I’m not dead, just fading away


Let me tell you, cellulitis is no fun at all. I had a rocky weekend of excruciating pain, culminating in an an emergency room visit and big ol’ needles puncturing my plumply adorable butt. Then this morning, our Changes in Nature workshop started up, and I gamely stumbled in and did the first 3 hours. And that’s it. I’m done. I have collapsed onto a cushy chair and am lapsing into a kind of restless catatonia.

Oh, right, there was another doctor’s visit after class, and more needles and pills. No, really, I can’t do no more.

The onslaught begins

I haven’t been slacking — next week is the last week of classes, and everything is coming due. I just got a stack of lab reports to grade by Monday; I’m giving a lab final next week; I’m giving two unit tests at the end of the week. The students are freaking out a little bit, realizing that all their sins are coming home to roost and they only have a few shots at redemption. So it’s going to be a crazy week and a half.

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Quiet morning

I’m about to go off to the local clinic for a visit with a specialist, who’s going to figure out all the things wrong with me. It could take days, weeks, or months, who knows…but if I don’t make it back this afternoon, just figure I gave up and have donated my body to science.

That went unexpectedly well. I’m in good shape, the infection that was making me miserable is clearing up, I’m not getting shipped off to the body farm just yet.

The most dad thing

It’s too late for this, I’ve got to get some sleep — I have to go catch a plane in the morning. It’s a list of the most “Dad thing” people’s fathers have ever done, and it just made me sad. It’s all these embarrassing or old fashioned or idiosyncratic stupid quirks from their fathers. There’s a depressing tendency to treat older fathers as behind-the-times dopes, Homer Simpson on the way to becoming Grandpa Simpson.

So I had to think of the most Dad things my father ever did.

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Life goes on

When I stepped off the plane at Heathrow the other day, my phone pinged, and I got a message from my daughter: “We’re getting hitched.” Very efficient. Brevity is a virtue. It reminds me of me: after Mary agreed to shackle herself to me for life, I mentioned it to my parents as we were going out the door — “By the way, we’re getting married.” We didn’t have email in those days, or I would have used it.

I’ve since gotten a few more details — I had a good idea who “we” were, but it was nice to get confirmation — and she’s now publicized that thing newly engaged women all do.


That’s one down. Now I must mention that I have two sons who are eligible bachelors…if anyone is interested, contact me.

London suggestions

I’m landing at Heathrow at the appropriately ungodly hour of 6am on Thursday, 7 August. I need to check in to the WHC in Oxford sometime that evening. That means that there is that whole day stretching in front of me. So a few questions:

  • I’ve been to that part of the world a few times, and I know the trains make it dead easy to get anywhere…but if anyone familiar with the lines can spell out for me ahead of time what I have to do to get from Heathrow to Oxford, it would be appreciated. (I know, just go to transportation, find an information desk.)

  • What is there to do in that neighborhood, anyway? If anyone wants to meet up for lunch or something, I’d be happy to…but I know it’s a weekday workday, so I expect nothing.

I am looking forward to 9 days in the UK!

I’m free!

In a dashing break from my imprisonment, I threw a walker through my hospital room window, cleared the broken glass with a crutch, and then rappelled down some hospital sheets tied together, to run away from angry orderlies waving hypos filled with calming drugs…

Nah, not really. I endured four or five boring hours of waiting while paperwork was filled out, took an elevator, and hobbled slowly home. My knee is much better now — I won’t exactly be tap dancing, but I can get out of a chair and walk across the room without blistering the cat’s delicate ears with profanity, anyway.

Interestingly, I ran into what has to be a common doctor’s dilemma. They had multiple hypotheses about what was wrong — gout was high on the list, with a bacterial infection in the joint capsule running second — but you don’t get to do the nice tidy sequential controlled experiment when your patient is in great pain. So they treated me for both possibilities simultaneously, while doing lots of diagnostic tests. And then they discover both that my synovial fluid had none of the crystallized uric acid characteristic of gout, and was also delightfully clean of bacteria. But I was getting better anyway. They had some other hypotheses that they were interested in looking into, but dang, the patient was healing and their interesting disorder was fast disappearing. So I checked out, and we still don’t know what caused the problem, or what fixed it. This is why I never wanted to be a doctor: it’s so unsatisfying to not be able to treat the patient as an experiment.

Although I am warned that if the knee worsens once I’m home, I need to report in to the hospital immediately, and count on staying there for at least a week while they dismantle the joint. I’m hoping I don’t have to give them closure on this one.