Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Entropy Of Existence

Two weeks ago, JB and I had a dinner party to celebrate the official completion of our condo renovation. We would have been finished in early December had our air conditioner not sprung a leak and soaked a hundred square feet of our new hardwood flooring. We just now finally got the last of the baseboards reinstalled and painted. While most of our friends have been able to observe the construction progress over the past five months, I was excited to show Julie since she hadn't seen our place since before the project started.

Between dinner and dessert, Gilbert found me and presented me with something that looked like chrome but felt like plastic. Studying the broken object in my hand, I recognized it as the toilet flush handle. I sighed and retrieved my toolbox from the front closet. I can't have a houseful of guests with a nonfunctional toilet. Especially since it broke off in Gilbert's hand before fulfilling it's mission.

Unable to repair the original flush handle, I clamped a pair of vise grips in its place and flushed a couple times to test my ersatz fix. Satisfied this would work for the meantime, I dimmed the bathroom lights from full brightness and noticed one of the halogen bulbs was out. Damn. It's always something.

A few days later, JB complained that his iPad wasn't working. Usually that means his storage is full and deleting a few photos would get him back in business. But this time his iPad wasn't the issue. Tracing the problem back to our wi-fi router, it became clear our old DSL modem was dead as a door nail.

On top of all this I've been dealing with my frozen shoulder. I can't help but make a comparison between my house and my body as I approach the end of my forties. Daily wear and tear and even the occasional mishap is to be expected, but each problem must be dealt with head-on. The worst thing I can do is give up and just let everything fall apart.

I fixed the toilet good as new and our upgraded internet service is
an order of magnitude faster than our old DSL. Now I just need to
change that light bulb. And lose ten or so pounds.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Cold Shoulder

"Here I'll stand and here I'll...
son of a BITCH that hurts!"
In late November I noticed a twinge in my right shoulder. I chalked it up to sympathy pains for my cat with the broken hips. I didn't think about it too much until mid-December when a game of catch with my nephew had me seeing stars. By New Years, JB was so tired of listening to my ouch-ing, he begged me to see a doctor.

So I googled "shoulder pain" and diagnosed myself with tendonitis. I just needed to baby it for a while and it would get better. But it didn't get better. By mid-January I could no longer consider myself a "righty" and had to start training my left arm to pick up the slack. Unable to reach my back pocket, I had to move my wallet to the left side and my potty training progress had been set back 47 years.

Cold weather spells were making me hesitant to go outside. The cold didn't bother my shoulder, but the thought of having to put my coat on then take it off again made me shudder. I could always ask JB for help getting dressed, but I knew from experience that would just lead to more doctor nagging. I found myself wondering if I could pull off a cape. Fashion-wise that is.

On Groundhog Day I was doing laundry and while the motion of ironing didn't bother my shoulder, I accidentally touched my wrist to the hot iron. The burn was minor but I still instinctively jerked my hand away. I could hear my shoulder crunch and the pain was so intense I got tunnel vision and sank to my knees.

It was finally time to stop clicking the WebMD guy's shoulder and go see a real doctor. My primary care doc, Doctor Doogie, said he suspected arthritis and referred me to a specialist. That's how I found myself last week in Doctor Neckhair's office. He was nice. He said my x-rays showed no signs of arthritis, which was good news. After Doctor Neckhair had me wave my hands in the air he told me I had "adhesive capsulitis", commonly known as Frozen Shoulder. Once again WebMD failed me.

I'd never heard of Frozen Shoulder. Google returns 4.9 million results, but I'm not sure how helpful any of them are. The gist is that, while the condition may be painful and debilitating, it's almost always temporary and resolves on its own over time. The kicker is that time – on average – is 2 years. Years. If that weren't depressing enough, the vast majority of those suffering from idiopathic adhesive capsulitis are post-menopausal women. So there's that.

Doctor Neckhair gave me a cortisone shot and I begin physical therapy this week.

I'm somewhere between the "unamused face" and "anguished face" emojis.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Feast Of Saint Blaise

One of the happy memories from my trip to Michigan in December was spending time with my siblings and cousins. Every get-together, whether face-to-face or face-to-FaceTime, leaves my cheeks and abs pleasantly sore from laughter.

Hosting an impromptu cocktail party in my crowded Holiday Inn suite, we got on the subject of my maternal grandmother, Sophie. We all have lots of memories because my grandparents had a beautiful cottage on Lake Michigan and our parents liked to ship us off to spend time there.

Grandma was especially devout and many of our days included a trip to church to attend Catholic mass. While my parents were more the Christmas-and-Easter type of Catholics, Sophie was the every-single-Sunday-and-then-some type of Catholic. (This was a continual source of tension between Grandma and Mom, and I think Grandma relished the opportunity to spiritually rescue her heathen grandchildren.)

While reminiscing about our trips to church with Grandma, I asked if anyone remembered Sophie taking us to get our throats blessed. My sibs and my cousins looked at me like I was nuts. As I continued trying to explain my recollections of having a priest press candles against my neck, they all laughed and I began to doubt my own memories. Could I have dreamed up something like this?

I turned to Wikipedia to help defend me from the ridicule. Sure enough, it is a thing:

Blessing of the Throats (Wikipedia)

For this ritual we can thank an Armenian dude named Blaise who was martyred in the 4th century, giving him the golden ticket to sainthood. Blaise was a physician of not only people, but animals too. According to the stories, the forest animals followed him around like Snow White.

How did Saint Doolittle's feast day become associated with the blessing of one specific body part? It seems Saint Blaise once cured a boy who was choking on a fish bone. And what's with the candles? The stories say the imprisoned Saint Blaise was gifted with two candles by a woman grateful to Blaise for saving her pig from a wolf. (He could talk to the animals, remember? "Hey Wolf! Back away from the pig.")

This explains why, on one February 3rd a millennia and a half later, a priest whacked my neck with two long candles.

I guess it is pretty funny.