Gratitude in a Pandemic

Welcome to my office.

Here I engage in written discourse with those considered to be friends and supporters. Atop the left side of my computer hutch is the same Christmas photo Alice and I mailed out in Doylestown. The red ribbon next to it graces an accurate caricature of Grandfather Many Crows (aka Ed Fell).

Ever since Alice passed over in March, I have lived alone without the benefits of what a partner offers. If it’s the wrong kind of partner, being by oneself can be a relief. But with dear Alice, it was being part of an entity that told me when I was being an asshole, and when I was living up to our aspirations.

I miss those moments.

Two and a half weeks ago, I was sitting where you see me above. I shifted my weight from the middle to the left side of my hip, encountering a sharp jab of pain, so severe I drove myself to the emergency room two nights later with worries related to past cancer surgery. Fortunately, X-rays and a CT scan showed nothing serious or suspicious, and today my Kaiser Permanente medical team is keeping on top of my problem and its expected pending cure.

Nevertheless, I am hurting until this malady is permanently treated. And I’m doing so alone.

A few words about Kaiser Permanente: If you judge quality of care by the ratio of patients to primary care doctors, you will be misled. From my experience in the Pacific Northwest, front-line doctors serve as intake experts to a damned good healthcare system. Doctors regularly interact online with a range of specialists, overseen by a cadre of behind-the-scenes physicians who check and double-check. No one slouches or goofs off at medical facilities here. This is 5-star healthcare.

I’ve experienced healthcare in South Florida; much of it is corrupt, and its healthcare workers have become sadly cynical. And up North, specifically Bucks County, Pennsylvania, while recovering from a punctured bowel in the highly regarded Doylestown Hospital, I would not have survived without a visit from a well-respected sculptor named Harry Georgeson. He singlehandedly alerted a matter-of-fact weekend nursing staff of my critical sepsis, who then came running and moved me into the ICU in minutes.

(I remind Harry on occasion that he’s responsible for keeping me around to annoy others.)

When medical people visit the Pacific Northwest, experience the majesty of its landscape and meet prospective peers, they fall in love with the place and the quality of healthcare that mirrors the glorious outdoors. My brief three-hour experience during the midnight hours in Longview, Washington’s PeaceHealth Hospital met the same high standards as Alice’s three times there, including one stay of eight days. Not one healthcare worker whom I came across showed indifference or boredom in the midst of a demanding overnight shift. Everyone was on high alert.

Despite my travails, I am still working on the book with two esteemed volunteers from Alice’s aphasia support group. But I’m also making sure my cuisine options remain plentiful, 95 percent of which I prepare myself. And having a dishwasher, washer and dryer, as well as a splendid view, keeps life personably manageable.

But getting back to this hip thing? It’s painful enough that I’m welcoming – and fearing – the thought of the long needle I would have to stare down soon. The way I feel, it can’t come soon enough.

We love Washington!
Once I open the blinds, I see that a mile away Longview Heights sits on a “hill” 886 feet high..

10 thoughts on “Gratitude in a Pandemic”

  1. Hip issues are commpn in your gene pool sorry to say. Your Uncle Bill had both replaced as has your first cousin, Stephanie. First cousin, Susan has had one hip replacement. I have continuous hip pain bit not severe enough for surgery – yet. And then there is your second cousin. Allison and you know all about the issues with her hip.
    You are not alone with hip issues even if Alice is not there. Besides, during this whole ordeal, did we not talk for hours?

  2. Any diagnosis? Sitting too long at the computer and tight muscles? Physical therapy? Hope the pain relievers and anti-inflammatories work quickly!

    1. If it were bone related, arthritis, it would have shown up in an x-ray. Maybe lower back
      nerve rated. How are you walking? Do you have to lift your leg as you enter your car ? Sitting for long periods doesn’t help.

    2. Doctors seem to be reaching a consensus it’s the left-center joint where the spine meets the hip, known as the sacroiliac. After a 12-day regimen of prednisone, a series of SI exercises didn’t help; I gave it the old “college try,” but they only exasperated the pain. A combination of ibuprofen and gabapentin helps manage the pain. I seem to be heading inexorably toward an injection of steroid into the joint causing the pain. Lifting my leg to get into the driver’s seat is not difficult. The pain gets progressively worse mainly when I walk around, which puts pressure on the hip and doesn’t let up. When I sit, I get relief.

      1. Mason so sorry that you are having such pain issues. Have you tried Chiropractic care? That has help me considerably with issues of neck, spin, and back. God bless you Mason. Think of you often.
        Larry Schmitz

        1. Hi Larry, I’m not adverse to chiropractic care, but I want to give my medical team a chance to work magic. If they come up with a cure, far be it for me to be a naysayer.

  3. Hello Mason, hang in there my friend …. life is full of wearing parts out, fix and repair with patches and then we get up and keep on going.

  4. Because of birthdays, it’s not that it hurts any worse, it just takes longer to stop hurting. Hope for a speedy recovery for you Cuz.

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