The last four months have been really challenging for me, consisting mostly of battling with illness, travel, injuries, and exhaustion, alternating with frantic work to meet deadlines jeopardized by the first four items. However, I’ve slowly worked my way through all that, and at the beginning of February, I remarked to a friend that for the first time in four months, I finally felt fully recovered and ready to go to work on my business again.
Two hours after telling her that, I walked down the driveway to my car, tripped, and fell – hard – onto my left hand.
After several hours running around various medical facilities, we wound up in the emergency room at El Camino Hospital, where the doctors X-rayed my impressively swollen hand/wrist and determined there were no broken bones (thank goodness!). However, because of the swelling, they couldn’t tell how much other damage there might be. It could be anything from a bruise to a nasty sprain; there was no way to tell (short of spending $10,000 on an MRI) until the swelling went down. They sent me home with a wrist brace, and suggested making an appointment with my primary care doctor in a week or so, once my hand looked normal again. Ice, elevation, etc. in the interim.
Having a partially disabled hand, even if it isn’t your dominant hand, is unbelievably frustrating. There’s the small stuff, like needing to get shampoo and conditioner in pump dispensers, or struggling to button anything (especially jeans). Annoying but manageable. But there’s bigger stuff. Like being unable to drive, and (most infuriatingly) being reduced to typing with one hand. Particularly if you normally type 90+ words per minute, and almost everything you do or say requires typing. It’s like trying to download a large image file over an ancient 300 baud modem – technically you can do it, but the process is so slow, painful, and never-ending that it makes you want to shoot yourself.
The good news is that things are improving – while the swelling isn’t entirely gone, some of the knuckles are visible again, and I can touch my palm with the tips of my fingers, though I can’t form a fully closed fist yet. I can drive again, and I am (gingerly) starting to venture into the exciting land of two-handed typing! So I am making progress. I’m going to see a doctor sometime next week to get it evaluated. Given how swollen and painful it was right after the accident, I’m pretty sure I sprained something, and there’s enough residual pain that I want to get it evaluated. Hands are too critical to leave to chance.
Since I haven’t been able to do any of the things I should be doing, I’ve been doing the next best thing and embracing frivolity. (If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.) So I have put in quite a few hours on the puzzle, and am now making amazingly fast progress, mostly because my color sensitivity has improved drastically while working on the puzzle.
Here’s where I was 2.5 hours into assembling the puzzle.
At this point I could only vaguely identify where each piece belonged, maybe within a 4-5 piece radius. Adjacent pieces looked nearly the same color, so I had to try each piece in a lot of places. Worse, a lot of the pieces were ambiguous in their fit, so even if a piece looked like it fit, it might actually belong two or three pieces away. And on top of that, because the pieces are completely featureless except for the color, there was no way to check whether a piece was where it belonged. So I would pick up a piece, try it in a dozen places, put it where it looked like it fit, only to find out, after putting ten more pieces together, that it didn’t belong there at all. Assembly was fiendishly difficult.
Five hours into assembly, I was moving a lot faster than at first:
But it still took a total of 11 hours to go from this:
However, the next tray went a LOT faster. Twice as fast, in fact. Here’s the red and orange tray at the start.
About two and a half hours later, I was about 2/3 done with the tray:
This morning, I went on a rampage, and spent 4.25 hours working on the puzzle. I finished off the red/orange tray and emptied the entire yellow/yellow-green tray:
There are 2.5 trays still left to assemble – blues, purples, and blue-greens mostly, plus a few rows of pieces on the top and bottom of the puzzle, and the edge pieces. I’m deliberately assembling this puzzle from the center out. That’s because the puzzle is almost exactly the size of the table, so having pieces around the outer edges (assembled or not) means they’ll almost inevitably get knocked off onto the floor, to be snapped up at once by the lurking puzzle gods.
“And how are things going with the puzzle gods?” I hear you ask. Well, they’re happy and healthy, though they find their human slave’s temporary disability exceedingly annoying. Fritz, in particular, has been suffering because I was unable to give him a proper belly rub for almost a week!!! Scandalous. A proper belly rub requires two hands: one to scritch his head and the other to rub his belly. With the injured left hand, I wasn’t able to scritch his head properly. The first day, I tried giving him a one-handed belly rub. (Totally unacceptable!) On the second day, I figured out that I could use the thumb and forefinger of my left hand to give him a two-finger head scritch. Half a head scritch is better than none, but a day or two ago I was able to give him a proper belly rub again. (And there was much rejoicing.)
So Fritz was able to start doing yoga again:
Tigress wasn’t especially disturbed by my injury, though she did accost me as soon as I returned from the ER to inform me that I had missed her daily play session, that my unapproved absenteeism was totally unacceptable, and she was going to dock my salary for the missed time. I pointed out that, while she was totally right about my being the world’s worst human, and that no cat should ever have to put up with a human as awful as me, docking my salary would only matter if I actually got paid for catering to her whims. 🙂 She muttered something about humans, bad attitudes, and selling me downriver to work on a catnip plantation, but finally settled for insisting that I play with her RIGHT NOW. Fortunately it only takes one hand to play with the mousie toy (a little mouse-shaped toy on a string attached to the rod), so the queen and mistress of the household was soon convinced to forgive me.
Which is good, because a grumpy Tigress looks like this:
Definitely not the first thing you want to see in the morning!
Puzzle-wise, the Strategic Puzzle Defense System (aka a sheet of plastic dropcloth pulled over the table at the end of each session) seems to be working fairly well, at least when I’m not there. However, most security systems fail not due to brute force attacks, but are compromised internally, via Trojan Horse attacks or other forms of infiltration. For example, I caught one puzzle god posing as a tourist, sniffing oh-so-innocently at some terrified puzzle pieces:
Despite her protests of innocence, security escorted her from the controlled area – five times in rapid succession. (She is a very persistent spy.)
And then the other puzzle god showed up, seductively purring, “I’m just an adorable, beautiful cat who wants to keep you company! I have no interest in your puzzle pieces, I just want to tell you what an awesome human you are!” And I’m a real sucker for cats with beautiful soft fur and gorgeous eyes, so I let him stick around for awhile:
So the Strategic Puzzle Defense system works just fine, but since humans are supremely gullible where cats are concerned, the puzzle gods may well win in the end. (Because cats, as we all know, are way smarter than humans. Or so my cats tell me…)
Puzzle gods vs. human: the titanic battle rages on…