“Well, I’m out of sorts today, which is too bad, since my preferred, and in fact default, position is to be in sorts. But I’m not; the sorts clearly have chosen not to sort themselves out—and can I be responsible for that?”
I said it to Lady, who wasn’t there but was, since now the coffee shop is in the capable hands of Amir, scion of the patriarch Santana. He’s the guy who gave me free papaya smoothies for a couple of weeks: free because the smoothies were medicine, and not drink. Anyway, I can complain to Lady since she is not there, though she always was even when she wasn’t, but can I complain to the man who cured my back? Of course not….
For it seems that I may be cured. That at least is what the neurosurgeon told me: and why can’t he be sure? Well, I was supposed to have gotten follow-up in the same distant hospital I was treated in. I, of course, decided (on the basis of what the discharging doctor had told me) to see a neurosurgeon closer to home. I mean, how hard could it be?
Well, not having the imagings (and I so agree, computer, that that shouldn’t be a word!) that the other doctor had, the new doctor can’t be entirely sure. But he’s 95% sure, which is good enough for me.
“So that should be great news,” said Lady, whose sorts have clearly been sorted out. “So what’s the problem?”
Do I have to make everything difficult? Can’t the divinities throw me a bone without my sniffing suspiciously at it? Again, of course not….
“The problem first of all is that we do illness very well. Illness we all get. Go to bed, take your medicines, see the doctor, let time and diet and prayer work. But recuperation is another story….”
Which in fact it was, since I came home from the hospital and faced a series of challenges. The first was that my in-laws were in crisis, and it was entirely normal. My father-in-law was facing a disease for which there is no cure, and would need, at some point, more care than a very frail wife could give. And yet they had been together for over sixty years—how does one give that up? And so decisions were made, then unmade, then remade—and the times were not easy for anyone. Except, of course, for the required Yuletide merriment, which I blessedly skipped.
In addition, a week after I had been released from the hospital, we got the news that Montalvo, our young son, had himself fallen and dislocated the left hip and fractured it as well. All this while running…
…at the beach!
“How in the world can he do that damage by falling at the beach,” said Lady, who was in fact there in all senses, when Mr. Fernández snapped into the café. He was holding my cell phone, and demanding, “what is this for!!”
Forgivable, and understandable, since all the attention goes to the invalid, but what of the man who sits at the gurney-side, copes with the house and the meals and all the things that I could no longer do? So I had escaped bed rest after only a week—forgoing the 11 other weeks I had been prescribed—and was drinking coffee cellphone-less at the café.
So Montalvo’s birthday present—as well as Christmas present—was an 160$ ride by ambulance to…
Yes, Raf was there again, in the same dreary hallway, and the patient? Well, a bit less stoic than I had been, since when I called Montalvo to tell him Raf on the way, all I could hear was yowling.
So Raf had a husband on bed rest with a broken back, and a son awaiting surgery in a place not known for rapid action. In fact, it would be over a week before Montalvo got operated, and who would be there for him? Someone had to call his mother, and guess who did that? Right—not me, but Raf. Oh, and then, and even more difficultly, Taí, our sister home for the holidays.
It doesn’t seem right to replay the scene as it unfolded, because in the end, Montalvo’s mother came through. But here is what didn’t get said:
I totally understand that you are the messenger, and I absolutely comprehend your concern that someone be there for him. And despite the fact that NOT ONE of my children has given me a fraction of the trouble this kid….
Taí handled the situation brilliantly, and, as I say, all worked out well. And so, I called Montalvo every day for a week, and both of us gave numerical rankings of our level of pain. And he, damn him, was getting Percocet, while I was struggling along with a placebo called Tramadol.
The weeks dragged on; the nerves frayed. And then, one day Raf snapped, and I snapped, and I—once again!—completely lost control. I was tired of being in pain, and tired to the bone of being in suspense; I was raging and sobbing and alone, so whom to call? Lady!
Here’s the thing about being sick: your world has completely changed, but other people? Their world has not, and so, when Lady told me, “Marc, I can’t talk right now—I’ve got somebody right in front of me,” that made perfect sense. And did I say, “crisis, Lady, I’m having a meltdown!”
No, because I was and I wasn’t. Also another thing about being sick: when your femur is sticking out and wagging off the sand…well, that’s an emergency. That’s “stop everything and talk to me.” But was it an emergency? The fact that I was terrified of children on bikes and fat ladies with cell phones and of cats? And that I was tired of being terrified?
Blessedly, the Gods sent Taí, but not before I had called my eldest brother, Eric. Why he, and not John, whom I tend to call more often? Because Eric is retired: it was a Monday, John would be working. And so Eric got the meltdown, and very well he took it. Yes, he turfed the call, but I would have too….
“I’d call your psychiatrist,” Eric said. “You may need to jump up your antidepressants….”
I agreed, knowing perfectly well that I wouldn’t. Because I wasn’t depressed, or at least, any more depressed than the situation legitimately led me to be. No—I was simply venting all of the frustration and the anxiety. And so Taí made me slow my breathing down, and we went off to the café, and the storm was over.
In fact, it was the last meltdown. All would, apparently, be well. The only question now is….
…why am I out of sorts? And when will I get back into them?