Sunday, December 13, 2009

Once more into the Breach, dear friends…

Whoa! Two days in a row I find enticement sufficient in me and a craving for the written word as I understand it. The Lord’s Day has been site and muse for much of the inanity that comes your way once I send the “Updated Blog” email. I suppose it might be a sort of opportunity to glorify my Maker, and steer clear of the banality that has become my primary means of entertainment. The shows I watch with fidelity are all on hiatus in anticipation of the birth of Our Lord, and my new DVR has not yet discovered the ambiance necessary to grasp my attentiveness in a manner consistent with my mental infirmity.

I woke this morn, for the second day in a row without the requisite level of throbbing discomfort issuing from my hip. I have had this wretchedness as a constant companion for about two years. The result of an indiscretion of my misspent youth, it has been announcing itself with regularity, here of late, in a vociferous pronouncement that in order for me to find relief, I must heed to a rather persistent and imagined call for replacement. My former practitioner of the Hippocratic arts shared that, given my girth, this drastic remedy is inevitable.

I have spent time in my life devoid of the ability to walk upright and on two legs. These periods of misery were the absolute characterization of hopelessness, despondency, and outright torture. I have an unreasonable fear of not being able to walk. It is the thing of nightmares, and I most probably aggravated my present condition by denying the need for treatment. The only concessions I have accepted is a handicap license plate, and the need to ride the electric carts provided at the retail marketplaces I trade at.

Of late, the weather has decided it would act as if it were bipolar and not taking any medication. The result is that I missed two days of work this week, and I spent most of those days, when I wasn’t simply hurting, screwing up the courage to go to the doctor. This session of distress forced the use of a cane (a recent surrendering on my part) and the realization that it would be quite possible for me to be a cripple in the near future. (I told you it was an unreasonable fear)

I ignored my hindrance and went to work. I was not exactly at the top of my game. I placed the cane in a place where all could see, in the hopes that it might prevent some sort of irritating comments. I did the best I could and cried at lunchtime due to the pain. I waited for all to be gone from the building before doing this.

My secretary/aide/daily savior and I had a discussion on an alternate form of treatment that might not be covered by insurance, and I went ahead and made an appointment. It was with a chiropractor. Eighteen years ago I engaged in this activity with disastrous result. It is particularly difficult to x-ray a person of my size, and the doctor attempted to treat me without actually knowing what damage I had done myself. The incident put me in the hospital, unable to walk, for four days. I had fallen out of bed, and could not get up. I did not have a telephone and was forced to crawl to the balcony of my apartment at the time and bellow for help. I rode to the hospital in an ambulance laying on a stiff piece of wood that aggravated my condition. I did not have insurance at the time, and the hospital wanted to turn me loose. It was only after threatening litigation that I was admitted.

I have nightmares about that episode, especially when I encounter serious bouts of agony. I do not take narcotic medication, which is the only effective pain relief, due to a dedication to preventing me from sinking back into the horror that is my life without the gift of Twelve Step recovery. This all sound rather dramatic, or so some would say, but it is real. Anyone who disputes it needs only to walk a mile in my shoes, or rather, the forty or fifty feet that I am currently restricted to without pain or assistance. No. Let the bastards try to walk a mile in my shoes and see if they don’t weep and wail. Whoa, time to turn a corner. I need not fall victim to my anger or depression this fine morning. Apologies.

Friday is a half day for my school, and my appointment loomed in front of me. I went to the cafeteria to eat lunch with my kids, and ventured off to the frightening rendezvous with destiny

Upon arrival, I remember thinking that it would be better if the man doctor saw me instead of the woman. It was a woman doctor who threatened my existence with surgical inevitability, and my dread began to grow when told I would be seen by “Dr. Shirley.” By the grace of the God of my understanding I found my large chauvinist derriere pleasantly rebuked. The nice lady who took my information graciously took hold of my hand and told me that it would be okay. I don’t know if she could sense my fear or not, all I know is that she treated me with a kindness I am not used to.
The doctor entered with a smile and earnestness which I found surprising. In person I am, due to my size and an almost constant frown attributed to my pain level, an intimidating person. She examined me and told me exactly what it was that hurt on my body. She assured me that it would be okay. I needed to be x-rayed and return Monday. I clarified my concerns and she quietly soothed my trepidation with reassuring words.

Her aide was also the Radiology tech who worked particularly hard to get the x-rays needed. It, as I expected, proved mostly useless. She, however, did not give up, even when I began to ask question that might be construed as doubting her abilities. I have had problems with x-ray techs not listening to me and producing unusable films. I desperately did not want to be argumentative with this sweet lady. I began to cry in the x-ray room. I tried to conceal this, and probably failed. I found myself despondent and despairing of any relief. I have been in this condition before and found it completely demoralizing. The tech softened her voice and placed her hand on my cheek, “don’t worry, we are going to help you today. You’ll feel like a million bucks when you leave here.”

The doctor came in and she, once more, comported herself with kindness and reassurance. She told me that I would have to be x-rayed on Monday by another tech that had vastly more experience and might possibly get a better view. The film already taken did reveal that she would be able to help me. They gave me a treatment of vibration and sent me on my way.

Standing up from the treatment, I found that the cane was no longer necessary.

I do not impress easily, and this stunned me. I left the office and drove away in a semi-stupor. I drove without destination. I found myself in a wholesale club riding the electric cart with no reason to even be there. I found some things to buy, and I looked at some things that I will never be able to afford (a sixty inch high def television to hook up and watch banal television shows that cost a sum equal to what I pay for rent for an entire year.) I paid for my purchases and rode by the concession stand only to discover that they served Nathan’s Hot Dogs. These are famous in my state of origin, New York, as being the best in the world. I categorically agree. I sat there consuming said ambrosia and wondered at the pleasantry this world can offer one. I went into the belly of the beast, and came out relieved and reassured. I found life to be better.

Leaving the place of banal dreams I noticed a kid I know. He is the eldest son of some dear friends of mine. He is a gentle, loving soul who is not bound by convention where it comes to his emotions. I called his name, “Jason!” He turned and looked at me, and immediately stopped what he was doing (helping a customer) and gave me a hug. I remember sitting in a hospital room where his father laid in distress and this kid informing me that “Real Men Hug!” It would not be an exaggeration to say that this child gave me exactly what I wanted for Christmas. As did the wonderful ladies I sought relief from. Certainly it helps that my pain has nearly abated, but to find ones true desire is a great and vast gift. I can feel sorry for myself in this world, and people will still treat me with love and dignity, regardless of my manner. I can still believe in the things I write of. But most of all, I find that even if my dread would come true, I will find the same as I did in my distress and relief this day. Love and dignity from my fellow man or woman.