Sunday, March 18, 2012


Yesterday was the Ides of March.  In 44 B.C., a soothsayer warned Julius Caesar to “beware the Ides of March,” and not go to the Senate. More important, SO DID HIS WIFE! Actually, not much has changed in the two millennia since that day.  It doesn’t take Deepak Chopak to espouse the wisdom of avoiding politics…and listening to one’s wife.  However, Caesar disregarded the warnings and did not beware.  Big Mistake!  Bad Caesar. The consequences of that little decision really made a mess for housekeeping.

Yesterday was also our anniversary.  As avid archivists, we have learned a lot from history, and, unlike Caesar, we bewared (bewore?  Whatev!)  We decided not to tempt fate by doing anything fun.  Instead, just to be safe, we went straight to the University Hospital for another paracentesis!  It is better to suck out three more liters of fluid from Dennis’ midsection, than to risk being eviscerated by guys wearing white togas and carrying concealed daggers. 

Actually, the more I think about it, there were some striking similarities.  Of course, there was no blind man on the steps leading up to the hospital predicting the future by reading the entrails of a chicken. But there were a bunch of guys wearing white lab coats interpreting the growth patterns of a Petri dish and carrying concealed scalpels whose sole intention was to carve portals in Dennis’ lower hemisphere in order to drain his abscess pockets.  Thankfully, in this case, nothing soaked the floor, and Mark Antony didn’t take the podium with his “Dr. Brutus is an honorable man” speech.  That was reassuring.

And as if being down a quart of precious bodily fluids isn’t enough to generate paroxysms of jubilation, the “Technicians at Delphi” informed us that the ultrasound showed the abscess is significantly diminished.  In unrestrained delight, we did a victory lap around the lobby of the hospital.  We had to check our velocity, however, because Dennis was in hospital attire, whose construction is anything but modest and can at an unguarded moment reveal the lay of the land.  It is wise to temper one’s speed with prudence lest things are revealed to an unsuspecting public which are best left concealed.  But Dennis really rocks those hospital gowns!

Good news is the new prozac.  Dennis has been on a powerful antibiotic, rocephin, which is specifically designed to target strep anginosis, an evil bug akin to Ellen Ripley’s alien nemesis.  As innocuous as this drug’s name seems, (it sounds like something one would plant in a garden) it has done some serious damage to the abscess.  Unfortunately, it is harsh on Dennis’ already compromised system, and challenges both of us to constantly re-invent appropriate obscenities for talk bubbles over our heads.  We’ve tried channeling our inner Julius Caesar for his inspirational final words, but neither of us speaks Latin, and “Etu Brute!” just doesn’t cut it. We’re big-time into words consisting of four letters.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we chose to postpone our elaborate anniversary celebration pageantry until today.  This works for me.  “Sympathetic diarrhea syndrome” has caused me to temporarily relinquish the title of “Our Lady of Perpetual Perkiness.”  Daylight Savings Time seems to extract an hour out of EVERY day, and settling our weary carcasses into matching recliners in a synchronized collapse is a major part of our afternoon protocol.  Dennis is particularly angular, and we are constantly shielding him from paleontologists who might be tempted to excavate and carbon-date his bones.

This afternoon, however, we are going to see a live theatrical production of “Zorro,” the musical.  We can’t wait to be swashbuckled by Don Diego de la Vega, who rights wrongs and brings justice to the tyranny in his town.  (Yeah, yeah, but can he tolerate massive doses of rocephin for six straight weeks without the runs?  Now that’s something to sing about!)

We had considered going to see “Hunger Games,” but after a steady diet of rainwater and rice gruel, we much prefer Bacchanalian Excess Games.

And we are preparing for the production big time, donning masks and practicing our thrust and parry like we learned in our correspondence course, En Garde for Dummies. In the absence of rapiers or daggers, we opted for some dull steak knives I resurrected from a kitchen drawer. 

It was rather an amusing exercise in foolishness to slash imaginary Z’s in each other’s underwear while singing “Out of the night/ When the full moon is bright/ Comes a horseman known as Zorro!” with decibels that exceeded city ordinances.  (Too much leisure time creates all kind of mischief on weak minds.) But then in an errant and misguided parry, my new Spanx got snagged. SNAGGED!!!  AAARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHH! Dang.  Those suckers are expensive.  They’re greater inventions than even the ShamWOW! And, they’re architecturally correct. I grieved.  But, although it felt like death by a thousand paper cuts, I decided to release my angst into the universe and tried not to mourn the loss of the garment that allows me to go into polite society without too much body dismorphia.  We put the knives away, along with our dreams of being adopted by a tribe of Massai warriors.
I know, I know, running with knives is never a good idea.

Every anniversary I ponder the longevity of our marriage. How has it endured?  Why do two people decide each year to remain together? There must be many reasons.  I’m sure a contributing factor must have been my “pre-nup/post partum” vow to give Dennis sole custody of the kids in the event of divorce.  That always gave him pause. The only other plausible explanation is Dennis’ incredible gift of patience, and our strict avoidance of soothsayers, disgruntled senators, and sharp objects.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mars, Hares and Madness

It’s March already.  It arrived a little late this year because of Leap Day, although it seems the first two months of 2012 have passed at the speed of light.  And speaking of light, on March 11th, we will all lose an hour of sleep to pick up extra sun at the end of the day.  I guess the exchange is worth it.

March is actually named after a rather angry fellow, Mars, the Roman god of war, and it is known for madness, hatters, hares and ides. 

It is also the month Dennis and I chose to get married.  In fact, our anniversary falls exactly on the Ides of March, the date when Brutus murdered his friend, Julius Caesar.  Brutus must have been madder than a March hare.  Is this a bad omen?  Not necessarily, although we tend to avoid asylums, haberdashers, the Senate, and senators, especially on an election year.

It was nice to have leap day, a bonus 24-hour respite to catch our breath.  We invested that extra time NOT going to the Huntsman.  Not going certain places is nice, especially when we had been there so many times this past week.  I admit I began to understand the probable cause of Mars’ anger.

Last Friday, Dr. Sharma arranged to have Dennis’ portacathe removed, suspecting it could be the source of the abscess on his liver.  Having an adversarial relationship with abscesses on livers, we ratified that recommendation and showed up on the doorstep of HCH early in the morning…fasting. 

A very competent doctor entered the exam room as the designated predatory surgeon.   By virtue of its simplicity, I was invited to remain in the room for the procedure.  The nurse asked me if I would be all right, since they were just going to inject some xylacaine to deaden the surrounding area. No big deal.

Oh puhhhleeeeze!  After everything we’ve been through, nothing bothers me.  Besides, I wanted Dennis to have the benefit of the potent power of my presence to give an aura of strength and stability.  The doc had me at, “Now this is a pretty simple procedure.”  I opted to stay. 

I mean, how bad could it be?  I would simply avert my eyes by reading an out-of-date smut mag (in this particular issue, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were still together) and go to an alternate universe for the duration.

There were just two teeny weeny problems I had not factored in to my decision. 
  1. I  had not eaten.
  2. Because Dennis is a physician, the doctor felt compelled to deliver a play-by-play account of what he was doing in maniacally graphic detail.
So, while I could avert my eyes, I could not avert my ears.
The first thing I heard was, “Now Dennis, you’ll feel a little poke and then a slight burning sensation.”  I realized at that point I had made a very bad decision.  I wanted to adopt my daughter Erin’s technique of cupping her hands over her ears and shrieking “LA LA LA LA LA!  I’m not LISTening!” when I tried to tell her the facts of life.

“A little poke??!!!”  I heard a puncture and the nauseating sucking sound of a plumber’s friend being plunged into a backed-up sewer pipe.  He must have been using the trident of Beelzebub! 

“A slight burning sensation??!!!”  The flames of the underworld flared up from the depths of Hades licking at my pant legs and threatened to engulf the entire third floor.  What a backdraft!

This good surgeon, who no doubt was valedictorian of his graduating medical school class because of his gymnastically acute verbal descriptive prowess, then announced he was going to make a slight incision at the port site. 

What I heard was, “And now I will open a gaping cavernous wound which will hereafter be known as The Yawning and Cavernous Black Hole with the gravitational sucking power capable of engulfing the entire universe into everlasting darkness.”
Even his ornate medical terms could not obscure the facts of this “simple little procedure.”  Dennis uttered not a word.  No doubt his hearing was impaired.

The doctor then referred to a “scalpel,” but I testify I heard a Samarai sword slash through the air with predatory force cleaving the atmosphere in two as his voice went all “Miss Piggy” screaming “HYYYYYYY-YAH!”  Never allowing my eyes to wander from the magazine, I had no doubt he was conducting a total evisceration.

The metal tray was heavy with scalpels and adhesives, giving a whole new meaning to “cut and paste.”  And he described shades of pulsating pink, evoking images reminiscent of internal organs at work.  I was sure the incision would have the bite radius of a Great White. The room was suffused with the fusty aroma of alcohol and something orange and pungent. 

In the wild excess of self-indulgent narcissism, I noticed the room getting smaller and swaying slightly, as if it had been chloroformed.  The nurse thought I looked pale.  I explained I was just extremely blond.

I tried channeling my inner Whitney by belting out “They can’t take away my dignity!”  Apparently, they can.

I exited the room clinging tightly to Dennis’ arm…so he wouldn’t fall.  He endured the ordeal well, which restored our credibility. 
But the next time I’m invited to listen to a procedure, I’m going to eat breakfast, get REALLY angry, and then go to a universe far, far away, where there are no ides, hares, madness or senators.