28 December 2011

Toetally Hosed

[I wrote a draft of this entry nearly two weeks ago, but then got distracted by the crush of holiday preparations and never actually posted it.  Lucky you--you get to see it now.  Misery loves company, after all...]

Everyone occasionally has a bad day, a bad week--even a bad year.   With everything that's happened since we moved here, I'm starting to feel like Georgia is trying to reject us like my body might reject an organ transplant.  Maybe Georgia has figured out that I am a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee (or "damn Yankee," which is what I'm told you call a Yankee who moves here and doesn't leave) and is rejecting me on general principles.  All I know is that stuff keeps happening to us.  Since we've moved, my daughter has broken her ankle, we have had a thermostat stop working (which is pretty bad considering that through a fluke of realty we ended up in a brand-spanking new house), causing us to go through 3 thermostats before the issue was resolved, we have cracks that are starting to appear where the 3-ish story house is settling, I have broken a wrist, then a toe (crushed it, actually),  my daughter has sustained multiple injuries (though to be fair most were during fighter practice for the SCA and in NY), my husband's Miata (or as I like to call it, his "sports p*nis") has been dinged twice in a parking lot--once on each door (it's important to coordinate these things),  and my mom van has been rear-ended by a student (negligible damage, though I now have the outline of her front license plate holder imbedded into my bumper).  As if all that weren't enough, I also had an appendectomy right before Thanksgiving, which was followed a week later by a badly infected toe (the result of part of my damaged toenail--from the break 6 months earlier--coming off and allowing bacteria into my nail root) and subsequently an adverse reaction to antibiotics which smelled suspiciously like Satan's farts, or at least like how I imagine they would smell.  Let's just say sulfur smells tasty by comparison.  The past 16 months have been nothing but one mishap after another.  Maybe I'm just being pessimistic, but if that's not Georgia trying to exorcise me from the premises, I don't know what is.

At the very least, I'd settle for having a do-over of the last seven days.  The chaos started last Tuesday (December 6).  I had an appointment to get my hair cut with good old Ricky, which I'd never gotten around to canceling after the mini-mullet debacle.  Since it was also the day of my concert and I need a trim, I figured I'd give him another chance, mostly because I'm lazy and it was just easier than finding someone else in one day.  Besides, I figured his errors were still 100% better than the other couple of cuts I've had down here.  We had a long chat about my mini-mullet, and while it's still iffy, he did blend it slightly better.  However, a week later, I still have stubby hair around my ears that gets hung on my glasses; meanwhile, my bangs are already too long because I forgot to remind him I don't like hair in my eyes.  Sigh.

Anyway, later that Tuesday afternoon, because I am a moron (who should know better) I started fiddling with the damaged toenail that is still in the process of growing out from when I broke my toe.  It's been six months now--the actual bones have long-since knitted, and I've had a new nail attempting to grow under the old, damaged nail for some time.  This process has caused the old nail  to contract as it dries, pulling in the sides of my nail bed along with it.  This has also necessitated occasional trimming and angling of the nail to relieve the pressure between the two nails and at my cuticles, as well as to assist my toe in resuming something remotely akin to normal shape.  I know I should have just left well enough alone, but I just can't stop myself most of the time.  Knowing full-well it was a bad idea to mess with the toe right before I had to stand around in new dress shoes for hours, I fiddled with the nail anyway, popping out one side of the older nail out of the cuticle in the process.  Okay, that's wasn't so bad.  It didn't even hurt.  Of course, that also meant I was left with a semi-attached nail saluting me from the ground.  Yeah, that wasn't gonna work.  So I pulled it off.  It bled a little, but didn't hurt too much.  After a little cleaning and bandaging, I got ready for the concert; I was at least clever enough to wear flip flops for rehearsal and bring the dress shoes with me to wear for the actual concert.

Before Tuesday, I had never been on the UGA campus, so of course I overshot the driveway for the Performing Arts Center and had to wind around the road for another 5-10 minutes before finding a good place to turn around.  I found my way into the relevant parking garage and got out, helpfully leaving my bottle of water in the car.  Instead of following some random guy dressed in black through a back door (that would have been too easy), I cleverly figured I could walk around to the front of the building and find my way in.  Except the doors of the building were locked, and it was starting to rain, so I went to the next building, which was emblazoned with "Hodgson Hall." I figured that was okay, since that's where the concert was supposed to be.  Unfortunately, I did not realize that the music department is also called Hodgson Hall, in addition to the concert hall in the first building I attempted to access.  After touring the music department for a few minutes and almost invading a completely different recital, I ended up walking all the way around the original building, ending up at the stage door the random guy had used 15 minutes previously.  Fail.  I did manage to arrive at the rehearsal on time (barely), though I was out of breath, sweaty, and waterless.  Not good.

Shortly after I climbed to the back of the risers the rehearsal started, complete with burning stage lights to amp up the sweat factor; we stood for the entire program's worth of music, merely a half hour before having to do it all over again.  Awesome.  Meanwhile, I was standing all in black and baking under the lights, having never had a chance to cool down from my campus tour.  There's nothing quite as special as singing beautiful music while sweat gushes down your legs as though your water had just broken.  Quite the interesting experience, that.  We had a couple of extra chairs along the top row, so when we finished rehearsing someone came along to remove them.  As we spread our remaining chairs apart to close the gaps, one leg of my chair started to go over the edge of the riser.  I quickly stood up and my neighbors helped me catch the chair and re-situate it saftely.  All I could think at the time was not that I was about to fall over backwards and break yet another who knows how many bones, but that my other choir director would kill me if I injured myself again.  One has to have priorities.

After the rehearsal we all got a sack dinner of sandwiches and chips and were given about 20 minutes in which to wolf it down.  Once finished, I changed into my dress shoes, only to discover that the left shoe had not been adequately stretched because a couple of my toes were badly pinched, even without the now ouchy big toe.  Needless to say, as soon as we processed into the auditorium and got to our places, I slipped my shoes back off.  No one was going to see my feet from the top row anyway.  The concert itself went well, though we still made a few mistakes here and there, but as the piece was in German, most of the audience never knew the difference.  We got a small break 2/3 of the way into the concert while some soloists were singing.  There was a men's trio that was particularly outstanding.  When I sat down for the break, I noticed some water spots on the riser from where the sweat had rolled down my legs, making it look like I'd peed myself.  Special.  I erased them as best I could with my stockinged feet.

When the program was over, I went to chat with some friends who'd come to see the concert.  My husband missed me, so went to wait in the lobby.  He ended up leaving without ever having seen me afterwards.  We always seem to be missing each other in one way or another.  Sigh.

Not surprisingly, my toe was tender for the next couple of days; I kept soaking it in warm water and trying to squeeze out any ickiness that was oozing, but it didn't seem to help.  By Friday night it was swollen and angry-looking, so red that it could easily lead Santa's sleigh in place of Rudolph's nose.  Just breathing on it seemed to make it hurt.  Clearly it had become infected and it wasn't clearing up after a couple of days as such things usually do for me.  So Saturday morning I headed back to the Minor Med here in town, where once again I was seen by the F Doctor who had sent me to the emergency room three weeks previously on suspicion of appendicitis.  I asked if he'd missed me.  He asked how my appendix was.  I told him "gone," and he just nodded and smirked.  I really like this guy.  He has my kind of humor.  He checked out the toe, agreed it was badly infected ("Cellulitis," he called it), and prescribed thrice-daily soaks in Epsom-salted water and the antibiotic Keflex.  I also got some more narcotics (me and the drugs this year are like this), only this time it was Lorcet (Hydrocodone) instead of Lortab.  He told me to take two of the Keflex per day for 10 days, and that if it wasn't getting less red in a couple of days I'd have to come back and have the toe numbed so he could remove the nail and "cleanse" the entire nail root area that I'd gotten infected.  I didn't hear most of what he said because I was too busy doing the "Ewwww, GROSS!" oogy dance to listen.

I got my meds and some groceries from Publix, then went home and sat around the rest of the afternoon in a drug-induced stupor.   That night I felt vaguely dizzy and queasy, so I ate a little and fell asleep.  Gotta love narcotics.  Who doesn't enjoy feeling like your brain has just been soaked in bleach?  On Sunday I went to church, though I was sensible enough not to narcotic up before driving.  When I got home I downed another of the hydrocodone and again started to feel very out of it and vaguely nauseous.  I ended up napping for a couple hours, which I considered a fine alternative to hurling from unbalanced brain, before having to head back to church for a kid's program which featured the adult choir.  I made the hubs drive, though, because I didn't trust myself to think straight and because I was still slightly queasy.  By the time the program was over,  my head had mostly cleared.  At this point my toe had already faded some and my whole foot was no longer pale pink, nor did the toe hurt just from me looking at it, so I stopped taking the Lorcet and switched to Advil.   I even went to bed before midnight (okay, maybe 2 minutes before midnight), which I am pretty sure is one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

On Monday morning I had to get up unpleasantly early to go to my post-op visit with the surgeon.  The nurse actually made me get on the scale which, like most women, I abhor.  Usually I can get away with just telling them how much I weigh, which is only marginally less embarrassing than seeing it in living technicolor, because the scales at the doctor's office never weigh the same as the one at home does.  The disparity is often so great, in fact, that I have decided in future I'm going to any and all weigh-ins stark naked since my clothing seems to have been woven with weight-enhancing magnetic threads or something, making it weigh an additional 50-60 pounds.  There can be no other explanation for the number on the scale.  I'm just sayin'.

When the surgeon came in, he glanced at my chart and commented that I wasn't "normal."  I thought, "Well, gee, that's a little rude, even if it is true."  Of course he meant that my appendicitis hadn't presented normally, what with the unimpressive pain for several days and the not ralphing on everyone constantly.  I considered that a good thing.  But whatever.  Doctor (don't call me) Shirley inspected his handiwork and seemed pleased enough with it, though he noted there was some redness around my navel (which there hadn't been a couple of days before).  I was then told not to worry, that sometimes the sutures irritate the skin and that if I saw any white threads sticking out, I should just pull them out with a tweezers.  Nice.  Now I'm gonna go home and obsess over the dental floss sawing through my belly button for the next 5 days.  Thanks, Doctor Shirley.

The surgeon went on to tell me that my hernia wasn't currently any big deal and then told me what to look for so I'd know if and when it was becoming an issue.  Lastly, he said I was pretty much released officially, including from weight lifting restrictions, provided I didn't go doing something stupid like lifting 100 pounds.  I love how he looked me straight in the eyes as he said this, almost like he knew me well enough to be suspicious.  Hmmm....

By the following Tuesday, I was still not feeling "normal" (apparently because I'm not); whenever my stomach was empty I felt queasy, my head was just as fogged as it had been on the painkillers (yay, narcotics! ) and I generally felt crappy.  My dear Posse girlfriends convinced me I was having an allergic reaction, in spite of the fact that I hadn't burst out into hives or started vomiting on people (I guess I'm just too cool ever to do that).  I called to see about getting my antibiotics changed and was told I'd have to see the doctor again.  I also discovered that I'd been taking half the required dosage for the previous 3 days because I am apparently too illiterate (or too hopped up on narcotics) to accurately read the prescription label.  Woot.  When I got to the Minor Med, the nurse showed me to the same room I'd had before; we decided that I might as well move into it to save time, given the way the last three weeks had gone.  Doctor F halfway made a face upon seeing me again, and I was told for the second time in two days that I'm basically not normal.  (Yes, and your mother smelt of elderberries.  Geez.)  This time it was because the antibiotic I'd been given rarely causes reactions, so clearly I'm just "special."  Still, to the guy's credit, he didn't blow me off.  Instead, he listened to my nebulous symptoms and figured out another medication to try.  As I was leaving he told me that I could stop the Epsom salt soaks on Thursday, and that if the toe became inflamed again, it was "Cuttin' Time" and that he had a knife all ready and waiting in his pocket.   Weirdly enough, that's a lot of why I like this guy.  I need people with bent senses of humor in my life because that sort of humor diffuses my tensions.  I get that sort of humor.  Heck, I am that sort of humor.

Off I went with a new and improved prescription.  For the most part it appears to be working, and while I wouldn't say I'm 100% back to "normal" (or at least my own version of "normal") my brain has at least cleared enough now to be mostly funtional and, other than knocking a bottle of lemonade all over my piles of Post-It notes yesterday and flinging oatmeal around my desk today, things seem to be improving.  Which is a good thing, because I only like sharp and pointy implements when I am sewing and am the one in control of said implements.

Edited to add:  Christmas has now come and gone, and I still have a toe (and nail) attached.  The toe in question has mostly returned to normal, though there is still a hump of old nail trying to climb up and off of the nail bed at an inexorably slow pace.  At this rate, it will be a year before my toenail looks like it did before I broke it, if indeed it ever does.  Still, at least it's no longer glowing red and is no longer sensitive to the merest touch.  Small favors, right?  Nevertheless, I am looking at my calendar at the four days remaining in 2011 and wondering if I can make it to the end of the year without anything else happening to my rapidly deteriorating body.  This year cannot be over with quickly enough to suit me.  I am desperately hoping that 2012 goes better, medically-speaking, at least.  And, if not, I'll only have to make it to December 21, at which point the world will end anyway, so it won't really matter one way or another anymore.  So that's something.


  1. From one desperately-ready-for-2012 to another, hugs.

    BTW: The current CAPTCHA reads "unsingso". I found this amusing.

  2. Thou shalt please stop breaking the Ginger. Thanking you.

    Also, you, madame, are hereby the recipient of the Tell Me About Yourself award: http://lizaanne42.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/a-little-bit-more-about-well-me/