Abez sez Assalamualaikum!

Category Archives: Medical Misadventures

Dysautonomia and Me

Whether you want it or not, habibti. Cuz I didn’t want it but I got it anyway!

 

Questions?

AssalamuAlaikum people who are still here and haven’t died of boredom yet! October is Dysautonomia awareness month, and my next vlog will be about … drumroll please… Dysautonomia.

So, any questions? Apart from “what the heck is that?” I’ll answer them InshaAllah as best as I can. 🙂

Update on the Owl

So if there were ever any doubts that Owl is a dramatic, attention-seeking medical diva- allow me to lay them to rest.

On July 1 she went in for her CT Angio.  This is where they injected a radioactive dye into her brains to see how the aneurysm was doing. Turns out the aneurysm was doing great, had settled down and decided to start a family.  Specifically, a daughter.  Yes, her aneurysm had a baby aneurysm.

Hooray?

Hooray?

Following the CT Angio, Owlie sprung a leak from the femoral artery that the surgeons had opened to access her brainy bits, and when the nurse couldn’t close it off, she had to call for backup.  So a giant man named Danny mashed Owlie’s leg closed apologetically for a while until the spurting stopped.

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 10.32.32 PM

So I made her a meme. Like any concerned elder sister would.

On July 2, the surgeons went back in through the same artery to repair the two aneurysms, and found that a third daughter had appeared within the 24 hours since the CT Angio, popping in for a lovely mother-daughter tea perhaps. The doctors brought a balloon, and you know when someone brings a balloon it’s going to be a party.

They used the balloon to block off the exit to the rest of Owlie’s brain and then filled the aneurysms with a fancy brain glue called Onyx.

Science says that Onyx is  an ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer dissolved in the organic solvent dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) opacified with tantalum powder, but google says that onyx is a type of stone. And that is why Owlie’s husband is now snickering that she literally has rocks for brains. 

Later, Owlie awoke from anaesthesia and starting bleeding all over the place again. First into her stomach and then back out again, projectile vomiting blood all over everything.  Then from her leg again, because all that vomiting caused her to spring open the same leak.  And then a vein collapsed in her arm. So she bled into her arm too.  I wasn’t there.  But I’m pretty sure she looked like a purple lawn sprinkler spraying tomato juice.  Just saying.

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 10.41.22 PMAlhamdulillah, Owlie has since been upgraded from lawn sprinkler to walking dead, and her pasty, zombie-white self was allowed to shuffle (gently) out of the hospital and back to our brother’s house.  You can read her account here. 

To make a long story short, she’s alive.  She’s recovering.  Her head is full of rocks.  And the moment her husband messaged to say that the surgery was a success I broke down completely-  in the darkness of my living room, 2:30 am Dubai time- into the longest Sajda of gratitude and happy tears that I have ever done, for anything. Ever.

AllahuAkbar wa lillahilhamd.

Short Update

I think I may not have updated for over a month.  High score! So here’s the world’s shortest summary of last month:

I'm not sure how this is supposed to help her hearing, but there you go.

I’m not sure how this is supposed to help her hearing, but there you go.

Iman: Grommets in, tonsils & adenoids out.  Two weeks off school, ice-cream and lollipops FTW! We spent a day and a half in the hospital.  The first day was fun, because morphine.  She actually said- and I quote- THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!  Once the morphine wore off, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and she very sadly and heart-breaking sobbed, “Momma, I wish I never had a peration.”  Not an operation, a peration.  Say it out loud.

Alhamdulillah, she’s been off the pain meds for a week and is hearing better already. Alhamdulillah.

Khalid: Finally, finally getting his front teeth, Alhamdulillah!  Khalid’s front teeth had to be removed almost four years ago, and his gummy grin has been a source of embarrassment and self consciousness for him since. Now, there are four white bumps slowly growing on the front of his gums, and we excitedly check on them every evening after brushing.  Khalid’s been making dua his teeth.  Alhamdulillah, it’s been answered. 🙂 Also, MashaAllah, my little man is now eight.  And taller.  And handsomer than ever.  MashaAllah.

Musfira: Cute, small, crazy. Alhamdulillah.

The End.

Update

NovemberJokeI am busy curating powerful germs. Because everyone needs a hobby.

By Abez, The End.

JazakAllahuKheiran :)

I invited myself over to a friend’s house yesterday.  Normally I invite people over to my house instead, but since we’ve been without a housekeeper for the past three weeks, I don’t think any of my friends would appreciate an afternoon in the sty with tea and- well, that’s it.  Tea.  Because I don’t have cookies and there’s nothing made for lunch.

So MayG let me invite myself over.  And she very patiently waited for me to arrive two hours late after I was delayed by urgent work.  She sent me very detailed directions to her house.

(I buckled Musfira into her seat and started driving towards her part of town.  Five minutes into the drive, I noticed some alerts on my phone.)

I needed to go north on this road, take this exit, and then look for that building with the thing on it.  I had a google map point as well, which is fantastically useful.

(I’m in a Whatsapp group called- of course- Brain Surgery News.   It’s a small family group where my sister- who is in Singapore for neurosurgery right now- shares updates about what’s going on.  There were 29 notifications.)

So I started driving and skimmed through the messages when I stopped at a traffic light.

(My sister is allergic to the materials they could have used to fix the aneurysm in her brain.)

 And then I realized I had starting driving towards the wrong city.

(The aneurysm is too wide for the second option, coiling)

So I turned around and headed the other way, but I got stuck in Deira traffic because I hadn’t accounted for the time of day.  But when does Deira NOT have traffic, really.

(The third option is to open up her brain and manually put a titanium clip on the swollen vessel.  Which is behind her left eye.  Which she may lose sight in.)

I worked my way through Deira and got myself going in the right direction.  When I was finally five minutes away from her house, I drove right past the exit.

(But losing sight in one eye is a small price to pay to keep your brain from exploding. So Alhamdulillah.)

I made a U-turn using the next exit, except it wasn’t a U-turn.  It pointed me back in the direction of home again.

(The surgery has been delayed until the doctors are sure they’ve picked the right course of action.  Owl is being tested to see whether her form of EDS- a connective tissue disorder that we both have- is the kind that makes your veins fragile.  That’ll take another week to come in.)

I made another U-turn, and got myself pointed in the right direction to make a second pass at the correct exit.

(They also need to see if she’s allergic to titanium, because again- you can’t install things in someone’s brain that their body is going to have a problem with.)

I nearly missed it again.  I swung my car into the exit ramp at the last possible moment, grateful that traffic was light and there were very little cars on the road.

(They would have to break her skull.)

I finally found the building.  Musfira and I located the entrance, pushed the button for the ‘alligator,’ went upstairs and then rang the bell for MayG’s flat.

Breakfast was lovely.  It was served the moment I arrived- at nearly noon- as all breakfasts should be.  We had eggs and toast and chicken and nutella and juice and tea and cake.  Musfira and her four year old played beautifully together, we chatted about random interesting things, and just as I finished my last piece of toast (this was the one propping all that nutella up) MayG suddenly said, “Hey, you want to paint with me?

(…)

Yeah!

MayG  printed out some Arabic calligraphy using a machine that cut the art into adhesive vinyl.  Then she painstakingly removed the excess vinyl around all… err.. most of the little fathas, dammas, kasras, and other little wiggly bits that go around Arabic script.  Then she transferred them to watercolor paper and handed me a brush.

 (She had asked me if there was anything I wanted to paint in particular.)

To say that I enjoyed the painting wouldn’t even begin to do justice to how I felt.  I felt renewed by the painting.  I felt freed by the painting- even if it was for a little while- from the non-stop worry, fear, pain, and anxiety that had pounding on my brain the entire drive down.  I dipped the brush in water, I touched it gently to a deep, uncomplicated blue.  I dabbed the thick, textured paper and watched the paper soak up varying shades depending on wet the brush was, how long the brush had already been on the paper, and how quickly I moved the brush from one place to another.

It was soothing- not only in the action of painting itself- but in reading and re-reading the words I was painting around.

(On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. Stroke, stroke, dip.  On no soul. Stroke, stroke.  No burden greater.  Dip, dip- stroke. On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear.)

I painted for Owlie-bird, who is floating in fluorescent white medical limbo somewhere in Singapore.  The course of treatment is unclear, the risks are scary, and the waiting is hard and scary, but InshaAllah, she’ll be fine.  Allah said so.

(If she dies as a Muslim, Alhamdulillah.)

I wish I could get it to her now because I want to frame it and prop it up next to her hospital bed, not because my untrained, unstructured, and uncomplicated blue watercolor is beautiful, but because Allah’s promise is beautiful.

(If she survives and lives as a Muslim, Alhamdulillah.)

I’m pretty sure I thanked MayG three or four times before leaving.  I was hoping to convey just the right sort of thanks- one where you’re insanely grateful but not hoping to show your insanity.  I don’t know if I succeeded.  But I thanked her.

And now, I’m going to thank her again.

MayG, thank you.  Really, very very much.  For tea and cookies and company and calligraphy and paint and green masala chicken and qeema and gajar halwa and poking out all those little sticky vinyl bits with a pin.  And for listening and hearing and giving me emotional sanctuary in your beautiful home for the better part of the afternoon.

On No Soul

Thank you for making me a larger, prettier version of the same calligraphy that I painted for my sister.

Your decorations are awesome, and you are one of the most creative people that I know, MashaAllah.  I left your house feeling calmer, clearer, and less likely to miss my exits because I was crying- which is what I had been doing on the way to your house.  I was also crying while you were printing things out with your magical cutting machine, and I would also like to thank you for either not noticing or not letting on that you had noticed.

“Whosoever relieves from a believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah will relieve from him some grief pertaining to the Hereafter.”  Hadith Source Here

May Allah bless you and forgive your sins, and return the kindness you showed me thousands of times over with His mercy towards you and your family.

May Allah relieve the distress of Muslims all over the world, wherever they are, whatever their source of distress.

Ya Allah, please bring my sister home safely.

Ameen.

The Mother of All Mommaisms

So I went into the bathroom yesterday.  I picked up a kids toothbrush and I squirted some pink, raspberry flavored, fluoride-free toothpaste on it.  Then, I opened my own mouth, popped it in, and got halfway through brushing and humming the toothbrush song before I realized I was on autopilot.

I laughed so hard my face hurt.

It’s been an awesome and funny week.  Awesome, and amazing, and exciting because the AutismUAE GoFundMe campaign has made the 10K we needed for license renewal, and people still keep tipping coins into the hat.  Funny because my children have been more amusing than usual.

Khalid declared that Musfira could play with his trains only after she learned how to speak English.

I taught the children how to play I-Spy in the car.

Khalid: I spy, with my little eye, something that is that orange car.

-blink blink-

Iman: I spy, with my little eye, something that is yellow!

Musfira: SUN!

(it’s 8 pm)

Iman in patronizing big sister voice: No Musifra, it’s not the sun. Can you see the sun? It’s not in the sky right now.

Khalid: Its light is reflecting off the moon. The sun is in the sky.

Iman: Wha?

Khalid: It’s day time in the Western pole.

Khalid is recently into directions, and so last week when we heard a neighbor’s dog barking, Iman said, “Oh, I hear a dog!” And Khalid said, “Yes, it’s north-west.”

 

And Musfira, upon opening her eyes after nap-time and seeing Aunt Owlie for the first time after her two weeks in the US said,

Aunty, your cat food is spicy.

It’s also been a bit of a rough week, with all three kids sick with something or the other- Musfira’s nose threw up. Khalid’s had a three-day stomach ache.  I took Iman and her ears to see an ENT and he very politely informed us that both of her ears were full of fluid and that they both had negative pressure.  I don’t know enough about ears to know what negative pressure is, but by golly, I will google it.

So Iman has to take “‘skusting medicine” for the next ten days to see if the fluid can be cleared up.  If not, then we X-ray to see what kind of mechanical problem there could be.  I’ve told Iman not to worry, because it’s a win-win.  If Iman takes all of her medicine for all ten days, she is going to get the BIGGEST ICE CREAM SUNDAE IN THE WORLD.

Three whole scoops to be precise.

Then, if she has taken all of her medicine but the fluid hasn’t cleared, then she and I will have a special sleepover in the hospital and she will get to pick out a much-coveted, often longed-for, overpriced mylar balloon from the hospital gift shop.  Either way, we both get ice-cream, and one of us gets a balloon. Alhamdulillah.

So now it’s time for bed, my day started at six am and involved a two hour meeting, two good friends, and both HF’s and my parents unexpectedly showing up for dinner at the same time, without prior planning.  Alhamdulillah, its finally time for bed. Alhamdulillah. 🙂

 

 

Hooray!

Everyone has a purpose in this life.  Sometimes I think mine may be to give medical staff something funny to talk about over break, MashaAllah.

My doctors are trying to figure out if my POTS, progressive weakness & neuropathy are caused by an underlying auto-immune disorder, which isn’t entirely unheard of.  One of the way they’re doing this is through a lip biopsy.

So I went in for a lip biopsy on errr… two days ago, and the procedure was very simple.  The surgeon gave me some lidocaine, then he took a pair of scissors and cut a tiny piece from the inside of my mouth.  Then I wondered why they called it a lip biopsy if they didn’t take anything from my lip.

Then, he gave me three stitches and said, “All done! We’ll get back to you with the results in about a week!”

So I stood up, said thank you, and walked out.

I made it as far as the reception before I passed out. It was awesome.  One second I was like Excuse me, can I pay my bill? and the next minute I was all like Floor, Y U No hold still?

I was standing in line when my ears started ringing and I noticed darkness closing in around the edge of my vision.  I managed to hold on to the counter and mumble “I’m going to pass out…”

I don’t know what the receptionist said in reply, because after that was all cold, dark, and miserable.  Passing out is only fun in movies.  In real life, it’s feels like falling straight down into a cold, dark, nauseating chasm.  When I opened my eyes I was in a bed surrounded by confused looking nurses, since they worked in the outpatient clinic, not the ER.  My surgeon’s nurse was there too, and when I opened my eyes she said accusingly, “You said you were ok!”

I apologized to her.  And to the other nurses.  And to my surgeon, as well as the ER doctor when they were able to wheel me down there.  I’m not sure why I felt so guilty, but my fuzzy brain felt as though I had sorely inconvenienced them by passing out in the middle of the hallway- like any polite person would have gone and discretely passed out behind a potted plant so as to not disturb anyone.

I called HF, and he hopped into a taxi and brought the entire entourage to pick me up.  The kids oohed and aahed at the BP and heart rate machine.  Khalid and Iman tested their own blood oxygen levels repeatedly.

HF made small talk with the doctor, who was a distinguished looking African man with curly white hair and sense of humor.

“Your wife says this happens to her sometimes.  It’s from the POTS.  She’ll be ok.”

“I know,” HF said, shaking his head at me. “She does this just to get my attention.”

“All wives are like this,” the doctor smiled, winking at me.

We went home, had HF’s parents over for dinner, and I guess the kids were put to bed but I wouldn’t know, because I fell asleep before 8pm.  And that’s my medical misadventure for this week.  The End.

 

Sibling Rivalry

Once upon a time, my sister Owl used to blog, so if I needed to share an update about her, I could just link her post.  However, it’s been a while since she has, and I think her blog may no longer be public access, so I just have to update here.

Owlie-bird has a brain aneurysm.

I know, I had the same reaction.  I was like “How rude! Being the sickie is my job!”  We’ve always been competitive, and now she’s just upped the game on me.

She’s copying me, I just know it.  She’s been mimicking most of the same weird symptoms and ailments I’ve had over the years- I have scoliosis, she has scoliosis.  I have fibromyalgia, she has fibromyalgia- and it’s quite likely that she’ll also receive a diagnosis for the same set of syndromes that I’ve got as well- POTS and Ehlers Danlos.

The brain aneurysm may be linked to vascular-type Ehlers Danlos sydrome, and although I’m tempted to try to take my title of Reigning Sickie back, I have no intention of developing an aneurysm for it.  Sudden death isn’t my style.  I’m more of the slow & steady tortoise type, and here she is being all impetuous hare.

She’s weighing surgical intervention options, and duas are greatly appreciated.

Who knows, maybe we’re racing for Jannah.  May the best sickie win.

 

tortoise-and-hare-575x323

My back hurts. Buy it a cupcake?

Aaaaaand now that I’m out I can’t go back in again, and overwhelmingly I am getting asked one question from the people who know me in real life:

How come I didn’t know you were sick?!

Well, it’s not really a talking point for most of my day.

Welcome to my office, I have chronic disease!

Nice day isn’t it? Yes, especially for tachycardia!

Would you like some coffee? It won’t make you sick.  Unlike me, who’s totally sick.  And maybe even DYING!  Cream and sugar? 

cupcakes}Unless you’re my cardiologist, neurologist, endocrinologist, orthopedic surgeon or physiotherapist, there’s a good chance that I have no reason to keep you actively and intricately informed of how I’m feeling.

The exception to this is my husband, who hears way more about how I’m feeling than he probably ever wanted to.  (My toes hurt! They want a cookie!)

You may also be the victim of limited observational data- you only see me when I’m fit to be seen.  You don’t see me sleeping off pain for hours at home.  You see me when I’m feeling good, because if I wasn’t feeling good then you wouldn’t be seeing me.

I don’t define myself by my illness.  I have more in my life going for me than being sick.  I have work, kids, and a charming, obnoxious, supportive husband.  I have places to go, things to do, and topics of conversation other than chronic illness- like Khalid, who yesterday said to me, “Momma, are babies toothless mammals?”

“Yes, I suppose they are,” I tentatively replied.

“But I was born with teeth,” Khalid said.

“No dear, you weren’t.  You didn’t have any teeth when you were born either.”

He seemed disappointed.  Poor toothless mammal.

To talk exclusively, or even primarily about how sick I feel for the day would not only make me a total downer to hang out with, it would also be self-centeredly depressing.  I deal with pain all day, the last thing I want to do is talk about it all the time too. I rather enjoy having normal friendships, normal conversations, and normal people around me who talk about normal things.

My sickness is a bit like the news- if it’s relevant or urgent you might want to know.  But if you leave it running in the background then people just tend to tune it out.  That doesn’t mean I’m not willing to talk about it, provided there’s something you’d like to know and it adds value to your day somehow.

So yes, you may have known me for the past three or four years and I may never have mentioned that I’m sick, but I humbly hope there is more to me than just my status as a chronically ill person, and you’ll still be my friend if I talk about things other than chronic pain and my favorite new heart medication.

Which is procoralan.

By Abez, the end.

Alhamdulillah! I’ve been upgraded!

There aren’t enough characters in the title limit to fully express how many Alhamdulillahs I would like to put in the title, so I have to settle for one.

So, Alhamdulillah, my neurologist in Chicago (who I visit this last week) has helped me clarify what exactly’s going on with my body.  To make a long story short, I do have muscle atrophy, but Alhamdulillah- it’s not from unspecified myopathy- it’s from my brain!

Yes, this is actually a better prognosis than before.  See, before I was told that my muscles were atrophying because there was an unknown problem with my muscles.

Now, it turns out that my muscles are atrophying because my brain is not communicating with them properly, and the reason for this is because I have:

  1. Autonomic Dysfunction, specifically Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
  2. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

I’ve leave you to the googles to figure it out.  Neither are curable, both can be severely debilitating but guess what- at least they’re both known disorders!  And, either one of which can be life-threatening due to complications, but neither are inevitably terminal in and of themselves! Alhamdulillah.

Did I say Alhamdulillah already?  Alhamdulillah.

To be frank, this doesn’t change much in terms of me maybe or maybe not dying.  Just in case you were hoping I’d be checking out soon and leaving my impressive bottle cap collection up for dibs.  Or, if you were hoping I’d be magically cured.  Having been to the neurology specialist in the US and been extensively poked, prodded, tested, and even strapped to a table that tilted like a carnival ride, I have the same medical issues that I left with, but with one important distinction.  I’ve been upgraded from unknown and possibly terminal, to just chronic and possibly life threatening.

Alhamdulillah. 🙂

Sometimes.

Sometimes, when my arms feel especially weak and the bread for dinner seems especially chewy, I feel kind of deflated and end up googling for things like “myopathy experts,” and “where to find help for myopathy.”

Due to things like location and financial constraints, nothing seems useful.  And then I get sad.  Just once, I wish Google’s top result would show “Allah,” because then I would remember that I don’t have to feel sad.  Even though sometimes I want to.

Hasbun Allahu Wa Ni’mal Wakeel

A conversation with you, dear Internet

 

Me: Hey Internet, guess what!

You: What?

Me: I got my disabled parking spot approved the other day, hooray!

You: Congratulations…? Wait, why do you need a disabled parking spot?

Me: Oh. Well, I kinda omitted this from my blog for the past few years, but the muscles in my body are atrophying for reasons that doctors can’t pinpoint.

You: Errrr…

Me: It’s myopathy, unspecified.  The genetic tests are negative for any of the known myopathies, and the muscle biopsy confirms that the muscle is deteriorating.

You: Wait, is there anything they can do about it?

Me: Well, they gave me a parking space!

You: That’s… nice?

Me: I thought so too, Alhamdulillah. 🙂

You: Why didn’t you say anything about this earlier?

Me: Well, I don’t like being negative and it’s hard to be positive about having rare, incurable and chronic muscle disease.  But it could also be worse, so why complain about it? Alhamdulillah, I’ll be fine.

You: Why are you telling me now?

Me: Because I’ve only used my disabled parking three times, but each time I do I feel like the whole world is watching me and wondering why I’m behind the steering wheel instead of in a wheel chair.

You: Are you faking?

Me: Nope. My leg muscles are easily fatigued.  I do stairs slowly and only as a last resort.  I walk funny. I don’t lift things. Typing makes me tired. My phone is heavy.

You: To be fair, some of those Android phones are like trying to have a conversation on a reader’s digest.

Me: It’s an Iphone 5, the skinny one? I’m slowly developing T-rex arms. They’re functional, but largely ornamental. :p

You: I’m not sure what to say.

Me: Me neither, but I thought I’d say it, because denial ain’t just a river in Egypt  and I may or may not have been paddling its waters in the rubber ducky of self-delusion.

You: You think you don’t have myopathy?

Me: No, I think I don’t need help.  However, I am forced to reconsider my status as a superhuman when the grocery cart weighs a ton and my telekinesis abilities fail to guide it to the car accurately.  I have no choice but to ask for help now, and it’s very hard for me to accept that.

You: Everyone needs help sometimes.

Me: Meh.

You: Do you need help? Is there anything I can do?

Me: Well, you can make dua.  But that’s it, really.  I’m not throwing a pity party, and I’m not accepting condolences.

You: Can I come and visit you?

Me: Only if you promise not to sit in awkward silence, or sigh dramatically, or cast pained, regretful glances in my direction.

You: I can do that.

Me: Good! Then we can still be friends. 🙂  Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog.

By Abez, the end.

 

 

Third time’s the charm?

So HF is kindly accompanying me to my third of three urgent doc visits this week- I’ve been jumped by bronchitis, sinusitis, and laryngitis simultaneously, and it’s taking some tweaking of my antibiotics to keep me reasonably upright and functioning within working requirements. I’m embarrassed though- because I’m here in the ER. Again. And as I was shyly slinking into the front entrance, HF turned and emphatically stated:

“Now remember, even though you’re paying for this service, everyone here is absolutely disgusted that you’re using it.”

He then kindly offered to buy me a bag of chips from the in-clinic vending machine. He thought I could use the bag. To hide my face? He then apologized, as the bag would obviously be too small.

Such a nice man.

In a nutshell

KhalidHeadKhalid fell down and busted his head on the corner of the wall.  Stood him up and said Khalid, did you hit your head?  With blood pouring down his face he answers: No.   No tears, no crying.  Rocking in pain, but outright denial because he refuses to acknowledge things he finds uncomfortable.  He’s an amazing little man, SubhanAllah.

Mashed a kitchen towel against the side of his head and took him to the ER where everybody already knew his name. A two-inch long gash, Alhamdulillah, not too deep.  He played iPhone while getting stitches.  I asked him how his head felt, he said “sick.”

The kids started school last week, and Khalid is finishing this week- his current school does not have a high enough percentage of English speaking children in it for him to be able to use the words we’ve spent the last two and a half years teaching him.  Bad behaviors are being reinforced, and I am running amok this week trying to find another school that will take him.

Incidentally, I am also training the KG department of the current school, because that was an agreement made with the school in exchange for accepting him in the first place.  Wonder how many KG departments I’ll have to train before we can find one that sticks. :s

Alhamdulillah, very very busy.  Hiring a personal assistant this week, InshaAllah. As well as TEN more therapists.  Alhamdulillah.  Alhamdulillah.  AllahuAkbar.

Alhamdulillah for Clarity!

In the culmination of a journey that began in November, I finally have an assessment of my knee from Dr. Extremely Awesome of Harvard and pro-sports patients fame.  OB’s have pictures of babies from happy parents.  Pediatricians have thank-you’s posted on their walls that are drawn in crayon.  This man’s entire clinic is cram-jammed with autographed jerseys, posters (and one basketball  signed by Hakeem Olajuwon) from happy, rehabilitated soccer, football, and basketball players, so if he can fix them, he should be able to fix me, right?

Right?  *earnest nodding*

*more nodding*

Right?

Alhamdulillah ‘ala kulli haal.  Praise be to Allah in all circumstances. 🙂  Dr. Awesome and his Head King of Physio collectively concluded:

Surgery Number 1: Unnecessary.  The surgeon says he is fixing a tear, but that’s not a tear.  He melted it back together with laser.  So he melted bits of my knee that never needed poking or melting.

(“You’re saying I have a chop-happy surgeon?”)

(“You said it, not me.  In most hospitals surgeons only get paid when they do a surgery.  In this clinic, they all earn a flat salary.”)

Surgery Number 2: Removal of problem that first surgery caused.  Failed “repair” of meniscus then leads to partial removal of meniscus.

Surgery Number 3: Clean-up of back of knee cap can be warranted following a dashboard injury, though wouldn’t do much to help other problems in knee.  Though it was nice that the crunching and grinding stopped afterwards.

The advice?  If I meet anyone else who says surgery will fix my knee, run (or hobble) the other way.  Apparently I have a combination of flat feet and knock knees that cause my legs to turn in slightly, therefore making my kneecaps rub against my femur lopsidedly.  Instead of the force being distributed evenly between the convex femur and the concave kneecap, I have a 75% destroyed kneecap (grade 3 condramalasia [sp?]) rubbing against a the same side of my knee where the meniscus is no longer present, resulting in 1+1=3.

The solution?  Very specific physio to tighten ligaments and muscles all the way up my leg with the desired outcome of properly re-aligning my kneecap so that the force is evenly distributed, reducing the pin-point wear and tear that is otherwise accumulating between my crooked knee, missing cartilage, and busticated kneecap.

I find this all amazing.  SubhanAllah.  I’m not sure how much of this is medicine and how much of this is physics, and I am even more amazed that it’s taken three surgeries and six years of physio, painkillers, and hyaluron gel injected into my knee to have- not a solution- but for once, an idea of what’s going on inside my knee.   Everything happens for a reason, that much I know for sure, Alhamdulillah.   At the very least, I got to post some cool surgery videos to my blog.  Plus any trial/affliction that a believer faces with sabr and trust in Allah helps expiate sins and increase them in blessings.  That’s a given too.  Alhamdulillah.  I’m still disappointed with the last two surgeons though.  And I can’t help but wonder why they were unable to nail the problem down six years and three surgeries ago.  It’s been six years since I’ve been able to do sajda and I miss it.  I miss my face on the floor, feeling small and vulnerable and at peace, submitting everything that is human ego, “intellect,” and self-serving justification to Rabbi al-‘Alaa, my Lord Most High, before whom I am His servant, most low.

I miss being able to run, to walk any amount of distance, and it was only last year that I realized I wasn’t pressing for Hajj and Umrah because I felt humiliated by the possibility that I would do tawaaf in a wheelchair before I’m even 31.  It stings even now, thinking about it, but who am I to feel stung by what Allah has decreed?  Obviously there’s good in this for me, otherwise He wouldn’t have given me this challenge to overcome.  And I may not be happy with losing what I feel is my physical capability, but I would be an idiot if I did not try to build my spiritual strength in its place.

I’m still human.  Very much so.  And my own frailty is frustrating.  It always has been, but Alhamdulillah, I know it’s a test.  I can’t climb a mountain.  I can barely climb the stairs.  But I have other abilities and Allah has given me the opportunity to do more than many, many other people. Yeah, so one knee doesn’t work so well.  So the floor is far away and I keep my shoelaces knotted because I can’t tie them myself.  Big whoop.  I have my faith, I have my beautiful children, lovely husband and family, and the cognitive abilities to take my time and turn it into an act of service and a sadqa, InshaAllah.  I can renegotiate my surroundings without being able to physically function in them, because I don’t need to climb over obstacles when I can work around them completely.  I have resources, Alhamdulillah.  And above all, I have Allah’s promise of complete justice, equity, and compensation for patience, faith, trust and hard work.

And at least now, Alhamdulillah, I have some clarity.  There is no ‘fix’ for my knee.  There is exercise and a long road of hard work for trying to physically change how the inside of my leg works.  That’s ok.  You know what else there is?  Jannah.  Where everyone has perfect everything.  Perfect bodies and features- lovingly remade by Allah to exclude illness,tiredness, pain, and the impending doom of mortality.  Nothing but perfect everything- not in the monotonous ‘strumming of harps on puffy white clouds’ version of eternity- but perfection in a capacity beyond the best conceivable spouse with the best, most emotionally, sexually, interpersonally fulfilling relationship you could imagine in the best, most amazing abode, with the best company among humankind, with the best food and having earned the best of rewards- Allah’s pleasure.

I want it all- safe, permanent, gorgeous, spacious home- a palace, in fact- the interior decorating of which is done by God Himself, which includes gardens and pavilions in an estate so vast that you’re suddenly the inheritor of an entire world of gardens beneath which rivers flow, where your next-door neighbors happen to be Prophets, companions, beloved family members- the best of mankind in the best form they could ever be remade in, free of pettiness, dishonesty, cruelty and sin, and retaining the personalities, souls, and memories of the lives that earned them Jannah in the first place.

I want all that’s good from this world, magnified and exponentially increased without any of what’s bad.  I want an all-you-can-ea-buffet from Allah’s-Own-Catering that never causes fullness, obesity, indigestion- I want my husband six feet tall and sculpted like a work of art, I want everything that I cannot have here, the silk, the gold, the brocade, the rich carpets, the enormous estate, the wine without intoxication and the contentment without limit or end.  And if I compare all that to wanting a working knee, well then I say nuts to the knee.  I know that we’re supposed to ask Allah for everything we want or need, even a shoelace, but I’m not asking Him to fix my knee.  I want him to replace it with a better one.  A permanent one that never breaks, bruises, buckled, grinds, creaks, or aches.  And I want everything else replaced too- the flabby body, the dry skin, the filled teeth, the indigestion- and in its place, I want Paradise.

InshaAllah.

Busy few days…

Sorry everyone, I know I’ve been AWOL. Both kids are sick, Khalid has been up at night last two nights in a row, and he’s coughing and snotty and fevery in the day. Last night he coughed himself awake around 11 and was awake until Fajr. Iman is getting over her ‘fezer’ and has stopped telling people she’s ‘not good.’ She’s still snotty, but she seems to be over the worst of it.

HF is doing well, his chronic nosebleed has subsided and he went to work today without the risk of redecorating the office walls with red polka dots. (in case he sneezed, God Forbid!)

It’s 11:30 at night, I’m behind in my work (as usual) and am starting to get a but sniffly myself, but Alhamdulillah should be fine. I’ll try to update properly soon and respond to the comments in the last post too. Gtg, Khalid is fussing in his sleep again.

Also, I hadn’t planned on making this such a long post!

Alhamdulillah, HF had surgery today to fix the wildly deviated septum and outrageously deviant sinuses in his nose, and everything went according to plan. And lots of this went according to a totally different plan.

HF had planned to check in to the hospital at 6 am. I had planned to accompany him, so at 5:30, we carried Khalid, sleeping, into Iman’s room where it was planned that he should sleep so that if he woke up, he wouldn’t be alone and afraid.

We had not planned for him to wake up when we moved him though, nor had we planned to give Iman a fever the same night, so that when Khalid woke up and panicked in the dark, Iman woke up and started bawling- burning hot and shaking. Cindy hadn’t planned on waking up at 5:30 to give Iman more fever-reducer and soothe her to bed while I tried to calm Khalid down and get him back to sleep, but then, things don’t always go according to plan.

HF hadn’t planned on going to the hospital without me, but with both kids crying by 5:45, he had to.

I had planned on putting Khalid back to sleep, but Khalid had plans involving lemonade and cereal, which he whispered to me in the dark as HF drove off. So there was a change of plans, and Khalid settled for apple juice and some cereal in a tupperware while I quickly dressed him so we could take the second car and join HF.

I had planned to get there and surprise HF in his room. Surprise, HF wasn’t in his room. So Khalid and I waited for HF to come back from Fajr prayer. HF hadn’t planned on being welcomed by a completely awake little boy who was supposedly back home sleeping, but Alhamdulillah, Khalid ran and greeted HF and both grandparents at the door with hugs and much rattling of cereal in its plastic box as he jumped excitedly up and down.

I took Khalid out of the room before HF was prepped or had a canula inserted, so that he wouldn’t freak out. It was bad enough when the male nurse took HF’s blood pressure, Khalid first yelled at him, then pinched him, then attempted to kick him, and when that failed, he tearfully pointed a finger at the nice man (Mark) and yelled “Time Out Mark! Time Out!”

I invited Khalid to come and walk with me, as compared to ‘Hey kid, let’s go home’ so that he would come peacefully and without screaming through the OPD. That went according to plan until we got as far as the car and Khalid realized we were driving home again. “No Mama! No home! No!” *kickkickkickkick* He cried all the way home.

When we reached home and I quietly unlocked the door, I hadn’t planned to see Iman sitting at the dining table, but there she was, still in her pajamas and looking flushed and wilted and definitely miserable. Neither she nor Cindy had been back to sleep. I asked Iman how she was feeling. She said “Not good.” I asked her if she still had a fever.

“Yes, a fezer,” she nodded sadly. “In my head. Iss ow.”

Khalid was passed to Joy for the beginning of his morning ABA program. Iman and I went to wash her face, change her clothes, give her some more medicine, and just generally to try to help her feel better. We selected the red overalls that Khalid out-grew at the age of 18 months which flap loosely around Iman at 2 and 3/4 years. We paired them with a white shirt dotted with tiny red flowers. And by request, Iman’s pink tiara. Then, socks and sneakers and by then the medicine was kicking in, so Iman and Cindy went for their morning walk to the park with Iman’s eyes red and puffy and her Hello Kitty tiara pink and sparkly in the early morning sun.

I had planned to take a power-nap, then wake up and cook some food to take to HF’s hospital room for him as well as his parents, since the City Hospital is nice, but hospital food is still hospital food. However, I had not planned on spending so much time with the kids before they left for the park, so by 9:00, I realized that I would have to change my plans. No nap. Just cooking. I made chicken pilau, some hot-as-heck chutney, a thermos of karak chai, and set it all up with a bottle of water, some disposable glasses, HF’s clothes, his pillow, a box of orange juice, and some packing and logistics help from Cindy, who by 10:30, was back from the park.

I had planned to be there when HF came out of recovery, but I hadn’t planned on fighting a last-minute battle with Iman, who flatly refused to let me take the pink paper balloon with her hand print and a red heart on it that she had made especially for Baba. She made it, so it was hers. Since it was hers, it wasn’t right for me to take it away from her. Naturally. And since it was a balloon (albeit one made out of a paper plate, some yarn, and two sheets of construction paper) she insisted that it go ‘up inna sky,’ and nearly cried from the frustration of having her ‘balloon’ dangle very non-buoyantly from the end of its yarn leash. Joy bribed her with the opportunity to make another pink balloon, and to even wield the much-coveted glue-stick. Iman conceded and I rushed out the door with her balloon as well as Khalid’s- his was personally lettered and signed and it reads love you baba, khalid, in a gorgeous child-like scrawl that only children are really good at.

HF made it to the room before I did, and was laying there with his nose swaddled in bloody gauze and medical tape, too out of it to stay awake for more than a few words at a time. I had planned to bring the kids later, but I messaged Joy and Cindy and let them know there was a change of plans, no kids. I had planned to stay awake until HF woke, but then I was so exhausted that I fell asleep sitting in his wheelchair and leaning against the foot of his bed where he slept and (often) choked, groaned, woke up slightly, and then fell back asleep again. Apparently It’s hard to breath with your nose taped closed and your mouth raw from intubation.

Alhamdulillah, HF finally regained consistent consciousness around one in the afternoon. So we all hung out- his parents, and eventually his sister and niece as well- and ate chicken pilau and cookies and poked gentle fun at his nose job, asked him whether he couldn’t have gotten his chin done, and whether or not next time around he could get a six-pack installed. He was able to eat by around three or four o’clock and Alhamdulillah, the next few hours were just spent sitting in his hospital room and munching and chatting.

I came home after praying Maghrib and found Khalid sobbing on the sofa because Cindy had just closed the front door, which he had just opened for the Nth time waiting for me. Joy had told Khalid that Momma was on the way, so Khalid had planned to stand there with the front door open until I arrived.

Iman was warm, but not burning hot. Both kids had already eaten dinner, and I had a quick bite while the kids watched Meet the Sight Words. By 7:30, Khalid and I were in bed, reading his favorite Eric Carle books and commenting on certain deficiencies in the plot. Khalid does not understand that ‘In the Hungry Little Caterpillar,’ the egg that we see on the first page hatches and -pop!- out comes a very tiny and very hungry caterpillar whose quest for food (as well as meaning in a meaningless world) we then follow for the rest of the book.

The caterpillar makes some poor food choices, which culminate in some binge-eating, which he then repents of and makes absolution for by eating (instead of a smorgasboard) ‘one nice green leaf, and then he felt much better.’ In Khalid’s mind though, that nice green leaf is where the egg was on page one, so when he sees the caterpillar sitting on the leaf, he always asks “Oh, whereza egg? Where izit” And then we go back to the first page and I try to explain that the caterpillar was actually inside of the egg, and when he came out -pop!- then the egg was gone. Khalid has either never fully understood this, or never believed it. So today, when he asked where the egg was, I told him I didn’t know. So he told me. “Iss cook egg. Oh, caterpillar cook iss egg.”

And I hadn’t planned on writing all of that in this same blog, but it was so adorable that I didn’t want to forget about it. 🙂 It’s been a long, long day, and I had planned to be asleep by now, but I had an unplanned power-nap just before Maghrib on the couch in HF’s hospital room. That might be why my brain is awake even though I’ve been up (apart from two short snoozes) for nearly 18 hours. It’s been a good day though, a busy and unexpected but good day Alhamdulillah. And Allah is the best of planners. 🙂

Flying Solo: Khalid’s first day of school and other adventures

So Joy- Khalid’s full-time caregiver and ABA therapist- is on vacation for a month as of yesterday, which was also Khalid’s first day of school, which was also the day that Iman fell down in the hallway and knocked loose and fractured one of her front teeth.

This morning was our first day without Joy, as well as the first day that I attempted to run Khalid through his ABA program, as well as have a three-hour instructional design meeting for my ‘real’ job and then take Iman for an emergency dental appointment.

The morning program was educational, in that I learned that it will take a whole lot more than her whiteboard markers to give me Joy’s superpowers.  The laminator chewed up my flash cards and spat them back out in a smelly, melted mess.  The kids got bored when I took too long to find the next program materials and Khalid knocked a cup of tea into a box of 96 crayons.  Why was the teacher drinking tea in class?  Because the teacher was a sleepy amateur, that’s why.

The subsequent meeting was interesting, in that Iman sat in with the Business Development Manager and I to color and contribute her professional opinion on the course development- which was generally about butterflies, the beach, and where her marker went.  Also, she told the BDM that she was snotty.  And she was.

The dental appointment went well in that there was little dentistry involved- Iman’s mouth needs three weeks to heal so that the tooth is no longer wobbly before they perform a root canal and remove the lower-half that is no longer viable.  (It cracked straight across)

And now, Khalid’s first day of school.

I think he may have had fun, but Joy and I were quite nervous, especially since Khalid is not really enrolled- he’s being observed for an hour a day, two to three times a week in the KG class to determine whether he can be there without causing massive disruption to the ‘normal’ kids.  I don’t remember kindergarten being that tense when I was a kid, but then the principal and school counselor probably weren’t both in the class to observe me.  And the teachers probably didn’t have the wary, anxious look of two women with 28 three and a half year olds who have just been handed the Unknown Special Needs Quantity X.  Khalid is a year older and a head taller than the other children.  His academic scores put him in second grade, but his verbal and social scores place him in nursery, so KG-1  is somewhere in the middle and our goal is to help bring his social and verbal scores up while maintaining his academic scores at home.

He had to be interviewed to be let in.  We had to submit his psychological assessment, sign a legal disclaimer, take official responsibility to protect other students from him and answer questions about how loud, how often, how intensely and for what reasons he could freak out.  We spent three hours on the first day with the school counselor and the principal and the registrar, and while I am grateful, Alhamdulillah, and relieved that he’s being given a chance to go to a ‘normal’ school, my maternal hackles have been raised in indignation for Khalid.

(He pinched Joy, will he pinch other children?)

(The assessment mentions self-injury, can you tell us about that?)

(Why are his academics so far ahead?  Why haven’t you been pushing his social and verbal instead?)

[Gee, maybe he’s a classical case of autism?]

(If you even think that he might be about to make noise, just take him out of the class.)

I’m sure Khalid wasn’t offended, at least not by anything the staff said.  Instead, he was upset when he walked into the class and noticed that the letter C was missing from the alphabet lineup on the wall.  He asked where it was, noticed it on the center of the board, and attempted to put it back where it belonged.  We spent a few minutes gently distracting him away from the missing C (and some noise was involved) but then he noticed that the word Sunday was out of place in the days of the week lineup.  It was on another wall because it had a special schedule.  He tried to pull that down too.

Other children were drinking juice, so he asked for one by writing out J- U- I- C- E with his finger in air-letters a foot tall.  You should have seen how fast Joy and I rushed to get him some.  He sat during snack-time eating his apple and drinking, reading every written word and chart on the wall from his seat at the Brown Bears table while other children chatted and fussed with their food and had the kind of conversations that kids in kindergarten do.  One little girl peed in her chair and was taken away crying.  One little boy got scolded by the teacher, and in turn, Khalid scolded the teacher.  I don’t think that went over well.

The principal came in and asked Khalid how he was doing.  He answered ‘Fine!’ and Joy and I gave each other looks of desperate encouragement and relief.  When it was time to go out and play, he did a reasonable job of staying in line with the other kids as long as Joy and I were flanking him on both sides.  Khalid climbed and ran and went down the slides, Joy and I got a chance to relax.  But then it was time to go inside again, and Khalid has a hard time with transitions, so he sprinted down the hall out of protest and I had to chase him.

When I finally caught him, we bumped into one of the staff members from the center that is managing his case, and to be honest, it was a breath of fresh air.  That lady, like other therapists and case managers, looked at Khalid like a miracle, a prodigy, a best-case scenario and the child that every mother is jealous of.  In the world of autism, this may be true- Khalid is making amazing progress, has manageable behavioural issues, and little to no aggression.  The director of the autism center calls him a star and a poster boy for ABA, but here in the world of normal kids, Khalid is a disruption, an anomaly, a little boy who can’t follow simple instructions and screams at adults if they press him for social interaction.   The teachers don’t beam at him and hug him and tickle him and engage with him, they sigh and keep a few feet back.

This morning Khalid had a cough, so I texted the school counselor to let her know we would stay home.  She texted back saying let him stay home for the rest of week, and she would see him after the weekend.   I know she meant well.  I know there’s no law saying they have to take Khalid.  I know their teachers don’t get paid extra for having a unpredictable, neurologically challenged little boy in the midst of their crying, peeing, nose-picking kindergarteners.  They have enough to handle without throwing Khalid into the mix.  But they could, at least, smile.  Just a little.  And watch with patient kindness instead of stern observation, clipboards in hand.  And say things like ‘Don’t worry if he makes a little noise, the normal kids make quite a fuss too…’ instead of  ‘If you even think he’s going to make noise…’

Even Joy, who’s  been doing school shadowing and ABA therapy for ten years, was put off by the attitude.  Or lack of warmth, rather.  There’s willingness, but not much warmth.  And I feel like saying ‘take your stupid school, Khalid doesn’t need it!’ but the truth is, he does.  And there are only a handful of schools in the entire country that are willing to consider letting him in, and I should be grateful that there’s one so close to our house and already working with his therapy center to help facilitate inclusion.  And plus, when the kids were supposed to be putting their heads down for some quiet time, and Khalid was doing some worksheets on his own to bide the time, one little boy raised his head, peeked over at Khalid’s work (Write the number twelve, then find which groups of pictures have twelve items in them, and circle them) and exclaimed, “How did you do that!?”  And Joy and I beamed with pride, but then it was time for the kids to go to their Arabic class and it was time for us to go home.  Because the management believes that Khalid would not be prepared to learn one Arabic letter and one color in Arabic per week, even though I told them he already knows the alphabet in Arabic.

(And he can count to one hundred)

(And he knows his shapes and colors)

(And he can add numbers from 1 to 10)

(And he can read using phonics)

(And he is computer literate, knows how to type, operate a DVD player, use Google Chrome, YouTube, Starfall.com, and PBSkids.org)

It took me some time to accept Khalid’s autism, so I should cut other people slack too.  I know.  I need to remind myself that they don’t know where he’s been to appreciate how far he’s come.  And there’s nothing amazing about a him defending himself from interacting with the teachers or not yet speaking in full sentences.   And yelling at anyone who raises their voice in his vicinity is rather disruptive to class.  I’ll admit that too.  But he’s my son- my amazing, unusual, awkward, shy, silly, academically brilliant but socially disabled son and I think he’s the most miraculous child in the world- and anyone who thinks poorly of him because of his disability is going to have a very hard time getting out of my bad books.

But I’m a grown up, so I can’t be defensive, I have to be the most outgoing, outspoken, cheerful, useful, special-needs shadow mom that KG has ever seen, and I have to support these two overworked young ladies and help teach them how to manage my ABA poster-boy.

(And if the thumb tacks should go missing and unexpectedly end up on someone’s chair, I’ll try to keep Khalid from reacting to the noise of their satisfyingly shrill surprise.)

By Momma, the end.

Beware of Panda Chinese in the Sharjah City Center

Day four of noodle-induced food poisoning. Being brave and having an egg for breakfast. If anyone needs me, I’ll be laying down on this soft, soft keyboard.

*urp*

2am again, or, Why blogging in stream of consciousness should be done in full consciousness

SubhanAllah.  It’s 2 am again.   It turns out that the reason why Khalid has been cranky, fevery, and screamy all night for the past four nights is because he has a throat infection.

This is the fourth all-nighter that Khalid and I are pulling in the past four days.  And I think I neglected to mention that he got his hand caught in an elevator earlier this week.  An area of skin about the size of a quarter was scraped off from his right hand, and despite our attempts to keep it clean and well-bandaged, it turned gooey and yellow by the next day, and the fever immediately followed.  So that’s when we took him to the ER at 2 in the morning.

Did I mention that we were in the ER earlier this week.  It was at 2 in the morning.  The doctor looked at his finger.  But apparently, not at Khalid’s throat.

Today we saw the doctor again, because the finger was getting better but the fever was getting worse.  The doctor took a look at Khalid’s finger as well as Khalid’s throat, and prescribed antibiotics.

Now, I’m pretty sure that even parents with neurotypical children have to battle their kids into taking the antibiotics, otherwise they wouldn’t be camouflaged with strawberry flavor and a pleasant fruity smell.  With our collective powers combined, Joy, HF, and I begged, cajoled, bribed, attempted to coerce, and then eventually forced the antibiotics into Khalid’s mouth for two of his three doses for the day.  You can guess how that went.  By the time we had all had enough, Khalid needed hosing down, the sofas needed wiping off, and HF’s beard had a pleasant fruity smell.   I sincerely hope that of the 10ml we put into Khalid’s mouth, at least 5 made it down.

I hope, InshaAllah, that Khalid is feeling better by tomorrow.  My work productivity is zero, my email response time has shot up to one week , my brain feels like tofu, and I’m sure Khalid’s tired of waking up and screaming in the middle of the night.  Poor thing.  When he woke up two hours ago (midnight) HF and I had just gone to bed, and neither of us had fallen asleep yet.  HF and I calmed him down and lay in bed hoping he would fall back asleep.  HF eventually dozed off, but Khalid’s eyes remained open.  I tried to fall asleep, and Khalid did a commendable job of staying in bed for over an hour, but after that, he’d had enough.

He got into my bed and took the pillow out from under my head.  Then, he threw it.  Then, he unwrapped the blanket from around me and threw that off as well.  Next, he took me by the hand and started to pull.  When that failed to get a response (I was pretending to be asleep) he took my head in both hands and began pulling.  And then he said…

Wemonade.

So here we are.  Khalid is drinking wemonade and watching Super Why.  There’s an hour and half before it’s time for me to wake up (heh) and make suhoor, so I’m attempting to fill it with productivity.  After I’m done typing this mishmash of an update, I’ll answer some work email, attempt to finish a presentation on customer pyramids (BLAH!), and maybe sneak some of the cold pizza in the refrigerator.  Don’t ask me about the cold breadsticks.  They didn’t make it past 2:15.

It’s amazing how little we control our own lives.  I mean this in a good way.  No matter how much I intend, attempt, and fight for going to bed on time so I can wake up and stay up from Fajr, Allah has other plans for me. 🙂  This week, we’re on the night shift.  Maybe when Khalid feels better our schedule will return to normal, but for now I can’t be sore about being nocturnal, despite how much it exhausts me and hamstrings my productivity.  There are far worse things in the world.  Alhamdulillah. 🙂

Cold pizza, anyone?

They don’t make bubbles that big :p

Doc: So, how’s your knee feeling?

Me: Alhamdulillah, pretty good!  It’s not yellow anymore, and it’s not creaking or grinding.

Doc: (Throwing his hands in the air) Thank God!  Now stop getting into car accidents!  Or we’ll have to install a bubble around you or something.

Me: InshaAllah.

Morphine Bad, Knee Good.

So the surgery went well, Alhamdulillah.  It’s only been two days since the operation, but already the knee is free of the crunchy, audible grinding that was the result of damaged cartilage rubbing against damaged cartilage every time I flexed or extended my knee.  Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah.  I am happy and hopeful and optimistic about getting some of my mobility back.  I may never be able to run a marathon, but climbing stairs without creaking and being able to play in the park with the kids would be really amazing, InshaAllah. 🙂

I was given spinal anasthesia for the knee arthroscopy, so I was totally awake for the surgery.  It was interesting, being paralyzed from the waist-down you feel like half of a person, and as I watched the surgeon, I was sure that the iodine-painted foot planted on his chest and the carrot-colored leg he was wrapping up must have been someone else’s.  They were miles away and felt like no part of my own body.   When I got back to the room, I was laughing.  HF and I had a good time trying to move my toes, and although I was vaguely aware of sensation, I couldn’t tell how or what was touching any part of me.  It was so bizarre.  It didn’t last too long though.  The surgery was at ten, and by around 12:30, I started to regain feeling in my legs.  And then the pain level started to climb the stairs by twos, and even though I hadn’t wanted to, I had to ask for some pain relief.

Now, about morphine.  Whoever has been doing the PR for morphine should get a bonus.  When you think of morphine, you think of drowsy, blissed-out addicts sleeping their way into a happy oblivion.  Morphine is, after all, named for Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams.  If there was a Greek god for vomiting every time you adjust position and losing consciousness all day, then it should have been named for him instead.  Morphine was awful.  When they were injecting me, HF asked the nurse “So, how long before this takes effect?”

The nurse said, “The full effect will take half an hour, but you should start feeling it right away.” That was when my head started spinning.  Right then and there, with the ceiling going down and the floors going up, I told HF that I needed to get out of bed, do wudu, and pray before I wasn’t able to.  And he looked at me skeptically, but he helped me out of bed, walked me to the sink, held me up while I staggered through wudu, washed my feet for me, and then led us in jamaat (I prayed in bed) where I briefly lost consciousness during the third of four rakats.  At some point, we had visitors who brought doritos and cookies and nuts.  HF said I giggled too much, I don’t remember.  My head felt like it was full of cotton, and I couldn’t hear very well.  I had some doritos and passed out  sitting up in bed.  Some of my sleep wasn’t sleep, it just felt like being deactivated.  My eyes were closed, but I could still hear everything going on around me.  And then some of my sleep felt like dreaming awake, which was scary and vivid and I woke up disoriented and not sure whether the dreams had been real or not.

Then there was a shift change, HF left and Owlie came in, and then the vomitting began.  I was mentally fuzzy and twitchy and remarkably pain-free, but every time I changed position in bed, I threw up.  I would doze off, wake up, vomit, fall asleep again, wake up, vomit, fall asleep… the cycle lasted until 9:30 pm, when I was alert enough to complain to the nurse, who then gave me another injection to control the nausea.  Then the vomitting stopped, Alhamdulillah, and Owlie and I went to sleep by around 11pm, and the next morning, SubhanAllah I woke up feeling like myself again.

I have to say, the morphine was worse than the surgery.  I cannot imagine why on earth people take it voluntarily.  This wasn’t the first time I’ve had morphine, but it was the first time that it was given to me when I was conscious enough to be able to determine what it did to me.  The last arthroscopy I had, I was partially sedated and given morphine before I even woke up, so coming out of surgery was hot, cold, itchy, shaky, nauseating, confusing, and mentally fuzzy for nearly eight hours afterwards.  I didn’t know what caused what, it was all too much to deal with at once.  With this surgery, once the spinal wore off, I was back to normal, and at no point was I nauseated, uncontrollably drowsy, or mentally fuzzy until I was given morphine.  Which I would NOT ever take again voluntarily, thank you very much!

But right, the knee.  Alhamdulillah, my surgeon (Hooray for Dr. Ali Al Belooshi!) cleaned up and trimmed down the damaged cartilage so that it no longer gets pulled and mashed and ground against when I move my knee.  Yes, there’s less cartilage in my knee than there was before, but at least my knee no longer hurts to move, Alhamdulillah.  I haven’t taken any pain killers since Friday morning (when the morphine finally wore off) and I am trying to stay that way.  My knee doesn’t feel post-surgical painful, it just feels like a really, really bad day for my knee, which I have had plenty of in the past six months.  So this pain isn’t out of the ordinary and is well within tolerability, Alhamdulillah. 🙂

JazakAllahuKheiran for the duas, I don’t know if I can post the surgery video yet, because my own laptop has died and this borrowed office laptop doesn’t have a video encoder, but as usual, the inside of my knee looks like a the inside of a cloud with frayed lining, which is then eaten by a small robot with revolving teeth.  A typical arthroscopy.  🙂

Alhamdulillah 🙂

Third time’s the charm?

InshaAllah, I will be heading into the hospital this Thursday morning for another surgery on my right knee, the one I keep banging up in car accidents, plural. SubhanAllah 🙂

Female visitors with shawarma welcome.

Some people, when they imagine Jannah, hope for the exquisite foods, breath-taking architecture, perfected mates, and The Countenance and Pleasure of Allah. In addition to all of these things, I’m really looking forward to perfect knees. InshaAllah.

Please remember us in your duas. 🙂

No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

One little Iman jumping on the bed
She fell off and bumped her head!
Momma called the doctor and the doctor said:
Take her to the ER, she might need stitches.

As life imitates art (or vice-versa?) Iman smashed her head against the corner of a dressing table while jumping on Momma’s bed and initiated herself into the world of the Mortal Wound. And what a dramatic initiation it was- twenty minutes of crying and bleeding profusely and refusing to hold still, blood on her clothes and on her face as she tried to make the pain go away by vigorously rubbing at it. (Note: this doesn’t work)

We did eventually get the bleeding to stop, and then packed her into the car and off to the emergency room in Abu Dhabi. We were seen right away, Alhamdulillah, and were asked only once- “So ma’am, what is the prob- oh. Richard, dressing for the baby please!” Iman was in a fairly good mood, the pain having subsided, and we even went through a few rounds of ‘Five little monkeys jumping on the bed,’ to the amusement of the ER staff. Iman bobbed up and down and tapped on her own head for emphasis, and appropriately shook her head and held out a very stern finger at the final line. But then the fun was over because it was time to actually do something about the hole in her forehead.

In case you’ve ever wondered what the Iman:Normal Human ratio of intensity is, I think it’s three to one. That’s how many people it takes to hold her down so that one nurse can push the edges of the wound together while another paints it with glue, fans it dry, paints it again, fans some more, and then lays down steri-strips, and then clear plastic bandage to background shrieking of “No! Wait! All Done! No No No! Mommaa!”

When it was all done and Iman’s hands were finally freed, she made an angry grab at the bandages on her forehead. Ouch! she cried out in genuine surprise. She frowned, sniffled, thought for a moment, and then tried again. Ouch! *pout*. Cindy and I were trying desperately to not laugh out loud, and we waited to see whether she would do it again. She did. Ouch! *pout* We gave her a glass of water and some tic-tacs, and with both hands full, she stopped taking swipes at herself.

She fell asleep in the car on the way home, woke up in the morning happy, and seems to have forgotten about last night’s trauma. Today Cindy and I moved the furniture around in the bedroom, and the new arrangement is awkward, but at least there is nothing forehead puncturing in the vicinity of the bed. Alhamdulillah, we were blessed that Iman did not get the corner of the dresser in her eye, and I’m not going to risk it.

No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

There’s a monster under my bed, but don’t worry, I think it’s just me.

For the most part, I consider myself a fairly well put together person. Alhamdulillah, I’m not easily given to panic or woe-is-me-ism. Lately though, I find myself being ambushed by sudden, overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and futility. Am I depressed? Not nearly as much as I was last month or so. I think I’m just emotionally vulnerable. And here I am blogging about it, because sometimes the only way to conquer the monster under your bed is to put your head under there with a flashlight and see that it’s only an old pair of bunny slippers.

I haven’t been able to drag the monster out of the dark yet (and to date, I’ve never owned a pair of bunny slippers) but the first step towards a solution is admitting that there is a problem. So I am. And here it is. I, Abez, deliberate Muslim and earnest (if not part-time) seeker of The Straight Path, suddenly find myself face-down in a pot hole when I thought I had been doing a jaunty two-step on the road to spiritual completion and peace. We all hit speed-bumps, but sometimes I feel like someone has laid out a trip wire. And thumb tacks.

Yes, I know, the straight path is bumpy and uphill. It’s supposed to be that way. The easy path is the wrong one. It’s the one with the smooth, fluid, downhill descent into the pleasure of distraction. I could read books all day, I could numb reality with non-stop nonsense, I could fall face-first into the gooey decadence of self-indulgence and then I wouldn’t have to think about anything that stressed me out, because I wouldn’t have to *think*. And if I didn’t think, I wouldn’t worry.

It would seem that I worry a lot. I worry about Khalid, his future, his teeth, that funny rash on his back, whether his pants are too tight, his shoes too small, his hair too long… And Iman- SubhanAllah- I spend hours worrying about her, but not as a mutually exclusive activity. I worry about her while doing other things- like when brushing her hair- how can I teach her to do hijab with passion and eagerness and the certainty that you can only have when the decision comes from both the mind and the heart? Will she be intelligent? Will she be a compassionate person? If she’s not, how can I teach her? Will she pray? Will she resent me for trying to make her?

And then I worry about random people. I only have to step into the waiting room of my doctor’s office to have my mind suddenly awash with hopelessness- all these people waiting around me are worried too, they all need help, they all have something wrong, some things major, some things minor, all of them painful, many of them debilitating. Will they find purpose through their trials? Or will they think they were ok until they hit a speed bump, stepped on a thumb tack and then fell face first into a pot hole, where they then rolled over and found me laying next to them?

On a side-note, the view from the pot hole can be amazing. If you just turn over, you can see the stars. But maybe this isn’t the side-note, maybe this is the whole point. Maybe I lose track of the destination while plodding along, staring at nothing but my feet. Maybe I need to get knocked to the ground so I can turn to the sky. I don’t know if this is entirely true, but I do know that I am never closer to Allah than I am when in pain, in fear, and in need. And in the closeness is a sweetness that you can’t find anywhere else, and that closeness is the direct result of desperation.

I know I am suppose to stand up, thank Allah for the lesson, and keep on climbing, but sometimes I feel like my legs are giving out on me, or that there’s no way I’ll ever make it to the top. I lose hope, though Alhamdulillah, I have yet to lose purpose.

Correction: I refuse to lose purpose. I will not lose purpose. Even if I’m laying in the dirt without the will to get up again, I will still know why I’m there and what direction I’m going to go in once I can find my feet. I need to remember, and God, please help me remember, that if fate gives me a black eye it’s because Allah ordered it. And there is good in it, provided I am willing to see it and that I am humble enough to admit that I deserved it, and Lord knows I have enough sins to warrant some expiation. God give me the strength to admit that Allah knows best, and that losing hope in anything good ever lasting for too long is losing hope in Allah’s Mercy, His divine will, and His greater purpose in all things.

I can’t blame anyone but myself, even though sometimes my fits of hopelessness feel almost out of my control. One minute I’m ok, next minute I’m thinking about how hard all the day-laborers and construction workers have it, how they don’t see their families for years at a time and earn less money a year than most people earn in a month. And I’m thinking that it’s just not fair.

Aha! I lose hope because it’s not fair. To them. Or to me.

Oh boy. I didn’t know my spiritual angst was still a teenager. I bet if my discord had tiny feet, it would be stomping them right now. I’m pretty sure I haven’t whined ‘It’s not fair!’ since I was a baby-faced teenager arguing over how my brother got to stay out late on the weekends but I always had to be home before dinner. At some point I grew up and learned things like:

  • God is just, but people can be cruel and small
  • This world is just a big board game with live pieces
  • Allah will even out all the imbalances on the Day of Judgment, so all ‘unfairness’ is just temporary
  • Setbacks, handicaps, physical flaws, mental deficiencies are a function of the hand you are dealt in a game we all play. And no one has all the aces anyway

And I also learned things like:

  • Allah has promised to not test anyone more than they can bear
  • All pain, worry, illness, stress, etc- when handled with patience and faith, simply erase previous sins in addition to make you stronger
  • Allah has promised refuge to those who seek refuge in Him
  • And if you go to Him walking, He comes to you at speed

So now I need to add some new lessons. And it may be a statement of the obvious, but I think it helps round off the previous lessons nicely. Here it is:

  • Trying to be righteous is hard work
  • When they said uphill, they really meant it
  • Spiritual struggle can be quite a … struggle

By Abez, The End.

You would think the hospital would give us a group discount…

Had HF’s family over for dinner. Made chicken kabobs. And gave every last person food poisoning, in varying degrees, with seven requiring the hospital. Myself included.

SubhanAllah. 2010 has been an interesting year already, no?

The believer is not broken by sorrow
Any more than a mountain is leveled by wind
And neither are battered, but shaped
By the force of storms they would weather

SubhanAllah

One of the great things about not updating your blog regularly is that no one really visits it anymore. So you can write whatever you want to. Like this:

Lab Technician: Ah, a BHCG test, expecting a baby?

Me: No, having a miscarriage.

LT: Oh, uh- I’m sorry.

Me: It’s ok.

-Pained silence-

Once upon a time I was in the US for Owlie’s wedding, and two days after arriving, I found out I was pregnant. And then, after four days of baby shopping, and quietly thinking of names, and imagining sweet little faces with HF’s big brown eyes, I found out I was having a miscarriage. And then I was on the next flight home, a week after I had arrived and a week before my original return.

And here I am today. Blogging.

Because it would seem that my blog fulfills many roles, one of which is catharsis. And I’m an extremely logical person, but my own brain is baffled by how deeply you can mourn something that was never yours and was never meant for you to begin with. I can’t say that I’ve lost a baby, because the baby was never mine. If Allah had willed that child for me, the entire world could not have withheld it from me. But He did not, and so the entire world can not grant it to me.

And the miscarriage was not my fault, and could not have been caused by anything I did or by any medicine I could have taken. The doctor very kindly said so. Which was nice, because up until that point I had been mentally crucifying myself for taking my daily migraine medication. Never mind that I had no idea I was pregnant until three days before I miscarried. I’m a mom, I blame myself for things. The flip side of taking responsibility for your children is that you blame yourself when something happens to any of them, even an embryo that was never meant to be born.

And you cry, and you cry, and you cry. And when no one is looking, and Abu Dhabi is flying past you at 155 kph with the highway roaring and the nasheed blasting, you cry when you remember what you’ve been trying so desperately to drown out.

A few people know, and they ask about me because they care, not because they’re trying to stick their fingers into the gaping, bleeding, hole in my heart. I have to pull myself together and be polite, and patient, and coherent, and talk about things in terms of BHCG levels and non-viability and natural termination. I have managed to not cry in front of anyone but HF and the speed radars on the Abu Dhabi/Dubai highway, not because I’m being Stoic, but because I don’t want anyone’s pity, especially my own. I’m healthy, I’m ok, I am free from permanent physical effects of what was an early and natural miscarriage that required no medical intervention, chemical or surgical. I have two beautiful, amazing children and no reason to believe that I cannot have more, InshaAllah. I have the most loving, supportive, water-proof husband in the entire world, who not only knows what to do with a wife who is crying so hard she’s incoherent, but also to make her stop, and eventually, even smile.

Allah hasn’t wronged me. He never has. And faith says that He never will. Healing is just a matter of time and patience. And being content with God’s will does not mean that I cannot allow myself to grieve. SubhanAllah, may Allah bless those who preserved the life and sunnah of the Prophet, so that fourteen hundred years after the death of Prophet Muhammad, we know what he said upon the death of Ibrahim, his 18 month old son. “”O Ibrahim, against the judgment of God, we cannot avail you a thing.”

His son died in his lap, and when he passed away, the Prophet, with tears in his eyes, said “”O Ibrahim, were the truth not certain that the last of us will join the first, we would have mourned you even more than we do now.” A moment later he said: “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.”

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

Logic and emotion are both part of human nature, and insane, frantic, overwhelming love for your children is part of a parent’s nature. I am allowed to be sad, but I am also required to fight through the blinding storm of grief and find the knowledge that Allah doesn’t test anyone more than they can bear, and all that’s required of me to pass this test is to keep faith and be patient.

Verily we are God’s, and to Him we return.

Inna lillahi wa inna ileihi rajioon

The knee bone’s connected to the- head bone!

So my surgery happened successfully on Saturday morning, and had some interesting highlites.

Dr. Anesthetist: How are you feeling?
Me: Cold, your OR feels like a refrigerator.
Dr. : I’ll fix that. I will give you a cocktail. (Holding up a syringe)
Me: What flavor is it?
Dr: You will like it, it is warm.
And it was warm. Warm and fuzzy. At some point, between the warmness and the fuzzification, I looked up and saw a familiar white meniscus on the TV screen hovering above me, and realized that my orthopedic surgeon had already begun the arthroscopy without me even having felt it.
I tried to look over the blue sheet that concealed the actual gore from me and asked my Dr. Ortho, “Hey, did he give me the spinal anesthetic?”
Dr. Ortho nodded and went on with his work. I turned my head and located Dr. Anesthetist.
“Hey, did you give me the spinal?”
“Of course!”
“When?”
“A few minutes ago.”
“Oh.”
I missed it. I have no memory of being turned over or poked in the spine. The one thing that was seriously freaking me out about my surgery I totally missed. Hooray! I figure perhaps I zonked out immediately after I received the ‘cocktail,’ because I am fairly sure that I maintained consciousness all the way until the point where the Ortho said that my meniscus had a huge tear in it, the edge was too frayed to repair, and that he would try to remove the most damaged parts and save what he could.
And I said, “That’s annoying,” and then I woke up in the recovery room with my teeth chattering. And for some reason, my skin itching as well. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but at some point I stopped itching and fell asleep again, and woke up in the my room with Mona somewhere vaguely nearby. And she had cookies. 🙂
And then I woke up four hours later wondering if I really had seen Mona, and it turns out that if she had been a dream then at least the cookies were real. As were the Doritos, the water, the box of tissues and the M&M’s. Thank you Mona, the munchies produced by your ethereal presence saved me from starvation. 🙂 And we need to get together sometime ago when I’m slightly more conscious, but you’re still awesome. 🙂
I didn’t really and truly wake up until around eight in the evening. I did have several phone conversations before then, but I’m not really sure what I told people, hah. It was established, however, that Owlie had mis-read her return ticket, and was returning imminently instead of the next day, and so by around 10 that night Hemlock and TFL brought me Owl and some lovely rich chocolate cake direct from the airport 🙂
I was discharged from the hospital the next day, and my Momma picked me up, and then we went to pick Khalid up from OT. (Occupational Therapy) He hadn’t seen me for about 36 hours, and when I walked into the room and sat down (and accidentally dropped my crutches on the floor) he began fawning all over me and hugging me. And giggling. Which was lovely. 🙂
And then we drove home and met up with Iman, who hugged me, and then hit me, and then hugged me, and then both of the kids fought over my crutches. (Khalid won. He’s decided that they are ‘tick! [stick]) and believe it or not- Iman began limping. There is no doubt about it, and it was hysterical and very weird- she was following me around and limping, and periodically looking up at me to make sure she was doing it right. She’s amazing, and so tremendously silly.
Within an hour it was time to go again, because as it turns out, Owlie was having a severe wisdom tooth infection, and my dentist had agreed to see her that very afternoon, but she had never seen him before and didn’t know where his office was. So we sped off to Abu Dhabi, having just been in Dubai less than two hours ago, and my dentist (the same one who tried to get me to dislocate my own jaw, good times!) removed Owlie’s tooth right then and there. Or what was left of it, rather. It had been partially impacted, and broken too.
And by then I ran out of steam, fell asleep in the car, and upon arriving back home, stumbled out of the car and into bed for another two hours. I woke up at 9 pm feeling much improved, and with icecream in my lap and a bag of frozen corn on my knee, I proceeded to defeat both of my parents in Scrabble.
The moral of this story? I am not a post-op superman. Today is the end of post-op Day Two, and although I’ve been able to put the crutches aside for hobbling around the house, I’m still very, very tired and physically exhausted. I’m not in a tremendous amount of pain, I’d say about a five on a scale of one to ten- not enough to make you cry, but just enough to give you a perpetual wince.
Hf is coming home in umm… 68 hours! Here’s hoping I’m recovered enough to actually be able to pick him up from the airport!

Hooray for free Wifi! Blogging from the hospital

For my next trick, I will post a two minute review of the hospital before the nurse comes in and starts poking me with things.
The room is nice. Like five-star nice. Hotel nice. With mini fridge and huge flat screen TV, and and vanity kit and lotion and mosaic tiles and luxury bathroom fitting, etc etc. And there’s a pool and spa, but that’s just for the VIP patients. Which I am obviously not, but I think if I were here longer I would try and see how strictly they enforce their entrance policy :p
I was actually here three days ago, and that time in the ER. I had food poisoning, which is why my surgery was postponed, and I have to say their ER staff was so ridiculously nice. They even picked me up off the floor when I passed out in radiology.
The nurse on duty just came in and introduced herself. Her name is Pumula, and she is a tall, black South African woman who name means ‘To Rest.’ Culturally, this is what a mother names her youngest child. I asked her how the mother knows this one will be the last, and she answered “You know, it’s interesting because in those days there was no birth control, so I suppose if a mother named their last child Pumula then the husband just knew he was supposed to go away.” Haha!
The City Hospital gets a positive review on their nursing staff as well.
So far so good. My surgery is set to begin in an hour, and I’m not sure how much earlier they plan on taking me in to the OR. So I should wrap up and unpack my stuff because I won’t be able to do so later. I’ll be having spinal anesthesia instead of general, so I’ll be awake for the procedure but won’t be able to walk four two hours afterwards, or so they say.
Off we go!

Hats off to Dr. Balooshi

For being my more interesting Orthopedic Surgeon. And since I told him about my blog (because I was looking for the video of my previous knee arthroscopy and knew I had posted here a while back) I am now obliged to wave at him. *waves* Hi Doc!

Dr. Belooshi is cool. Not only because once, when I visited, he had a kilo of Belgian chocolates on his desk, but because he hooked me up with some painkillers after my tonsillectomy when my ENT let me down with a pat on the back and a ‘take two aspirin and call me in the morning’ approach to recovery.
(I’ve learned, btw, that the reason why I wasn’t prescribed post-tonsillectomy Codeine as per standard practice, is because in the UAE it’s a controlled substance)
But I digress. My knee is malfunctioning again- clicking and swelling and aching from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep, so we’re going for another MRI and then possibly another arthroscopy. This time, I’ll be awake for when they poke the hole and then the camera inside. I’m feeling slightly weirded out by this. I’m ok with the sight of gore as long as it’s someone else’s. And on TV. I’m not sure what the point of keeping me awake will be if I’m just going to lie there with my eyes closed, gnawing on a corner of the blanket, hehe.

To paraphrase David Allen-

There are some days when the only thing you’re good for is filling the stapler.  On those days, the most productive thing you can do is fill the stapler.  There is no point in trying to answer your email or put together a proposal or talk to an important client on the phone.  You haven’t the brainpower for it, so just be content to fill the stapler.  

Today is a day for filling staplers.  But not too many of them, because they look heavy and complicated.
I’m sitting in corner of Khalid’s therapy center with the laptop on my knees and a cup of black coffee by my side, I’ve also consumed copius amounts of decongestant, paracetemol, and herb tea.  I’m feeling like Ms.Pestilience 2009- and I probably look the part too.  I’m the lump in the corner with the hacking cough, blocked nose, and miserable looking eyes.  I got me some bad germs.  -koff-
I’ve been staring at my computer, dutifully composing and recomposing the same email for the last forty minutes.  I finally picked out the last of the typos, fragments, and goobledygook that working under the influence of germs tends to produce and mailed it.  Now I need a break.  There’s a coffee shop downstairs and I hope they have chicken soup.

Let’s talk tonsils.

So, tonsils.  They’re these things that don’t apparently do much.  I say apparently because they must be there for a reason, it’s just not apparent to us what it is yet.  The sole purpose of mine seemed to be the harbouring of illegal rabble-rousing bacteria who contributed to regular throat infections.  Pharyngitis, laryngitis, you name it, and I’ve had an -itis in it, and it probably meant antibiotics and losing my voice, or worse- finding my voice sounding like a chain-smoking truck driver, one that HF affectionately named Frank.  

So about my tonsils.  They’re gone now.  But they are making darn sure I won’t forget them.  SubhanAllah for your health, Alhamdulillah- the ability to do something as simple as swallow is a blessing that you don’t appreciate until unable to, you end up spitting blood into tissues while your body convulses in pain.  I am not being dramatic.  I am being honest.  Alhamdulillah, I think the worst may be over, but that could be because my orthopedic surgeon (who had nothing to do with the tonsillectomy)  saw me this afternoon for a follow-up and graciously prescribed me a shot of painkillers.   He’s a Good. Person.  
Around half an hour after the shot, I was able to see the world a little more optimistically, as well as swallow my own spit, and once the warm numbness spread throughout the rest of my throat, HF and I hightailed it to Tony Roma’s, where I had my first meal in three days.  I washed it down with three huge glasses of iced tea.  That was four hours ago.  The pain killers will be wearing off soon, and I’m guessing that my outlook on this whole tonsillectomy thing will get much bleaker when it does, but for the moment, I think I’m ok.   Iman is sitting on my desk eating cheerios and laughing just a few inches away from the keyboard.  Khalid and HF are out dropping off Ruth- it’s her day off, and she’s worked hard juggling both kids while I’ve been out of commission, and she really needs the break.  
My brain feels a bit fuzzy, and I’m pretty sure that this blog entry will make less sense later than it does now.  Also, thank God for spellcheck.  
The End.

Right Brain, Left Brain, Toes

Right Brain: I’m cold, turn the fan off.

Left Brain: I’m freezing cold too.

Right Brain: Then we agree. So get up and turn the fan off.

Left Brain: We can’t. If we turn off the fan then the mosquitoes will get us.

Right Brain : I’m not sure they want us. We taste like lard.

(pause)

Left Brain: Look, our toes are blue.

Right Brain: Then why are we wearing sandals?

Left Brain: Our toes are freedom-loving people who won’t tolerate oppression. Any attempt to curb their liberties will result in an all-out uprising.

Right Brain: Then what happens?

Left Brain: They forge an unholy alliance with the shins and all hell breaks loose. You know how these things are. Besides, all of the socks are still in winter storage.

Right Brain: Wasn’t it 38 degrees last week?

Left Brain: Last week was summer. It’s winter now.

Right Brain: It wasn’t winter this morning.

Left Brain: Winter started after Maghrib.

(pause)

Right Brain: So we’re not going to turn the fan off?

Left Brain: No.

Right Brain: And we’re not going to find any socks?

Left Brain: No.

Right Brain: Then what are we going to do?

Left Brain: Complain. And blog. Complainingly.