Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mind the Proprioceptors

Mind the proprioceptors--those hard working guardians of our homeostatic selves in space. I disregarded mine and thought I knew where my ankle was and went sprawling. I heard a tell tale snap crackle pop as my equally hard working ligaments or tendons tried making up for the disorientation of no communication from the proprioceptors. So lacking any spatial information they held the best line they could.

In simpler language, I twisted my ankle.

Since I had done this to my other ankle previously, I was writhing on the floor screaming my good ankle my good ankle like some cut-rate imitation of Richard's crying for a horse. I would have given my kingdom to have been safely upright.

And then crawling, hollering, ice and aspirin and adventures in health care in the north of Scotland. It was 6 miles into the village for the GP. I got a towel to keep my ice from dripping all over things as I melted and my GP sent me with a note to hospital for X ray. It was there I learned that I had temporarily lost my propriocepters. Hospital is about 30 miles away, considering we stopped home en route to get aspirin packet to say what dose I had taken.

It was a bad day in A and E or Casualty as it is called here. I was in a wheel chair and still dripping ice but I looked better than most of the folks waiting there. By the time I got to see a doctor and then got to X ray and back again, my ice had melted, but it had done its job. Instead of a large bruise and swelling I had just a couple goose-egg sized swellings around the ankle. Because X rays are done via computer now, I didn't get to see the inside of my leg. I got a tubie grip --an interesting textile, I still say although everyone looks at me funny whenever I say that. And a pair of crutches and I was off home. I was eager to leave the waiting room, which was as full as it had been several hours ago.

Now it's 4 days since the big event and I am well on the way to mending. Friends are telling me the funny things I said while I was on pain meds and I have traded my crutches for my hill walking sticks.

Monday, August 23, 2010

"Forever Young"

"Forever Young" is the title of a song, a bad movie with Mel Gibson, and the name of my brother and sister in law's boat. They called their boat "Forever Young" after the Bob Dylan song, which describes simply and lyrically a good way to live: "May your heart always be joyful/And may your song always be sung. May you stay forever young."

It overlooks the other part of being young --feeling powerless and anxious in a world that you do not understand.

It is my brother's birthday. He no longer tracks such things as the days of the week. I remember how hard my sister in law tried to school him in the days of the week as a last ditch effort to get him into a clinical trial. Love and hope keep us going against the odds.

I sent a birthday message in an email via my sister. I thought that would be enough to ease the heart sore I felt about almost forgetting the day. I will be older than Methusaleh before I realize that my head never has ruled my heart and no doubt never will.

I played the Joan Baez CD for a school girl chum resting on the sofa. When it came to Forever Young, the slow hot tears leaked out of the corners of my unsuspecting eyes. I had thought I had cried my brother away, but something demanded a bigger, better birthday present. I cried my way through a couple more times of Forever Young and struggled through the anguish of wondering if he was all right at that very moment. I know he is looked after well and beloved, but in his Forever Young condition, he is so very vulnerable.

I sat and thought about all the things that are so much a part of me that would never have come into being without him. I would never have had the courage to finish the scuba diving class if not for his push and so I would never have seen the wonder of the north wall of Grand Cayman off the Forever Young. I would not have slogged through another year of mathematics in high school or taken 5 years of Latin or stayed in college if not for him. I might not even be here at all if not for his courage and protection over many many years.

I wish I had been braver, smarter, kinder, faster to understand what he tried to tell me about things from calculus to how to cook a quick chicken dinner. I cherish now every time I kicked out at him and he caught my heel and sent me landing unceremoniously on my bottom. I'd gladly take a fall for him now for old time's sake, but that wouldn't do either of us much good.

So I'm inviting you all to a special birthday party.

Whenever you read this, stop what you're doing and take a minute to give a great big pixie-faced grin to an otherwise po-faced world.
Dance in the grocery store aisle.
Put raspberry flavour into your coffee.
Sip a glass of red wine or a Heinekin or your favourite drink as if you might never taste it again.
Be a little more patient with someone you love.
Make a silly pun and laugh at your own joke even if no one else does.
Be grateful for the time and will to do what you choose.

And then please sing happy birthday to my brother.

Happy Birthday, Mikey.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Solitary Hare

I used to think that "hare" was a synonym for "rabbit." I also had never unpacked the fact behind the expression "mad as a March hare." I thought about both of these hare-related data points as I drove slowly home with one zig zagging along the road in front of me. The roads up here are good, if narrow, but have to be shared with all critters who happen to be passing that way. In the twilight that harbingers the long summer days conceding to the coming of the long dark, we drove home from visiting nearby. A car made its presence felt with its headlights and slid past us as we turned on to the road home.

A hard working nearly grown cat hunkered down by the side of the road--her presence manifest first by the reflective glow of her eyes. I watched as she leapt onto the nearby stone wall and watched us with what was probably annoyance. I suspect we disturbed her hunting and her erstwhile dinner had scuttled back into the safety of the tall grasses in the time it took us to slide by.

Nearby sheep had settled quietly into sleep so they showed no interest in claiming any part of the road. And then in front of me a huddled rabbit shape, or so I thought, until the tell tale long legs of the hare unfolded as he moved at an unhurried pace down the middle of the road. Since it was just this solitary hare and our car sharing the road, we moved along companionably at his speed,which in this case was remarkably un-hare like. Hares can move much much faster than their rabbit cousins. When they unfold their exaggerated back legs, it is like watching a cheetah streak across the fields--designed for an economy of motion, each stride a marvel of bioengineering. But not tonight. Our hare eventually left the road and moved off into the darkening without ever attaining hare-speed. I was only slightly disappointed as I moved the car out of first gear and accelerated toward home.

In March or April --things sometimes happen a bit later up here--I have seen hares do what is best described as boxing. Pairs of hares sit on their back legs and wave their front paws in Marquis of Queensbury fashion toward each other. As with so many apparently bizarre behaviours, this has to do with sex. It is an overeager male being told by a female not to waste his time and energy yet.

Other than a glimpse of this boxing behaviour from the train heading down south some years ago now, I have never seen more than one hare at a time. I hope that there are other hares out there loping along roadsides or fields and then whatever shares their space gives them the room to grow.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Red Wine in a Box

I'm sure not even Martha Stewart could answer the question that surged through my brain as I made frantic, anxious last minute preparations for having a party. Red wine should be room temperature, so I was going to bring it into the warmth of the house from its storage in the garage and then I got myself stuck: if you are serving red wine in a cardboard box, is it a hopeless affectation to fret about its temperature or is it the last best hope for a hard working grape that probably aspired to a better fate.

Such things frequently clutter my mind when I worry. The only answer is to shake my head and think of something less conundrum-ish although with last minute preparation-itis almost anything may leap into that category.

And as with most things, the answer became irrelevant. People came. We ate, we laughed, we talked. Children ran through like punctuation in our conversation with the stuff of their world.