Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds…

If I could undo one day in my life, the entirety of my twenty five years, one day (nay, one HOUR) stands out in my memory like a large, sore thumb. It was that one day (one hour) that changed my life as I know it and is still causing a shockwave of consequences to this day in the form of medical and physical therapy bills.

In college, during a fun and joyful trip to the roller skating rink to welcome a new class of Freshmen into our sorority, I was tooling around on my skates when I fell…hard. So hard in fact that witnesses said the impact on my wrists made me pop several feet in the air, only to come back down on those same abused wrists and spine. To make a long story short, I broke my right radius, tilted my tailbone and dislocated my jaw (seriously). The trauma also caused both wrists to choose to develop nasty little cysts deep down in the joint, which, once the rest of my problems were under control, started to give me serious pain. I had my right wrist surgically fixed in college, but my left wrist has been the bane of my existence ever since, flaming up during the most inopportune moments.

So, after my wonderful and happy graduation from culinary school, I decided that there was no better time than the present to finally fix my left wrist, just in time to ruin my Halloween. I'm just now getting back on my feet/hands, and am able to type sentences with full punctuation, thoughtful candor and insightful wisdom. I've been dying to get back to the keyboard, so here I am. Is this the end of the backlash from that one night? We'll never know…if only I could go back to that dinky skating rink in West Lafayette, Indiana. The worst part of all is that I was 100% dead sober, something the emergency room nurse was quick to confirm. Had I been drunk, this might be a great life lesson. Alas, I'm just clumsy.

Having surgery on one of your necessary ambulatory joints is not easy…especially when it's the livelihood of my new career. There is an upside, though, in the form of a serving-size chalky combination of Oxycodone and Tylenol – the coveted Percocet. Don't get me wrong, I'm not pulling a Lindsay Lohan here…it was entirely necessary. When a doctor deconstructs your wrist joint to dig out a cyst and the local numbing wears off 24 hours later, you're in a bad place. I felt like a newborn calf, struggling to navigate this cruel world with unsteady and unbalanced limbs, helpless to the elements and losing the ability to wash myself. Every three and a half hours, though, I was rescued from the throbbing pain and delivered to a world where black, silky ponies combed my hair with sunshine and unicorns adorned with crowns of jewels microwaved my Bagel Bites (both of whom might have actually been Steve…I still haven't determined dream vs. reality). I was happy and pain-free without a care in the world, thanks to the joys of modern pharmacology. I saw strange things while pill-popping, things that I wouldn't dare speak of aloud. Things that would make a heroin addict uncomfortable and a psychologist nervous. It was an interesting few days, and I'd like to think I'm a better person after going through it all.

I stayed in that narcotic-induced purgatory for several days, during which I developed an unhealthy addiction to daytime television. Those first few uncertain days post-surgery, where I was not only unable to complete basic life tasks but was often either fighting a migraine or hazy from the drugs, I struggled to develop a routine that would make me feel like a slightly less waste of flesh.

9:00am – First alarm goes off. Take pain pill and continue to snooze until iPhone no longer allows it.

10:05am – 10:15am – attempt to pull on elastic-waistband pajama pants and wide-sleeved t-shirt. This takes longer than I'm willing to admit.

10:15am – 11:00am – watch "Rachael Ray", all the while thinking of how much I don't like Rachael Ray.

11:00am – 12:00pm – my favorite time of the day – "The View"! Watch listlessly with mouth agape while they have the exact same argument they had the day before and Joy Behar gets fined by the FCC for calling someone a "bitch" during daytime television.

12:00pm – 3:00pm – kill time by either spacing out on the couch, watching "Bridezillas" or "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" and counting down the minutes until I can take my next pain pill.

3:00pm – 4:00pm – "Dr. Oz," my man. Learn about five new medical conditions that I didn't know were possible. Begin to become paranoid that I have five new medical conditions that I didn't know were possible.

4:00pm – 5:00pm – Take another pain pill, which helps me get through an hour of Oprah Winfrey talking about how generous she is and laughing uncontrollably (Percocet) at her antics whilst camping with her best friend, Gayle. She cooked sea bass on a campfire!! Oh Oprah…money has changed you.

5:00pm – 5:30pm – Think about how much I want Steve to come home from work. Call him five times to ask him what time he's coming home from work. Watch the local news and become paranoid because I live in a city with at least five murders and three apartment fires a day. News is a bummer…luckily I'm feeling good!

5:30pm – 6:00pm – After receiving the much-anticipated phone call that Steve is on his way home from work, attempt to struggle into a clean t-shirt, change socks and brush hair with one hand. When this doesn't work, wipe drool off face, gargle with Listerine and resume spot on couch.

6:00pm – 10:00pm – Spend the evening regaling Steve with stories of my daytime television friends. "Oh my God, then Elizabeth told Whoopi to shut up, and we were all cracking up!!" or "When Oprah told me that, I just had to believe it." Try to ignore the deep pity in his eyes, and knowingly accept the final pain pill of the day, which makes me stop dead in my tracks and fall into a restful, kooky dream-filled sleep.

This went on for a few days, until I was finally confident and strong enough to venture outside into the real world. A trip to the library, for example, became the highlight of my day, and I would plan my eating/sleeping/watching schedule around that one errand. I was soon able to visit with friends again, when the unexpected and dreaded happened. I was happy as a clam, hanging out at a friend's house eating pizza on a Friday night, when I looked down and…I had dripped pizza grease all over my cast. Needless to say, I felt like an irresponsible 10-year old boy and couldn't make eye contact with the nurse as she carefully cut off the padding a few days later. I might as well have spread dirt on it and tucked a few worms in there while I was at it. Pizza grease…on a 25-year-old woman's cast…unbelievable.

So here I am, recovering nicely and on-track for a fully healed and functional wrist, for the first time in five years. I resumed my normal work schedule, yet am still struggling to break free from the grips of daytime television. Every time I see a commercial for "The View" my heart hurts and the "good times" of those few days come pouring back in a nostalgic and bittersweet wave. The pain of surgery is already forgotten, but the joy of delusional one-sided friendship still exists. Thank you, Barbara, Whoopi, Joy, Elizabeth and Sherry for helping me through a hard time. Thank you. Then again…it was probably all just a Percocet dream…