Sunday, August 31, 2014

Planning for Balance

My cognitive-behavioral chronic pain therapist is brilliant at her work. She paid attention to me—the patient and the person—until she figured out how to nudge me, ever so gently, into a place where I could see things with my own eyes.

I’ve always resisted anything that involves the words: “You can’t do this or that anymore.” The aforementioned chronic pain therapist worked with me, gained my trust, let me see that she, too, believed that my opinion about how to deal with my body’s pain is as (if not more) important than what any health care professional could ever suggest. She watched me rage and shake my fist at the pain until I—not her; never her; never anyone other than me—was ready to say, “Maybe my body can no longer do this… But with a lot of work, I can certainly do that without hurting myself. All I need is some learning and planning until I find my balance.”

In the past, other physicians tried to feed me the I’m-a-Doctor-So-I-Know-What’s-Best-for-You approach. Even typing the words makes me bare my teeth and growl. Seriously, my Wicked Luvs, those doctors would’ve had an easier time convincing a jaded mule to moderate a symposium on the benefits of pliability, than getting me to accept a theory I can’t make sense of or to try a medical treatment I can’t understand.

When I started having serious shoulder and hip problems, about a decade ago, my doctor at the time suggested that I should stop writing. I submitted a request for a new doctor as soon as I got home. For me, writing is not just something I do… writing soothes my mind, keeps unwelcome thoughts and nightmares away, lets me go to all those places my beat up body can no longer visit in the flesh.

If I ever stopped writing, a bit of me would begin to die before I put down the pen… and the rest wouldn’t be far behind. No one who has known me for more than three days could miss this fact about me: words are my souls food and the way I share the best parts of my Self with others. If I had to keep all my tales inside, I would probably implode… worse yet, everything that makes me who I am would spill into the world without shape. I know me well enough, my Luvs, to know this wouldn’t be a good thing for anyone…

I’m sure the tone of this post has already warned your hearts; told you that this won’t be a happy entry. And it isn’t. I ramble when I’m nervous… when I’m sad… when I’m crying… Well, I’m grinning, too… mostly because my weird always finds a way to balance my pain… Anyhoo, I said I would stop rambling, right? So here it goes: the issues with my hip, shoulder, nerves (in the neurological sense), back, respiratory system and more recently, my eyeball situation, are forcing me to slow down even more.

A few months ago, I cut my writing productivity by more than half… Now I must reduce it to about one third of the original. Reading on computers must follow the same cuts—focusing on a screen for more than fifteen minutes, even with minimal or no illumination, hurts my eyes and gives me a headache. Reading paper books and electronic books has gone down to only three pages for the first and about five for the second. It’s not just my eyes… I haven’t been able to find a way to hold a book or ereader without aggravating my shoulder, lower back, neck or the left side of my ribs.

But all isn’t lost. Fate can be mean, even cruel, but she is never evil: I can do the audiobook thing all night long! (And all day long, too, but “all night long” sounds way sexier *tee-hee*).

So how will the changes affect my blogging? I will publish posts only twice a week. And I will visit your cyber-homes with less frequency than I’ve done it in the past. After today, I plan to post on Tuesdays and Fridays. My Tuesday posts will bring a short story… a poem… or a general entry about words and/or the writing process. Friday will offer a combination of poetry and living… which, if you think about it is actually the same thing. For what’s life if not a circular poem about the world and its creatures?

After writing this post, I feel one thousand and thirteen times better than I felt when I started thinking about my latest health issues. That’s what words do to me and for me: when my circumstances suggest that the world my body has always known is about to end, writing reminds me that “everything exists in the word.” While I have words, I will always be able to plot and shape my own tale. And my characters’ of course… ;-)

I’m smiling right now… Just so you know… Oh, if the Ellipses Police questions you about my whereabouts, tell them you’ve never heard of anyone matching my description. Then run fast. 

this lacey shoe was made for writing;
try telling me otherwise…
and I’ll kick you

Note: If any Real Toad is reading this, know that the change won’t affect my posts at the Imaginary Garden. And to my Wicked Luvs, who haven’t visited The Garden, I urge you to stop by for a reading stroll: yummy words sprout there.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lower the Stick, Devil Dog

          cruelty of old
          tortures the flesh and spirit;
          fight, Lady Justice 

I almost hit a medical attendant while at the hospital… And I feel no guilt about the fact that now I’m wishing my first impulse had smacked his stupidity right in the teeth.

I was pacing at the ophthalmologist’s office. The doctor had just given me something to numb my eyeball, but the pain around my eye socket was still blinding. Walking back and forth, with my eyes closed, while massaging the area with a bit of pressure helped soothing the hurt.

The cry of a man—who seemed to be hurting way more than I was—made me open my eyes and glance through the glass doors separating the eye clinic from the hallway.

“It hurts. I can’t,” the man said. “It hurts.”

I closed my eyes again, and refocused on my eyeball; when you spent enough time in a hospital, you kind of start to get used to a scream of agony or two. But there was a third and a fourth cry of pain, so I walked out to the hallway.

I ran into a medical attendant who was telling an old man, “Just lift your fucking feet.”

“I can’t,” the old man said over and over, his lips stretched in an expression that showed he only had a couple of teeth left.

I noticed that one of the old man’s feet was caught on the front wheel of the chair. “His foot’s twisted under the chair,” I said to the attendant, assuming that he hadn’t seen it.

He gave me a frustrated look, and continued talking to the old guy. “Lift your feet. Didn’t you hear me? Lift your—”

“He can’t,” I said a bit louder. “And you’re hurting him.”

“This is my patient. I know—”

“I don’t care if he’s your servant,” I shouted. “You’re hurting him and you need to stop.”

The man ignored me. I asked him for his name and he refused to give it. I asked him again, and he yelled, “Who are you?” Then he turned towards a woman who was with him and told her to bring the car to the front.

“A concern citizen,” I said. (I’m just realizing how cliché that sounds… ) I told him that he didn’t have to give me his name, but he had to accompany me to the Patient Advocate Office.

He tried to wheel the old man away from me. The old man screamed in pain.

“I’m calling security,” I yelled at the attendant. His eyes opened wide, and I thought my threat had scared him. A hand squeezing my left shoulder made me pay more attention to my own body—I was holding my umbrella like a baseball bat… and aiming it at the attendants face.

“Lower the stick, Devil Dog,” said the man with his hand on my shoulder. “The VA Police is coming. They’ll handle this shitbird.”

I lowered the umbrella.

The VA Police asked the attendant to go with them to their office. The attendant started shouting at them and saying that he didn’t have to go anywhere. It took three VA Police Officers to walk him to the office.


After my doctor was finished with my eye, I went back to give my information for the formal report. I was shocked by some of the things I learned about the entire situation. First, the pile of feces pretending to be a human medical attendant said that the reason why I reported him was… wait for it… “because [he was] Black.”

I wish I had been there when he said that. Or maybe not… I might not have been able to keep my umbrella from poking his eyes open enough for him to figure out that I’m Black, too… and that the cruelty of his soul has nothing to do with the color of our skins. But that bit of ignorance wasn’t the worse of it; the woman (whom I thought was a friend of the attendant) was the old man’s daughter. I wished I had smacked her. I mean, what in the world is wrong with that woman!?!

Anyway, that was the last exciting episode in the life of my funky eyeball and me. The doctors still can’t figure out what’s wrong, but things are improving. One small miracle at a time, right? Thanks so much for the energy, the love and the laughs, my Wicked Luvs!

my umbrella remains in hiding
so I borrowed this one from Archer Adams’
*cough, cough, cough*