Life is darkly funny, and I do love black humor, so at least there’s that. For example, I have a patio that’s covered by a large canopy (a canopy is basically a thousand dollar tarp), and when it snows, I have to rake the snow off the canopy while standing on a ladder part of the time and on the roof of the house part of the time. When I stand on the house part I'm within inches of a high voltage line, but I’ve never been one to avoid looking death in the eye while standing on an icy roof, especially where the welfare of a canopy is concerned. Since it rarely snows more than an inch or two here, and during some winters not even that much, I don’t give my canopy much thought, but as I write this, it's covered by six inches of snow, and snow is continuing to fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if the framing itself collapses, and I find that darkly funny. Here are some other things that strike me undesirable, yet funny enough once I've had a snootful of thing or another.

It rarely gets below 25-degrees F. here even in the dead of winter, so I don't give frozen pipes much thought either, but the daytime highs lately have been near freezing, and the forecast low for the next two nights is 8-degrees. This means that I need to get my crawlspace vent covers down from the attic, and install them over the foundation vents, but my odds of doing it aren't looking good.

...The toilet is running. I can hear it cutting on-and-off as I write, but I can do nothing to fix it... 

Last night, Peggy moved 30 cans of house paint, 20 gallons of juice, and four cases of soymilk from the garage to the laundry room to keep it from freezing. The laundry room is also crowded with dirty laundry, but neither Peggy nor the Queen of England know how to run a washing machine, and I'm still having trouble negotiating the step between the laundry room and kitchen (the one I had so much trouble crawling up last Saturday).

Peggy was so worried yesterday that she called the neurologist that I’m supposed to see on Monday. Here, in my part of America anyway, it’s extremely unusual for a doctor to talk to a patient unless said patient is in the doctor’s office where he or she can be billed $30 a minute, so when I said “she called the neurologist,” what I meant was that she called the neurologist’s staff. However, the switchboard operator mistakenly transferred her to the CEO, so Peggy found herself talking to a man who didn’t say who he was but who sounded very surprised to hear from her. He repeatedly tried to transfer her back to the switchboard, but every time he hung-up, his own phone would ring again, and Peggy would still be on it, so he finally told her who he was and asked how he could help. She described my situation in some detail, and ended by saying, “My husband is in a lot of pain, and he needs to talk to someone before Monday about how to: manage the pain, avoid the constant threat of his entire back cramping, and protect his back from further injury,” to which the CEO responded, “All our patients are in a lot of pain, but I’ll see what I can do.” A few hours later, we got a personal call from the doctor I’m supposed to see on Monday. I was out having an MRI when he called, so he left a message saying he would call back this morning, but he didn't.

I was both astounded and pissy to hear the voice of a genuine doctor coming from my own little answering machine. Unless you’re a VIP (which I had apparently become because of a misdirected phone call), doctors give almost nothing of themselves unless it’s a billable event, and talking to a patient on the phone is not a billable event. If a patient isn’t okay with this, he must be reminded—in this case by a CEO who would not himself have to wait for a billable event—that being ignored by one’s doctor is unavoidable, and that it is unreasonable for one person to complain about it when so many other people are content to suffer in silence. Sure, plumbers and car mechanics might talk to a person off-the-clock, but medical doctors are too well-paid and highly regarded to waste time doing anything for free, that is unless it’s for a VIP, which I now am due to an inept switchboard operator who is probably out looking for a new job.

My internist of twenty years won’t talk on the phone either, but he will write a prescription, and I just love that about him. My most recent prescription was for Fentanyl, a painkiller 100 times stronger than morphine. My 50-microgram dose of Fentanyl is the equivalent of 100 milligrams of oxycodone (another drug for severe pain) per day. I never take more than 30 mgs of oxycodone a day, but I take it all at once, so I think I should survive the Fentanyl, but I’m not completely free of concern because Fentanyl has a nasty reputation for killing people, even wonderful people like myself who deserve to live long lives and who go to great pains to take their dangerous drugs exactly as prescribed. Giving Fentanyl to a person in pain is like giving a nuclear bomb to Slim Pickens, and all I have to say about that is thank the Good Lord for nuclear bombs because I had much rather be incinerated instantly by a nuke than to be hacked to death slowly by a sword. 

I would love to take a nap, but the neurologist did say that he would call again, plus my internist’s staff is supposed to let me know if the thing on my left kidney is a cyst, a hematoma, or a tumor, and I’m just nosey enough to want to find out. 

As I was finishing this up, somebody named Corey called from the internist’s office called to tell me that the growth on my left kidney is "a very large cyst that might need to come out." I asked if it could be malignant, but he didn’t know. I asked what caused it, but he didn’t know. I asked what would happen if I didn't want to cut it out, but he didn’t know. That’s all I know, that and the fact that it's not a tumor.

Peggy is making snow ice cream (snow plus condensed milk), so I'm outta here.