Friday, September 23, 2005

Ears, electricity, and parting gifts

My visit to hospital today was really fun. It started off with a relatively harmless visit to the ENT clinic. Here, they poked and prodded my ears, and confirmed that yes, my right ear (where they replaced my eardrum) had healed, and the stuffy feeling was probably leftover from the gel foam. (Gel foam is what they squirt behind your eardrum and in front of your eardrum when they replace it. It takes about 12 weeks to dissolve.). Then, they looked in my left ear and confirmed that Yes, it still has a hole in it. We bantered around a bit and then settled on a few tentative surgery dates in mid-to late October. Then I had to get a new audiogram so the ENT folks could see how bad my hearing was damaged and if it had recovered at all. The good news is that in the mid-and low range frequencies, my hearing is almost normal. And it's generally crappy in the high ranges, but that's to be expected given my age, my profession, and the fact that I was blown up.

Between the ENT and the audiology appointment, I had an EMG appointment. I'm not sure what EMG stands for, but I think it stands for Electrocute My Graft. Basically what they do is map out the nerves in my hand by taking needles and poking them in the acupuncture points. Then (just for kicks, I think) the electrocute them and see how much resistance the nerves to give to carrying the "signal." Sometimes my hand curls up, sometimes it jumps and sometimes it does nothing. The cool thing is that when it does nothing, they up the voltage. Sometimes upping the voltage causes my hand to curl up or jump, sometimes not. If not, they continue to increase in the voltage until, well, I'm not really sure why they continue upping the voltage. This goes on through the various acupuncture points from my fingertips to my elbow (sometimes to my mid-bicep.).

The first time I experienced this was just before I was released from WRAMC to go back home. Then, I considered it a rite of passage. This time, the purpose of the electroshock therapy was to map out my nerves and see how much improvement (if any) I've had in the last three weeks. What they told me is that basically my radial and ulnar nerves have an incomplete injury (meaning that they are cut, but not necessarily all the way through) and that my median nerve has a complete injury (meaning that it is cut all the way.) Interestingly enough, I could've told him that when I walked through the door four weeks ago. Let's get something straight, this shit hurts. And it doesn't just hurt when they're doing it. Sure, the increasing voltage through my limb hurts, but then, just for good measure, it hurts the rest of the day. You know, that deep aching feeling you get when your hands are really really cold? And then you slam them in a car door? And then dunk them in boiling water to warm them up? Yeah, that kind of hurt. I'm not sure that Hitler was ever a neurologist, maybe he relegated treatments like this to Joseph Mengele, but I'm sure that they had something to do with inventing it.

Needless to say, it takes a lot out of me. Carren I had a crappy night's sleep last night; when we came back to the room late this afternoon, we crashed. We woke up around nine and went to get a bite to eat. I'm sorry I never got a linkup with the Protest Warriors outside of Walter Reed. I wanted so much to do that, to thank them for picking up the baton, and for supporting those inside the gates.

However, Carren I decided that we will still go to the Air and Space Museum tomorrow. We're not going to let a bunch of pansies keep us away. And, if we happen to see a Fighting Aces T-shirt out there, will be sure to stop and give them a hug. (If they are in the protest march (and not the protest the protest march) I will beat them to the ground, and rip the T-shirt off their body.) I say again, if you do not support our troops and their cause you do not speak for me.

By the way, does anybody know I can get 100,000 little bags of dog poop? I did meet Roger Clemens while I was in the hospital; he supports our troops, do you suppose he would mind throwing 100,000 fastballs? If he is busy, maybe we could just hand them out to the protesters as parting gifts.


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