Tuesday, October 27, 2009

After this, I will be wary of October forever!

Well, I’m back…and hoping that the last days of October do not continue the trend of disasters, large and small, that have plagued me for the month.

I am ordinarily one of those perpetually optimistic and relentlessly cheerful individuals, the one you could cheerfully choke when she responds to your own litany of disasters by saying “Well, the bright side of this is…” Even when I run into a string of woes in my own life, I tend to view the most recent calamity as the last, and do not look forward with trepidation. As the end of this month approaches, however, I am beginning to waver. The fact that all of the crises, from major to minor, seem to be resolving helps…but their sheer volume has put a bit of a dent in my normally sunny disposition.

I can’t even remember the exact order of them all, but I believe it started with the refrigerator…my big, beautiful, nearly-new side-by-side…making a terrible groaning noise, straining to turn itself on…groan-click…groan-click…groan-click. Eventually it would come on, only to do it again the next time. This fridge is less than three years old and has already had a major repair…it has two compressors and one has already required replacement…so this was a very disappointing event. We called a generic fridge repair man who said it could be this…or it could be that… We paid him for his indecision and called the brand service centre who sent us a tech…at twice the hourly rate of the generic guy…who fortunately had just the right part in his little truck and, R800+ later (equivalent to two trips to the gourmet grocery store) the fridge was working again.

It could have started with the infection, however…I just don’t remember the order of things too well as there have been too many of them. Hubby is diabetic and is prone to skin infections (“boils” to those who are not squeamish) and sometimes he develops a cellulitis with it, which can be quite dangerous. He’s actually been hospitalized twice for these infections and placed on IV antibiotics, so they are nothing to fool around with. Any, he got one, complete with cellulitis and had to start a course of antibiotics with me monitoring the shrinking or spreading of the cellulitis.

A week or so into the month, he woke up with a pain in his left wrist. By the next day his wrist was swollen up at least twice its normal size, red and hot. No evidence of an insect bite or sting was visible, but movement was excruciating. We knew it wasn’t an infection…he was full of antibiotics…so it was off to the doctor’s office again. Doc thought it was gout, I thought it was tendinitis. Awaiting the results of the blood tests, I treated his wrist like a tendinitis…ice packs and a wrist brace in addition to the anti-inflammatory prescribed by Doc…and when the gout tests came back negative, we heaved a sigh of relief. Gout would have been a much worse…and much more complicated…diagnosis.

His wrist improved and the day before I was planning to suggest that he try going without the brace, he called me in the afternoon saying “I’ve had a bit of an incident.” First thing that came to mind was his car…had another arrogant speed demon T-boned him in another intersection? “What happened?” I asked frantically. “Are you OK?”

“I collapsed at the Pick n Pay,” he said. His voice was muffled and indistinct.

He seemed confused and unable to answer questions. I asked if anyone was with him and he handed the phone over to a person he thought was a security person for the supermarket but who was, in fact, a paramedic. He had had an episode of insulin shock…his blood sugar had dropped so low that he lost consciousness…and collapsed in an aisle in the supermarket.

I got to the hospital before he did, and when he got there, the news was worse…when he fell he landed on his right shoulder, bruising it, and bitten through his tongue. After hours in the ER they finally sent us home, but the next morning they called us back for additional tests…seems they were worried about some irregularities in his blood enzymes and wanted to rule out a heart attack with a repeat of the tests. Fortunately the retest was ok, but he remained fuzzy and confused for several days and has a permanent loss of memory for a good part of that day.

The very next day we were in the market and he suddenly looked pale and sweaty. “I need a Coke,” he said. “Fast.” We managed to get a sugar Coke into him, followed by a muffin and forestalled another collapse, but it was obvious that his blood sugar was not yet stabilized.

Amongst all this, my car needed to go into the body shop for what we thought was a minor repair…they quoted us 8-10 business days, which I thought was excessive, but whatchya gonna do? The insurance guys came out and assessed the damage, approved the repair, and Hubby called to make the appointment…only to find that the insurance guy had neglected to include the bee sting antenna on the back of the roof that was part of the damage. Another week passed while we got the insurance people to authorize that as part of the repair, only to have the official Mercedes Benz body repair shop tell us the aerial was an “after market” part and they did not stock it.

I had to go to the internet and find an article about Mercedes Benz’s 2000 model year and refer them to an article referencing the aerial as being part of the factory-installed hands-free phone kit. Only then did some genius suddenly discover that, indeed, it was an “official” Mercedes part and, by golly, they could replace it! Amazing, eh? So, my “minor” body repair ended up taking three weeks…two weeks of it in the shop…but I must say, they did a great job. Well…almost a great job. The next day we got in the car and Hubby decided to clean the front and rear windows. He hit the squirter thingy and the wipers automatically activated. But the rear wiper, instead of wiping the wet glass, began wiping the tailgate…some genius had installed the wiper assembly upside down!

Hubby’s shoulder continued to pain him until he literally could not raise his arm. For days after his collapse he suffered muscle aches all over his body, but as they subsided his shoulder, perversely, got worse. Back to the doc, who diagnosed tendinitis and renewed the scrip for the anti-inflammatory drugs.

I endured two weeks of cabin fever, awaiting the return of my car and just as I was mobile again, I did something to my left hand…who knows what? At first it felt like a burst blood vessel in the palm…it had that stinging soreness…but those usually resolve in a day or two for me. It has been a week and I still cannot grip anything with my left hand if it is going to contact the palm…like a steering wheel. Then, Hubby rocked up with another abscess, this one in a painful and awkward place to treat (under the arm), and on Sunday I stood up from a chair, took one step, and I nearly fell over from the pain in my right ankle.

Back to the Doc…I was starting to think about just taking up residence in his waiting room!...where Hubby got a renewed antibiotic prescription…and I got sent to the hospital for x-rays, ultrasound, and blood tests. The good news is that nothing is broken and I don’t have Deep Vein Thrombosis…the bad news is that I’ve got the symptomatic equivalent of a sprained ankle, but I didn’t injure it in any way. So now I am in bed, foot elevated and an ice pack on it, I am housebound again, and now the inside of my left arm hurts…

That’s a story in itself…I went to the blood lab for the tests and the technician checked both of my arms for “good veins.” She selected Old Faithful, a fat vein in the crook of my left arm that has been the favourite of phlebotomists for my entire life. I knew I was in trouble when she couldn’t get blood on the first pass, and kept wiggling the needle, pushing and pulling it in and out, unable to puncture a vein that sits close to the surface and is as big as the Alaska Pipeline. She finally withdraws the needle and informs me that the veins in my right arm aren’t satisfactory and she is going to have to use a vein in the back of my hands. I don’t think she was prepared for my refusal.

“No,” I said. “Absolutely not my hands. How about this fat vein in my wrist?” She demurred, insisting that she had to use my hands. I adamantly refused.

She got insistent. I got annoyed. “It doesn’t hurt that much,” she kept saying, unwilling to hear anything I might have to say about my experience with venipuncture in my hands. I could have told her those veins roll terribly, that the back of my hands bruise terribly after having blood drawn…assuming a vein can be tapped…and I use my hands all day, typing, cooking and/or sewing. She just kept insisting “it won’t hurt that much” when she had managed to provoke a dozen “ow! Ouch! Owowow!” comments of out me while she failed to puncture my biggest vein with fine needle. She was a butcher and I wasn’t letting her near my hands!

She stepped out of the room and I began formulating my explanation to the doctor as to why the ordered blood tests hadn’t been done (because I was planning to leave if she kept insisting on maiming my hand!), but another woman walked in and diverted my attention. She took my right arm and examined my veins and pointed out a vein the first technician had rejected as being inadequate. Then, in a trice, she had the needle into that vein and I literally felt nothing! She drew two vials of blood and withdrew the needle, all without giving me the slightest twinge.

But last night, Dear Hubby took the edge off my distress at being house bound again with a fat foot and a sore hand by taking me to see my anniversary present. Her name is Muffin and she is three weeks old, so she will have to stay with her mum for a bit longer, but she is just priceless. I hope Puddin’ likes her, as she is destined to be Puddin’s playmate. So, even though the month of crises isn’t over yet, things are looking up. Time to get out the knitting needles and finish Muffin’s pink baby blanket…