September 7th, 2016
The Labor Day sails have deflated and we’re again inundated with the inevitable sea of Facebook pictures of backpacked children on their first days, from kindergarten to whichever grade level includes “mommmm, get that phone out of my face“. What age of independence will that be for your precious snowflake? For me, that would have been kindergarten.
“Stand on the porch, so I can take it again. Now! Because I said so! Because your eyes were closed in the first two! Okay, ready…? Aaaaand… dammit! I said smile! Wait, where the hell is Patrick?!”
I actually really liked seeing the Instagram flood this year. More than I used to. They tend to be white noise when they are of kids who are not immediately close to you. But mortality is a potent cure for boredom and cynicism.
Someone once told me they hated seeing pictures of other people’s kids on Facebook, which baffled me. They hate seeing families birthing, growing, merging, staying together, breaking apart, suffering unspeakable loss. The things of life. The actual things that matter, which are not things at all.
This was easily my most awesome, awful Labor Day in recent memory. But in all fairness, I don’t remember literally any of the previous ones at the moment.
This year, I met with even more friends, including several writing teachers from CCC and Marylhurst who worked generously to help me sit in on a class and spend time with fellow writers this fall. It was the best possible gift for me at this time, since I am losing my job, my mobility and possibly my mind. This weekend, I had an amazing time and with some truly amazing people.
I also fell and slammed into a wall in our hallway, despite using my cane. I have been forced to use the walker since Sunday. Yesterday, I ate food for the first time in two days. And I am having trouble speaking now. I reflexively apologized to friends in person and on the phone because the seizures left me unable to speak without slurring and stuttering for most of yesterday. For the first time in a while, back since this all started, my hands began to clench again, so I could not use them properly to grasp anything. My feet began to curl, turn inward and refuse to respond. I watched myself repeatedly ask Amy questions to things she had already told me minutes prior.
The progression of my condition can accurately be measured on any given day with the number of times I start a sentence with, “Wait, did I already tell you…”.
We’re hoping to get the results from the test for encephalitis this week. Or next. Or who knows. Who’s counting anymore.
I asked Amy if the almost not useless neurologist were to say that he still doesn’t know what is wrong, what would Kaiser’s policy be for me jumping (stumbling / falling) the four feet across his exam room and beating his ass with a cane? Would they just give me a shiny new neurologist or shiny new jail time? I don’t know how HMOs work! Somebody tell me what is the normal process or paperwork I need to submit for not completely losing it after enduring three months of this shit.
I know! Amy could text me, as I’m still in the waiting room, that the doctor admitted he remains clueless, albeit filthy rich, and she could warn him to run. That would give him plenty of head start. Twenty yards away, I could never catch him, but in a small, closed room and with a collapsible metal stick from Walgreens, I am formidable. And I’m sick and tired. Far sicker and tireder than the last time he saw me sick and tired. (Insert poignant “wounded animals are most dangerous” analogy here.)
Did I pretend earlier to suddenly be less cynical?
I scroll back on my phone and look gratefully at all the people who have been visiting me lately. I am more than glad to also see many of their kids have another first day of school. I think of how great it will be to see my own grandkids someday with their backpacks.
I can’t wait.