Life is good (again)
The sky is clear, dark blue, as we are a mile above sea level. In the distance, beyond the twisting canyons and mesa lands are the purple Sangre de Cristo mountains. On the horizon, the formidable butte called Starvation Peak. The only sound, the occasional high-pitched whine of cicadas. In my desert mind, the sound of summer. The prickly pear cactus are blooming bright yellow, the barrels deep orange.
I’m reading more fiction on my Kindle, taking my doctor’s advice to “take it easy” for a few days. My TENS Unit is cranked up in SDR mode; which stands for Strength, Duration and Rate Modulation. The manual tells me that this means the little 9-volt battery-gobbling machine alternates amplitude and pulse rate in a diametrically opposed way--one increases as the other decreases.
The most important effect is that I feel no pain, rather a series of soft explosions of sensation, starting small and radiating outwards, pausing, then starting again. Today I am wearing rectangular electrodes. Like Goldilocks sampling everyone’s breakfast, I’ve been trying various sizes and shapes of electrode pads. The small round ones and small square ones I find deliver a sharper, more painful sensation. Prickly, if you will. The large butterfly shaped ones are wonderful, but won’t stay stuck to my body right. They tend to crinkle up when I move, lose contact, and either zap! me with electricity or deliver no sensation at all.
None of them have good sticking properties, but today I’m trying an electrode skin prep gel to see if they’ll hold on. Debbie and Rio have been serving as my squires, helping me into my electrode armor every morning, and taping them to my skin with IV3000 bandages to say on. I’m hoping to find a solution that doesn’t involve so much adhesive on my epidermis.
The most important improvement in my life is now that the NSAIDs and Steroids have run their course, I can enjoy my vices again. Last night I had a glass of wine. Tomorrow I’ll have some Starbucks home-brewed French Roast.
But now it is time for a pipe.
I choose a thin, lightly built pipe from Poland, a quarter-bent of dark cherry-colored wood, decorated with thin carved lines resembling tiger stripes. I carefully pack it with jet black Oso Negro tobacco and light the pipe.
Grey smoke floats in the morning air.
Boy have I missed this…
By Monday my immune system will have recovered enough that I can return to the clinic. I’ve missed my work, my patients, and most (but not all) of my colleagues. I’m not looking forward to dealing with the Human Tumor again, but I’m well rested enough to take her on. I’ve decided to regard her the same way I regard insurance companies: a necessary evil that you need to fight every day and give no quarter to. Ever.
Speaking of insurance, however, I was delighted to discover that I have the same insurance plan that Steve Austin has. (You younger readers will need to Google his name to understand.)
Imaging, physical therapy, new tools, new supplies, new meds.
Without a fight.
How delightful. I feel Canadian.