Kage Baker enjoyed celebrating birthdays – other people’s birthdays, especially. She said it gave her an excuse to holiday extravagantly, without being selfish. And she felt that all and any birthday ought to be celebrated over several days.

Years when we were especially flush, the entire 3 weeks between her birthday and mine was one long party: trips and fancy meals and copious cocktails. Kage called it the “birthday charabanc”, and her favourite technique was to combine as many natal observances as possible in one long celebratory go.

Since all of our assorted sisters were born in June and July (as well as both of us) that could get pretty crazy. It was great. A lot of such holidays included Catalina Island, where we drank too much, played miniature golf (best course ever), saw weird movies, annoyed mariachi bands, took tours … there was always something. One of the better nights, I recall someone stunning a frog hiding in a golf cup; then we went and watched the original Nosferatu in the back room of a pizza parlour and were consequently awake all night in fear. Good times.

Today is my birthday. No charabanc nor weeks long celebration, but my family has been planning it for a while, and I am happy with the results.  I’m alive, for one thing. I am 65 years old, which seems like bad science fiction. And I am recovering successfully from a proximal fracture of the right humerus, which has prevented me from typing much for the last month. However: I am tons better. Surgery will NOT be necessary, as I am healing with inhuman speed and there is no dislocation of the shoulder joint. Huzzah for me!

I still can’t type two-handed, or drive, or sleep lying down. I can just barely scratch my nose, which is an actual improvement; I can hold at least a pound in my right hand (if I keep the arm bent) and pull my own pants up. This is an enormous relief not only to me, but to my ever-patient sister, Kimberly. Also, I can carry a coffee cup – though I cannot get it to my mouth with my right hand. I have a serious case of Tyrannosaur arm.

Still, the pain is better and every day brings an improvement. I start physical therapy in two weeks. Soon I shall once more be able to cock snooks, and make the Sign of the Star-Nosed Mole once again!

In the meantime … there was Chinese food for dinner, which was great. There will be tres leches cake for dessert. I got over 100 birthday greetings today, which has been the nicest thing to happen to me in a month. I feel loved. And thanks to the care of my family, I feel well enough to be happy at all this.

Thank you, Dear Readers, for your own care, good wishes, and continuing patience. Barring breaking more vital bones, I think I can return to writing more frequently. I mean to try, anyway.

So, happy birthday to me! Happy July to everyone, and let us all strive for a less exciting summer now.

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Just A Wee Note On Sunday Night

Kage Baker used to say that the cessation of pain is, in itself, a positive pleasure. She said she read it somewhere: maybe Kraft Ebbing, maybe Hints from Heloise. She said it was the justification behind hitting yourself with a hammer because it felt so good to stop. She said it was the best argument for masochism, and the worst for sadism. Or was it Democrats and Republicans?

Mostly she rolled her eyes and said it was load of vicious crap: because there was nothing, nothing, NOTHING! that was even remotely good about pain.

“It lets you know when you’re on fire,” I once suggested helpfully.

As I recall, Kage sniffed disdainfully. (She was one of those ivory-nostrilled ladies who could sniff without sounding as if they were on cocaine.)

“If I were on fire, I would notice without needing pain,” she said, and that the end of that argument.

But she was right. There really is nothing good about pain. If the human nervous system had indeed been Intelligently Designed – or even halfway deliberately – we would be alerted to broken bones and imminent immolation by a more elegant process than discomfort so intense we puke in our shoes or piss in our pants. Little silvery bells and bluebirds, maybe, as in old cartoons …

Kage would be relieved, and I am freaking delighted, to report that tonight my own pain is much, much better. I don’t know why. It’s probably that my usual inhumanly swift healing is happening. Though I suppose I may have had  a stroke and developed hysterical numbness, but surely even my ill-luck is not that involved. It’s probably because – against all expectations – my doctor renewed my Narco prescription, and so now I don’t need it as much.

Whatever the cause, I do not care. I am just grateful. I still can’t lie down to sleep, or scratch my nose right-handed, or pull up my own pants unassisted. But trying and failing to do these and many other simple tasks no longer leaves me weeping in despair.

Maybe Kage  called in a favour from beyond.

I’m simply happy to sleep in more comfort tonight. It really is a positive pleasure.



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Status Quo Vadis?

Kage Baker always swore that – short of actually dying   she would rest, heal, and return to her work. Whatever she saw as her work, anyway, after any Event so large and capitalized that it had required her to stop working in the  first place.

All things taken into sober consideration, she fulfilled this oath; yea, even unto and following death. She reinvented and re-established her life several times over  its eccentric length, coming back stronger each time from the edge of dissolution. A merry and ironic jig on that crumbling edge, with a cocktail one hand and a paper parasol for balance in  the other, became her speciality.

She even succeeded, rather arguably, after her literal death: she left her work, her world(s) and her plans to me. I haven’t done all that well with this assignment. Things keep happening to me, that Kage overcame but which have nearly finished me. Also, Kage managed her several resurrections over the course of a lifetime, whereas I have not  gotten through even 1 of the 8 years since her death without some ludicrously close call, myself.

I have found this, Dear Readers, somewhat distracting.

On June 2nd, I tripped and had a bad fall. It involved Cheetos, yarn and a cat tower, though I am still undecided on how permanent the effects of the yarn, snacks and feline demesnes will prove. The main problems seem to be due to gravity and the tensile strength of bone. Also, bureaucratic inertia.

Minor damage: a broken toe, a mild concession, a hard knock to ribs broken 15 years ago, to leave me short of breath. Muscles all up and down my right side torn, leaving me weirdly stiff. Major damage: some cataclysmic but un-detailed fracture to my right shoulder. That last one has left me unable to accomplish 90% of what my right arm is accustomed to performing, as well as a recent legacy of literally mind-blowing pain … if I can frame them amusingly enough, I will list at a later time all the weird places, receptacles and conditions in which I have hallucinated myself over the last month.

A day or 2 after the fall, I went to an orthopedist, who diagnose a proximal fracture of the right humeral head: I broke the top of my humerus into 3 or 4 pieces, right where it fits into my shoulder socket. The doctor ordered a CAT scan on an urgent basis, to ascertain just how badly my arm was croggled, and to deduce what might fix it,

Due to his staff’s unique interpretation of URGENT, the scan was finally done on June 20th. Yestreday, by dint of repeated calls, nagging, and general bitchiness on my part, the orthopedist’s stellar staff managed to get me a third-hand message from the doctor: my shoulder is so croggled that only a full shoulder replacement would have any hope of restoring full function.  Which surgery cannot be done unless and until a cardiologist and an endocrinologist sign off on my ability to survive the surgery. I have heart failure, diabetes and only 1 kidney, you see, all of which apparently outrank my recent loss of the use of my arm.

I am not a good candidate for surgery. On the other hand – if I had another hand – I am also not a good candidate for being solely left-handed, in which state  circumstances have so far abandoned me.

My next doctor appointment is on Wednesday, where we will discuss what can be done about my right arm. To date, absolutely nothing has been done for the injury, and I  really, really want some sort of treatment. Can I have surgery? Then do it now. Is surgery useless, or impossible? Then tell me, so I can try something else: acupuncture, hypnosis, exercises, burying a bean in the woods … something,  so at least I can begin trying to do something more with my life than type  one-handed, and try to join the opioid epidemic.

But, I have figured out why so many people are on the evil drugs. This has apparently escaped the notice of the AMA, the insurance industry, the White House … but, you know what? PAIN HURTS.

In the meantime, I am still here. This is the first day since my fall that I have really been able to blog, and I will try to maintain the ability. In the gaps between despair, fury and simple weariness, I’ll try to write.

There are only a few creative things one can  do with only one hand. Writing is the best so far.

On we go …


















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A Textbook Pain In The Ass

Kage Baker would shake her head whenever I hurt myself  (you know, after the screaming and cursing and bleeding and hunting for the car keys was over), and say sadly, “Only you, you little Welsh mutant.”

But really, these things happen to all sorts of people. All the time! The textbooks are full of examples that illustrate not only medical commonalities, but things I have actually done. Or survived. Or had removed

Kage would say: “That’s the point. Most people don’t match more than one. And then it’s something ordinary. Like, being born.”

Well, those are under-achievers, says I. Or maybe it’s just statistics. Someone has to be on the far, exotic end of the statistical U-graph, right? Consider me infra-red, ultra-violet: where most people may span yellow, green or blue, I might be reaching for gamma radiation. Soft x-rays, at least.

It’s not that bad, though. Not this time. This injury is as common as dirt. I saw my orthopedist this afternoon, the estimable Dr. Cepkinian, and he assures that at least 80% of proximal humerus fractures (which is the kind I have)  do not have to be treated by surgery. Mind you, that’s not the kind I have, but still – that’s a good percentage.  However, what I have will require surgery. It only remains to figure what kind of surgery; what combination of pins, screws, plates and Superglue will restore to me my good right arm.

So the next stop for me will be a series of CAT scans, to determine just sort of ivory puzzle is lurking up there under the edge of my scapular. Those will done as soon as possible, and the surgery will be scheduled as soon possible after that. If it’s left too long, poor Dr. C. will need to break bones in order to heal them … orthopedists have large hands, I’ve been told, just to deal with recalcitrant bones. And I really do not want to present with such a problem …

But in the meantime, I’ll be drinking left-handed. Eating, too. And typing short blogs very, very, agonizingly slowly.

And that is where I stand now, Dear Readers. with a common sort of injury – just not common enough.

It was probably the possums that dragged that yarn bag out where I’d trip on it. Or maybe the Cheetos pushed the odds over the edge. Next time, I’ll be sure to stick to something boring, like Triscuits.

I d have a shoulder and 2 hips left, after all.


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We’re Having Lovely Weather

Kage Baker really did believe that the 3rd day of an injury was the worst. She believed that – as a natural follow through of this axiom – days 4 and following would therefore  be better.

I tried to tell her that better was not the same as easier, but apparently for Kage, they were. She certainly always acted as though they were; she was undeniably more cheerful after Day 3. She wasn’t faking, either: those 3 days were the worst, even in the face of fatal diseases. And after 3 days, Kage would actually, factually be happier. And she did not understand why someone else might not be.

“But it’s been three days,” she would assure me, as if I had somehow lost track of the time; as if I would feel tons better if I just applied myself. Instead, I would slink off into a corner,  growling like a wolf bitch with a tooth ache. Kage would bring me a nice glass of lemonade, eventually.

Anyway, by that miraculous 3rd day, I generally still feel like a broken egg; a faded plastic lighter with fractal traces of lighter fluid; a pile of dog side-effects.

Today, Dear Readers, is Day 4 of my shoulder fracture. And sure enough, just as per the Reformed Revealed Word of Kage, I feel like a dogshit omelette, cooked (like cheap heroin), over the guttering flame of a broken lighter.

Which is why I won’t be writing more than this little bit of tired, self-indulgent graffiti tonight. I ache, my shoulder is a mass of raw nervous tissue, two of my toes are broken and turning colours, my right biceps is swollen and turning black, I broke my glasses and got a shiner falling into the cat tower. And I don’t see the orthopedist until 3:30 tomorrow.

So I am feeling sorry for myself and will continue to be so until at least tomorrow afternoon. I hate my humerus and feel it definitely let down the side by fracturing like a cheap piece of plastic.

But than that, things are pretty good. I’ll let you all know tomorrow what my patient ortho guy has to say.

At least I got a chance to wash the Cheetos off.





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Day 2, Fracture 1,Me 0

Kage Baker believed that the 3rd day of an injury was the worst. She had some logical reason for it, but I think she just figured after 3 days, you reached the nadir of comfort. So she used that excuse to indulge herself in anything that might provide some little crumb of comfort, and thereby convinced herself that she would feel better tomorrow. Alcohol, chocolate, egg creams and war won ton soup figured largely.

I don’t have Kage’s cheerful folksy nonsense view of physiology. I know this  is going to hurt for weeks, even before I see the orthopedist. There may yet be surgery in my future, ugly pins and screws and plates and crap. But I don’t really feel too bad about it all. I have a cool sling, and good painkillers, and though I have to type one-handed, at least I can do that. My family is taking good care of me.

The recliner in the living room is comfortable, since I need to sleep sitting up for a week or two. The cats come visit me, and I can hear mockingbirds sing, and breathe the sweet night air flowing through the windows.

Also, about 3 AM this morning, I was treated to the sight of Mike coming into the living room, carrying what I thought was an Erlenmeyer flask in his gauntleted hands, (They are grand gauntlets, elbow-high and very sturdy; he looked like an apprentice alchemist venturing out of the lab.) What he had, though, was a Lego zeppelin balloon, containing Possum Number 4 in our apparently unending stream of young possums. He’d trapped it in the zeppelin, being a make-do kind of fellow – raise your kids at Faires, folks; they can make anything out of nothing, at need – and was evicting it into the dark front garden.

He gave Kimberly and I peeks into the zeppelin – it was a very young, cute little possum, who did not enjoy its novel confinement at all. We heard Mike let it loose in the camellias, muttering, “Fly! Be free!” Then we all sat around for awhile and discussed the improbable Empire of Possums we have going on this summer … Mike was super-adrenalized, as he’d been chasing marsupials through his childhood toys for a hour; and I was just unable to sleep for the amazing pain in my arm. Poor Kimberly fell asleep first, and gradually everyone slowed down and at least dozed.

Tonight, though, Mike has found what we truly hope is the last portal, and has sealed it. I will again be sitting vigil, waiting for the Vicodin to defeat the pain in my shoulder: so we ought to be fairly safe. Man, June has been a hot mess of absurdity so far. Here’s the zeppelin. Imagine it with the tail fins screwed off, the gondola removed, and a possum scrabbling inside.

It’s weird around here right now. More tomorrow, as my traumatized brain and muscles and humerus get a little better.

Sleep well, Dear Readers.

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Accident. With Cheetos.

Kage Baker despaired of my life on a regular basis throughout her life. This was because I have bizarre destructive things happen to me with ridiculous frequency.

This evening, I tripped over a bag of yarn, hit the cat tower with my head and right shoulder, and ended up on the floor. I was carrying a small bag of Cheetos, and went down in a veritable eruption of orange crunchy snacks.

Now I am sitting in the ER, waiting for a CAT scan. I’ve already been x-rayed, and so we know I have broken my humerus -split the head of it, as the doctor said lyrically, like a blow from an axe.

I am also covered with ground-in Cheeto fragments.

More later, Dear Readers. It hurts to type. But all will be well – Kimberly is here with me.




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