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Seeking out the places where the ragged people go
Seeking out the places only they would know
I don’t know why, but ever so often I wake up and just want to disappear into obscurity, leaving everything behind. Everything. Hit the road with just a quarter in my pocket. I understand that husband who goes out for a loaf of bread, and just keeps on going for twenty years before his conscience makes him go back to his roots to see how much damage was done.
But I won’t. And this feeling too shall pass. Geezers just don’t do that unless something is medically screwed up in their brains. Gone are the days when I could hit the road, catch an occasional meal at the Salvation Army, and keep moving until my feet stopped itching. Snookums has me too spoiled for that. I have grown overly fond of clean sheets and hot showers. Not to mention regular food.
But I lovingly remember the sleaze, the anonymity that cloaked me, the city corner that faced the sunrise and brought warmth to a chilled soul where I arrogantly watched them wretched wage slaves zip by in their leased cars, and congratulated myself on my understanding of life.
Ah! To be young and stupid again!
Well, I survived the first day of Cardiac Rehab. Barely.
After proudly parking in the furthest reaches of the parking lot, I entered the Cardiac wing of the hospital and walked the entire length of the building to the entrance of the dungeon lab. I was greeted by the head of the unit, who knew who I was as soon as I walked in the door.
“Your cardiac pouch is waiting on the table, Mr Armor. Take it to the back as you were told last week.”
“You are that sure I would be here today?”
“Yes, Mr Armor. We know these things.”
In no time, one of the therapists had the tail of my t-shirt up and swiped a spot with a cold swab of alcohol and placed a telemetry sticker on my side, then snaked the leads down from the neck and snapped them onto the stickers. Then she tied on the pouch with my name on it and dropped the device into the pocket.
First off was the recumbent bike. Fifteen minutes and a very low setting. I was a little nervous at the thought of fifteen minutes, but actually it was not so bad. My legs were a bit wobbly and weak afterwards, and I wasn’t too sure I was going to be able to stand very long when the session ended, but I managed to walk across the room to another machine that you cranked with your hands, and sat down.
The therapist set it up, again at a low level, showed me how fast I needed to crank it, and I started cranking … I was glad that it was only five minutes. My arms still ache an hour and a half later.
Without pause, it was onto the treadmill. The therapist set it up for an easy pace, but failed to note that it was on an incline from the previous patient. “Fifteen minutes” she said, and pushed [START] about thirty seconds into the walk I knew I wasn’t going to make fifteen minutes. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make five.
The therapist came over and noted the incline, and reduced it, and allowed me to reduce the pace a little. I still wasn’t certain I was going to make fifteen, but they asked me to try for twelve assuring me assured me that my heartbeat was in the target range, and I wasn’t dying. Cool. I hate dying.
My butt hurt. My hips hurt. My knees threatened to give out. Almost imperceptible after images of angina made my teeth ache. Breakfast sloshed around my jiggling belly and made me nauseous. But I stayed the twelve, and maybe, I could have made fifteen without collapsing.
And I was done. The expertly ripped of the telemetry stickers, retrieved the wires and sent me to the front with my little pouch where I pinned it onto the cork board. Waiting for me was the therapist. She assured me that they weren’t trying to kill me, and that merely being winded is not abnormal. Perhaps I could work just a little harder Wednesday? I dunno. I just barely made it today, but I said …. “maybe”.
The walk back to the car was precarious. I reeled down the hallways on rubber legs looking like a drunken sailor, and on out to the car, barely hanging on to my keys with my shaking fingers, and gratefully plopped into the waiting car seat. I had plans to stop at the hearing aid people for some minor adjustments, then down to the grocery for next Sunday’s breakfast fixings, and stop at the synagogue for a little bit. But they quickly got canceled. I was going home. Period.
The drive wasn’t so bad, and other drivers were probably happy that I wasn’t my usual aggressive self. Pulling into the carport, and staggering into the house kicking off my shoes as I went, I started this little journal. A few words into it, and I see Snookums car pull into the drive from her morning of foraging. Damn. Grocery day. It is a tad over a hundred feet from the kitchen to the car. And a tad over a hundred feet from the car to the kitchen. Snookums is preparing for Passover, so she had lots of stuff, and I am not feeling Sherpa like today, so it is going to take me six trips to unload her finds. I got the groceries, but the angina really started in, so I missed muscling the usual fifty pounds of dog food into the kitchen and let Snookums do it. I usually don’t permit her to do that.
Anyway, I slipped the suspenders off, and plopped down in front of the glowing Cyclops again to finish this post off. It is going to be a long 35 weeks.
A misty cool morning with distant thunder-boomers wandering about randomly dropping rain and lightning strikes. An all-day rainy day. We love those now. They are so rare.
Snookums comes into the studio bearing that first cup of hot coffee from the brewer. Kippur slowly warms up to the rainy day routine. And I with sleep swollen fingers sit down to work the gentle ache away.
Too soon it will be time to mix up some waffle batter and maybe some turkey sausage to go with it. But for the moment, I can feel a wee bit sinful in sitting here in pj’s and letting the day unfold.
This is a fix the icemaker day. I can just feel it in my bones. And maybe *sob!*, it is treasure sorting day, sorting the clutter that surrounds me. I am a hoarder, and being separated from my treasures causes me great angst. No telling when I might need an appointment reminder for last July, or an empty packet of dental floss. But the rule is, if it wasn’t needed during the past year, it probably will never be needed.
But all that is hours down the road. For the nonce, just me and thee, and a cup of coffee …
Well, nurse Ratched at the Cardiac Rehabilition Unit wasn’t so bad. A sweet, trim and fit blond and two other young ladies met me as I wandered into the door.
Turns out that nurse Ratched’s name is Morgan, and she is my Exercise Physiologist. Arrayed around us was a plethora of geezers chained to recumbent bikes and treadmills, all with a pink and sweaty faces. It was a bit like slave galley’s on Viking ships. I suppose that the machines were hooked up to generate power for the hospital.
“Do you know why you are here, Mr Armor?”
“Because I have been a bad boy?” Maybe the cardiologist did write “LAZY” on the assessment.
“No. Not at all. Lots of people need a bit of help after surgery. You have quite a history, Mr. Armor.”
“It was a set up. I wasn’t in those states when it went down”
Blank look. Well, so much for my Broderick Crawford routine. These well-scrubbed sprites have never heard of Broderick Crawford, nor of his award winning performance of On the Waterfront.
“We will be doing a lot of testing these next few days. You will have 38 sessions, most of which will require a little exertion. If you cannot make an appointment, call us, and we will reschedule it. You won’t lose a session, we will just pick up from where you canceled.”
“You really aren’t going to let me out of this, are you.”
“No. As we go through each test, we will ask you what your Borg is.”
“Will I be assimilated?”
I saw from the looks of the three young women that they had no clue, so they sort of tittered, and tried to not give the geezer a blank look.
“You’ve never seen Star Trek, have you.”
One said: “I watched a couple of them at my aunt’s house. I don’t remember any one asking what their Borg was, though.”
“Borg lets us know how you are feeling on a scale of 6 through 20. If you are feeling uncomfortable, we want to know. Do you carry Nitro tablets with you?”
“Will I need them?”
“We just like to have them here with you, even though our resident Cardiologists are just down the hall and we can get you up to the Cardiac unit very quickly.”
“I feel very comforted by that.”
“Good! Let’s get you wired up, and we are going to do a six minute walk to bet a benchmark.”
“I haven’t left a mark on a bench since high school.”
They pretended they didn’t hear that.
Anyway, I did ok with the walk, and they sent me home, chirping: “See you Monday!”.
“… and Wednesday and Friday” I mumbled as I stumbled out the door …
“Cardiac Rehab, Bruinhilda speaking!”
“Good morning! This is Russell Armor, and I need to cancel my appointment this morning. I am having some … ah … physical problems.”
“No problem. We can reschedule you for Thursday! Do you want an eight am or ten am appointment?”
“OK! See you then!”
Sunday dawns with a sunny, luxurious quietness, a plush silence pervades the house even though Snookums is up and about. She is a woman of order and routine and heaven help the man or dog who interrupts that natural order of things.
At dawn she arises, waiting dogs arrayed around her like petals on a flower. Slipping into her robe she makes the morning rounds of hitting the brew button, opening the blinds in several rooms, every third day putting in a shallow dish of bathing water for Kippur the budgie, then disappearing into the master bathroom for what seem to the mutts an interminable amount of time.
She rewards herself for assiduously brushing her teeth with that first cup of coffee, then dons her morning attire. Usually ragged pangs, t-shirt, socks and shoes. While she does this, it is a signal to the mutts to start rough-housing. Soon, she will go to a special cabinet that contains a treasury of tennis balls, some disgustingly groady, some brand new. One for each mutt is the rule, though occasionally one will manage to get all three balls into her mouth.
Then out the door for fifteen minutes of ball chasing, then each one returns to the house with their ball, and awaits their pay for returning the ball. We don’t pay them a lot. One biscuit per ball is the rule. But once in awhile a ball will disappear into the tall grass for a day or two, then mysteriously return to be traded in for an extra treat.
Then it is half an hour on the treadmill, before sitting down to cool off while checking the emails and facebook offerings.
The stalwart king of the house meanwhile, has just managed to fill his own cup of coffee, and stagger bleary eyed to his studio to read the emails, look wistfully out the window into the pasture outside, get scolded by the parakeet, and type “Sunday dawns with a sunny, luxurious quietness.”
Soon, Passover will be here, and the woman of valor as Proverbs call her, will start cleaning. Leaven has to go. Closets need cleaning. Stoves and refrigerators need to be pulled out, cleaned behind and pushed back just so. Drawers need arranging, carpets shampooed, stoops swept and all put in order in case this is the year Elijah decides to celebrate Passover with us.
It is a terrifying time for men and dogs, but all are expected to participate. *grunt!*. Me male. Me move heavy thing. *grunt!*
But for the moment, there is me, you, coffee and peace on earth.
This morning I was reading posts from a facebook® faith group that I subscribe to, and it was dotted with various exposé of heretical preachers, rabbis and doctrines that surround the unwary. Yeah, faith is a minefield, and these self-same accusers are accused of heresy and error by the ones being accused. Sometimes, my inability to follow a Guru serves me well in this trudge toward spiritual truth.
Not that I haven’t tried. I have sat at the feet of Swami’s and medicine men, rabbi’s and preachers, agnostics and atheists, mystics and frauds. I have attended ancient rites, both hidden and revealed, worn cassocks and masks, swords and wands, venerated icons and idols, but in the end, I walked away in mild embarrassment for my gullibility.
And I have explored mysterious kabbalah, with its gematria and PaRDEs, the ensof of all that is visible.
But inevitably, one discovers that the true sage live in the p’shat. The simple meaning. The father, the Yodh·He·Waw·He, YHWH, Yah, is above. We are below. We mirror the above. Ergo there is warfare in heaven. There is warfare below. One side is his side, the other side isn’t. I cannot comprehend the forces arrayed against me. I am a chip on a vast sea of turmoil, moved this way and that way by heaves and billows.
Yet a chip floats above the turmoil, half emerged and half above. Sometimes inundated, yet always reemerging from the turmoil. A curious metaphor. A faith with an invisible foundation guides me unerringly toward a hidden shore. You ask me how I know? I can’t tell you. I put on a sappy grin and say; “I know”.