Sunday, July 31, 2011

Where Did July Go?

I've been gone a few days. Did you notice? Bless your heart! Wednesday I visited the Children's Museum for lunch with sons and DIL. As usual, life is more interesting than I need it to be. Second visit with pain doc on Friday. What I have is called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type II. Type II because there is evidence of nerve damage. Possibly due to my surgery and repetitive trauma. As far as Dr Cottage Cheese is concerned, I have found three reputable citations agreeing that Motor Nerve Conduction Testing is considered inappropriate, unethical, and cruel for CRPS patients because it is extremely painful. The very test he wanted me to repeat. Bastard. I had a second nerve block injection and am continuing with the Lyrica. I still am hoping to go off the Lyrica, as it isn't obvious to me that it has a positive effect. Rather than knocking me out within an hour of taking it, I seem to be experiencing sleep disturbance again like I was pre-Lyrica. And it makes me feel a quart low. Which may not be obvious to the casual observer. The shots, however, have short-lived side effects and are currently rendering my right hand nearly pain free for probably half of my waking hours. A decided improvement. Reid and I bade Michael and Liz farewell yesterday morning. They are off on their Google adventure. So many mixed feelings, excited for them for this great opportunity in a city they have already fallen in love with. While my mother's heart laments that they are so far away. I'll be fine. A surprise half hour phone call with my former employer's corporate head honcho HR guy. He didn't seem to be entirely aware that I had been dismissed from my job. He was following up on a couple of serious issues I voiced over two weeks ago with local HR and Management. A little late, if you ask me. Colleen had me up to the Big Red House on the Hill for lunch on Friday afternoon. Delightful and delicious! The legal aspect for my Work Comp case is moving forward with the gathering of documents. And I'm networking in search of new employment. I had a busy weekend helping friends with a rummage sale of their parents' belongings. In preparation for putting their home of over thirty years on the market. An enormous, emotional task made easier with the assistance of many friends. Felt a little familiar after dealing with my own mother's lifetime accumulation of objects last winter. Enjoying a slower paced Sunday today in preparation for the week ahead. Which will likely be interesting.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day Six

Of my pain treatment, that is. My thoughts so far...the topical Voltaren gel produces unpleasant sensations and has been ineffective in reducing my pain. I have tried to use it four times and each time ended up washing it off just a few minutes after applying it. The oral medication Lyrica has had mixed results. It is effective at knocking out the pain, but during the time I am rendered nearly pain free, I am so loopy all I can accomplish is attaching my butt to a chair. When the high begins to subside, the pain begins to return. During the pain reinstatement, druggy high diminished state, I still feel somewhat disoriented. Sort of a quart low with pain. After only five doses, the pain-free period has already gone from sixteen hours to confined to when I am sleeping. I wake up with pain. I also wake up with a slight headache. Not a reasonable trade-off for how I was pre-Lyrica. I know, I know I'm just the patient. But at least here, I get to have an opinion. The third prong to my pain management plan seems to be having a significant effect. The stellate ganglion nerve block was administered just to the right of my voice box via needle. It's convenient that I have my left hand and wrist as a control group. By comparison, the pain, aching, itching and burning sensations in my right hand and wrist have been reduced by about 25%. The stiffness remains and my fine motor skills remain compromised. I have a couple of lingering side effects from the shot, those being a metallic taste in my mouth and feeling a bit thick-tongued on the right, also a feeling of heaviness and puffiness in my right arm and hand. But these side effects are tolerable in light of the reduction of pain. I see the pain doc for a follow-up this Friday. I hope to ditch the topical med and the Lyrica, but continue with the nerve block shots. Now that I've been fired and no longer possess medical insurance, I hope to be able to work out some kind of payment plan with the Pain Clinic. I'd still like to have a name for my malady, and have a greater understanding of the longevity of the efficacy of the nerve block shots. Can I be cured, or merely treated? Can I return to some type of work that involves repetitive motion? If yes, will more damage occur? Did the repetitive motion, physically demanding aspects of my lab job cause the damage to the nerves in my hands and wrists? Will my fine motor skills return? Maybe I ought to just print this off and bring it along to my appointment on Friday. I'm quite amazed that I was able to come up with that bit of brilliance amidst my Lyrica induced fog. Then again, I'm pretty easily amazed. Impressed. Entertained. You must be, too, if you've read this far. Thanks.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Other Shoe

I've been waiting for some time for that other shoe to drop. And this afternoon, there it was, right in the middle of an email. My dismissal, my termination notice, my firing with their best regards. They didn't have the courtesy nor the courage to do the deed face to face. I'm closing in on nearly two years since the first time I feared I would lose my job over the injury that occurred at my place of employment. And it's kind of a relief to finally be dismissed. So, it's on to phase two that we go, which likely will involve legal advice. All I know is, I have dealt with everyone involved in good faith and with honesty. For that I have been rewarded with stonewalling and suspension and reinstatement of benefits and treatment only to be cut off again. I have met with dismissive doctors. And dealt with insurance company paper shufflers ten states away who make medical decisions and legal decisions regarding my life when they possess neither medical nor legal degrees. I feel like I'm living in a really cheesy movie on the Lifetime cable channel. Or sleeping with an Erin Brockovitch dvd under my pillow. Wish I could wake up and change the channel.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Dilemma

Last Wednesday I received a letter from my place of employment. In this letter I was informed that they have "held" my position for nearly a year. If I do not return to work, they will consider my position abandoned and will proceed with filling it. And since the most recent Work Comp doctor has cleared me to return to work with no restrictions, I must be just fine! My intentions were to return to work tomorrow morning for round three of pain and humiliation, fully expecting that they would fire me when I could not reasonably perform any of my job tasks to a satisfactory degree. There's this one little snag. After seeing the pain management doctor on Friday, I began taking the prescription drug Lyrica. It certainly takes the edge off my pain. But it also imparts something of a balloon-head effect. I feel floaty, distracted, buzzed, and unable to drive. Around three in the afternoon, the pain returns and my head feels clear once more. When you begin taking Lyrica, the patient is cautioned to not stop taking it abruptly, that you must be weaned off of it with a gradually decreasing dose, or risk withdrawal symptoms. So this is my dilemma. Take my Lyrica tonight and render myself unable to report to work in the morning. Or not take the Lyrica, risk withdrawal symptoms, yet still be unable to perform my job once I am there. A third alternative I'm considering is to stay on my med schedule and have someone drive me to work in the morning and see what happens. I've heard it said that showing up is ninety percent of life. We'll see.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Continuing the Celebration

I do enjoy dragging out my birthday celebration. But only as long as is seemly and appropriate. On Tuesday this week, a package arrived from my dear sister Martine. Celtic Woman and Adele! And a card declaring me the Birthday Queen! Lovely. Just lovely.

My birthday gift to me is up on the wall, all properly matted and framed. I only have one rule about art of any kind. It must speak to me in a profound and passionate way. The title of the piece is The Marriage Counselor, drawn by Black Hills renaissance man James Van Nuys. He told me he was inspired by nude drawings in an anatomy book. Arming the couple and adding a third figure into the mix was brilliant. As a veteran of marriage counseling, I laughed out loud at this depiction of a couple seemingly at war. It was a relief when I could be amused by what had been a very painful period of my life. When I found this ink drawing here, I commissioned a larger version suitable for framing. The first of one hundred prints, I hope the other ninety-nine find a home soon. And it looks like my natal day celebration will spill over into August. Since I was lollygagging out in the Black Hills on my birthday, Tammy has rounded up a few of the usual suspects for a girls' lunch in a couple of weeks. I sincerely hope it isn't possible to have too much fun.

Live, From Euphoria!

I am very nearly pain free. Yesterday, just before noon, the pain specialist doc administered something called a stellate ganglion nerve block via a sizable needle to my neck. Causing some side effects like warmth, swelling, numbness and a slightly droopy right eye. And a weird metallic taste on the right side of my tongue which persists even now. The rest subsided in just a couple of hours. Then, at bedtime, I popped a 50 mg capsule of Lyrica. I also have a topical nsaid gel called Voltaren, which I have not yet used. A three-pronged approach to pain management. At the moment I'm doing dandy with just two prongs. I also feel euphoric and about two steps removed from reality. Just a little out of focus. I definitely should not drive. Fortunately, there is no heavy equipment around to operate, since I probably shouldn't do that either. It is requiring all the concentration I can muster to formulate and type these few sentences. The pain doc warned me that my liver would need a few days to learn how to metabolize the Lyrica. Also that I should not research the drug because I might then think I'm experiencing all of its potential side effects. I have some numbness and pain, mostly in my right hand and thumb but in my left hand as well, but the intensity has backed off. My hands feel a little puffy and tender and my fine motor skills are iffy. Feeling contemplative yet easily distracted. If I call you from Euphoria for a ride, I hope you can find me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shampoo Chivalry

I watched Out of Africa last night, probably for the first time since I saw it in the theatre when it was released. I had completely forgotten about the hair washing scene! How much more erotic and sensual can camping get! This is going on my list of things a man ought to do for a woman if he truly loves her. It's right up there with killing spiders, unclogging the toilet and rubbing her feet. Denys Finch-Hatton (Robert Redford) may not have been able to commit to a conventional relationship with Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), but by golly he washed her hair and danced with her. Another cinematic hair washing scene worthy of mention is in The English Patient. When Kip (Naveen Andrews) washes Hana's (Juliette Binoche) hair in the yard of the dilapidated Italian villa, it is with such tenderness and care every woman in the audience melts into a puddle of shampoo suds. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that he's shirtless. Okay, maybe for me it has something to do with the fact that he's shirtless. As a devoted fan of Thirtysomething, I must also mention the hairwashing scene from Season 2, Episode 3, About Last Night. Gary (Peter Horton) is the guy Susannah (Patricia Kalember) really doesn't want to love. She protesteth too much early on when she assures him that there are probably lots of women who are attracted to his peculiar combination of hair and whimsy, but she's not one of them. Famous last words since she does go on to have his baby and marry him. I'm certain he clinched her affection in this episode with not only a neck massage but washing her hair. I'm pretty sure pretty hot sex ensued in the wake of all of these tress-maintenance sessions. To my knowledge it's not a standard form of foreplay, but this girl would place her hearty stamp of approval on it.

Monday, July 18, 2011


That's the name of the painting. Enchanted. Painted by Antoni Ditlef, perhaps in the early nineteenth century. He did a series of paintings involving lovely women and musical instruments. And now I have a copy! All I can say is, it's very handy to have an art historian in the family. After writing about this painting in an earlier post, my daughter-in-law Liz did a little research and found a purveyor of Ditlef prints. She and Michael then presented me with my very own framed copy today, making this a continuation of the best birthday ever! Thank you, my Beamish Boy and thank you, my Darling DIL. There's no place like home.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Room at The End of The House

Sometimes called the shop, it is outfitted with work benches and electrical outlets and task lighting. Even a vise on the corner of one of the benches. In the last few years, though, it has become a dumpground for whatever wasn't wanted elsewhere in the house. If we didn't know what to do with it, put it in the shop. Since we adopted Newton and Einstein five years ago, it has also become their bathroom. At least, it's the room where the litter boxes are. Mostly it has been the repository of fifteen years worth of broken things, the leftovers from Michael's electronic experiments, and odd containers of odd bits of hardware. In other words, the room at the end of the house was full. It could hold no more. Michael has been hard at work cleaning it up. Separating out what he would like to keep, a box of stuff for his Dad, a box of nasty, dead, and leaky batteries, and a whole lot of computer parts and electronic whatnot that can be recycled. I am nearly in a rapturous state at being able to see the floor! But I realize as the time draws nearer for Michael and Liz to begin their adventure of a new life together in Washington, that this cleaned up room is a milestone of sorts. Mostly it is Michael's mess in the room at the end of the house. And he's cleaning it up. Because that's what responsible grown-up type people do. Which is what he's become. This is the mother's struggle from the moment that bundle of joy is first in her arms. Proud that her child has learned well and matured and is more than ready to be on his own. And mourning just a little at the same time.

Dinner Last Night

Grilled cheese sandwich. Accompanied by several glasses of this. Need I say more?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 9 Nature Shots

Ready For My Close-Up

Karen said I looked like I was posing for my senior picture. Hmmm. I'm at that awkward stage, no longer a senior in high school but not quite a senior citizen. Yes, this is appropriate apparel for the biker bar. Yes, those shoes actually are quite comfortable. And, yes, it is interesting how my bracelet so precisely lines up with the edge of the car door behind me. You'll have to ask Karen if she did that on purpose.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Diagnose This!

I'm going to stop random people on the street and ask them for a medical diagnosis. Just as a control group. I have now seen my fourth orthopedic doctor. And based on the same information, same test results, same medical history available to the previous three doctors, he has come up with a completely different opinion! This one says that I'm getting old and that I have arthritis in my thumbs based on his physical exam of my hands as well as the xrays of my hands from a year ago. Which is odd, because the doc under whose care the xrays were done said I have normal joint spacing. What happened to carpel tunnel? DeQuervain's? Soft tissue injury? Neurogenic pain? Doc #4 is of the opinion that my other symptoms are, and I quote, all in my head. Have no medical basis. That they're goofy. And that this doesn't exist, even though The Mayo Clinic thinks it does. So I guess if I just decide that the grinding and popping sensations, the constant itching and burning, the stiffness and trigger points and sensitive spots don't exist, I'll be all better. Why didn't I think of that! Oh, that's right. I forgot. I don't have a medical degree! How silly of me! Tomorrow I return to work with no limitations. I have a feeling this won't be pretty.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Hmmmm, what is lurking in this Happy Birthday bag? A lovely candle from Bath & Body Works! In the Sparkling Mojito scent. No, I didn't attempt to drink it.

Sara and I sit down to enjoy the wonderful breakfast Karen is whipping up. Pancakes and eggs and venison bacon! Yummy. Eating outdoors on a beautiful day makes the food that much better. When someone else cooks for you it's a genuine treat. Here I'm getting both!

Pre-breakfast and post-bike ride Sara and I sit down for a rest. Naturally, my mouth is open. Where is Karen during all of this merriment? Holding the camera and, well, cooking. I plan to hire her for all my future camping trips. She can even expertly back up the pop-up camper into the camping space. I was very impressed.

Biker Girls

Time to ride the Mickelson Trail! This was about 8 Saturday morning. I look very perky despite the fact that I have had only three hours of sleep. Okay, I started celebrating my birthday a little early. With tequila shots, Patron of course, and dancing. What a gorgeous morning!

Feeling triumphant halfway through the ride. After hydrating and a Honey Nut Cheerios bar we are back on the trail. The upcoming half of the ride is one long, slow, verrrry gradual uphill grade. I have no idea what I'm in for!

Nearly two hours later the ride is complete. Miraculously, I have no hangover. And it seems that I sunscreened properly with the spf 45 since my shoulders are not fried.

My bike buddies Sara and Karen! They had to cheer me on through the last mile, I was in my lowest gear and moving pretty slowly. I recommend starting out your birthday short on sleep and tackling a 20 mile bike ride. I can't wait for next time to ride a different section of the trail.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Another Pink Tank!

One bar themed pink tank top from the Black Hills just wasn't enough. I could not in good conscience allow that $5 off coupon, good only on the day of the Red Willow concert, go to waste. I wasn't contemplating buying a shirt at The Knuckle, but when I saw this tank on several employees I had to ask if they were available to regular people like me. The answer was yes. And twenty minutes later it was in my hot little hands! I always say you can't have too many pink shirts, or vacation shirts for that matter. When you can combine both, I believe that's known as crossover appeal. How appealing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Home Sweet Home

I'm home! I'm also pooped. So very much fun was had with Karen, Sara, Steve, James, Ed, Josh, Gary, Janice, and many others. Including the very drunk guy named Thomas who left me his reflective sunglasses. We wanted to tackle Bryce and remove his sunglasses, which we think he wears even to bed, to find out just what he's hiding behind them. I bought not just one, but two pink souvenir tank tops. Saw four bands in three nights of terrific live music. Biked 20 miles! Put about a thousand miles on the Outback. Laughed a lot. Took pictures, which I will share over the next few days. And now, it's time to catch up on sleep!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Oh, my. It's the final day of FYC*. And how shall I spend it? By meeting up with the girls to set up camp (rain, rain, stay away!) in Spearfish. Meeting up with Ed and Steve to see Gary and his band at the Buck-N-Gator tonight. Taking a day to enjoy the beautiful scenery that is all around me. Pretty much the way I ought to celebrate any morning when I wake up feeling well rested and healthy (except for this damn thing with my hands) and grateful to be alive. Oh, yeah, I'm on vacation! Tomorrow begins FYC 54, which makes me a full deck plus jokers. I have no idea what that means, but expect it will be interesting.

* Fiscal Year Carla

Thursday, July 7, 2011

By Popular Demand...

After spending money on nothing but beer in my first several hours in Rapid City, I shelled out for this biker girl tank. And yes, it is pink. Even biker girls need a pop of color amidst all that black once in a while.

And if you haven't quite committed to that tattoo in the tramp stamp position, this tank provides a temporary one.

Monday, July 4, 2011

@ Colleen's House

Chicken roundup time! I'm hoping Colleen will post their names. Yes, she names all of her chickens. And remembers their names. I swear they respond to their names. Among her many talents, Colleen is the premiere chicken whisperer in the tri-state area.

Indoor Fireworks

There's nothing quite like a good fart joke to start off the day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fun with Glasses

Rhinestones. Maybe just a little gaudy for daytime.

Cat eyes are fetching, aren't they?

Practicing my stern, teacherish, or perhaps librarian-like, disapproving glare.

Miss Martine & Pamela Jean

Here we are all together. Can't you just feel the love? Having sisters is one of the best things in life. It's right up there with chocolate, winning lottery tickets, and kissing your sweetheart in the rain.

I miss my sisters tonight. So I thought I'd post photos of me with them and that might help a little. This is Pam and me having lunch at Roux on Canton. Shrimp and grits! I have no idea who the woman is in the background who seems to be getting to the bottom of her glass of wine.

Martine and me dressed up to go out for the evening when I was in Tucson last November. We had the best combination of food, beverages and entertainment that night. It was lovely.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Name Dropper

I met George Jetson last night. Surprisingly, he's much better looking in person than he is on tv. And younger. He had to leave early and take Astro for a walk. I hope there wasn't an unfortunate incident involving a treadmill. I can't wait for George to take me for a ride in his flying car and give me a private tour of Spacely Sprockets. The big question on my mind is, what happened to Jane?