Saturday, September 23, 2017

Standing on One Foot with Closed Eyes

Grace: [after outburst in grocery store when ignored by cashier] Okay, that lacked poise. And I'm sorry, but I refuse to be irrelevant.
Frankie: [Lighting cigarette] . It's okay. I learned something. We've got a super power.
Grace: [Referring to cigarettes] You stole those?
Frankie:
You can't see me, you can't stop me. from "Grace and Frankie" 2015

"Look, how cool my brother looks for family photos!! Oh, when we lived for the moment!" . Cousin M, 2017
St Kilda Beach - "When We Were Very Young"
I recently spent nearly two weeks in hospital. About the same length of time as when I gave birth to my children. Back in the day, as they say.

Yes, "back in the day" when we arrived at hospital with suitcases pre-packed with feminine nighties and clothes for the baby, oh so long ago, when we didn't know if it was to be a boy or a girl.

Back in the day - when to "rage" meant wild partying with flowing alcohol and serial sex. Now I associate the word "rage" with of how I feel about Donald Trump. Or perhaps even more appropriately with Dylan Thomas's "rage against the dying of the light".

Fast forward to 2017, New York. Admitted to hospital with only my handbag - an unplanned stay via ER. But planned or unplanned, all patients men and women wore identical attire. Hospital gowns. A uniform.

Gone were out identities. We had no props. Nothing to define us as individuals. This was true egalitarianism. The only thing defining us was our ages. And being of a certain age, this had its disadvantages.

No one "likes" being in hospitals, but being a bit of a control-freak, and having had a terrible experience in an Australian hospital "back in the day", I guess I have hospital-phobia.

"Do you know where you are?" a young intern asked me. The first of what I grew to understand was a set of standard questions given to anxious old people. I did well! "What year are we in?" Got that right too. "Month?" Correct! "Day off the month?". Good heavens. Where was my iPhone? "Who is the President?" "A nasty orange man with bad hair," I answered. FAIL! The intern whipped out his notebook and scribbled something. Obviously a man with no sense of humor. I felt sorry for his wife.

Another medic arrived shortly after. He told me I seemed anxious. I agreed. He asked why. The notebook was out. The pen ready.

"Well", I answered, "I have something wrong with my lungs and can barely breath. I have been told that I have pulmonary embolisms. Plural. And there is what appears from the CAT scan, a hole in my gall bladder. As well I have stomach ulcer. My family is over 12,000 miles away in Australia, and my daughter is about to have an operation. My employment is about to be terminated. As well, I am a normally anxious person."

"You seem to talk a lot" he said "scribbling in his notebook. "About disparate things." "I won't talk then," I sulked. More scribbling. My anxiety level was rising

At YoYo Nails, Second Avenue
The woman in the next bed reminded me of Shelly Pfefferman in "Transparemt". She was on her cell talking to her family. "I see people, our friends, people we have known for years. They are all walking away from me. Slowly. Then they turn their faces toward me, their faces are like plastic masks. They are sneering. They hate me. I think it is a sign I am dying."

I liked her. I wondered if she would get the questions right. I hoped so.

I'm home now. I have to do exercises. One is standing on one foot with both eyes closed. Dear reader, if you can't do it for more than a second, DO NOT GOOGLE IT!

Day six at home. I felt well enough to cross the street to my local nail salon. I chose the pedicure organic spa special with nine minute massage. The pedicures come in bundles.

I took my first post-hospital photo. You can see it here with the manipedi price-list. My sandals are on the floor. And next to them, my portable oxygen machine.

Life is good.

1 comment:

Terry Williamson said...

Ah Kate, I wish I could say I have no idea what you are going through, but apart from the portable oxygen bottle (I have a sleep apnoea machine), and the pedicure (never had one of those); I relate to all of the above. It remains the same no matter which hospital. Sending hugs

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