Coffee heat rising

Good (and Not-So-Good) Friday

Okay, we have no idea how many days into Lent we are, because we are innumerate and cannot count up a total if the figure to be calculated exceeds the number of our fingers and toes. Therefore, let us offer up the last couple of thanks to God, who has more important human errors to marvel at.

Lenten thanks, Day 39

Dogs, God…thanks for making dogs. Nice microcosm of the in-Your-image paradigm: a creature at once magnificent, hideous, merciful, merciless, kindly, fierce, forgiving, angry, best friend of humanity, dangerous nemesis.

Lenten thanks, Day 40

Thank you, God, for making the human a musical creature.

At the risk of enraging Her, I’d say this has been a Good Friday from Hell. Except it really hasn’t—by midday it was hugely redeemed.

The Cassowary is happily chasing tennis balls around the house. She is not vomiting and shitting blood, as expected, and since she’s not doing that now she probably won’t be, at least not anytime soon. I hurt all over my body but probably will get over it in a week or two.

The emergency trip to the vet set me back only $90, somewhat less than expected. Thank God (set that type in Lenten purple!) I had not made my usual start-of-the-billing-cycle run on Costco…we’ll be holding off on buying groceries for awhile! The nocturnal trip to the Mayo’s ER should set me back little or nothing, if the pricey Medigap policy works as advertised.

oohhhhhhhhhhh what a night, what a day!

But things could be worse. Much worse.

Earlier this week, in the midst of rehearsing a performance of Tavener’s Lament for Jerusalem (listen! the choral part is on the far side of the orchestral section) and fielding what appears to be an infinite number of semester-end student papers and reading an ARC for The Client (well…the favorite Client) and seeking out The Pup of 2011, I took it into my feeble little brain to do a little terraforming in the backyard. Building and reinforcing a berm to hold water under the big orange tree (rather than having it flow downhill under the back gate and into the alley), I hunker down on the ground, reach out simian-style, grab a 5-pound rock, lift it…and damn near faint from the stab of pain that penetrates my chest.

It feels like the stiff waistband on my jeans has shoved its way through the fat and come up under the ribs and yanked on the rib cage, in an up-and-out motion.

Holy God, what pain!

At first I thought, “Have I perforated my liver? Where is the liver, anyway?” Then thought I must have fractured a rib. As the wave of pain receded, I realized it felt exactly the way your achin’ back feels when you first put it out. Concluded it was probably a muscle spasm. After I caught my breath, I went on about my business. This seemed like it ought to be hunky and dory, except…

Over the next day or two, it got worse. Progressively worse. A lot worse.

Last night I had to lie down on the floor to fish a tennis ball out from under a piece of furniture, whence it had fled Cassie the Corgie. Only way I could reach it was to lie on my back and stick my arm under the cabinet as far as I could reach. Success…ball back in the welcoming jaws of the dog….and…

I could. not. get. off. the. floor.

No. The torso hurt so much I couldn’t lift myself off the ground. All the phone extensions were a long way away, and up on top of other pieces of furniture.

Uh oh.

It took a while, I don’t know how long, before I could force myself through the surge of agony required to climb to my feet. Omigod, it hurt!

So I staggered down the hall, grabbed an icepack out of the freezer, and lay down on the bed. After a bit, this seemed to calm things down, so I moved on with life: cleaned up the kitchen in a half-assed way and went to bed.

Along about 1:30, the usual insomniac awakening occurred. Dog wanted to go out. I needed to go to the bathroom. Went to climb out of the bed, and oh my GOD what pain! Take-your-breath-away pain; as in literally I can’t breathe. Managed to get the dog off the bed—getting her back up there was out of the question, and getting myself back onto that elevated bedstead was a bit unlikely, too. Began to wonder if I’d broken something after all. Or done more serious damage.

Finally about 2:30 a.m. I presented myself at the emergency room. The advantage of going to the Mayo in the wee hours is that you actually get some attention, contrary to what you will experience at any other ER in the city. I was out of there by 4:00, bearing a doctor’s opinion that I’d probably torn a muscle but not broken a rib and carrying a prescription for an addictive painkiller. {sigh}

Back to bed; out of sheer exhaustion, fell asleep and stayed asleep until around 7:30. Looked up the addictive painkiller online; decided some things are worse than a terminal backache situated in your ribs.

Had time between the end of breakfast and choir call to putter around the yard. Out front, discovered I could lift my arms well enough to pull off some of the desert willow’s new suckers, which have sprouted since it was so massively mutilated by the roofing vandals. Cassie is also puttering around the front yard. I look up and notice she’s digging and…and eating. What????

She’s in an area that was covered by an overgrown bougainvillea, until Gerardo trimmed it back so Jack the Handyman could paint, by way of repairing some of the hail damage. Mine is a corner lot, and so every passing turkey that drives by dumps trash on it. Once a month Gerardo comes over and, among other things, gathers the fast-food wrappers and drink cups to haul them to the dump.

So she could be eating the remains of a Burger King or a McDonald’s. Or…

The neighbor across the street has declared war on the roof rats. She puts rat poison out along the tops of her block walls. And where does a sickened rat go to die? Right: under the shrubbery. Under, for example, an overgrown bougainvillea.

I can’t find the remains of any animal—no feathers, no fur, no beak, no bones. If anything organic and animal was there, it’s decomposed in the leaves and compost from the boug. But Cassie’s mouth has recently been full, she’s going smack, smack, smack, and she stinks. She smells of some sort of chemical. The ground where she was digging has a similar stink.

I call the vet’s. Her assistant says, “Can you be here by 10:00?” It’s ten to ten. I say, “I’m on my way.” I scoop a bunch of the smelly dirt into a plastic dog, toss it and the dog into the car, and race to the veterinary, wending my way around every moron in the city who feels compelled to get in front of me and drive 10 mph under the limit!

We arrive at the vet’s. They park us in the very examining room where I had to say good-bye to Anna the Ger-shep. Then they come and take Cassie away from me. I sit there and start to cry.

Some time later, the vet comes in. Her opinion? In a nutshell: I dunno. They can’t tell anything from the amorphous crud I’ve hauled in. The dog seems OK, but it’s probably too early to see anything. The biggest risks are that she’s swallowed something that could harm her gut or that she indeed has eaten a poisoned rat or mouse. The vet thinks there’s some probability that even if she has consumed a dead rodent, she may be OK, warnings on the outside a the rat poison box to the contrary. At a bit of a loss, she suggests we try a prophylactic course of vitamin K, which is what they give animals that have swallowed rat poison, and pray for the best.

At 11:01 a.m., I stumbled into the house with the dog, unwashed, untooth-brushed, and swathed in dirty jeans and a sweaty T-shirt. Choir call for the Good Friday concert is at 11:30. I wrap a pill in a slice of chicken, hand it to the dog, and run for the shower. Arrive at the choir room at 11:27 with wet hair, face free of make-up, and body barely clad in a pullover dress.

What was it the ER doc said? Slow down and let that injured muscle rest! Oh well.

The music was just awesome! We sang the Taverner lament to a marvelous orchestral setting, directly after the stations of the cross. The effect was stunning. The centerpiece of the senior choir is a small ensemble of professional and semiprofessional singers who are capable of carrying the day. Our director had selected two soloists—an alto and a soprano—to sing the parts in the recurring “cosmic laments,” and they were both splendid. What a privilege to be allowed to play a tiny part in supporting such wonderful performers.

So that erased the Not-So-Good from Good Friday.

It’s almost 6:00 p.m. I’ve dosed myself with a fine dinner and my favorite analgesic  (alcohol!), and still the little dog needs to go for a walk. By the time I’ve limped around the block with her, I will be capable of nothing more.

And so, soon, to bed. Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Whatever to all of you.

3 thoughts on “Good (and Not-So-Good) Friday”

  1. Wonderful story that I was following with baited breath.

    When I was single with two school children I once hurt my back and couldn’t rise from my bed when the bay sitter brought them home. The front door was locked so the children had to climb through the bathroom window to get in,

    It’s demoralizing to not have a companion when you are truly hurt/sick.

    Hopefully, snuggling with Cassie will send the good endorphins soaring and you’ll both heal more quickly.

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