My son hauled two bins of my accumulated trash to the curb Saturday, something I haven't been able to do in the better part of a month. I didn't let him see me weeping.

More than once in recent weeks it's occurred to me that things might have been easier on us if I'd not made it out of the operating room. Or easier on me, anyway; according to one Facebook friend, I have endured "torture, complete with mind-altering drugs and sleep deprivation." (Being a thrashy sleeper is bad enough in a full-sized bed; in a hospital bed, it's frightening beyond words.) I came out of the proceedings with no ability to concentrate, only marginal ability to walk without assistance, and a truly spectacular pile of debt. Avoiding this sort of thing is, to me, what life is all about.

It's all very strange, and contra David Bowie, I can't turn and face the strange; I had only recently gotten to the point where I could look at my life as it was and say "Not bad, all things considered." This new version, forced upon me by mere circumstance, seems unutterably drab: I have always strived for self-sufficiency, and apparently that may no longer be an option. I snicker at weasel words like this:

Removal of the obstruction that has caused the symptoms usually gives patients some relief; most patients have less leg pain and are able to walk better following surgery. However, if nerves were badly damaged before surgery, there may be some remaining pain or numbness or no improvement.

That "no improvement" bit, of course, is the one that scares me. And that whole relearning-to-walk business looks like a long uphill slog, especially since for the moment I can't focus worth a damn. (I spent 9 minutes on this paragraph.) I suppose it could be worse: there are those who remain flat on their backs for months after invasive surgery, and having to do that would quickly drive me insane.

The timing, of course, sucks greatly. In 2015 I finally emerged from five years of austerity, and went back to work piling up some trifling amount of savings and living slightly less low on the hog. Now comes this. I'm here to tell you that austerity has very little to recommend it from any standpoint other than the philosophical.

By some definitions, I suppose, my life has already ended: much of my weekly routine has been rendered difficult to impossible. I'm going to have to be shown that it can be brought back from the briny deep. At the very least, I'm going to have to be able to take out my own damned trash.

The Vent

  17 July 2016

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