Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Sunday Memory Drawer - November 2015

You may be wondering.   What kind of a cheat is this?   Calling up memories from just a few months ago.  How nostalgic can that be?

Well, pretty darn.   Because it was a month of my existence that I will never get back.   And ranks perhaps as the single worst month of my life.   

Luckily, I have had some great memories since to take the sting off those 30 days last Fall.   But I will never forget how I felt and I will endeavor to never feel that way again.

Of course, that will require me to never again trip over my own two feet and shatter my right kneecap.

Yeah, well.

I'm generally in pretty good health.   My internist has frequently said during annual physicals that I've got the blood work of a twenty-year-old.   Of course, I've got the knees of an eighty-year-old and that negates some of the positives. But, by and large up to 2015, I'm notoriously healthy.

Then we get the floating gallstone which never really gets diagnosed and treated for about six months, thanks to an idiotic radiologist who misread some MRI results.  And that problem became very acute in November. Persistent abdomen pains.   The taste and smell of bile in my head.  Liquid coming out of me in colors I have not seen before.   And the inability to eat, since any food down the gullet prompted a series of dry heaves.

So, combine those problems with a fractured kneecap and you've got a November to dismember.   

You see the photo above on the day of the fracture.  Halloween.  For the first time ever in my life, I am the one being taken to an emergency room as opposed to being the one taking somebody else.  That's my foot at the end of the gurney, post X-ray.  A series of pictures that were so horrifying that my friend could actually read the results herself.   I'm told surgery is pending.   Even a shot of morphine did nothing.

For the first time in my life, I need crutches and I have to rely on others to pick up my mail.  Move my laundry basket from my bedroom to the washer and dryer.  And even pick up the Los Angeles Times lying outside my front door.

For a week, I was hopping around my apartment on crutches.   With the eating problems, I certainly wasn't cooking.  If I ingested more than 600 calories a day, it was a lot.   My meals consisted of toasted English muffins and cups of Greek yogurt.  

Even on one leg, I was committed to taking a shower a day and washing my hair.   Somehow I was able to do this but it required an hour of my time each morning for a ten minute shower.  Putting on socks took another hour. Frequently, I didn't even want to get out of bed.   I was so sick of my comforter that I threw it out on December 1. 

To make matters worse, the owner of my condo paid a visit one Sunday.  Not to make sure I was managing okay with the crutches.  Nope, he wanted to tell me personally that he was raising my rent 700 dollars.   Eventually, I will have the last laugh on him.  But, in November 2015, it was brutal news. 

I suddenly realized how quickly your mind can go from positive to negative thoughts.  It can happen in an instant.  I was so down about my situation that I wondered if I would ever recover.  Is the downward and fatal spiral in health that happens to all of us eventually?  

You do end up thinking weird things when you are alone and incapacitated.  

Still, I strove to work and write every day, although my production was extremely limited and unsuccessful.  I was faced with a visit to an orthopedic surgeon who would review my situation.  The process of getting there was tantamount to landing soldiers on Normandy Beach in June of 1944.  Luckily, the prognosis there was not as grim.  No surgery was required on the kneecap. It would heal on its own as nature intended.  

The only problem was that I had to wear a knee immobilizer for a month.  This contraption did slip under my pants and could be concealed but was the equivalent of what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wore.  It was clunky, awkward, and painful.  Another half-hour every morning was devoted to strapping on that device.  But it allowed me to ditch the crutches.  And now it only took me ten minutes to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

I have never slept as much in my life as I did in November of 2015.  The naps took me away from misery.  This was strange coming from somebody who likes to be fully awake and alert a lot of the day.  I had to cancel two trips to NY, including my annual early December visit to see some Broadway shows.  

I consumed my days sitting in the recliner with this hunk of metal and plastic and velcro propped up like meat hanging in a butcher shop window.   Because I wasn't cooking or really eating, my choice of television fare was truly suspect.   I watched lots and lots and lots of the Food Network.  It kept me going.  I savored all the chefs sharing their thoughts on what to make for Thanksgiving. I myself would not be cooking this holiday for the first time in years.

I was truly kicking myself while I was down.

Because the fracture was on my right knee, I couldn't drive.   But I was bound and determined to do so.  And, as soon as I mastered the FDR-like brace, I dragged myself down to the garage and lowered myself into the car as if I was Tom Hanks getting into the capsule on the set of Apollo 13.  That process alone was another hour out of my busy day.

I desperately wanted to be part of life again and, thankfully, my childhood best bud Leo offered to come up and take me to the movies.   As much as I despise Daniel Craig as James Bond, I thoroughly enjoyed Spectre.   Indeed, it could have been the worst movie in the world and I would have been a happy camper.

I was back out amongst the living.

My goal for normalcy was Friday, December 2.   I had a business meeting scheduled at William Morris and my aim was to walk into those offices without the aid of crutches, a cane, or a sherpa.  And I did.  I walked with a slight limp but I worked that seamlessly into the discussion.  

That was the turning point and suddenly I became myself again.   I looked back at the 30 or so days of November 2015 and remembered how low I got.  I learned for the first time ever how an upbeat personality can be altered with the flip of a switch.  Or the crack of a knee.  Ultimately, the gallstone was removed.  The knee has returned to almost a creaky normal.  And I am in NY today.

This is a Sunday memory that I will tuck away for posterity, but hope to never revisit again.

Dinner last night: Sausage, peppers, and onions at Carlo's in Yonkers.


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