Random Thoughts: June 13, 2007

Nibbled To Death By Geese While Immobilised
by Jasmine Sailing

Don't let a date so soon after the last one fool you! I am a scatter-brained flake. I merely wanted to begin with a little more than one entry.

Last week I was in Oklahoma, where both sides of my family are from (I believe I was the first to be born across a state line, though that was barely over the Kansas state line. We moved to Colorado when I was 3). Dad's side is in Tulsa, Mom's was in Stillwater.

But I hardly want to drag my family onto this web site.

The thought of the moment is one that has been eating at me since the trip. While in Tulsa, before heading south for the other side of the family, we went to the zoo. As many of you might know, I have Grave's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. This combo is perfect for making a person really really REALLY hate heat. I prefer hiding out when it's hot, if at all possible, and at the least I don't take overly long walks out in the sun.

Oklahoma is a bit of a tropical rain forest compared to Denver -- hot, humid, ample supplies of plants and bugs. I love plants, I like some bugs and co-exist with the rest, I don't like bug bites, and, naturally, I hate heat and humidity. I wish Denver was less hot, but at least it isn't too terribly humid.

Prior to this insane attempt to visit a zoo despite the heat, I was already a mess. The drive from Denver to Tulsa was long and hot. My back and neck are always fucked up as it is, and were yet more from the trip. I don't think the drinking water was particularly agreeing with me either. And my hay fever was baaaaad. Okay. All of that I can deal with, it's life. I think where I really went wrong was when I was in a desert exhibit (bright, yeah, what can I say? I'm compulsively thorough!) at the zoo and noticed my head getting wonky. The pain was quickly becoming agony, shooting through my lower back and gut and left leg. I hastily exited the desert, only to notice I'd exited backward and would need to walk back through it. I'd also decided to be a kid and mangle myself by squirming through the tiny dark bat cave slide. Bruce (clearly not Wayne) was intelligent enough to pass on that one.

By the time we escaped the buildings I was huffing and beginning to hyperventilate from AGONY. We sat down for lunch, and I groaned and complained all the way through. I was even a bit crabby about the geese trying to eat me (one ate my fingers, and then tried to eat my shirt multiple times -- getting my back with its mouthfuls each time). I pointed out to them that the signs read "Do not feed the water fowl", and that most likely included feeding yourself to them. They were extremely beggy geese. Staring up at me with their sad little goose eyes, and then trying to eat me when I didn't give them an unhealthy treat. I didn't see them trying to eat anyone else, so I have to wonder what makes me such a tempting goose treat. Perhaps they relish the taste of irritation and anguish?

Geese: Terrifying Pain-Sucking Vampires!

I was particularly in turmoil because I'd stupidly taken some Percocet out of my bag that morning. Maybe drugs could take the edge off. Odds are it wouldn't be a good idea to stumble around the Tulsa zoo asking if anyone could spare any Opium, so Bruce was considering getting a wheelchair. The point: to wheel me to the car so we could take a long drive to get my Percocet and then return to the zoo. The problem: 1. Who knows if Percocet would've done any good when the pain was that bad, and I didn't want to ruin the trip. 2. I have never resorted to a wheelchair before, I simply fall over and stop moving if need be. I'm a proud, macho, idiot and the thought of not being capable of ignoring the pain and making do was severely pissing me off. (Not to mention hurting my feelings.)

So I agonized, and I also agonized over these quandaries all the way through lunch. I finally told Bruce maybe we could just get a wheelchair and not leave. I tacked on "If renting one isn't too expensive". Unfortunately or fortunately, push wheelchairs are free. I flipped out about the decision and cried the entire time he was off to get one for me.

Let us back-track a touch. When I was 10 years old and in 5th grade, some of the boys tried to bully one of my friends by throwing a football at her. Hard. I calmly stepped in the way and blocked the hit with my face (cheek). I didn't flinch. The boys said "Whoa, she is tough!". (And possibly just a wee bit crazy, right? But I've always been the type to step in the way if something I care enough about is going to be hurt.) And I was. In that same grade, I also cracked a knee and wouldn't let anyone help me walk to the clinic. Later, still the same grade, I cracked my tail bone and managed to get up and walk over to a platform by myself. When the aide blew the whistle I tried to get up on my own again, and was startled by the revelation that I couldn't move at all. It was annoying, at best, to be carried out of the clinic that day so I could go be stuck in bed for a while. I did enjoy being stuck lying around reading, just not being carried and helped because I'd met something beyond my capabilities of stubbornly functioning.

Years later... obviously I did the torture readings. I could spend most of an hour being cut, burnt, etc, without ever breaking my reading voice. Gene Santagada thought it was funny that I broke down giggling nervously during a particularly strenuous one because I needed to read the word "penis". Yep, that's me, hot needles scarring the stretch of my limbs and I balk and giggle over mentioning a naughty body part. I have my issues!

In modern times I'm always in pain. Bruce knows it's seriously bad if I bother to notice, and especially if I complain. There have been rare times over the years when, say, pinched nerves from an old back injury will cause a leg (typically my right one) to suddenly buckle under me and I'll resort to a cane for a while. But that's maybe once per every few years, and only when I can't seem to avoid falling without a fake straight leg. If it's mere pain, I'll struggle onward on my own like I always did.

So try to take all of this into perspective when you imagine me trying to admit that I'm in too much pain and need to get pushed around in a wheelchair. The true quandary became which version of submitting to pain and needing help would piss me off and hurt my pride more. In the end, I knew the version where I inconvenienced everyone and messed up the zoo trip by making us leave so soon (even if we would be returning after I drugged myself) would bother me more than the wheelchair. I have a strong "hate to be a bother" complex, at least with people I individually care about.

It wasn't easy. Despite knowing I'm technically crippled, I snarled at every handicap entry sign "I'm not handicapped! I just have... problems...". Not that I look down on being handicapped at all, I only have issues with ME not being The Amazing Super- Freak Who Can Handle Anything (tm). Sometimes I could get up to walk a little, for a better picture or view, sometimes for a difficult door. At one particularly difficult door I glumly told Bruce "We're getting a sample of the future".

Amara and Bruce enjoyed being in the wheelchair because they didn't actually need to be in it. Funny how that works, I too remember enjoying hot-rodding in someone else's electric wheelchair as a teen. There was an ironic moment when I was chasing Bruce as he rode off in it while I was in the gift shop. At that point I was ready to be rid of it and curse my way through walking anyway, but chasing a maniac in my wheelchair was... potentially inappropriate. The reason I was chasing him was to ask if he could buy me an alligator head (er, fake of course) walking stick (he did!). Perhaps I'd needed that stick for the chase?

I was in the gift shop, btw, because it's called The Meerkat Market and I like meerkats. I at least wanted a pair of meerkat socks to go with my koala socks from the San Diego zoo (not to mention my most Sacred clothing: I have a Jellyfish t-shirt AND Jellyfish socks from the local aquarium!). But, who woulda thunk it, The Meerkat Market didn't seem to have a single meerkat item.

So. I seem to have survived my first encounter with actually needing to use a wheelchair. I'm still grumpy about it, though. Odds are it would be for the best to get over myself, because that would allow me to take more walking-intensive trips during hot days. What I'll probably do (knowing me) is give things a try, then when I reach that point of sputtering, hyperventilating, cursing, and knowing I can't move anymore I'll break down and resort to a wheelchair again. Technically, when it's that bad, the only thing that might really work is being thrown on a pile of ice packs, and then getting a peace pipe shoved in my face as soon as I manage to stop sputtering. I was still in extreme agony in the wheelchair... but at least I could move or be moved. Pride, stubbornness, and machismo aside, there is at least that.

I am, for the record, wearing wrist braces as I type this. Wrist braces don't seem to piss me off. They're snazzy dark grey and black braces, I kind of like them (barring when it's hot and they make my hands sweat too much). A snazzy wheelchair wouldn't appeal, though.

Never fear, or fear much. I'm still capable of playing with razor blades. I still casually think maybe a fleeting "oh, oops" when I burn myself bad enough on something to raise a serious long-lasting welt, and then go back to whatever I was doing without giving it another thought. Until I see the welt anyway. I have one on my right hand that's managed to last over a week already. I would like to call it a gardening accident, except it was really more of an absent-minded bimbo accident. I set my evil cigarette down in the dirt for a moment (yes, I always throw butts away, no matter how inconvenient it is, I only needed to set my cigarette down so I could tug at something), then jammed my hand down on it and failed to notice until I finally got around to wondering why it so persistently felt like something was stabbing or burning my hand.

I'm still the same ol' idiot I always was (albeit ol'er), with the same ol' fetishes for fire and sharp objects (still eager to collect the latter if anyone has any interesting spares! Though I'm broke, so purge those greedy thoughts from your mind). Fire's purdy and sexy and fun to play with, though it does this little burning stuff thing that you kind of need to keep a watchful eye on.

Some types of pain obviously bug me more than others. Back pain from sitting here typing this, for instance, doesn't turn me on as much as fire and dangerous objects do. Which sounds, to me, like a damn fine closing thought!

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