Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kidney stone vignettes

I was unable, of course, to fit all the awesome moments of the last week in the last post.

No wonder it hurt
After the surgery, the surgeon apparently said to Mom and my sister in the waiting room: "This ain't my first rodeo." There were horses galloping down my urinary track?

She's one of us
My niece has a different last name but is totally a Trott. She walked in to my room when I got home Friday to welcome me home. She came up to hug me, but then stopped and said: Wait, you're not sick, are you?

I am Austin Powers
You remember the scene in the first Austin Powers when he gets thawed out and pees forever? That is how I was when I got home from the surgery. And whenever I stopped, I would move on the toilet and that would start it off again. This was when I realized my brother-in-law really loved me. My sister wanted him to help me off the toilet, but I was worried standing up would start me peeing again. But he didn't mind. (Maybe he just really loves my sister.)

But I am not Anthony Weiner
My sister made me promise not to post a photo of my taped-up private part with its string hanging out. Like I'd do that? Well, maybe if the nurse did swoon.

Would he pull it?
My sister didn't tell my nephew the specifics of my operation because, she said, he would want to see the string.

Blame it on the electric razor
After  a week of not shaving, my electric razor did not make a dent in my stubble. I called Mom to see if she had an extra razor at her house I could use. She did, but then we agreed I probably should not shave myself. So Dad came over to do it. The problem was I found it funny. Not cool to laugh when a blade is at your throat. But I am very clean-shaven now.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Awesome Memorial Day: Kidney stone, hospital dreams blasted away

I have watched hospital shows all my life -- Emergency, MASH, ER, House, Scrubs, even an episode or two of Grey's Anatomy when it could not be helped or when Summer Glau was on.

But when I was hospitalized Friday for a bitch-ass kidney stone that was blocking up my left uteter, it was nothing like any of them. I was quite disillusioned.

For instance, when I was transferred to the OR from the ER, the guy moseyed along. No one sat on my chest pounding away, yelling "Don't you die, dammit!"

There was no steamy love connections, at least that I saw. I was assuming that when the female nurse catheterized me, she would swoon, so overcome by my manhood. Word would spread and all the women in the hospital would suddenly find a reason to visit ER Room #9. But no. (I told this to my sister after my surgery, and she was shocked I said it in front of Mom.)

The one thing the shows got right. All of the folks were kind and dedicated, even if several tried to move the power chair by pushing it, not using the joystick.

But that's OK, like I said, not a  Frank Burns in the bunch, although I am not sure even Frank Burns would have been a jerk. It is not easy to be rude to me, even harder to be a jerk to Mom. And if someone did act jerky, my little sister was there to tear their fucking head off. Almost would have been worth a jerk to see that.

I guess I should start at the beginning. I went to work Friday feeling fine, but as I ate breakfast I got a pain. Gas, I assumed, although it felt different. I went to the bathroom but felt worse. I came back to my desk, felt clammy and nauseated and returned to the bathroom. I called Dad from there and recovered enough to go back to the office, email my boss I was leaving and go meet Dad.

But at home, the pain got worse. I told Mom we better go see about it, so luckily a nurse practitioner had an appointment almost as soon as I could get there so off we went, with a trash can in case I had to barf.

There is a stomach bug going around, the NP said, but fortunately she did not leave it at that. She scheduled me for a CT scan, which showed the bitch-ass stone. While Mom and I were at radiology, my little sister called and when she heard where we were, said, I'll be right there. She's great, folks! I almost feel bad for being mean to her when we were kids, but she was such a jerk.

From radiology, we went to the ER. Totally empty. I highly recommend mid-afternoon Friday as the time to get sick.

After that, I got processed and IV'd. The doctor came by to say the urologist was on his way. My sister googled my issue, the treatment and the urologist.

The ER doc wanted a urine sample. When the urologist got there, he did not seem to care, but by this point I did. I had been getting fluid and really had a full bladder. Nothing was coming out on its own, though, thanks to the stone. So they catheterized me. Felt good. I did not take the offered morphine.

My primary care doc stopped by, convincing me she is awesome.

Then we moseyed up to the OR, they asked a few questions, gave me a hairnet and wheeled me off.

As I was leaving, Mom bent down and kissed me, and I almost freaked: Am I going to die, I thought.

But no time to worry, they wheeled me in, lowered the gas mask and I was out.

From the lingering discomfort what then happened was (in layman's terms): The urologist threaded the wire to an Atari 2600 joystick up my penis and played Asteroids to bust up the stone, then he stuck in a balloon and an air tube and blew up the balloon to make sure things stayed open wide enough. And for a neat addition, the balloon is on a string hanging out of my penis, so tt they can remove it easily. I'd be more worried about the removal, but I am more concerned about the tape holding the string in place.

I won't bore you or gross you out with the recovery, suffice it to say that bladder control, never a strong point of mine, is not improved by these things. But no one complained. Well, my sister told me I should have written this sooner.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Back in the good old days, wheelchairs were good

My first power wheelchair had some issues, but the battery was great -- never failed -- and the port for the charger was really easy to use.

My second power chair -- my previous one -- had a lot of issues. But, as I was reminded this week when I had to use it for a few days, it does have redeeming qualities, too. For instance, it had like an automatic transmission.

Power chairs don't stop running when you stop pushing the joystick. The acceleration stops, but the momentum keeps pushing the chair forward a bit. This is really noticeable in my current chair. I can roll down our ramp backward if I push the joystick forward for a second. It goes forward, then goes into neutral and the ramp causes it to slide backward, like pushing in the clutch in a car on a hill.

My previous chair had a neutral time, but it was real slight. The wheelchair guy said all new chairs have extended neutral times. The new chair is also not as good as rolling up bumps.

It is like newer chairs are worse ... on purpose.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Where do I go from here?

I have a good bit of vacation time built up, and Mom and I spent some time looking at possible trips.

Almost anything I would do would cost double -- places don't give an aide a free pass. And while some give discounts, they are pretty minor -- 10% or so.

I guess the cost in't really the issue. The question: Is it worth it? And that is a question I am really unsure of.

Travel anywhere is not easy, and it is nice to sleep late.

It's neither exciting nor stimulating, though. Am I that boring?

Saturday, May 18, 2013


I am trying to decide if I am becoming a grumpy crank regarding jokes about wheelchairs. Not from my friends or family.

Earlier this week, I watched The Big Bang Theory. Leonard was on his way to a boat in the North Sea with Stephen Hawking's team to research some science thing. But Penny was concerned, Won't Professor Hawking just roll off?

Really, is she that dumb? Wheelchairs have brakes, and boats have railings. Plus,   Hawking wasn't going; his team was.

It seemed like a silly and lazy joke. So I tried to come up with another line that would work. It wasn't easy. The only thing I could come with is

  • "What if his wheelchair rusts?"
  • "Won't it be hard to use his voice thing if he is wearing gloves?"
But the second suggests that the North Sea is real cold, but it is not.

I still can't decide if it was a funny joke.

I did laugh at Modern Family's joke involving a wheelchair the other day, but that was not so much about the chair.

Haley was mocking a community college brochure's standard diversity photo and said, wow, that guy in the wheelchair is really cracking them up.

So I just don't know.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Anyone want a wheelchair?

I had to call my sister for help the other morning because I slid off the bed when I was getting up.

I wasn't hurt and probably could have gotten up eventually, but in the interest of time I figured I needed help.

I know people will yell at me for this, but I was thinking that was the first time in a while I fell. I must be getting better. No doubt, soon I will be able to toss out my wheelchair.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sleeping under the chair

My sister makes fun of Claren for being scared of the new puppy. And it's true, Claren is. Service dogs need to be extra-passive, and Claren is even more than usual.

She is not, however, stupid enough to lie down under my chair. Unlike certain puppies.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bathroom blues

I did not notice how the super pole in the bathroom intruded on my space until it fell. I have been without it now for a few weeks and am continually surprised at how much difference a few inches make.

The problem is I still need the function the pole performed -- helping me get off the toilet.

I have been trying to ignore the problem and hope it goes away, but as Mom and my sister informed me: that is unlikely to happen. Actually, they did not use the word unlikely, they just cruelly burst my bubble.

Mom and I spent the evening looking at grab bars, but I think I need the pole.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Back to School

Unfortunately, last night bore little resemblance to the Rodney Dangerfield movie. But it was still quite fun.

Mom, Dad and I, and one of my uncles, his wife and one of my cousins went to an advanced class at NIH to talk about genetic testing.

The first counselor we saw at NIH teaches a class to geneticists, PhDs and medical doctors, and he asked us to come talk to the class.

Mom and I talk about Friedreich's ataxia a lot, so what she said was not a surprise. But hearing Dad, my uncle and cousin talk was interesting. The students asked good questions, too.

Here is what I said about testing;

I know some people with genetic diseases find testing offensive, not me. My sister and husband got tested before having kids, but I did not see that as saying my life is not worth living. They are both planners who would be sad without their spreadsheets. They wanted to know what they'd be getting into.

I don't know what they would have done if they were both carriers. But, as I told the class, I would not wish FA on my worst enemy, so how could I be OK with potentially having a nephew or niece with it? So of course, if they decided to adopt, that would make sense.

It was not easy to say all that I said, or hear what others said. My uncle said he felt guilty being a carrier? How about the person who brought this deadly disease to light in our family?

Granted, neither of us had anything to do with our genes -- no choice there -- but still.

I think Claren realized how hard it was for me. Right after I said how hard FA is, she got up off the floor and just sat next to me, making sure I knew she was there. She is the best!

My aunt and uncle both said how good I was afterward, and the counselor said, if we could only clone your attitude ... So bitter works!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Powerful Katrinka

At various points in time, Gram referred to the ladies in the family as Powerful Katrinka.

The Powerful Katrinka was a strong woman in the Toonerville Folks comic strip, so Gram called people Powerful Katrinka after a feat of strength. Mom would open a pickle jar Gram was struggling with, and that made her Powerful Katrinka. My sister would lift a box, and she was Powerful Katrinka.

I do not remember Gram bestowing the moniker on my two female cousins, but I am sure she did, especially the younger one. She was tough, with her patented wrestling move "The Atomic Sit," in which she would flop her 2- or 3-year-old self down on her brothers.

I wish Gram had seen the Powerful Katrinka on display a few days ago. Still a little stunned frankly.

I was headed inside when one side ran off the sidewalk and got stuck in gravel, just spinning. My 9-year-old niece saw this and before I could say, Go get your dad, she grabbed the back of my chair and started pulling.

I started reversing the chair to match her tugs, and darned if she didn't pull me free!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Are you disabled?

I have been thinking about college recently because my first niece graduated today.

The only school I applied to but didn't get into was Duke, not that I'd have gone there. I was state-school bound and I knew it.

I have always blamed my wait-listing on the alumni interview. On hearing I did not play sports, the alum -- a former secretary of the Army or something -- said, I don't mean to be rude, but are you disabled?

I was shocked.

Oh no, I said. And I meant it. It had never occurred to me that I might be disabled. Why not?

It honestly never entered my mind -- or apparently anyone else's -- that there might actually be a reason for my clumsiness. Not that it really matters.

Although ... Maybe Duke would have accepted a disabled student.

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