Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Muffin Saga, Part X

How to make God laugh: Tell him your future plans. ~ Woody Allen
Eight days hospitalized can blow anyone’s plans and it certainly blew mine. There was no possible way for me to attend the Interim Ministry Network’s certification course in Oklahoma City in mid-January. So I contacted the Network’s national office and rescheduled for the course taking place in Tucson, Arizona, in March.

I’m fairly certain that that was OK with Muffin. She had evidently been traumatized by both my illness and my absence. When I returned to my temporary abode in my mother’s basement, she greeted me by jumping as high as she could and licking my face over and over. She was reluctant to let me out of her sight. She even followed me to the bathroom door and scratched at it while it was closed. That was new behavior for Muffin.

Meanwhile I was so weak that I couldn’t go anywhere so Muffin’s fear of my leaving again wasn’t to be realized for a while. I was much too frail to go out for any length of time. I needed to rest and recover.

The only real recovery problem that I had was that when I left the hospital after eight days of being treated for pneumonia, along with other medications, I was prescribed a bunch of steroids supposedly to wean me off the steroids I had been receiving intravenously while hospitalized. The instructions were to take four pills for three days, then three pills for three days, and so forth.

I had never heard of roid rage until I experienced it, which I did on the third or fourth day of the weaning routine. I was irrationally angry, yelling at my mother and Muffin, even feeling like kicking Muffin, which, thank God, I did not do. At some point I left the house, got into my car, put it in reverse, and stomped on the accelerator. I had to slam on the breaks to prevent ending up in the yard across the street. I sat in the car and took deep breaths to regain some sanity. Then I slowly drove back up the driveway and went in the house, where Muffin greeted me as she had when I returned from the hospital.

I did not know what was happening with me, except that I wasn’t OK. I petted Muffin and began to feel some calmness returning. Then I telephoned the physician who treated me for pneumonia while I was hospitalized. As luck—good luck—would have it, he was out of town, so I made a long-distance call to Indiana and the physician who had been my doctor for the past eleven years. This was the excellent, because he was an acknowledged expert in sports medicine.

After I explained what was going on and told him the medications I was prescribed at the hospital, he informed me that I was suffering from steroid rage, which he said affects some folks. He recommended that I flush all the pills except three down the toilet and take those, one per day, for the next three days. I followed his advice and quickly returned to normal.
Again, Muffin had saved me. She was a calming presence when my body felt anything but calm.

With almost two month before I had to leave for Tucson, Muffin and I began to explore Louisville, where I had not lived for more than twenty years. Unfortunately, my mother’s house didn’t have a fenced yard and the county had a leash law. Muffin couldn't go exploring on her own.

Thus Muffin and I began taking long walks with her on her leash. We explored the subdivision where I had lived from the age of ten to eighteen. Muffin, who was so often led by her nose and stomach, really wanted to raid garbage cans, which wasn’t on my agenda. I spent an abnormal amount of our walking time tugging on her leash to keep her away from cans that, according to her nose, contained food scraps.

We needed another place to walk—a non-residential area where Muffin wasn’t tempted by garbage. I had already made contact with fellow clergypersons in Louisville and so asked their advice. Several spots, almost all of them parks, were recommended, so Muffin and I began daily drives (Muffin loved riding in the car) to explore these parks. And we walked—we walked a lot. And I loved it and Muffin loved it.

Part XI of The Muffin Saga will be published next Sunday.

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