Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Can the pain really be gone? / Goodbye Arlyn

Doylestown Hospital in Doylestown, PA.

If you can have a favorite hospital, I've just found mine. Founded in 1923 in a Doylestown house, which still stands, it's run by a local civic organization of women. About two years ago they renovated the whole place and added a wing or two and it's beautiful to behold.

I prepared for my lumbar epidural by not eating for two hours before the shot after stuffing myself with two scrambled eggs over - wait'll they hear this - sauteed alfalfa sprouts. I found em while lollygagging in the produce section of Giant.

Are you old enuf to remember when growing your own sprouts was all the rage?

I took fantastic photos leading up to the procedure but, for the life of me, I can't get em out of my camera. Help Bill, help me!

So, Barry Lipson, the orthopod, sends me to see Dr Dale Wilson at the hospital. She's an anesthesiologist who is married to Phil Sasso, head of the same dept at Abington Hospital, where I had an unsuccessful epidural in '08.

Now I learned you must go back for at least one more if the foist one don't work.

Everyone was super-nice. I even got the name of a female cataract surgeon for when that part of my body goes. As I told someone, my body started going ka-put when I was 60. But let me tell you something. I shore don't feel like 60 or 50. I feel like a kid playing baseball in the island across the street at 2929 Glenmore Road.

At Abington, they lay you down for the procedure. You're at their mercy. Can't see nothin.

Here, you sit on the edge of the bed, bow your head to your knees, and listen to Dr Wilson tell you what she's gonna do and what you're gonna feel.

Just between you and me, I'd prefer her saying, Ready! Here we go, and then don't give me a blow-by-blow of how it's gonna feel.

You know why? Cuz it feels like it's happening TWICE!

Once when she's telling you, and once when you're feeling it.

Look, the pain isn't terrible and it only lasts a minute. I'm gonna tell you all about it.

There was one teeny little bottle. That was the steroid. Begins with M. (The only drugs I really know are the manic depressive drugs.)

Next to that was a larger bottle of saline.

Oh, I joked, you're giving me a lethal injection.

I told Sarah I think of death every day of my life. Is that normal, Dear Reader?

Sarah said it's b/c I'm spiritual. How can you be spiritual if you don't believe in God? But today I was actually thinking what it would be like in the Afterlife,which I definitely don't believe in. I was thinking, Who should I look up there? I felt guilty cuz I wanted to see Simon first, I dunno why, even before I saw my dad. Then I felt really guilty for not wanting to see dad first.

And eventually I'd like to see Arlyn can't put her whole name together cuz then you'd be able to goggle it Katovsky, who just died. She was only 64! More bout her later.

I'm being swabbed down with alcohol. Then the needle goes in. OUCH! OUCH OUCH OUCH!

I say nothing.

Then the medicine goes thru the needle and you can feel it spreading all along the nerve pathway. Oh, I love to curse, would you mind if I curse a bit, it's so descriptive!

So now the medicine, the steroid that begins with an M, is cursing down the whole fucking nerve pathway! While I'm in pain, well, not exactly pain, let's just call it discomfort, while I'm in MAJOR DISCOMFORT I feel it bathing whatever goddamn nerve that is that's swelled up b/c of my fucking herniated disc.

It'll be over in just a sec, the doc says. She's an incredibly nice woman, beautiful blue eyes and darling green scrubs. She wears blue Crocs.

When we're done I ask the nurse if I could possibly have some cranberry juice. She brings me some and I greedily drink it down.

On my way home I take more photos and think to myself, Driving and taking photos should be outlawed. You can have an accident. I do it very carefully.

A few words about Arlyn. In Cleveland, we were both piano students of Ann Kultti of Twinsburg, OH. She was a Christian Scientist. One time when she came over she banged her shin on the coffee table and started praying. Me, I would've pulled out all my four-letter words. No wonder I'm not saved.

Mrs Kultti died on a cruise with her husband Ted.

Arlyn died in September of 2010. My sister Ellen, following in my mother's footsteps apparently, reads the Cleveland Jewish News. Luckily she mentioned it today when I stopped by after my shot. Otherwise, I would not have been lamenting her death. There are very few apparently who are. She was only 64 and left no paramours or children behind, only a few cousins and nieces.

Arlyn, I remember you from piano recitals.
Remember the deepshaded Baldwins we played on at the Settlement Music School?
You were awfully good.
Your parents would stand by the open French window when you began to play.
It was so romantic.
We thought those days would never end.
My last piece was the first movement of the Appassionata.
You died when visiting Cleveland last September.
Your death notice was brief offering no information at all except you graduated from the University of Miami.
You and I were once-a-year friends at the piano recital, the old and stately building known as Settlement Music School. I see it now rising just before me. Come with me, Arlyn. I'm not so shy anymore, I will take you into the purply velvet room where we hung our coats and you and I will talk. You will call me should anything go wrong. I think of myself, you see, as a fixer, and I will do my best to keep you strong, to keep you from dying young.

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