It hasn’t been the Week From Hell here.
It’s been the Week From Heck.
I think someone has put the Ancient Chinese Curse on me: May You Die the Death of a Thousand Paper Cuts.
Last week I learned from Vet Number Two that Huey’s “leg owie” is a suspensory injury. This is not good. There are things that are worse, but this is sort of the Second Worst Common Thing that could happen. We do not say the name of the First Worst Common Thing. It’s a five letter word, starts with the letter C. Don’t any of you go saying that word either.
A suspensory injury, roughly considered, is like a leg sprain. And like human leg sprains, there is a range of stuff that falls into that category…everything from the sprain I got last month when I was standing on slick round rocks in the ocean and discovered that the pinchy thing on my foot was not a piece of seaweed, as I had thought, but a small crab attempting to eat my toe. I screamed, of course, like I was about to die, levitated in the air, came back down and sprained my ankle on the landing. The crab was at least as frightened as I was and probably still hasn’t dared emerge from under its rock. So that was a pain, I had to ice it on the boat coming back, elevate it, and then wrap it, but I was also able to keep going.
On the other hand, there’s the sprain I got back in 1998 when I stepped “wrong” somehow off one stair tread onto another and heard (as did those around me) a pop like a gunshot and had my body explode into a burning red fire in which I was surprised to find a shower of golden fireworks. I thought that sort of thing was limited to cartoons, but it was not. There was no question of walking, limping, crutching, or any sort of independent personal ambulation for several days while my leg inflated like a black dirigible from the tips of my toes all the way up to my knee and my foot started to go numb. I had to wear one of those ski-boot contraptions for three months for that one, and still have problems in that ankle. In the words of my orthopedist at the time: You would have been better off if you had broken your ankle. For which I thanked him politely and said I would take that under consideration next time I decided to get injured.
Huey’s suspensory is like that. His sprain is of the “I can get around mostly if I ignore the pain and swelling” type. And while I, personally, am a huge fan of that perspective when it comes to my own body, I have zero tolerance for that in my horse. I know exactly what happens when you don’t let ligaments rest long enough to heal properly. I know this because I have that going in two ankles, one knee, a hip, and a wrist. The good news is that I, personally, unlike my horse, don’t need to carry a large person around on my back while I’m running.
As it turns out, Huey also seems to be a huge fan of that when it comes to his body. His line seems to be “Dammit, woman, I’m a horse, not a china figurine.” He wants to be out and about, and this weekend, when I was working with him on the lead line at a walk he elected to demonstrate his perspective by launching himself into the air, all four feet off the ground, landing, throwing a buck, and trying to break into a canter. Which, obviously, was not comfortable, because when I shrieked NOOOOO!!! and then threw out the Blanket of Calm and instructed him to walk, he cooperated.
The Thousand Paper Cuts on this one is that his vet went on vacation right about the time Vet Number Two ultrasounded his leg. I’m a great rehab patient (other than constantly trying to push things for myself) because I prefer to have clear and detailed instructions about What To Do and I stick to that like a pin. My number one concern with Huey right now is getting the swelling out of that leg. Sooner the swelling goes, sooner the healing starts. Vet Number Two suggested wrapping the limb with quilt batting and vetrap and pouring alcohol into this every evening. Turns out Huey hates this. Is it because it stings? He doesn’t have any open sores there. Is it because he hates the feeling of the dripping down his leg? Probably – he would stand there and stomp his foot (yikes) trying to knock the liquid out. A week of this and he wasn’t appreciably better. In the meantime, I collected advice from Vet Two, my trainer, and the horse’s chiropractor. Unfortunately, none of it lined up neatly. A lot of people suggested cold, but we’re talking a three week old injury at this point, and in people, I don’t think cold would be the main therapy. But is that the same for horses? How much cold? What else? Is any exercise OK? Does he have to stay in his stall? Will that help, or will it make things worse in the long run?
I knew Vet Number One would be able to answer all of that definitively…but he was on vacation. In the meantime, I had to do what I thought would not hurt but would not necessarily help and struggle against that powerless feeling of uncertainty.
In the meantime, hipsters have been infesting my lawn. I came home from one trip to the barn to find one of them (hipsters) sitting in what I suspect was intended to be a Romantic State, picking a guitar in a Disconsolate Way, or possibly a Romantic Way, or possibly a Poetic Way. I don’t know. I did wonder who we was expecting to impress with this behavior, and hoped that she or he would pass by soon and bring this drippy scene to an end. None of us had any luck, evidently, because it continued for another two hours. Really. I found myself thinking “Don’t you have a job?” like I was a 70 year old curmudgeon. I also found myself thinking “You kids get off my lawn!” like a different 70 year old curmudgeon.
I have never, ever, in my entire life, had such an overwhelming urge to hurl a water balloon at someone. Ever. If this turns into a regular thing, I am totally going to start keeping balloons on hand.
The hipsters have also been picking flowers from my rose bushes, Dumpster Diving in our trash can, hanging out and talking loudly into the night every night, and last night I was awakened at 3am by one of them wailing in a disconsolate manner “Where is my paperwork?” over and over and over and over at the top of her lungs. Talk about a Scene of Existential Angst. I felt that she ought to meet our Lawn Guitar Guy. They could be angsty together.
Woke me out of a dead sleep, that did. There was someone with her, talking a great deal more quietly. I was on my way to get the phone to alert the police to this disturbance – I mean, it was LOUD – when I could hear Party of the Second Part quite a bit more clearly and realized that he was the police, and was escorting this individual into the cop car and taking her away.
In the meantime, the school term has swung into high gear for me. I’m teaching a couple of graduate courses, mostly on line, but there are some class meetings, the first of which was Tuesday.
Now, we have some ongoing IT Issues at my school, the result of which is that this term, we’ve both changed the learning tech platform and the platform for recording in the classroom. I won’t say anything more about this other than just that change is responsible for approximately 750 of the 1,000 Paper Cuts.
Compounding this, I got a call from Roy on Tuesday about ten minutes before I headed out to go teach my first class. This will come as a surprise, I think, but a lot of professors get serious stage fright and cold feet when it comes to actually standing up in the classroom and talking. This is a major occupational hazard, for some reason. Roy gets it really bad. For the week before the term, he reminds me of nothing more than Alan Rickman playing Alexander Dane in GalaxyQuest, when he flies into a state of Existential Despair right before heading out to address the fen at a con.
I don’t have this issue. Give me 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 2 hours, I can happily go up and Address the Masses and never worry at all about what I’m going to say, how I’m going to keep track of time, or any of that stuff. It’s not like you’re asking me to stand up in front of an audience of two and sing for pete’s sake. That prospect is absolutely petrifying.
So I don’t have stage fright, but I did need to get organized and go back over the directions for using the recording software in the classroom, because a lot of my students take the class 100% online, and if I blow it with the recording computer, they miss the lecture. Not fair.
In the middle of this, my cell phone rings, and it’s Roy. Foolishly I chose to answer it. “Uh,” he said. “A big piece of the ceiling just fell down. I thought you would want to know.”
And then he waited.
What?!?! What?!?!?! What?!?!?!
I finally found my words: “How big?”
Answer: “about a foot”
Next words: “Is it wet?”
Answer: “I don’t know. I’ll go check and call you back.”
Now, under ordinary circumstances, there is nothing I like more than dealing with the need to either perform household repairs or find someone to do so.
Why not? I don’t mind doing things myself, if I can, but in this area, contractors don’t call you back.
You’d think that when you call a business and leave a message to the tune of “I would like to give you some money” that this would elicit some return interest.
Not here, mateys.
Here, you can grow old and die and mummify if you wait for someone to call you back.
Here, you have to nag.
I don’t like nagging. I have much more interesting things to do with my time.
And, trust me, this is my problem. Roy and I have a fantastic division of labor in the house. He’s got the routine stuff like dirty laundry, dishes, and taking out trash and recycling locked down like a pro. Overflowing toilets, sticky doors, HVAC filters, routine major maintenance, chimney sweeping, and chunks of plaster falling out of the sky live in my domain.
So there I am, ten minutes before class, now worrying both about the recording software and about the prospect of coming home to find a massive patch of lath exposed on the ceiling of my 115 year old rowhouse.
Fortunately, the recording came off just fine, and when I returned home, I found that “a big chunk of plaster” was actually a smallish-section of popcorn finish that had peeled off of the plaster ceiling, which remained intact. No plaster, no lath.
Unfortunately, it’s clear that more of this finish is going to be peeling off in the near future, and in the process of researching WTF on that, I learned a new word: calcimine.
It’s a special pain in the ass thing they cooked up in the early part of the 20th century. Not as much of a pain in the ass as lead paint. But on that same spectrum. Look it up if you’re interested. I have to go nag my painting contractor for a bid. And put another full layer of bandaids on the 999 paper cuts I”ve collected already.