432. Hippy, hippy, shake, shake, shake


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It’s my birthday. Hip, hip, hoorah!! Sixty one or sixteen for my dyslexic brothers and sisters. This has been the year of the joint. (No, not that kind of joint!) Last January, as you may recall, we had a record snowfall of 33 inches, which required me to push a snowblower and snow shovel for most of a very cold day. Later that day my wife wanted to go to the Snowfall Ball and actually ballroom dance. I did…Swing dance… I swung and missed. My left hip has never been the same. See, I did not want to disappoint her eager dancer’s heart, so I took ibuprofen instead of a three day nap, and I danced a few numbers. Until I had to sit, stretch, ache, and finally leave there, a broken man. Weeks of Advil, Flexeril, and Tramadol followed with a heating  pad, physical therapy, a TENS unit, exercises designed to strengthen my weak core, and more. Oh, yes, Yoga class became mandatory. It sucks to feel your body let your mind down after six decades of your mind letting your body down. It’s bloody mutiny, I say.

I can remember these details because I am in pain again today as I await my yearly doctor’s appointment. Now the pain shoots down my left leg along the IT band, causing bursts of pain in my hip, thigh, calf, and ankle, even the arch of my foot. C’mon! But wait!! There is more. The IT band stops at the knee, so the Doctor tells me it’s likely nerve pain from a deteriorating disk or two or three. L5, L4, L3, blast off. “Ground control to Major Tom…take your Tylenol and put your heating pad on…”  It’s a slow, dry pain… like a two by four being pounded through a keyhole with a rubber mallet.

After putting in a week of compounding and painting my daughter’s drywalled play room in Tucson last year, I found my right wrist and elbow began to squeak. I felt like the Tin Man, wanting only “Oil can. Oil can.”  The right shoulder was about half sore. Rest helped until October when I returned to paint the outside of her house. The wrist/elbow combination flared up again, but I rested like an iguana in the 90 degree heat and took Advil. Beauty and purpose are good anti-inflammatories. They do not, however, prevent injury or accidents.

“Doc, I banged my left elbow into the door jamb as I carried a bag of wood pellets into my house this winter. It felt like the bone split.”

“You aren’t hurt. Nope. You’re just stupid.” He didn’t say but  was thinking not so quietly. I should have known better since he is addicted to painkillers himself.

Maybe it’s a spur. Perhaps I’ll get a full body x-ray. Man oh man. It was the phantom  bladder sphincter pain last spring. Finally got that resolved due to the second specialist I saw. The first specialist smiled as he suggested merely oblating the nerve. (Sure, I thought, let me oblate your brain first.)  Who knew health care was so complicated in old people? I thought Obamacare had fixed everything forever. I realize that I am sounding like the old crones I did not like to hear when I was younger, just clucking all day about their aches and pains. Somehow, I feel my stuff is the exception. Plus, I am doing something about my deficits, not relying on magic potions or spells. But chronic pain has a way of distracting you from the joys of life.

Here’s the thing: I’m going to dinner and dancing tonight to celebrate my demise. Oh Joy. Again, my bride is expecting me to twirl her and cuddle in rhythms called cha-cha and foxtrot and waltz. Sure, I want to, but the imaginary broken drill bit in my left hip tells me no. However, “It’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I  want to; sigh if I want to. You would cry too if it happened to you.”

Oh, the humanity!! So I distract myself to dissociate from the pain. “I am not in pain. I am Sciatica the Crusha from Russia!!” 

“Granpa, that’s not a nice word.”

“Leah, it’s just a new word. Like Carl and Paul, the sock worms; you didn’t know them until they sat next to you on your chair. Remember?  Now they are you buddies.”

“Yeah, can I talk with Carl?”

“Sure, just let me take my shoes off.”

This is where the story gets ugly and perverse. My daughter Grace, the mother of Leah and Max, and the benefactor of my labors, introduced Leah to her socks, “I’m Judy. And I’m Jaylene.” They were fuzzy magenta girl socks. Leah lit up like she’d just hit the jackpot in Vegas. “Hi Judy. Hi Jaylene!”

I was shocked and appalled. “Dad, the look on your face is priceless. You look like someone just stole your only puppy.”

“Well, this is intellectual property theft, or at the very least copyright infringement.”

“No. She just prefers girlie sock friends. It’s a free market.”

“That is sexism at its worst. You are conditioning your child, my grandchild, to operate inside social constructs that are discriminatory and self limiting. As an attorney, you know that I’d win this case easily in court, where I will see you to further discuss this affair; unless you’d prefer to settle out of court.”

“I can’t believe you are so proprietary, Dad.”

“You stole my schtick.”

“No. Leah prefers magenta girl sock friends.”

“It’s because Carl is white and male; is that what you are saying? That is reverse discrimination against the entire athletic sock world. I will take this case to the highest court in the land and win. I demand justice.”

“Let’s have Leah pick which sock friends to play with. How about that for a compromise?”

“Absolutely not! You can’t just roll into town and open a Burger Queen and sell Whoopers after Burger King and Whoppers have created a market through hard work and investments… and tell the public to pick. It’s robbery.”

“Okay. It’s your birthday and your hip hurts. I’ll put Judy and Jaylene away before Leah gets too attached. Do you feel better now?”

” A little. If I’d known how the story would end, I would never have painted your house.”

“Really?”

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