The setting is a little funny right now. I’m outside on the porch swing, it’s only 6:30 but very dark. It’s warm and damp, on the cusp of a light drizzle. It might as well be July. Monty insisted we come out of course, without a care that it’s almost completely dark or mosquitoey or that it’s now in fact raining. The dog is such a happy distraction. My head is pounding.
I’m tired of even saying that or thinking about it, but it’s hard to escape. A change of setting always helps, at least psychologically. But Monty helps the most. He cracks me up. He’s playing fetch with an old sock right now. Really. The dog will retrieve anything.
I remember once when he was a puppy, we lived in these stupid college apartments, and we played fetch with a rock in a concrete parking lot. I remember thinking My God, the idea of this is so depressing. And yet there was Monty, flopping and running back and forth, proudly prancing after he’d pick up the golf-ball sized rock and spit it out to bounce back to me. Monty turned 12 last month. 12! He doesn’t look or act that age at all. You should see him fetching this sock. We might as well be back in that barren cement lot.
Time to go in Monty. Time to ice my head and wait for things to calm down up there. It’s like a storm is brewing in my brain, just like the real one setting in outside. It will rain tonight and be freezing tomorrow. All the small talk will change from how miserably hot it is to how insanely cold.
It happened just like they said. Winter showed up overnight. Monty doesn’t seem to mind at all. My head was pounding when I woke up and I didn’t want to move.
I’m not in great form today. This happens sometimes. I’m already missing the scenery here. What I see out each window. I’m already missing Monty. I know it’s stupid to think that way and I try not to entertain those types of thoughts for long. But it’s hard to pretend otherwise. I’m just afraid of the changes I know are coming. I am very afraid of moving.
I’ve been in a sort of denial about it, because I haven’t had reason to face it head on yet. And when you’re in physical pain, you don’t really have the capacity to think so far ahead anyway. That can be a good thing. But the times when the reality of it does seep in, I feel so overwhelmed I can hardly move. They say pain stems from spending too much time in the past or too much in the future. It makes perfect sense, but alas, I am imperfect. I already know how certain things will hurt. I’ve been through them before.
We haven’t even sold the house(s) yet, but I know we soon will. For what could’ve been an easily “tragic situation”, this all turned out OK. No, I never planned on living in my parents pool house and wouldn’t have chosen it. And yet it turned out to be ideal, given the reality. Help is 15 steps away, as is my independence and autonomy. Monty and I have really grown up here, a second childhood of sorts. Adjusting to a new normal—a lack of health— has meant learning to be soft where I used to be stubborn. You just don’t have the energy to fight against things, to be so particular. And the relief comes in realizing 95% of the things you fought and fussed over were useless—petty or temporary or out of your control anyway. It’s been a hard but good and practical lesson. It can only go two ways when you lose physical reliability.
Monty is the master adjuster. All 12 years he’s wagged his tail and followed wherever we were to go. Whatever he does he plunges into with openness and playfulness and I need to lean in to this kind of thinking. But fear takes me over at the idea of upcoming change. It’s not just one thing, like the fear of what will be. What could be. It’s all this I’ll have to leave behind, too.
Even the painful parts. This house is so filled with receipts of life and pain and revelation and hope. It’s strange that even leaving something painful behind is painful itself.
When I think of the fact that we are moving back into the house I grew up in, in the town I grew up in and hated at the time, I feel sick. But that’s putting it all pretty crudely, isn’t it? As I’ve learned over and over, it’s crucial that we write the story and not allow a fleeting feeling like fear to take over the script. It’s all in how you frame things, I know it. And of course I can do a better job than reduced, negative summaries like that. It’s almost tragically hilarious, which seems to be the theme of my life. I’m 35 and moving North into my parents basement! Who could write this stuff?
I know, I know. I am lucky for so many reasons. I could always stay behind and see what living alone without any help from my parents would be like—then I’d see! Maybe I wouldn’t complain about moving once I saw how terribly worse this could all be. I’m fortunate to belong to a family who cares. To have family/friends who care one way or another. But I think that’s where the deeper sadness stems from here; The lack of choice that naturally exists from a lack of health.
You really can’t complain when so many people are helping you. And as backwards as it is, sometimes you resent the help. Resent needing the help. You’re so grateful it makes you cry, and yet you’re tired of saying thank you. This is a feeling, not the truth, and I know the difference. Gratitude has saved me over and over. Maybe I shouldn’t give these feelings a voice. But they’re there, like a lump in my throat, and I thought maybe writing out the fear would help disempower it a bit.
I fantasize all the time about being on the other end of this. Of being the healthy person offering the sick person (or anyone) my home, my energy, my ability, my ear. I’ve played out multiple versions of a possible future. I am wearing coherent, trendy outfits in all of them, and my house is very clean. But who knows what the real one holds. Maybe I end up a success in dirty PJ’S?
I don’t mean to be whiny, I’m not so sure why this premature nostalgia and angst is hitting me hard today. I guess life catches up with all of us now and then. It’s OK to cry about it, although it makes my stupid pounding head worse. I should take it as a sign I’ve cried enough. I called Monty over and he yawned. Real nice Monty!
Sniff sniff, wipe wipe.
Tomorrow I see the neurosurgeon. We’re trying to find out if I have CCI, Stenosis, or other structural issues in my cranio-cervical junction. I have no idea what’s wrong, only that I probably shouldn’t be in so much pain all the time or have to take migraine medicine as much as I do and the idea that having an ice pack glued to my head has become normal is just absurd. We have entered the absurd, people! So, maybe we’ll find out something more tomorrow. I have zero expectations, as I tell most doctors I feel like I’m dying and they then tell me that my lab work reveals I’m the specimen of health! Perfect, if only I felt that way.
I don’t want to get my hopes up but then, why not let her fly? If nothing comes from tomorrow I’ll not really have lost anything. Just another box checked. In it’s own way, that’s progress. I think. I don’t know, my head is throbbing and my thinking is starting to fragment again.
Maybe tomorrow will be the start of change that I’ve been fearing but will actually mark the start of something new and great. We’re crazy to ever think we know how it will all unfold. I only know that hot or cold, New Orleans or Colorado, Monty is happy to be alive and play–with a sock or a rock. And that kind of adaptability is something I strive for. Oh Monty, will you ever know how insane and complete my love for you is? I hope.
Wish me luck.
Health, Happiness, I’m Not Crying You’re Crying