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baseline ambulatory, and how

So many thoughts. I’d say this experience was life-changing except my friends would laugh because I’ve said that before, a few times. But then, a life can keep changing, can’t it?

I cry a lot. Today I met Ruth for a very slow walk, mostly a sit on a bench in the sunny park, and as I saw her approach in the distance, I was overcome: there she is, my dear friend, such a vibrant person, 81-years old and just had her first vaccine! There’s so much to celebrate, especially now, as the vaccine slowly arrives and so does spring. 

It still seems miraculous to me that I’m not dead, and it’s not everyone who can say that and mean it. I thought a ruptured appendix meant death, but apparently not, at least, not for everyone. I’ve always been grateful to be alive, but now I’ve felt the wings brush close, so the breath in my lungs means even more. Plus I spent time surrounded by hundreds of sick people. If anything makes you grateful to be “baseline ambulatory,” as the hospital concluded I was, it’s that.

Many lovely things. Just after I wrote that second post of praise for the efficient and skilled medical team at St. Mike’s, I got an email from a blog follower I’ve never met, who’s a nurse. She told me my first post had made her sad and so she was very happy to read the second. She told me my letters to the nurses would indeed be read and would mean a great deal. They were mailed today. Doing things like this makes me even more glad to be a writer.

I realized about this experience – among many realizations – that in my solitary world, I’m queen. Queen Elizabeth of Cabbagetown. I reign in my house, over my classes, decisions, moi moi moi. Suddenly I was alone in a war-torn environment, in pain, frightened, one pawn among thousands. Nobody is treated better or worse in a hospital, as it should be. My neighbour in Emerg who did not stop chatting with herself was treated with infinite patience and compassion, as was I. Now I’m back to reigning supreme, but with a different perspective. Not quite so supreme.

And another thing: humour. A sense of humour – what evolutionary purpose does it serve? Bonding the tribespeople? I’m sure there are a ton of academic theories about this. Funny. What a miracle funny is. Could we live without it? I think of the moment when I lifted the warming cover and saw that egg with its smiley coffee stain, and my roommate and I laughed and laughed. It felt like we’d both been fighting a battle, not with each other but with life, and had stopped for a hug. Which of course we’re not allowed. 

Speaking of funny, my son came over yesterday with food he’d bought – all I want is the plainest fare and he brought baked salmon and scalloped potatoes, so good. My insides are really feeling the powerful medicine; I just went to get probiotics. Monique came over with soup, Jean-Marc has offered turkey. And just now, friends of Sam’s left on my doorstep a bag of dinner from his restaurant Round the Horn: lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and a little parcel of gummy bears for dessert. 

So, blessings, no? Wouldn’t you be a bit weepy too?

Early this morning, I made coffee and toast and brought it up to bed with the paper, my computer and phone. My bedroom faces east so the morning sun shines in, not on the bed but on the north wall. I sat in bed, and for the first time in many years, I did not open the paper immediately or turn on the machines. I looked at my wall — my mother’s teddy bear, my aunt’s, my own, the vintage-y record player Lani gave me, Macca, Matisse, and Colette always looking at me. I drank and ate. My life has been the fable of the hare and the tortoise. I’ve been a speedy hare forever. 

Maybe I’ll learn to slow down. Maybe now I have no choice.



5 Responses to “baseline ambulatory, and how”

  1. Theresa says:

    So glad you're on the road to good health, Beth, with your usual style and ebullience.

  2. beth says:

    ON The Road would make a good book title, Theresa. Someone should use it! Thanks for your good wishes.

  3. Pat Butler says:

    I'm amazed that you managed to avoid surgery, Beth. You've taught all of us the importance to (1) taking essentials with us when we head to the ER (2) staying positive and grateful when strangers are trying to help us – though we think too slowly. Glad you're on the mend.

  4. alandmillen says:

    Hi Beth … Sending you speedy recovery wishes from Zurich. A line from Bruce Cockburn comes to mind: " …been through the wringer but I'm OK…" (I hope that doesn't sound flippant … for me, it's a survivor's mantra. Best regards … Alan

  5. beth says:

    Love it, Alan – yes, "been through the wringer but I'm okay" is a good mantra and certainly mine right now. And thanks, Pat, grateful is the key. Still alive and kicking, by some miracle.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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