September 30, 2013

bu2b2

I was brought up to believe
Belief has failed me now
The bright glow of optimism
Abandoned me somehow


Belief has failed me now
Life goes from bad to worse
No philosophy consoles me
In a clockwork universe

Life goes from bad to worse
I still choose to live
Find a measure of love and laughter
And another measure to give

I still choose to live
And give even while I grieve
Though the balance tilts against me
I was brought up to believe

 - BU2B2 by n. peart

September 26, 2013

bu2b

I was brought up to believe
The universe has a plan
We are only human
It's not ours to understand

The universe has a plan
All is for the best
Some will be rewarded
And the devil will take the rest

All is for the best
Believe in what we're told
Blind man in the market
Buying what we're sold
Believe in what we're told
Until our final breath
While our loving Watchmaker
Loves us all to death

In a world of cut and thrust
I was always taught to trust
In a world where all must fail
Heaven's justice will prevail

The joy and pain that we receive
Each comes with its own cost
The price of what we're winning
Is the same as what we've lost

Until our final breath
The joy and pain that we receive
Must be what we deserve
I was brought up to believe

- BU2B by n. peart

September 15, 2013

confusion

     As the temperature in my garage flirted with triple digits, I was sufficiently sweating even without lifting weights.  Not that I'm good at lifting weights, especially with my extra vertebraed spine.  But the daily anger gets burned off, at least a good part that allows me to get through yet one more day.  I was in between sets standing still and catching my breath as the sweat dribbled steadily off my nose as my head hung low.  My head does that a lot of late, hang low.  The music was blaring out a song that once meant nothing to me.  But after my brother died, parts of it touched raw spots in my heart.  But now with my son, it takes on an even different meaning.

Gone Away by Dexter Holland
Maybe in another life
I could find you there
Pulled away before your time
I can't deal it's so unfair

And it feels like
Heaven is so far away
Yeah it feels like
The world has grown cold
Now that you've gone away

Leaving flowers on your grave
Show that I still care
But black roses and Hail Marys
Can't bring back what's taken from me

I reach to the sky
And call out your name
And if I could trade
I would

And it feels like
Heaven is so far away
Yeah it stings now
The world is so cold
Now that you've gone away

Gone away
Gone away

I reach to the sky
And call out your name
Oh, please let me trade
I would

And it feels like
Heaven is so far away
And it feels
Yeah it feels like
The world has grown cold
Now that you've gone away

     "Oh, please let me trade, I would." I crumpled to the ground with the saltiness of sweat mixing with tears from deep soul wrenching sobs.  My brother "pulled away before your time".  Wanting to trade places with my son.  "I can't deal it's so unfair."
     I now longer know for whom I'm wailing anymore.  And does it even matter?  The pain over the last few years is all so intertwined now that to try to unravel it would be to unravel myself and find nothing left.  There is no understanding the pain, only feeling it, and more importantly, making friends with it.  So I stood up, took a deep breath, and performed my next set of squats with tears still mixing with sweat, as the physical pain traded places with the emotional pain.

September 8, 2013

it's all in your head

     The physical pain in my shoulder spiked recently for no apparent reason.  It's an old injury that I've learned to live with, for the most part.  Given that it functions as a built in barometer, it guarantees that I will never move to colder climes.  Every winter, my shoulder aches in advance of even a moderate cold front, such as they are down here in Houston.  There is a muscle knot along my right shoulder blade that never goes away and grows and shrinks in direct relation to the pain.  And when it gets good and pissed off, it acts as an epicenter spreading knots up and down my spine, and even down my arm into my forearm when it's furiously angry.  On this event, the knot had grown substantially.  Clearly it was pissed off big time.  Now no longer a know to felt under the skin, it was visible to the naked eye when my shirt was off due to the angry swelling.  And to touch it meant to touch concrete.  And never mind the at least ten other tender knots that had arisen elsewhere.
     With lifting weights, I'm able to lessen the frequency of these flares.  But when they do occur (typically in the winter), I'm able to ride them out after a few days of icing it, some extra stretching and a lot of bitching and moaning.  But not this time.  It's the middle of summer which is usually when it does the best so weather clearly isn't the reason.  No physical trigger like after driving 800 miles in a car with poor posture.  I didn't do anything different from an exercise perspective.  I asked my doctor for advice.  His response was, "you already failed two rounds of physical therapy with this thing," and referred me to an orthopedist.  Ah yes, PT.  I remember the PT on the first day took one quick look at the knot and said, "there's NO way, I'm going to be able to massage that out.  I'm just letting you know."  Hence the two rounds of PT.  The second fared no better than the first. 
     I try different things out of desperation and then nightly ask my wife to assess the swelling and hardness while I cuss and moan about why it's doing what it's doing.  Exasperated, she tolerates the checks but finally tells me flat out, "you ARE under a lot of stress.  You think it might all be in your head?"  Um, yeah.  I remember this sucker hurting horribly before I took the MCAT.  The day after?  The pain was completely gone.  Slight problem then with this one.  Stress ain't going away anytime soon.  And it takes time to get into a specialist.  What am I supposed to do in the meantime?  How about a chiropractor?  I was always skeptical of them but a desperate man grasps at anything.  Turns out I was right to be skeptical as I would've been better off throwing my money into a sewer.  I know, a good masseuse.  That ought to do it.  She looked at the knot and touched it like it was something to be afraid of.  After she felt the rock, also known as my rhomboid muscles, she simply stated, "fffuuudddgggeee......you do realize this is going to hurt and it's not coming out in just one sessions, right?"  She was right on both accounts as she wailed on the know like a jack hammer.  It did provide some mild temporary relief.
     Still desperately in pain, I turned east to acupuncture.  Her reaction wasn't too different than the masseuse.  "It is very angry.  It must hurt, no?" Um, yeah.  It hurts so bad I'm about to stick you with needles.  She had difficulty even getting the needle into the knot due to it's tight density.  But amazingly, altering my chi or whatever bullshit reason has given me some temporary relief.  Don't ask me how to explain it.  It just does and I'm going back because I'm desperate.  But it gives me pause to think what stress can do to the mind and body.  Good stress, such as exercise or even good mental challenges can push us to our limits thereby achieving things we thought not possible.  But bad stress.....It'll do a number on you.  I'm not imagining the knot.  I'm not consciously making it up.  It's physically there for anyone to feel and touch.  And despite all the things I can do to handle the current circumstances (exercise, meditate, therapy, etc), it's still not enough.  The knot returns just as angry as before.  The power of deep emotional pain can exact even enormous physical pain.

September 1, 2013

honor thy pain

The following is not FACTUALLY accurate. Details have been changed, things deleted, stuff made up, all to protect identity. But it is 100% absolutely true.


     I strode down to the ER, trying not to get lost in the catacombs of hallways, despite having been in this hospital for months.  Lack of spatial skills ruled out radiology as a specialty for me pretty damned quickly.  Being the middle of the night, the patient had the sheet pulled over her head trying to shut out all the noise and intrusions of a busy ER.  Gently as I could, I awoke the patient and was greeted by the equivalent of this lady in the video below, only instead of an African Americam lady, mine was a rural Caucasian lady. In all honesty, when people are sick, I tend to find the commonalities of what it means to be human be far more important than cultural differences.


     Her raw honesty and spunky character perked me up from lack of sleep right away.  Small and bent over with skin the texture of leather, she had a toughness that bespoke a very, very hard life.  I began with the simple questions of a full history.  It got interesting about time for the social history.
     "You married, single, divorced?"
     "Heh-heh, there be a good story if I wasn't in such bad pain."
     "So let me guess, divorced then?"
     "Yup," she said still chuckling.
     "How much alcohol do you drink?"
     "Oh just one now and then."
     "Come on Miss Smith, do I look like a young and na├»ve doc to you?  Now how about the real amount?"
     She laughed despite her abdominal pain and answered, "You funny.  About a six pack a day.  And that's the truth."  I noted it and she interjected, "don't be writing that down, honey!  Lord, Jesus, you gonna be thinking me an al-key-holic."
     "Now come on ma'am.  Does it look like I'm gonna judge you?  I'm here to help you."
     "Well, doc, then you gotta do sumpthin' about this pain.  Lord, Jesus, I'm about to go down to the gift store and get me some Tylenol!  Sweet baby Jesus, I got the flu and it hurts"  Nevermind it was 3 am and the gift shop had long been closed, but I believed her.  She really would climb out of that bed and start wandering around looking for the gift store to get some Tylenol.  I did not doubt her for a minute.  She had a gritty determination that I could not help but admire.
     "Well, ma'am, your flu test came back negative and according to the CT, the reason you're in such bad pain is you have a pretty bad case of divertilitis."
     "What?  Nah, you're test be wrong.  I ain't got no whatchamacallit, that whatever-itis.  Baby, let me tell you, it's the flu.  I've had the flu before and it's the flu."
     Round and round we went, with me trying to explain diverticulitis and her trying to convince me it was the flu.  So rather than argue, I asked her to trust me, which she reluctantly but finally did.  I think that simply by listening to her, truly listening, I had earned her trust, which was not a quick thing for her to give out given her past incidences in life.  And I validated her trust by getting her some pain meds ASAP.  And after she got her pain meds, she was the sweetest, most appreciative patient in the world.
     As I write this, I think of my own pain.  Of when it hurts so bad, all you want to do is to make it stop.  You don't care what anyone else thinks.  You want it to stop and when determined, you'll do anything to make it stop.  She also reminds me that, when lost in your own pain, it's easy to forget that everyone has their demons.  Granted, some people may experience less than others, but to the individual, that doesn't matter.  Pain is pain.  And as a both a doctor and human being, it's best to honor that person's pain.