Hopalong and me

Now that Peggy’s gone. I get up between 10:00 and 11:00, eat oats or Grape Nuts for breakfast, work all day while I listen to Western audiobooks, watch a Western movie at night as I eat sardines and tidy-up, down 8mgs of Dilaudid, take a hit of bud (despite what my pain specialist says, pot and Dilaudid makes for one hell of a delightful combination), and read a Western novel until the words start floating off into space—this doesn’t take long. Then I lie in a warm glow until sleep overtakes me within anywhere from two minutes to two hours depending upon whether the drugs keep me so entertained that I can’t sleep. It’s a good life, this working everyday and getting loaded every night, although I do hate being repeatedly awakened by the pain.

Taking on what is to me a hard physical project makes me feel like a man again. Only people who have been there can understand the extent to which pain and disability can take away a person’s pride, especially if his entire adult life was devoted to physical hobbies and occupations. I’m happier than I’ve been in years because I know that if I can survive this job, I can survive other jobs too. It’s just a matter of keeping a good supply of drugs. I had rather die than to go back to being unable to work.

I wrote most of the following paragraphs in the comment section, but am going to add them as an appendum.

It’s not that I have suddenly decided to take on hard projects despite the pain, but that I have improved enough that, with narcotics, I can now bear what pain there is when I take on what is for me a hard project--this project being my test of that. There was a time when movement hurt so much that I had to grasp my shoulders with my hands in order to walk, and I couldn’t even dust furniture for the pain. For an entire year, not a night went by that I didn't sleep in a recliner while taking narcotics every few hours and using ice packs continually, and I would still hurt too bad to sleep for more than brief periods. If I were in such pain now, I would be screaming in agony were I been silly enough to attempt my current project. It would be like fire to my body.



I don’t know what to attribute this recent improvement to. I went back to physical therapy with yet another new therapist a month ago, and he is the first therapist who has been able to devise exercises that I can bear. I’m also taking Sam-E and Cymbalta, so maybe all three of these things or none of these things are responsible for my improvement.

Although I long since stopped trusting that good times will last, these last few weeks have been the best period I’ve had since the pain got really bad four years ago, so it is tempting to be hopeful. However, both the pain specialist I saw last week and my physical therapist have told me that I will always be in pain (the longer a person is in pain, the less chance there is that he will recover). In fact, the therapist asked me whether I'm more interested in building strength or in reducing pain, and I told him unhesitatingly that I value strength above reduced pain. Being strong helps me to want to live. Some people seem able to slide into invalidism with little angst, but I can’t imagine ever reconciling myself to such a life.

I take great comfort in knowing that, whatever is causing my pain, at least it can’t be as bad as syringomyelia or chronic regional pain disorder, two of the diagnoses I’ve had that turned out to be wrong.


The painting is by Frank Earle Schooner (1877-1972), and is entitled “Hopalong Takes Command.” It's owned by the Delaware Art Museum

21 comments:

ellen abbott said...

I don't remember where Peggy is but I do remember you trying to decide on a project while she was gone. I'm glad you are having some good days.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Sounds like a good plan!!! You seem to be doing what works for you and that's all that matters!

The hardest part of entertaining the idea of returning to a day job is... if I can't sleep, I still have to go in to an office. I so wish I could find a job that would just allow me to work at my own pace without "office hours." I'm actually more productive when left to my own devices!

Thanks for your kind comments on the loss of Gizmo. He is missed!

middle child said...

Sounds good. Just don't over-do. Peace.

The Elephant's Child said...

So with you here. Somedays it seems that pain and disability have nullified me as a person. And I really hate feeling worthless and useless. I am so glad that undertaking your project has given you back something you thought you had lost.

Strayer said...

Well, how fun!

The Blog Fodder said...

Doing something productive sure beats not. Glad you can work at it. Enjoy your westerns too. I am a great fan of westerns - mainly Ernest Haycox whom I consider the best of all of them, and Louis L'Amour who wrote some pretty good stuff too.

Charles Gramlich said...

I was kind of on this wavelength in my post today, after dealing with a bunch of leg pain problems that last few days.

PhilipH said...

Keep up the good work Snowy. Gives you positivity. Pity about the sleep interuptions but could be a lot worse I guess.
I used to love William Boyd in the Hoppalong Cassidy films. The painting is not of the same but it is still a gritty looking old timer!
Cheers, Phil.

Snowbrush said...

Thanks, everyone. Phillip, the painting predated the William Boyd portrayal. Boyd's Hoppy was unlike novelist Clarence Mulford's rude, dangerous, and rough-talking Hoppy. When Louis L'Amour took up the book series upon Mulford's retirement, he wanted to remain true to the Mulford Hoppy, but the movie studio--which owned the rights--insisted that he use the cleaner Boyd version. He was so unhappy about this that he wrote under a pseudonym. Only recently has his name started appearing on the Hoppy books that he authored.

rhymeswithplague said...

I have writ you a pome. It's on my blog.

Beau's Mom said...

Snow, I think you might be onto something. The way I see it, if you hurt NOT doing anything and hurt when you ARE doing something, at least you have the pride of accomplishment after the job is completed.

I imagine that anything you are "capable" of doing (and WANT to do) is beneficial to your mind if not your body.

CAPABLEis up for debate, I know. But WANTING to do it is mandatory.

I still look at the things I've accomplished in the house and marvel that "I DID THAT!"

The accomplishment lingers longer than the pain you exacerbate while doing it.

Rob-bear said...

So glad you're able to do more. For a long time, the major accomplishment of my day was getting out of bed.
Now, I can walk a mile or so, get actively engaged in community discussions in "Occupy Saskatoon," as well as do mundane things like cooking meals and cleaning house.
I didn't feel less a man when I couldn't accomplish much, but I was frustrated. I am excited by what I can do now.
Hope you're getting better Snow, and that your new successes will inspire more of the same. Even if you're on drugs.

Lorraina said...

Sounds like you're doing great Snow and good on you, keep it up! I'm glad to hear you can do the audio book thing; omg! i had a hard time trying to do that and gave up, not knowing where to look while listening.But then always did have a one track mind, couldn't listen to music when working in the greenhouse, can't multi task when on the phone etc.

Snowbrush said...

It's not that I have suddenly decided to take on hard projects despite the pain, but that I have improved enough that, with strong narcotics, I can now bear what pain there is when I take on what is for me a hard project--this project being my test of that. There was a time when movement hurt so much that I had to grasp my shoulders with my hands in order to walk even a short distance, and I couldn't even dust furniture. For an entire year, not a night went by that I didn't sleep in a recliner while taking narcotics every few hours and using ice packs continually, and I would still hurt too bad to sleep for more than brief periods. If I were in such pain now, I would be screaming in agony were I been silly enough to attempt my current project. It would be like fire to my body. The most pain I was ever in was when I had to lie flat and still for 30 minutes for an MRI. I had taken two Percocet, yet I hurt so much that I couldn't imagine how anyone could bear out-and-out torture.

I really don't know what to attribute this recent improvement too. I went back to physical therapy with yet another new therapist a month ago, and he is the first therapist who has been able to devise exercises that I can bear. I'm also taking Sam-E and Cymbalta, so maybe all of these things or none of these things are responsible for my improvement, although my best guess is that my new physical therapist has a large part in it. Although I long since stopped trusting that a decreased pain level will last, these last few weeks have been the best period I've had since the pain got really bad four years ago, so it is tempting to be hopeful. However, both the pain specialist I saw last week and my physical therapist have told me that I should expect to always be pain (the longer a person is in pain, the less chance there is that he will recover). In fact, the therapist has asked me a couple of times whether I'm more interested in building strength or more interesting in reducing pain, and I told him unhesitatingly that I valued increased strength above reduced pain. Being strong helps me to want to live. Some people seem able to slide into invalidism with little angst, but I can't imagine ever reconciling myself to such a life.

Beau's Mom said...

I've finally learned to stop looking for what made the pain worse, and stop looking for what made the pain lighter. Hope is the great killer and if I dare start hoping for one second...inevitably when the rug is jerked out from under me, depression kicks in.

We live in the moment when we live with pain.

For whatever it's worth, I've grown to love you, Snow.

Snowbrush said...

I don't see hope as good or bad in itself. If you don't take useful actions to help yourself when you're lost in the woods because you hope someone will find you, that's just stupid, but if your life is untenable and there's really nothing you can do to make it better--at least in the moment--then hope can keep you going. I never lose hope. Although I know there are some things that I'll never be able to do again, I do keep hoping that I will find a way to cope better or else some new treatment will come along that will enable me to see at least some improvement. Yet, I have stopped thinking that initial positive results from a new treatment will necessarily last because I've seen them fail too many times. I guess it could be that what I call hope might better be called optimism whereas what you're calling hope might be an obstinate refusal to accept the seriousness of a situation--sort of like what Steve Jobs did when he delayed treatment for nine months after learning that he had cancer.

I love you too, dear. My blog buddies mean a lot to me, yet I ever feel that I let them down by not being there for them consistently on their blogs. Other things simply intervene sometimes--like this project.

Putz said...

i am sure filling your measure of being a man as you see it must take super energy as with all of us, my prayer is that you may get well enough to take on one of us blog friends as a project of yours

Robin said...

What a great post!!! You, dear Snow, have always been active to me....if not physically *doing something*, then mentally....your mind, pain-filled or not, is always active, clear....and productive.

Keeping busy while Peggy is gone is so helpful...and it does help to make one feel stronger. She is going to be thrilled to see this in you when she returns. (Soon, right?)

My father loved Westerns and all things horse-related. He gace me many *gifts*....but two of them were teaching me to read before I was old enoug to begin school and riding! We did ride English style....but my love of horses has never waned... now, I am finally beginning to appreciate Western Novels and Movies too....

As for keeping in touch with your bloggers.....we ALL adore you....we all have times when we check in regularly - and times when we do not... there's no hard and fast ruke that says you MUST respond to each post...

We love you no matter what.

Hugs to you, Brewsky, Blue snd Peggy when she comes home!

Always,

♥ Robin ♥

kylie said...

g'day snowy snow!
i'm not gonna talk about your post because i always say the same thing but wanted to let you know i'm here and thinking of you. we've had no end of car problems recently so the hubby has had his hands dirty a lot of the time trying to get them going or keep them going.
i havent been at work a whole lot and my ego hurts that thy dont want me there but i actually love being a housewife! at least in short bursts

kisses
k

The Tusk said...

I enjoy a good anything 1800's. I've got a few good westerns for you, novel wise.

"The Winning of Barbara Worth"

By Harold Bell Wright

I believe this one is about floods in small towns, Bankers and of course the west.

I studied Greek Gods for a while, while you were reading those, for me it was to gather background data on Artemis. I as you did ran across many Gods with names I was unaware of. Recently I received tweets from the likes of a tweeter known as Empire of Ideas who told me of the ways of the Nymphs. He is a Greek Tweeter about all things Greek. I follow some Biblical Archaeologist and Freelance Writers who write Historical Novels which are constantly tweeting about Digs and finds and all things from old.
Paleontology And Archaeology not so much, but Egyptian tweets and their relativity to Museums became very current with the wave of Violence in Egypt.

I tried jokingly to communicate with you the benefits of Medicinal Honey, as they make somewhere in the world an LSA from Honey that is a mild LSA. I've followed your reveling in Medicinal Marijuana and find you still Lucid and coherent in your writing.

You have joked at my writing attempts as being drug induced at times and yet I am the farthest thing from it. Those days are long past and were quickly circumvented when new responsibilities like marriage and children came.

I look forward to your new posts and as always wish you well.

Ed Pilolla said...

great news about the relief. i don't know what constant pain is like. whenever i'm in pain, i seem to completely break down. i do fear constant physical pain.