photo: Angelo Ebenal @ unsplash
July, 2016: I live with a progressive spine disorder that is somewhat suddenly requiring surgical attention and repair. That is the cheerfuller way to put it; alone in the dark I whisper that my spinal cord is dying and I am terrified. Somewhere between waking and sleeping I make attempts, all day long, not to get sucked into the pity party in the deep of my gut. I am so sad. I am in pain , it is ceaseless, and it is telling me I am in huge trouble. And just when I have distracted myself well enough to find peace for a nap I get a call from the surgeon's PA saying they feel it is urgent that I get on their schedule as soon as possible.
I have spent a week waiting to hear from them with a When. Now there is a rush. Every hour brings with it the feeling that I am losing ground. Literally. I feel less and less of the floor under my progressively numbing feet.
There is nothing quite as exquisite as anticipating spine surgery. You know that you will wake up feeling like you got kicked by a horse, that is, if you are lucky and everything goes well enough. If you wake up feeling not much then I suppose you are in deep shit. It is not a small thing to have surgeons muck about in your central nervous system. It is a mystery to me how they get there and back again. There is a person on this earth who I trust well enough to have touch this place at my core. But only just barely, and not without a wild, animal, howl of fear.
It is a scorching hot, windy day in July as I write this, and we are deep in a drought. I know that my spinal cord presents a challenge for flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF); my thoughts wander to the hot dry stream bed of my spine, only a trickle passes where there should be a tide that ebbs and flows. I am here, again, at the edge of the unknown and one of the only certainties is that I will probably have to teach myself a new way to wipe my ass when all of this is said and done, and that is no small thing to master after spine surgery.
I found a dark Icelandic television drama to watch. I can ignore the subtitles and listen to the words of a strange language roll of the tongues of people whose faces carry no stories for me. The drama of their situations pass me by; I am moved only by the music of their language falling on my ears without any burden of meaning further than tone and inflection. And hope that some of the drama of my situation will get cast off as they pass, snag a thread and pull, unravel some of the angst, the shturm und drang, the fight or flight kerfuffles that ignite along my spine. I watch and reach for a pillow so that I can lean my body forward and feel my weight cushioned for the time it takes to hurt enough to have to change my position again.
I have a second certainty. This is as good as I will feel, probably for the next year or so, realistically. It will take time to recover and there will be losses along the way, things I will wish had gone better if only I had more time and capacity to be on my feet. My task now is to seed the days and weeks and months ahead with forgiveness for my shortcomings. To seed them with laughter and forbearance for, and from, others. With solace. With the blessing of enough. I will wait for surgery and dance in my heart, hoping for a good, long, soaking rain. ~