Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bustin’ Arse

Last Monday at skate practice, we raced around the rink on our toe stops. With knees bent for balance and maneuverability, the voice of Miss Corliss, my first ballet teacher echoed in my head with “Never step on pointe with a bent knee – you’ll have big, ugly knees!” One second, I was rounding turn two, and the next second, airborne and then immediately, intimately acquainted with the wood floor. The fall was not forward onto padded knees and elbows like we practice, but onto my backside, which we avoid. It hurt enough to make me dizzy.

Time became fuzzy. People came over to help. I rolled onto hands and knees, which felt better. Someone from the training crew (HiLee?) had me lay flat on my stomach. Ice was offered and declined, and when the dizziness subsided, I crawled/scooted to the center of the rink to get out of the way. Caitlyn hung with me, providing welcome (and possibly unthanked) company while I assessed my body parts. And then, like a cloud passing, it didn’t hurt anymore. Well, not much, anyway. I finished practice. Putting all my weight on my left leg hurt, which was a practical reminder to stay balanced over both legs.

Falling was purely a matter of time, and based on some of the commentary now filtering in, my odds-making friends had been quietly making book on it happening months ago. It took a solid six months longer than I figured it would, which makes it worse, as I should know by now how to fall. Whatever. Stuff happens.

After practice I hobbled to the car (or whatever you call a CR-V). It hurt getting into said vehicle, but once in, it was okay until time get out. The queasiness in my stomach cancelled the idea of supper, and prompted a choice to hit bed early. It hurt laying on my back and it hurt to roll over. I don’t think I moved all night, but I have long had a special talent for sleeping relatively motionless, and if I slide out of bed sideways like a paper doll, making the bed is a breeze in the morning. This talent was perfected in high school when I fancied myself some sort of efficiency expert for the precious three minutes saved per day. No, I am not kidding.

Tuesday morning delivered mostly major stiffness. Oh, and screaming pain if I moved either of my legs laterally. Putting pants on hurt. Finally dressed and at work, I moved more deliberately and slower than usual, which mostly means I was not flying through the office like a tornado. The co-workers probably appreciated the absence of my usual high speed travel. Sitting was not a problem, so, armed with my extensive medical education from Word of Mouth College and WebMD-dot-com Medical University, a broken coccyx was ruled out, as everyone I know who broke theirs (there are many) listed that as the primary symptom. I could (and did) sit all day. Walking around or standing was less fun and more painful, so it was avoided. I made it to belly dance class after work.

Tuesday night it snowed and Wednesday morning there were several inches on the ground. I got ready for work, slowly. Stuff still hurt when moved certain ways, so putting on socks felt like a feat worthy of Cirque du Soleil. While Moose did his business outside knee-deep in snow, lacking a practical snow removal tool like, say, a snow shovel, I swept the walk with an indoor broom. The sweeping motion was most unpleasant and my pelvis screamed at me in painful bursts and stabs which made my stomach churn. I looked at the feeble broom, and across the suddenly expansive yard to the snow-covered CR-V. I considered my four bald tires (pointed out by the oil change tech back in the fall with a cautionary note to replace them before the winter weather), and the incline of my driveway. The idea of clearing the walk, car, and driveway to reach side streets of unknown condition felt like a challenge akin to climbing Mount Everest. A call to the office yielded a roads report and calendar update. Two people out of ten had made it in, and some were coming in late. I had no meetings on the calendar. It was settled – sick day for me.

Thinking my pelvic area would soon stop hurting with rest, I took it easy and gave it a chance. The snow and ice caused Wednesday’s skate practice to be cancelled. Thursday, while hobbling around the office in semi-slow motion, it occurred to me to call my chiropractor, not for an adjustment, which seemed too painful a proposition, but for an x-ray. He has spinal x-rays from my initial visit there and would have something for comparison, if needed. Unfortunately, as so often happens , I got busy doing the work my bosses expect of me in exchange for a nice, steady paycheck.

Suddenly, the clock read 5:30 and I was a half-hour late for the museum fundraiser. Instead of a grand entrance perched upon my usual three inch heels (a clever ploy to avoid hemming too-long pants, with the added psychological benefit of making me feel model-tall), I slunk in wearing sensible low heeled boots that handle well on ice, and my newest fat ass wool pants from Goodwill. Derby has helped several teammates lose a pant size or two, and unfortunately, I am finding them. The closet now holds, at best, three pairs of pants that fit without danger of busting the back seam open upon sitting.

Casual Friday had me wearing a skirt, boots, and a hoodie to work because none of my jeans fit and sweat pants are not allowed in the office. While laboring over a newspaper ad schedule, with a new sore throat and earache, I sneezed, which caused my pelvis to feel like it was splitting in half. And because I almost always sneeze in pairs, I waited for the other sneeze to fall. It came with another shot of pain, which settled it – somebody was going to look at this. The chiropractor is closed on Fridays, so my primary care doctor won the raffle.

Upon hearing the symptoms of my feeling-fractured pelvis, along with the bonus sore throat, earache and super-sensitive scalp, the nice lady on the phone said, “Well, if you can sit, it’s not a broken tailbone.” One of the doctors at the night clinic near the mall had an open appointment at 6:10.

They did the usual vitals – weight (up six pounds?!?!), temperature (98.6 – a full degree high for my norm), blood pressure (110/64) and a throat swab. The x-ray showed a broken coccyx, (better than a fractured pelvis!). The (cute) doctor sent prescriptions to Walgreen’s through the magic of the Internet.

Walgreen’s was like a scene from a movie. The electronic doors opened and greeted me with the strains of The Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated.” I swear I am not making this up. I laughed the whole long walk to the Pharmacy window where I received my medicines and a lecture from the pharmacist about Hydrocodone. On my way out, I noticed beer in the cooler. Dang! Good music, beer – Walgreen’s may become my new hangout.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snowy Day

This afternoon it snowed. Wet, sticky, clinging snow. It started early this afternoon with what my grandmother had forever called “snizzle” (snow and drizzle mixed) when she delivered weather reports from her cozy (real estate code for ‘tiny’) apartment on the 14th floor of the senior high rise. She was something else, that one. Decades ahead of the rest. I cracked up when I heard a TV meteorologist use the word about 20 years later.

I had mocked the school system’s early release day when it hit noon and not a drop of precipitation was falling. But once the snizzle hit, it turned to snow and started sticking on the grass and the cars. The roads were wet, but it was cold, so it was likely they’d be slick in no time. We’d received word earlier from one of the partners to use our discretion about staying at the office. When the snizzle started, I chose to skip lunch just in case we left early, and by 3:30, most of us were packing up to leave.
Back in October or November during a routine oil change that turned into a full-blown brake job, the technician cautioned that my tires were, in his words “bald,” and “should be replaced before the winter sets in.” You mean they aren’t supposed to be all smooth and flat on the edges? Hmmm. I didn’t have the money then to fork out for four tires and I still don’t, so it hasn’t been done. And up until now, I’ve been pretty lucky with the weather and road conditions not being all that bad.

After resisting the urge to start flinging snowballs at the graphic designer getting into her car across the parking lot, I cleaned my own car and headed out. Slowly. Tentatively. Not at all like I usually drive.

As I crept across town with the rest of the traffic, tense and fearful with my tread-free tires, I realized I had suddenly become one of those people who drive too slow, like the classic 100 year old crypt keeper in the vintage Cadillac, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I still feel the sting from the $6,000 little auto accident in 2009, every time I see the mismatch of old and new paint on the rear quarter from halfway across a parking lot.

A potential detour to the grocery store for milk and food was nixed on the assumption there were probably a hundred other people there, and I was not going to starve. I’d made extra rice last night, and there is powdered coffee creamer for morning coffee.

At my new elderly driver’s pace, the roads seemed pretty good all the way to the front of my house – at the same spot where a driver crashed into my cedar tree and mowed down my mailbox one icy night in the winter of 2008. Yikes. The antilock braking system kicked in on the approach to the hard right hand turn into the steep driveway and potential slide directly into the woods. Fortunately, the shift from D to 2 worked, the CRV with bald tires did not transform into a bobsled, and I maneuvered the car around to face up the driveway for a straight line out the morning.

Once inside the house, I spent the remaining hour of daylight goofing on the computer and watching the snow continue to fall. It was pretty. It was quiet. It collected on the trees and the ground and covered everything in a fluffy blanket. Moose snoozed on my lap and on the floor next to my chair and behind me on the chair. When he finally went outside to potty, the poor little guy was knee deep in snow trying to do his business. It was funny. Well, probably not to him. And the snow is still pretty.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Da Bomb

The funky, retro clock on the living room wall measures each second audibly. There is no elegance in the movement of the second hand. With a complete absence of grace, it jerks along, one second at a time. The clock is reminiscent of one my parents owned in the 1960s and 70s that makes occasional appearances in the family photo album featuring images of assorted relatives lined up smiling for pictures. That is exactly why I bought it. Lately, it seems to be the only reliable, steady thing in my life. My mind lacks focus and clarity. My heart behaves like a see saw. My alleged career circles the toilet. My temper flares more frequently. My doubts and regrets result in looking back and wondering, “What if?”

The clock, meanwhile, ticks off the time whether I am there or not. It predictably gains about five minutes a month, every month, as if it is trying to hurry me along to something. Unlike some people, it doesn’t present itself as one thing in my presence and become something different when I step away. It doesn’t deliver lies of omission, outright lies, half-truths or shaded truths and then follow up with ex post facto, half-assed rearrangements of the truth under the claim of being considerate of my feelings, which half the time, even I cannot decipher. It doesn’t try to hijack my mind, my body, my wallet, my time or my possessions (including major appliances) for its own convenience or gain, and then when I remark on the ruse, christen me as cynical.

It indicates the time. It adorns the wall. It is just a clock—purchased as a clock, hung as a clock, it remains a clock. For now, anyway. The way the bullshit-tainted winds of turmoil and change blow through my life, it is entirely possible I may awaken one day to discover the clock has become a potholder or a chinchilla collar or a banana nailed to the wall. The way things happen around me I will probably not even be surprised. It would be just another confusing incident in a life that usually feels like a chapter plucked from Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass – people talking in riddles, nonsensical gibberish and outright falsehoods, and things never quite what they seem.

In the frequent stillness of the house when the heating system is not actively blowing and the refrigerator is not humming and gasping, the ticking of the clock is sometimes the only noise. In those moments, it sounds like an overdone movie effect for the timer on a bomb about to blow – a perfect reflection of how I feel. Like my life is a ridiculous, over-budget Hollywood movie with a stupid and incomprehensible plotline. Like I am the bomb about to go off. The audience can see it, but the main character remains ignorant of how much time is left on the timer buried in the back of the brain, or what moment, word or action triggers the detonator. It is a life lived frequently on edge. On the wavering line between kindness and cruelty. On the border between rational and illogical. On the infinitesimal sliver of heart between love and hate.

Staying busy sometimes crowds out the real life issues. The overwhelming emptiness of it. The emotional land mines. The weight of loneliness and the scars of a thousand wounds, real and imagined. By staying busy, the clock rules my life, unwittingly at first. Unkindly at present. It mocks from its lofty position on the wall.

Tick. Tick. Tick. You’re late. Late. Late.

The rest of the world moves forward into the arms of love and friends and family and happiness. The rest of the world makes progress in careers and forms happy homes and makes babies and more money. And you, my dear, are isolated and paralyzed in time. Tick. Tick. Tick.