I have always had atrocious handwriting. I received an A in penmanship first quarter 5th grade. Both the teacher and my mother thought I had doctored the grade until they realized it was in his handwriting. I received a D for the next quarter, had to stay after school and had a special book. Alas, to no avail. By the end of my first semester in college, my dorm mates said I could encrypt anything against Russian spyware. I was in trouble my second year on. My parents, in particular,my father were concerned about my wellbeing – academic and personal. My father was a writer and an editor. He was interested in what I was reading and would edit my papers. This usually occurred after the paper had been graded. I soon figured it out. With right amount of charm and angst, I could get Daddy to read the texts and send me notes. These could then be lifted almost whole and used for a paper.
As I said, my life took a very bad turn from my sophomore year. However, I did find my groove. For those of you who have only seen the fashionista side of me, there’s more. I became excited by African and West Indian studies. Take a deep breath. My particular area of interest was the syncretization of African religious forms in the colonial world. Yes, I did spend the majority of my working career in financial training. I had wonderful, absorbing classes and read amazing things. I loved it. I was very excited to be reading Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”. In the ’70’s, it was revelatory. So, back in the old days, mail was composed via either typewriter or handwriting. I’ve mentioned my handwriting. In terms of my typing, let’s just say that I was sent to school with erasable paper, typewriter erasers, Correct-type and tape, and whiteout. Also, it was back when a telephone call to the next town involved extra charges, let alone another state. The usual agreement was 1 call a week. Now that I have set the scene…
You might guess where this is going…
I wrote home very excited about Achebe. My father couldn’t read my handwriting but could see THINGS FALL APART very clearly. He jumped to conclusions and called me. We sorted it out. Hysteria on both sides calmed. And no, he couldn’t read the novel because Achebe was not available in the Levittown of the 1970’s, nor did I need the help.
Present day, my writing is worse. I am older but more than that, my hands are impacted by this condition. Even I can no longer read my handwriting.
When this first started, I would run into people I had not seen in ages. Three years ago this week, I was let go from a company I’d been with for 15 years. I was a technical trainer so literally had worked with hundreds of people there in the NYC office alone. The company occupied four floors of a building that was an NYC block. I did an enormous amount of walking as part of my job. I didn’t see some people due to they’re being on different floors and not needing me. I’d run into someone at a meeting or in the hall and I would hear, ” Oh my G-d, oh my G-d! What happened?” My response, a shrug and “Things Fall Apart.” And no, it wasn’t a stroke or an accident. It’s not cancer, contagious or terminal. My brain is the same.
Well, things do fall apart and are falling apart; not colonial structures but me, for real. I have discovered since summer’s end that my spine is a mess and I have osteoporosis. My teeth were rotting. I have acknowledged that I am in pain. I never used to be unless I had fallen. I went for my spinal surgical consult on Monday. I was fairly inured to the idea that surgery was in my future. Two neurologists said it was time. My walking was bad. I am beyond non-surgical intervention. When the issue was first raised, I had intense issues. My dear friend was paralyzed after spinal surgery twenty years ago. I have always been fearful due to that. I also made the analogy that it was either like cataract surgery or laser surgery for the over 40 eye. In each instance, change would be minimal at best. The surgeon showed Tom and I, an in-depth section of the MRI. My philosophy has always been not to look. Do I know what I am seeing? Can I tell the doctor to do it differently? This time I could clearly see something was not right. So, this appears to be like cataract surgery. It’s so bad that anything will be better. I was told without surgery I will be one of those little old women whose head falls on their chest. He discovered a fracture in my neck. I need further tests to see if this is new or old and a better picture. This is disturbing on several levels. I fractured and didn’t feel it? My mother had spinal fractures and they were excruciating. She literally broke apart. I am so similar to my mother. This is not a trait I wish to share. I was also told I am two inches shorter. Visions of the Wicked Witch. I am too young to be melting and shrinking. I walk worse. I am fighting as hard as I can to stem and reverse the tide. But. But things fall apart.
In terms of the surgery I need they can’t say if it will be through the front or through the back. Two different types of surgery. The additional tests will tell. It will require an overnight stay. In anyone else it would have been outpatient. However, because of my multiple issues, I need to be monitored and physical therapy will have to sign off on my release. Now, back in the day, a lady only had her name mentioned in the papers three times – birth, marriage ,death. This corresponds to my view of hospital stays. I am not pleased although I do realize the sanity of staying overnight. May I be blunt? I have bashful kidney/shy bladder. This is almost scarier than any operation. I won’t be able to drive for a couple of weeks due to painkillers. I am the driver for my household. Scary, huh? And I see another wheelchair ride in my future. The surgeon is disclaiming all over the place about my prognosis as is my neurologist. I’ll still have MC and they say it probably won’t impact my mobility. I remain totally optimistic that I will be improved on all kinds of levels. If not, why bother?
Things Fall Apart! But… But..