Friday, January 29, 2010

New music

Elvis Perkins. Very cool. Matt suggested I listen to him, and told me that's all he's listening to. He's great. Just put his albums on my ipod to take with me. The musical medley I'm planning is him, Thom Yorke and the Decemberists. Funky, dark -- sounds about right.

I'll save the Celtic fiddle (Roy) and the Fela soundtrack for when I get home.


Today's the day, so yesterday was mostly about prep.

I divide prep into two categories: their idea of prep and mine. Theirs (the medical/industrial complex) included all the pre-op, plus surgical supply store shopping, the special diet I had to be on yesterday, packing, calling into the pre-recorded number at the hospital, etc.

My prep is different. It included the essentials: haircut, manicure, having my legs waxed -- the stuff that not only will I not be able to do for a while but the things that make me feel grown up and in control. That's not unimportant; I find that people become infantilized in hospitals and I want to hold that at bay as much as possible.

I don't have an early slot today, which seems unusual. We're due at the hospital at 12:30, with surgery planned a couple of hours later. So I have the morning today which was unanticipated but welcome.

Nick's all packed; he'll be staying at a hotel nearby. Liv will stay with friends. Holly's off to the kennel (Nick said that as soon as he turns off the expressway and she realizes where she's going she vibrates with excitement -- she loves that place.)

I've got my reading material gathered -- that's key. I've saved Game Change and also the latest David Sedaris, plus this week's New Yorker with the Tea Party story I'm looking forward to reading. And Sarah dropped off a book last night (can't remember which) that I'll save for when I'm back home.

Won't know about my room status for a while. I requested a private room it but the differential in price was so extreme that I'm not sure I'll take advantage of it even if available. We'll see. If semi-private I'll just hope for a quiet roommate and plan to keep the curtain between us closed. This to me is not a social occasion.

I've spoken to or been in email touch with some of my friends and family, so that's all up to date. Had a lovely dinner Wednesday night with my parents, aunts and uncle -- great evening.

My hip couldn't feel worse than it does today (and did last night) -- it's the last hurrah and it knows.

Not taking my laptop so won't be blogging til I'm home and really bionic. I'll be mostly news-free for a couple of days, which isn't a bad thing. There were some tantalizing stories this week beyond the State of the Union Speech: the Tea Party convention meltdown, the incident with Senator Landrieu in Lousiana and a couple of others, but they'll keep til I'm back.

One event we'll miss is the Leipzig Quartet at Carnegie Hall, so will need to figure out what to do with the tickets. Liv and Jon may be interested but we'll see. She's picked out the promise ring she wants him to give her -- it's a silver Tiffany band that says I love you. She was at Tiffany yesterday retrieving her lost gift card -- she still had money left over from her bat mitzvah gift returns but had lost the card. She now has $300 in Tiffany money burning a hole in her pocket. Not bad.

I guess that's it for now. Nick and I will leave in a couple of hours and he will of course be with me throughout it all -- that's what makes everything possible.

Will write again from the other side, once I join the ranks of the joint replacement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday's Mill

Monday was the second (and last day) of prep for the surgery. It involved two things: a class at the hospital followed by an appointment for medical clearance.

First, the class. It was well filled, and while most people were older, as expect, a few were closer to my age. The instructor was a middle-aged woman, a social worker I think. She spoke with unending cheer and condescension; there was a patronizing quality to her presentation that suggested she was used to speaking either to the very very old or the very very young. She spend quite a bit of time extolling the virtues of the binder they distributed, particularly the page at the beginning that was blank for us to use to write down questions. Seemed a straightforward feature to me but to her it was a marvel and a wonder.

And the questions asked by patients made us thing no one had done any reading or research in advance.

We couldn't get out of there fast enough, but soldiered through the whole thing.

From there we went to see the medical doctor for clearance. For once I couldn't use my own and was assigned someone. When Liv had her SAT tutor Sunday night one of the vocabulary words was "perfunctory" and that well describes the experience. Little warmth, just lots of questions that came with the regularity of machine-gun fire. Lots of typing on her keyboard, a quick exam and out. It all felt very institutional, and left me cold inside.

We came home and made our first-ever visit to a surgical supply store to buy the kinds of products I never wanted to think about to ready the house for my return. We were both glad to have gotten this over with and too be back home. Yesterday's work day -- packed with back-to-back meetings, needs and issues -- was an absolute pleasure.

I'll work a full day today and a half day tomorrow, so I have the afternoon to do my sort of prep: get my haircut, pack, think through any needs while we're gone, do Liv's laundry, etc. And then we'll get the call with the time of surgery so we'll know when we need to be there Friday.


Monday, January 25, 2010

The rest of the weekend

Saturday at Sarah's was lovely. Your place is wonderful! And the food, company and vibe were great -- thanks for doing it.

Sunday was a quiet day: lots of errands for Liv (she sings tomorrow before what's known at her school as "the juries" so there was quite a bit of shopping to do -- clothes, shoes, etc. Hoping the singing takes care of itself.)

I made muffins for Liv and Nick; may not be able to do it again for a while. We played Scrabble (actually 6 games between Saturday and Sunday, and the Scrabble gods smiled at me.)

We glowed a lot at our new status. I called Matt to tell him; he sounded both surprised and happy.

So all good.

This is the last pre-op week. I lose today to prep and Friday to the actual surgery, which leaves me three days to get everything done: all work stuff, all home stuff, plus getting my hair cut and the other grooming things that will be difficult for a while.

In a little while we're leaving for the city for part one of today's pre-op adventure: the joint replacement class at the hospital. Can't wait. I imagine my fellow classmates to be significantly older than me (I could be wrong) and I'm not really sure how they'll fill the 90-minute session. Then to the medical doc for clearance.

A very medical day. Not my choice. It ends when I meet Liv at Mount Sinai to talk about her new project "once upon a song." More to follow.

Welcome to the Wilderness

Once again it's hard to be a Democrat. I'm used to it -- I've been one as long as I can remember. But it's new to Nick: raised a Republican, then an independent and only recently a Dem though he still considers himself an independent. Wisely so, I'd say. As he said to me in the wake of recent events "I was much happier when I was a Republican." And I understand.

Watching the recent events has been totally disheartening. The Massachussets race felt like a self-inflicted wound. What was the White House paying attention to if not key races? Maybe it's because we just finished watching every season of the West Wing, but it was our strong sense that this was the job of the Chief of Staff. The way healthcare has played out was another shot in the foot. Where was the leadership, the unity, the hammer? It reminds me of a oft-repeated line from "A View from the Bridge" though it was meant in a quite different context: "now we settle for half and we like it that way." This administration seems to not only settle for half but seek half, with fantasies of bipartisanship, a failure to lead, a misunderstanding of the mandate and the self-imposed requirement of the mystical magical supermajority.

It's so infuriating, and after the brief shining moment of victory and unity last year it reminds me of how it felt to be a Dem all along.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What happened, when and how

It all happened yesterday. Actually too much happened yesterday for a single day; it was more like several days worth of incident and events jam-packed into a mild January Friday.

The day began with a client meeting in NJ, after which I went back into the city to meet Nick for half the pre-op appointments. In the morning before I left Nick got down on one knee -- I was puzzled -- and said he wanted to check out the shoes I was wearing. It was odd, no doubt, but I didn't give it a second thought.

The pre-op stuff went fine, and ended with my autologous blood donation (I gave the cookies to Nick who hadn't eaten since breakfast.)

After that we had time to kill before we were meeting the kids for dinner, and we wandered down a forlorn stretch of First Avenue looking for a place to duck in and have a glass of wine. For a while all we found were dusty convenience stores and dry cleaners, and then we spotted a little wine bar called Felice. A cute little place, practically deserted, but it was an off time at 4:00 in the afternoon. We had some very good Italian white wine, and Nick had what he thought would be a small snack but turned out to be quite a large sandwich.

We were chatting in our usual insufferable way. I told Nick I loved him, and he asked "how much?" I told him that I loved him the most, and at the moment I finished saying that he went down on one knee and said "then will you marry me?" And before I knew what was happening he took out a ring box from his pocket and opened it. Inside was the most beautiful engagement ring I've ever seen.

I said yes -- of course!

We marveled for a while at our good fortune, and I'm sure I was glowing. We giggled and left the well-named wine bar, and walked and walked.

We made a few calls and texts and made our way to Brasserie where we were meeting Liv and Jon for dinner. We got there early so we had a little more time to just be enveloped by what was happening (I must have looked at the ring on my hand a thousand times by then.)

The kids showed up and were thrilled. Liv was complicit in the whole enterprise -- she'd helped Nick pick out the ring and knew not only what was going to happen but when. They'd brainstormed ideas for how he was going to ask me (including one quite bizarre idea about asking me tonight at Sarah's party, stepping out to get ice and returning dressed as a knight in a suit of armor. Liv thought there might be better ideas.)

Dinner was wonderful -- appropriately celebratory. And it was a great meal on its own merits; everyone loved what they ordered and we had plenty of time, so even stayed and had dessert.

Then we grabbed a cab to head over to the theater where we were seeing "A View from the Bridge" in previews. We enjoyed it. Liev Schrieber was brilliant, and the success of this play rests squarely on the shoulders of its protagonist, Eddie Carbone. Scarlett Johansen was fine -- neither added much nor took much away, and the rest of the cast was strong. Very moving, and it seemed as though few in the theater knew the play, so there were gasps of shock at key points (Liv grabbed my hand at one tense moment.)

After this extraordinary afternoon and evening the three of us headed to Penn Station to go home. Some snafus with the LIRR (we were on a train which suddenly went out of service and had to go find another) but we didn't mind. We didn't mind anything.

We are engaged!

We are engaged!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Detective Wendy

I was curious about what happened next door, because it didn't seem right. Our neighbors moved out so suddenly, and in such silence. They've always been friendly and chatty so it was surprising that they moved out with such rapidity and silence. It gave me a vague sense of something amiss, as though there were something else going on and it was more than a normal case of a marriage gone sour.

So I did a bit of detective work, and found this:

That's my neighbor they're writing about and trying to find. That's my neighbor whose alleged fraud was featured on NY1 and who is now apparently being investigated by the attorney general. That's my neighbor who was given an "F" by the Better Business Bureau. My neighbor who took advantage of these people. Yep, that's the guy.

It reinforces one of the things I've always believed, that rarely is anything what it seems. Fascinating. Disturbing, especially when you look into the people who were ripped off.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

anxiety dreams

Everyone gets them, and though I've been known to say that nothing is so boring as other people's dreams I enjoy these. Mine come in several flavors:

1. the college dream. I find myself on a college campus, at my current age. It's the last day of the semester: finals. I've never been to the class and am completely unprepared for the exam. A variation includes me finding myself not only attending school but living on campus.

2. the work dream. I'm in my office working, and someone comes to get me with the words "they're ready for you." I obediently follow into a conference room, where every seat is filled, every face expectant, and I have no idea what it is I'm supposed to be doing. Variation: I'm naked.

From everyone I've spoken to the themes are consistent but the execution differs according to people's occupation. An old friend of Paul's dreamt he was directing a football game and goes into the bleachers ahead of time to prepare. He drops his script and when he climbs underneath the bleachers to retrieve it he finds millions of scripts down there. Paul's was interesting too, sourced from the time when he worked at the track videotaping the races: instead of horses he sees sheep, who are the same color as the track and therefore indistinguishable.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Odds and ends

Liv's plans

Liv has decided not to travel this summer but to work instead (yay!). She's applying for camp counselor gigs at the JCC and other places and is hyper-focused on it.

Her community service/performing arts project is taking off. It'll be called "Once upon a song" and we have an initial meeting at Mount Sinai the week after next. Very exciting.

Dispatches from Iraq

Finally heard from Whitney -- it's been over a month. She messaged Liv on Facebook to let us know that she was ok, but that all email has been blocked because someone shared too much info. At least she's ok.

Rear Window

Not sure what's going on next door but now it looks like they're all moving out. Vans and trucks show up and haul stuff away, cars come and go, the principals aren't to be seen, including the kids. Nick's concerned that the house will be abandoned, hardly what we need next door in this of all markets. We'll see.

Tempers flare

I had a set-to with the ortho's office yesterday. They believed (mistakenly) that we'd spoken at length about dates and scheduling for all the pre-op. I called them (they seldom call me) to see where we are, now that we're within two weeks of the surgery. The scheduler told me she'd gone ahead and planned an entire day for me, but when I told her the date didn't work our tempers flared. I was angry because not only was she bitchy about it but they barely consult me when they plan things. She was angry because she felt I was being difficult. I know when I'm difficult, and this experience just didn't qualify. Perhaps they're used to dealing with an older population with more time on their hands, but that flexibility is not available to me. We hung up abruptly, and several hours later a more contrite scheduler called to work this out. Wonder who spoke to her. In any case I'm now scheduled for the 4 pre-op events, spread over two days: the pre-admission testing, the blood donation, the appointment for medical clearance and the class. I'm trying to imagine what this class will be like but it's frankly beyond my imagination.

A full week

It's Saturday morning, about 8:30. Finally the weather broke and it's warm enough for Nick to take Holly to the park where she'll see her friends and romp and frolic, bound and leap.

It was a good week, and a busy one. There were things after work every night, two of them particularly noteworthy. Thursday night was Liv's musicale at school. It was a beautiful program: first one of the school orchestras, which played Bizet and Dvorak. Then her chorus, the mixed chorus. They were amazing, and for the first time Liv sang with joy. She was dead center and because the heavy-set kid in front of her couldn't make it, she was easy to spot. The chorus sang six songs, including an old spiritual (is there such a thing as a new spiritual?) called "soon ah will be done." I preferred this concert to the winter one, which was held in a church and featured all of the school's choruses. This was held at the school which offers both more intimacy and better acoustics. On the ride home she talked a lot about music and singing and which classical songs she likes and which teachers she wants to have next year. It was a beautiful night all around.

Last night Nick and I went to see "Misalliance" at City Center (Pearl Theater Company.) This was second in the series; first was "Playboy of the Western World." It was really good -- a revival of a GBS play that sparkled with wit and observation. The best word to describe it -- the only word that seems to fit -- is delightful. We met at the Carnegie Club first, then had dinner at Rue 57 (shrimp cocktail and roast chicken for me; french onion soup and duck l'orange for Nick.) A great night. We had a blast.

Long weekend this weekend, which is delightful too. It comes so suddenly after the long break but is most welcome.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hibernating and interesting patterns

It's that time of year, when we're happiest staying in the warmth and doing home stuff. Today we're making beef stew and will have the kind of Sunday evening the three of us really enjoy. There's going to be a party to say farewell to my hip, and Sarah graciously offered to host it. We'll start working out the details in the next few days.

Nick is as happy as a clam. Besides the usual reasons his Dallas Cowboys are having an amazing season (and post season) and he's sure they're going to the Superbowl.

There's definitely something in the water on this block. Looks like our next-door neighbors have split up; not surprising given the volume and acrimony of their recent arguments. They took to screaming at each other outside, well within earshot, so their kids wouldn't hear. But we did, at least in the warmer weather. Judging by yesterday's events (moving truck) and the absence of one of their cars it seems like the husband moved out. So now we're three for three on this stretch of block. When we moved here in '05 our neighbors seemed to have intact marriages, but then again you never really know what goes on inside relationships.

Wonder if that could be a selling point for the house. Looking for a way out of your marriage? Have we got a location for you.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Clarity, finally

So I finally understand what's going on with my hip and why we have gotten to where we are. The last few weeks -- since I saw the rheumatologist -- have been confusing. Her xrays showed no arthritis; not only no inflammatory arthritis but no osteoarthritis, which (I thought) was the chief reason to have a hip replacement.

What I have is called FAI: femoral acetabular impingement. I came across this condition in my research months and months ago, but no one was really listening to me (ah, our healthcare delivery system) but apparently now there's consensus. It's a long complicated name for what's not really a complicated problem: it means that the ball of the hip doesn't fit in the joint. It can be structural -- meaning you're born with it, or caused by trauma, but what should be a nice smooth fit made possible by nice smooth surfaces doesn't exist. It's possibly why the labrum tore in the first place, and then it's made far worse by the absence of a functioning labrum to cushion the joint. And because of the nature of the condition of course it makes perfect sense that none of the interim, conservative therapies would work -- why would they? PT, anti-inflammatories, injections, even arthroscopic labral debridement -- of course none of these can help address this rough bone problem.

And it explains why the best way I can describe the pain (and have been well before the medical community gave it a name) is that it feels like my hip doesn't fit. I know what fit feels like; the left side fits just fine.

So now it's on to the hip replacement. Got my date: 1/29. According to Jose it's the only thing guaranteed to work, and now I understand why. Long, strange trip if you ask me.

Apparently there's some prep involved beyond the usual pre-op testing. I have to donate blood, in case I need a transfusion. There's a class I'm supposed to attend at the hospital (can't wait to meet my fellow classmates) and I think some stuff we're meant to do in the house to make it easier when I get home.

It's time. This needs to be fixed and at least now we know what the "it" is. Enough already. But clarity helps.

Funky fabulous fevered Fela

Fela is alive. It bursts and vibrates and glows and pulses and trembles and explodes -- I've never seen anything so alive, and all of us felt the same way. We saw it Thursday night -- Nick and me, Liv and Jon, Nikki and Jamie. We loved every moment, and we've never seen an audience get to its feet so fast. We felt less like spectators watching a performance and more like a group of people lucky enough to find our way into the Nigerian club called The Shrine, where Fela and the troupe were on.

It's rare that I don't check my watch at least once during a show, but there wasn't a second when I wasn't completely engaged and swept away by the music, the dancing and the story.

See it if you can; tickets are still discounted and quite reasonably priced.

It was a wow.