Yesterday was my 61st birthday. Had dinner with a great bunch of friends.
Marc Glasser, Harold Stein, Jon & Debbie Baker, Lisa Braun, Chris Quinones, Ariel Winterbreucke, Nina Bogin, and the roomie took me to Chennai Gardens by Tiffin Wallah on East 28th Street. It was a great dinner with good company.
I, however, was not doing so well.
I had planned to go to lunch at Alice’s Tea Cup with the roommate, but my energy was low enough that we had to cancel that plan. So I was already unhappy. Then Chris’ mom, Josie, who I adore, called me to sing “Happy Birthday,” but couldn’t understand a word I said in return. (I currently get little enough oxygen into my lungs that – on a good day – I sound like Minnie Mouse.) By the time we got to Manhattan, and started walking to the Starbucks a block away from the restaurant, I was fast running out of spoons. So I got a table, and the roomie got our coffees, and we waited until it was almost time to go to the restaurant (the last Manhattan-bound express bus, which is the easiest way for me to travel other than a car service, leaves my area just after 3 pm; dinner was planned for 6:30 to allow those with day jobs to get there). That’s when the roomie decided that she needed to point out to me what terrible shape I was in.
Like I don’t know this? Like I don’t have to face this every damned time she has to talk on the phone for me because the person on the other end cannot make out what I’m saying? Like I don’t have to face this when I need a cane to walk half a block and, even then I end up huffing and puffing? Like I don’t have to deal with it when I have to crawl back into bed because my energy crashes while I’m in the middle of working? Like I don’t have to face this every time I have to turn down a request for attention or help or even fun, because I know my stamina is wonky to the max? Or when the roomie has to go pick up my prescriptions because I just can’t walk the four and a half blocks to the pharmacy?
The thing is, normally I would have shaken it off and ignored her. But I am currently stretched so thin that I couldn’t. I’m scared to death about this whole thing. My time to make needed choices is dwindling rapidly. And the choices suck: Open heart surgery or having them, in effect, induce a heart attack by injecting alcohol directly into my heart.
I’m trying to be strong; I really am. I know that the open heart surgery is my best option. And you guys know me, I will fight to get my health back. But right now, I hate that I am helpless to do anything immediate to get my life back. This stupid heart issue is taking away from me things that I consider to be essential to who I am, and I hate it.
This is my Great Grandma Pearl – my mom’s mother’s mother. It’s the only picture I have of her. According to the family stories, she walked across Russia alone, at age 16, to get out of there. I can only imagine how scared she must have been, and how confident that she could, after all, make it out. She is my model for things needing determination. I keep her picture near my computer to remind myself that, if I have the drive and the determination, I can do anything I set my mind to.
The truth is, I just want this situation to be over and done. I want to be past the physical pain and well into the healing. I’m also afraid about what could go wrong. Let’s face it, this is not minor surgery. And I am not the greatest candidate for surgery. I’m 61, way obese, and have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I know Dr. S. says that I am nowhere near the worst candidate for surgery he has dealt with. I am trying to keep my spirits up, but there are times I just want to be done with it all. I really hate not feeling like me.
Anyway, that’s where things are right now. I hat that they are like that, but I did promise to be honest about what I’m going through.
To those of you in the midst of the ten days of the High Holy Days, may you be inscribed for a good year. To everyone else, I wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous year. To everyone, I wish a year filled with love and laughter, and family of the heart – by blood or by choice.