Friday, December 5, 2008
An oddly great day
Both a preface and an addendum: I wrote this on Friday and took it down sometime over the weekend. I felt badly that I hadn't thanked a number of people who have graced my life in person. I also thought "no more diary-like entries." Now I'm re-posting it, without any changes:
Today is my birthday. I woke up, had a shower, and Dick drove me to the emergency room. On the way there, I noticed I had a lottery scratch ticket in my bag. Once in a while I buy a bingo card, because they take some time to do, and I have a good time calling out the numbers if I'm alone or in my head if I'm not (okay, sometimes I do this when I'm not alone). I have never won my two bucks back. Don't get all excited yet. I only won ten dollars. But it seemed like a good sign.
The hospital waiting room was blissfully empty. I only waited five minutes before I was seen. I stepped out to use the restroom, and when I came back, the doctor was there. He said something like "you seem quite mobile" in an accusatory voice. I was immediately on edge. The night before, I was in agony, but I knew I could get through it, and honestly, emergency rooms are usually nightmares after midnight. I'd prefer to suffer at home.
I didn't feel all that bad this morning, comparatively, but I knew I was getting worse, not better, and as I don't have a doctor's appointment until the 22nd, it was back to the ER.
Around here, and I suppose probably all over this country, people go to the ER with headaches and backaches, just to get drugs. So, I suppose seeing someone who said they were in so much pain looked suspicious.
But, this particular doctor was listening. I explained what had been going and he took me seriously. He seemed positive that he knew what the problem was. He wasn't going to slough me off on someone else. He said he was going to give me an injection in my spine. I asked, "Will that hurt?" "Not to me", he answered. I had to laugh. I said, "When I was a tattooist, I used to say that to everyone." Then he asked me if I knew this old tattooist, who had died years ago, which I did, and we talked about him for a while. It occurred to me later that this guy was smart enough to realize that a person who's heavily tattooed would not complain of so much pain if they didn't mean it (well, unless they were looking for drugs). But I wasn't. I was looking for help. The pain and numbness patterns all told a story that he understood, because, for once, someone was really paying attention.
I got my shot ("I guess you must be really scared of needles") and as the medication spread into my spine, the pain went down a couple of notches, even in places where I can't remember ever not having pain. I have had this pain for most of my life, and I have never had appropriate medical attention. I got used to it. I did a lot of yoga. I stopped bothering with doctors. But then, it got so bad I couldn't do any physical activity.
You don't need to hear the whole story, do you?
The thing is, I had a lovely day. I really did. After we got out of the ER, Dick and I went to a real hole-in-the-wall Lebanese restaurant where the food wasn't dumbed down for Yankees. I felt like I had left the country for an hour. I had a falafel and hummus sandwich on home-made pita bread. It was spicey and tasted like there might be an entire head of garlic in it.
Afterwards, I got a haircut. I looked a wreck; pale, bags under my eyes, exhausted. My hair even looked exhausted. I've dyed it one too many times and it's been completely robbed of any luster. No hope for it at all. In the past, I would have just shaved my head (see last post) but I felt like doing something new. A real "style". Quite frankly, it's awful. I'll never be able to do whatever the hairdresser did with that huge round brush and a blow dryer. Eh, it's only hair. I had a good time having someone wash my hair with some insanely fruity shampoo and being around folks who all seemed so animated. I said that the shampoo smelled nice. "Do you want to purchase some?" "No, it doesn't match my perfume" I was exhausted when we were through. I suppose staring in the mirror at my lusterless hair and tired face wore me out. And, I had been at the ER for almost three hours. But, I had to stop and buy a hairbrush.
We made one last stop to for birdseed and suet and headed home.
My mailbox was filled with goodies; a bottle of Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant and another free book from Amazon, "The Housekeeper and the Professor" by Yoko Ogawa. This looks like it's going to be the first of four books I've received that I can actually read. The rest have been duds. An awful lot of junk is published, and I suspect an awful lot of good writing is not. Who are these editors?
We ate avocados and sourdough bread for dinner. I adore avocados, and they seem almost decadent when it's twenty degrees outside. What a pleasure.
I discovered dear TMC put up a birthday wish for the entire world wide web to see. This touched me greatly. I have met many wonderful people on the Web. I read and hear so much about the "bad side" of the Web, but you can find something bad in everything. I want to give my thanks for all of you I've met here. You are all special, and have enriched my life. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but tonight I think not.
And with that, my day ends. An odd day, not one that is the picture postcard of what a birthday might be like, but it was a very beautiful day in its way. And I want to thank my partner, Dick, for being the kind human being that he is. He gave me a card with a photo of two young girls playing dress up. Inside, besides the personal stuff, he wrote, "I'm the one on the right." The personal stuff is personal. Yes, some things still are.
Painting note: Jan Steen The Doctor's Visit 1626
Addendum: I also wore my brand new replacement bra. But I'll save that story for another post.