels. Yet I couldn't not go through with it. What to do? Said the operator, "First run, three minutes, forty-five seconds." What do I know that runs about 3:45?

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
Though I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no!

And that's the way I did the whole cycle. They couldn't hear me, of course; on my loudest days I am no competition for a jackhammer. At some point I did Terry Stafford's "Suspicion," the Lovin' Spoonful's "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?" and yes, I admit it, Rebecca Black's "Friday" (3:30 without Patrice Wilson's rap).

The next morning they — three, count 'em, three physicians — revealed what they'd seen from those pictures. Three issues, though two of them were identical except for location: two discs along the spinal cord were afflicted with stenosis, the result of good old osteoarthritis, and a third, next door, was herniated. Routine stuff, at least for these guys, and I acted like I understood it all. (Actually, I knew what stenosis is, like it makes any difference.)

They would not, however, be operating that day. The more severe cases have priority, and I have to figure that brain tumors, which seem to be in abundance these days, get to step well ahead of me.

So the operation will be a week from Wednesday. Unless told otherwise beforehand, I am to report to the OR at 6 am on 29 June. I'm here to tell you that it beats the hell out of waiting for thirty-three days. (Remind me to cancel that appointment.) Said one of the doctors, you probably aren't going to do a 5K run the day after.

On the upside, a physical-therapy specialist came by and attempted to determine how much of my debilitated state was due to the spinal issues, and how much to the legs themselves. The legs, apparently, are fine. (So were hers, but we won't go there.) And somebody got the idea to X-ray the afflicted shoulder. No fracture. It's still a little weak, but it doesn't matter so much when using a walker. They duly brought me a walker. And it does, ever so slightly, seem to affect my typing. At least I think it's that, and not something Much More Horrible: the doctor on my floor dismissed me today with warnings about stroke, because maybe. Let's hope not.

The Vent

  21 June 2016

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