Category Archives: Sadly True

Plagues and Curses Upon the House of Hudson

The Forces of Evil Begin Smiting 

My text chimes. My email chimes. My cell phone rings. As I read the text on the way to answering the cell, our land line begins to ring.  I know.  It’s The Barn Emergency Alert System.

Bella texted:  Jim says Leo says Hudson is colicking. 

Jim says in my ear: Leo says Hudson is colicking.

Jim’s expertise is in How to Fix Things Horses Continuously Break. Which is why he’s reporting what Leo said, and calls Bella first.  He’s not sure whose horse Leo is worried about.

God bless ALL these people.

I’m 15 minutes out if I pull sweats over my pj’s, and break the speed limit.

For those not familiar with horse digestive systems: these big strong animals have the  digestive sensitivity of a cranky octogenarian. Change the pudding flavor, and cranky Octo could be bedridden for days, hammering her cane on the railing. Change her Jeopardy channel, and she could go into shock, burst a gut, and die.

Horses are that terrifyingly fragile.

While I try to focus on stopping at stop signs. Siri reads Bella’s email to me: H colicking. Can use Mo.

Mo is Hudson’s roommate, and Bella’s back up rope horse. You would LOVE him. He’s a Humvee-slash-Monster Truck in a world of sports cars. He’s so wide and bulked up, he looks like he’s been abusing steroids for years. (He hasn’t.) Despite his massive width and body-builder muscling, he has the heart of Ferdinand the Bull. Mo would very much like to find a tree to sit beneath, and smell a flower.

I tack up Mo, pry a bright and non-colicky looking Hudson away from banging on his feeder (Hellooooo…hungry…), and we pony. If I hadn’t listened to his gut sounds, I’d think he was fine: freight train moving through his bowels on his right side. Acute  and terrifying silence on the left.

we walk

Mo worries.  Hudson calculates if he can get grass out of this.

Hudson is nonchalantly relaxed while walking. A mild gas colic? No sign of pain. Twenty minutes in, he stops, lifts his tail, and produces one phenomenally long and sonically impressive Super Fart.  He poops regally, a gloriously giant deposit.

Hudson is cured! Ha. Take THAT, Forces of Evil.

I do the normal thing and take a poop photo, and text it to Bella: THANK YOUUUUUUU.

Better than flowers.

It’s gratifying to know Forces of Evil can be thwarted by farting.

Gravity Stealth Attacks 

On Hudson’s 26th birthday.  I make sure he’s thoroughly warmed up before I turn him out for play time in the arena with The Monster Truck.

I’m ridiculously proud of how good he looks and how young he acts. Ridiculous, because I have nothing to do with how good he looks. Good genetics, a sense of entitlement, and a stubborn attitude apparently help one age well.

A lot can change in 7 seconds.

Immediately after the video above, Hudson rocks back on his haunches, drops low, and rips flat-out into a dead gallop. He’s doing a speed drill. This is all wrong. My heart is pounding in my throat.  There are claws in my stomach.  He hasn’t done a speed drill in a loooong time.

Gravity hurls itself across the arena at the last second, and Hudson trips.

It devolves into the kind of crash about which horse people have nightmares. Hudson falls hard on both bad knees, his neck twists and whumps, the pipe fence is ringing bell-like from (I’m guessing) the impact of his skull. He’s all the way down, and against the fence. This is bad.  Horses need room to get up.  I’m terrified he might have broken a leg.

I ran to him as if I could scoop up 1200 lbs and carry it gently to a stall.  (Actually, it might have been possible in that moment.)  With great effort, he manages to untangle his front legs and get up. He looks bewildered and is trembling slightly. I can see this thought in his brain, though it means something different to him: this is all wrong.

I have so much compassion for believing you are still a Superhero.

I do a complete body scan, check his pupils, poll, and knees. He takes a couple of tentative, careful steps. Not lame. Fully weight-bearing on all four.  It takes awhile for his adrenaline to recede. I ask him to walk it out, so the acid doesn’t settle in his muscle.  Bute and Ice are our friends.

I work on his sore neck over the next week.  Better? But not okay. bizarrely, he is not lame. Sore as heck, but not limping. He needs the chiropractor. I set up an appointment for the next week. I want the acute phase over before he gets any body manipulation.

While we are waiting for the appointment day:

Locusts…? More Smiting…? WTH…?

Hives. Every. Where

One mild soap/glycerin bath later, he looks like he’s getting over the measles. The hives go down. Contact allergy? Can’t hurt to do the cowboy baking-soda purge to clean out toxins. Check. Pick up baking soda.

DETERMINED Forces of Evil.

The next day, he still has hives, but he’s better. I slather Caladryl on the big ones. Check between his front legs to see if I missed any.

I find loose, droopy, saggy skin on the inside of one leg. Mysterious lump near his breast.

Oh. No.

PIGEON FEVER? Are you kidding me?!?!?

I hit Nurse Jane mode like a stock car driver revving into a turn. No fever. No drainage. Check. He’s not contagious. Yet. I know this is too small for the vet to try to drain. I call Jamie anyway, and ask when I should call him, since calling him now is too soon.  (I’m sure he loves me for being so proactive.)

I scare the crap out of everyone at the barn.

I tell the barn manager we might have a case of Pigeon Fever.  We discuss protocol. She knows I’m onboard with strict measures.

Honestly, I’m completely panicked.  A 26-year-old mildly immunocompromised horse has a bad crash, develops weird mass hives, and then gets Pigeon Fever?  Is this the big IT? Are we there? Any one of these things alone would not rattle me (much) but all in a row, I’m beginning to wonder if something bigger is compromising his immune system.  Something more than an on-again, off-again low-grade sinus infection.

Yep. Right to: HE’S GOING TO DIE.

Carlos found me panicking. He very gently introduced me to this totally novel idea: deal with what is actually presenting: an unidentified lump, some edema.

Oh.  How…normal.

I stop being (mostly) an idiot.  We’ll stick to the default: all horses will be safe as long as we treat it as if it’s Pidgeon Fever.

Deep breath.

Day four: just a lump covered in ichthamal. Not bigger. Not softer. Not open. Not hot. No fever.

Bella remembers Hudson caught himself there once ten years ago, and developed a shoe boil. I’ve been around horses since I was twelve.  Maybe I saw a shoe boil 30 years ago.  Not on my radar.  I begin shoe boil protocol. Order a donut. Turns out, it IS a shoe boil. In a weird spot.

Forces of Evil Get to Giggle 

Hudson is convinced the donut is an ankle monitor, and he’s under house arrest. He looks surreptitiously for the orange jumpsuit. When holding the donut-encased ankle in the air doesn’t cause Jane to instantly repent and cut him free, he sighs. Walks off normally, and points his head into a far corner, his big rump angled accurately in my direction.

I guess donuts are the horse equivalent of The Cone of Shame for dogs.

Day Five:

The barn manager has a moment of panic: the old horse next to Hudson wakes up with a shoe boil AND a capped elbow, already getting infected. What are the chances…? She looks at me, then shakes her head. We both know shoe boils are not contagious.

Day six:

I’m filling in for Carlos, holding Clooney for the vet. His sheath is swollen on one side. After some examining: it’s a spider bite, on the inside of the sheath. Jamie says, “Not usual.  But it does happen.”  He looks down at Clooney’s front leg: “How long has he had this shoe boil?”

What shoe boil?

I don’t know…about an hour?

These three horses have paddocks all in a line. It has to be a coincidence, but how bizarre.

It’s a coincidence like this: I bang my elbow hard enough to leave a lump, and the next day, so does my neighbor, and the neighbor after that.

I searched the internet for ways to keep Hudson safe that didn’t involve sacrificing chickens or wearing funky clothing from the 1980’s. (Hey, shoulder pads and spandex are right up there with sacrificing a chicken.)

The internet giveth!

The following video has received Jane’s Good Horsekeeping Seal of Approval:

Hudson nixed this idea.  He’s  positive bubble wrap is a distant cousin of the shotgun.

His rump is still angled pointedly in my direction.

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I. Can’t. Get. No…Status Traction (I Try, and I Try!)

The Rolling Stones…? Suits…? Can I be hallucinating?

And I thought this song was about designer athletic shoes….

Last Monday, I got wacked on the head. This turned out to be quite useful. Not in a concussion-y sort of way (That part sucks), but in an: “I know! Blogging with a concussion is a GREAT idea!” sort of way.

After declaring the ER doc incompetent (TWO WEEKS recovery? Is she nuts?  I’ll be fine in a couple of days), I set about dealing.  I lay there in the dark: no reading, no sound, no TV.  Nothing but me and my internal horseman’s alarm clock, which says I can recover from anything in 24 hours. 

I'll think about it tomrrow. (are we sure I'm not a drag queen?)

I’ll think about it tomorrow. (Are we sure I’m not a drag queen?)

 I do everything the doc says for the entire 24 hours.

Then I wobble out of bed, fling the curtains open, and..fall over, from the searing, blinding brightness of  a blackened, rainy sky at 6 am.  Luckily, the bed hasn’t moved. Shaun flings the curtains shut, shoves me under the covers and says, “Do NOT make me sit on you.”

I hit the snooze button on the “I’m Over It” clock. Doctors can be right? Who knew?

The reason I have a concussion isn’t all that important.  You know the drill: there was a horse nearby. The ground tilted up, ambushing me. A pipe corral panel leapt in and whacked me on the noggin.  I was not wearing a helmet, since I was not ON the horse. Strictly a ground-attacking me with a pipe sort of thing.

The good news: with friendly encouragement (you know who you are…Thank Youuuuu) and complete willingness to totally suck at blogging, here I am.  

Bonus: I get to see my brain on a concussion is pretty much the same as my brain off a concussion. (Minus the nausea.) Good to know. I’ve had some episodes of misreading stuff. Before I got bonked. 

Driving home from work, pre-concussion, I passed a dilapidated barn with a giant sign:

BRAIN SALE, Saturday 9-3. EVERYTHING MUST GO. 

Brain sale? Whoa. Creepy barn. Because I’m picturing this:

It's a brain sale!  Everything must go!

It’s a brain sale!  I could pick up a spare!

Another day, I stopped for coffee, and read bulletin board flyers while waiting in line.  This one caught my attention:

Local ATHEIST COMPETITION! Are you Atheist? Come join us in friendly competition. Many sections! All levels welcome! FREE!!

This is my non-concussed thought process:

  1. Atheists compete…?
  2. There are levels and classes of atheists?  Who knew? 
  3. What does an atheist competing look like? HOW do they compete…and why does this flyer make it sound fun and community oriented? 

Is this what an Atheist Competition looks like?

We had a time of high anxiety a few months ago.  Christmas was sick. We had to leave him at the vet for testing and observation.  Finally our vet called back: 

“I’m afraid your dog tested positive for pancakes.  We’re starting him on IV fluids right away”

I probably test positive for pancakes too...

I probably test positive for pancakes too…

Um. WHAT?!

(Christmas is fine, no need to worry.  Or send syrup.)

Then, post-concussion, I read this sentence in my blog spam:

“Remember, before going into the castle, you must knit every Zombie, or you will die.”

Uh. A video game in which you knit zombies…? Huh. Knitted zombies.  Could be cute?

Today, there was a news-ish post in my Facebook feed, with this headline: 

“Cinderella over time: tracking the glass spider through the centuries.”

Because everyone knows about Cinderella and the famous glass spider...

Because everyone knows about Cinderella, the prince, and the glass spider…

Much slower than I like to admit, I got some traction:

I’m sure by now all of you have figured out I passed a barn sale, saw a flyer for an athletic competition, our dog had pancreatitis, one tends to knife zombies in a video game, and Cinderella didn’t have spider issues. (That would be Miss Muppet.)

Forget the status, I just need traction.  I better get over to the brain sale.  

Anyone else want to come? We can listen to Bob Marley on the way over. I like a rousing human rights song about food shortage.  

Who knows all the words to Stand Up For Your Rice?

 

Hello My Name Is…

I have a pathological inability to remember people’s names the first time I hear them.

It’s like my brain has installed a panic button that overwrites the spoken name with static, while the person is still speaking.

I have zero chance of hearing the name, let alone remembering.

if you are a horse, dog, cat, goldfish, lizard, turtle or hamster, I will never forget your name. if you are a horse, not only will I know your barn name, I’ll probably know your six-foot long registered name too. I’m cursed with a strictly human name memory  malfunction. Unless you introduce yourself like this:

With the exception of this name.  I would totally remember this one.

Then, I will totally remember.

Awkward doesn’t begin to describe it when I coo over Bug the Pug – I’ve only seen photos of him on Facebook – but can’t remember my newly born niece’s name, a FAMILY member, that I’ve met, held, and delightedly played with for six hours….yesterday.

I try the memory tricks: creating an association based on fascinatingly long ear lobes or a strange rhyme. This is a particularly bad idea, as I discovered, after addressing “Ginny” as “Voddy” because she had a red nose and I remembered just enough to get in trouble: her name was something alcoholic and off beat.

Because there really are people in the world named Vodka, right?

Sundays were a relief: I figure I’m in church, so people will be forced to forgive me. Sort of goes with the territory. I can explain as we introduce ourselves: “I have trouble with names. I may need to hear yours a few times before it sticks, but I won’t forget YOU.  Welcome to our church.”

This worked pretty well. Turns out people are slightly more indulgent after a sermon on cheek turning.

Here is how that stopped working for me, and may have made the pastor request I stop greeting people. Which then may have been followed by a suggestion to hide near the back pillar. Or not come back.

In the desperate hope that writing a name down would help me remember, I volunteered to work the Label Table near the entrance. I’m feeling intoxicated by the feelings of petty bureaucratic power (I’m in charge of Magic Markers! “Hello My Name Is” tags!) when a woman I’ve never seen walks up.

Gah! Mayday, Mayday! 

The woman waves off my attempt to helpfully slap a HELLO MY NAME IS…in front of her. Mildly worried, I give my “I’m terrible with names, but I will remember your very special self.” spiel.

The woman assures me I absolutely won’t forget her name. Too distinctive. Which not only  slams my panic button, I become completely deaf and unable to hear the next few sentences out of her mouth. But I do manage to laugh appropriately when she does. I assume we laughed at how absurd it would be for me to forget her name.

Whatever it was.

Oh God. (In church. So counting this as a prayer.) Unless her name is “Bug” we have a problem. Did she have a squashed nose? I can’t remember.

No Jane, NOOooooooooo

No Jane, NOOooooooooo…

After the service, she wanders over during the coffee hour. I elbow my memory for her name. It ignores me, completely clueless, and continues contemplating how Amazing Grace would sound if sung by Elvis Presley. Oh hey, what if Metallica performed it?

Wait. is her name Grace?

I’m not going to chance it. I politely invoke my pre-emptive: “I might forget your name, but never you”.

She laughs heartily, as though I’ve just told the best joke ever. EVer. It’s the first time my pre-emptive strike hasn’t worked. Susan? Jill? Tanessha? VODKA? Oh lord, it must be Ginny. What do I DO?

She stops laughing abruptly, and stares at my face.

“But we laughed about it, remember?”, she says, quite hurt.

Of course I remember laughing. I was covering up the fact I couldn’t hear what she was saying.

“I’m so sorry”, I say, miserably, “remind me, please?”

She looks at me for a long time, certain I’m messing with her.

Finally, she turns to toss her paper cup away, and says with utter disbelief and disgust,
“Jane. My name is Jane. NOW do you remember?”

Because I’m me, I think I’m off the hook. Why on earth should I be expected to remember THAT name above all others? It’s not like she’s named Jesus or anything. Shoot, why should her name be familiar…it’s so unfair to expect…uh…um…

If only John Jacob had come in with her! I would have remembered. I swear.

Right. That’s my name too…

The other Jane is making a bee-line for the pastor.

I mentally cross off church number six.

We live near Temple Beth Ami.  I wonder how hard it would be to convert?

The Real Life Questions Jane Absolutely Positively WILL NOT ANSWER, NUH-UNH

This comes from a post-a-day prompt thoughtfully provided by WordPress.  What questions do I hope a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist NEVER asks me?

We all know Jane is never going to be interviewed by anyone other than a very obscure journal called: “Women Who Eat Too Much Sugar and The Horses Who Get Miffed By Rider Weight Gain”.

If she’s lucky.

This is what I don’t want you to know.

      1. Do you have an imaginary friend?
      2. What is on your bucket list?
      3. How many times did you lie to your mother about her Mother’s Day Card already being mailed?

Questions I wish someone would ask me:

  1. Where do you see Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys heading?
  2. Would you like the rest of this cake?
  3. How many bugs would you say were in your childhood?

What the heck.  Let’s go for it.

1. Do you have an imaginary friend?

No. I do not have an imaginary friend. But really, we should let Sir Doodelus and Lady Cramplebug weigh in on that. They have a problematic love child that is a cross between a green beetle and…something glittery…who is in a completely unsuitable relationship with a hairy bumblebee named Ferdinand. Their lives are complicated and involve way more drama than I am comfortable with.

2.  What is on your bucket list?

“Bucket List” makes people think of Zip Lines, and Jumping Out of Airplanes, and traveling to Obscure Countries without proper inoculation. I am not a “Bucket List” person.  I find movies terrifying. My brain understands my body is just sitting in a room watching light flicker, but my soul is certain I will die a horrible death when that car being riddled by bullets from a semi-automatic sails over the guard rail, bursts into flame, and plunges 1000 feet down into a gorge, end over end.

Not that I’ve thought about it.

Fine. I’ll go over the guard rail. The Bucket List:

1. Reading with Goats.

#1 on the bucket list: Reading With Goats

#1 on the bucket list: Reading With Goats

This is Jane’s speed. That pink blob is the neighbor sitting out in her field, reading with her goats. While we don’t appreciate Goat Trees, we do love to see our neighbor reading in the sun, surrounded by happy goats.  This is the back of the neighbor’s home. The properties abut. If the neighbor wasn’t some complicated distance away off another road and a couple zillion random driveways, Jane would have already knocked and asked if she could come read with their goats. And we wouldn’t be hearing from her, because she’d be locked up some where.

2. Listen at least 100 more times to David Sedaris reading his story “Jesus Shaves.”

Hahahahahahahahahahah…oh…you’re back….

3. Spend even more quality time with certain friends:

My friend, Rock.

My friend, Rock.

4. Explore my Native American Heritage.

Honeymoon 2008 072

I found this three-story, paper mache example of a Native American in Idaho. Rock was there too.

Being a Native American is hilarious.  We tilt-ily rode lime green dinosaurs, without a saddle or bridle. Who knew?

5. Keep My Horse Off Twitter

This is turning out to be surprisingly difficult.

6. Hoard, I mean “Rescue” a bunch of these guys.

Twenty eight inches at the withers. Totally would fit in the car seat.

Twenty eight inches at the withers. Totally would fit in the car seat .

And look, he clips!

So adorable.  A teeny tiny buckskin.  With manners!

So adorable. A teeny tiny buckskin. With manners!

Enough of the Bucket List.

3. How many times did you lie to your mother about her Mother’s Day Card already being mailed?

Too complicated.  I’d have to do the math. How old I was when I started mailing Mother’s Day Cards times the guilt factor (Number of times I repeated, “No really, it should be there by now!”) minus the times I didn’t even pretend I’d mailed it on time.

Waaaay too complicated.

What are the questions you ARE NOT GOING TO ANSWER?

I Am a Hero. Obviously.

Heroic Act #1:

A body was sprawled out in the grassy lanes between the paddocks, a large hat knocked off to one side. I recognize the hat. It’s John’s. He’s not moving.

If I had not been leading a very excited horse down this hill, I wouldn’t have had the vantage point to see him in the tall grass at the bottom.

He was waaaaay down by the tree in the middle.

He was waaaaay down by the tree in the middle.

I call out his name. No answer. Horse feels my nerves and begins to try the whole “I am a Dervish” thing, on the line, ensuring I can’t run straight down, or John will get trampled. I yell for trainer and co-worker, shouting “John is down! I think he’s hurt, HELP! Paddocks!!”

They run out of the barn, closer to him than I am, and like good horse people, instantly read my body language, following my line of sight, know where he is before I say a word.  I whip out my phone and start to punch in 911.

This is how John was rescued from a nice nap in the sun, in the grass, near his beloved horses.

I am a hero.

We’re calling it a safety drill, FYI.

Heroic Act #2:

Last night, in my dream, I finished bagging Hudson’s Happy Meals for the week. (Okay, aside: who the heck dreams about bagging grain?) I was suddenly, in the way of dreams, standing on my front porch: halter to clean in one hand, turning the key in the lock with the other. I open the door and am faced with a very large mountain lion. One pacing and eyeballing Husdon’s good leather halter in my hand. It smells like horse. The lion wants the halter.

Just throw the halter to one side...

Just throw the halter to one side…don’t clean it

But. But. It’s Hudson’s good halter…(horse people are unbelievably stubborn)

lt still takes a slight amount of stalking behavior from the mountain lion in my kitchen, to convince me I probably should hand over the halter if I want to live.

I do. Resentfully.

The dream should end here.  Smart people’s dreams end here. (The horse person lives, buys a new halter, the mountain lion has a light nosh on sweaty leather. Win win.  Right?)

Instead, I follow the lion as it stalks out of the house, halter in  mouth. Somewhat safety conscious, I stay back at least six whole feet. The lion doesn’t think six feet is enough.  We stare at each other.

I am not a brave person. But dang it. It’s Hudson’s good halter. Why didn’t I grab a can of tuna? Bait and switch. Too late.

What do I do? Dart forward and snatch the halter from the lion’s mouth.

The lion flattens his ears and hisses, begins to whip his tail. I immediately come to my senses and hurl the halter back at him. He picks it up, and turns to walk away.

Unbelievable! I run up and snatch it away again. I am highly aware this is a very very bad idea.

So I throw it back again.

I woke up on the third mad dash to steal the halter back.

Can we say: “Jane has problems letting go?

I could understand this dream if the lion wanted Hudson. I can see becoming uncharacteristically brave if I were trying to rescue my beloved horse. But…a halter…?

Since I was uncharacteristically brave in the face of a mountain lion (over a stupid halter), I’m sticking to “I am a Hero”.

Obviously.

How My Elbow Became Famous, and Why We Need to Review Appropriate Birthday Presents

Part One: in which I have a birthday near the end of October, and get many appropriate presents, and one randomly inappropriate present that everyone else wants…really really badly.

My birthday started well.

The two candles: my mom didn’t have a fire extinguisher handy to deal with the potential blow back of my real age. (Or my mom likes to remind me I’m really only two, and could grow up?)

She knew I was coming, so she baked a cake.  Thanks Mom!

Chocolate. FROSTING. Does my mom know me, or what?!? And yes, there is a cloth hamburger on her table. It’s Jane’s MOM. Who else would decorate with cloth hamburgers?

Shaun gave me pajamas. With ZEBRA socks. Pink, fuzzy, happy, zebra socks.

I could live my entire life in pajamas. I think most of the world’s problems could be solved by making the Leaders of The Free World wear bunny slippers and Spiderman PJ’s to work.

And…the birthday gift that keeps on giving.  Hudson. Thank you Shaun, Micah, and Lee Lee!

What? I'm up here. Please. Go on. Rub my knee some more.

What? I’m up here. Please. Go on. Rub my knee some more. Where ARE you going with this, BTW…?

Bella, Daisy, and Alice got together and made me cry. On purpose. And I liked it.

Made from hair stealthily swiped from Hudson’s tail. So I could have him with me always. Don’t tell Shaun? But right up there with my wedding ring. *sniff*  Exquisite work, Tail Spin!

My favorite things in the world. Frosting, Family, Friends, Familiars*.

Being loved is the best gift of all.

*Familiars: couldn’t think of a positive word for equines that started with an F. The only thing that came to mind rhymed with “trucking”. Hudson developed a terrible case of mud-less scratches that need a lot of staring, poking, soaking, drying, patting and rubbing of 6 different creams in a weekly rotation. Horses. I’m avoiding the word…”truck”.

My body decided to jump into the gift giving Fray. (Hey look, I’m on an F roll.)

Ta Da! Below is  how Jane’s body sings “Happy Birthday to youuuuu.”

Yep. A third elbow. Just what I always wanted.

A third elbow. Just what I always wanted.

Nice.

I couldn’t seem to make myself worry. Who the heck has ever heard of Elbow Cancer? Shaun Googled the crap out of it, and tried not to look totally freaked out in front of me. I pretended not to notice the stealthy Googling and I Am Not Freaked Out – No Really, look on her face.

Luckily, I didn’t have to pretend not to care about the lump.

It’s just a lump.  I can live with a lump. Heck, Hudson lives with a lump.

Lump Schlump.

Still Giant. Still not hurting him. Still Freaking people out all over the world.

Still Giant. Still not hurting him. Still Freaking people out all over the world.

Would a third elbow help me be lighter on the reins?

Would a third elbow help me be lighter on the reins?

Fine. Fine. I promised Shaun I’d go to the doctor.  Then I promised the trainer, who poked the lump, said “I think it’s bigger than last week…?”.  Then I promised Daisy, Bella, Carlos, and Alice I’d go to the doctor. Promising to take care of it bought me a lot of time to ignore it completely.

Denial. My favorite method of self-care.

Doctor said, “Huh”, looked me in the eyes, then back down at my arm, “only you.” She pushed on the lump. “Does it hurt?”

Oh goody, I can rack up another bullet point in Jane’s “Let’s Not Slice Our Body Open” PowerPoint presentation:

“Nope. Doesn’t hurt at all”, I say, “It’s fine”.

Doctor looks at me.  “Lumps of unknown origin are NOT fine, Jane. Probably a cyst from synovial fluid.  You sure you didn’t bump your elbow?” Pause. “Hard?”

Denial is so….passive. Suddenly remembering a blow hard enough to cause a lump the size of a golf ball is not passive.  I’d be actively lying. Even if I substitute the harsher word “lie” for the innocuous sounding word “prevaricate”. Hmm…could I work with actively prevaricating…?

Maybe my mom was right: two birthday candles sort of sum up my emotional age. Don’t look at it, don’t touch it! It’s not THERE! It’s nothing!

Damn. Have to get it checked out.

I didn’t bother to take Shaun with me for the ultrasound.  They’re not allowed to tell you results. The plan: I’d go, stay happily in denial, and pick up a latte on my way home.

Um. Yeah. About that. How many of us can read the ultrasound while our vet is still running the wand over our horse? Right. I knew instantly it wasn’t fluid.  Solid tissue. I watched her do density scans.

The tech nervously leaves to: “check with the doctor that the films are clear and shot from the correct angles and stuff.” Even I know that’s technician-speak for: “Uh Oh. Must find DOCTOR.”

Denial is great.  I shrug. Decide my body couldn’t handle all the frosting I was ingesting (whoops…my bad) so it helpfully created a nice frosting lump behind my elbow, where it wouldn’t be noticeable.

Heyyyyyy…It’s a buttercream tumor! On my funny bone! I can’t wait to tell everyone: it will be a piece of cake to remove.  It has to go, because it’s on my Last Nerve!  HA HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha….um…niggle niggleha?

I go back to my detective novel.

Dr. Radiologist comes in. “Can I…see…it?”, she asks tentatively, sounding nothing like the professional doctor she obviously is.

Oddly, she has the voice of a woman in Tiffany’s asking the saleslady if she could just look at a gazillion carat diamond ring.

“Uh. Sure”, I say, and poke my elbow into the air.

“Can I…touch it…?” she asks, in – I swear – the reverent voice of a woman asking to TRY THE RING ON.

“Sure?”, I say.  She’s not going to try to take it, um, out of the box, is she?

I hear excited whispering outside the exam room door. “No it’s in there.  Just wait. Maybe we can see it!! Shhhhhh!!! Did anyone tell Meghan…?”

  This is what a 69.42 carat diamond looks like. .

You’d think carbon based life forms – such as ourselves – would be able to produce a sparkly carbon based hunk of rock. You’d never have to worry again that your insurance won’t cover medical costs for retrieval. Hospitals would be RICH. And people with gallstones…? Kazillionaires.

My unusual lump started an epic odyssey of specialist surgeon visits, MRI’s, blood tests, and immediate surgery scheduling.  Not a fatty tumor.  Apparently a tumor so rare, most specialists never see it in their life time.

I don’t do immediate.  I’m not good with ch*nge. I tried hard not to panic when the first surgeon said, “Let’s see, today is Friday…Sue call St. Mary’s and see if we can book an OR for Monday.”

MONDAY? As in Saturday, Sunday, MONDAY??? This whole time I’d been thinking…January…was doable.

I needn’t have stressed over immediate. The medical community was jazzed. I felt like I was…correction…I felt like my tumor was about to hit the talk show circuit, and possibly end up with its own Mercedes. I waited in endless green rooms, doing coffee shots and waiting  for the signal it was time to thrust my elbow in the air in front of an all white-coated crowd. Wait for the collective gasp.  Oooohing and Ahhhing.  If I could have sent my elbow to the appointments without me, I would have. It started begging me for celebrity sunglasses, hip-hop style.

I was lucky.  The best nerve trauma surgeon in the country (referred to in medical circles simply as: The God) swept in and said to the other bickering neurosurgeons, “Neener neener, sorry about your luck underlings, it’s MINE.”

I raised my hand.  “Yes?”, he said.

“Uh. Can I come too?”, I said.

I was feeling a little unclear on the concept: does the famous tumor go in, and the (thankfully) unimportant mother of the tumor wait outside?

“Sure”, he said, and smiled a killer Hollywood surgeon-smile, complete with tooth twinkle.

Tooth twinkles: a sure sign that things are not what they seem.

…to be continued.

(Spoiler alert: I’m fine. We don’t need to worry.)

The Physicist and The Hare

The phone is crammed between my shoulder and ear. I’m listening intently as I reach for the fax about to drop onto the floor, while simultaiously holding up my sock-covered foot, to prevent the giant, long-eared ball of fur from getting to the fax before me.

Image

“What?”, I say, distractedly into the phone, “You’re leaving for Japan, when…?”

Undone by my startle reaction, I miss the fax AND the rabbit, who gleefully snatches the paper, bounds outside my office onto the deck, and leaps onto a cardbord box with a hole cut in the top.

“Can you hold a minute?”, I say.  I have roughly 20 seconds before the fax is confetti.

“No.  I’m boarding.  I just faxed you the specs I’ll need in Tokyo. Can you fix them and email it to me in English?”, says the physicist.

“Got it”, I say, “You’re cutting out.” I drop the phone and scramble for the door.  Chloe is balanced on the box, busily stuffing the paper down the hole. In 2 seconds, she’ll stuff herself down on top of the paper. Twelve pounds of fuzzy, adorableness determined to shred paper into teeny tiny pieces.

I wasn’t smart enough to cut the bottom off the box. In fact, I reenforced it with duct tape, worried her weight would crumple the “roof”. My only option is to go in.

Right after I squeeze through the dog door to get onto the deck. Undoing the sliding door deadbolt would waste too much time.

Riiiiiiiip.

I hurl myself mostly through the dog door and get my arm down the hole. I shove the warm fuzzy stomach sideways, feeling for the paper underneath with my fingertips.  Cardboard…cardboard…bunny foot…OW, she bit me!  I resist the urge to snatch my finger out of the box and stick it in my mouth.

Riiiiiiiip.

At this point, my roommate, who is moving out, greets a prospective new roommate at the front door. I ignore them, no longer going for the fax, now going for the scruff of my bunny’s neck. This works! I’ve got her!

She still has the paper in her mouth. Did you know rabbits can still shred paper while hanging in the air? Me, neither.

We’re at an impasse.  She’s far to big to haul back out of the hole. I’m laid flat out: half in, half out of the house, with my arm plunged to the shoulder into a cardboard box.  I’m also yelling at the box to “LET GO!”, then giving it a vigorous shake from the inside.

My roommate pokes her head around the corner of the door. The No Longer Prospective Roommate is on tip toe, looking over her shoulder, suddenly aware of why roommate #1 is leaving.

Jane has desperate, furious arguments with cardboard boxes. And uses the dog door to go in and out of the house.

“It’s not exactly as bad as it looks”, says former roommate, helpfully. “Wanna see the kitchen?”

The kitchen. With it’s Wall O Rabbits.

I’m doomed. I’m going to have to figure out how to make the whole rent. For the rest of my life.

The fear of rent doubling shoots adreniline into my body: I still have the 500 pound struggling bunny by the scruff of the neck, though she is kicking angrily with her back feet and trying to continue chewing. Not a team player.

I shove my other arm into the hole, ripping the cardboard and busting my chin open when it hits the deck. I grab the fax, try to ease it out of her mouth.  This turns out to be surprisingly simple, because she’s opened her mouth to lunge at the other intruding hand.

This is the same giant bunny who was spread out from my waist to ear, snoring on her belly, with her nose snuggled up under my jaw before the alarm went off this morning.

I get the fax.

Jane 1. Chloe 2.

I have the fax in one hand and bunny in the other.  I’m trying to keep them seperate and figure out how to slide the fax away from her chompers and out of the hole.

My almost former roommate and the not-in-this-lifetime looky-loo are peering around the door again. Former roommate knows what’s going on. She’s having the time of her life not explaining a thing.

“A little help, here?”, I beg.

“With what?”, she asks, innocently, eyebrows raised.

(I might have deserved that, FYI.)

At that moment, Chloe goes completely limp in my grasp.

Oh God. She’s had a heart attack! Noooooo!!!!

Fortunately I’m still suspicious: I snatch the paper up and out of the rabbit hole before I check on her.

I also fall over from the sudden lack of bunny weight and the momentum of yanking my arm out, flipping the box and me on our sides.

One very miffed rabbit is staring at me through the hole. Alive and perfectly healthy. Her eyes zip to the paper.

“OH NO YOU DON’T!”, I shout at the box, hurling myself away. “It’s MINE!”

Former roommate is trying to look grave. Never in a Million Years Roommate is horrified.

I realize she still has not seen the rabbit.

All she has seen is Jane fighting with an inert cardboard box as if it were a many knived serial killer.

Never in a MIllion Years Roommate says to Nearly Former roommate: “I just looked at the nicest two bedroom, two bath, but didn’t have anyone to room with.  Are you looking for a place?”

They go out for coffee. I’m doomed.

Chloe leaps out of the box. She’s seriously miffed.  She flys on top of me, squeezes her plumpness through the mostly Jane-filled dog door, and hurls herself at the metal trash can inside the office. She knocks it over, and begins to roll it end over end around the room.  Rabbits. They love noise.  Who knew?

Holding the fax way above my head, I blindly grope the bottom of the box for the missing corner piece. Bingo.

Chloe is rolling the trash can back and forth over my stretched out legs.  I get the message.

 I am not happy.

I am not happy either. My astro physicist-slash-engineer-slash-inventor employer is on a flight to Japan. I can’t quite make out the numbers near the rip. I can’t have his office fax me the specs again.  I AM his office. Like many geniuses, he has trouble communicating with those less genius-y.

My job was to make him repeat himself over and over using successively simpler words and anologies until I understood what the heck he was talking about, and rewrite the info in psuedo-scientific language, so he can hand it over to his less genius-y clients without anyone but me feeling stupid.

Win-win.

I was going to have to explain the little white lie I told him the previous week, when he realized he needed to make sure I was shredding all important documents.  Of course I had.  I might not be genius-y, but I have office street-smarts.

I had been outsourcing the shredding to a very reliable source till my first paycheck. And she had been doing a stellar job until today.