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Saturday, January 28, 2006

With great care

It's beginning to reach me that something is going to happen soon.

I have gotten serious about food, and my weight is down from a holidays-induced high of around 190 to about 183. Aiming for 175 or better.

Walking, as able, in the wettest winter here since 1996, and when work is absorbing nearly all of my time: think stair-climbing on the Library's great central spiral staircase, three times a day. I did 8300 steps the other day, just working or on breaks here in the building.

Eating with great care: cottage cheese breakfast, water bottle with dissolved multivitamins all day, supper of one veggie burrito, with fresh veggies diced and lightly steamed before wrapping.

In bed by 9 every night. Peppermint tea if I need to relax more in order to drift off.

Dr. Reed will require a thallium stress test before I go, and it had better be good or we go to a nearby hospital at best or call it off at worst. The one I cannot afford and the other would be devastating to say the least. Not to be thought of. I'm worried because I used to flunk step tests even though I was a good forest fire fighter, and eventually was washed out and couldn't go fight fire any more. This to someone who habitually climbs 10,000 foot mountains (during summers!).

I'm supposed to leave my index fingers unpainted for oximetry. Sure, it's six weeks away, but I have done this anyway -- polished eight nails. Every time I look down I see the index fingernails and it reminds me how much is at stake here. Good for the diet and exercise.

I print out my surgeon's requirements and take them to my doctor for a brief consultation.

The nurse takes my weight (three pounds heavier than my home scales, yuckers) and blood pressure ("120/70, you're as healthy as a horse, girl") and turns me over to Jean, who comes right in like she's waiting in the wings. I like her new hairdo and say so.

We go through the requirements and write out a series of lab requests. I'm out of there in ten minutes with her blessing.

Downstairs, I go first to the Medical Records window and update the release so that lab results can be sent to Dr. Reed. Then I backtrack to Lab and sit down at the intake window.

"What can we do for you?" asks Young Thing, whom I haven't seen before.

"Just a CBC today, thanks," handing her the form. She asks the usual: date of birth address, insurance ...

Knitted eyebrows. Here it comes.

"Ummm ... is [boy name] your husband?"

"No, he's my former self," I smile.

Young Thing Number Two In Second Window looks over at us, eyebrows raised.

Do I see a little extra color in Young Thing Number One's cheeks?

From there, I drive over to the electrologist's new office for south pole work. She's on the second floor of a clinic and general office building; I miss her country house and splendid Golden Retriever. I'm not due there for another hour and I know she's not in, but I need someplace to prep and a little food in me to go with the meds.

Next door there's a Burger King®. I pop in, and I'm the only customer. I sail through the winding queue ropes anyway, wings extended, which brings a chuckle from the staff.

"Umm, chicken sandwich?"

"They're two-for-one right now, getcha two?" asks the cashier. She's a cute, round butterball with dimples.

"Noooo, If I take two, the other one will disappear before I get home."

"You're that hungry, why doncha eat it?"

"Gotta lose weight."


"Operation coming up."

"Oh." Makes a sad face, then a happy face. "Here or to go?"

I lock myself in their restroom later, pull up my dress, and lather myself from a tube of Emla, cover the mess with plastic wrap, and waddle primly out to the wagon.

Rummage in car pocket.

No Vicodin. Disaster!

What to do? My meds are fifteen miles away. Appointment in half an hour.

Racking my brains, I scour the floor. Sometimes I have dropped meds and then found them later, during emergencies, and wiped them off with a tissue before popping.

Eww ...? You mean you never have emergencies? How nice for you.

Wait! Brainstorm. In the far back there's a plastic tub, taped shut with duct tape -- my 9/11 kit. I dig it out, peel the tape, and read labels in the fading light. A 35 mm film can marked "pain" swims into view. Gotcha! Among other oddments, there are a few Darvocet here, in case I ever have to set broken bones during a National Emergency. Safe!

Provided I don't drive for a few hours ...


A dear heart, whose judgment in these things I must respect, tells me I must try harder to reach my dad.

He was in the Coast Guard during World War II, and served on the cutter Champlain before she went to lend-lease and the attack transport Centaurus after that. So I have been tracking down mentions of them in books (there are 2.5 million books in my library workplace) and across the Web. These I print out and send each one in a letter, about one a week, full of disarming chit-chat and questions like "Hey, do you remember these guys?"

I know from my mom that he's probably reading and keeping them.

Now if he would only talk to me.

-- risa b


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