Coffee heat rising

Adventures in Medical Science…again…

So this morning it’s out to the Mayo Clinic…again! Be there by 10 a.m. Along about 10 p.m. last night, I realized my car is low on gas. I’ll have to stop someplace to fill up on the way out there. That will add another ten or fifteen minutes to the trek, depending on how many people are in line.

Unless, of course, I get up off my duff and go buy gasoline right this instant.

This proposed test terrorizes me. Not because it sounds so horrible (well, yes. Yes, it does: not so much because it entails jabbing needles into your muscles and running electric jolts into them, by way of measuring how your nerves respond), but because when you look it up you realize that what they’re looking for is MS, Parkinson’s, or ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). All of those are truly terrifying.

My grandfather died of Hodgkin’s disease, in upstate New York during the 1920s. How exactly this disease is spread escapes me — apparently it’s caused by a genetic mutation. Or not: could have something to do with the Epstein-Barr virus, and yes, I have (supposedly…) had mono. WhatEVER: those represent two risk categories, both of which I happen to partake.

One of D-XH’s partner’s wives developed MS. One of her kids almost died when he got into her purse, found a vial of medication for it, and ate the stuff.

My college roommate died of Parkinson’s, after a lifetime blighted by suffering. A dear college friend’s fiancé came down with it, canceling their planned marriage and his planned career, for which he had just been accepted to medical school. One of my colleagues at the Great Desert University came down with it, too. He quit his job and went back to the Rez, whence he had escaped half a lifetime earlier. I, however, have no legal tribal affiliation, so I ain’t a-goin’ to some oasis of peace and quiet in the middle of nowhere. Besides, Oklahoma would not be my thing, anyway. Kayenta, maybe. The White Mountains: absolutely — great place to die! But Oklahoma? Not so much.

So we awoke with dire cosmic worries to contemplate this morning…it’s…oh yeah…back to earth! I forgot to fill up with gas yesterday. It’s a 40-minute drive out to the Mayo — longer than that at this time of day. And I’ve got all of a quarter-tank of gas in the car. So another decision begs to be made?

a. Leave the house ten minutes early and get gas on the way; or
b. Get up off my duff right now, race out, stand in line stand in line stand in line stand in line, and get gas before setting out.

Neither of these appeals one helluva lot more than the proposed test appeals.

Nor does driving through the rush-hour traffic in a fog of exhaustion. Last time I looked at the clock during the night it was 1 in the morning. Finally got to sleep sometime after that. Slept in this morning until almost 6 a.m. So I’ve had about 5 hours of sleep. My eyes feel like they have dust in them — a phenomenon that must have given rise to the “Mr. Sandman” image, hm?

Ohhh well. The coffee’s gone. I’d better get up and start slamming around.

Out of the tunnel of annoyance, into the daylight of hilarity…

Tuesday: The usual 4 AM a.m. wake up call leaves me, once again, without enough sleep by the time I finally give up and roll out of the sack. About three hours later, I decide I’d better walk the poor little dog, who has not been outside in for-freaking-ever.

So I’m lashing the dog up in the complicated lash-up required to keep her more or less in line wiithout having her choke on her collar and fly into a reverse-sneezing frenzy. Remember, a doggie walk in these stressful days has to be managed with one hand: normally it requires two hands to keep her under control at all times. So in the best of conditions, this stroll is going to be a one-handed wrestling match.

Phone rings, just as we’re about to head out. My friend who was going to drive me to the first physical therapy session in the morning. Yeah.

Well, says she, she has remembered that she has a couple of errands in Scottsdale. So she will need to drop me off about a half an hour early and I’ll have sit there and wait for the therapy appointment and then  after that little nightmare is over I will have to wait again for heaven only knows how long until she gets back from Scottsdale to pick me up.

To put it mildly, this is not a scenario that appeals. So I say I will find some other way to get there.

As a matter fact the “other way” will be for me to drive myself, over my son’s dead body and in direct contravention of doctor’s orders.

Frankly I believe I will have no problem driving over there one-handed. As a practical matter I drive around with one hand most of the time. Except of course when dodging my fellow homicidal drivers. This, after all, is why we have power steering. Right?

By 9:45, the rush hour will be over and it should not be too unsafe to get there. It’s only 3 miles. I can get down there and also back home with a series of right-hand turns… In fact the only left turn I would have to make would be off a neighborhood arterial onto a relatively tame main drag. Additionally, the parking at this place consists of a long row of single-car spaces, so you can drive straight through without having to back and fill to get out.

Ruby loves grass, probably because we don’t have any. So when we get into the Richistans, all she wants to do is wallow and roll in the luxuriant, irrigated lawns that grace the stately homes. And, we might add, sniff every drop of dog pee that has ever  been deposited thereon. And of course, dump on said grass. Preferably directly in the line of sight of the proprietors’ front windows.

It’s supposed to reach 90° by afternoon and it’s already getting warm. All I want to do is move along, get the doggie walk out of the way and get back home where I can sit down and put my feet up again. So while she’s sniffing around in someone’s grass, I decide to stride right along… As I’m marching toward Pretoria, dragging her highness behind me, I hear ssskkkkkkkriiichchchchch….  

Huh? Turn around, glance back, and there’s the poor little dog at the end of the lead: she has assumed the position and is now helplessly being dragged forward by the harness, squatting and looking much like a stuffed Easter bunny.

Oh, dear God! I stop. She finishes the job: all over the neighbor’s front sidewalk. So there’s a nice mess to clean up!

We continue up the way and of course, invariably, it does not matter what time of day or night you leave your house with your dog…you cannot avoid your fellowvdog-walkers…

Along comes someone else with two large black beasts straining at their leashes. On our side of the street. The only side of the street that has any shade.

So we have to cross the (hot!) (asphalt!) road and proceed down the sunny side of the street until we get past that patrol. They drag their human into a garage, but the human leaves the garage door open, thereby also leaving open the question of whether he has let his dogs off the leash to roam around loose inside there, ready to charge us as we walk past.

I’ve noticed, on the way out, that the Funny Farm’s front yard is sprouting a nice crop of dandelions and assorted other weeds. When I get home, I call Gerardo to find out when he figures he will be around again. He says he’ll come over tomorrow. How convenient. I tell him that I won’t be here tomorrow morning, but Luz will be here. I arrange to leave a check for him on the back patio table. It also means I will have to leave the side gate open, because he has lost the key that I gave him and I have never managed to go to a locksmith and have another one made. Nor am I going to do so tomorrow, given the circumstances. I pointed out to him that Luz will need to be alerted to his presence since she will be less than thrilled to see a crew of dudes invade the backyard while she’s here alone.

At any rate speaking of the dog and the doggie products, I did manage to pick up three weeks’ worth of doggie mounds out of the backyard this morning. This is the first time that I have felt up for even trying to maneuver the doggy picker-upper gadget… And SURPRISE! Nooooo problem! So that was a pleasant discovery.

As a matter of fact, overall the arm is feeling a lot better. It seems not to hurt (much) unless I lift it up and out to the side. Lifting the arm straight frontward seems to elicit scarcely a twinge… Though I will say I haven’t tried to raise it over my head. So I take this as a good sign. I hope.

One thing that is clear from this fiasco: you cannot live in Phoenix without access to a car…PERIOD. It very well may be that if you imagine you are going to age in place in a freestanding home, you’re simply going to have to be able to drive a car or to find some way to get some transport service — not volunteers, not relatives — to ferry you around. This predicament, of course, is what makes it possible for outfits like the Beatitudes to talk the elderly into consigning themselves to a de facto prison. The Beatitudes will ferry you to doctors and grocery stores — at some considerable inconvenience to yourself, but at least you can get there.

One way around that, I think, is to move into one of the newer apartment developments that are going up around the city. These things are roughly modeled on European urban areas: commercial and office space on the ground floors, with apartments on half-a-dozen upper floors. If you live in one of these places, you could in theory avail yourself of restaurant food and maybe even some (very expensive) specialty groceries. One of my friends works in such a place right now…apartment buildings and office buildings are mixed together with retail and restaurants in a single development. It wouldn’t be my first choice of living environments, but on the other hand it wouldn’t be my last choice, either. The Beatitudes would be my last choice. With Sun City as the second-to-last.

The big malls built in the 50s and 60s here are moribund. Plans are on the drawing board to convert one such mall — the venerable Paradise Valley Mall, home of Macy’s (defunct), Dillard’s (now renting out its second-floor offices to freelance entrepreneurs), Penney’s (on its way out), and the like. There is a freestanding Costco in that shopping center — one would presume they will close it because it will be way too tacky to go with the fancy production the developers intend to build… But if it doesn’t close… If it stays in place… Well! That would make such an apartment development look mighty attractive. The living space would be right next door to a place where you could buy anything your heart wants, in lifetime supplies. Costco also has a gas station that underprices the competition by anything from $.05 to $.13 a gallon. It would be across the street from a Target, an REI, a Dollar Store, and a slew of middle-class restaurants. And it’s just up the road from the Valley’s largest and best-stocked Fry’s supermarket, which competes directly and ferociously with AJ’s, purveyor of fine and overpriced goods And it’s also close enough to the Mayo Clinic that you could get there quickly, and the 911 people would drive you there if you asked, rather than telling you that they’re going to take you to the depressing facility at John C Lincoln. The truth is that might be a place for me to consider moving to.

Fact, I think I will ask one of my coreligionists, who is an ambitious real estate agent, if she’ll keep an eye out for me as that place is developed.
Later. Having been up since 4 a.m., I’m going to take a nap before the sun comes up. And honi soit qui mal y pense!


Well, clearly I’m going to have to find some way to “pay it forward” to the church and most specifically to the choir. My gosh! Choir members have risen in mass to help me out. Yesterday morning a fellow named Kerr came over to collect me and drive me all the way to hell and gone out to Scottsdale to get my hair done.

He’s the gent whose wife fell and busted her shoulder last fall. He said she’s back to normal now. Her fiasco was significantly worse than mine because instead of just inflicting a set of cracks in the bone, she actually snapped it into two pieces. Ouch!

So it’s reassuring to know that in spite of having a worse injury, she recovered: apparently with no long-term ill effect.

At any rate, once we got to beautiful downtown Scottsdale, we found that my old and much beloved hair stylist Shane is still there! As requested he cut off the Rapunzel-esque locks into a cute, curly style… Yes, to the tune of sixty-eight dollars. And so now I will have to budget something to visit him once every two months. {grump!}

The mop needed to have about four inches of split ends trimmed off. But I rather resent having to get it all cut off. As a practical matter, though, with a crippled arm I can’t even wash it, much less comb the tangles out of wet hair or keep it combed and brushed between launderings. So… it is what it is, to coin a phrase.

Today, the pillar of the choir, D., is going to pick me up and take me down to the dentist’s office.

I made this appointment when a little revelation struck me. As I was reviewing the test results that the Mayo has posted on its portal, I realized that none of them is outside the range of”normal” except for the A1C measurement, which is a grandiose .1 above normal. The vitamin B12 level, which Dr. Fields blamed for the crazy-making peripheral neuropathy, is smack in the middle of the normal range. The last I spoke with her, she remarked that she could not understand why, given these improved numbers, the PN hasn’t started to go away.

This led me to wonder if there might not be some other cause for the present ailment. And lo! Looking around the hypochondriac’s treasure chest that is the Internet, what do I discover but that a titanium dental implant can cause peripheral neuropathy! The site that has the most detail that I could find seems to indicate that by “peripheral neuropathy” they’re talking about tingling in the gums and lips. Mine started there but has spread to the hands, arms, feet, and legs. One would think that might suggest some more systemic problem than just a local reaction to a dental implant. However… now that I think about it, before all this started I had an episode of burning mouth syndrome. That seemed to come out of nowhere… But maybe it didn’t! Maybe it was a response to all the damned dental work.

At any rate when I called the dentist and mentioned peripheral neuropathy, you could hear his ears perk up over the phone line. This is a very smart guy. And so I think it will be worth raising the question of whether the metal they stuck in my gums could be causing this thing. Elsewhere I learned that a test exists that supposedly can tell you whether you have a titanium allergy. I’m going to ask him if we can get that test done somewhere here in town.

D. picked up a bunch of things for me at a Fry’s here in town, and tomorrow she’s going to drive me to the dentist’s office. A week from tomorrow, my son is driving me back to the Mayo for another x-ray and a repeat visit with the orthopedist.

The result of all this gallivanting is that I didn’t read one word of the client’s magnum opus. In fact the stuff has been such a distraction and I’m so effing tired that I didn’t even think of it until just this minute. Tried to sleep in the afternoon to no avail. Now at 9:30 in the evening, I can barely hold my eyes open.

One thing after another

Incommunicado, I’m afraid, for quite some time. That’s because it’s been one damnfool thing after another around here.

Just now, the good news is that I managed to get the second covid-19 shot this morning. And contrary to what we read in published reports, so far the after effects are not especially dramatic. So that’s a relief. Within another couple of weeks, presumably I can feel a lot safer going out in public. A trip to the grocery store will no longer entail taking one’s life in one’s hands. At least, so it is to be hoped.

My neighbor, WonderAccountant, drove me down to the County Fairgrounds, one of the venues where the vaccine is being dispensed. We got in and out within 20 minutes, with exactly zero hassle.

I had to be driven to this appointment, we might add, because at this point I cannot drive my car.

And why, you might reasonably ask, can I not manage to drive my car to the vaccine-fest? That would be because four days ago while I was puttering around with the pool equipment, I tripped over the vacuum hose and fell face forward onto the cool-deck, escaping a tumble in the icy water and a smash across the face by a few inches. As most of us will do, I instinctively stuck my hand out in front to block the fall, with the result that I broke my shoulder.

That was grand fun. After some x-rays and two or three hours of general misery at the emergency room, staff at the Mayo opined that it probably would not need surgery. We’ll believe that after we meet with the orthopedist…next Thursday.

The upshot is, my right arm is pretty well crippled. It has to reside in a sling 24/7, which alone would be uncomfortable enough were it not that the injury is startlingly painful. The ER doctor gave me some tramadol, which I don’t feel I should be taking, because I’m not inclined to take addictive drugs. Fortunately, the aspirin that I’ve been scarfing down for the interminable crazy-making peripheral neuritis is keeping the bone pain more or less tolerable most of the time. That notwithstanding, the arm is basically useless, which complicates life considerably because I am inveterately right-handed.

Among other things, it makes it impossible to write with pen and paper and very difficult to type on the keyboard. In fact, just now I’m using Apple’s dictation function on the MacBook. This is highly problematic, because about two-thirds of what you dictate gets garbled, confused, and wierdified. For example the two sentences that I just typed came out looking like this before I edited the stuff using my left index finger to hunt and peck:

In fact, Justin now I’m using apples dictation function on the MacBook. This is highly problematic because about two thirds of what you dictate gets garbled confused and verified.

Very weirdified indeed.

The dispensers of the covid vaccine want you to use ibuprofen or acetaminophen after you have taken the shot. They recommend against aspirin. This presents a conundrum, because acetaminophen and ibuprofen do little or nothing for any of my standard aches and pains. It does nothing for the peripheral neuritis. Nothing, zero point zero-zero. I would say the ibuprofen that I dropped about two hours ago has helped a little with the fractured shoulder, so that’s something…acetaminophen does nothing. But meanwhile the feet, the shins, and the hands feel like a 120-volt electric current is flowing through them.

This latter phenomenon can be controlled to some degree, temporarily, by smearing lots of CBD oil all over your skin, and rubbing it in with Vick’s VapoRub. That would be nice if it didn’t stink to high heaven and render your feet so greasy you dare not walk across the tile floors, lest you launch a repeat performance of the poolside face-plant.

So the ineffable WonderAccountant, drove me down to get the second covid shot, my son having laid down an edict to the effect that I am not to drive my car. Normally I ignore such orders from on high, but this time I think he’s right that I shouldn’t be driving at all. And given the risk of fairly immediate unpleasant side effects from the second shot, I figured discretion was the better part of valor. Once again, as at the first three-ring circus, hundreds of people were in line, and once again everything went very smoothly.

Arriving back in the ’hood, we turned onto our street to see one of those nutty door-to-door evangelists handing out religious propaganda–or rather littering people’s front doors and door steps with it. And yes, when I got up to the house I found she had cluttered the front patio with her throwaways. What possesses these people?

You should have seen her costume! She was dressed just like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz! A big old floppy-brimmed black hat and a skirt (also black) that fell to her ankles. We haven’t had any of those fruitcakes around here for quite a long time. I hope she’s not a harbinger of a flock of incoming.

WHY I’m never shopping at Walgreen’s again!

Memo to Corporate Management, Walgreen’s Inc.

You need to hire someone at minimum wage — given the economy, you’ll have plenty of takers — to stand at the door and enforce your “Wear Masks” rule. For heaven’s sake!!!!! I realize the clientele here in my neighborhood are not the best-educated in the world, but that is not an excuse to put your employees and customers at risk. Went in to buy a couple of small necessaries. Get up to the cash register, and there are two women in line ahead of me. Fine. First one steps to the register to do business.

Meanwhile, the character in front of me has no mask. (WHY WAS SHE ALLOWED IN THE STORE???????) We stand in line and stand in line and stand in line and eventually customer #1 gets done and leaves. I try to keep about 12 feet between myself and the Maskless Wonder, which causes folks around me to think they can cut in line ahead of me. Another customer walks past with a mask pulled down under his nose.

Finally Ms. Maskless Wonder arrives at the hapless cashier’s window. She fa*ts around and fa*ts around and finally her stuff gets rung up, and then she can’t figure out how to use her credit card. All this time, she’s breathing germs out into the air around her. With some help from the cashier that she’s breathed all over, at last she manages to pay the bill and has her bag in hand.

Now she won’t leave! She hangs around next to the cashier’s end of the counter, so that it is impossible to stay six feet away from her.

Will my mask protect me from whatever this genius was carrying? Probably only minimally: it takes two to tango in the mask dance.

Where was your manager??? Why wasn’t she or he looking out for your employee’s safety(!!!) even if you don’t give one thin da*n about your customers?

The Sprouts next door posts an employee near the entrance to be sure the customers wear masks and do so correctly. Is there some reason a gigantic corporation like Walgreen’s can’t manage to do the same?

I have several pre-existing conditions. I have been told that if I catch the covid virus it’s not a question of IF I will die, but of WHEN I will die from it. Since I’m not ready to toddle off to the other world yet, you may be sure I will never shop in that Walgreen’s again — or, very probably, in any Walgreen’s. Both items I needed today could have been purchased from Amazon; I just wanted to get them right away. Believe me, after this I surely will be buying all my sundries there, no matter how long I have to wait for them!

Covid Vaccination: State of Arizona vs. Sanity

Here’s a bit of light amusement…

Couple weeks ago, I tried to sign up to get a covid shot through the Maricopa County/State of Arizona website organized for the purpose. After THREE HOURS of point-and-clicking through one already unavailable hour-long slot at a time, all the way to the end of June, I gave up.

Then I learned that Banner Hospital was running a vaccination show. They want you to go to the Arizona State Fairgrounds. Surfaced at their site and found it very easy to navigate. Got an appointment at 9 a.m. on February 16.

Sounds copacetic, right?

Well…no. Now this evening (yeah: SUNDAY NIGHT, when there’s nobody to talk to you even if you knew where to find someone) in comes this little gem, sent from (we’re told) the Arizona Department of Health Services:

Thank you for your interest in the Arizona vaccine management program.

Email Address to Login: Please click this link to set up a password and complete your registration:

Thank you, Arizona Department of Health Services

Disclaimer – Mobiles / Tablets are currently not supported. Please use Computer / Laptop. For best experience use Chrome / Firefox browser.

Oooohkayyyy… Realizing this is something come to haunt from the County and not a new hoop-jump for Banner Hospitals, I dutifully go to that link and find a demand that I confirm a password, indicated as ******* (actually, it’s a series of dots, but you get the idea).

I did create a password during the late, great fiasco, but since I never got anywhere, I crashed out of their system. If I saved their nuisance password, I have no clue where. I try to find it in the emails and files I saved, but there’s no clue.

WTF? I was never able to make an appointment through their effing impossible website. So why the hell is the effing state of Arizona pestering me with this??? If in fact it IS the effing state and not Banner.

Well… Banner sent an actual appointment confirmation, showing the date, time, and place to show up. So, since that indicates a degree of organization to which the state seems unable to rise, I’m gonna assume said confirmation, which I printed out and stashed in the car, is the real deal and this…this THING from the goddamn state is just another chimera.


Yeah, I realize it’s a BIG JOB, trying to inoculate everyone who is not an antivaxxer nut in a county the size of Los Angeles. But…you know… what a state government, like the federal government, is supposed to do is manage large numbers of people in large-scale operations.

For the love of God. Ruby the Corgi could do a better job of wrangling the sheeple than this! 😀 😀 😀