Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Art of Aversion

Last Thursday, Dr. Suri determined that the abscess on Dennis’ liver was sufficiently “offed” by potent medicines (whose main ingredients are arsenic and toxic waste) and he could safely transition from IV antibiotics to oral. I was so thrilled, I made a wanton display of delight, high-fiving the entire office staff from the front desk to the latrine.  For almost eight straight weeks now, we have been cocooning Dennis’ picc line (the portal where the medications are injected) in saran wrap for his daily shower, until he looked like a tightly-bound chrysalis waiting for Mothra to emerge.  Bathing will be greatly simplified.

This whole antibiotics thing has taken its toll.  The medication is potent enough to knock out the monster infection, but it dang near took out his digestive tract, too.  Dennis looks slightly malnourished, because he is. One of the most flagrant side effects of rocephin is, to put it delicately, diarrhea.  I have tried everything, from ransacking health food stores to resorting to dumpster dives in an effort to discover something edible that he can absorb nutritionally, and that will not “come to pass.” This is a monumental task. Desperation has even had me investigating the potential health benefits of yak urine and marshmallows. Dennis has been wary understandably of anything yellow I place on his plate.  He always was a picky eater!

By a happy coincidence, one day on the news, I heard of a new culinary technique from, of all people, Alicia Silverstone.  Apparently, she chews her food until it’s the consistency of pink slime, similar to the pre-digested liquid worm broth mother birds regurgitate down the gullets of their chicks.  Then, in an act of severe depravity and utter disgust, she transfers the wad of simulated cheese curds and fat globules directly into her child’s palette for his nourishment and enjoyment.  She claims it is in the child’s best interest.  OHH-KAYYY.  Did I mention she starred in the movie “Clueless?”

However, always open to innovative ways to show my love AND supplement Dennis’ body mass, I volunteered to do the same for him. Because it’s Easter time, I could substitute “Peeps” for the marshmallows. Perhaps it could be considered an act of affection and triage, the outer manifestation of inner celestial fire…a higher state of decorum and moral virtue. Why not?  Nothing else seemed to be working. 

Unable to appreciate the possibilities, Dennis politely declined my offer, suggesting that Alicia Silverstone suffers from socially disruptive narcissism, and maybe with our combined intellect, we could invent other ways of generating flesh on his bones than by totally grossing ourselves out. That made sense. He suggested that I continue in my official capacity as the “bowel whisperer” in order to mitigate the “liquid assets,” and hinted that I should stop listening to Entertainment Tonight as a viable news source. Wow.  Way to harsh my mellow!  But he’s right.  From now on, I’m sticking with Barbara Walters for truth and guidance.

It takes courage to get through tough times.  The Art of Aversion helps me navigate my way through gray and weary places.  I find that if I don’t look too closely or think too clearly, I am able to do what needs to be done without imprinting painful things.  I simply put on the therapeutic blinders, looking neither left nor right, but straight ahead, and place one foot in front of the other. This is not to be confused with therapeutic denial. Oh no. Aversion is just a coping mechanism that assists one in inculcating the practice of perfect self-control.  And self-control is crucial in trying to avoid spontaneous combustion during times of trial.  It is a viable alternative to mainlining dopamine in the face of a cacophony of lab values.

Although, that higher order of intelligence (aversion) can backfire at times.  Recently, a dear friend of mine passed away.  I was determined to attend the viewing without weeping.  Eyes of cork. Total self control. So I decided not to look closely at anything or anyone.  I would just go through the line, pay my respects, and try to remain composed. 

Well, I signed our names in the Book of Remembrance, and moved, head down, toward the casket.  When we got there, we saw, to our chagrin, that we were at the wrong viewing. It was a man we did not know and had never seen before. His family was so gracious and friendly. And  we were so mortified.  The only thing I could think of to do was grab a handful of Kleenex, cover my face to conceal my embarrassment and humiliation, (not to mention stifle my laughter) and depart quickly, hopefully without being cited by the Behavior Nazis for a flagrant social faux pas.  The whole incident gave new meaning to the term “exit wound.” Dennis just rolled his eyes and continued down the family line. He’s used to frequent mental power outages. His patience should be a controlled substance.

I have been reading Brodi’s sequel to “Everneath.”  It is terrific, and reveals the lay-out of the Hades that was referenced in her first book.  A while ago, she asked our family to give her suggestions as to how we imagined this underworld. I was thrilled to offer my assistance. I came up with ideas that were nothing short of riveting inspiration. My creative juices were on steroids.  I presented these ideas in an uninterrupted monologue worthy of a senate filibuster. Then I sat back in hubristic and bloated self-satisfaction and waited for her grateful ratification. 

Brodi listened patiently, and then made the acerbic observation that Nikki went to Hell, not the ICU!  “Well,” I huffed, “it’s all the same to me.”  Actually, she was right.  The kingdom I had created involved being confined by tethers of plastic tubing to frightening machines which spewed forth alarming numbers and great noise. Her realm was far superior, as if all nine Muses had inspired her to organize an underneath of various geographical locations with different degrees of awfulness. It was brilliant. I deferred and ratified.

The Art of Aversion is a very useful tool when one is trying to pass through the tunnels of despair. 

Dennis and I have turned our clocks to OFST (Old Fart Standard Time) and continue to celebrate joyful things. Adversity has a way of distinguishing between things that matter and things that don’t. And it is at these times that I want to see most clearly.  

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