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Five weeks ago I gave myself a brutal sprained ankle, with the upshot that I’m not going to be going to the fireworks tonight–there’s still some residual inflammation, and the two miles would do me in. Hell, I’d be done in when I got there, and I don’t know if that beautiful rumble in my chest would pump out enough serotonin to compensate for the weedy little voice inside whining, “When do I get to sit do-o-own?” We live close enough to the action that we’ll be able to hear them–not loudly enough–but not see them at all. Which makes it worse.

(Hmm, what if I take one of my crutches . . .? What if I just open up a big #10 can of get-over-it?)

I also have arthritis in my knees, and I seem to recall this keeping me home last year. This is unfair, seeing as I got my magic cortisone shots this week, and all that hurts are these two or three acid-dipped rubber bands running up the inside of my lower calf. I’d love to go; to take my son, who is new to the Big City and Real Fireworks (set off by professionals who do not get their heads blown off). But there it is: I’m a wussy. There’s only so much soldiering through I can do.

The thing about this is that I’m a pain champion. Screw that tired labor/childbirth stuff (which I escaped via cesarean, therefore sullying my resume)–I get repeated kidney stones! (Women swear they’re worse, and I’ve lost count–probably 30ish, with two serious kidney infections to boot.) And I once had a bowel obstruction. I wanted to go to my emergency room, so at 5 am (thinking I just had a kidney stone, because that was how acute the pain was) I walked half a mile to the subway, changed trains, endured the longest 5 minute cab ride of my life, and showed up able to get the concepts “kidney stone” and “puking NOW” across. I get migraines! Champion, I tell you!

I suppose it’s the particular sort of pain–you can grit your teeth against a constant agony. Work on your breathing. Advice: don’t overdo this. I once had a stone obstruct (no good very bad life threatening) and the blob of clay I saw sent me home accusing me of “drug-seeking.” (N.B.: I wanted Toradol, which does nothing interesting to you at all.) I just wasn’t showing enough pain. In vain did I tell her that I had learned the hard way that crying doesn’t give the nice people in the E.R. the information they need. Letter in her file. Heh.

But when every step sends a needle of fire up my leg I whimper like the sissy little girl I really am. And it’s almost healed now, too. You should have seen me a couple of weeks ago, with the kids waiting on me and trying not to glare at the men who didn’t give me their seats on the train. (Five times out of six, seat-givers are women.)

I am, of course, no stranger to psychic pain, and I’ve had a boatload of that too. Sometimes I soldier, sometimes I whimper. Sometimes I try to figure out if watching all that CSI means I might not get caught, bwah ha.

But fireworks have always made it better. I was in the hospital in Indianapolis once (hyperemesis with daughter, sigh) and they had a huge window overlooking the river where they were setting them off. Best fireworks seat ever; mood a trifle dampened by it being in a cancer surgical ward; been puking for four days straight–all day–but . . . fireworks, man!

How much can it possibly hurt?