I decided to start this blog because of some writing advice I read on the Intertubz. (And we all know, if it's on the Intertubz, it must be true...) But just as many things around writing paralyze me, the decision of what my first post should be about had me stymied for a few days. When it comes to writing, Dorothy Parker anticipated me:
Exactly. I couldn't have said it better myself, Dorothy. So I wandered and maundered and wondered. Then, as frequently happens, life made the decision for me.
Last Saturday night, late, as I maundered and wondered, I noticed a high-pitched electronic noise in my left ear. Tinnitus, quite a case of it. I wondered if it would keep me awake, but hoped for the best. I did fall asleep, but when I awoke on Sunday, as soon as I tried to get out of bed, the world went all whoopsie-spinnie on me. Plus I could not hear much out of my left ear.
Things got worse as the day went on; what little I could hear from my left ear was mixed with a veritable panoply of sound-effects. Sometimes the ocean. Sometimes a small percussion section. Sometimes little gremlins crackling cellophane. (Which made me really empathize with those who are unfortunate enough to have auditory hallucinations: I knew these were not real, but man, oh, man.) So we hied me off to the Urgent Care Clinic, thinking perhaps I had a horrid case of ear wax, or an inner ear infection.
...I feel the sky tumbling down. Well, sort of. I kind of tend to tumble down. Or rather, if I were not trailing a hand along any wall, furniture, or supporting surface at hand, I would be. While the hearing loss is distressing and annoying, I'd have to say the vertigo/dizziness is much worse.
So today was my first full day of Prednisone. I opted to stay home and see what would happen, rather than trying to be out and about. This means tomorrow is errand day, and as I sit at my computer at 2:36 a.m. typing this, I'm wondering if that was a miscalculation. We shall see.
One of the many side effects of this drug is that it plays merry hell with your blood sugar. In some cases it can even bring on diabetes. Since my family is riddled with that disease on both sides, this is something I want to avoid. I've been flirting with the idea of doing a complete sugar purge, and trying to reset my sugar cravings, which have been ginormous ever since getting a wee bit peri-menopausal. Plus, the damned stuff is like crack for some of us, and I'm one of the some of us.
One of the tenets I try to live by is that we may not be able to choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react. So I try, but we all know that that, like many simple-seeming truths, can be far harder to live than say.
But, boy, do I have a great support system for times like these, and that to me seems a marker of a life decently lived, by golly. Yeppers.
You, my peeps from near and far, new and old have been reaching out and giving me the love in so many forms, and that really is quite the wonderful thing to experience. Whether it's a touch via Facemail or text, an inspirational posting I see on your social media page or a lovely comment left here; whether it's dear friends who come up and cook meals for all of us here at Le Marais and then whirl away, angels of mercy creating easy-to-heat-up meals I can eat next week when the H.O. is gone, I'm a lucky woman.
Which doesn't mean life can't continue to get funnier and funnier. Because of course it would do that. I would expect nothing less at this point. So, apparently we have some new neighbors.
We all have times when we wrestle with hope. She's a motivator, she is, but also a destroyer. Maybe sort of Shiva-like?
I got to have a glimmer of happy-happy-hope joy on Saturday, when upon waking, things seemed a bit better. Not so much insta-tipsy-whoopsie, a definite lessing of the ongoing soundtrack in left ear, and maybe, maybe, what felt like just a bit of hearing retrieval. Alas, such improvements were either hallucinatory hope, or real, but just very short-lived.
Hope's a cruel mistress indeed. All of us have had to wrestle with it at one time or another. From the hopes of childhood - the boy we want to sit next to us on the bus, the teachers we hoped to impress, the friends who came and went, and we wished to best, or not be bested by, or simply to keep in our orbit - well, those hopes may seem small in comparison to today, but I think that's just because it's so hard to actually remember how passionate we were then, how much we could want.
We have ducks. The ducks were not my idea. Actively not my idea. In fact, it would be more than safe to say I felt I had made my abundant disinterest in all things poultry quite clear to the Husbandly One. We had a variety of avian life around when I was a kid, and I remember virtually none of it fondly. (More on that later. Be warned.) Yet, one day when I was visiting family for a few days, he called. "I have a surprise for you!" He was clearly excited. "I'm not sure if I can wait to tell you." (He's like that, for better or worse, and most of the time it's better; there's little mistaking an emotion he's having and secrets don't come easily to the man. Which is terrific. I highly recommend this quality in a person.)
"A surprise? For me?!" Oh, I wondered to myself. What could it be? Had he built me something? (The H.O. is a fabulous woodworker and contractor.) A gift? Perhaps a new bauble from our favorite jewelry store? I don't get boxes from there often, but every now and then, a delightful surprise shows up as a super-special treat. Or, oooh! Maybe that outdoor area that needs to be leveled for us to have anything like a lawn area - maybe he is planning to delight me with a veritable delta of flatness upon which to socialize in future without asking all of our guests to risk broken ankles? Could it BE?!
Well, if t'were to be, t'weren't then. "I got ducks!" he announced.
Today I got my eardrum pierced. Yes, eardrum. Not ear lobe. Those were done at 16? 18? The moment it was legal, as my mother had made her feelings clear. "Of course you can pierce your ears. Just as soon as you pierce your nose and wear a ring through it." Which, now, no biggie. Back in the mid '70s, not so much.
It started a bad day. After the past few days making themselves clear that the oral Prednisone was likely not going to be the much-hoped-for deus ex machina, I woke to a horrific case of the Wibbledy-Wobbledies and a raging roar in Damned Left Ear. Driving was possible, but not fun. I went to lunch with a bestie, for a well-deserved treat and some hugs, and then off to work. My entire body has been feeling the lack of movement that the WW-s will give a person, so I forced myself to take the stairs. Carefully. Very, very carefully. Safety first! Caught up on a few things, met with my (fabulous) boss, planned for how we would continue through this morass, and headed off to the doctor's office.
Husbandly One, working a grueling job a hour or more away, made it his life's work to get done in time to accompany, and miracle of miracles, was on time! (The man was born for lateness, showed up late in our lives, and the only reason he was on time to our wedding was because it was next door to our house. But I digress. He was on time, and that turned out to be exceedingly merciful.)
So it might be time to let my inner Engineering Type come out for a visit, for a bit. She needs a reason to at least edge a toe or two into that research ocean she'd normally be surfing in. Knowledge is power; I'm a huge believer in that. So why have I not delved in earlier? Dived in? Dove in?
I'm sure there are a lot of complex psychological reasons, and more likely a lot of simple ones. But another good one (and I am super-psyched about any of the good, what with its limited inventory right now) is that from the instant I met the doctor I totally randomly (or not - depending on one's metaphysical framework for life) ended up with, I felt I was in extremely capable hands. Even the H.O., who is a born skeptic and curmudgeon in all the best senses of the words, was impressed when he met him during the second appointment.
For the H.O. to go from "Are we sure that just because this guy is an expert on this condition, it doesn't mean that's the only condition he's likely to jump to in diagnosis? You know - only tool, hammer, all problems, nails?" to "Hey, sure, why don't you go ahead and punch that needle through my wife's eardrum, twice, while I watch and hold her hand," in a matter of moments, well. The doc is impressive. So that is a huge, huge help.
My biggest challenge in all this? Surf with relative equanimity through the chaos.
That's my goal; an elusive, worthy, and so frequently seemingly unattainable height of Zen. Which, for me? Hard. So hard. Ain't nobody ever known me so far in this lifetime gonna rave about my endless patience. This is a Truth Fact, as a young, yet wise, sprout friend of mine says. So I have quested mightily here and there over the years, in search of said. I have stared into candle flames. I have read texts from many cultures and religions. I have sat in many a church and cathedral. I have done 10-day silent meditative sits. (Two words: Tor. Ture.) I have yoga-ed. I have breathed deep and I have breathed shallow. I have gone to the doctor, and I have gone to the mountains.
Apparently however much I think I am working on this challenge area, and however far I think I've come, my achievements have apparently not yet been sufficient. Otherwise, why another advanced course, life? Hunh? Answer me that, damnit! (And you see right there the problem. Hardly 3 paragraphs in, and what tiny thread of equanimity I am striving for, even pictorially? Gone. The Patience Force, it is weak in this one. Erf.) Though upon reflection, perhaps the trick was that while I've been richly endowed with some Master's and Doctorate opportunities, maybe I did not pay close enough attention at the lower levels of the game and consequently missed leveling up then. Entirely possible.
I have the best friends ever. I always suspected as much, but the last few days have taken the proof empirical.
One things friends do is introduce friends to other bloggers, and if you have not read The Bloggess, well, you're missing out on a whole lot of make-me-hoot-out-loud, as far as I am concerned. Some time back, a bestie shared this column/blog with me, and oh, my stars. It may be in poor taste, but it struck a chord and became basically The Ballad of Beyoncé in that branch of my Bestie Tree. I'm afraid that if you want the rest of this to make sense, you'd best pop on over and read it. T'won't take too long, and you might just enjoy it:
What started it all.
So this has become a running joke for our circle. We hoot and we holler, and giggle about choosing battles, and towels, and what to monogram them with. So you can imagine my delight when the H.O. and I were in Sedona a couple years back, as we were zooming back down toward Phoenix to fly home, when what did I espy on the highway but what appeared to be a giant Beyoncé? I nearly pole-vaulted out of my seat pleading for us to turn around so that I could take pics for the besties. Which, since the H.O. also loves the besties, he was glad to do. (Let's not kid ourselves. He also loves a good dose of the Truly Tasteless. We both do. Hey, all couples have their glue...)
Which photo I found for your enjoyment on my Facebooks in an album most aptly titled "Vortex of Tacky." You can see why I had to stop:
"When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed into a monstrous vermin." Strong opening line of a modern classic: Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, of course.
Okay, I don't feel like a monstrous vermin, but on the bad days of this I do feel unutterably changed, transformed most unpleasantly, and rife with horror. Some days are more like that than others in regular daily life, of course. There's a reason The Metamorphosis is a seminal work. But discovering that it's possible to simply wake up one morning half-deaf with the world spinning about relentlessly? That gets me far closer to the condition than I've ever been before.
When I was about 12, I decided for my summer project that I would read all of the classics. Okay, so my literary eyes were bigger than my stomach - no surprises there. I wasn't quite born reading, but awfully close. My parents taught me to read by the time I was 3, and from A.A. Milne at that tender age on there was no stopping me. By 7, I was whitewashing fences with Tom Sawyer and the trajectory continued apace. (I never even saw a Dick/Jane primer until I stumbled across one in a school library when I was in 5th grade. I still remember thinking it was one of the weirdest and funniest things I'd ever seen. But I digress.)