Wednesday 21 December 2022

It's 3 a.m. and I have to figure it out myself.

The toilet is plugged up. I suppose I could try to find an emergency plumber service. I live in an apartment so I could phone the superintentident and hope to wake him up. However, I am prepared with my own toilet plunger so I can undertake unplugging it myself. Okay, I don't have a plumber's snake but a plunger is a good start which probably handles the majority of stoppages. But what's important here is that by facing my issue as a DIY (Do It Yourself), I get a faster resolution to my problem. I realize not all issues are DIY issues - I may really need a snake - but it's a good place to start and hopefully leads to solving my problem faster.

My toilet problem is really a metaphor for the myriad of distressing situations we all find ourselves in. We may seek expert assistance but that assistance may be unavailable (It's 3 am!). Or maybe it's unsuccessful. (The super came, tried the plunger, failed, and now has to call a professional plumber with a snake.) And this leads me to the final option: accepting the problem, leaving it unresolved, and working around it.

Several years ago, the faucet on my kitchen sink broke. Whenever I turned it on, water would spurt out of the base and actually hit me square in the face. Whoa! Ha, ha, ha! I got out some tools and took the whole thing apart and discovered some O-ring in the cartridge had busted. I had no replacement and nothing I could improvise so I put in a maintenance request but had to wait three days for the super to come around to replace the tap. During that time, I had to use the sink in my bathroom to wash fruits and vegetables and clean up dirty dishes. Meal preparation took place in part in the kitchen and in part in the bathroom. This is how I worked around my problem and continued to live my life. It was inconvenient but doable.

In 2011, my cousin David took a vacation in Mexico and got an ear infection. Over the next six years, numerous visits to an EFT (Ear, Nose, and Throat), the emergency ward (The pain was so bad, he thought he was having a heart attack!), and four operations have left him with permanent nerve damage in his head resulting in on-going pain every single day. He's tried just about every known pain medication known to man, although his latest successful regime is based on Percocet and ice packs. It's difficult to believe but after visiting countless doctors, the conclusion seems to be that he's going to have to live with this. Pain. Every single day. Chronic. This is permanent, and there seems to be (so far) nothing that can be done to remedy the situation. In this case, the saying Hell on Earth is true.

In 2012, I tramautised the upper left quadrant of my body, stopping short of tearing my rotator cuff. I was in pain twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for six months. After numerous visits to my doctor, a neurologist, two x-rays and two MRIs, a chropractor, multiple physiotherapists, and a kinesiologist, the speculation was that I had slightly herniated the cervical disc at the C6 level which was causing referred pain. I could barely move for about nine months, holding my left hand up toward my shoulder because it somehow reduced my pain.

My cousin and I commiserated. The main focus of our days was pain management. While other people lived their lives, the main focus of our days was when do we take a pain pill, how long did we have to wait for the next one, and what could we do in the meantime to minimize pain. How's the weather? What's for dinner tonight? Did you see the latest comedy show? Considering the gravity of our situation, that is, the on-going pain, neither of us cared.

I'm lucky. It took a year but my body healed. My cousin's condition has become chronic, and he has to live with this. As I said, while he does take drugs, he tries to minimize doing so since it has a limited effect. He is obliged to lie down periodically while holding a coldpack to the side of his head.

However, this event in my life seems to have heralded in a new era of health problems. It's as if I turned 60 and the wheels started falling off the wagon. I ain't dead yet, but the old adage seems to be true about us becoming more and more focused on health later on in life. While I do the usual checks with my family doctor, while I see a physical therapist on a regular basis, I still have to deal with the day to day issues.

In January 2021, I started having a problem with my left hip and groin. Walking up and down the half flight of stairs from my apartment to the main door of my building became painful. Many times, I would step first with my right foot then bring my left along. Lead with the right, follow with the left. Numerous visits to the therapists left everybody perplexed as to this on-going issue. Finally, the head therapist had a flash of insight, did some tests, then explained my sacroilliac joints were out of whack. He had me wear a Serola belt. Unlike a belt around the waist for lumbar support, this went around the hips to offer support for the sacroilliac joints. I wore it twenty-four hours a day and faithfully did a daily regime of isometric exercies designed to work the muscles around the joints. After some weeks, the half flight of stairs became pain-free. I started trying stair climbing, doing two, three, or four stories, then in increments of ten, slowly progressing to make sure my body could support the stress. Finally, after 2.5 months, I managed to stair climb one hundred stories. Obviously, the Serola belt did the trick.

In September 2016, I started having red marks appear on various parts of my body that were very, very itchy. I was convinced I had inadvertently brought some pest from the outside into my apartment. Bed bugs? Lice? Ticks? I had in numerous experts to spray but the results were negative. I finally visited a dermatologist and using skin samples, he tested for parasites. The results were negative. I've heard it said that our skin is the body's largest organ. Was I suffering from some sort of partial organ failure? For the past six years, I have tried every over the counter oinment and cream for itchiness with limited success. Three months ago, a new series of symptoms had my dermatologist diagnose me with folliculitis and started me on a daily regime of a oral antibiotic and an antibiotic cream. According to medical web sites like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic while this condition can clear up in weeks, for some persistent cases it can take months. I'm currently at day 60 and I'm not really seeing results. I keep waking up in the middle of the night in a tremendous fit of itchiness and must get up and slather on a topical analgesic gel to calm things down. My sleeping patterns are disrupted, and I'm exhausted. I did visit my family doctor out of desperation but he felt the best course of action was to continue with the prescribed treatment and discuss everything with the dermatologist in my follow-up visit at the four-month mark. I thank my lucky stars I found the topical analgesic gel or I'm sure I'd be going out of my mind.

My Point
Other than to bitch and moan? While I supposedly have a course of action, I must be patient and see it through to the end. And then, if necessary adjust that course of action in consultation with an expert. The problem, however, is how do I deal with anything on a day to day basis. What do I do when it's 3am, and I'm all by myself?

Several years ago, I went to the grocery store but before starting my rounds, I visited a small men's room. I opened the door and was immediately confronted with an obstacle. A man stood at a sink washing his hands. Stretching out behind him were two plastic tubes going to an oxygen tank sitting in a wheeled grocery cart parked against the opposite wall. I suppose I could have stooped down under the tubes but thought it best to wait to avoid catching them and causing a mishap and so reflected on the scene before me. This man was suffering from some respiratory ailment like emphysema but was still mobile and able to do his own grocery shopping. He had an health issue but was managing to retain a degree of freedom.

To be honest, I may be whining about my own circumstances but I like to think I can recognise that all of us have our own issues to deal with, and we may be dealing with said issues with varing degrees of success. We're doing our best with limited skills and sometimes with limited professional help. Yes, sometimes our issue is beyond the skills of the experts but we have to cope anyway.

We have to cope. I think that's the point of this rant. After all is said and done, after every consultation is complete, every test been carried out, and every remedial course of action implemented, all of us are sitting alone at 3am and have to cope. There's no other choice. There's no other option. We're on our own, and we have to figure it out ourselves. I'll be thinkin' o' ya at 3am when I'm up with an itchy attack, in the bathroom applying analgesic gel. Ha!


Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

No comments: