I've never had much patience with folks who spent most of their time monitoring every little physical and emotional twinge or fluctuation they felt. However, there must be something about having your long- and short-term plans abruptly cancelled and your previously fixed (some might say "rigid") routine completely shattered that inclines you to introspection. Since my February 1 lesson in what even a relatively slow-moving motor vehicle can do to flesh, bone and sinew, I have become far more acutely aware of how complicated and demanding many of the supposedly simple things in life really are. For example, when a man is in the bathroom, neither his razor, nor his toothbrush, nor his nose-hair pluckers, nor any anything else he's holding works nearly as reliably when he's standing on one foot.
Likewise, even when you're reasonably fit, a staircase that normally presents no challenge at all is suddenly transformed into Pike's Peak if you're trying to slide up it backward on your butt. Beyond that, even if you do most of your work seated on said fundament, keeping your foot elevated at all times is damn hard, especially if even your normal flexibility makes putting your feet higher than your knees--much less your heart--a monumental achievement.
In general, being even partially incapacitated shifts every aspect of your daily regimen into ultra-slow motion. Distressed at the prospect of a protracted bout with the shower, I became an especially impatient patient yesterday morning until the longsuffering Ms. O.B. (who makes Mother Theresa seem quite self-centered by comparison) finally got fed up and advised me to "STFU or I'll take your walker away!" Needless to say, this was a bit unnerving for a guy who had at least hoped to be immune to such a threat until "assisted living" was his only alternative. Given what she's had to put up with, Ms. O.B. was more than justified in talking a little trash to her old man. I cleaned up my act immediately. I promise you that my recent misfortune serves only to remind me how lucky I am to have spent two-thirds of my life with Ms. O.B. and to have the opportunity to see that arrangement continue, provided I can get a little better at dodging distracted motorists.
Meanwhile, I have been extremely impressed not only by the skill of the professional caregivers I have encountered to date but by their compassion and patience. When you're about to take a painful and humiliating tumble in the course of demonstrating to a large, crowded waiting room that you have not yet mastered the fine art of crutch management--and, from the looks of it, like as not never will--there's something really special about hearing, "You just sit right there till I can get you a wheelchair, Baby!" While I truly believe that dedicated health professionals are bonafide candidates for sainthood, I can't help but think back to the days of my youth when most of the care anyone in the aged or infirm demographic ever got was provided by their own families. When our grandparents reached that stage, "rest homes" were simply beyond the pale, if not financially, then morally, for most members of my parents' generation. The sacrifices of career, leisure, privacy, and plain old body and spirit that my folks and many others made in order to take their folks into their own homes and care for them for extended periods are disturbing enough for members of my generation to recall, and I feel distressingly certain, that kind of sacrifice is well beyond anything that most of today's children could imagine or might be willing to entertain.
Although I'm extremely fortunate to receive such first-rate professional and private attention, an item in today's paper definitely tells me where we dog-ass old profs stand in the grand scheme of things. While there has been no progress whatsoever in tracking down the person whose vehicle crushed my ankle and cracked my noggin just two weeks ago, without even a second glance and from a mile away, the local authorities could identify a guy who nicked somebody's fender two years ago. Realistically, the best shot at nabbing my assailant might be to put the entirely plausible word out that although she didn't quite get the job done, she's up for a public service award based on a damn fine effort.
All seriousness aside, I have been blessed with many expressions of concern as well as numerous get-well gifts. I'm grateful for them, of course, but if the gifts you receive reflect perceptions of what you're about; then I guess it says something that most of my bounty has been in the form of beverages not available for legal purchase on the Sabbath in these parts. If there's an upside here, it's that all of this firewater has been extremely high end. No "Natty Light" or "Mad Dog" for the ol' Bloviator. Nossiree! Come to think of it, trying to do justice to the generosity of my friends may be partly responsible for my recent lapses into introspection. Don't worry though, if you are in these parts and stop by, I'll pour you the best I've got left, and I promise not to talk about myself, once I've shown you my X-rays, of course.