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Tuesday, August 02, 2022

UGLY BUT HEALING

The current state of the previously infected toe. Believe me, this wins a beauty prize when compared to what it started off as. And yes, I am about to re-bandage it.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

MY WEEK IN HELL

I have had one hell of a rough week.

As you may have seen mentioned on FB, the week began last Sunday with the discovery that my left big toe was infected, so I went to the local urgent care to have it seen to. I was given a week's worth of strong antibiotics that would rout it from my system, and I'm glad I went to the doctor because apparently the infection was such that it had begun working its way through me in insidious ways. To be specific, by Monday night it was evident that I had a UTI. As I am a kidney failure patient and I do not produce much urine, it too a while to make itself known, but when it did... NOT FUN.

I had to weather Tuesday before I could request further antibiotics from the doctors at the dialysis center — they come in every Wednesday — and during that time I noted traces of blood in my urine, plus to say nothing of the fact that the frequent, usually fruitless urge to pee was met with excruciating pain when it was time to let go. Oh, that and a marked inability to keep in stray trickles here and there. Also, the oral antibiotics pretty much killed my appetite, so I was weak from low blood sugar and blood pressure due to lack of food.

Anyway, along with the week's regular dialysis misery, I had to deal with the two infections fucking with me by giving me shortness of breath. When I arrived at the center on Wednesday, Shaunda immediately noticed that I looked like crap, and she could hear that my breathing was short, so I spent Wednesday's session on oxygen while stuck in the chair feeling a terrible urge to pee, but I had to muster all of my concentration to keep it in until the nearly four hours were up.

When the doctors showed up for their weekly check-in with the patients, I told them of my issues and they immediately prescribed more strong antibiotics, two different ones, this time administered directly into my system by the dialyzer at the end of the session, with more to follow at the end of my sessions on Friday and the upcoming Monday. So what I was getting was double doses of two strong antibiotics, orally twice per day, and via dialyzer during my treatment sessions, and what nobody told me was how bad that can fuck you up while routing the infections. No one told me that it could result in loss of bowel control — thank the gods for sacrificial underwear — and loss of balance, so maybe five hours after I got home after Wednesday's dialysis, the nightmare began.

Between roughly 10pm on Wednesday and 4:20pm the following day, I weathered all of this misery, and I was in such bad shape I cancelled a checkup with my PC at Mount Sinai. Staying in was definitely right call, as the appointment was at 1pm and it's an hour of subway and bus transfer to get to Mount Sinai. At around 10:45 that morning, I was lying in bed when I felt the strong urge for what would likely be a loose bowel movement. I fled to the bathroom but on my way my knees gave out and I fell, sitting down painfully hard, and unceremoniously shat myself. (Like I said, sacrificial underwear.) In a state of utter defeat, I managed to crawl to the toilet, take care of that dire business, properly dispose of the ruined boxers, and then give myself a comprehensive hosing-down/bum-and-thighs wash in the shower. Believe me, there is nothing better than a multi-function showerhead on a hose, especially if one of its settings amounts to the bathing equivalent of a science lab's dual eye wash station. Anyway, you see the necessity of canceling my Mount Sinai checkup. Befouling myself on the subway would have been a most unpleasant experience

After dealing with that foulness, I resigned myself to resting as much as possible and allowing the antibiotics to go full scorched earth. I have flew to the bathroom twice more, with the difference being that I made it those times with no mishaps.

Then came Friday's dialysis, and when I arrived I was greeted by Irena, the nurse/tech who is second only to Shaunda in my estimation. We're pals and we always ask how the other is doing, so I filled in on my sorry state of the previous day. The look of shock on her face was clearly visible, even before she lowered her mask so I could hear her thickly-accented words more clearly (Her English is fluent, but MAN, can she veer into Moose-and-Squirrel territory.) She had me walk her through my previous 24 hours and after hearing my tale of woe, including making note of my lack of appetite (I ate a lackluster Granny Smith apple before attending that morning's session, but little else during the previous day), Irena simply said "With all of those antibiotics in your system, did none of the doctors tell you to eat something probiotic to restore balance to your system???" Indeed, none of the three doctors who had attended to my infections since Sunday had mentioned even one word about  probiotics, info that could have spared me Thursday's indignities. Heeding her advice, upon getting home from Friday's treatment I bought a big tub of probiotic yogurt that became nearly the only thing I ate yesterday. Anything to prevent another intestinal reenactment of Mount Vesuvius, plus it's a win for me, as yogurt is a favorite that is on my list of renal dietary restrictions, but this was cleared by one of the wise women whom I trust with my life. This was the first yogurt I have consumed in two years, and it was delicious.

All of that said, as per usual on dialysis days, I started hiccuping upon getting into my car to the center, around 9am on Friday, and I endured roughly five hours of such until coming home and resetting my phrenic nerve with that trick I do where I down forty ounces of water that I then spew up into the toilet, thus allowing for a few hours of relief until the cycle begins anew. Anyway, I got home and did the water move, only to have it work for maybe twenty minutes before the hiccuping started again. During the time between resetting the nerve and the hiccups starting again, I had taken my afternoon meds, which included the day's second dose of oral antibiotics, so when the hiccuping again commenced, I did not want to do the water relief trick again, lest I fuck up the antibiotic dosage. As the antibiotics were absolutely doing their job, I wanted them to continue doing such, so I resigned myself to endure a few more hours of discomfort until the meds had infiltrated my system. This was on top of little sleep over the past two days, so I would have committed a felony in order to achieve even two hours of a quality nap.

I let a few hours pass before trying the water maneuver, but when I did it it failed to quell the hiccups for more than twenty minutes, so I repeated the process. Again, relief for only a brief duration. Perhaps it was the antibiotics affecting the move's efficacy, but serial attempts ate getting hiccup relief just would not work. I was massively sleep-deprived, and I found myself in a childlike state of sheer exhaustion and despair, and more than once, as I regurgitated 40-ounce gouts of water into my toilet, I kept pathetically uttering "Please let me sleep..." And on top of all that, I suffered another antibiotics-related loss of bowel control, but at least it was only the once for the evening. I think it was caused by the double-whammy of two oral doses of antibiotics, and two administered into my system by the dialyzer. (I did, however, lay down a towel on my bed, just in case. Thankfully my bed remained unviolated throughout this week's ordeal.)

After nearly 22 hours of on and off hiccuping — starting yesterday just after 9am and finally ceasing around 6:45 this morning — I believe my diaphragm just wore itself out and finally had mercy on me. I happened upon a perfect sleeping position on my stomach, which kept my diaphragm compressed, and one that allowed for the slow intake of breath with my mouth mouth buried in either a pillow or the mattress and with my lips pursed like when one whistles. I am unsure if I actually slept, but just being able to relax without hiccuping was enough. I would periodically look at the clock and just over four hours passed between 6:45am and me collecting my thoughts on all of this. (I began writing this at 2pm. It is now just a tad past 3pm.)

The pain of urination through the UTI is down to around a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, and a decent amount built up overnight. It was also free of the traces of blood that had turned up occasionally over the last two days, so I am definitely slowly on the mend. And after last night's sacrificial underwear incident, I ate yet more probiotic yogurt. As always, Irena's advice proved sound, as my stomach and bowels kept it together after Friday's late-night incident. That said, the last two oral doses of antibiotics are today, so I'm remaining wary.

Anyway, today is about more rest and, hopefully, actual sleep. And I have the endoscopy on Tuesday to look forward to, so hopefully I will soon find answers as to why I am plagued with hiccups.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

ROADS GO EVER ON

They removed four kilos of excess fluid from my body during yesterday's dialysis session, and though I avoided the occasional agonizing leg cramping that goes with that amount of fluid extraction, I went home feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck. For all of last night and much of today I was a wobbly, light-headed mess, and today I managed some minor grocery shopping before crashing hard for close to four hours. I was out cold, and I don't think I could have been any more solidly unconscious if I had been given surgical-grade sedatives. But I am now awake, refreshed, and getting hungry. That said, I go back for more tomorrow, then it's the weekend off before resuming the cycle on Monday. 

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.
 
Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.
 
— J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

MOUSE WARS 2022!!!

Looks like it's time for the summer edition of MOUSE WARS, one of my least-favorite aspects of city living. I have two battery-charged Owltra traps set up on my stove top (as I cannot have a cat due to allergies), and they each sent a mouse to join the choir invisible in less than 24 hours. I hope that takes care of the minor serial infestation that has taken place for weeks. 

The mini-invasion had gone on for so long because the mice have been more clever than usual, avoiding anything that looks suspicious (like the big black Owltra traps), so I put the traps away for a while and cleaned up the mouse droppings I would find every morning. Then, after a good while of waiting and cleaning up, I once more broke out the traps, loaded with yummy peanut butter — irresistible to rodents — and let the mice explore. Once they set foot on the metal plate inside the trap, it's a ZAP!!! and immediate termination. The result would be a good snack for a pet boa constrictor, so it's too bad I don't have one. Anyway, so far it's two for the home team, so let's see of the tally escalates.


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

MENTAL ILLNESS IN SUNSET PARK

Did my weekly trip to Sunset Park for some Popeyes, and while awaiting the B63 on the way back I saw an attractive young white woman in her early 20's, very short and butch haircut (she gave off a distinct lesbian vibe), clear complexion and generally well-maintained, in a black tee, black booty shorts and no shoes. She was walking up and down the space between 49th and 50th Streets on 5th Avenue, loudly ranting about God and how she's not going to take it anymore, plus assorted incoherent ravings about unrelated topics. If ever I saw a case of someone who is probably usually otherwise normal but was currently very much of their meds, she was it.

A MOST GLORIOUS CHICKEN JOINT

I love the humble Chinese-run Popeyes in Sunset Park on 5th Avenue at 50th Street. It's invariably clean, the chicken is always fresh and delicious, and it's located across the street from a hole-in-the-wall old school wing chun school. It also has the rare quality of being an NYC Popeyes that doesn't attract the absolute dregs of humanity, like the ones on Flatbush Avenue and in the Fulton Mall area, so no one is begging for money, flogging shot-off-the-screen bootleg DVDs, ranting insanely, passing out on the tables, or O.D.ing. In short, this gets my nod as the best Popeyes that I have yet encountered. (Runners-up: the one across the street from the Armory in the 20s in Manhattan, and either of the ones that I know about in Chinatown. Always trust an Asian-run Popeyes.)

Monday, July 04, 2022

A MARKED LACK OF PATRIOTISM

 

Today's ride home from dialysis was piloted by one of the few Russian drivers who speaks decent English and engages with his favorite passengers. I hit it off with the guy a little over a year ago, when we sang along with songs on CBS 101, so now when I get him as my driver he immediately turns on the radio in hope of a singalong. Unfortunately, today was the 4th of July, so CBS played a marathon of played-to-death '80's songs, including "Come On Eileen," which was my least-favorite pop hit from my high school years. I could see he was discouraged that I was not singing along, but then Whitney Houston's live version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" came on and he enthusiastically drummed along with it on the steering wheel. He kept cutting me looks via the rear view mirror, apparently expecting me to be overcome with patriotic fervor on this day of days, but I instead looked out of the window or otherwise avoided his gaze. While he speaks rudimentary English, there was no way that I, a person with slave and slaughtered indigenous heritage, could explain to the guy that the 4th of July holds no meaning for me. I'm glad that he left his oppressive homeland for a country where he could feel free, but for some of us this is a very fraught holiday. My ancestors certainly had nothing to celebrate when (white) America gained its independence.

Monday, June 27, 2022

57

 Another year, another birthday, only this time around I spend it on dialysis. Oh, yay...



Thursday, June 16, 2022

SHIRTS OFF MY BACK Pat 5: COMICS

My love of and career in comics is well-known on this blog, so I'll skip further blather.





























A unique item: a Big Barda portrait drawn on a t-shirt for me by Marshall Rogers back in 1979. Never worn, some day this will be framed.

NEXT: MOVIES

SHIRTS OFF MY BACK Part 4: TV

 Who of my generation was not influenced by television, both new and old?





















"Mystery Kabuki Theater.)



NEXT: COMICS