April 01, 2024

It's Been a Rough Year (And It's Only April)

I fell in public today, messily, spilling popcorn all over an already-wet or -greasy polished floor at the movie theater, wailing in pain and sobbing.

An older gentleman (well, older than me) named Rick asked my name and tried to comfort me as the woman he was with tracked down some ice.

"It's been a rough year," I told him.

"And it's only April," he said.

I started off 2024 with a big hole in my head, empty spaces left behind from the molars that had been extracted last November. 

The pain was already gone, but my jawbone was still remodeling from the graft surgery that had accompanied the tooth pulling. And the ongoing healing process was sapping me of energy. 

Maybe that's why I fell on January 7 of this year, trudging along the side of the apartment building I live in, trying to track down a weird smell that seemed to indicate a burnt-out machine. My neighbors have blown the building's washer before by overloading it—but that wasn't the culprit this time. So, I had to go sniffing amidst the trees and mulch and acorns and soft earth that line the narrow space between my building and the one next door. 

My left ankle gave out, or maybe I just lost my footing on that side, and I crumpled into a pile, every bit of my weight landing on my left foot. 

I'm used to tripping, though less used to falling, so I walked it off, shook it off, and proceeded with my day as planned, meeting up with a friend for a movie. After the two hours were over, my ankle had swelled so much I couldn't walk. 

I somehow managed to drive myself home—it wasn't my driving foot, after all—and laid in bed screaming in pain, especially every time my cat tried to figure out what was wrong by walking all over my body. 

I considered going to the emergency room, but the excruciating pain wasn't life-threatening. And although I would've liked to have gone to urgent care, I couldn't quite figure out how to get there—too upset to drive myself, crying too much for any rideshare driver to accept me, too averse to pulling my friends from their plans and business and far-flung geographies.

So I suffered the night, got a friend to drive me to urgent care the next day for X-rays that showed no break, and wrapped my foot and ankle for weeks while I hobbled around with a cane. 

No sooner was my foot getting better than I had an appointment for a colonoscopy—a routine screening and apparently one I was overdue for despite not yet having turned 50. I wasn't worried at all about the procedure—I'd be completely knocked out, after all—and honestly the prep wasn't as bad as I expected. 

But then in the days following, I found it hard to shake the anesthesia. And it was making me terribly depressed—something they don't warn you about before hooking you up to the IV. 

What made the procedure even more difficult was the cough I'd developed out of nowhere the week before, with no other symptoms. I wasn't "sick," per se, so there was no reason to delay the colonoscopy—but even under the influence of propofol and fentanyl, I was coughing so bad they had to give me an opioid to settle me down. 

A week later, I made an appointment with my doctor, who prescribed me medication for the cough—which hadn't been eased by anything available over the counter or any folk remedy or wives' tale. Miraculously, the pills worked—but if I didn't take them, I'd start coughing again. 

So back to urgent care I went, this time for a chest X-ray—which, like the one for my foot, came out clear. 

In the meantime, I'd loosened another tooth by biting into a simple sandwich, nothing especially crusty, but enough to make a tooth that already had borderline stability a goner. 

My periodontist had been trying to save that tooth. He didn't want me to end up with a mouth full of holes

Suddenly, without warning, it was a matter of not if I'd have to extract that tooth—and the ones next to it, too—but when

Of course, I was freaking out—but not about the potential pain. My vanity was really getting in the way, triggering every insecurity and crippling me with anxiety. 

During the procedure, taking an Ativan wasn't enough to calm me down. Neither was the nitrous oxide, which did not seem to assuage my stress levels. 

"Can you turn up the gas?" I asked my doctor. "Why?" he asked. 

"I'm really stressed out..."

Then he apologized and told me it was already turned up to its max level. There was nothing more that he could do. 

That was just two weeks ago. I'm still on soft foods. I still have some pain. My body is still trying to heal itself. 

I'm so exhausted. 

And then I was heading from the soda dispenser, filled cup and popcorn bag in hand, when my right foot slipped on some liquid on the glossy floor. Instead of sending both my feet in the air and making me land on my rear—like what you see in the movies when someone slips on a banana peel—my right foot just kept going forward, making me stub my left big toe, scrape the top of my left food, and land on my left knee and right elbow. 

I couldn't yell "Help!" I couldn't articulate any words. I could only make sounds like a wounded animal, crying out as though I'd been snapped by a bear trap or fallen from a tree. It took surprisingly long for anyone to come over to me. 

And as bad as the pain was, I was most upset that I'd spilled my popcorn and was now late to my movie. 

That was a few hours ago—and once again, I find myself under the weight of an ice pack in bed, elevating my left leg, worried that my cat will walk on it. 

I'm wondering if I shouldn't have left my cane in the backseat of my car. 

And I'm really hoping I can get some sleep tonight. 

It's been a rough year so far this year. It makes me worried about what'll happen to me when I get older, and everything just gets worse, and I'm all alone. 

As it is now, my coworkers give me a gentle ribbing because of all the health problems I've been having and all the doctor visits I've had to do. Maybe they think it's funny because I'm not that old. Maybe they think I'm really old. 

Maybe they're finally realizing I'm a delicate flower. Or that I'm cursed. 

It's what I've been saying all along. It's only now that others are catching on, maybe.

The thing is, I don't have as many sick days allotted to me in my job as I need. And I've got no vacation days as part of my benefits package at work—which means if I need a mental health day, or something else bad happens to me in the near future, I've got to take an unpaid day or just suffer through it. 

But I already feel like I've been doing that so much. I can't catch a break, and I can't catch up. 

I could say I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it's already dropped. I don't know how much more I can take.

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1 comment:

  1. Sandi, I totally empathize with the whole tooth problem, having surrendered all of mine about a decade back [2010, actually], when I was in my mid-fifties. Turns out my Granddad had his pulled at 35, according to my Dad.
    The Good News is, after they were gone and the dentures had settled in - a process that took about a year for me, your results may vary - I have found my mouth is fine, with the daily rituals for cleaning and gluing-in pretty much the same as brushing and flossing every day, only much easier, lol.
    A small point, perhaps, but any alleviation is a step back up, eh?
    I no longer live in the Inland Empire, although still have family out there, but I have absolutely enjoyed 'riding' along, and continue to look forward to, your adventures, wherever they may lead.