Diversions: Body Shops & Rental Cars

Got up this morning, ate breakfast, declared myself thoroughly stinky, took a shower (this is a bit of a production these days, so has slipped a bit from being a daily occurrence), got dressed to go outside (yep: Adidas drawstring-waist warm-up pants, my go-outside uniform until the abscesses heal up), and took the truck over to the body shop to start repairs.

And thus began The Rental Car Adventure(?).

The person who hit me’s insurance, Allstate, prefers Enterprise to Hertz. There’s a Hertz on-site at the body shop, but of course if I wanted to use them, I’d have to pay for it myself and submit the bill to Allstate, whereas if I went with Enterprise (which has a location just up the street from the body shop), they’d direct-bill Allstate. As I’d rather not be out any cash on this deal, I was a good boy and said I’d go with Enterprise.

So the Enterprise guy picked me up at the body shop. And when I got to their location, I was to be put into a Nissan Versa, which is sort of the hair-shirt of automobiles. This despite the Allstate person assuring me I’d get a regular sized car instead of a tiny tin box. After some questions, I was told I’d get a Ford Escape instead (I’m okay with this), but it was at a different location and would I mind taking a ride? Sure, why not.

So we hopped into the Versa (it was indeed a hair-shirt and smelled of stale cigarette smoke besides) and off we went to a different location and I saw the Escape and then we went inside and I was given a Toyota RAV4.

It’s not bad, but it doesn’t have satellite radio. It’s got about 19k on the clock, and 3 Continental tires and one mystery brand tire. And the left rear seat has stains on it that looks like someone went wee in the seat, but I won’t be sitting there. I duly noted that stain and the more normal-looking stains on the driver’s seat bum in the pre-rental inspection, of course.

So they email me the rental agreement, and I noticed (too late to fix it tonight) that they think they’re getting the car back at 8am tomorrow. Um, no, given that the truck will likely be in the shop for a couple weeks… so message left and I’ll get that sorted tomorrow so they don’t report it stolen or something.

The rest of the day passed for what amounts to normal: I came home, ate a food, got a few billables in, and now I’m resting to recover from the day’s activity so I can sleep decently.

But I still wish the rental had sat radio. It’s got lane-departure warning (with steering assist if I want it), emergency braking, distance-following cruise control, automatic lights, but whoever at Enterprise that ordered it didn’t check the box for SiriusXM. Oh, well. I’ll suffer a bit… or go get the receiver out of the truck and use my spare car kit and the aux-in that the RAV4 does have. Heh.

Next: tomorrow.

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About Accepting Help

I’m really, really, REALLY bad at accepting help. It’s just my nature to be the helper, not the helpee. It’s why I got involved as a Helper Monkey on the JoCo Cruise: I get so much out of the experience, I feel compelled to give back so others can have as much fun as I do. It’s why I’m an SCCA Flagging & Communications marshal: I have so much fun at the race track, and this is a prime way for me to be there, get a spectacular place to watch the races, and only occasionally have moments of stark terror if things go horribly wrong in my sector of track (see: 2013 Houston IndyCar race for the one with all the video online, including some of me running *toward* the crash as it was happening). In general, I’m at my happiest if my karmic scale is tilted firmly toward “giver” rather than “receiver”. It’s just how I’m wired.

So, today, Matt Blehm showed up at the house and gave me endless grief about my grabbing my work gloves (habit, Matt. Habit) as he dove into what amounted to one of those sliding tile puzzles where you have to do things in the right order to solve the puzzle. He hefted tires and wheels. He hooked up my trailer to his truck, emptied the throwaway stuff out of it, schlepped my tools and other personal gear into my garage, and towed the trailer (and Darth Neon contained within) all the way back down to Alvin. I fed him a mediocre lunch and gave him some unicorn beers that I won’t be able to drink anytime soon (stupid colostomy. Stupid chemo). He just stepped up and did it, on what turned out to be a record hot day here in Houston.

In case you were wondering, Matt’s an SCCA guy. He’s a racer. He’s a flagger. He’s someone I’ve had the pleasure of working a turn station with on several occasions, and he’s someone I trust to watch my back. And he’s another Tulsa boy, too.

I’m well aware that I’m going to have to dip into the (very deep) well of folks who have all contacted us since my diagnosis in December to help us. I don’t *like* it, but I’m aware of it and I’m starting to accept it. In the last couple weeks, it’s started. Diane Carter graciously took the time and spent the gas to haul me to and from a doctor’s appointment so Kim wouldn’t have to take 2 days in a row off from school during the run-up to the state testing. Matt busted his ass moving my stuff around and burned some serious diesel hauling that thing down to Alvin. Doc is taking the Neon back. Richard Tomlin is going to do SOMETHING with the trailer (maybe fix its rust problems and then use it to haul his stuff to Mexico for the next Chihuahua Express – there’s room for a spare LS in there, Richard – or maybe salvage the good stuff off of it and scrap the rest). All Good People. And this isn’t even scratching the surface of the long list of friends who have offered help.

Kim and I have each other, and though we’re both broken, each in our own ways, we keep each other going. But we get by with a little help from our friends. And I can’t thank them enough.

Abdominal Openings Updatery

Well, officially back down to 4 openings as my surgeon looked at the drain, looked at the log of fluid that’s come out of it (a grand total of 30 ml, but not all at once, mind you) since it was installed a week ago today, and decided to pull it.

I’m guessing that more than 30 ml of blood came out after he pulled the tube.

I am SOOOOOOO glad that I lost a day of my life and paid a $300 copay to have that fucking thing installed so it could do nearly nothing for a week and be removed.

The surgeon and his PA changed my colostomy bag (good, because Hellmouth 2 had made a right mess of the outside of the previous one, plus it had reached its sell-by date this morning and started to breach just as I was about to leave for the surgeon’s office, so I taped it up enough to get there.

Hellmouth 1 is clearly now communicating with the seroma cavity, which will explain why Hellmouth 1 is considerably less goopy than before and the sermoa has been way goopier than before.

Hellmouth 2 (which, since I hadn’t mentioned it yet here, was numbed, opened, drained, irrigated, and packed by the PA yesterday) is still in somewhat of an angry, ouchy phase, but it’s much less goopy today than it was before.

The seroma, as mentioned, is goopy.

I got a 10 day course of antibiotics yesterday, so there’s that, too.

The surgeon is in agreement that we should delay more chemo until all this stuff gets healed up properly. With my healing factor (okay, I just *wish* I had Wolverine’s healing factor, because then I wouldn’t have the cancer, either) coming back online as the residual chemo leaves, we’re hoping that may only take through June. We’ll see how much it comes back, of course, because you never really get back all the way with cancer and cancer treatments.

He’s also convinced that at some point during chemo, my primary mass “self-perforated” and leaked just enough poop into my abdominal cavity that all these abscesses started up trying to deal with it, and the body tries to find an exit for that crud, so it found the easiest way out – my midline incision, and other weak spots.

Anyway, I did get some good sleep last night, unlike Sunday night when I basically didn’t sleep, and I’m going to try to get good sleep tonight, so this is all I’m writing. But hey, got the poop and pus updates in!

Brief updates

So I’ve got a 2nd Hellmouth (abscess) opening up. Hellmouth 2: Electric Boogaloo isn’t as big as the original Hellmouth, but is inconveniently located just above my stoma, so trying to seal up its goop is kinda complicated. It’s been reported to the surgeon (complete with pictures), and I’m going to go in on Monday and get it handled (i.e. opened up, irrigated, and packed, which cuts down on the goop emissions and promotes healing).

I didn’t really sleep last night, so today has been a series of naps punctuated by trips to the bathroom. I’m about to go redo all the dressings and packings and deal with all the goop – yep, the seroma and the original Hellmouth have gotten in on the Be Very Goopy act the past couple days. Yay. Meanwhile, the drain I had installed this week has hardly produced anything. Go figure.

Meanwhile, my flagging friend and fellow cancer patient/survivor Kevin McKenna posted a link to this piece about coming out of chemo and recovering. As I’m just on a break, not done, I know that I’ve got a lot more to experience before I’m told I’m in remission, but I’m seeing the seemingly random effects that hit me occasionally, even though it’s been about 6 weeks since my last chemo infusion. You really don’t just “bounce back”.

And that’s what’s going on here. Gauze, packing strip, Tegaderm, and tape. This is my life now. Well, and laundry to clean all the clothes that get gooped on.

More Adventures

First off, tomorrow I get a drain installed in what we all hope is just another pus-filled abscess (should I add “pus” as a keyword in addition to “poop”? I will decide by the end of this post), that just happens to be inconveniently located such that it will require live CT scan intervention radiology to place. This will make the number of unnatural holes in my abdomen that excrete SOMETHING total 4.

This will require “conscious anesthesia” and part of wants to see the cool tech of how the live CT works and part of me wants to be in an induced coma until such time as all these extra holes are healed, the cancer is gone, and I’ve been hooked to a TENS system enough that my muscle tone is actually better than it is now.

Yeah, that latter thing? Probably not gonna happen. So I’ll be loopy for the procedure tomorrow and then home and then the first of the not-family Team Crider contributions hits as Diane drives me to the post-op appointment on Wednesday as I’m not quite trusting myself behind the wheel so soon after anesthesia of any sort.

End of next week is when Matt shows up to help me out with disposition of ancient race tires, trailer contents, and ultimately the trailer and Neon. That’ll free up just over $200/month in storage. Yay.

Meanwhile, those of you on Facebook may have already seen that on the way home from a routine post-op visit with the surgeon & his wonderful PA this past Thursday about noonish, I got hit on the US-59 access road just before I could get on the actual freeway itself. I was in the far-left ramp lane and starting to accelerate to freeway speed to merge when a lady in a newish Nissan Maxima pulled out from the side street just logical west of Lakewood MegaTaxScam, crossed the right and center lanes, and used the right side of my truck to complete her turn.

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow, but the short version is we waited over 3 hours in a parking lot for HPD to show up and take the report. On my 3rd call to 911, exactly 3 hours after the first one, I was given to the watch commander and told we had the option of going to a police station to make the report in person. After discussing it with the nice lady who hit me, we agreed we’d waited long enough, and I went to the station and… was handed 2 copies of a blue form that doesn’t even have a way to file with the police department at all. Sigh.

Well, today, I called her insurance, because whatever she says, I was on the through street and had right-of-way, and she pulled out from a side street and hit me. “Failure to yield” is what the police call that when they issue you a citation for it. I’d add “improper right turn” as she skipped the right lane – and the center lane – and went straight for the left lane. And the fun part is she told her insurance company that I had changed from the left to the center lane – a pleasant fiction as I can show the fresh curb rash on my *left* tires from where I smacked the curb that’s left of the left lane trying to get out of her way. And it doesn’t change the fundamental fact that I was on the through road and she pulled out from a side street into me.

So now I have to download her insurance company’s app, enter the claim number, and then follow its instructions for taking pictures of the damage. And then, in my copious free time between medical situations, get it to the shop (assuming the claim is approved and they agree to repair it and don’t try to total it for what is basically cosmetic damage as all the structure is straight).

Oh, and all this happened on Interruption Monday. I’d get started on a planned task and PING! message. Reply, start back on task, PING! message. This went on all morning. Lather, rinse, repeat.

And on top of that, I don’t think I slept much last night. I got to bed way late, then just after 2am, my bag blew its seal (note: this was the bag I’d put on about 7pm, so yeah, that was a great success), and fortunately I was awake ENOUGH to catch it and keep it from getting the bedding (I actually have a couple of sacrificial towels on top of the sheets, but you get the idea), and with a mutter, “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck fuck…” trundled off to the bathroom to deal with it. Because it’d only been on about 7 hours, instead of a nice, clean removal, wipe down, skin barrier, seal goop, bag installation that takes about 20 minutes now, I had to (carefully, so as not to upset the skin) pick off residual seal goop that had remained stuck to me instead of the old bag, so about 55 minutes later, I got back to bed, just about 3am. And I didn’t really sleep after that, either, I don’t think. Maybe a little. In any event, I got up just after Kim left for work a tick after 7. And I’ve been up ever since.

Which allows me to end on a poop reference. On-brand, Crider. On-brand.