Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Today is Old Samhain Eve. Orion and the Pleides are dancing each night off to the east before I go to bed, and winter is coming. When I go outside at night I hear the waterfall of the creek over an old fallen timber and occasional night birds off along the boggy area. The lack of leaves on the trees means that there is a little more noise from Richmond Road as cars race out of Lexington towards Athens or to parts unknown, but it's dark enough outside that on a clear night I can see all Seven Sisters, and it makes me happy.

Today is Veteran's Day. Hug a veteran.

Today it is raining, so no constellation spotting tonight. It's a grey, grey day, forboding in its gloom as we descend towards winter's half-light, but at least it is not too cold. If the rain continues, we will soon be in the top ten of wettest years on record here. Last week I saw a bit of the UK-Georgia game, and the natural turf is still bright green. Actually, most of the grass is still pretty green; only the treelines show up as brown or grey. Even the roses are still in bloom.

Today it seems that each day my hand is getting worse. Today I'm having trouble pushing myself out of my chair without pain shooting up to my shoulder. I'm dropping things. I can't feel small things between my fingers...I haven't always for a long time. I gave up sewing years ago, for example. But now I'm having to rely on my eyes to pick up a piece of paper. The pain only serves to remind me, though, that in a couple of weeks I'm going to have to be even more careful. I'm nearly ambidextrous, but there are certain things I do much more naturally with my right hand. The left is bothersome, but the right is really getting severe. My writing, basic hygeine tasks, etc. are already suffering, and it'll only get worse, at least until everything heals. I absolutely won't be able to lift anything for awhile, and even after if heals, I'll have to be careful of my wrists because that hard sheath that protects the nerve will no longer be in place. Overall it's going to make my life better, but I'm not entirely prepared for this. I think I finally bolstered myself up for surgery and now the challenges of recovery are starting to hit. I know it's a really minor procedure, and many people who have endured far worse probably would just think I'm a big wuss. But I've never had anyone cut into my body. I've never even had stitches. I've never been on any pain meds beyond advil or tylenol. I'm just not sure what to expect. Some of the people I know are planning for our annual Christmas party, what they'll wear, etc. I'm wondering what you wear when you have to keep your hand in an elevated angle like the bicycle signal for 'right'. Chiffon? I'm thinking I should definitely banish the animals from my bedroom after the surgery. I'd hate to get cat or dog hair stuck in the sutures. You know, that's the kind of weirdness that's going through my head today.

Today I'm reading, as an escape from my own impending medical procedure, a book by John Calapinto called 'As nature mad him: the boy who was raised as a girl'. I remember the case being brought up in high school social studies; identical twins where a botched circumcision led to one of the boys being surgically 'assigned' a female gender, being raised as a girl, and how this case had been seens as a triumph of nuture over nature. But it really did fail, because by the time I heard about it, the boy--a couple of years older than me--had already reassumed a male identity and was taking measures to reclaim his masculinity. The book examines this from the family and the child's point of view--a side of the story not put forth into the medical literature until recently. It shows that the complexity of our sexuality is such that we cannot necessarily put all cases into neat boxes...for example, the same treatment that may help a transexual who feels like a woman trapped in a man's body cannot necessarily be projected with similar results to a child who is born with an intergender issue or is the victim of a similar accident. (And what an accident. It wasn't a slip of a scalpel. A doctor inexplicably used a machine with an electric current in a way that today would have been treated as highly litigatious and _incinerated_ an 8-month-old's genitalia in the bungle. It was carbonised. The sad thing was, the twins were undergoing circumcision due to an overgrowth of the foreskin and after the accident, the other twin (who was not circumcised) eventually had his condition resolve on its own. So not only was it unnecessary in the long run, but it wound up becoming a central issue in the life of this child, his family, and medical debate. I recommend the book...it's written by a journalist and utilises interviews, transcripts of an on-camera interview with the doctor, and transcripts of tapes from the man's medical records. It's not fictionalised or melodramatic. Overall I'm pleased by it so far, and I have immeasurable respect for the struggle that this young man and his family went through.

Hope you're having a good 'today'. Take care.

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