A Look in the Mirror

 

 

Many years ago, backstage at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, I was reading John Steinbeck’s Life in Letters and I came upon a letter written by a young writer, asking Steinbeck how he felt about writers using their friends and family members as characters in stories, outing family members as the human beings they are or worse exaggerating their flaws.  Steinbeck’s immediate response was to feel badly for the families of writers or artists of any kind and he confessed that writers were thieves who stole gestures and words from others. Then, he explained that family and friends are the writer’s material, raw material, from which stories of humanity are told.  And yes, the family and friends pay a heavy price for being so.

I have recently used a family member’s behavior to tell a story.  In my last blog I spoke of my sister failing to bring my walker to me in the hospital. I confess that I was so completely selfish at the time that I did not even consider what she might think, reading what I wrote and knowing others would.  And when she confronted me, I was surprised by her reaction, proof of my gross insensitivity.

I, who thought I was making an important point, didn’t consider who I was using to make that point and did serious damage to my relationship with my sister.  I am the comedian on stage who busts her sibling for the sake of the joke.  I can’t defend my behavior and it’s too late to take back my words.  The best I can do is come clean and accept the consequences.

I’m back

 

 

Wow, it has been forever since I wrote in my blog.

I am sitting in room 581 of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, waiting for my neurosurgeon to arrive and discharge me to Rehab for the next week.

That explains in part where I have been, suffering from sciatica that turned out to be a herniated disc that didn’t resolve after two surgeries, and worsened until I needed a spinal fusion.

After the upsetting election I considered writing down my thoughts and feelings.  I passed on that in favor of being one person who did not feel her reaction to the election was important for others to know.  I did do something that was important to me.

I let some folks who were supporters of Trump know that I wanted off their invite list.  I decided that I need not be mean or argumentative or a crybaby, but I did need my friends to know my criteria for friendship included respect for women and disabled people and old people and poor people and foreigners and gays and lesbians and dark skinned people and anyone who isn’t a fan of Mr. Trump.

And I went on the women’s march in January.

It was a boon to my head and heart but I paid a bodily price.

Compromised already by MS, I pushed myself a bit too far to make the walk and I  did injury to a degenerated vertebrae.

So here I am.  Today out of the pain killers deep fog and off to rehab.  I had an interesting exchange yesterday and today which I think is worth telling because it is funny in a way.

I called my sister yesterday to ask her to stop by my apartment and pick up my walker which I was going to need, already needed.  She asked what else I might want and I mentioned a few things:  a change of clothes and perhaps apples out of my refrigerator.  The apples I’m getting in the hospital are mushy.

She said she would do that and hours later wrote that she wanted to know the pass code for my garage entrance so she didn’t have to walk with my things.  It seemed a strange worry since there are elevators she could take to and from my apartment, so I called her and sensing she was less than enthusiastic about the errand I had given her, I told her it would be fine to let it go. The items weren’t a necessity.

Today I called a friend in my apartment building who I had done a favor for, and I asked her if she would bring my walker to my hospital room.  She assured me she would.

Hours passed and unexpectedly my sister arrived with a bag for me.  Not the walker.  Clothes and a few items from my refrigerator.  The thing I most needed was not forgotten or overlooked by accident.  My sister decided it was not as important and the clothes she could easily carry.

To my sister what she wore the week in rehab would be more important than how she got around.  After an accident that nearly killed her and with a titanium rod down one leg at 75 she still walks in high heels.  She brought me what she would want, not what I asked for.

I called my friend to catch her before she left the apartment to tell her to forget the clothing items I had asked for.  I only needed the walker.  My friend said she had been at the computer filling out a questionnaire that she had hours more to respond to and she didn’t know how to save it.  I jumped in saying  she should wait until that was done before running the errand for me.  “Oh, come when you finish,” I uttered.

Lesson:

Expect people to give me what they would want in my circumstances, not what I ask for.

Question:

Where is the one person who will get me my walker before the sun sets?

On the bright side:

I can stop worrying that my life is worthless, that I don’t serve any important purpose, writing stories.  I am that one person in all my relationships who would drop everything and hop to.

My doctor has just arrived and I am off to rehab to learn  how to walk and sit and carry things with a fused back.  No more climbing ladders or moving myself from one residence to another or walking without a walker.

But hours later, Rehab didn’t have a bed, so I am staying on the neurosurgery ward another night.

At 9 pm I hear a wee voice, female, calling out, “Help, help, help!”  I hit my buzzer and tell the nursing station what I am hearing and next I hear footsteps in the hall and then a nurse say something that I can’t make out  but the “help, help, help” stops.

Earlier I was walking the hall and saw a man in bed with his left hand covered in thick white foam rubber to protect it.  He couldn’t stop beating his hand against the bed and wall and everything within reach.

“Dear God,” I prayed.  “Let me know before something like this happens to me.  Give me a warning that I will know is from you.”

Maybe these poor souls are so lost they don’t know they are lost but their affect looks like they know.  They look terribly disturbed.  And the loved one who sits by them knows they are lost and lost to them.  And it is tragic.  There are all kinds of tragedies.  This is one I hope to avoid.