Thursday, February 3, 2011

Barometric Pressure, the Sudden Onset of a Migraine, and the Homeopath, or How I Become a Flaming Asshole in a Matter of Seconds

I have very few friends but one of them is so intent on convincing me my doctors are killing me I never have an encounter with her that I don't smack my forehead and wonder what the fuck was I thinking when I told her I was okay with her dropping by on short notice.  For one thing she'll say she's in the neighborhood but it will take her an hour or two to arrive, and I almost always have a moment with her that I want to reach across the table and slap her a good one. So far I have resisted this impulse, but now I think for my mental health I should claim I'm unavailable next time she calls or I won't be able to resist the impulse.  She thinks of herself as a homeopathic or naturopathic healer, but I think she should heal herself before she starts in on her friends.  She has never taken my advise to seek psychiatric help so why should I take her advise to stop consulting actual medical professionals for my actual medical problems?

This latest contretemps started after dinner when her partner was trying to convince me I needed to learn the mathematical formula for calculating the slope of my back yard in order to use my neighbor's free irrigation water this Spring.  My neighbor has offered year after year, but not to help with the actual process of setting this up.  He says I need a small pump with a hose connected to it and, voila, I will be able to water my backyard for free too.  I'm the kind of woman who is neither mechanically inclined nor interested in learning the why of certain things.  The how will suffice for me.  But I also have lower back problems due to working like a hod carrier when I was younger with untreated scoliosis as the starting handicap.  Then in my fifties, while helping train polo ponies, I had my first bad fall in a lifetime of riding horses and landed flat on my tailbone on frozen ground.  I ended up with almost a year of sciatica. It doesn't really matter why I now avoid doing certain things by myself, but the issue Sunday night wasn't about my personal labor, it was about my inability to grasp the concept of barometric pressure (the weight of air?) to calculate the slope of my yard.  I simply know the slope of my yard is sufficient to accomplish this task-- it's a slightly greater slope than my neighbor's yard and no pumping is necessary for him to turn his yard into a pond on irrigation day every week of Summer. I don't need to know the mathematical formula to calculate the precise degree of slope.  I don't need to know the weight of air.  I need a man or mechanically inclined woman to help me with certain tasks. I just not that handy.  I know when I need a handyman. (The reason I don't have my own water rights is my crazy mother's decision decades ago to give up her water rights. Once given up they cannot be restored.  Use it or lose it applies to many things including water rights.)

This particular conversation gave me an instant migraine.  I think math is tedious.  I kept telling him to stop trying to teach me something I didn't need or want to know.  But he's a retired physics professor and took my unwillingness to really try to learn it as a challenge.  He just wouldn't give up.  Finally I pushed myself away from the table to go in search of my migraine medicine.  I was a bit frantic since the pills only work if you can take them at first sign of a migraine.  I couldn't find them and settled for an 800 mg prescription Ibuprofen which is great for back pain, but a poor substitute for Midrin which I now have discovered has been taken off the market once again.  Motherfucker!

The subject of my headache began a conversation about my history with headaches and my upcoming appointment for a neurological evaluation.  There isn't a single member of my family who didn't die of either a massive heart attack (which left them instantly dead) or the slow and horrible death of vascular dementia.  Sadly for me, it's the men who get the quick death of the heart attack and the women who all end up shitting their pants and wandering around the locked ward or a nursing home muttering obscenities and drooling for ten years.  My plan is to get a baseline reading on brain health and then do a follow up every couple of years.  I plan to take my life before I get to the shitting my pants and drooling stage, but it's a tricky bit of timing.  Wait too long and it's too late to make any decisions.

My girlfriend thinks doctors kill you. She asks me why I need a neurological evaluation.  Why test for a future that may not happen?  Maybe I'll be the first member of either side of my family that doesn't succumb to the heart's attack or the brain's little bleeds and slow demolition.  It's a very long shot, but I'm willing to imagine that I could be the only member of my crazy family to eventually get some unrelated illness that kills me. But you have to admit that we all eventually die, and it's often an unpleasant process, so why not plan ahead? There are many adventures I'm up for, but vascular dementia isn't one of them.  She says, "Why have the evaluation? Why not just do what you're planning?  Skip the tests and jump to conclusions."  I'm damn near out of my chair trying very hard to keep my tone even and not slap her when I ask, "Why should I kill myself now, when I seem to still have my wits about me?!?"  She says, "You seem to assume the outcome, why not skip the tests?"  She has a grin on her face and seems to be suppressing laughter.  "Why is this funny to you?"  "It isn't funny, but..."

And since we've made this leap, I verbally pat myself on the back for having the good sense to make plans for my corpse.  I've donated my body to the Anatomy/Medical School to use as it needs.  Then, when the body's done being useful or most immature of male med students are through getting their jollies by scaring Sorority girls with the odd disembodied hand or foot, what's left gets cremated and disposed of and my name gets added to a marble wall in the Hospital's garden thanking those of us who donate for our contribution to learning.  No funeral, no cost, no muss, no fuss.  I'm not even in favor of memorial services, though you can't stop people from talking trash about you living or dead.  I'm singularly unsentimental about death.  I detach quickly.  Once any body is dead, I cease to have any interest in it or fondness for it.  What I have instead is memory, fond or not.

I think most of the rituals of death are insane and should be avoided.  Especially the kind where the dying asks someone to take their ashes and sprinkle them over the Swiss Alps in the month of May or some nonsense like that. I think agreeing to do such a thing and then keeping the ashes on your dresser in a cardboard box for ten years because not to make the trip to the Swiss Alps in May is disrespectful of the wishes of the dead is the very definition of crazy. If you recognize yourself in this rant, I could be talking about you.


Anonymous said...

I didn't know you were acquainted with my birth mother.

PENolan said...

My dad really wants us to launch him in a boat that we set on fire - like those kids in Rocket Gibraltar who gave their grandpa a Viking funeral. Sounds like you need to isolate for a few days. A hermit like you doesn't need so many people muscling in on your peace and quiet.

Utah Savage said...

I do need to be alone more. I'm just not that good with people. I have to space the contact. People in the flesh are a pain in the ass.

Kulkuri said...

You need to tell yourself that you're too old to put up with shit and then follow thru and not put up with shit from those you know are full of it. That's the neat thing about getting older, you can say I'm too old for this shit!!

The Blog Fodder said...

Agree with Kulkuri. You don't need that kind of shit. My parents were into the natural medicine stuff and nutrition was one subject I never brought up when they were around.

About funerals, I think of things I would like to happen after I am dead and then I think, well, I will be dead so what difference does it make.

Mauigirl said...

Ah yes, the "pleasure" of friends who drive you crazy. I have one like that and I talk to her about once a year and that is enough.

I totally agree about death rituals. When my mom died I left the hospital room and immediately drove to the funeral home and said I wanted her cremated right away. Once someone has left their body, the body becomes meaningless. And displaying the body in an open casket is just plain morbid. I think you have a great idea to donate your body to science. I did have a memorial service for my mom at her church a few weeks later, and probably wouldn't have done that if it hadn't been for her sister still being alive. I do plead guilty to scattering a few of her ashes at Cape Cod, but that wasn't her idea, it was my own.

Utah Savage said...

I met this friend when she was seventeen and had just married the most pompous ass I knew. He was the kind of guy who loved to be thought of as a guru. I always hated guys like that. I went all through school with the prick. After I heard she married him, I went to her house, knocked on the door. She answered. I introduced myself and said, "I just wanted to meet the girl who was stupid enough to marry Bill (fill in a last name). You know the type. When that marriage failed disastrously, since there was a child involved, she went from abusive bastard to abusive bastard much to the suffering of her child. How she and I stayed friends is a fucking marvel, if friends is what we actually are. I think she needs a few years in the care of a very good therapist. She'd rather go to a palm reader and talk to the spirit of the last drunkard bastard she "loved."

Her daughter's saving grace was she went to high school in Sweeden and then never came back to live here until just recently. I think of that daughter as a real New Yorker. She's been a producer in the big time world of high end fashion photography. She married one of the photographers she hired. He's a great guy. Not at all like the pricks her mother unerringly chose.

sitenoise said...

I have The Captain's ashes in a beautiful little box on my dresser. I can shake it and hear some bone fragments knocking around. I love it but don't think I would do it with a human.

TRUTH 101 said...

I hope I don't seem insensitive but even though I'm Christian I don't want to end up a confused old person muttering to himself in a nursing home either.

My yardstick is when I can't wipe my own ass it's time to pull the plug. However it needs to be pulled.

Fiddlin' Bill said...

The water level might help you should you need to know something about at least what's down hill from what. Just a clear piece of tubing of necessary length--put one end up at the neighbor's yard, another at your yard, then make marks on stakes and measure to the ground--you'll have the grade enough to know about water and downhill. This doesn't require any heavy lifting at all. :)

PENolan said...

I got a blogging award yesterday, twisted it to my own purposes and am passing it on to you and a few crucial individuals.
I called it Trailblazers
Maybe one day I'll figure out how to make a graphic for it, but for now the whole reason for it is to say, "thanks for being there."