On Ice

Expensive ice cube, now elevated as not instructed, with no impatient to put it on.

Yes, I have been AWOL (absent without leave) and yes, I feel somewhat bad about this. I can throw you a bunch of excuses, relying heavily on Lynn’s shoulder surgery, but it comes down to feeling like Life itself is a jumbled mess these days, and sorting out thoughts to put them down in coherent fashion has defied my own expectations.

I got this far on surgery day, which I think was two days ago now:

You know who thinks today is a great day? Na Ki’o, lover of laps. He has just landed in a giant one, one likely to go on for days.

Lynn had shoulder surgery this morning, at a completely unreasonable hour. The rotator cuff that may or may not have required repair did, in fact, need work; the biceps tendon has been restored; and she is now minus the end of her clavicle. That’s about all of the technical information I can probably give you for the next two weeks, when she finally follows up with the surgeon.

In the old days, those days being say 10 months ago, I probably would have spent my unreasonable part of the morning sitting around a hospital, and the surgeon himself might have come out to tell me what he had done. In these newfangled days, which aren’t always as bad as they seem, I came home to my own house, where Na Ki’o practiced his lap sitting on me before the real event on Lynn.

Just about the promised hour into Lynn’s surgery, they called to tell me she was in recovery, and a nurse would call 60 to 90 minutes later. Actually, she called 30 minutes later, and the only thing that really concerned me was the one I didn’t remark on: her sniffly nose as she walked me through more notes than fit on the little piece of paper I grabbed. Back in the olden days, I really wouldn’t have been too concerned about sniffles, although I’m still not sure how thrilled I would be to have someone in the operating room with a cold, but these days colds are rarely just colds.

And that’s as far as I got before inertia kicked in. It turns out, Ki’o likes the practice lap best, and he has been glued to me, rather than Lynn, for the last couple of days. I maybe haven’t done quite as much sleeping as Lynn, but I’m doing more than I was scheduled for. Which still makes Ki’o happy.

It’s making me a failure, though, at my major assignment: icing. Not fun icing, like cakes, but cold icing, like to put on shoulders. We bought — at cost, we were told — a $150 cube that looks like a mini-cooler with a two-prong tube coming out of it, ending in a pad that drapes in form-fitting shape over the joint of your choice.

But I couldn’t get it to work, so I ended up calling the customer support number helpfully placed right on top of the cube, where Ursula told me I was doing everything wrong. Now, in my defense, I “read” the pictograph instructions and listened to friends, but Ursula was having none of that.

It isn’t in the pictures, but somehow I was supposed to know to put the cube at the same elevation as Lynn’s shoulder — and to lay it flat until the ice water diffused through the form-fitting pad. And Ursula took issue with my friends’ suggestion to use frozen bottles of water rather than ice. She even waited on the phone while I ran our refrigerator completely out of ice, laid the pad flat and got cold water moving through it.

I’ve since reached a compromise, one I’m not going to mention to Ursula: I’m using the bottles of frozen water (it about killed both Lynn and I to go buy these plastic bottles, despite all the other plastic bottles we buy that contain our beverages), but I’m taking the caps off and setting them in upside down so that as the ice melts it flows into the cube. This is working, and it’s not putting demand on the fridge.

But there’s the part where I keep falling asleep, so our 20-minute-on, 20-minute-off regimen is really more like 30 minutes on, 2 1/2 hours off, here’s the ice bag from the hospital that probably cost a lot more than $150 and doesn’t ever really feel cold.

I’m sort of keeping track of the Tylenol-ibuprofen protocol, although Lynn was given a nerve block and hasn’t had much sensation at all in her shoulder. Her arm has hurt — her sling was badly put together at the hospital, necessitating a trip to the surgeon’s office yesterday to get it adjusted.

But it turns out that what’s really needed around here isn’t nursing, but a full-service restaurant — all any of us do is eat.

This is not a plea for food: don’t be rushing to your kitchens. We already have food that was dropped off by friends, with offers to bring more from others. What we had before shoulder surgery that we don’t now is a division of responsibility, so it wasn’t noticeable that at every moment of the day or night, someone in this house is in need of food.

Or maybe it just wasn’t MY responsibility, and now I’m feeling the pain, with no nerve block in sight. But I was responsible for two or three of my own meals per day, plus snacks, along with some unestimated percentage of Ki’o’s 7,000 small meals each day, along with some Oz and Marrakesh snacks.

But when you add in Lynn’s two dog feedings per day, and keeping Marrakesh — who gets very sad when his dish is half-empty — topped off, plus Lynn’s food and her share of Ki’o meals, and it becomes far more apparent than it was that all we do around here is eat.

Lynn, the perfect impatient, has already resumed responsibility for much of the one-handed work of preparing her own meals, and she put together evening plates for the nighttime medication routine for the animals. But none of this is likely to erase my new-found awareness that may, perhaps, possibly explain why everyone at this address could stand to shed a few pounds.

And there you have it. I don’t know how on-track this puts me. I’m clear in my derelictions of post-surgical duty, but when it comes to making comments about the world outside these walls — well, it’s easier to just take another nap. So there might be a blog entry tomorrow — I hear it’s a whole new year out there — or there might not.

Lynn with some of her gifts from the very thoughty crew at Pat’s.

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