Friday, October 28, 2011

Dry Bones

I am a body divided. I have been partitioned and parceled out to several orthopedists, each of whom treats only one specific body part, like a paint-by-numbers kit. Or packages of chicken parts at the butcher's. Don't they know the thigh bone connected to the hip bone, the hip bone connected to the back bone? (Now hear the word of the Lord.)

Last week I saw a neck doctor for a stiff neck which has been hurting for at least two years and makes noises like a car that needs brake pads. He sent me for x-rays: Degenerative disk disease, herniated disks, osteoarthritis, and a couple of disks facing the wrong way. No wonder it hurts. He prescribed physical therapy and Aleve, which I decided not to take after I opened the bottle and then read the warnings. Anti-inflammatory drugs are contraindicated for those with bleeding disorders, and I am such a person.

I went to the drugstore for Tylenol and they didn't have any gel caps, only tablets. I am a poor pill taker. Tablets are harder for me. They did have Walgreen's brand Acetaminophen in a gelcap, and it was even on sale so I took a bottle to the register. The sale price was one for $3.99, two for $5.98. I only wanted one. The clerk rang it up for $8.99. I told him what the sign said. He went to look at the shelf and returned, saying it was $8.99. I peeled the sign off the shelf and took it to a different register. The second clerk said, "You have to buy two."

I said, "You never have to buy two just because it's offered. See, it says One for $3.99 or two for $5.98."

"That's for a different product," he said. "24 count." "This is a 24 count," I said. "$14.99," he replied. I walked out and went to the other Walgreen's a few blocks away - yes, I live in a two-Walgreen's neighborhood - where the clerk rang up one bottle for $3.99 plus tax. No problem. She even wished me a nice evening. It's hard to believe those other two people have jobs when so many with working brains do not.

Today I visited a shoulder doctor because my right shoulder hurts so much that I am trying to become left-handed. This may be even harder than switching ones sexual orientation. The condition has persisted for at least a year. He also ordered x-rays: Osteoporosis, a probable torn rotator cuff, inflammation and tendonitis. He gave me a cortisone injection and a prescription for physical therapy. All roads lead to Rome PT. Surgery may be necessary at some point, but I can't do it now because of my responsibilities to Flip and a cat who gets injections twice a day. It is outpatient surgery, though, so I could get home in time for the evening shot.

This is a song with many choruses as I also have bursitis in one hip, for which I was given 8 or 10 cortisone shots by an orthopedist in 2009. I haven't yet made an appointment with a hip doctor, but it will not be the same one. He is on my permanent shit list, and I don't think he liked me either.

The whole thing is absurd. Last time I looked, I was healthy, young and strong. And now I need a whole body transplant. How did this happen? I am trying to keep it in perspective by reminding myself that I would unhesitatingly choose body over brain issues. We have all heard the old homily about how if all the world's problems were in a huge pile, we would pick out our own. It always made me sneer, but when I think of what Flip is enduring with Alzheimer's Dementia and Parkinson's, physical pain doesn't seem all that bad. Of course, it doesn't seem all that good either. On the upside, it's nearly Halloween and Day of the Dead and I am the best skeleton costume ever. I need to figure out how to light myself up in the dark.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Big Brother is Watching Me

My mother used to refer to my life as "The Perils of Pauline," which I think was an early movie serial about a heroine who went from one catastrophe to another, a perennial damsel in distress. I felt vaguely offended and never asked her what it was. Nor did she ever tell me. My mother would be happy to know that today, there was a new installment.

I got a traffic citation in the mail - how cowardly - with photographic proof that I ran a red light. There were four pictures: my car at the red light, my car turning right at the red light onto a freeway onramp, me at the wheel and my license tag. Also included was information from the car's registration and my driver's license: My height, weight, age, birthday, hair and eye colors -- total violation. I smell a rat. It isn't that I believe I am perfect. I am capable of running a red light, but I don't believe I could do so without knowing about it. I am a careful and conscious driver. But if I did, it's legal to turn right on red unless indicated otherwise, and I don't believe there is any signage to that effect at this intersection.

Nowhere on the paper does it state the amount of the fine although I'm sure it's a whopper as mere expired parking meter tickets are $75. The fine for a moving violation involving a red light would probably make the paper burst into flames, causing extreme consternation at the post office. What is more, it states that within 30 days I will receive another notice telling me what the "bail" amount is, and if I don't respond by the deadline, they will attach more fees, have me arrested and take my firstborn son. They are placing the onus on me in a city notorious for bad mail delivery. (Example: We never get mail on Saturdays. I've heard rumors that the post office is considering saving money by discontinuing Saturday delivery but it won't make a difference in my neighborhood. We don't get it anyway.) So now I have to try to remember to keep track of the date so if I don't receive the nasty missive, I can report it. Or move to Saudi Arabia, maybe, where women are not allowed to drive at all.

I have the option if I qualify of attending traffic school - in Oakland - to prevent getting points on my license and higher insurance premiums. After I pay up, of course. I wonder if there is an online traffic school I could do instead. I hope they don't sentence me to ten lashes with a whip. And make me wear a burka.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Update, because Updates are so much Fun.

For over a week, Flip has refused to enter his room unless he is unconscious. When I check on him at night, the nurses tell me he is either wandering aimlessly and falling a lot, or sitting in a wheelchair by their station. It's clear to me that he knows something is not right about Shekiya, and he expresses his displeasure in the only way he can. It was time to do something.

The director wasn't available so I spoke to Hillary, the director of nursing, about the problem. He took a firm party line, stating that if Flip is dissatisfied, he should be the one to move despite the fact that (a) when I complained initially about Shekiya's placement with Flip, the director said she would move "her" and (b) Flip suffers from dementia while Shekiya, who is 36, apparently does not. It would be disorienting to Flip.

He said, "Shekiya has not complained and moving her would be prejudiced." He leveled a stare at me and said, "I don't know if you're prejudiced or not." I responded that as it happens I am not, but that I do not regard this as a political issue. It's a medical care issue and I would object to any apparent female being Flip's roommate if it made him uncomfortable. (It occurred to me later that he may have been referring to the fact that Shekiya is black, as is he, but at the time I assumed he meant prejudiced against transgendered people.) Who knows? There are so many potential reasons to be prejudiced. Pick a card, any card. I am developing a prejudice toward unreasonable people, though.

I reiterated that Flip was unwilling to enter his room and he demanded to see for himself. Flip refused to be moved out of the hallway where I had fed him lunch in a wheelchair. Hillary insisted that he could not tell the reason for Flip's behavior and that I could not, either, pointing out that Flip wanders a lot anyway. I said it was not an issue until Shekiya arrived. He refused to budge from his position. I said that I still stand by my initial objection and had decided to take a wait-and-see position so as not to make problems for the director or for Shekiya, but that my primary concern is for Flip. Since he seems not to be anyone else's, my only option is to transfer him to another facility. I had hoped to keep him there despite the inconvenience to me, but if he has to move to a different room, I might as well move him altogether because both will be disorienting.

I think they are bending over backward not to be perceived as politically incorrect while railroading Flip, whose mental capacities are seriously compromised. Meanwhile, they shoot him full of potentially dangerous drugs the minute he seems agitated, and because he is uncomfortable with his situation there, he is increasingly agitated. They are choosing a specious political correctness over compassionate patient care.

The doctor we saw yesterday leans toward the belief that Flip suffers from both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. We are doubly blessed. There is no way to tell how much the Parkinsonian symptoms were exacerbated by various medications he was given, but his physical movements resemble those of Michael J. Fox.

The staff member who went with us yesterday to help was very nice, but when she tried to pull Flip from the car and into a wheel chair, he fell on the pavement and she fell on top of him. She is a huge, heavy woman, but neither was hurt although her skirt was muddied in the rain. Next week, we'll be going to the hospital for an EEG and back to the doctor on a different day. Two more outings. I can hardly wait.