Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Day 6 - Study Leave, Tongue Burp Boogie

Somebody engrave me a plaque. It is official: I have flunked out of hand therapy.

Let's not call this an omen.

As my buddies John and Vicky like to say: it is another $%# *&^% growth opportunity!

Have you ever noticed that growth opportunities don't seem to pounce on you in ways you would like? Why can't I grow in my clogging talents? Grow in a commitment to consistent skincare? Grow in my love of nature? Grow in my ability to sleep through the 7 AM sounds of bickering children? In other words...


(For those who do not speak the native language of frustration: that was an exclamation of aggravation followed by a raspberry - aka tongue burp- of disgust.)

Before plodding on in a woeful and obstinate manner (that's me, not you) let's step back a minute and look at the big picture. That's what a rational awakened individual might do, yes?

The day before Halloween my hip gives out in front of my son's elementary school causing me to fall in an impressive act of physics, breaking multiple finger bones and ripping a bunch of soft internal hand stuff. It was beyond painful and nauseatingly noisy.

Some noises one cannot forget. On one end of the memorable sound spectrum is D'Angelo's suede and silk voice accompanied by lyric piano and a skillful rhythm section. On the other end is the crackling staccato of breaking and dislocating fingers. Horrible memories, yes, but in the interest of being open to growth and success, let us instead dwell on the miracle of that dismal day: I did not vomit on my son's principal's snazzy suit jacket.

In the beginning, all seemed well in the healing process. Yes, I almost passed out on Bourbon St. from searing pain, but going on a mission trip focused on manual labor not even two weeks after the fall was not one of my more well-thought out treatment plans. The dinner trip to NOLA after a week of said manual lablor may also be filed in this category.

Upon my return, I began hand therapy with the world's most delightful therapist, Heather, and all looked promising. I was buoyed by the daily success of not vomiting from pain on anyone. Then things started going downhill.

First, I flunked the grip strength test. I don't know what measurement system is used in strength testing but let's call them Ahnolds. On my left hand I gripped 14 Ahnolds (Not quite Terminator but above a Kindergarten Cop). On the broken one I gripped 2 (Governor grip). They'd ask me to do something different with my thumb and try again. On the left I gripped 12 in this new position (Almost Predator). On my right... well, she just wrote a dash (the grip of someone married to a Kennedy). I tried to imagine that as the dash of promise "to be filled in by amazing feats of squeeze later." She said it was actually a nice way of saying what my high school English teacher used to dramatically shriek, "YOU HAVE F!"

Oh well. I am a woman open to promise and growth. I will not be felled by some voodoo grip test with no scientific basis. After all, who's ever heard of Ahnolds? What are they trying to pull?

Then I saw my rheumatologist who looked at my hand and said something shockingly close to, "Ewww." On the noise spectrum that is too far away from D'Angelo for my taste. Soon Heather was clucking her tongue. My mother was hissing in displeasure and I compared knuckles with the fist fighting dishwasher/sous chef of my local dive and lost.

I guess I could have seen the flunkage coming if I had been paying attention. Instead it came as a depressing shock this morning.

Discernment: Hope can make you blessedly blind. Loss of hope makes the tongue burp.

In the interest of embracing this growth opportunity I embarked upon another issue of McSweeneys. (McSweeney's! It's what bookstore clerks, artsy grad students, and ministers on study leave have in common! That and weird shoes.)

In the interest of cheering up someone with bigger issues than a barely functioning hand, I took the children carolling at my grandmother's. A benefit of Alzheimer's - she has no idea that we are several weeks late on this event. When she started getting sick of the a cappella versions, the family band chimed in on New Year's party horn and clacker. When she tired of that, we curled her hair and my son's. (Growing here! Lot's of growing!) After forty-five minutes she kicked us out and went back to work. She had the evening wandering shift at the nursing home. At least her hair looked nice for it.

Discernment: There are always options. Three quarters of them may be completely ludicrous, but there are always options.

I know what you are thinking... I should just go back to work. Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind. But John and Vicky sang out "growth!" in my head so as a last ditch effort I called five friends and we went out for Karaoke. It's a whole nuther kind of ministry.

Wow. I could write a short story on that event alone. I'll just let you in on our karaoke rules.

1) You must have a stage name that causes people to stop what they are doing and look to see who on earth that is.

2) You must surprise the table with your selections.

3) Mostly upbeat tempo, please.

4) Be avid fans of every other singer in the place. Shout their names. Do the wave for them. Sing back-up from your seat with them.

That last one is a killer, let me tell ya.

Discernment: Cheering is the world's simplest act of compassion.

Reading for the day: That no longer nameable Hispanic mega-novel that I am becoming more enamored of as I let the title go. Another McSweeney's issue - circa 2004. My email.

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