November 30, 2005

-image-oh, let’s go there again

I’m slowly working on a post about my recent visit to the ER and I can’t help but remember my visit to the ER LAST year right about this same time.

I’m a little concerned that this is becoming an annual tradition.

Anyway, if you’re new to this blog and you haven’t heard this one, well, as the late, great Ray Charles sang:

You think you know me well
But you don’t know me
😉

After reading this, though, ah, you will. In a special, special way.

So in honor of The Anniversary, here’s the story:

“The End Times”

So there I was. The morning after Thanksgiving. In the emergency room.
Face down on one of those cozy hospital beds. Wearing one of those gowns that feels like you’re wearing shame.

Because you are.

Worst of all, my Lower Bum/Upper Thigh (LBUT) was exposed. How had I come to this?

Well, you see, I had a biblical problem. A Jobian problem.

I had avoided going to the doctor for a week. I thought it was just a bug bite. Since I was in unfamiliar territory, I had been dumb enough to believe it would go away. I certainly did not want some stranger looking at my LBUT.

(You see, actually, I’m quite modest. Yet, in a seeming contradiction, I can tell the story without hesitation. My only explanation here is my life-long, sick fondness for humiliating stories — even if it is my own.)

At one point, My Beloved leered, "I can lay hands on it and pray." To which I replied, "Get away from me, you!" At Thanksgiving, my brother commented on the "hitch" in my step. I yelped as my niece bear-hugged me from behind. I was the "butt" of all the wicked holiday banter by those people I USED to call my family. (Actually, the name of this post came from their relentless teasing.) Yet still, I remained stubbornly unconvinced of my need for medical intervention.

But then MB said these words: "Yeah, one cheek is definitely bigger than the other." And suddenly, there was a Tracey-shaped hole in our front door.

After I was forced to yell my problem through the glass to the unhelpful, DEAF lady, I was escorted to one of those little rooms with the soundproof curtain "walls." The nurse muttered, "Put this on." I glanced at the threadbare gown, shuddered as I thought of its previous occupants, and wondered briefly if they could just cut a hole in my pants instead. I almost said that out loud, but stopped when I saw the nurse glaring at my hesitation. Meanwhile, MB was sipping coffee — sipping coffee — in this, my hour of darkest need. "Nice. All he needs is a lovely scone," I thought.

As I waited face down on the bed, I thought of many things: of how I’m afraid of doctors and nurses — of how hospital curtains are always made from hideous material that looks like it was nabbed from some reject fabric bin in Boca — of how I longed for some cute, designer paper bag to hide my face — then how, if said designer bags just had some eye holes added, it might actually be a viable product which could be called "Hippocrates’ Helmets" or "Sickroom Sombreros" or maybe just "Hats To Hide The Shame Of It All."

The curtain was yanked aside. My reverie was abruptly interrupted.

"Hello, there." Great. A low voice. A male doctor. Or else a female doctor undergoing sex-change procedures. Either way, I felt sick, but I was kind of wishing for the latter. I took one last breath of hospital sheets and turned my head towards my doom.

"I’m Dr. Chang. How are you?" Rats! Wish denied. Regular man.

"Well, I’m just bloody fantastic" is what I thought.

But what I said was, "Did you all draw straws to see who would get me?"

"No," he said, with a face that screamed "yes."

"Well, let’s take a look."

(Oh, please, do. Let’s.)

I felt the cold hospital air on my LBUT. I tried unsuccessfully to smother myself on the bed.

“Ohhhhh, yessss. THAT is an obli.”

(See how I’ve cleverly scrambled the letters? I just CANNOT say the word, so "obli" it is.)

He then launched into some rambling discourse about the history of oblies, which I found neither interesting or helpful. Finally, he said something that was more about meeeeee.

"We’ll have to make an incision." Then he said these incredibly non-calming words: "You need to try to remain calm."

WHAT?! How bad was this going to be that it was likely to induce hysteria? I was instantly less calm. And kind of offended that he thought perhaps I was the hysterical type.

"I’ll be back," he said.

(Woo-hoo. Hooray for Everything.)

As I lay there waiting, listening to My Beloved having a Taster’s Choice moment, multiple paranoias came rushing in on the hospital breeze. Impossible to verbalize them all, this one came front and center and out of my mouth:

"How does my butt look in this light?"

I ACTUALLY said this. I am, quite simply, a moron.

My Beloved stopped sipping and stared at me as if I’d finally completely cracked. Watching him, I could see many thoughts struggling for dominance.

Apparently, this thought won:

"Well, hon, believe me. That thing is the star of this show."

(And since I’ve sat a bit too long writing in a drug-induced stupor, I’ve gotta pick this up later. Dr. Chang wants to see me again first thing in the morning. My heart’s all aflutter. Stay tuned …. for the rest of the story.)

the end times (aside):

Hmmmm …. Stood up by Dr. Chang for early morning date. Must not have been as captivating as thought myself to be. LBUT peered at by yet another random stranger posing as doctor. Had My Beloved draw smiley face on LBUT bandages to spread holiday cheer. Doctor was not cheered, just patronizingly amused. (Didn’t like doctor.) Thought of saying I did it myself to increase chance of cheer occurring. Situation: still humiliating, slightly less amusing. Infection not responding to meds …. gaining some ground. Feeling a tad worse. Beastly obli. However, this bonus: MB speedily supplying videos and DVDs for plague girl’s entertainment. Have repeatedly watched The Cowardly Lion sing “If I Were King of the F-o-r-r-e-e-e-s-t.” Never seen the classic “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” so MB popped that in. Apparently, still haven’t seen it. Fell asleep. Seems the postman always rings twice, but the sandman only rings once. Having “Retro Bedtime Night” and going to bed now. It’s 7:45.

Sigh …. well, I DID love 3rd grade.

the end times, part 2:

Well, last weekend officially became "The Lost Weekend." In that movie classic, Ray Milland goes on a rather unproductive 4-day drunk. I wasn’t drunk, but kind of wish I drank, so I could have been drunk. Make sense?

Anyway …. Back to our story. Part 1 had ended with my query of shining stupidity and paranoia, followed by MB’s even shinier, clever rejoinder. I did laugh, then cringed as I heard the low rumble of laughter from "The Lady with the Elbow Problem" in the next curtain. (What?! These curtains aren’t soundproof?) As she chuckled, I pictured my hand slyly slipping through the crack in the curtains and just giving her, you know, a little slappy slap. Hmmm. Could these thoughts of mild violence have anything at all to do with the fact that my DIGNITY and PRIVACY were being ROBBED by THE MAN?!

ARRRGGGHH!!!

Seconds later, a nurse entered our personal paradise, pushing The Cart. The Cart, as most of you know, is the subtle showcase for the tools of torture that will be featured in your all-too-near future. Swept up by the sadomasochistic glee of it all, I craned my head around for a peep, but saw only various potions that looked both stinky and sting-y. Turning away, I redoubled my efforts to "remain calm," as per Dr. Chang’s extra helpful advice. The curtains parted and the doctor entered again.

"Guess what?" I asked.

"What?" he said, with good, doctorly concern.

"Well" — I replied, in an "I-see-dead-people" whisper — "it’s still there."

(I don’t know WHY I do stuff like this. To break the tension, I guess, but I need to STOP, because I ALWAYS shoot for clever and end up with STUPID. I guess I was lucky that the doctor responded with any sound, even if it was a braying-like sound, which could have been a laugh. Or sinuses. I don’t know.)

He began to busy himself with The Cart. The obli was doused with the aforementioned stinky and sting-y potions. As I lay there, chewing pillow, Dr. Chang said, "Okay. Don’t look."

Now, please. What is the absolute, categorical rule whenever someone says, "Don’t look"? You look. What else IS "don’t look" except an invitation TO look? So naturally, I succumbed to irresistible impulse and …. I looked.

SWEET MOTHER OF MOSES.

In his hand was what doctor types call a syringe. I call it a GIANT, BUTT-KEBOB SKEWER.

"You looked!" he wailed. Yeah. And I was still looking. Bug-eyed. Coffee-sipping husband, bug-eyed. The doctor began to talk very fast.

"Okay. First, we need to numb the area, then make the incision, then …."

Blah, blah, blahdie BLAH …. all right, already. JUST. DO. IT.

His nervousness was sending mine over the edge.

"…. and I want you to know there’s going to be water involved."

Riiight. Because that IS the concern here, that water might be involved. I love a doctor who can sense my innermost fears.

Finally, the moment had come. He looked at me and said, "Are you ready? There’s going to be some pain." (Let’s not forget water.)

"You might want to take a deep breath and go to a happy place." I thought he was kidding with that, but he was quite in earnest.

Okay, playing along. A deep breath …. a "happy place" …. A Land Without Oblies …. help me, Jesus ….

"Heaven?" I croaked out.

"Suuure, whatever," Dr. Chang laughed. "Okay. Deep breath. Here we go."

(Heaven, heaven, heaven, hea-vennn)

YEEEEE-OOOOOWWWWW!!!!

The offending obli was skewered dead center. All visions of heaven exploded as I descended into a fiery, butt-kebobbing HELL.

Now, during the approximately 30 seconds of skewering, several things happened:

First, and fleetingly, I thought maybe this was payback for calling my husband "Burl Hives" a few years ago when his skin turned reddish and blotchy and he did, indeed, have hives. I felt quite sorrowful about this now.

Second, a voice came to me from behind the doctor’s back: "How ya doin’, hon?" Are you kidding me?! It was that dratted Burl Hives. Daring to speak to me. At this precise moment. In That Voice. You know. That fakey, lovey voice that husbands whip out at ill-timed moments to assure us of their undying support and adoration. (Hmmm …. I’m touched, Burl…. that you took the time to care between your sips of coffee!) You KNOW. That Voice that gives normal women the murderous thoughts of a mafioso: "Oh, yeah? You tawkin’ to me, Slappy? Yeah? Yeah?? You goin’ down. I don’t care how big you ahh. When I’m done heeya, I’m stahtin’ wichyoo."

Then, third, Elbow Lady’s cell phone started ringing …. and ringing …. and ringing. And not a normal ring, either. Oh, noo. It was that tinny, cell-phony version of Beethoven’s "Fur Elise": Nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-nee-REE-REE-REE. The tune that is the bane of many a young, pudgy-fingered pianist. Instantly, I flashed back many years to my own wildly unsuccessful 8-year-old piano recital — the one where I sat there, pudgy-fingered and crimson-faced, as my unruly digits sabotaged me by playing the opening strains of "Fur Elise" over and over and over again. Ah, yes. The recital where, mid-performance, I heard my dad’s tape recorder ominously click OFF. Well, let’s face it, two minutes of the same five seconds over and over? There was only so much I could bless people with my repetitive gift.

Now thus far, I had not screamed. But, oh, mommy, I wanted to. However, I think screaming in hospitals is no good for anyone — no good for me, no good for the doctor skewering me, and no good for anyone still waiting their turn to be skewered. But Elbow Lady and her "Fur Elise" cell phone were driving me to the brink. I felt seconds away from bellowing one of those self-serving "words from the Lord" that everyone’s so gaga for these days: "Elbow Lady, I FEEEL the Lord is telling MEE to tell YOUU to answer your freaking cell phone! It’s driving Him CRAAAZY!! " (And you know …. the ringing did stop. Maybe it really did drive Him crazy.)

So where are we? Ringing: Stopped. Butt Kebobbing: Stopped. LBUT: Numb. Incision: Imminent. It was then I discovered the one — and I mean only one — advantage of the LBUT obli: I couldn’t see what happened next. Dratted Burl Hives described the gruesome entertainment factor for me as “pure CSI.” Wow. Really? I felt strangely proud of my obli then. Later on, though, he mused, suddenly all-knowing, "I really thought the incision was too big." I didn’t really want to know that, so I drily replied, "In your expert opinion because your mom’s a nurse?" He scowled at me. I deserved it.

"Procedure" over, the bandaging began. It seemed alarmingly poofy. My Beloved, pleased with himself, remarked, "Your butt looks like it’s packed for international shipping."

I thought momentarily how I’d miss him after I killed him.

It couldn’t be that bad, could it? Doctor gone, I reached back and gingerly felt the area. Was this a joke? My husband’s comment was actually an understatement. It seemed as if that maniac Dr. Chang had just gone to the nursery, grabbed a stack of folded Huggies, and slapped them to my butt cheek. I was aghast.

With MB’s help, I wobbled up and put on my baggy pants. Baggy, that is, except across my beleaguered, be-Huggied butt cheek, where the pants’ worn fibers strained to hold me in. Dressed, I looked like some poor woman who forgot to use the dryer sheets and now had her husband’s entire sock drawer clinging inside her pants. My bum was lumpen, distorted, misshapen — a walking nightmare. I wanted to cry. Once again, I longed for A Hat To Hide The Shame Of It All. I glanced at My Beloved and wondered if he did, too.

Moments later, I was waddling out to the car. My Beloved shortened his long stride, grabbed my hand, and waddled with me. I stared glumly down at the large plastic bag the nurse had given me. Ah, my lovely parting gifts: a year’s supply of bandaging and tape, voluminous care instructions, including a tutorial on weatherstripping the area for showering, and lots of painkillers. I rummaged in the bag a bit, certain there’d be some Rice-a-Roni or at least a lousy lollipop. Nope. I sighed.

Then My Beloved said in his real voice, "Well, baby. You were a brave little soldier." I smiled and stopped next to the car. My swaddled keister stopped a couple seconds later.

Just then, I felt a lovely, warming glow. And it wasn’t just from the burning of my LBUT. But as My Beloved opened the car door, he said it:

"Let me help you in …. Olive Boil."

(Cue "Psycho" shower music)

All right, Burl Hives. GAME ON.

November 28, 2005

-image-thanks …

… for your well wishes. I’m getting better, but my energy level is pretty low. Blogging will be spotty and babbling. So stick around for that!

Thanks again for cheering me. It was so encouraging.

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving.

November 13, 2005

-image-update to I am I am

Well, when my fever hit a lifetime high of 104 this morning, I thought it was time to go to the ER. Seems I didn’t think so over the last several days while I’ve been literally staggering around here, delirious, dizzzy and unable to focus my eyes. Well, you know, you can’t think straight when you’re sick, right?

Turns out, I’ve got The Pneumonia.

So it’s adios to all of you for the next 10 days.

November 10, 2005

-image-I am, I am

sick as a dog. Survived visit from in-laws AND aunt-in-law. Am not surviving aftermath, however. Chills and sweats and all that jazz.

Most likely, nothing here until next Monday.

November 8, 2005

-image-b is for bragging

Button Baby continues to freak me out with her, her …. ways. She is 19 months old now and knows “The Alphabet Song.”

Um, okaaay.

I figured she just knew it as a catchy li’l ditty to sing along with — I mean, it really IS the catchiest of li’l ditties. And helpful — yes, helpful, because, well, you never know when you might get clogged up around L M N O P. I mean, for example.

But you have to know what you’re looking for. You have to know “The Alphabet Song” is not JUST sounds in order to use “The Alphabet Song,” right?

I mean, just because I sang “A B C D E F G” and then paused and then Button came in with “H I J K L,” etc. well, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe she just knows and likes the sound, the TUNE.

So I had to test her. Enter Alphabet Crackers, a most delicious and educational snack.

Okay, Button. We’ll see. We’llll seeee, I thought.

She toddles into the kitchen right on my heels.

“Cackers, Tee Tee, CACKERS!”

“How do you ask, Button?”

“PEEEAZZE!!” She chirps it loud and staccato.

“Thaaat’s it!”

I grab a cracker from the jar. It is an S. Time for my little test.

“Button, what’s this letter?” I ask nonchalantly.

“S!!” she crows.

Wow.

“Right! And S sounds like?”

I just throw that out there because there is NO wa —

“Ssssss!”
she happily hisses, smiling at me.

I just stare at her. Dig into the jar. Hold up another one.

“B!!”

“Right! And the B goes?”

“Buh Buh Buh!”

Next one.

“H!!”

“Good! And the H goes?”

“Ha Ha Ha!” she puffs.

And then she just bursts into giggles of delight at herself. That’s the best part.

Well, that, and getting to nosh Alphabet Crackers. They really ARE tasty and so what if I ate too many of them? I swear I reviewed them all before I ate them.

Oh, and it turns out, Button knows the names and sounds of 15 letters so far.

Next stop — Tee Tee’s TAXES!

With her around, I may never have to think again.

November 7, 2005

-image-you go NOW

An all-grown-up Relative of mine, upon seeing Peter O’Toole in a movie:

Who’s that?

Me (shocked and saddened): THAT’S PETER FREAKIN’ O’TOOLE!!

The Relative: Oh? What’s he been in?

(I can’t stand it. I just can’t stand it.)

November 4, 2005

-image-I know I keep saying this

but my E*ypt Air post has ahold of me like some snarling pit bull and won’t let me go. It’s going to be very long and very personal and I’m not going to look very good in parts of it. I’m exorcising some demons with this one and, well, didn’t Joey say I needed deliverance?

But I’m almost afraid to post it when it’s finally done — mostly because people may read it and say “Is that all? Is that what she was freaking out about? THIS is exorcising demons? Wow.” My words for this post are so puny and my memories have been so carefully repressed and it’s just so damn frustrating.

But it won’t let me NOT write it. For WHATEVER it’s worth. I have no idea.

I’m sorry that I have nothing else right now — if anybody’s still there!

November 3, 2005

-image-this family needs our prayers now …

… and desperately. Via The Anchoress and Jeannette comes this horrific, staggering story of loss. Writes Jeannette:

I received this in an email from our dear friend Truthseeker.

This family is distantly related to Truthseeker’s wife and we need to get a prayer chain going for the mother, the father, the other driver and the new baby to come in addition to other family members. The grief they are experiencing must be beyond words, but they have a strong faith and believe everything works for the good of those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.

Here’s the story:

11/02/2005

Associated Press

Two pickup trucks collided head-on in the city’s northern outskirts, leaving five young children from a Mennonite family dead and their father badly injured, authorities said.

Jeffrey B. Schrock and his children were in the extended cab of a southbound 1986 Ford F250 when it collided with a northbound 1999 Ford F250 which had crossed a grassy median and entered the southbound lanes of U.S. 395 about 4:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to a Washington State Patrol report.

Carmen Joy Schrock, 12; Jana Louise Schrock, 10; Corina Jean Schrock, 8; Jerrill Burdiette Schrock, 5, and Creig Allen Schrock, 2 were pronounced dead at the scene.

“This may go down as the worst crash” in the Spokane area, patrol trooper Jeffrey M. Sevigney told The Spokesman-Review newspaper. “Nobody could remember one, at least in this area, in recent times that’s been this bad.”

Schrock, 38, co-owner of a furniture store in Chewelah, and Clifford L. Helm, 55, of Deer Park, driver of the newer pickup, were rushed to Sacred Heart Medical Center. Schrock was in serious condition early Wednesday after initially being listed as critical and Helm was in satisfactory condition, both after undergoing surgery.

Evening rush-hour traffic was detoured around the crash scene just north of North Hatch Road. Northbound lanes were reopened about 8:45 p.m. but southbound lanes remained closed a longer time.

Ralph Hooley, another member of the 12-family Mennonite community in Chewelah, about 45 miles north of Spokane, told the newspaper the family was going to meet Schrock’s pregnant wife Carolyn, the children’s mother and the other store co-owner, who had gone shopping in Spokane.

The crash shook windows in the area and horrified passers-by who tried to render aid.

“I thought it was like an earthquake,” said Jayme Marquardt, who lives nearby.

“There were about 30 people all standing around with their jaws touching the ground,” said Caleb Gilbert, a motorist who stopped soon after the crash.

Gilbert said two of the children still had pulses when he reached the Schrocks’ pickup, including a girl who was conscious but struggling to breathe. He said he pulled a body off her, but she died soon afterward.

Cause of the crash remained undetermined. Sevigney said there was no immediate indication drugs or alcohol were involved.

“We’re going to spare no expense in conducting an investigation,” patrol Lt. Steven G. Turcott said.

According to an article in The Spokesman-Review in 1997, the Schrocks opened North Country Furniture after they and two other Mennonite families moved to Chewelah from Tangent, Ore.

“He has a shop there at his house where he makes furniture — tables and chairs and things like that,” Hooley said.

Update from Truthseeker: Funerals will be held next Monday. Only 12 families in the small church but I’m sure the community will be there. Let’s get the prayer warriors on this.

The Anchoress adds:

This is just an unthinkable disaster – I don’t know how people can recover from such staggering loss, but I do know that grace is there, even in all of this. There is no depth so deep that Christ is not deeper still, and no darkness which cannot be penetrated with His light. Please remember these people in your prayers, and not just for today.

AMEN and AMEN, I say. Please, let’s be the Body of Christ for this family. If we can give them nothing else, WE CAN AND MUST GIVE THEM THAT.

November 2, 2005

-image-also ….

…. did I mention my in-laws were in town this week? I can’t be seen working on the blog. They know NOTHING about it and it’s gonna stay that way. 😉

November 1, 2005

-image-here’s sumpin’

All right. Content of SOME kind. A meme I stole from Sheila.

An average American apparently does all of the following things. See if you are average:

— Eats peanut butter at least once a week – In what form? Does Reese’s count?

— Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky –
I really don’t have a preference here.

— Can name all Three Stooges – Manny, Mo and Jack, right? Wait — That’s the Pep Boys. Of course I know The Stooges.

— Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart
– Yes. And I keep driving, frankly.

— Eats at McDonald’s at least once a year –
Why?

— Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day
– Yes.

— Never sings in the shower – This is insanity. You sing in the damn shower, people, and I do, too.

— Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium –
Technically, it’s a “townhome.” La di da.

— Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000 –
All right. We’re talking So Cal housing values, which are just insane. So, uh, ours is above that. Right now, anyway. But it wasn’t when we moved in less than 2 years ago. Again, it’s insane, I tell ya.

— Has fired a gun –
Yes, and I’ll do it again. You don’t marry into My Beloved’s family and NOT fire a gun. He’s an Irish, he-man, mountain type and when I first met my in-laws, they took me out shooting — target shooting, mind you, nothing else, and that’s all I do, so don’t get all pinchy on me. I was laughably bad. But later that year, my father-in-law gave me my very own gun. I know it was a big gesture for him. It’s a little .22 automatic Derringer, just right for my small hands. It holds 2 shots and I keep it in the nightstand. If I ever had to use it, I would. Freak out on me if you want, but keep it to yourself. If someone broke into your home with mayhem in mind, you’d be saying, “Sure wish ol’ Tracey were here with her cool gun.”

— Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall-
Yup.

— Weighs 135 to 205 pounds
– Yup.

— Is between the ages of 18 and 53 – Yup.

— Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option – What a waste. Really. It just seems foolish to me. Sorry.

— Grew up within 50 miles of current home –
Right now, that’s true, but it hasn’t always been.

TA-DAAAAAA!!

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