Well, This Sucks

I have been silent for great gaps of time over the past two years, and PTSD (Post-Trump Stress Disorder) is responsible for a lot of that, but after that, there has been the pain. It took up my whole head some days and it didn’t really seem like something one ought to be blogging about and bringing other people down.

But goddammit.

So, against all logic and conventional symptomatology — turned almost entirely on its head in this case — what turned out to be happening is, both of my hip joints are completely destroyed, like you read about, and have to be replaced.

No one has a very good explanation. At least two people from divergent walks of the health care spectrum have invoked “genes,” which I believe is a graceful way of saying “We have no fucking idea.” The best anyone can do is to note that this is a thing, that people from time to time have both hips go to hell from some putatively auto-immune malfunction that selectively burns out only that joint. The rheumatologist X-rayed everything; I probably glow gently in the dark. I’ve been tested two and three times for all the autoimmune markers, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, you name it. Zilch (whew). I have the bone mass and  general joint integrity of someone easily twenty years younger. Just this.

I am still trying to figure out where I fucked up.

(I know where other people fucked up. When I went to my longtime chiropractic colleague, Dr. Bill, with the dislocation I incurred in 2011 — it was slight and just felt like a little strain to me — he completely failed to recognize it, and got his ass on his shoulders when I figured it out after ten months and had the Engineer yank it back into place. When the pain got worse again after an interval of a few years, eventually migrating to the other leg as well, he simple kept shoving my legs in directions they didn’t want to go, until one day I hobbled into his office and he asked with a creepy little smirk “Have you tried sitting in a bath with Epsom Salt?” I dropped some f-bombs, and we haven’t spoken since.

Go figure. Twenty-seven years I depended on the bastard’s diagnostic acumen and uncanny ability to refer patients to the specialist they might need if something was out of his league; I saw it over and over, but it wasn’t there for me. Yes, the pain manifested in a way almost opposite to most hip arthritis, but ferfrigsake, this guy’s wheelhouse is identifying skeletal origins of pain; it’s all he does, all day, every day. I have no idea why he hung me out to dry, but screw him.)

One under-appreciated perk of my profession is that you get to see the work of surgeons progress in real time. I’ve worked on pre- and post-op knees, shoulders, hips, spines; I’ve seen the disasters and the gold-medal jobs. So I am booked for February 5th with a surgeon who did hips on two of my clients in the past two years; unlike the surgeries you’ve probably seen, he goes in from the front, hauls the muscles aside without cutting them whatever, using retractors he designed himself for the purpose, places the new joint — a cute piece of engineering designed to let the bone grow into its surface layer, sort of like a Chia Pet — both by eyeballing and with a fluoroscope, and sends you home in a day or two. I am advised I will be able to do one flight of stairs a day right away.

Despite this and other predictions of far less impairment than you usually expect, I have been inundated with dire admonitions: buy a new chair, don’t stand up, don’t sit down, don’t get out of bed, lie flat all the time, don’t put on socks and shoes, don’t put on pants, don’t wipe your own ass, GODDAMMIT PEOPLE just let me talk to the surgical team about precautions? It’s worse than when women announce they are pregnant and immediately get regaled with everyone’s childbirth horror stories. I am considering an embargo on any and all helpful advice, enforced with a whack from my Alpine poles, which I have to use now to get anywhere.

This is because there is apparently no cartilage left. The surgeon — a fairly laid back type, with the confidence of several years and several thousand surgeries worth of experience doing this one method — eyeballed my X-rays, recoiled slightly but visibly like a cat that has just sniffed a glass of whisky, and said “These are very bad.” When I asked about the state of the labral cartilage that holds the joint snug, he said “You don’t have one.” This explains why I keep feeling as if I’m going to be dumped on the floor if I put my foot wrong.

At least I can work, because the job description pretty much involves leaning my weight on the supine client. And I can lift, if I can pole my way to the weight station, which has to look hilarious as I clamber onto a bench and then blow up a couple of forty-pounders handed to me by the Engineer, who has been a saint. I did have to give up squats. The surgeon says those will come back. He operates out of a sports medicine clinic, and he’s used to insane people like me.

Everyone says I’m going to be fine, my stomach is upset, my heart rate is up and I had a terrifying bout of classic anxiety palpitations (fortunately the day after getting a clear EKG), I spend all day and night thinking of things that could go wrong, and I still have Post Trump Stress Disorder.

Maybe I can live tweet the whole thing.



The Mark Of Zorro

Mr. Ferguson is the mostly gentlemanly, the most debonair, the most delicate and polite of the current cat population. He uses his toes as actual digits — you should see him reach into the bag and pick up a piece of popcorn — and he offers gallantries to his wife on a regular basis, but, well, genteely. He even carries his tail in a dashing curl.


And then there’s what happens when it’s time for a checkup at the vet.


That’s my front delt. I didn’t notice until I got back from the gym, owing to the digging of his rear claws into my thigh when we commenced stuffing him into the carrier. It kind of captured my attention.

You’ll be glad to know he checked out A-OK.


The Bullshit Is Starting

TAP Beer of the Week: Smashed Pumpkin Ale

The sun is going down and I spotted a few people with bags across the block, so I guess I have to stop whatever I want to be doing now, sit down in the living room — I’ve already locked the frustrated cats behind closed doors to prevent ninja escapes — and wait for the troops of little assholes that I don’t know from Adam to knock on my door extorting candy.

Every year someone tells me “you could just go out.” Where? This is my house. I would like to enjoy spending time in it. There is nothing to enjoy about having to jump up every five or ten minutes to give cheap crappy candy to kids you don’t know, because I am pretty careful not to know any kids, when you are hungry for dinner and would just like to read your book afterward. And fake enthusiasm for their costumes, maybe two of which in an evening actually amount to something. You are stuck with this, because you don’t want to get eggs thrown at your house for refusing to play the stupid game. Trust me, you never want to have to get dried egg out of a porch screen. It takes weeks.

How did this get so out of control? The time change — which is nonsense in itself — has now been orchestrated around it. God forbid any of the littlest maggots should have to go out in the dark.

I think I am out of politics for good, but if I ever run for anything myself — back when I was managing the campaign of an all American whack job, people used to suggest the idea — I am running on a platform that includes the abolition of Trick Or Treating. There will also be condign penalties for using quotation marks for emphasis and the incorrect placement of apostrophes, but unlike the goddam candy raiders, offenders will be eligible for parole.


Nymph, In Thine Orisons Be All My Sins Remembered

I really fucking hate it when someone tries to bring me to Jesus just as I am gearing up for a set on the parallel footplate stack sled machine.

See, I had just one skinny hour in the middle of the afternoon today, on account a good regular client called and asked desperation if I had time for him in his hour of pain, so I whirled into the gym, knocked out my twenty minutes on the resistance bike, stretched, and hit the weight stations. Days like this you do not mess with things that need plates loaded. I was knocking out my second round, not as good as an angle press (see header) or a Smith squat say, but it will get you through, and this amiable white-polled geezer, not bad looking for seventy plus, tall, slightly stooped, mooched up on the other side of the footplate to ask about my stretch movements. Was it for the body problem I had? (Sadly, some days my old leg injury still means I carry a walking pole into the gym, inevitably when a low pressure system is bearing down; people must be fairly mindfucked to see me using a light cane and then jamming up a sled with ten wheels on it, but that’s their problem.) Yeah, I said, explaining about dance stretches and the proprietary workout I had lifted them from, while he nattered about his wife going to Curves (blergh) and then suddenly asked “Is the Bible ever a part of your thinking?”

No, I said, I am a Pagan on even numbered days and an agnostic on odd ones.

He forged ahead regardless. It didn’t matter, had I ever…

Not interested, I said. Really not up for talking about it right now.

Well had I heard about the woman with an issue of blood…

Ferfrigsake you Morlock, do I look like someone who doesn’t have a degree in Languages and Literature and hasn’t made a study of comparative religions? Oh right, I’m on this weight machine in a string tank.

And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, 26And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, 27When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. 28For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. 29And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. 30And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

You septuagenarian opportunist, you saw me limping on a wet day and now you want to persuade me that Jeebus will heal me. Right? I HAVE TWENTY MINUTES TO WORK OUT AND THIS IS NOT THE TIME.

He reluctantly buggered off before I could tell him to bugger off. Or point out that he was in my house of worship, goddammit, and he was interrupting me at my prayers.

I gotta say, my workout volume was pretty massive, given the brief time I had.

He comes at me again, I won’t be so nice. For Christ’s sake. In a manner of speaking.



The Nuptial Vultures

Nuptial Vultures

So I went to a Ukrainian wedding. I trained for this by singing with a German chorus for several years, and surviving the dinner dances that followed their concerts, though I forebore to mention anything about this to the celebrants; the bride’s mother had told me years back about Wehrmacht soldiers billeted in her house when she was seven. Still, if you have danced with a good whack of booze in you while someone worked the squeezebox, you are prepped for this kind of thing. One of the guests bent in toward me and the Engineer later and congratulated us on being able to keep up.

Eastern Rite Catholic wedding traditions are something to witness. Most of the service is sung. The priest could have given aces and spades to the choir’s entire tenor section, and I think we have all heard that Saint Paul cantrip about Love Is Patient And Kind enough times to make our eyes glaze over, but I’d never heard it done in Gregorian style, about the only part of the service that was in English. Foliage was everywhere.

The church was a little traditional keepsake box built entirely of timbers — I think the bride told me there was not a nail in it, old country craftsmanship — surrounded by new growth woods north of the city. As we approached it, looking for the entrance, two vultures settled on the roof tree. While we watched, they scrabbled around on the slope of the roof shingles several times, using their wings for lift.

I do not know the significance of this as a wedding omen. I’m going to go with one of those counterintuitive “good luck” things, like the Italian tradition if a bird shits on you. Maybe it’s a thing and they live there like the ravens at the Tower. I’m just kind of afraid to ask.

Hope Never Dies

I am still here.

I honestly don’t know when I’ll feel like writing again about the antics of cats, garden insurrections, the droll wisecracks of my Engineer sweetheart or gym idiocy. The dumpster fire (yesterday I saw the term “diaper fire”) of our current rolling crisis has eaten my brain alive, what is left after adjusting for stubborn post-injury pain that I don’t even want to talk much about. I spend way too much time on Twitter, hoping to make an early catch of good news when it does happen. Concentration is hard.

But every once in a while something comes along:

I used to faithfully read a series by Elliott Roosevelt, yes, that Roosevelt family, featuring his mother Eleanor as the Miss Marple-like sleuth in a series of pulpy murder mysteries. They weren’t terribly good, but they weren’t terribly bad either, and featured striking cameos like a house party involving Humphrey Bogart, or an open air fish fry where poor Southern African-Americans dynamited or telephoned the fish (I forget which) and entertained the First Lady to dinner. They were just cute, friendly books, the kind that telegraph that nobody really got hurt, this is just made up, we’re playing let’s pretend.

Hope Never Dies is a lot more noir. But funny noir, even with its glum reminders of why our heroes Barry and Joe are private citizens now, free (except for a disapproving Secret Service detail) to be pursuing a string of clues in a suspicious death. The cliches are all there and they’re delicious: the surprise midnight appearance at Joe Biden’s home, the mysterious woman, the planted stash, the hard-boiled similes (“I crossed the yard as fast as a dog licking a dish”). Shaffer can write. I’m devouring this thing, but not too fast; I need some time out from the nonstop battering of the Trump administration. And having written local politicians into a murder mystery myself, I feel like I now have a posse.

On the other hand, there is this, from the same author.

Creepily, it was published before the 2016 election. What did he know and when did he know it? Can I stand to read it?

And I am really not sure about

I think it deserves a read for the pen name alone, though. News as I get it.