Sunday, July 29, 2012

Today's revelation

I went out to the farm this morning, as one does, to see my horse.  He was being a sweety.  First I drove to the south end of his field to check out his hay bale (so freshly installed that it's still perfectly cylindrical) and then I turned to drive up to the barn where his gear is.  In the meantime he had started walking toward my car, so he had to reverse and walk the other way with me.

I love having a horse who recognizes my car, and likes me enough to follow my car around.

Of course, despite that he didn't want to be caught, so instead Mystery got a handful of cookies and some attention.  And then Pluto was ready to be caught.  I imagine that if anybody else ever ends up with this horse, they'll be cussing me for his quirks.  But I swear I didn't install those quirks.  He came this way.

He was oddly good on the lead - no lunging for the grass, just sort of calmly walking along at the end of a loopy rope, as if he were well trained.  What's up with that?

I brushed a few loose hairs off him and neatened up his mane a little bit, but he was already looking pretty shiny.  Pluto pretended to be scared of the fly spray when I fwooshed it at him, but he didn't pretend very hard.  Not much is worth the energy to really act out on a summer day.  I said "stand still" and then he did.  A really scared horse would have jigged in place, or maybe just stood and shook.  Whereas Pluto just stood.

I intended to stay with Pluto and let him graze today like Bonnie does with Mystery, but instead Pluto wanted to stand with his head three inches from my face.  We did that for a few minutes while I blew zerberts against his nose, but eventually I decided to put him back out with Mystery and mosey on home.  Between the new grass the rain brought and the fresh round bale, I think he has plenty to eat without grazing outside the field anyway.

After grooming and spraying and making much of him, I suddenly realized that my middle didn't hurt.  I stopped to think about it.  I guess it did still kinda hurt.  I just hadn't noticed.  And that's when I had a revelation.

My brain has been trying to come up with a reason why I should keep a horse when I mostly don't ride anymore.  My heart says "I love him" should be enough, but my brain keeps looking at my wallet.  But today, my brain finally figured out that when I'm with my horse, I forget about everything else.  And I don't have to be riding him for this to happen.  This is valuable.  This is a good enough reason to have a horse that I don't ride.

PS My middle really doesn't hurt as much today as yesterday.  I'm not as swollen up, either.  Yesterday was a very bad day.  Today is making up for it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An encyclopedia covering the last three weeks, with an emphasis on grossness

Special note:  if you don't want to read about bodily functions, you are totally at the wrong blog.  You've been warned.

I'm back!  Actually I've been back since Thursday night, which is almost a week, but I've been pretty busy being bulbous.  The last week of my hike, my stomach or related items in my abdomen started getting kind of cranky.  And so I stopped eating as much, so I got really tired.  Because when you're hiking up and down big effing mountains with a backpack is not a good time to cut calories.  Food = fuel, people!  No food = not going up mountains very fast.

That said, I had a really good time.  If my tummy had behaved it would have been pretty much perfect.  But then again, when has my tummy really behaved on a long trip?  Eh?  EH?  I think the answer I hear echoing around the room is "never".  So I'm kind of used to it.  The terrain was gorgeous, the people were fun, and the hiking was not as hard as I expected.  It was a good vacation.

So I'm back at work.  I'm sort of easing in.  My boss has also been out, which helps with the easing.  My coworkers very seldom pressure me to do more work.

Weeks ago, before I went on my hiking trip through the Whites, my doctor gave me an order for a CT scan.  I had only casually mentioned the astonishing but short lived abdominal pain that had been happening in my middle periodically, because I was in the office already getting my arm (and apparently arthritic neck) checked out.  As I told her, I only brought it up because I knew if I ended up in the ER with something abdominal and I *hadn't* mentioned it when I was right there in the office that she would be really mad.  My doctor is tiny but she has very intimidating frowny expressions that she gets when people do things like that.  So I "oh by the way" mentioned it, and in addition to the MRI orders she wrote out the CT order.  But she said it could wait until I got back, since I wasn't having immediate problems.

Well, she was *almost* right.

I'm pretty lucky things happened the way they did.  I mean, A) I didn't have to go to the hospital, although I was starting to wonder, and B) when my intestines did what intestines do when they're really pissed off, I was in a motel room.  With a flush toilet (and a shower, which became important).  Not on top of a mountain in a tent with no more facilities than whatever sort of hole I could scratch out of the bare rock with my plastic trowel.  Had I ended up in that situation, I think I'd have just laid sideways on the stone, shat my brains out, and hoped for a rainstorm.

Did you know that if enough pressure builds up in your intestines (due to, let's say just theoretically, an intestinal blockage) that poop can undergo a phase change?  Not solid, not liquid, but more of a foam?  Kind of like happens with geysers.  Except in this case nothing started miles underground, and also nothing was heated to  hundreds of degrees.  Although it kind of felt like it from my perspective.

I listened to a fascinating podcast about geysers the following morning, as my poor abused innards and I were jostled and jolted the many miles from North Conway, NH to home in MD via the bus and the train.  It really struck a chord.

Anyway so I got off the trail a few days early because I was tired and I needed a day off, and I didn't have time to get over Mt Washington and then find a way home if I took that day off.  I mean, it took me two whole days to get home starting from Crawford Notch.  Several more days travel would have only made it worse.

Day one only got me as far as North Conway, where I could get a bus to Boston... the next morning.  There is not a lot of public transportation happening in the smaller parts of New England.  If you miss the 8:30 AM bus, you're stuck there until the morrow. I started wandering around North Conway, hoping to find the movie theater.  I never did, but I did have iced coffee in a delightful coffee shop / art gallery.  After I gave up on finding the theater (it was five hundred and three degrees out, and it just wasn't worth it) I stopped in at the information office for town and the lady there directed me to the town library.  I just wanted some place air conditioned to sit quietly.  Reading free magazines was just my speed.  Also, the lady told me to come back and talk to her if I got bored.

Also, EVERYBODY told me I had to get ice cream while in town. Apparently it's a thing.  So, library and a milkshake.  And I visited the Mt Washington museum, which was right across from my motel, and also free.

After sufficient time had passed to allow me to checkin (around four pm) I went and checked in at an exorbitant rate to a room so small that it had a Murphy bed.  But it had air conditioning, and a shower, and a toilet, so I was happy.  I immediately folded down the bed and lay directly in the breeze of the air conditioner and was happy.

At dinner time I wasn't really hungry, but I've been fooled before.  I hate it when I'm not hungry and I don't eat, and then it's too late and my stomach is a giant pit of churning acid.  It remonstrates.

I went across the street to the Thai place for basil rolls (which are kind of like spring rolls except it's all incredibly fresh crunchy veggies inside, and the outside is a not-fried rice paper wrap) and some Pad Thai.  Which was starting to gross me out by the time I got it.  I ate a few bites of noodles but couldn't finish.  The restaurant owner convinced me to take it with me in case I got hungry later.  I think he couldn't stand the thought of wasted food.  Which is too bad, because I left the whole thing in the fridge of the motel room.

I stopped for a Slushee, which I had never actually gotten before.  At home we have Slurpees.  Slushees are different.  Instead of several varieties of flavored slush, there are several varieties of syrup, to which you add plain slush.  Both ways work fine.  I got blue flavor syrup.

Blue slush was tasting pretty good.  Sugar + ice + water is excellent when it's twelve hundred and nine degrees out.

So I toddled back to my motel with the intention of watching bad tv, drinking a quart of sugar ice water, and falling asleep early.  Instead, as soon as I got there I noticed that a basketball had apparently inflated itself just under my breastbone.  I don't know how I didn't notice this procedure, but once I did notice I can assure you that it was painful.  I lay back and tried to focus on the tv, but dang!  It was really uncomfortable.  And I couldn't, you know.. go.  Actually I hadn't been able to for several days.  And suddenly the whole "you might have adhesions because of prior abdominal surgeries" portion of the casual chat I had had with the doctor several weeks earlier became very clear in my brain.  Adhesions = things connecting where they shouldn't = possibly my intestines are not a through street anymore.

I thought pretty hard about calling 911.  Or the front desk.  Wouldn't it be good to alert the front desk before I exploded all over their room?  They might want to get a mop.  Or a tarp.

Then, I remembered "wind breaking poses" from yoga.  I was in far too much pain to do a real down dog, but I attempted a facsimile thereof.  Oh my lord.  That hurt.  BUT!  I felt things moving.  Like in one of those Indiana Jones movies, where a giant boulder is rolling down a carefully hidden track, and it wants to crush Indy?  Like that, but with poop.  And then I was ever so grateful that the room was tiny, because I was only four feet from the toilet.

And then there was the business with the foam, and something about projectile, and I had to take a shower.  And basically that's how my evening went until quite late at night.  It was quite early the next morning before I could fart with impunity.  Which I did a lot of, because apparently I had packed a *lot* of gas into the basketball.

Oddly?  Those farts, and all the farts of the next two days, smelled like nothing.  I was sad when my farts started stinking again.  But in the meantime it was very handy because I farted about every 30 seconds on the train, for hundreds of miles.  And nobody complained.

In the morning I realized that if I didn't do something about the geyser I wasn't going to be able to travel, so I purchased a large quantity of Imodium, some ginger ale, some Gatorade (blech) and some graham crackers, which I figured would keep me from passing out due to low blood sugar.

It was a long day, my friends.  But I stoppered the geyser, I manfully maintained my stiff upper lip while farting copiously, and I painfully made my way home.

Which brings us to today, when I finally was able to get that CT scan.  I couldn't get a followup appointment with my doctor until next Monday, and of course the technician isn't legally allowed to tell you anything because that's the radiologist's job.  But she did point to the exact spot where my belly hurts to ask if that were where my trouble was located.  So I'm guessing she saw something.  Which I'll find out about on Monday..

In the meantime, I'm dealing with the after effects of the "oral contrast" they make you drink so they can actually see your intestines in the xrays.  Just like last time, in 2009, my body has been trying vigorously to eject the stuff since I started drinking it.  I was able to clamp down on the gag reflex, but I can't do anything about the other end.  I went to work after the scan in the vain hope that THIS TIME I would be fine, but no.  After four hours of hurried trips halfway across the building to the ladies room, I gave up.  I tried to time it so that I would have enough time to drive home before the next visit, but I didn't count on road construction. I almost didn't make it.  But I did!  It was like I had an umpire yelling SAFE as I slid through the door!  Whew.

I'm pretty much clean as a whistle now.

Oh, and the bulbous thing?  Has been pretty much happening every day, so I feel like things are kind of drawing to a head.  I get up, I'm normal shape, and by mid morning my middle is distended.  Getting horizontal helps.  I'm fairly certain I have some kind of partial obstruction.  And I'm pretty sure the only way this is resolving is with the help of a scalpel.

Good times, good times.  How was your vacation?

Monday, July 2, 2012

I'm leaving on a train tomorrow

You know what is no fun?  Is living in the mid-Atlantic in summer with no air conditioning.  That derecho knocked out our power and I got to spend several unpleasant days with the two dogs and four cats, and all of us suffered.  Just sitting still, I had sweat rolling off of me.

The power went out at 11:30 or so on Friday night, and came back on at 3:30 Monday morning.  That doesn't sound like very long in retrospect, but it felt like forever right then.  And I couldn't open the fridge or freezer, where all the yummy stuff is.  I pretty much ate granola bars.  I didn't even want the granola bars.  It was too hot to be hungry.  What I wanted was a huge cold drink with a lot of ice.  Instead I drank 90 degree 0 calorie PowerAde because we had some in the sunroom.


Anyway, that's over.  Now it's time to go hiking.  I decided to go ahead and do a trail journal again.  It's kind of a last minute decision.  I am not promising journalistic excellence.

This link probably works.

I've spent much of the last two weeks clutching my right arm which hurt a lot for something that didn't even get scraped.  I finally got an MRI on Friday, and got the results today.  I have arthritis.  The arthritis got irritated and pinched a nerve.  This is an improvement over the two previously proposed options, which were a herniation of a previously bulging disk, or a brain tumor (because I also have increased migraines and dizziness).  So arthritis is looking pretty good at the moment.  Although, last year's MRI of my neck only showed one bulging disk, and this one shows four.  I am self destructing quickly.  I'm now up to eight bulging disks.

I might get all wacky and try acupuncture.  Or something.  But first I'm going hiking.