I went over to my friend's house in the stereotypical southern United States. I got out of the car and walked up the well-worn path in the grass to the old weathered house. My friend was rocking back and forth in his chair on the big dilapidated front porch. His loyal old hound dog was laying next to him, but he was squirming, and whining, and making a terrible fuss.
"What's wrong with your dog?" I asked.
"He's layin' on a nail."
"Why doesn't he just get up and move?"
"The nail ain't hurtin' him bad enough."
-- paraphrased Ed Foreman story
Some of my closer friends may remember that little story from the Ed Foreman "Attitude" self-help audio tapes that I spread around our motley group as if I had account passwords to a premiere porn site to share.
The story also illustrates one of those old-school truisms about human behavior:
People only change when the pain to remain the same is greater than the pain to change
This particular truism was forced to the front of my own thinking tonight like an ice pick in your eyeball, or bamboo slivers under your fingernails, or an appropriate heart attack in the McDonald's drive-thru lane. Remember the truism and I'll try to tell my tale.
For background information
, check out a blog entry
from over a year ago. It has nice picture of my right leg, post-op, after both bones in it had been shattered. Then it was fileted and surgically repaired like "propping up a crushed bag of Saltine crackers" -- according to the osteopathic surgeon -- with some handy-fucking-dandy titanium brackets and a half-dozen screws.
I spent several initial months horizontal and not placing any weight on that leg for fear that the weight of gravity itself might force the bones in that leg to mend in an unnatural fashion, requiring more surgery. I spent many subsequent months bouncing around inside my house with a walker. The osteopathic surgeon warned me that I would have instant arthritic pain from the injury. Check.
As little as three months ago, I would use my emergency response vehicle
to take my own household trash to the neighborhood dumpster. It was only a football field away from my house, but it was painful and tiresome enough just limping around inside the house everyday.
Remember the change truism
. Tonight, it was raining. Tonight, I had a throbbing tooth ache. It friggin' hurt so bad, I couldn't think straight. I had already spent the last 24 hours with this evil pain in my face and had only slept about thirty minutes at a time. I was inconsolable. I had to get some relief.
What to do? I had to get some pain relief -- that much was certain. I had already eaten a bottle of ibuprofen with little success. My only option was to get up, get out of the house, and walk to the pharmacy before it closed. I had to succeed.
I got dressed. I put on my black jeans. I put on my black steeled-toed boots. I put on my black U.S. Army standard-issue raincoat. I grabbed my backpack. I grabbed my institutional-looking aluminum cane. I donned my "Grumpy" hat. I'm ready. I can do this because I am stubborn, in pain, and just thinking about it makes me hate the rest of mankind.
The pharmacy is about two miles away. Within twenty minutes, the dark miserableness of my situation began to become very apparent to me. I was stubbornly walking in the cold rain, watching my breath in front me, and the numbness in my feet was quickly working its way up both legs. They call that numbness peripheral neuropathy.
I finally limped out of the darkness and into the glow of the exterior mercury vapor lights of the pharmacy. Imagine how I must have looked to the patrons and employees. I was dripping wet, walking even slower than normal, with a backpack over an old Army raincoat. Clearly, I was a mentally disturbed homeless man. With the throbbing nerve ending in my molar, I was in no mood to shatter this aura with a disarming smile.
I stopped for a minute in the pharmacy, closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I had made it here, afterall. Unfortunately, this just made me dizzy and I nearly fell down. I scanned the hanging overhead aisle signs for what I wanted. "Dental Care" and "Pain Relievers" were on opposite corners in the back.
I picked up a bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol and a bottle of Maximum Strength Anbesol. Since the ibuprofen wasn't completely helpful, I figured a switch to acetaminophen might work. The Anbesol was 20% benzocaine. To relieve my pain, I would have bought a five gallon drum of Anbesol and bobbed for Halloween Tylenol tablets at this point.
On the return trip, I noticed that I no longer stared into the distance for progress markers. I stared at the road directly in front of me -- one day at a time -- one step at a time. My walking was getting worse. I felt like one of those poor people caught on video who has fallen through thin ice on a winter lake. Time was my enemy. Surely my legs would become so completely numb as to make me falter in my trek, lose my stubborness, and slip under the ice forever.
I could see the wet asphalt road glisten with the headlights of oncoming cars. I would wave my shiny aluminum cane horizontally when I saw the glow around my next step. I was defending my personal space. At this point on the way back, I was also walking like a Lon Chaney mummy. I knew I was stealthily dressed in all black. I didn't want Grandma or Grandpa to unceremoniously mow me down with their late-model Lincoln or Cadillac because they were doing 40 in a 25, can't see at night, and probably had too many cheap Margaritas during happy hour.
"Is everything okay, here?"
Holy shit! It's the po-po.
While I may have looked like the Slow-Motion Ninja Homeless Burgular on the local BOLO list of the Twilight Zone PD, I certainly was in no mood to have any interaction with the young patrolman.
Quick. Think. I looked up at him and calmly used a "nothing to see here" Jedi mind trick. Anything to make this guy continue his boring night without a squirt of adrenaline or suspicion.
"Oh. Yeah. I'm just out for a walk. I figure if I can safely take a shower, I can safely take a walk in the rain and get some rehab on my leg."
Somehow that seemed plausible enough for him. Had he noticed my backpack? I certainly didn't want to explain to him the wisdom of lugging a 12-pack of beer in there. The schlepping wasn't the issue with me, it was just the walking. He wouldn't understand. I would have just been a suspiciously-dressed degenerate. But, off he went.
I made it home. I popped some Tylenol like happy Tic-Tacs. I swabbed the Anbesol. I drank some beer, caught a buzz, and made a self-effacing fool of myself on the main tagboard to the regulars there.
But, in the end, I survived the journey. I don't prefer to blog about personal stuff. I normally avoid it. But somehow, after reading some of the entries I've seen lately among my regular blogdrive haunts, I thought I should share this private lunacy.
The change truism holds true
. Verdad. Do you have any moments when you decided to get off your ass and change something big or small? If so, leave a comment or a link.
:: How to Dehypnotize Yourself
- Akira 3099