Thursday, November 29, 2007

Surgery Eve

What I Did The Night Before Surgery, By Jo Biv

I was aaalll ready to make myself crazy, running around the apartment, picking up all the stuff that I haven't picked up (because it hurts) and distracting myself thusly. Then my roommate came home and said, "Hey, First Light is tonight."

Waah... How did I end up missing it? First Light is my favorite Brookline thingie! It's basically the official beginning of the holiday season when they turn on all the lights. Tons of local businesses sponsor performances and give away freebies.

So Amy and I ate dinner and planned our boring nights. Eventually I said, "Amy, change outta yer pj's. We're goin' to First Light."

These photos come from my marvelous phone. My favorite First Light tradition happens at Party Favors. They clear out their huge front windows and make it a cake workshop. Standing outside, you can watch the pastry chef decorating impossibly beautiful cakes. We watched him create a gorgeously ornate Christmas tree cake, and then he made a princess with a doll stuck into a big bell-shaped cake. These pictures show him whipping off the skirt. He made a dozen frosting roses, each one taking less than five seconds. It was cooool.

So then we limped home (I limped, Amy walked), and as I finished up some laundry (pj's for the hospital), Amy had started Elf in the living room. Who can clean when there's Christmas on the telly?

And now I'm watching Food Network and pulling out my hair. What a busy night!

See ya post-op.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The knife.

Soooo I don't think I told you that I can't feel or move my left foot. It's been two-ish weeks now and my doctor has been frantically shoving me to various appointments - MRI's, x-rays, orthopedic surgeons.

This morning, a verdict. I have a severely herniated disk.

Doctor: Not the worst I've seen, but certainly tied for second.
JoBiv: Um... is that some kind of honor?
Doctor: [chuckle]
JoBiv: [stare]

He's a charming, congenial, not to mention youngish and handsome kind of man and I want to like him. He gave me a slideshow of my body from various angles and cross-sections, explaining that if it were just the disk, he wouldn't suggest surgery. In my case it's nerve damage. A herniated disk heals itself; nerve damage can be permanent.

He suggested surgery for tomorrow's bill of fare.

JoBiv: (after an hour of careful Q&A replete with models, posters and various pokings) And is there a chance I could get muscle control back in my foot without surgery? With physical therapy? Anything?
Doctor: Honestly, no. You could wear a brace to support your foot so you don't drag it. I've had people decide to do that. Meanwhile, the longer you wait to get surgery, the longer it will take for you to regain that control.
JoBiv: So... [panicking] I'd have to... [panicking further]
Doctor: [incredulous] Are you crying?
JoBiv: [crying] Yeah, I guess I am.

Doctor: [hustles to find tissues while muttering self-consciously about the badly stocked exam room, places inadequately tiny box of phyllo-thin tissues beside me.]
JoBiv: Hooonk. [sniffling. breathing deeply.] So this is how I operate...
Doctor: [with clear relief, but not picking up the pun] Yes! Tell me.
JoBiv: I'm going to go home, freak out, make some phone calls and do some research on my own. Then I'll call you with the questions I come up with and we'll figure it out. There's no way I can go into surgery tomorrow.

The doctor wished me good luck with my freaking out and gave me a number to call that wouldn't lead to endless voice-prompts and myriad receptionists. I guess he means business.

And now I've done my research, I've left my messages, I've consulted friends and parents. I'm waiting for my doctor to call me back, to let me know if I should see a neurologist or a second orthopedic surgeon. And then... the knife?

Friday, November 16, 2007

R.I.P. Maurice III, IV, V

My plant has passed on. It was a lovely dracaena - three plants, actually, that came in one pot, which I transferred to a very large ceramic urn. They lived happily for a while, spiking out their happy leaves from sad apartment to sad apartment. They accepted, with aplomb, over-watering and starvation. They bent, they shriveled, they flourished, they... died.

I don't recall when I named the first Maurice, which I got from a grateful parent back when I worked at the YMCA camp. That little plant lasted through the end of college, my first rented apartment in Ithaca, a brief sojourn in Victor while I was away in Ireland (Mom sent me polaroids to assure me of his health), and the first year of grad school.

Maurice the first was tough. He died the same week Shane died. I came back from the funeral and found him crumpled, brown, and beyond rejuvenation.

Maurice the second came puny and remained puny. He liked his little life on Beacon Street, looking out the fifth floor window at the manicured patio below. He withstood a bit of Christmas decoration and several tipping accidents, but then he got bored or fried or something, and he gave up the ghost riiiight about the time I found out the Big U was semi-dumping me.

Les Maurices III, IV, V died last week, really, only I haven't gotten around to a proper burial until now. These fine fellows loved the front porch of my otherwise delapidated house on Winchester Street. It's actually a very good thing I never brought them inside, because we had some kind of larva infestation that surely would have snuck into Maurices' gorgeous green locks.
And then here, on Longwood, Les Maurices seemed happy. They gave all outward signs of health. I mean, they leaned a bit longingly toward the big front windows - the only windows that get any kind of steady natural light - but it seemed to me like a winsome, sweet leaning. Alas, when my brother's dog whined out at the world by that window, she knocked Les Maurices over, as well as a few other fragile things, and the poor dears were less anchored than I thought. Their roots torn, their summer light fading, they perished within a month of Tom's visit.

Here's the eerie thing; when I went home for Baby Girl's birthday, I found out that the same week Les Maurices passed on, so did my great-uncle Doc.


Anyway, here's to Les Maurices! All five of 'em! That's the end of dracaenae stewardship for me, my friends. It's just irresponsible to buy another, both for the plant's sake and the fragile threads of my sanity.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

dirty laundry indeed

Some day, I often think, I will cross Beacon Street with a little too much confidence and a trolley will flatten me. Smoosh. Game over. And then what’s left of me in the world?

There’s a spiffy but worn-out wardrobe, a gorgeous collection of books, one kickin’ music library, and… all this writing, doodles, paintings, letters never sent, obsessions.

Morbid, I know, to think of one’s leavings, and sometimes I’m in a self-pitying morbid mood. Other times I simply strive to comprehend what I’ve made in this world, whether any of it is worthy of existence.

I know I wrote a post once upon a time about including as much as I can on this blog. I try not to edit and I don’t go back and delete embarrassing posts. I still insist there’s some value in the awkward moments. Usually I’m able to look back on them with some self-forgiveness. It’s like the photos my mother took of me giving myself a bath in the bathroom sink when I was about four. For years I cringed when I saw that photo, and now it makes me giggle uncontrollably. I like to remember that weird little person I was and try to imagine having her thoughts again.

Still, looking at the Collected Works of Me, I find it very hard to swallow all the melancholy. Even harder to face-- all the feelings toward my family. If I catalogued myself, there would be a mighty section for family anxiety. It’s too bad, because they’re the only people who would spend the time to look through all these things if that trolley flattens me.

All this is to say, in anticipation, that I’m so sorry. I love you people. I don’t think I belong to you, but I love you so fucking much.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Parents and pain - oddly synonymous

Due to my sniveling cowardice, my parents are probably coming to my next choir concert. I could have said, “I don’t want you to come,” or something kinder riddled with lies, but I couldn’t do it. Instead, I passive-aggressively forgot to look up the date for them. That didn’t work.

I’m imagining M&P seeing me on that weekend and saying, “It looks like you’re lost weight.”

I shall say, “Why, yes I have. It seems I have a parasite. His name is Billy, and he’s quite keen on my innards.”

That would also be a lie. What I will have to tell them… what I always end up telling them, is the truth.

Mom, Dad, I was in the hospital again, this time for back and leg pain the likes of which I have never suffered before. It’s kept me from eating, sleeping, shitting, speaking, writing, working... I didn’t tell you because… Well, I’ll come back to that.

I’ve been in all kinds of pain before. I can only liken this to having a constant Charlie horse that will not loosen up. I can’t stand up straight and mostly hobble from bed to bathroom to living room. The other day I attempted a trip the bank out of pure necessity, and hurt myself badly enough to stick to my bed for the following 20 hours.

In short, I’m 84 years old without warning.

So parents, I didn’t tell you because you’d want to come help me, or drill me about every conversation with every doctor, or tell me I should sue someone, or offer some other kind of ridiculous advice that would only make me intensely angry. And if you came to help, there would be nothing you could do since you won’t drive in the city and you can’t donate a new spine and you have no money at all yourselves.

Think that’ll work on them? Me neither.

So today’s goal is to walk as far as the T, take a little trip, see how much it hurts, maybe get my paycheck from Starbucks if it seems possible. The Bucks expects me to work this weekend. I’m trying to see if that’s logical in any way. I have this sinking feeling that I already know…