Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Kinahurah Chronicles

The hamsa, an ancient symbol
used to ward off the evil eye.
I’m sure many Wheelchair Kamikaze readers have noticed that I haven’t put up a post in some time. To those who haven’t noticed I say, what’s up with that? Do you not wait for my every new entry with bated breath? Or, at the very least, with bad breath? As they say, bad breath is better than no breath at all…

In any event, the reason I haven’t posted anything in quite a while is that the hellish saga that I recounted in my last two posts lives on. Just a quick recap: in the first those two posts (click here) I wrote of waking up one morning with excruciating pain in my right kidney area, which subsequently led to two visits the emergency room. The second post (click here) reported on my joyful experiences getting a garden hose stuck up my schlong, in the form of a catheter. At the end of that post, I said I was starting to feel better and was sure “I’m in recovery mode.” Stating something so overtly optimistic was apparently a big mistake. I almost certainly gave myself a kinahurah.

For those uninitiated in the delights of Yiddish, the colorful language that once flourished among Eastern European Jews, a kinahurah is a word used to ward off a kind of jinx, an invitation to the universe or some jealous spell caster to hit you with a whammy whenever somebody (including yourself) says something even vaguely positive about you.

In practice the kinahurah works like this: somebody says something optimistic about you, like “hopefully I’m in recovery mode” – my exact words in my last post – or “you’re so smart, I’m sure you’ll get that raise,” and it’s an open invitation to getting an evil eye from the envious or from a vindictive universe. In one of those twists of language, the word can also refer to such a curse itself.

So, to ward off any potential torment, after even the faintest words of praise one quickly has to say “don’t give me (or him or her) a kinahurah,” or, simply, “kinahurah.” Growing up I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother, whose words were heavily sprinkled with Yiddish, and I think I heard the word kinahurah at least half a dozen times a day. I definitely should have known better than to say “hopefully I’m in recovery mode” without prefacing it by first writing “I don’t want to give myself a kinahurah, but…”.

In any event, the kinahurah got me and got me good. When the catheter was removed from my putz (might as well continue with the Yiddish theme) I thought I was out of the woods. Little was I to know that there was a big fat kinahurah waiting for me, in the form of a vicious urinary tract infection. I have never experienced a UTI before, and though I’ve heard other MS patients talk of how terrible they can be, I really had no idea.

For the first couple of days after the catheter was yanked out of my schmeckel it felt as though I was passing a parade of fire ants every time I urinated, but I figure that was just a side effect of getting a fire hose wrenched out of my schmuck. Soon enough, though, I started getting feverish, and all of my MS symptoms ramped up tremendously, leaving me almost completely debilitated. In all honesty, the following few weeks passed in what was some sort of a semi-delirium. A urine culture confirmed a UTI, and I was put on an antibiotic called Macrobid, which may have made me feel worse than the UTI itself.

Macrobid is a drug used exclusively to treat urinary tract infections, and since I’m allergic to penicillin, there were very few other effective antibiotics left to choose. Another candidate was Cipro, but Cipro doesn’t mix well with tizanidine, a drug I take to combat horrendous muscle spasms I get in the night (have I ever mentioned that MS sucks?). I unwittingly took Cipro and tizanidine together earlier in this dreadful sequence of events, and the combination was like a date rape drug. I was out cold for the better part of a full day, and I’m pretty sure my wife took advantage of me – by watching the Hallmark Channel in peace, I think.

After seven days of Macrobid, I remained so weak I could barely spend 15 minutes out of bed. Furthermore, it still felt like I was urinating razor blades and shards of glass. My urologist feared I might have developed a kidney infection, and I was put on Cipro despite the tizanidine problem. I reduced my dose of tizanidine dramatically, though, and things were tolerable.

In addition to the antibiotics I tried every sort of natural remedy I could find, some recommended by my wonderful naturopath. These included drinking unsweetened cranberry juice, downing tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar, and eating whole cloves of raw crushed garlic mixed with honey. Turns out that crushing a clove of garlic releases a compound known as Allicin, which is one of nature’s most potent antimicrobials (click here), and raw honey also has antibiotic properties. Of course, raw garlic also wards off vampires, and, in the amounts I was eating, other human beings as well.

Now, finally, after seven days of Macrobid, 10 days of Cipro, and all of the above natural remedies, I seem to be coming around. Kinahurah! Still far from where I was before the kidney pain started, but I’m no longer trapped in some horrible fever dream, sweating garlic byproducts by the pint into my bed sheets.

I know many MS patients, especially females, suffer from recurrent UTIs and somehow manage to deal with these nasty infections, and all I can say is hats off to them. It’s long been said that females are the stronger gender, and there’s some proof.

This whole miserable episode has left me puzzling how to avoid any hint of kinahurahs in the future. I know I won’t always remember to invoke a protective kinahurah every time I say something vaguely positive or hopeful, so there must be another way. After much thought, I do think I’ve hit upon a solution.

I once asked a philosophically minded MS neurologist how it felt to be a doctor who has never cured any of his patients. His answer was surprising and succinct. He replied, “Well, life is a terminal illness, so what patient is ever really cured?”. No arguing with that, is there? A sobering thought, and one containing just enough existential angst to take the shine off of all the but the most optimistic statements, don’t you think? Maybe even enough to serve as a kind of kinahurah catch all.

So, moving forward, my strategy to combat the kinahurah will be to end all conversations, correspondences, and other communications with the phrase “life is a terminal illness.” That should counteract even ambiguously positive statements that might attract the wrath of some jealous evil eye thrower. All of my emails and messages will now be signed “Regards, Marc Stecker, Life Is a Terminal Illness,” and my telephone conversations will end with “Goodbye, Life Is a Terminal Illness.” One can’t be too careful, now, can one?

Hopefully, now that it feels like I’m urinating only lightly boiled water I’ll soon be back to posting essays on these pages more regularly. Kinahurah.

Oh, apologies to all of those who sent get well notes and messages over the last several weeks, very few of which I was able to respond. I hope to be able to resume actively corresponding shortly. Kinahurah.

Life is a terminal illness.

31 comments:

  1. Kinahurah, you should be feeling well and able to be writing these great posts for a long time. Because "life is a terminal illness". One I hope to be suffering from for a while ! Wishing you health and happiness, from a fellow MS fighter! Shalom

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    1. Hi Arlene, thanks so much for the kind words and well wishes. Wishing you health and happiness as well. Kinahurah.

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  2. Great article Marc. Thanks. LITI

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. LITI right back at you…

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  3. The Mal ochia. Grew up with every known spirit chaser hanging either on our door, above it or hammered into the sash, such was my ethic neighborhood. I quickly learned how to ward off excessive compliments with crossed fingers or various other contortions of my hand behind my back. Looking back it's a wonder the nuns didn't have me expelled for pagan rituals. MS blesses or rather curses us with these special gifts, UTIs being one of the ones I dislike most. Thanks for sharing your Yiddish with me. In our neighborhood we referred to things male with different words slang which makes me wonder if that is a regional dialect term. Lol. Since the aunties are no longer alive to discuss these things with I shall be left to wonder about schmeckels and schmucks and schlongs and geography

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    1. Yes, it seems that many ethnic groups have their own methods of warding off the evil eye, but they share a lot of common qualities. I think these practices are especially prevalent in Eastern European and southern European areas.

      As for schmeckel's and geography, the Jews took Yiddish with them whenever they were chased out of one country or another, so they kind of took their geography with them. Unfortunately, yiddish is a dying language. Here in New York City in the early to mid 1900s, when there were still lots of people around from the old countries, yiddish was a flourishing language. There were even daily Yiddish newspapers and a thriving Yiddish theater scene. Now, sadly, almost all of that is gone.

      That said, I'm sure there are regional words for the genitalia of both sexes. I love learning about regional dialects, although those too are now biting the dust due to the influence of mass media, which is creating a single American dialect. Even here in New York, I hardly ever hear the old thick New York accent, except when I'm talking to my relatives…

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  4. UTI's...ugh. I had a similar experience a few months ago - two rounds of antibiotics (first one didn't work - Cipro) until it went away. Then straight onto pneumonia and two days in the hospital. Now I take cranberry pills, apple cider vinegar, d'mannose, and probiotics daily. Plus I use a bidet. They are Dumbo's feather, probably, but if ANY of them work...I really want to avoid UTI's. It was horrible.

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    1. Sorry to hear you had such a rotten stretch of illness. I had no idea how miserable UTIs can be, I definitely don't want a repeat performance…

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  5. omg Marc. An epic saga indeed. We can all be grateful that your sense of humor is intact and riding high once again. My family doesn't know about signs and special words, but we do put white light around people and things all the time. Therefore I am shooting some your way.

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    1. Thank you for sending me some white light. I think it arrived late last night and woke me up. Just my luck…

      I hope that my sense of humor will be the last thing to go. Without it I would have gone crazy a long time ago. Not that I'm not crazy…

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  6. george was convinced a black cloud was hanging over him. He was right. Didn't matter how many "eye" charms we hung on him, or how often we Greeks spit to break the evil hold (see My Big Fat Greek Wedding), in the end, FATE was the winner. Life is a teminal illness and hopefully you will now pee blissfully.

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    1. Hi Hilda, yes, George did have an extraordinary streak of bad happenings afflicting. At times I can't sit here and help but wonder what I did to deserve this. Of course, I don't know any MS patients who deserve the disease. Although I see plenty of people on the TV news shows who could use a healthy dose of multiple sclerosis. How is it that rapist, murderers, and child molesters saunter easily in and out of courthouses and prisons, but I can't take a step? The gods must be crazy.

      Thanks for the wishes of blissful urinations. May they come to fruition…

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  7. Agree with Daphne-lovely to see the sense of humour riding high again (is my spelling giving away my Englishness?!!). Hope the terminal kinahurah philosophy works. Shalom

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    1. Why, yes, your spelling is giving away your location. Although I suppose there are a few places in the world that share your quirky spelling. Here in the good old USA we spell things right, dammit!

      I'm hoping my blanket kinahurah policies will work as well. Kinahurah and life is a terminal illness.

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  8. Hats off to you Marc! Since your picture shows how much you like a hat it seems the right thing to say. I agree with everyone who has commented about the way we are all stalked by the threat of UTIs. I have tried many of the same cures. So far (kinahura) it has worked.
    Since I am still here and commenting just as you are, and posting, I just need to pay homage to us older ones that will soon pass welcome the new guard, younger people, who will take up the charge

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    1. Yes David I do like a good hat, although these days the head rest on my wheelchair gets in the way of anything with a brim. Puts a serious crimp in my style.

      Glad to hear that your anti-UTI practices have paid dividends. Certainly an investment worth making.

      I heartily concur with your paying homage to the old card and welcoming in the new, although I wish there was not a new guard. Let's eradicate this scourge, not just "manage" it. Profits be damned…

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  9. The anglicized equivalent in my family (passed down from my maternal great-grandma) is "don't look up; god spits."

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    1. Not only does he spit, I believe he also craps. Sometimes it feels like I was beneath him at the wrong time after he ate some bad enchiladas.

      Another Anglicized version of a Yiddish expression: man plans, God laughs…

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  10. omg I didn't know there was a name to ward off the bad stuff-I just say 'oh we probably just jinxed it'...that's supposed to unjinx it..how do you pronounce kinahura....phonetically?

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    1. Let's see, kinahurah would be pronounced kin-a-her-uh, with an emphasis on the "her", I think. Kind of a fun word to say, actually.

      "I jinxed myself" is a fair equivalent to kinahurah, but kinahurah has some darker, more paranoid connotations… It's like there's a curse waiting around every corner, just waiting to jump you…

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  11. Marc, there must be something wrong with me because I laugh at your horror stories, or is it that you tell them so well, or at least humorously. Well familiar myself with UTIs, I keep a bottle of cranberry concentrate in my refrigerator, and I take some at any miniscule sign of potential UTI. Glad you’re back.

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    1. Hi Judy, I'm relieved that you are laughing, because I do try to make these things humorous, or at least some of them. I don't think I've yet met a crisis that hasn't warranted a few good jokes at its expense.

      I will certainly be on guard for any future signs of UTIs. I think I would go with the garlic cure first, as that seems to be the most potent of the natural antimicrobials. Also, I like garlic…

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  12. Just like the Fight Club, the first rule of the Evil Eye is you DO NOT talk about the Evil Eye.

    Good luck.

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    1. Yes, I know, talking about the evil eye is just asking for it. Kinahurah. But I felt the need to spread the word… Both literally and figuratively…

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  13. Good lord Marc! These have been some harrowing times for you. UTI's are often pretty bad (ask me how I know this!)... But it sounds as though you're on the right track = so hope you feel better soon :). Barbara

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    1. Thanks, Barbara. Yes, this was certainly a nasty experience, and it'll take a while for my body to recover. I'm very slow to recover from any kind of physical trauma, whether it's illness or physical damage. Has something to do with my messed up endocrine system…

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  14. as a new reader to your blog and in a similar situation (46 y/o diagnosed 2002 as ppms), your observations and commentaries are hilarious and spot on.
    after what I call “earning my degree in urology” at UTI, I urge you to opt out of the garden hose/schlong method of urine drainage and go with the suprapubic option. first, the uti’s are more comfortable. the insertion and extraction WAY more comfortable. encrustations and blockage are less and finally, it leaves your Willy free of the “rip cord”, making intimacy a lot more intimate (wink, wink).
    Of course, if you’re like me, the final benefit listed really no longer matters. In my case, Willy has “gone the way of the dodo,” or something as such.
    and ask your urologist about Sulfameth/Trimethoprim... my doc says cipro is child’s play...for what it’s worth.

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    1. Hi, Michael, welcome to the blog but I'm sorry that the subject matter is of interest to you. Glad I could make you laugh, though.

      Thanks for all of the advice, I will take it under serious consideration. As for now I'm hoping to avoid any type of catheter, as I think my problems urinating our emanating from an enlarged prostate. It seems that having MS doesn't exclude you from getting the typical ravages of aging. Seems like it should, but no such luck.

      Sounds like you are taking things relatively in stride, which is a good thing. Keep up the fight…

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    2. You mentioned earlier about taking Rituxan. One potential side effect of Rituxan is "painful or difficult urination"., so the cause of your troubles might not just be the "ravages of aging". Glad you are doing better now--Kinahurah. https://www.drugs.com/sfx/rituxan-side-effects.html

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  15. Glad to hear from you again! No one else could describe a UTI in such ghastly detail and still make me laugh. Terminal Kinahurah would be an awesome band name.

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    1. Thanks for noticing my absence, and I'm proud to be able to describe UTIs in such a unique fashion. They call me the UTI whisperer.

      Yes, Terminal Kunahurah would be a great band name. If only John Lennon and Paul McCartney had thought of that, they might have found some success…

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