“We’re horribly mundane, aggressively mundane individuals. We’re the ninjas of the mundane, you might say.” ~ Andy Partridge

                   

“Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked. Good mental machinery ought to break its own wheels and levers, if anything is thrust among them suddenly which tends to stop them or reverse their motion. A weak mind does not accumulate force enough to hurt itself; stupidity often saves a man from going mad.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., “The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table”

Thursday, early afternoon.

The house is finally silent. So many new developments. What shall I enthrall you with first . . . Hmm, things that make you say hmm . . .

My mother was discharged from DePaul Hospital on Monday. From there, we took her to a rehab facility where she was supposed to stay for at least a week to monitor her blood clots and receive physical therapy for her leg. That lasted approximately 24 hours. I had had a feeling that it was going to be a fruitless endeavor, knowing how much she wanted to come home.

When we first arrived, my mother seemed quite pleased: She was placed in a nice-sized private room with en suite full bath—a nice change from her very claustrophobia-inducing hospital room. She was reassured that between her two healthcare carriers that everything would be covered, but there were a few odd signs here and there to which I should have paid more attention: For example, the question about who would be doing her laundry . . . the cable hookup in the room but the lack of a television.

She called me early on Tuesday and asked me to come and get her. Apparently, someone in the facility had moved her into a two-person room with a bathroom that was shared by four people. It was all just too much for her. Realizing that I was beaten, I acquiesced. She walked (was rolled) into her own house on Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday night she slept soundly without waking.

I spent Wednesday on the telephone calling various doctors and facilities to update those who needed updating, and I made an appointment with her PCP for this morning to follow-up on the b lood clots, and an appointment with her orthopaedist for next Wednesday to follow-up on her tibia fracture.

Then I showered her and gave her a pedicure. She ate dinner with a relish, watched “Cash Cab” on television, and settled in.

Post Script: I never had the time to finish this post, and quite frankly, it is a week old, so I am leaving it and moving on . . .

Music by Laura Izibor, “Mmm”

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“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation . . .” ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

Image by Joshua Brott

 

From Ellen Bass’s newest book, The Human Line

And What if I Spoke of Despair

And what if I spoke of despair—who doesn’t
feel it? Who doesn’t know the way it seizes,
leaving us limp, deafened by the slosh
of our own blood, rushing
through the narrow, personal
channels of grief. It’s beauty
that brings it on, calls it out from the wings
for one more song. Rain
pooled on a fallen oak leaf, reflecting
the pale cloudy sky, dark canopy
of foliage not yet fallen. Or the red moon
in September, so large you have to pull over
at the top of Bayona and stare, like a photo
of a lover in his uniform, not yet gone;
or your own self, as a child,
on that day your family stayed
at the sea, watching the sun drift down,
lazy as a beach ball, and you fell asleep with sand
in the crack of your smooth behind.
That’s when you can’t deny it. Water. Air.
They’re still here, like a mother’s palms,
sweeping hair off our brow, her scent
swirling around us. But now your own
car is pumping poison, delivering its fair
share of destruction. We’ve created a salmon
with the red, white, and blue shining on one side.
Frog genes spliced into tomatoes—as if
the tomato hasn’t been humiliated enough.
I heard a man argue that genetic
engineering was more dangerous
than a nuclear bomb. Should I be thankful
he was alarmed by one threat, or worried
he’d gotten used to the other? Maybe I can’t
offer you any more than you can offer me—
but what if I stopped on the trail, with shreds
of manzanita bark lying in russet scrolls
and yellow bay leaves, little lanterns
in the dim afternoon, and cradled despair
in my arms, the way I held my own babies
after they’d fallen asleep, when there was no
reason to hold them, only
I didn’t want to put them down.

Eight False Things The Public Knows Prior To Election Day

I found this article by Dave Johnson to be spot on, so I am reposting. If you are interested in facts rather than fiction, please give it a read.

There are a number things the public “knows” as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn’t work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.

“Have you ever had so much to say that your mouth closed up tight struggling to harness the nuclear force coalescing within your words? Have you ever had so many thoughts churning inside you that you didn’t dare let them escape in case they blew you wide open?” ~ Ellen Hopkins

 Beachy Head Cliff, South Coast of England (Pixdaus)

                             

“Sometimes, when one is moving silently through such an utterly desolate landscape, an overwhelming hallucination can make one feel that oneself, as an individual human being, is slowly being unraveled. The surrounding space is so vast that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep a balanced grip on one’s own being.” ~ Haruki Murakami

Dunstandburgh by Moonlight, by Rainer Mirau (Pixdaus)

I’m not even certain as to where I should begin to pick up the tale that has been my life over the last week and a half. I was finally able to stay connected long enough to put together the two posts that I had drafted on Word. Both are backdated to the time on which they were actually written, but so much more has happened.

As I write this, my mother is in the hospital where she has been since the very wee hours of Tuesday morning. She developed blood clots in her broken leg, and they traveled to her lungs. On Monday evening, I noticed that her leg was very swollen and filled with fluid. I suspected clots, but she did not want me to call 911 again as the EMTs had just been to the house two nights before (more on this later). I reluctantly agreed not to take her in as long as she woke me if anything changed.

Around 4 a.m. she yelled my name. I took one look at her entire leg, down to her big toe, all of which were twice the normal size and called 911. This time they took her to DePaul hospital instead of Leigh; however, I went to the Leigh ER as I did not know about the change. Once I got to Leigh, someone came out and asked my name and told me about the mixup. I broke the land speed record traveling from one ER to the other.

Very long story short, they finally put her in a room around 11 a.m. where she has been since; she will be moved soon to a rehab facility to continue treatment and receive physical therapy for her leg. All of this has really taken a toll on her mental state, which in turn is passed along to me in the form of panicked telephone calls during the times when I am not at the hospital with her.

“One can’t build little white picket fences to keep the nightmares out.” ~ Anne Sexton

The Furrows, Sacramento River, by Stephen Oachs (Pixdaus)

The first night that my mother was in the hospital, the hallucinations began again in earnest. She called me and told me that someone was trying to get into her room, that someone was having a party next door, that children were running down the hall screaming, that someone was knocking on her window asking to be let in (third floor room). She did not want me to say anything to the nurses because they would hurt her.

Three nights ago, she called and told me that she wanted me to listen to the noise and then held the phone up in the air. When I told her that I couldn’t hear anything, she became furious. She said that she was going to call 911, call a taxi, call her neighbor, and she was going to get the hell out of that place.  She wanted me to bring her purse. I refused. The conversation ended with her saying to me, “When you find my dead body somewhere, then you’ll have to live with that the rest of your life.” Turns out my mother can be even meaner when she’s hallucinating.

On Friday, I stayed at the hospital for hours waiting for the doctor who was supposed to come by, and luckily it was a female physician with whom I had spoken with on Wednesday morning. She explained the condition as sun downing, something that happens to people who are in the hospital and begin to exhibit symptoms such as mom’s in the evening. Sometimes sun dower syndrome is associated with Alzheimer’s, but not always.

The doctor spoke with my mother about going to a rehab facility (something my mother had already decided quite firmly that she had not intentions of doing as she just wanted to come home). The doctor pointed out that since my mother is still on blood thinners, if she came home and fell, the chances of causing internal bleeding were good, and she pointed out that I could not do anything for internal bleeding. Finally, between the two of us, we convinced mom that a rehab facility would be a good thing.

Can I just tell you how good it was to cross that particular hurdle?

“Hospitals are places that you have to stay in for a long time, even if you are a visitor. Time doesn’t seem to pass in the same way in hospitals as it does in other places. Time seems to almost not exist in the same way as it does in other places.” ~ Pedro Almodovar

Morning Mist in Holland (Pixdaus)

Currently, she is being given seroquel at night to help with the night terrors, and thankfully, she did not call me last night, which meant that I slept, very heavily I might add.  I decided to give myself time to write this morning before tackling anything else, hence the current, up-to-date post.

I do understand why my mother does not want to be in the hospital. Who does, really? It’s the luck of the draw if you are going to have a nurse who is compassionate versus one who is snotty. And regardless of their dispositions, they are all overworked, which means that they may tell their patient that they are going right now to take care of X, only to return an hour later, having completely forgotten the request.

After my last hospital stay post back operation, I don’t know that I ever want to be in a hospital again. My mother is chomping because they are keeping her completely immobile with a catheter and some are treating her as if she is demented. She told me that someone came into her room to ask her what month it was, and she told them December. She knew the month, but she just wanted to fuck with them.

I reminded her that if she keeps doing things like that, those who don’t know her personality may be inclined to think that she really is out of touch with reality. She maintained that if they are going to torture her, she is going to mess with them.

I did finally have to make someone put a note in her chart that before being admitted, she was mobile, using a walker and standing on her own.

“Funny how life is so like surgery . . . sometimes you can make that rocky davis in that right lower quadrant.. and then there are those days when your bowel ruptures and spells into your peritonium and all you are left with is intense pain and sepsis . . . oh brother, my kingdom for a tenblade when that happens !” ~ Dr. David Morgenstern, ER, “Let the Games Begin”

Fox in the Trees (Pixdaus)

So getting back to the second ER visit, the one that happened the Sunday before the third visit (think it was Sunday, things are blurring together). On Wednesday, October 13, my mother developed diarrhea (too much information, I know). But after three days, of this, I knew that she was dehydrated: I could pull the skin on her hand, and it would stay raised and pinched.

I called her pcp’s emergency service and spoke with the triage nurse, recited the increasingly bad symptoms. She instructed me to get her to the ER, reaffirming what I thought in the first place. Mom, of course, did not want to go. I called for another ambulance as I was alone, and there was no way that mom could have assisted me in getting her to the car. She was taken to Leigh ER again, and pumped full of fluids and potassium. She was diagnosed with c diff (clostridium difficile), which is a microorganism that normally resides in the GI tract and only becomes a problem when it decides to go postal and wreak havoc with the bowels by producing toxins in the GI tract that result in severe infectious diarrhea and inflammation of the large intestine.

Regardless of the c diff, this was still an atypical ER visit in that my mother was joking around with everyone. I think that she was just glad not to be sick to her stomach any more. The more fluids she received, the better her mood. We got home sometime that night, and Corey and his mother were at mom’s house. My mother slept that night.

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those, who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear, which is inherent in a human condition.” ~ Graham Greene

Swan in Fog (Pixdaus)

So here we are:  Mom is recovering from c diff, a broken tibia, night terrors, and blood clots.

In between all of this, Corey’s mom came to town for a few days. Corey was off work, so he was able to spend time with her, but I only saw her during breakfast on Sunday morning and a little bit in between. Everyone (family) got together on Tuesday night for dinner at P. F. Chang’s, but I was unable to go as Mom’s was having too many issues.

In the past few days, I have had a few good things happen: I have found a new musician, Ólafur Arnalds, who is from Iceland. Beautiful music. I have also had an Internet connection long enough to post. The other thing is that I have had some sleep, some even in my very own bed with my husband and dogs.

Small favors.

More later. Peace.

Music by Ólafur Arnalds, “Ljósið”

“An anxiety for being me, forever trapped in myself, floods my whole being without finding a way out, shaping me into tenderness, fear, sorrow and desolation.” ~ Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Note: This post was originally intended to be published on October 16.

Abstract 4: Wind on the Tide Pool by russell.tomlin*

                   

“To look at her, you might not guess that inside she is laughing and crying, at her own stupidities and luckiness, and at the strange enigmatic ways of the world which she will spend lifetime trying to learn and understand.” ~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Abstract: Confusion by russell.tomlin

One of the problems with piggy-backing onto someone else’s network is that you are at the mercy of the other person’s network, as in if it (the network) is not available, then you (the piggy-backer) are essentially SOL. Hence, the dearth of posts in recent days.

So it’s Saturday afternoon, and I’ve been trying to write a post for days now. Today I finally decided to write in Word and just paste if/when I finally get a network signal.

It’s been a very rough week. About mid-week, my mother was doing much better. She was using the walker several times a day, and seemed to be moving without a lot of pain. I made the mistake of telling her that I thought that if she kept up the progress, I would try to start spending nights at home and coming back at 7:30 in the morning. Ever since I said that, she has been regressing.

I don’t think that she’s aware of the timing, but something subconsciously is not ready for me to leave. Now she’s being difficult about taking her medicine; whereas she never gave me a problem before. The way in which she shuts her mouth and shakes her head reminds me so much of my kids when they were young.

She says that now she hurts all over her body, and she feels weak. I can see, though, that her leg is healing well. Most of the swelling has decreased in her calf, and the swelling around her knee is also visibly less. I know that her back is beginning to feel the strain of the up and down movement from supine to sitting, as well as the tugging that she is doing with her arms.

Is it horrible of me to say that I just want to spend a night in my own bed, with my husband and dogs? I feel horrible for even wishing it, but damn, I’m weary to my bones.

“The dream of reason produces monsters.” ~ Goya, from “Caprices”

Abstract: Harbinger by russell.tomlin

I tried to sleep in my old bedroom, which is directly across the hall from her bedroom, but she turns the television in her room up full blast as soon as she is awake, making it impossible for me to doze an extra hour or two, so I’ve moved back to the couch full time.

Last night was a doozy. I feel asleep around 11, and woke up at 1 a.m. with her calling my name with a sense of urgency. The latest development is an upset stomach (not going to give too many details here). She didn’t feel as if she had enough strength to use the walker to get to the bathroom. We made do (no pun intended). I got her back in bed, and then found myself wide awake, so I cleaned the kitchen and tried to find something on television to watch.

In the midst of all of this Earl Grey, the cat, managed to sneak into the house. Once I positioned myself on the couch, he decided that he wanted to sleep on my feet. Have I mentioned that I am allergic to cats. It used to be unbearable, but over the years, I can tolerate mild exposure without having a full-blown asthma attack. However, I was so spent, that I didn’t even fight with the cat, and let him sleep on my feet until the wee hours of the morning, whereupon both he and Willow (the dog) both decided that they needed to be let out at 7:15.

I’ll bet that you are absolutely agog with envy over the situation that is now my life.

“The greatest mania of all is passion and I am a natural slave to passion: the balance between my brain and my soul and my body is as wild and delicate as the skin of a Ming vase.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson, The Curse of Lono

Abstract: Leaves Over Frantic Water by russell.tomlin

Anyway, today is another day, and for the first time in days, no television is on in the house; the animals are about their business, and my mother is sound asleep. The silence is wonderful, but I think that I am a bit unnerved by it; having had a full frontal assault on my senses for weeks now, I think that I am equating the silence with a bit of trepidation: as in, it’s too quiet; something is bound to happen to break this stillness.

The other thing that is happening simultaneously is that Corey’s mom is due to arrive anytime today. He is madly cleaning, while I am over here waiting for Alexis to come and relieve me so that I can help Corey. A few days ago, I spent a couple of hours at home, during which I scrubbed the kitchen all over (except the floor), did a load of laundry, and cleaned the bathroom.

Since I am not at home, all of my nervous energy has been directed at keeping my mother’s home spotless, so when I went in the door to my own home, everything looked and smelled funky. We have made a valiant effort in the past six months or so to keep the house tidy, but my fat, gay, mama’s boy Jack Russell Shakes has taken my desertion of the home front quite personally, and has been marking a lot of territory out of spite.

Hence, the funky smell.

I’m not going to be able to spend very much time with Corey’s mom as things in this house change so drastically from one moment to the next. We are hoping to get together tomorrow evening for dinner. At least she’ll have some quality, one-on-one time with Corey for a few days before she flies back to Ohio.

“I take into my arms more than I can bear to hold
I am toppled by the world
a creation of ladders, pianos, stairs cut into the rock
a devouring world of teeth where even the common snail
eats the heart out of a forest
as you and I do, who are human, at night yet still I take into my arms more than I can bear to hold” ~ Nikolai Gogol, “Old-World Landowners” 

Abstract: Rocks Like Flowers Below the Blue by russell.tomlin

Did I mention that the judge who oversaw my Social Security hearing decided against me? Yep, my long string of lousy luck continues to hold sway. I allowed myself to think that the hearing had gone very well, and was even thinking about how wonderful it would be to be able to receive Medicare, only because it would mean the end of extremely high health insurance payments.

No joy. I had a long conversation with the lawyer who represented me, and she said that all of the cases that she presented before this particular judge were denied. Luck of the draw. She reassured me that I had done well in the hearing, but said that this judge does not really considered people to be disabled unless they have stage 4 cancer and are near death.

The judge’s ruling was quite slanted of course and made me out to be a slacker. Understandably, I was quite upset as I feel that he took so many things out of context. The next step is up to me, I can try to appeal, which can take up to another year and a half, or I can just give up and continue to receive benefits from the insurance company.

I told the lawyer that I want to appeal, mostly because I’m stubborn, but more because I’m pissed. The other thing about the appeal is that I don’t have to do any work on this end. It’s all done by the company representing me since they are actually representing the insurance company, and the insurance company would like nothing better than for me to move from their rolls to Social Security’s rolls.

Biggest drawback: There is a good chance that my new hearing will be before the same judge. How is that new, I ask you . . .

But then, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be my life, now would it?

More later. Peace.

Music by Damien Rice, “Cold Water”

*All images taken with permission from russell.tomlin’s Flckr pages.

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” ~ Albert Einstein

Neosurrealism Art: “Mindscape* by George Grie*

                   

“Get out of my mind
Get out of my head . . . ” ~ from “Night Terrors,” by Static-X

This particular post was supposed to go up on Wednesday, October 13, supposed being the operative word. Obviously, that was not possible, so here it is now.

Another Caveat: The events are related below may or may not have happened in the order presented. Author’s short-term memory is fried, so recall is a wee bit hazy.

Neosurrealism Art: "Insomnia or Nocturnal Awakening" by George Grie

Things that go bump in the night . . .

I have promised Corey that I will never again make light of the time I thought Mexicans were living in the walls of our house (Remember? The post op time during which I was having vivid aural and visual hallucinations? If I remember correctly, I smelled things too. I wonder if that’s called smelly hallucinations . . . But I digress.) 

The night after the emergency room visit, which was Saturday, September 25, my mom began to have hallucinations. The EMT’s had given her morphine in the ambulance, and she was given morphine while in the ER. We were sent home with a script for Flexeril (a muscle relaxer) and the mildest dose of Percoset (a pain reliever).

I should probably qualify here: My mother has no tolerance for drugs, unlike me, who, having had chronic conditions most of my life can get a shot of Demerol and Phenergan and go to a restaurant and eat a hot fudge sundae (something that really happened). Such is not the case with mommy dearest.

At first, I thought that she was just discombobulated from the extended ER stay and having her time-table turned upside down. She called me into the bedroom and told me that someone was in the hallway. I told her that no, no one was there, and turned on the light in the hall to show her. When I looked more closely, I saw that her pupils were huge. Mom was high.

A few minutes later, she shouted my name. I ran into the room, only for her to tell me that rats were climbing on the closet door. (Rats: Corey’s least favorite thing in the world; he should have had to deal with this particular hallucination). I turned on the overhead light, and put my hand on the closet door. She screamed. I opened the door and showed her that nothing was there.

Then she told me that the rats had run into the bag that was hanging on the closet knob (a red, shiny gift bag that my mother keeps a whole lot of whatever in). I took the bag and ran out of the room with it. I told her no more rats. She went back to sleep.

About an hour later she declared that someone was breaking into the house. Then she was certain that the cat was on top of her (he was outside). This continued all night.

Okay. So I’m making fun now. Trust me, it was very unfunny as it unfolded.

“I have nightmares about hell, where all I do is add up numbers and try to have conversations with people like you.” ~ Jim Butcher

Neosurrealism Art: "City Ruins" by Natiz Agayev

In the morning, my mother tried to make sense of what had happened. I explained to her that she still had a lot of pain medicine in her system, and told her that hallucinations can happen as a result of certain medications. I told her about my own hallucinations, and that seemed to make her feel better, or at least she pretended that it did.

Sunday night the hallucinations began again. This time, my mother tried to get out of bed to go somewhere, and as a result, she fell again. It was 5 a.m., and there was no way that I could get her back into bed on my own, so I had to call Corey. Between the two of us, we maneuvered my limp, petrified mother back into bed. As we were doing so, she told me that she had heard something snap. I didn’t know if it was part of the hallucination or if something had really happened—as in the snap of a bone breaking.

First thing Monday morning, I called the orthopaedist’s office, spoke to a nurse, and got the first available appointment, which was on Tuesday. The appointment on Tuesday was a fiasco as we were seen by Dr. X, one of the senior partners in the practice, who told my mother (before viewing the ER x-rays) that she needed to be exercising her foot. He was very officious and condescending, which always brings out the worst in me.

When that particular doctor took a look at her x-ray, he came back in and said that he wanted his parter, Dr. Y to get a second opinion on whether or not an operation was needed. I rolled my mother to yet another exam room, where we waited for two hours, only to be told that Dr. Y was running two hours behind and couldn’t possibly see my mother. Could we come back the next day?

Guess what happened then . . . Go on, guess . . .

So I lost it and told the nurse that they obviously did not understand the situation: my mother had fallen again; she was in constant pain and hallucinating. Dr. X increased the level of the Percoset and we set up an appointment for Thursday with Dr. X’s son, a surgeon.

Another day of trying to keep my mother in bed and trying to keep her from hurting herself while trying not to lose what was left of my mind in the process. It was grand.

“With the truth so dull and depressing, the only working alternative is wild bursts of madness and filigree.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson

Neosurrealism Art: "Ice Age Premonition" by George Grie

On Wednesday, we returned to see Dr. X Jr., who turned out to be a very patient, kind doctor who listened to my mother’s long list of complaints. He ordered another x-ray (boy, was that fun), and then he told her that he really didn’t think that she needed an operation, that he wanted her to try a different brace, and he wrote a script for Demerol for the pain.

Don’t worry. I never gave her a Demerol. I had no desire to peel her from the ceiling.

We had an appointment to see Dr. X Jr. the following week to reassess. In the meantime, my mother told anyone who would listen that obviously none of them had ever had a broken bone, that none of them could possibly know what the pain was like because if they did, they would immediately put her in the hospital. I didn’t even try the logical approach of telling her that orthopedic surgeons knew a good deal about broken bones. She wouldn’t have listened anyway.

Luckily, Dr. X Jr.’s nurse was fabulous, and she wrote a script for a wheelchair, bedpan, and shower chair (by the way, only the wheelchair was approved by Medicare). We had borrowed a wheelchair from mom’s neighbor for the initial visits. The nurse wrote down her name and phone number so that I could call her the next day if I had any questions about the new brace.

Wow. Impressive.

By the way, did I mention that my mother wanted me to call an ambulance to take her to the doctor’s appointment? I explained that the ambulance was for emergencies. Her logic was that her pain was an emergency, and no one understood what she was going through, and why were there ambulances if you couldn’t use them . . .

I did try to arrange for private medical transport for the first doctor’s visit but was told that neither Medicare nor my mom’s supplemental insurance would cover the $200 fee. There was a long conversation with the insurance company in which I asked them if they would cover the fee to transport me when I threw my back out trying to get my mother into the car. I hung up.

Back to the story.

“I hope I end up a blithering idiot cursing the sun—hallucinating, screaming, giving obscene and inane lectures on street corners and public parks. People will walk by and say, ‘Look at that drooling idiot. What a basket case.'” ~ Henry Rollins

Neosurrealism Art: "The Cemetery of Umbrellas" by Stefano Bonazzi

We spent several more nights with imaginary visitorshuman, animal, and something papery and shiny. Things on the ceiling, things on the walls, strangers lurking in the shadows. One night when Corey was using the fax machine, my mom thought that we were moving furniture.

The third doctor’s visit was in the Chesapeake office, which my mother just couldn’t understand (as in “why do we have to go so far away?” Clarification: Chesapeake is about 15 miles away, 15-25 minutes on the interstate, depending on time of day). Another x-ray, and Dr. X Jr. said the magic words to my mother, who by this point was determined to have an operation and go in the hospital. He said, “If it were my mother, I wouldn’t operate. I would let it heal with time.”

He told mom that the time that it would take to heal on its own versus the time to heal after the operation would be about the same, and with the operation, she would have to be on heavy-duty pain killers, which would mean more hallucinations. She was sold.

So here we are, doing the healing at home thing. The hallucinations have stopped because I’m not giving my mother any narcotics, only the muscle relaxer and extra strength Tylenol. She’s still a bit loopy: trying to tell me that she already took a pill that I hadn’t given her, and making declarations such as, “Tomorrow, I’m going to make (insert name) for dinner. We just kind of look at each other and say nothing.

The biggest accomplishment to date was the shower. It was a major operation, requiring advanced scouting and assessment, but we made it through relatively unscathed, with the exception of my clothing, which was as wet as her body.

But the point of this whole post was this: I now have a keen appreciation for exactly what Corey and my family went through when I was having my own hallucinations. It’s funny to me in retrospect because I find it outrageous, but now that I’ve been on the other side, I have made a vow to my long-suffering spouse that I will not longer take for granted what he went through during that week after my back operation.

And there you have it: my pledge in writing, or typing, or whatever.

More later on the ongoing saga. Peace.

Music by Cyann and Ben, “A Moment Nowhere”

*Neosurrealism art: Artistic genre combining elements of fantasy, surrealism, and 3D to form images  of dreams, fantasies, and subconscious mind visions using painting, digital art, and photography.   

“Unfathomable mind: now beacon, now sea.” ~ Samuel Beckett

Iconic Image: Lone Man Faces Column of Tanks Approaching Tiananmen Square
                  

“That which is dreamed can never be lost, can never be undreamed.” ~ Neil Gaiman, The Wake 

Nobel Peace Prize Winner for 2010: Writer, Poet and Human Rights Activist Liu Xiaobo

I know that I closed yesterday with a note that I would write more about the ongoing saga at my mother’s house, but I found a reference to the following on my Tumblr dashboard and felt compelled to post it along with a few insubstantial remarks.

It’s truly remarkable that this man, who has been imprisoned for so long, is still able to pull up from deep within his most primal instincts such a passionate passage to his wife. After everything that he has been through, everything that he has lost, everything that has been stripped from him, he still retains his humanity, still fervently clings to his dream of freedom for his nation, his countrymen.

For so many, this man has become a symbol of the fight for a basic freedom that too many of us around the world take for granted. And in the midst of one of the dirtiest, most vile, misinformed, hate-mongering political campaigns in recent memory, Liu Xiaobo’s words resound like a clear bell tolling on the water: This is what freedom of speech is supposed to sound like. This is how love and dedication echo. This is the heart of truth.

Would that we were able to hear without hate, to speak without spite, but most of all, to recognize truth when it stands before us in all of its simplicity.

“the spirit-cell you built
without a door without a window
without a thread of a crack
locks you in solitude
to rot” ~ Liu Xiaobo, from “Greed’s Prisoner

I Have No Enemies

From the final statement of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s, issued just two days before he was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Christmas Day, 2009.

The following excerpt is from a statement that was originally published by the Hong Kong-based NGO Human Rights in China, based on a translation by J. Latourelle. The original Chinese text is here.

If I may be permitted to say so, the most fortunate experience of these past twenty years has been the selfless love I have received from my wife, Liu Xia. She could not be present as an observer in court today, but I still want to say to you, my dear, that I firmly believe your love for me will remain the same as it has always been. Throughout all these years that I have lived without freedom, our love was full of bitterness imposed by outside circumstances, but as I savor its aftertaste, it remains boundless. I am serving my sentence in a tangible prison, while you wait in the intangible prison of the heart. Your love is the sunlight that leaps over high walls and penetrates the iron bars of my prison window, stroking every inch of my skin, warming every cell of my body, allowing me to always keep peace, openness, and brightness in my heart, and filling every minute of my time in prison with meaning. My love for you, on the other hand, is so full of remorse and regret that it at times makes me stagger under its weight. I am an insensate stone in the wilderness, whipped by fierce wind and torrential rain, so cold that no one dares touch me. But my love is solid and sharp, capable of piercing through any obstacle. Even if I were crushed into powder, I would still use my ashes to embrace you.

My dear, with your love I can calmly face my impending trial, having no regrets about the choices I’ve made and optimistically awaiting tomorrow. I look forward to [the day] when my country is a land with freedom of expression, where the speech of every citizen will be treated equally well; where different values, ideas, beliefs, and political views . . . can both compete with each other and peacefully coexist; where both majority and minority views will be equally guaranteed, and where the political views that differ from those currently in power, in particular, will be fully respected and protected; where all political views will spread out under the sun for people to choose from, where every citizen can state political views without fear, and where no one can under any circumstances suffer political persecution for voicing divergent political views. I hope that I will be the last victim of China’s endless literary inquisitions and that from now on no one will be incriminated because of speech.

Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth.

In order to exercise the right to freedom of speech conferred by the Constitution, one should fulfill the social responsibility of a Chinese citizen. There is nothing criminal in anything I have done. [But] if charges are brought against me because of this, I have no complaints.

Thank you, everyone.

                   

Daybreak by Liu Xiaobo
for Xia

over the tall ashen wall, between
the sound of vegetables being chopped
daybreak’s bound, severed,
dissipated by a paralysis of spirit

what is the difference
between the light and the darkness
that seems to surface through my eyes’
apertures, from my seat of rust
I can’t tell if it’s the glint of chains
in the cell, or the god of nature
behind the wall
daily dissidence
makes the arrogant
sun stunned to no end
 
daybreak a vast emptiness
you in a far place
with nights of love stored away

                June 30, 1997

Click here to read more about Liu Xiaobo

                   

More later. Peace.

Music by Antony and the Jonsons, “River of Sorrow”