Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Larry’s dad

Larry’s dad died the other night. There are a lot of very heavy things running through my head about that. First, Larry’s dad died. And I feel bad for Larry and his whole family. I mean, if anyone could deal with a situation, it would be Larry; I think if he lost three limbs from a freak case of gangrene, he would still be riding around on his motorcycle a week later using a broomstick and some duct tape to shift gears, as if nothing happened. The dude has seriously seen Papillion far too many times to really be affected by anything short of a close nuclear strike. But I do feel bad for the rest of his family. And while a lot of us seem to be either dealing with or avoiding our parental units, it seems that Larry had a genuinely decent relationship with his old man, and that makes the whole thing a damn shame. So my thoughts and condolences go out to the whole Falli clan.

To a lesser extent, the whole death thing really fucks with me. As an atheist, I don’t believe in many of the stock things you’re supposed to say at this time, and I really feel like a vegan at a hog roast. In some way, death doesn’t bother me, but it bothers me that I can feel that way when others are truly affected. And others have mentioned that they thought at some point later in life, I would have a schizoid episode and the grief of 40 years’ worth of funerals would all hit me at once, and maybe that’s true. I don’t really know.

There’s also the issue that I have a dad the same age as Larry’s, and he’s not exactly running triathalons these days, and sooner or later, I’m going to get the same phone call in the middle of the night. And that used to be an abstract concept, but now it really fucks with me. Even more, I am 23 years younger than my dad, and my doctors are bitching about my blood pressure and cholesterol, and the whole thing makes me think I should eat nothing but wheat germ and vegetable shakes and buy a treadmill and put it in front of my computer, because seriously, I’m going to snap my fingers twice and I’ll be 60. Fuck.


I went to the doctor yesterday. My foot got all better after predisone, and after a ten-day course, I stopped, and then the foot got worse and once again looked like a canned ham with toes. I went in and they decided to give me a cortisone injection in my ankle joint. This involved first giving me a couple of shots of lidocaine, and then pulling out some fluid, and then the actual injection. Because I go to a residence clinic, this meant the tiny exam room was filled with my doctor (a resident), an attending, a med student, and a nurse, plus a big old cart of supplies. I had to sign a waiver before they could give me the shot. The med student asked me a barrage of stupid questions that weren’t entirely stupid, but made me think she read about five paragraphs about gout in college and now for the first time had a real live case on the table. So yeah, the “do you eat shellfish” stuff was annoying, but maybe that helps in the long run, and she won’t misdiagnose her first real gout case in the wild, like 80% of the docs who have stared at my feet in the last decade.

When I’ve had the same procedure done in my toe or my knee, it was by a solo orth surgeon or podiatrist, and the banter consisted of nothing but “okay, here we go”, followed by many jabs of needles. This time, there was a whole mini-lecture of shop talk, with the attending saying “you want to go in shallow into the meta-subcarpal-lingual-inner-whatever and then turn to the left”, which was weird. The injection itself was not bad, at least not as bad as the inter-joint toe injections I had before – I was pretty much confessing to war crimes I didn’t do during that one. But any injection that first requires other injections is not that fun. This time, they used one needle apparatus and multiple syringes for the draw and the shot, which means I only had one hole in my ankle. It also meant I looked down and saw this giant piece of hardware stuck in my ankle for no reason.

I think the oddest thing is that when he was pushing fluid into the joint space and sort of jockeying around my ankle to get more in there, I had this really intense sensory memory experience. The injection, or the way he was pushing, felt entirely like one of the large-bore intramuscular allergy shots I used to get in my arm. And for a split second, it was like I somehow mind-melded with some ancient memory of being in the Elkhart Clinic in 1980. In that millisecond, I remembered all of these distant facts of the place – the hospital smell of the air, the bell in the elevator, that paging bing-bong sound in the office, the chairs, the cotton alcohol rub, the downstairs lobby waiting room. It was all so strange that all of that hit me at once, as if I touched an alien obelisk and was suddenly infused with the knowledge of another planet’s cultural secrets. I always thought smell was my strongest sense, but having my inner cells pushed around by a few moments by a liquid infusion seemed to trump that.

Anyway, the shot did good, although it was not as magic as I would have liked. I also got two prescriptions to try, and I am now on colchicine, and hoping it won’t make me shit my pants in the near future. I also got my blood tested – see previous discussion on cholesterol. I know I have high cholesterol. I know I can’t radically modify my diet without becoming a basket case. I know I could not have any of these problems if I ran five miles a day. I can’t do a treadmill on crutches. So there.

I think I’m starting another blog of technical stuff. I always run into a problem when I’m coding or writing and spend half the day researching it, and then find the stupid answer, and six months later, I’ve forgotten and need to start all over again. So I should be writing these down. And since 90% of the ruby on rails docs I find are consultants who do just this in an effort to scare up work, maybe I should do the same.

Okay, busy day. Gotta get on it.