Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pain

I suppose I knew something like this might happen.

Falling down and going boom was sure to have consequences. My body wants a word with me.

Damn.

I joked about it. Joked about it. I should have known. My parents were right, they said (careful to quote their parents), “There no fool like an old fool.”

What would make me think I could fall over backwards onto a sidewalk, and then get up without angering, insulting, disturbing or annoying some section of my body.

It would be a section that naturally didn’t expect or anticipate it. A part that was innocent, guilt-free, and not perfectly okay with the surprise inversion of itself, as if that kind of thing happened all the time.

My skinny behind, for example.

“No, a warning isn’t necessary, Ed, just throw yourself down on the sidewalk whenever you feel like it, we’ll be all right. No problem. Remember how we used to do that, boys, about, what was it, sixty years ago?

“Sixty years ago, Ed. That’s why you had elbow pads and wore snow suits.”

You can’t fall down, even after fifty, and not hear from some (sarcastic) part of your body.

The pains took three days coming. I almost thought I had escaped. When I woke up the third day, like I had gotten away with something, like I had raided the cookie jar and nobody had noticed the missing cookies. I thought, I still had no pain. Whoopee!

“Hey, some cookies are missing over here,” said a part of me on the third day. “I’m going to have to deliver some pain because of those missing cookies.”

Let me explain, I said to myself, quickly.

Sunday, when I reached for the door handle of the restaurant, I had the handle of my stand-alone cane in my left hand. (You get that when you graduate from the grocery-cart cane, which you get when you graduate from the wheelchair.). I was planning to temporarily abandon the handle of the cane, to use that hand, my only functioning hand, to grab onto the handle of the door.

“Do I want to hear this?” my body is saying. “I don’t need this. I’m late by, what, three days. Three days, you haven’t had pain.”

Now, just let me finish: leaving the stand-alone cane to stand alone, which I was pretty confident it could do, I planned to pull the door open, stick my right foot and maybe the right cheek of my…well, my right cheek…into the wide open space created by the opened door…ow, what was that?

“The cookies are gone. It is three days. I’m delivering pain here….”

…Then, I would return my left hand to the stand-alone cane, which would still be standing where I had left it, and use it…ow… to balance my body as I strolled blithely into the restaurant.

“Sorry. This is…”

To this day, I don’t know what went wrong with that plan.

“Sorry, this is the third day. I haven’t time.”

Did the stand-alone cane get distracted by the d├ęcor of the restaurant and lean in to get a better view? Or, maybe my efforts with the door required more strain than I anticipated, more struggle, perhaps a step I don’t recall. Or, did a bad man come into the restaurant and move the stand-alone cane just away from my grasp. Ow.

“C’mon, you know what you did.”

I fell backwards, and from a slightly inclined plane leading up into the restaurant. The inclined plane (which I hadn’t noticed before) went from the restaurant floor maybe a inch down to the sidewalk, so there would be no tripping over a step. So my body was already tilted to fall…Ow. What was that?

…While I fell, I resolved not to hurt my head, if possible. I remembered that of all the parts struck by the stroke, the head seems to have healed faster—the right arm was the slowest; it still just is, sort of, there—and caused ow, ow the most dramatic changes in my attitude.

Fortunately ow, I have a crooked back, which I think absorbed the blow, so my head bounced no more than three times.

Ow. That hurts. Was that sidewalk pain?

“Yeah. And do you know you’re paralyzed on the right side?”

Yes. I know.

“So, you know that the right side is hurt more that it’s saying, with the pain, I mean?”

Well, I assumed. Yes I guess I knew. I couldn’t imagine I could fall like that…ow…and not eventually hear from you, some part of you …owah.

“So, you know, you could be hurt more that you know.”

Yes.

“And you’re taking chances?”

No. Ow. I mean, I’ve stopped. Look, my girl is a nurse. She told me. Even if I don’t remember. I know she told me. I just forgot. Ow, dammit. Look, just let me have this one, sort of, slide. I’ll be careful. I will.

“You’ll stop all this wise-ass nonsense, pretending you’re not a stroke survivor for long, and bounding into restaurants and such?”

Yes. Yes.

“You know, I’m not authorized to do this.”

Just this once.

“An awful lot of people are asking favors—big favors—for you.”

I know. I’m ashamed. I’ll be better.

“Well. Maybe once.”

Thank…Ow…OW…Oooh…Okay, all right, I deserved that.

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