Saturday, February 4, 2017

Not Today

Not Today

My left leg looked like a
stuffed sausage,
ankle swollen, 

veins the color of wedgwood,
angry and raised,
pink splotches,
scattered about.

I found three pillows
for elevation
drifted into meditation
for 30 minutes,
before calling NurseLine
to report my concerns.

"Well, according to your symptoms,
you need to go to an emergency room right now."
"Well, I can't, I'm in a town I'm not familiar with,
and besides, I use Duke,
so I'm going there."

Denial kicked in.
This was fucking inconvenience
Ruined my plans for a nice breakfast out
and walk around town.

My leg was sore but I threw clothes into a
 suitcase and went downstairs to the kitchen.
I'd probably missed breakfast.
Everyone else was drinking coffee
and chatting.  In good spirits.

I took a deep breath,
"I just got some bad news,
I have to go to an emergency room."
I did the mature thing
and broke into tears.

"Want me to drive you?"
"No, I'm driving myself to Duke.
They told me the closest emergency room
was in Sanford, halfway to Durham anyway."

"There's a closer one,"
a calm voice responded,
"in Pinehurst."
Tiny Pinehurst, I thought,
what kind of hospital would they have.

"They have a good hospital, and it's close by,"
the calm voice responded.
"Could you take me there?"
"Sure, I'm ready."

I did the mature thing by crying again,
concerned that the dance workshop
I'd been preparing for was off.
Why me?

The hospital looked like a resort
and I got a private room.
Asked Michael if he could come in with me.
Hoped he wouldn't mind.  I'd just met this
man the night before.

There was a painting in my room and I
focused on it to calm down.
A nurse came in and took vitals,
hooked me up to a machine that
kept track of blood pressure and pulse,
slid a needle into my arm.

I watched the vial fill up and waited.
"What's a three letter word for dunce?"
"Ass," was the only thing
I could think of.
Grateful for the comfort of crosswords
 and that calm voice.
Some people are like "God with
skin on" and he was one of those.

"We need to check for clots."
I started to see my life
flash before my eyes.

More waiting, crying,
a phone call
to my son.
We chatted.  I could hear my
grand daughter playing in
the background.
"Hi, Gamma!"  That did it
and the floodgates opened again.

Crying on the phone to my son.
Waiting, waiting.
Thirty minutes.
An hour.
An hour and a half.
Gary, the nurse, told us he was
reading "Paradise Lost."
He was glad to be working as a nurse
rather than digging ditches somewhere.

"I'm not ready yet,"
I thought to myself.  So much to do,
including dishes left in the sink.

"I don't think you have a blood clot,"
that comforting voice.  Bless him.

"They're ready for you now."
A dark room,
its only light from the ultrasound,
the only warmth
a warm gel on my skin as
Jacqueline scanned a smooth
porcelain ball
up and down my legs.
She calmed my fears, asked me what
I was afraid of,
why I was worried.

"Dying," I thought.
I was missing my son and his
little daughter, wondering if I'd
ever be able to watch her prance across
the living room again,
or lick the frosting off
a gingerbread house.

Margot, Margot, Margot,
the thought of her dimples and
curl-framed face brought me comfort.

Remember how she blew kisses.
How she'd si ton her knees
looking out the train window,
 all her favorite shops passing by,
like Tate and with its cinnamon rolls.
I want to visit there with her soon.

And I still haven't seen
that painting of Washington at the MFA
or been to Cuba,
or visited my father's grave,
or the Somme, or Nantucket
or Cornwall, where
St. Gaudens crafted his sculpture
of the Massachusetts 54th.

And of course, there is always Paris.
Oh, to stay again at the Royal St. Germaine,
visit the Luxembourg Gardens,
or le Dome where Hemingway wrote.
So many places.

"There aren't any clots."
Jacqueline reassured me.
I was cold and Jermaine put a blanket
over me, right out of the warmer,
 and rolled me  back to my room.  Smooth ride,
unlike the Georgia one where they bumped
the gurney into walls, sending me into
spasms of pain.

Back to my pink room with the Impressionist painting.
Dr. Gregory gave me a prescription
for rest, elevation, and warmth.

Many hearts would stop beating
that day,
but not this one.

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