Saturday, September 6, 2014

Animal Horns and Conch Shells

I'm watching, semi-watching, the semifinal match between the man of my almost dreams, Novak Djokovic, despite his horrid haircut and ultra-slim cut wardrobe, and the tenth-ranked Kei Nishikori, who seems extremely self-possessed, given the situation.  It's fairly early in the first set, I just got here, my attention waylaid by a fine early performance of Detective Goren in one of the first episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.

You know back when he's still considered a nut job with nothing to offer.  As opposed to the later episodes where his status as a proven nut job has morphed into a touch-not reputation for pulling the improbable out of his ass.  His invasions of personal space, violations of suspects' DSM oddities ("pushing their buttons"), his empathetic powers that would render your average NYPD dick insane within the length of one long day, they can be sufficient grounds for keeping the television tuned on L & W: CI for a background marathon while I research the various and the sundry, in distress, in pain.  I can eyeball whatever suspect is being Gorenized in the Interrogation Room, and remind myself that things could be worse.  I could be in a room with gray cinderblock walls, a mirrored window, locked door, and Detectives Goren and Eames, his head cricked, all jazzy-handed, her neat, under-made self smiling at me like a hungry anaconda.

Nishikori is pissing me off. After a LUCKY first set win, despite his excellent play, and Novak's plethora of stupid errors, Djokovic handily stepped up and took the second set 6-1, at which point I indulged in a D'Onofrio rêverie of tics and lightening strikes of vulnerability.  Suddenly I discern a tiebreak going on, and in a ridiculous way, in the third set.  It is now set point, and I can't watch.

"Third set to Nishikori."

Bite me.

I know it means something when a person feels feverish but is in no way even close to being so.  I've felt weak and wiped out, working my way up the pain scale as if it were the easiest of climbing walls, with wild, nuclearized, toxic colors, grips of Seussian shapes, all horns and Roman clown noses.  I am broken. My instructions on being discharged Wednesday were to check back in at a local ER to resume intravenous antibiotics if (and we all thought "when") I had a fever of 100.4.

100.4 is nothing for me, or maybe the marker of a damn fine day.

I haven't been above 98.4 since we got home.  Despite chills, the aforementioned claymation approximation of a wild cartoon vertical cliff of pain, a weird appetite, the death of Brayden Martin, the relapse of Kate McRae, deep and abiding concern for my brother GB, weird episodes of suddenly passing out, having an arm not respond to my iron will, deciding that calling a doctor would just make everything incrementally worse.

I was explaining to one of the HMO doctors at their "overnight observation" facility how this all started with what looked like a huge abscess on the top of my foot, that presented itself as a volcano.  I apologize to you, as I guess I should apologize to the doctors for having only the word and image of "volcano" come to mind, as hard as this brain tries to offer another descriptor.  It looked like a freaking volcano, such that I thought, and hoped, that it might burst while I (again hoping) slept.  Instead it melted and turned the top of my whole foot red and painful, swollen and angry.

Her response?

"Do you have a picture of that?"

Did I have a picture of that?  No, I didn't think to capture that painful moment -- LIE.  I would have snapped it if I had two working hands and a camera that had not been dropped in soapy water!  Mostly because it's a weird thing to see a bluish/purple, slightly square-sided volcano sticking out of one's foot.  But over the past 12 years of having CRPS, seeing my legs and arms do weird things became normal.

Djokovic lost.  Rather, Nishikori did a fine job of winning.  Yes, Djokovic played badly, but had every opportunity to raise his game, and proved it.  He was out-played.

Now, to complete my accumulation of bad karma for the day, I am going to root against Roger Federer.  Or really screw myself over and wish him a tiring 5-setter with heat cramps, and an inexplicable case of recurring wedgies requiring the assistance of court side trainers, with Roger carefully hidden behind a wall of towels as he switched from wedgie shorts to wedgie shorts -- and then moves on to the finals only to lose against this very talented Japanese young man, Nishikori, in straight sets.

Yes, you read correctly.  The brave and steroid-bloated baby of an old soul, Brayden Martin, fell to an opportunistic pneumonia after being ravaged in brain and spine by odious cancer. I think he was all of six. I know he was wholly happy and attracted others who were happy, or needed to be.  He was a gifted air guitarist and was a freaking rock star. He needed to die and though I'm sure he'd have loved to stick around to watch the antics of his darlin' mother Maranda, and girl-magnet brother Mason, and nuggle in the arms of his grandma Robin -- he had plans for heaven.  Unfettered tricycling, soon to be a two-wheeler with snazzy training wheels, then, baby-wheels gone, pushed by angels with feathers flying wildly in the ether, finally pulling up alongside his buddy Nolan, lad by lad, finally free, finding the first off road exit from that boring cloud.  Thumbs-up all around, and a Di Fara pizza stand, straight from Brooklyn's Avenue J, perfect foldable plain cheese slices inhaled by these boys as they explore the lay of their new land.

There is a rain delay in Queens. So they are showing Federer and Monfils from... Thursday? The quarters, the round of sixteen?  Ah, Monfils, about whom I have conflicting feelings.  Sometimes, he cracks me the hell up, as he just did, calling for a review of a point he'd just won.  It looks as if the goofy, hot-and-cold Monfils is about to go up two sets to love. Federer had to dig himself out of a ditch, apparently.

I cannot sustain visions of an earthly heaven, not even to honor Brayden.  He's somewhere, and he's fine. His family has to stay here a while and right now their paradigm has been woefully insulted, and hearts, broken.

Kate began having seizures several weeks ago, after what seemed to be an uneasy good time, mostly filled with settling in a new place near L.A., new schools, therapists and doctors, and that weird feeling that something was wrong.  Every time they sought answers, problems were attributed to post-radiation and post-chemotherapy syndromes, sets of symptoms that complicate and depress, but do not threaten life.  But the seizures were different and the MRI was finally moved up, and showed new brain cancer, her third relapse.  Her spinal fluid showed no cancer cells.

These kids.

Ah, the rain delay is over, and Federer meets Cilic in real time.

I fret over sadness, and frustration with hands and legs, burning pain, and spasms, and whether I want to bother with continued treatment, anywhere, by anyone.  I think of the week my brother just had, and how I want to hold him in a way that would be foreign to us both -- but to which I'm sure we'd adapt easily.  I can't hang on to another soul for any meaningful length of time, and lord knows, he'd be darned uncomfortable. Just grant me a hand on his brow, a hand held briefly to hand.  This part of me does not work, whole sections of him are nothing but pain, it could be the weirdest of Twister configurations ever. Fitting!

And I dream every night some version of TW flying here, then having Captain Haddock ferry us from our murky moat, currently home to a sweet pair of beluga whales, to that Sweet Spot that heralds the worm hole entrance that loves to welcome Haddock's sweet pink miniature submarine, taking us there where we need to go.  "Ahoy!  I bring the siblings lost and found together again..." he hums as he pretends to navigate from our unmappable home to Grader Boob's hideout.

I cannot make it happen.
But it could happen.
That an accretion of stupidity and the idiocy of idiots gone before should hinder the reunion of such sweet souls?  I don't understand.

Good news.  My left hand has ceased copying my right, so I've a functional hand again.  I think I hear trumpets -- you know, the long silly ceremonial kind, or natural, chromatic.  Maybe animal horns mixed with conch shells .

Cilic is up 3-1 first set.

© 2013 L. Ryan


  1. "perfect foldable plain cheese slices"
    Yes, heaven.
    Poor little old guy---how awful for those who have lost the presence of that sweet face.

    I am happy for your working hand! Do you use voice recognition software to work this computing machine?

    1. "poor little old guy" -- that's perfection, if you add: "who laughed like an infectiously happy buddha." and yes, there is the expected swath of devastation in his happy wake. but my wise gut says they will be all right.

      no, i'm not using voice recognition software to make this infernal machine work. i don't know why. will it respect my glorious oddities? will i respect myself in the morning?

      be well, ms. fresca


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