Thursday, March 1, 2012

p.s. your bird is dead



Don't say I didn't warn you....

On the way back from Baltimore yesterday (rain in Delaware and New Jersey--snow in CT) someone on Public Radio mentioned 'energy gum', which is the newest form of 'energy drink', and said chewing a pack a day was like drinking two pots of coffee.

Bern said, 'why can't they put all medication in gum?' Then she went on to discuss how the older she gets, the harder it is for her to take pills. Before she goes to bed, she takes some fish oil and some vitamin or another and Lord knows what else--all of which come in pills that seem to me to be the size of elongated robin eggs. From time to time one gets stuck somewhere down there in the dark and she has to eat toast to get it down.

On the other hand, I can't even swallow an aspirin, never have been able to. When I was a kid, my parents had to mash up pills and put them in apple butter before I could swallow them without a paroxysm of gagging, thrashing around and being sure I was going to choke to death. I chew up pills that are larger than a small fly to this day. Some of them have interesting tastes, I must admit, while others are simply vile and make me gag a bit, even chewed up.

The second thing that happened on I-95 and then the Merritt was that I developed symptoms of what is called, in polite circles, 'dysentery' though most of us use much less polite terminology for it. Twice I had to swerve madly into a rest area and run to the rest room....Odd, isn't it, that we use the word 'rest' for that room when that's not why we go there....

When we got home, I barely could hold back but as soon as we came into the kitchen we discovered that Rainy (one of the two parakeets we got custody of from our daughter) was dead. Bern was very upset and I was too (I love those little birds for themselves as well as because of how much I love the one who passed them on to us) but my internal mechanism made it almost impossible to show much sympathy because I had to 'rest' so violently.

Bern put her in a check box (a box that bank checks come in for all those who pay all bills on line) and buried her while I 'rested'.

But here's where the plot turns even worse. I noticed when I was finished that I had blood in my urine!

I had a urologist once who said "a little blood in your urine is normal". I replied, "Maybe in 'your urine!"

Having had prostate cancer and a couple of urinary tract infections which were worse than cancer surgery ever was, blood in my urine makes me a crazy person....(Those bouts with infection and catheters have, I swear to you, made me a better Christian. Every time there is 'no blood'--which is 99.9% of the time--I whisper a sincere and grateful prayer....)

So, Rainy's death is suddenly not the tragic event it truly was. I drank four glasses of cranberry juice and a 24 ounce bottle of water as fast as I could, realizing that I'd had nothing to drink all day but a cup of caramel coffee from a Starbuck's in Delaware. The self-help treatment for blood in your you know what, is to over hydrate as fast and for a long as you can stand it.

I was feeling better an hour later and the blood was gone. A slug of Kaopectate helped the other issue quickly, so it was time to go to the kennel to pick up the dog.

By that time it was snowing heavily and there was slush on the road and I had to drive 17 miles of back roads to Wallingford. As I was leaving I noticed Bern had some Cranberry concentrate pills. (Cranberry, you know, is your urinary tracts best friend.) So I grabbed two, even though they were the size of elongated robin eggs, tossed one in my mouth and drank some water....

Even knowing I can't swallow pills, I did that, which is what having you know what in my you know what does to me--it makes me irrational and terrified. Of course the pill stuck just below my uvula (if that's what that little weird thing in the back of the throat is called) and I started gagging and snorting and leaping around the kitchen in sheer fear. I even called Bern from upstairs and she was trying to help for the 10 minutes I stuck my finger down my throat and had the water I tried to drink come out my nose. I rubbed my throat and was one step from putting a stick down my throat to push the pill down when Bern suggested I sip warm water.

Most of it came out my nose, but it eventually melted enough of the pill for it to go down.

After a remarkable rush of relief and thankfulness, I was hit with an even greater wave of embarrassment over having subjected Bern to such a display of total panic. I couldn't look her in the eye. I thanked her humbly and slinked out to get the dog.

When I got back, I had to run to the room to 'rest', leaving the leash on the dog for Bern to take off.

A little later, when all the alimentary stuff had calmed down, she looked at me and said what I had known all along she would eventually have to say in spite of all her best intentions: "After that conversation about swallowing pills in the car," she began, "what were you thinking????"

I wanted to tell her I was ultimately humiliated by my "not thinking", but instead I said, "I'm so sorry about Rainy..."

And we embraced....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.