My retiring mind is on the mends. It’s a fighter! I’m on the other side of a health crisis. Physical conditions finally identified, and I have clear directives for maintaining my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
My days begin in deep gratitude. I wake up. Others don’t. I’m not in pain. I herd bottles of pills around, vitamins and minerals and one for blood pressure, until I get them all down, generally needing 2-3 cups of tea to do so.
I make it my job to laugh at least 3 times daily. The shaking, hurting belly laughter, you know, that breaks out from between your legs, whereas you just might pee yourself, if not sling snot, piggy snort or cry. Sometimes I laugh at myself.
I’m at that age where you have to have TESTS and PROCEDURES that nobody really wants to talk about: example, the colonoscopy. At my appointment, I arrived feeling confident about the necessity for this procedure and what to expect. I balked upon entering a very crowded waiting room. My ticket was number 26. I took a seat and summoned my big girl attitude.
My name was called. I was ushered to a room, guided through changing into a gown and positioning myself on a table. I would watch the exploration of my guts on a big screen. I thought the whole thing to be cool, like my own Magic Science Bus adventure.
I greeted and asked the doctor, “Have you really seen 25 assholes today”? She blanched but continued her preparations. Her nurse struggled to keep a straight face. My excitement and curiosity blinded social decorum, “What kind of doctor are you? What did you have to study”? I continued my own bedside banter. The doctor muttered something about gastrointestinal something or other. She was quick, thorough and seemed surprised that she didn’t discover nothing from rooter to tooter.
Fast forward. Last week, I began a more aggressive response to the arthritis along my spine’s lumbar region. A young physician and two assistants injected epidurals into my lower back to shrink bulging herniated disks and relieve pain, spasms and numbness in both legs and feet. I was positioned face down on a table. My pants were rolled and tucked to reveal the small of my back and a behind that gives “mooning” a whole new concept. Think, “A Total Eclipse of the Heart” (as in cardiac arrest) or “Bad Moon Rising”. They informed me about possible discomfort as the series of injections begin.
As the team worked, they chatted about a ten dollar taxable bonus check gained for their personal healthy health practices. What could you buy with less than ten dollars, they lamented. The physician, young and slim said, “SUBWAY”! She loved SUBWAY! They discussed in details the variety of breads and endless combinations of meats, cheeses and veggies. Mind you, I was being stabbed in my behind. They asked if I liked SUBWAY. I told them about how I loved a very carefully constructed BLT Footlong on wheat, with spinach instead of lettuce.
We were all done in about 20 minutes. I was sat up, stood on my feet and given after-care instructions. Did I need a wheelchair? I bristled. I was independent and capable. I stepped, and my right hip swung like a wagon turning a treacherous corner. Tried again, and my step produced a swagger and a slow dragging foot. I walked like a pimp! They assured me this would pass. I told them that I really hoped they wouldn’t think of my butt every time they went to SUBWAY. We laughed. I t wasn’t the socially polite and awkward giggling but deep women’s laughter. I accepted the wheelchair.
Despite trekking along a path I never imagined to take, I remain really optimistic. I take my vitamin L (for laughter) as often as I like, it’s addictive! It’s real medicine.
I’m a writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.