Friday, January 25, 2008

I finally got the dual-keyboard hack i've been working on working well enough to be useful, so i'm catching up a bit on blogging. Apologies for the chancy capitalization - mac os X doesn't allow cross-keyboard chording, so i'm being somwhat lackadaisical about it. The picture to the right shows my keyboard arrangement - there are actually two apple wireless keyboards arranged in a sort of triangle; i rest my forearms on the two folded washcloths for stability, and then i can just type normally. i've seen keyboards sold that were split like this; the primary advantage of this arrangement is that i have access to all keys for both hands, and since i'm not a touch-typist, that matters. This arrangement wouldn't work, though, because of the chording issue, except that it turns out that chording works in X - just not in a regular mac application. i'd use linux, but there's a serious latency problem there that renders the dual keyboard arrangement unusable.

Anyway, it's been a rough month - on December 21, so over a month ago, one of those fun things happened where your life suddenly takes a detour into pain. Andrea and i were visiting my folks; the very day we arrived, we walked out of the house to go to Mel's house, and i managed to put my foot down on the one spot where there was ice, and i fell on my ass before i even had a chance to realize i was on my way down. Fortunately i broke my fall with my wrist. Sort of like when a $100 transistor blows to protect a $0.10 fuse. Sigh.

The visit to the ER wasn't a lot of fun - the ER doctor put tension on the broken wrist, and the morphine didn't help, but in the end i got out of there with a big splint and instructions to return after Christmas to see the nice orthopedic doctor for a real fix. The morphine didn't help with the pain, and it made me violently nauseous, but otherwise it was pleasant.

Andrea was very competent and businesslike when ferrying me to the ER, which i really appreciated; she took it as a sign that she's cold-hearted, but there's substantial evidence to the contrary. I just appreciated the fact that she wasn't freaking out while she was driving, even though i was letting out the occasional bleat of pain when we hit a bump. Throughout this entire ordeal she's taken amazing care of me, including making me meals, waking up in the middle of the night to help me out with things, even sleeping out in the living room when i had to sleep in a chair the first few nights after the surgery. I shudder to think what this would have been like if she hadn't been here.

The orthopedic doctor set my wrist, which was great because i got to find out what it's like to writhe in agony (breathtakingly painful and also kind of weird). She also put my arm in a cast, which made sleeping really fun, and immobilized my elbow.

Saying goodbye to the folks was kind of heart-rending - they get so little time with us, and this was kind of a hard visit. You get a better sense of how someone feels about you when you see them reacting to you being in pain. My parents appear to be rather fond of me. The feeling's mutual. Sigh.

Then we went to Austin to get our car so that we could drive back to Tucson. We had a really nice visit with Andrea's folks, because the pain was mostly gone, and i also got a core dump from Mike on some C++ features i hadn't known about before that are very cool and make me no more likely to adopt C++ as my favorite programming language (but no kidding, very cool stuff!).

Unfortunately, any feelings of optimism about the pain went away when i saw the doctor - his first words to me, before he even saw the X-rays, were "this is not good." On the plus side, the sedative they give you when they do surgery on you is really, really fun - the surgery was a real party. On the minus side, the drugs wore off, and then the pain was all-consuming - even with the percocet. A double dose of percocet finally took it down to something i could handle, but it was a bad hour or so before that hit, and i was on a somewhat crazy amount of percocet for the next 24 hours. Fortunately the worst of the pain died down quickly, and by the beginning of the week i was able to interact with people using words of more than one syllable.

The good news is that the surgery went well, and hopefully at some point i will once again be able to use my right arm normally. In the meantime, it's presenting fun challenges, and i'm getting a lot better at using my left hand.

Oh, if you are working on healing an arm, don't get any dental work done, because ibuprofen is contraindicated. I didn't think of it as an issue, because i wasn't planning on the dental work causing me any chronic pain, but unfortunately my bite is still not quite right, and that's making some of my back teeth much more excited than usual. And tylenol doesn't really help. But the nice dentist has been really good about working with me to get my bite right - i've seen him three times already this week, and will probably see him again today. It's been getting progressively better; i'm hoping that today's adjustment will be the last.

Anyway, that's the rundown on the pain for now. My next visit with the surgeon is around Valentine's day. Hopefully the news will be good.