Back to the World

May 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm (That's not funny..., The Easy Chair)

If no news is good news, then I must be dancing on air, right?

I’ve been on vacation, sorta. A medical issue has revisited, and I’ve been in bed for the past couple weeks. Not ‘locked-down-bedpan-city’ type bedridden; more of a “Stay off that leg if you want to keep it” thing. I injured my shin on a bus several years back, and every once in a while I get a flare-up of a recurring infection. I have treating it down to an art, but it still takes time to heal. The opportunity to take some much-needed quiet time came at the perfect moment.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.

At first, the hardest part was getting over the guilt. I felt guilty for being sick. It didn’t take long to realize this was one of the few times being long-term sick wasn’t the result of alcohol overconsumption or mistreatment of my body. I’d been doing well at keeping in line with the diabetes diet, haven’t had a drop of booze in almost two years. I was mad at my body for acting up after years of not treating it well, then having the nerve to do so after I started behaving!

After guilt came dread. Financial dread. I live on the Republican Health Plan: Don’t get sick. Fortunately, I have wonderful friends at Providence. Medical care was not an issue. Missing work was.

My bosses were very understanding, scheduling for extra time off just in case. Then the sky began falling. A new hire quit without notice, immediately after picking up his first check. Another new hire, a fellow that used to work with Chuckles and I, lost his big toe to diabetes. (That’s two big toes off two different clerks this year. It’s gotta be the free sodas and Little Debbies…) To say they’ve been scrambling to keep shifts covered is an understatement. To my brothers and sisters behind the counter, thank you for keeping it rolling.

But how did I spend two weeks in bed without going crazy, you ask? At first it was a challenge. My body hurt from laying down, yet I only had energy to get up long enough to eat or check e-mail, then it was back to bed. A three-hour excursion to the doctor like to have killed me at first. Antibiotics made things better. After a week, another checkup and some higher-octane antibiotics, the leg is almost good to go. The infection appears to be almost gone, and the pain is bearable.

I realized after a few days that this was a blessing. I’ve long complained that I have no time for the waves of life to hit me. They just keep coming, and I brace myself against the tide. To have some time without it seeming like the whole world was suckling from every appendage was heavenly.

Not that it was always sunshine and rainbows. In fact, there was very little of that. My big brother passed away last month, and the full reality of that has been creeping. I hadn’t physically seen him since 2000, at my aunt’s funeral. We became reconnected via e-mail and began sharing howdies on a frequent basis. I miss being able to send him off-the-wall things no one else would quite understand, and the words of encouragement he could be so sparse with. I haven’t had the heart to delete his e-mail address. It’s not taking up a lot of hard drive space.

I have been getting words of support from the family. A letter from my niece in Cali touched my heart and my sense of humor. Here’s a piece of it:

Btw, one of Steve’s first comments to me were: “Can you believe it? Keith Richards is still alive, but Dad’s dead?” I believe he followed that comment up with a list of other celebrities so disdainful of life as to be an affront to those who at least *try* to appreciate the privilege of living, but my mind is still in a fog so I can’t remember who else was on that list. Still, I loved the reference to Adam Sandler in the can o’ nausea—not that Keith Richards is in that category of general pooh scrape or anything, just that if William Burroughs lived such a very long time, if Kurt Vonnegut threatened to sue the tobacco companies for not killing him fast enough, if even our fat little mama who suffers the silent disapproval of good friends for not being in tip-top shape (weight and health issues are grossly conflated anyway, but I digress) and who told me that she *prayed* vigorously to go first, what kind of world is it in which Dick Cheney keeps on ticking while our life-loving Mormon Pop bows out early? A pretty unfair one, that’s what kind. But I worked in that puzzle piece with the extended middle digit a long time ago.

Anyway, don’t forget that I was directed to your blog by my dad, who recommended it with immense pleasure and (sometimes tempered : D) pride. He said it was obvious you were family because your humor was so in keeping with our irreverent and often–to others, anyway–incomprehensible fits of laughter (You should see my mom in rare form some time).

Those were words I needed to hear. Someone besides me is feeling this, probably way harder.

Laying there, feeling like shit and realizing that on my brother’s timeline I only have a couple decades left, I began to reflect. The last twenty years have been good to me. I’ve had relationships with a handful of women I can say I will love forever. I’ve seen two kids grow from infancy to young adulthood, with positive results! They may not be future Rhodes scholars, but they are growing into fine human beings, which is more than can be said for a fair percentage of today’s youth. My niece has been in bed with pneumonia; the coughs are subsiding. My nephew is sixteen and quiet; he hangs out in my room when I’m not home. We don’t socialize as much as we used to, but he’s not nine anymore. (Though you can’t tell sometimes: We got into a giggle-fit over the image of our German Shepherd dog using her tail to helicopter around the living room, for example.) I try to let him know I’m there for him, reminding myself that when I was sixteen I was making the world my own. He’s busy creating his own world; I hope to remain a part of it.

I marvel at my little sister. She works so hard to keep the house and family running smoothly. She and the BIL work two jobs, barely making ends meet, yet they fight back adversity and conquer the world on a daily basis. My brother-in-law plugs along, insisting he needs as little sleep as he did when he was a teenager. I’m trying to convince him otherwise. My sister is a tough cookie, yet she carries so much love. When I’m feeling intolerant of the world, I look to her as an example of compassion. Happy Mother’s Day, Sis.

And now, it’s back to the world for me. I’m having my first cup of coffee in two weeks, and hoping over-the-counter pain meds will keep me upright until after midnight. I should start making up stories as to where I’ve been. (Leg infection sounds so… icky.) Zombie bite. Yeah, that’s it.

I feel like my brain has been defragged. I feel emotionally rested. It’s still kinda dark; I have moments of blue, but they subside after a while. Being out and productive actually sounds like fun for a change. I hope that holds; I’m scheduled eight days straight. (That’ll help catch up on the bills.) Busy hands are happy hands… We’ll see how long it takes for my hard-boiled cynicism to return to the forefront.

I’m guessing 9 PM…


  1. jaramad said,

    I like your article, if we are all aware that we live in one world, if you read this arikel I am sure your knowledge of world news will be much improved and I think this article could serve as a guide all of us

    High recommendations for this article

  2. Jack Bog said,

    Welcome back.

  3. ArtEast said,


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