The princess and the pee

Red basset hound licking woman's face

We’ve been home from our international adventure for two weeks now, and my post-vacation fever is long gone, but my mellow yellow phase seems to be hanging on. I don’t quite feel like myself, although I feel like I should by now. I’ve been dabbling in yoga and walking the dog, and Jelly and I have been PALSing around, yet when I’m at home, I am crashing.

I don’t want to admit that I’m still unwell. I tell myself my symptoms are all in my head. Maybe jet lag is hanging on. Maybe I’m depressed because our trip is over. Maybe I’m overexerting myself during the day. My blood test results were almost back to normal, so I don’t have reason to feel so crummy. But I do feel crummy. I can’t seem to make it through the day, and sometimes not even through the morning, without a nap.

Yesterday, for example, I took the dog to the dog park so she could eat sticks (why else do dogs go to the park?), I came home briefly, whereupon J. and I headed to the grocery store. We were home by 11 a.m. and I felt like I’d been up for hours. As I sat down to script my Monday post, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Before I knew it, I was talking to the couch.

Annie: Hi Couch.

Couch: Hi Annie. Short time no see.

Annie: Ha ha. Hey Couch, I was wondering, would you mind if I lay down for a bit?

Couch: I was actually hoping for a little alone time today. You’re seeming a little needy lately. How about talking to Bed instead?

Annie: Are you crazy, Couch? If I go to Bed, I’ll have to admit that I’m still sick. Bed is where sick people nap. I’m not sick. 

Couch: All right, but could you take the other end today? My right side is stiff from all this laying about.

Annie lays down on the other end of the couch. Within minutes, she is out cold, completely missing who said yes to what dress. About an hour later, she is awoken by the pitter patter of poorly trimmed dog nails.

Jelly: [Licking Annie’s face, which is at perfect Basset height] Hey mom, whassup?

Annie: [Firmly] Back to your bed, Jelly.

Jelly: [Whining] But mom….

Annie: TO YOUR BED!

Jelly sighs and then briefly returns her bed, whereupon Annie promptly falls back to sleep. Within minutes, Jelly is back up and pacing.

Jelly: [Urgently] Mom, pretty pretty please, could you take me out? I really have to go. I’m gonna have an accident. Please mom!

Annie: Jelly, sometimes it’s not all about you.

And so Annie dragged herself off the couch, put on her coat, and took the dog out to piddle. So much for the nap. And Couch was relieved to finally have some alone time.

As you have probably gleaned from this story, I’m not quite myself yet, even though I expected to be back to my normal by now. When exhaustion is my sole symptom, I struggle to accept that I am sick. Would I be more kind to myself if I had a cold? Maybe not. My denial runs deep.

 

 

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A true Israeli breakfast of champions

Israeli breakfast buffet, eggs, olives, etc.

Lest I leave you with the impression that if you go to Israel, you’ll come back with a high bilirubin count, let’s talk about the food. It’s incredible, every single morsel.

Because Israel is surrounded by countries that are, at best, ambivalent about her existence, Israeli food is largely produced within its borders. In our travels we passed olive trees, date trees, banana trees, grape vines, and pomegranate trees dripping with fruit. The bananas were so tasty, J. refuses to eat another Chiquita.

(By the way, I don’t recommend eating an olive straight from the tree–it’s not a pleasant experience. Squeeze it and watch the oil ooze out, but cure your olives before you take a bite. I learned this lesson the hard way.)

Then there are the milk products, the yogurt and labneh and white cheese, which is a loose facsimile for our cream cheese but smoother and much tastier. Because so many restaurants and hotels in Israel have kosher kitchens to accommodate the religious Israeli residents and the tourists, many kitchens exclude meat from their menus. There isn’t enough space in this small country to produce a lot of meat. Rather, there is a very large sea known as the Mediterranean that is bursting with fish, and since fish can go either way–it can be eaten with milk products or with meat–the fish is aplenty.

Now imagine that all of this food finds its way into the buffets of the typical Israeli breakfast at hotels. This meal is often included in the cost of the hotel. We call it “Israeli breakfast” while Israelis call it “breakfast”. Whatever you call it, it is a perpetual exercise in self-restraint.

Imagine a variety of yogurt and cheeses, granola, dried fruits, and preserves. There’s smoked fish and tuna salad alongside a variety of breads and rolls. Add in eggs in various preparations, perhaps in spicy tomato sauce, or as an omelette to order. Of course there are sliced tomatoes, olives, and a mishmash of salads, including Israeli salad (which Israelis call “salad”). It’s finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. Then there’s the stuffed pastry with savoury fillings like mushrooms or cheese.

Finally, there’s dessert breakfast, usually consisting of babka, i.e., chocolate- or cinnamon-swirled heaven, and halvah. Halvah is tahini and sugar, with added flavourings like cocoa powder or pistachios or whatever you can imagine, pressed it into a block. For immediate sugar shock, shave some halvah onto your babka.

If Israelis ate breakfast like this every day, they’d all be morbidly obese. The full Israeli breakfast is purely a tourist phenomenon, not that I’m complaining.

You won’t be surprised to learn I gained 10 lbs over the course of 14 days. But you may be surprised when I tell you that J. gained 0 lbs eating as much or more than me. Then we came home, and within one week on my strict low-sodium diet, I was back to my fighting weight.

I’ll admit it feels crummy to gain 10 lbs in 14 days, but losing 10 lbs in a week more than makes up for it. Best diet ever. You’ll come back with your bilirubin level intact, but if you gain weight, it’s all on you.

 

If I’m yellow, must I be mellow too?

Picture of Alberta premier and delegates breaking ground on new cancer centre

Did I mention they’ve broken ground on the new Calgary Cancer Centre? If I can stay alive for 6 more years, I’ll be in the front row at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. I’m looking forward to more space, more windows, a more upbeat, patient-friendly environment, and better sound proofing.

The clinic rooms at the old centre have padded doors, either to protect patients who want to fling themselves around when they hear bad news, or to provide soundproofing between the patients and clinic staff. The soundproofing doesn’t work, though, as I was reminded yesterday when I overheard the nurse unexpectedly scheduling me for an urgent abdominal ultrasound. Turns out that little fever I’d spiked the previous week had wreaked havoc on my body.

Dr. Blood Lite was so alarmed by my blood test results, including a spike in my liver enzymes, and a dramatic dip in my platelets, that he initiated further assessment. And just like that, our day went up in smoke.

I knew my liver was unhappy. I’d lost my appetite, I’d felt so crummy I’d skipped yoga, and I noticed a few other changes that involve the colour yellow. But I was slowly starting to feel better, i.e., less yellow, so I didn’t think much of it.

Off I traipsed to the lab to repeat my blood work, followed by the ultrasound clinic for a wee peek inside. Unfortunately, I was assigned the almost-graduate ultrasonographer, when I needed the 20-year expert.

I am not easy to scan. My internal organs are displaced by my ginormous spleen, rendering some hard to see altogether–where art thou, oh pancreas?–so it took Ms. Trainee some time to sort out my innards. She spent a very long time examining one spot over and over.

Eventually Ms. Trainee brought in her supervisor, who said, “I know you’ve been here a while. Do you mind if I take a look?” It was a rhetorical question. How would you have answered her? There are many ways I could have responded. I could have said, “I’m really exhausted and sore from all this poking and prodding after a very long day. Can I go home instead?” Or, “Ms. Trainee, if you were having trouble sorting me out, could you not have dragged your supervisor in 45 minutes sooner?” Or, perhaps, “No!”

Ever the compliant patient, I failed this assertiveness test and said, “Fine.” If I hadn’t let her continue, would she have had adequate results for the doctor, or would I have had to endure more poking and prodding another day? We’d been at the Cancer Centre for hours already, and I wanted to go home, but even more I didn’t want to have to return. I was ready to put this little yellow blip behind me. Thus I endured another half hour–longest abdominal ultrasound ever–while J. worried I’d died during the examination. Eventually, I stumbled back out to the waiting room.

I hope I’d handle a situation like this more effectively were it to arise again. I’d ask more questions and express my needs, both of which I failed to do yesterday. Maybe then the experts could move their magic wand a little faster. I can only hope.

My irritability knows no bounds

crying baby in bed

Much appreciation for the three kind and loyal fellow bloggers who liked my last post, which could have benefitted from considerably more editing. Thanks for seeing beyond its many shortcomings, you generous souls. I’ll aspire to do better today.

Because I volunteer in a nursing home, where influenza can spread like wildfire, I scored an early flu vaccine. Shots start today for the general public, in case you weren’t aware, but some people get to jump the queue, including those who who work in facilities housing people vulnerable to infection.

Did I happen to mention they’re predicting a bad influenza season here based on Australia’s rates of illness? I thought you’d want to know.

Last week, following our PALS shift at the retirement home, I lined up with Jelly so I could get my shot. Except there was no line. The immunization clinic was set up for nursing, administrative, and other support staff, and volunteers, but no one was attending. Had no one noticed the mini chocolate bars for the newly immunized?

I sat down beside the immunizing nurse, who seemed overly excited to have a subject, while Jelly gladly endured the other bored nurse petting her. Everyone was content.

[Warning: Keep reading only if you plan to continue to the end of the post.]

The shot hurt from the moment the needle entered my arm. As she put a bandaid over the insertion spot, the nurse mentioned that many people were complaining of pain this year. Thankfully she didn’t disclose this before she inserted the needle since I am highly suggestible.

In the past, I have a sore arm for a few days following the shot, like a heavyweight fighter has punched me, but this time I thought I’d skip that part. I was unscathed until day 3, when I woke up in discomfort, trying to remember what the heavyweight champion looked like. The arm felt better after a few days, as it always does.

J. also scored an early flu shot as a volunteer at the children’s hospital. She received her injection the day my arm was the sorest. After the shot, she denied any pain on injection. She’s such a show off. To add insult to injury, nobody even punched her arm the next day. She felt nothing.

After last year’s shot, I was irritable. Irritability is a potential side effect of the shot, and I’m suggestible, remember? When J. suffered no ill effects, I immediately got cranky, but it had nothing to do with my flu shot; I was cranky because of J.’s suggestion that I am a baby. I may be a baby, but J. still shouldn’t have called me one. A loving partner knows when to fudge the truth.

You will likely react to your flu shot like J. did, i.e., you won’t feel a thing. If you’re irritable, blame it on me for telling you about my adverse reaction. You too can consider my reaction as a function of my sensitive temperament.

Maybe I’m irritable because we’re leaving for Israel tonight and I can’t decide which hoody to take. My life has no end of stresses. It’s a wonder that I can function at all.

 

My head may be in the sand but I can still hear you

Many people on a beach with their heads in the sand

While everyone else was back-to-school shopping, I was back-to-size-8 shopping. I wanted a few clothes that fit my new body, however temporary, so I scoured every sale rack I could find. I didn’t buy much since this petiter me may be fleeting, but I was tired of looking schlumpy while my body sorted itself out.

No, I haven’t gained all that weight back. Rather, I’ve lost another kilo in recent weeks. No wonder I was nervous about yesterday’s appointment with Dr. Blood Lite. “I have been eating more,” I told him, “but not enough to gain weight.” Although I feared his wrath, he is too kind to be angry.

After discussed my leukemia, which seems to be stable, he asked whether I’d ever reviewed the progression of my liver disease with Dr. Foie Gras. Where did that question come from? I told Dr. BL that, no, Dr. Fois Gras and I had not discussed my liver’s prognosis, but likely because I had never asked.

As much as I want all the information I need about my various ailments, I don’t want it before I need it. I may not ask the questions but I still know what the potential outcomes are. I told Dr. BL, as I’ve told you, my faithful readers, that I can only think of one of my illnesses at a time or my anxiety overwhelms me. Mostly I pretend I only have leukemia and forget about all that other potentially deadly stuff.

For many years, I have been low on my liver doctors’ totem poles; the patients they focus are often in acute liver failure or have more aggressive liver diseases. They need liver transplants or they are dying. I was one of them once, about five years ago to be exact, but I’m not right now. I only think of myself as someone with liver disease when my liver is malfunctioning. I know what a failing liver looks like, but I choose not to ask for details.

I see Dr. Fois Gras every six months or so, he takes a closer look inside me once a year, and he reviews my blood work quarterly. My blood test results have never garnered a telephone call from his office. No news is supposed to be good news, right?

Usually my denially approach works, but it failed last night between 12:30 and 3:30 a.m. when I stared at my ceiling, listening to both J. and the dog snoring, and wondered if something was terribly wrong with my body and no one was telling me. Maybe Dr. BL was afraid to share his concerns after I’d put on my blinders in front of him. Or maybe he was being thorough since he didn’t know me all that well. It must be the latter.

If he were that concerned, he would have told us to cancel a trip we’ve planned, but he didn’t. He encouraged us to go even though it’s very far away. He even mentioned that our destination country is known for many well-respected hematologists.

You might wonder where we’re going, but that will have to wait for another post. First, I need a good nap.

 

 

What kind of survivor are you?

TV Survivor logo

Is today really my 5th Cancerversary? I know, I can’t believe it myself. 5 years ago today I found out I had cancer, then I almost died, but I didn’t. I’m alive, I’m alive, still!

Come to think of it, is today the actual date? It depends on how you define the term. Should I make it the day that the astute on-call hematologist told me she thought I had CML, or her confirmation later that week with results of a bone-marrow biopsy? I’ve chosen the latter as the date of note. By the date CML was confirmed, I had overcome my overwhelming denial and was ready to accept the reality.

I wish I could be celebrating, like many others do, the date that cancer was eradicated from my body, whether through surgery and/or radiation and/or chemotherapy, but I don’t have that kind of cancer. I am celebrating 5 years of living with (or should I say, “not dying from”) cancer, which is a whole lot better than the alternative. With the wisdom and guidance of my stellar medical team, I am still here. Sure, I’d prefer to be rid of my leukemia altogether, but that’s not the CML way. Technically I may be in a remission of sorts, but I am not cured and, as far as I know, I never will be.

Five whole years of leukemia and I’m not dead yet. It begs the question, have I been pulling your leg all these years? Do I really have cancer? Yes, the doctors tell me I do. Remember, I am not a writer of fiction.

This is how I know I still have cancer: I hang out with other cancerous folks every 6 weeks of late. This more frequent cancer-centre visit schedule reflects both Dr. Blood and Dr. Blood Lite’s concerns about my goutiness and my weight loss. I trust I will be on a less frequent cancer-reminder schedule sometime soon.

Have I convinced you that I do have cancer, even though it’s not killing me, or at least not yet? Whatever, I believe strongly that a milestone like this should be celebrated. It’s an accomplishment of sorts, even if I didn’t make it happen.

J. asked me how I wanted to celebrate the day and, after giving me approximately 30 seconds to deliberate, she booked us a quick trip away. And today, when I have coffee with a few dear friends I don’t see often enough, I may order a small hot chocolate, but only to get my doctors off my back. Or maybe I won’t. I’m lactose intolerant.

I also celebrated by wearing my leukemia shirt to the gym. It subtly screams SURVIVOR on the back. A fellow yogi with whom I’ve exchanged pleasantries in the past asked me what kind of survivor I am, so I told her with undeserved pride. I think she was disappointed that I had not won that Survivor television show. Imagine me on a desert island fighting for my life. What if there’s no pharmacy? No blood lab? I’d be sunk.

Tonight I’ll be raising a glass of fizzy fruity soda from a fake champagne bottle. Don’t let that stop you from imbibing something stronger or, alternatively, eating cake. Together let’s toast 5 years of still living. L’chaim!

The luck of the draw

Toddler sitting on sidewalk with little puppy kissing his face

I love my PALS visits with Jelly. I get to go to new places and meet new people and watch them adore my dog. Of course I love to tell them funny stories about her, but I don’t go on and on about her because it’s not all about us, especially during these visits. I have to find other topics of conversation instead.

I’ve long accepted that I’m terrible at small talk. Getting-to-know-you conversations are hard for me in general. I was particularly stumped at a PALS outing last week.

We had volunteered to visit a special nursing home. The residents there are hard-to-place older folks who would not otherwise be accepted into seniors’ homes. Many are alcoholic and/or mentally ill, and many once lived on the street. The alcoholic residents are given controlled amounts of alcohol at regular intervals. Without access to alcohol, these people would likely continue to live in poverty on the streets. The residence’s goals are to reduce these people’s run ins with the police and their need for emergency health care.

I’ve been in many seniors’ homes with Jelly and this one was more run down than others I’ve seen. (Imagine the challenges gathering funding for a place like this.) So were the people there, many of whom were socializing in the common area when we arrived. Still, this special residence gives them a roof over their heads and three meals a day, access to laundry facilities, and on-site medical care. There are significant daily supports in place, so they don’t need to be trying to survive on the streets anymore.

I didn’t know what brought these folks to this residence and my asking them would have been inappropriate. Of course I wondered about their pasts, though. Sometimes their mental-health issues were apparent, but others simply appeared poor and downtrodden. I hope my discomfort wasn’t obvious, but I felt even more awkward than usual finding common ground for conversation.

I often fall back on one strategy when I have no idea what to say. On all our PALS outings, people can choose to visit with the dogs or not, so those that do attend are clearly dog lovers (or cat lovers who are willing to accept second best). Their interest in animals gives me an easy inroad: I ask them about their experiences with dogs. That breaks the ice, probably for me more than for them. People love to talk about their dogs–I can relate to that–even if they may be sad recalling better times in their lives.

On this visit, our dog conversations reminded me that our lives may not have been all that different at one point. These people weren’t born mentally ill, although they likely were harbouring bad genes that would reveal themselves later. They likely lived with family when they were younger, just like I did. But at some point, poverty or mental illness or addiction derailed their lives. I expect they’ve had bad luck, while somehow I did not. Life is truly unfair.

I’m glad this special residence can provide these folks a home. Everyone deserves at least that, no matter what.

My 500th blog post, and I am speechless.

What makes this occasion momentous? My having published 500 excessively wordy posts? Or your kindly read 500 instalments of my mind’s random meanderings? I give you a lot more credit for your persistence than I give myself. My job takes will and dedication, yes, but yours takes endurance. By now, you must feel like you’ve run one of those ultra marathons in the desert.

You’ve persisted despite never knowing what’s going to arrive in your inbox. Occasionally Sadness makes an appearance, or I seek a silver lining in some crummy situation. Too often I drag you through the mundane details of my latest medical trials and tribulations for 500 words (x2 or 3 or 10). I drone on and on. But you’ve endured. You deserve credit for that.

You likely thought the time commitment I’ve demanded would be freed up by now. So did I. Plus my memory is so poor that I’m surely repeating myself more than I realize. “Oh, not that joke again,” I hear you muttering. Or, like J., you might be moaning, “Not that dead horse (or painful finger) again.”

Please know, dear readers, that I’m okay with your calling it a day. I’ll keep writing whether you continue to read my ceaseless drivel or not. Writing helps me to work through what is happening in my life. Through my writing, I gain perspective on the absurdity of living with an illness that is incurable, but, to this point, not deadly. Sometimes I find that I’m less scared of my leukemia when I write about it here. That’s why I keep at it.

And so, early this morning, imagine my panic when I was locked out of my blog for the very first time. I wanted to write this post, but I could not access the blogging site. What an opportunity I was granted to remind you, for the 45th time, that not all anxiety is bad. Sometimes people become anxious because they are facing a genuine threat. If you were face to face with a tiger that had escaped its cage at the zoo, even you, brave one, would likely find yourself anxious, and your anxiety would be well founded. And so, this morning, I was paralyzed, with reason I believe, by the thought of losing all the hours I’d devoted to my magnum opus.

But within seconds, I envisioned the worst possible scenario, as is my anxious nature. Had I been hacked? Had I lost my blog forever? What kind of idiot doesn’t back up her life’s work? A few hours and a downloaded malwear program later, I learned my computer was fine. And then, magically, I could log in to my blog again. From what I could tell, everything was intact. Most likely the blogging program was down when I’d tried to visit earlier.

So my blog was saved, but my idiocy is still problematic. And so, in honour of this 500th post, may I remind you to back up your work. You’d hate to lose everything you’ve worked so hard on forever and know you could have prevented the disaster. Now I must learn how to back up my blog. Better late than too late, I say.

Man clutching head on down on computer keyboard

 

Dr. Whatever, for now

I write you today with some trepidation, knowing that I will lose at least my favourite follower because of the subject matter. After the last post I published on gout, J. informed me that she would stop reading my blog if I wrote ever again on this subject. Her point was valid, but I can’t just make this whole saga go away. I have provided due warning for what follows.

Lost readership or not, I know you’re dying to hear about my visit with my new specialist on Friday. I told you the appointment was upcoming, I solicited creative doctor names, and now I have to tell you how it went. I’ve said before that I’d never leave you on tenterhooks, mostly because tenterhooks sounds painful.

Dr. Whatever–I’ve not yet committed to a name–was lovely and thorough. She reviewed my medical history, and then completed a physical exam, bending all my joints this way and that. She questioned me about joint stiffness because deposits are inevitable after prolonged high blood levels of uric acid. I may be uptight, but I am not stiff, I told her. “It must be the yoga,” I said.

Dr. Whatever informed me that I might be surprised to notice my joints moving more freely as these deposits disintegrate with the help of my magic pills. I couldn’t help but ask, “Will I be less clumsy?” She laughed at this question, which was probably her kind way of saying no, you will forever be a klutz.

Then she took a look at my not-so-little inflamed finger, the one that has been haunting me for weeks now. It is much improved but the progress has come to a halt of late. Because it is still so “angry” (her word), she would like me to get a teeny weeny ultrasound to determine what’s going on under there, and to rule out an infection. In fact, she seemed somewhat alarmed by the inflammation. Depending on the results of the ultrasound, she may enlist a plastic surgeon to fix me up once and for all.

I am sharing this information with you because I’m imagining that this intervention may make it difficult for me to type my blog, unless I can recall the two-finger typing that got me through graduate school. Like any good therapist, I’m providing ample warning of my unavailability so you can find other vacuous ways to fill your time in my absence.

Premature baby undergoing ultrasound on headThis little surgery, if needed, may not happen until August, however. One of the few downsides of public health care is that a doctor’s sense of urgency may not result in an immediate appointment for assessment. My attempt to book my “urgent” ultrasound resulted in an appointment three weeks hence. But I understand. I imagine there are many preemies in line for those teeny weenie ultrasound machinies. I will gladly wait.

Boy, J. is going to have no idea what’s going on in my life if she ditches my blog. You old faithfuls may have to fill her in.

What’s in a name? Everything to me.

I lied. I promised you the gout saga was over, and largely it is for you, dear readers, but for me it has only just begun. This last episode was my greatest ever. After years of practice, I have finally attained a an A in Advanced Gout. How about that?

My dear Dr. Family is part of a conglomerate of physicians and health professionals in the city known as a primary health network. Her participation in this network facilitates her access, on an as-needed basis, to a variety of specialists for consultation. Last Friday when I stumped her–gifted patients do that to their docs sometimes–Dr. Family contacted the health-network rheumatologist for guidance. From this specialist, Dr. Family gained useful information on gout management. The specialist also noted that, if I felt it would be helpful, she would gladly meet with me directly at some point. Good to know. Now that I have achieved the pinnacle of goutiness, I have become a coveted patient to any self-respecting rheumatologist. No wonder specialists fight over me.

A few days after this consult, the rheumatologist called me to set an appointment. Somehow my stellar achievement in Advanced Gout warranted me an urgent referral. Wow. I felt like I’d just won a 4-year all-expenses-paid scholarship to Oxford. When I called to book in, I was offered my pick of possible appointment times within the next two weeks. I have done so well in gout that I have been awarded the most valuable scholarship ever: immediate access to a specialist.

There’s a reason I’m telling you all of this, beyond my wanting to revel in my rheumatological prowess: I can’t think of a good name for this doctor. I’m stumped.

Basset hound with head cocked, quote: "What's in a name?"If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I take great pride in naming the characters in my stories. Forgive the anything-but-humble brag, but I am proud of my name creativity. There’s Dr. Blood and her entourage of Bloody Residents, Dr. Liver, who evolved into Dr. Fois Gras, and Dr. Heartless, the only doc I’ve ever had who failed me. You may recall Dr. Skeeter, the infectious disease specialist, Dr. Woman, (woman parts), and Dr. Knife (figure it out). Remember Dr. Skin, the kind dermatologist who had, to quote my funny self here, “chosen to spend his adult life examining people’s zits”? Even Jelly has Dr. Animal. Then there are the other non-medical folks: Ms. Making Me Postal at the post office, Ms. Druggie (the pharmacist), and Little Mr. Sunshine, the generous platelet donor, to name a few.

Enter Dr. Rheumy (that’s lame), and I’m stumped. “Dr. Ouch” would suggest she’s hurting me when in fact she’s trying to relieve me of my pain, and “Dr. Gout” would suggest an unduly narrow scope of practice. I have two weeks until my initial appointment to arrive at an appropriate moniker. (Yes, you too can see a specialist remarkably quickly when a mushroom cluster erupts in your finger.)

I welcome your naming ideas, but, because this is my blog, I will make the final decision. Once I’m underground, I’ll relinquish all creative control to you, dear readers. I urge you patience since I may be here for a while yet.