a mule named myles and an awkward sleep study consultation

The other night I had a dream. I was walking along one of the streets I lived on when I was child with a mule named Myles. Just to be clear, I was walking with Myles in my dream; Myles didn’t live with me. I can’t have you thinking that I was one of the cool kids on the block for having such a unique pet because, believe me, I was never one of the cool kids.

Ianimated-donkey-image-0098n my dream, Myles was a very respectable and well behaved mule. He plodded along, slow and steady like, listening intently to my stories about growing up on Wallace Street.

After we stopped and looked at the apartment where I lived with my parents for several years, we headed on over to the grand home that was beside us. It belonged to Mrs. Mills. While I don’t know who lives there now, in my dream it was Mrs. Mills’ daughter who was sitting on the sprawling Victorian porch watching Myles and me meander across her lawn to talk with her. She greeted us warmly.

MMD: Oh, little Linda, how lovely it is to see you!

Me: Thank you, but little Linda isn’t so little anymore. She’s put on a few pounds since you’ve seen her last.

MMD: Never mind that. You’re still the same to me. Come on up on the porch and join me for a cuppa tea, will you? Who is this you have with you?

Me: This is Myles. He is a very good mule. He won’t cause you any trouble.

MMD: Of course, dear. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine.

After getting settled on the porch, Myles stretched out on the floor before me, I began to tell Mrs. Mills’ daughter about the time I had taken some flowers from her mother’s beautiful gardens without asking. I had wanted to do something nice for my mother and thought she would be pleased to have a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on the kitchen table for her to admire.

do not pick flowers gif

Obviously, I didn’t consider the act of taking the flowers as stealing. As someone who was always terrified of getting in trouble, I must have thought that taking the flowers would be okay because they would be from Mrs. Mills’ garden and she would have understood the kindness behind my gesture. All right, I probably thought, who the heck was going to miss a few flowers anyway? Cut me some slack, will ya? I was only five years old when I engaged in my first criminal activity.

My mother was livid. My father had to stifle his laughter because he saw me as a chip of the old block which infuriated my mother even more. I don’t remember what Mrs. Mills’ reaction was because I was scared shitless witless while apologizing to her for what I had done. My ears ring to this day from the tuning my mom gave me and rightly so. Even though my heart was in the right place, it was wrong what I had done.

Dreams are a funny thing. Why would I dream about this now and why was I walking with a mule names Myles? Be damned if I know but what I do know is that by affecting a wee change in the time I take one of medications, my dreams are now less violent and less threatening compared to the months of night terrors I had been experiencing. Myles is proof of that.

My night terrors were awful. While I don’t remember each one exactly, I do remember how all but one involved children being harmed in some way, usually in the form of being kidnapped or assaulted. These terrors were violent and I acted them out just as violently. Poor Sauerkraut was punched, kicked, nearly kneed in the crown jewels, and karate chopped across his neck. On one occasion, I almost pulled out a handful of hair from the back of his head. I have screamed out loud trying to save these children and I have cried openly for their loss. It has been a roller coaster of emotion trying to live through them.

Women+boxing+face+punched_c08981_5226159There is one nightmare I remember clearly, though. Some harlot was hitting on Sauerkraut. Thankfully, I was facing outwards in bed because I  woke myself up just as I threw one hell of a right hook and flattened that bitch vile woman right into next Tuesday. No one is taking my man, let me tell you.

When my family doctor heard all of this, in between fits of laughter over imagining me taking down some slut harlot from Quadeville, as I so eloquently put it, he ordered another sleep study test, my third in eight years. Since I had been diagnosed with sleep apnea after my first sleep study, he wanted to make sure that my CPAP machine was working properly as well as determine if anything else was going on.

When I told my neurologist about the upcoming sleep study and about the night terrors, he warned me to be prepared for the outcome. He is also a sleep study specialist and he suspected that I had more than one sleep disorder going on. I replied, “Jaysus H. Christopher, I have enough issues to deal with, I don’t need anymore.” It’s a good thing my neurologist knows me well (we’ve been marching through my MS symptoms together for over fifteen years now) because, in my futile attempt at swearing in a less swear-y manner, I forgot that his first name is Christopher. My bad.

Anyhooooo, Dr. Jaysus H. Christopher was right. I do have four different sleep disorders which were confirmed by a really nice sleep specialist (whom I will refer to as Dr. Sleepy O’Study because she had a lovely Irish accent) via video conferencing. There’s the sleep apnea thingie which is well controlled as long as I use the CPAP machine. I have some crazy thing called periodic limb movement as well as some other mumbo jumbo fancy assed name for acting out night terrors. As for the fourth disorder, well, I really can’t say because, by that time, I was overwhelmed and had completely zoned out.

In my defense, the room where the video conference was held was extremely warm and dark-ish. The sometimes delay in the video confused me and I couldn’t hear the doctor all that well. AND what I could hear was completely distracting because of, hell-oooooo, her lovely Irish accent. I mean, how was I expected to concentrate with that beautiful Irish lilt explaining things to me? And, and, did I mention that I was tired … like so friggin’ tired because I have four sleep disorders? It seemed like a lot to expect from someone like me on a good day let alone under these circumstances.

Sleep Study
What fresh hell is this?

Here’s what Dr. Sleepy O’Study said versus what I heard her say:

  • you have industrial strength snoring (you are so un-lady like, my gawd, it’s embarrassing).
  • you have very severe leg movement (you left the sheets and blankets in such a twisted heap of a mess that we had to bring in a special hazmat team just to remake the bed).
  • you act out your dreams (you are so lucky your husband doesn’t leave you for that slut harlot in Quadeville because she would never ever beat him up).
  • blah, blah, blah, blah, blah (if awards were given out for the worst sleeper EVER, you would win hands down. Hopefully, it’s a nice crystal trophy and not one of those big ugly cup thingamabobs).

say-what.gif

Thankfully, I saw Dr. Jaysus H. Christopher shortly after that and he made a simple change to one of my medications. Instead of taking it at bedtime like I had been, I now take it between 5 and 6 p.m. The result has been amazing; I now dream of mules and childhood crimes instead of harlots trying to steal my man.

Dr. Sleepy O’Study and I decided to have my neurologist handle my sleep disorders in addition to my MS issues because of the whole ‘two birds, one stone’ type of common sense thingie. Once Dr. Jaysus H. Christopher receives copies of my study, we’ll explore treatment options for the other two disorders. Apparently, he doesn’t trust my interpretation of my sleep study test. Imagine.

Myles the mule: 1
Night terrors: 0

My something new:  discovering that mules are totally nonjudgmental and really cool to hang out with.

I rode the magic school bus through my urinary tract and lived to tell the tale

Recently, I had an ultrasound of my bladder and a cystoscopy of my urinary tract, not at the same time mind you (that would be exceptional multi-tasking by the professionals), but one right after the other. It was sort of like a two for one deal, stirrups included. WHEN-YOU-GET-A-BLADDER-INFECTION-URINE-TROUBLE-meme-1068.jpgThese procedures were necessary because I have had ten, count ‘em ten, urinary tract infections since last July. My urologist, herein referred to as Dr. P (sorry, I couldn’t resist), wanted to make sure that (1) I was emptying my bladder completely; (2) there were no structural issues within the urinary tract itself; and (3) rule out any other nasty stuff going inside the bladder.

During my initial consultation, Dr. P had told me that my bladder was “angry, very angry, it’s so angry that it’s pissed”. I’m not going to lie, this news kind of made me feel like a complete and total badass. I mean, I had already suffered through months and months of the bad swamp water pee (aka UTIs) and it only made sense to me that I got to feel all badassery badassed badassy because of it. (Spellcheck doesn’t like my badass attempts at making my very own badass words but it’s just going to have to suck it up and accept that this is my story and I get to make up whatever words I like, so there, spellcheck.)

My angry bladder and I agreed to whatever Dr. P suggested at the consultation. While he was explaining things, I was already envisioning myself walking into the operating room with my pissed off badass walkbladder just like we owned the joint. In fact, I was already planning my outfit, well, socks and shiny non-skid shoes for the occasion (cold stirrups, remember?). Outfit aside, I was desperate to get to the bottom of my bad swamp water pee and I was willing to do just about anything at that point.

On the day of my procedures, one of the nurses (Nurse 1) told me that my socks matched my hospital gown perfectly. “Why, thank you!” I replied with such pre-cystoscopy gusto, I’m sure she must have thought I had escaped from the psych ward. Clearly, she didn’t know just how badass my bladder was.

Fancy Socks
Pretty fancy footwear for a cystoscopy, huh?

I also told her that they were not the socks I had planned on wearing; much to my chagrin, I could not find them anywhere that morning. The best I could offer was a description of the socks.

img_0362
Totally baddass for someone who has an angry bladder, don’t you think?

She loved the idea of my asshole socks and told me that I would still be allowed into the operating room despite the fact that I wasn’t wearing them. She also warned me that it had better not happen again. I hadn’t exactly planned on coming back but, whatever.

Once I was positioned properly in the stirrups, I commented that it had been years since I had been in stirrups. I also added that women have to go through a lot of shit uncomfortable experiences involving the stirrups over the course of their lifetime. We quickly bonded over that fact and I was feeling all sorts of feminist spiritualism with new my soul sisters. Kumbaya was on the tip of my tongue, I kid you not.

Nurse 1 asked if I would mind if they (the nurses) played a joke on Dr. P. Always up for a good time, even while in the stirrups, I replied “No, not at all. Go for it!” because, well, sisterhood and all that jazz. The nurse happily went off to the corner. After giggling for a bit, she returned with a wee fish made out of surgical tape, coloured pink for my benefit, and stuck it in the middle of the computer screen. She told me that once the cystoscopy began, it would look like the fish was swimming along my urinary tract. I loved it. We named her ‘Trixie’. Kumbaya x 2.

pink fish

Another nurse (Nurse 2) proceeded with my bladder ultrasound and remarked how I had emptied my bladder quite well. I told her that the secret was to bend forward as far as possible thereby putting pressure on the bladder to empty. She told me that she had often had to do that as well. Nurse 3, the youngest of the group, asked incredulously, “You mean that really works?” which proves that we do learn something new every day. Kumbaya x 3.

Dr. P wasn’t long coming in after that and he asked how I was doing. We had a lovely chat for a bit, my nether region splayed out in full splendour before him but, remember, I was wearing those lovely dress socks and shiny non-skid shoes which I’m sure distracted him from just about everything.

After applying the local anesthetic to my nether region, Dr. P told me he would begin inserting the scope next. That’s when I heard him say, “Oh, oh, we have a problem already.” Apparently, my urethral opening was too narrow to even insert the scope into. Dr. P reassured me that it was an easy fix. While watching the procedure on the computer screen, I couldn’t tell if Dr. P was engaging in some sort of expert Microsoft Word cutting and pasting or if he was drilling for oil, based on the instrument he was using. Of course, I asked him. He replied, “it’s more like drilling as I’m trying to widen the opening”. “Works for me,” I said. I think he was impressed that I was even watching the procedure at all.

The Linda BusDr. P was pleased as punch after he completed that little hocus-pocus magical trick of his because the scope inserted all easy-peasy then. We were now on our way, much like riding Miss Frizzle’s Magic School Bus, to explore the urinary tract, bladder and openings to the kidneys. By the old Snorton Norton, it was fascinating stuff; I was truly engaged in watching the procedure on the screen. That’s when Dr. P looked up at the computer screen and saw Trixie for the first time.

Dr. P: Ugh. Get that off the screen, please.

Me: But that’s Trixie. She’s swimming along my urinary tract.

Dr. P: Sorry, but Trixie’s got to go.

Me: You never do what I want to do.

House

The nurses erupted in laughter. Dr. P told me not to be encouraging them because I didn’t know what it was like to work with them. I asked him if he looked forward to Tuesdays (his surgical procedures day) because he got to see and work with them. He replied that “it was a difficult job but somebody had to do it.” He added that “sometimes it was a challenge being outnumbered and surrounded by so much estrogen’” to which I told him that “it was exactly what he needed…leadership in the form of estrogen”.

Nurse 1: Can she come back in three months? We like her!

Dr. P: Of course, you like her. She’s one of you.

Nurse 1: Great! I can’t wait to see her a-hole socks.

Dr. P: Her what socks?

Me: Ummm, excuse me, but I’m in the room stirrups. How about asking me if I want to come back before talking about me like I’m not even here?

Nurse 3: There, there. We know you’re here.

Me: You think I’m just another pretty urethra, don’t you? And, here I thought I was special.

Nurse 2 (trying to hold onto the specimen container without shaking it so Dr. P could drop the sample into it so that it could be sent to the pathologist): Oh. Em. Geeeeeeee!

Everyone else in the room put their heads down trying not to giggle. Then, I was struck with another idea. I couldn’t help but wonder if Dr. P had ever been kicked by a patient while they were in the stirrups. I mean, sometimes when a doctor tells you that it’s just going to be a little ‘pinch’ but it isn’t and it ends up really hurting so you just want to punch him/her in the throat for lying to you but, in this case, the patient would want to kick him in the throat because, well, stirrups. So, I asked him if he ever had been kicked. He told me “no, but I imagine if it ever were to happen it would probably be by someone like you.” Touché, Dr. P, touché. Now, you’re catching on.

Seeing my urinary tract, bladder, and opening to my kidneys, all from the vantage point of the the Magic School Bus cystoscope, was fascinating. Everything was a pale whitish-yellow Yellow submarinecolour (made me think of what it must be like to live in the Beatles’ yellow submarine — there were bubbles floating up and everything) with the red blood vessels offering up a lovely accent colour. Dr. P told me that everything was looking great which I took to be doctor speak for ‘you are one mighty fine badass bladder-y specimen of a woman’. Dr. P was quite hopeful that the drilling procedure would help clear up the bad swamp water pee because now the urine would flow much more freely and the bacteria wouldn’t get hung up in the urinary tract.

I left the OR with a skip in my step partly because my second choice socks were a hit, the procedures were over, and partly because I was sporting my brand new ‘Trixie the Fish’ sticker on the back of my hand. I am assuming Trixie was my reward for being THE BEST cystoscopy patient EVER.

Nurse 1 walked me back to the change room area and gave me instructions for my first pee post-op. There are no words to adequately describe the bittersweet moment of that first pee. It was bitter because it burned like hell and caused me to say words that Ooh, burneven a dozen Hail Mary’s and a gallon of holy water wouldn’t forgive. It was sweet because that first pee gushed fully for the first time in months, much like water bursting forth from the fountain. It was glorious. I felt like Miss Niagara Falls winning the pageant. I had no idea just how bad my peeing had been prior to the cutting and pasting procedure.

On my way out, Dr. P was waiting for me in the hall. He whispered, “How was it?” “Glorious. Absolutely freaking glorious,” I replied.

Sound of Music

I resisted the urge to ‘high five’ him, opting instead to give him a thumbs up just in case he needed a visual cue to go along with the good news. He noticed Trixie stuck to my hand and smiled. I couldn’t help but add “You’re gonna miss her when she’s gone. Who’s gonna guide you through all those urinary tracts?”

I have until October to find my badass asshole-y socks because that’s when I’ll be returning to the OR for some other badass bladder-y procedure. This time I have to arrive with a full bladder which already has me visualizing my bladder erupting into full geyser mode upon arrival. Stay tuned.

wink

Widened urethra: 1
Bad swamp water pee: 0

My something new:  starting a fashion trend for stirrup socks.

makes perfect sense to me

Soooooooo, I received my first negative comment on my blog. I knew it would come eventually; I just never expected it would come from someone close to me. The comment was written after my last published post, a forest dweller tried to kill me, a wild tale about my dealing with a flu bug while at our cabin in the woods. The comment went like this:

I do not know where people get their sayings. I guess they have to act out their fantasies just to get attention of some sort. Makes no sense to me …..!

Had the comment come from a complete stranger, I would have shrugged it off and definitely joked about it. I mean who, in their right mind, would fantasize about having the diarrhea in the middle of the night, in the middle of the bush, in an outhouse, no less, all for the sake of getting attention of some sort? I can think of far better things to fantasize about that would garner me much more positive attention than having the shits diarrhea in the bush.

But the comment wasn’t written by a stranger. It was written by someone I know well, very well, as a matter of fact, and it stung. It stung because I know the person’s intent. It wasn’t meant in jest; it was an attempt to silence me and to discourage me from writing.

However, it didn’t quite work as intended. In fact, it has had the opposite effect. I will not be silenced. I will not stop writing nor will I stop expressing myself. Writing is as much a part of me as is my father’s nose, wit, and sparkling, storytelling eyes. It has spurred me to write more, to keep at it, and to begin to write the story that is buried deep inside me that I was too afraid to write.

I did, however, let the sting sit there for a bit. I let it smoulder until it burned and then I picked myself up, dusted myself off and asked myself, “Why is it that I write? Is it for attention? Fame? Fortune? Is it because I have something worthwhile to say? Do I want to leave a legacy for my children, their children? Is it for the sake of the story? Is it a gift? A calling? A curse?”

It’s simple, really. I write because I love to. It’s natural. It’s liberating. It pours from me as easily as water from a spout. It is a release for me. It brings me tremendous joy and it takes me from the craziness of any day to deep inside my very being. Writing is as much a part of me as is breathing. It makes me feel alive and gives me a confidence I never knew I had.

I also write because I like the process. I like taking an idea, its words and descriptions,  and weaving it into a relatable story. It may seem like work to others but for me, it is the opposite. It is invigorating. It breathes life into my sometimes tired soul. It is a pure and absolute, though sometimes frustrating, process and, thanks to the therapy I began back in the fall, I am beginning to see it as a gift. I am even that much closer to calling myself a writer. Goodness gracious, Aunt Matilda, hell may just have frozen over.

And, throughout the process, I am learning just as much about myself, something I was never afforded growing up, as I am about the writing process itself. I have learned that writing fiction isn’t my strong suit but writing personal essays are. I have learned that two of my high school English teachers were right after all (thank you Mr. Fleming and Mr. Price); I have words and stories begging to be written, and, that in time, they would come. I just had to be open to them.

While I don’t think my English teachers had such grandiose plans for me as my writing about plugging a toilet or farting at the most inopportune time while on a date with Sauerkraut, I do think they were trying to tell me that I could write relatable, heartfelt stories that would appeal to others. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and, again, thanks to my therapist and my immediate family, friends and followers, I am beginning to see it, too.

And, thanks to all of you, I am learning that my writing does not always have to be humorous. When I wrote about my struggles with depression, a dark and serious place that I was scared as hell to write about, you embraced me and sent me the best Internet hugs. Instead of tearing me down, you built me up and told me that I was not alone in my struggle. There are no words to adequately describe what that experience taught me except, perhaps to say, that I learned that we get back what we give, sometimes tenfold.

I know that as I continue to write and publish my stories on my Tales from the Cabbage Patch blog, I am going to have to deal with criticism and negative comments. This is a risk we all take when we put ourselves out there whether it be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the other social media platforms available. We just have to know ahead of time how we are going to deal with it when it comes. My plan is to do exactly what Michelle Obama so eloquently suggested at the US Democratic National Convention in 2016, “When they go low, we go high”.

I plan on soaring … which makes perfect sense to me.

Me: 1
Troll: 0

My something new:  using the ‘blocked’ feature on my social media accounts for the very first time.

 

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