May 1, 2007
Since the time two and a half years ago when my aching back reared its hurtful head, I have had every test imaginable and tried every possible therapy, including several months at the Super Fitness gym in Quincy.
One day Scott was joking around with the guy in the next cubicle, while he pressed down on my raised right knee. “He’s been in a bad mood ever since he walked in,” he told me.
Instead of telling him he was hurting me (as he had told me to if that ever happened), I joined in with the joking.
“Maybe it’s his bad time of the month,” I said.
“Tell him that,” said Scott, leaning on me with his considerable weight.
When I got home, I saw that my knee was badly swollen and called the gym to tell them what had happened. On the following day, Scott took a look and said, “Oh, that old osteoproses!” Osteoproses my foot. But it was my own fault for not speaking up.
Scott said he couldn’t give me any treatment until I got an authorization from Dr. Janet Kent, the gym’s consultant. She confirmed that the knee was sprained and also diagnosed a Baker’s cyst, whatever that was.
During the next two or three visits, Scott applied lotion and massaged my knee with a small, buzzing gadget, then told me there was nothing more he could do and discharged me. The knee was still swollen a year later and punished me if I stood up the wrong way. The spinal stenosis continued its assault. A bridge friend who had seen me walking from the church’s Cohasset game to my car ten miles away (that’s what it seemed like) said, “Your face looked terrible!” So would hers if she had to walk ten miles with a hot poker in her hip.
In addition to the physical therapy, I was having cortisone shots at 3-month intervals at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. None of them helped the pain for more than a week. I gave chiropractic a try, then acupuncture. Since nothing worked, I turned to the last option, surgery.
After the operation, the ambulance that took me from Beth Israel to Clark House in Westwood was very hot. I asked the chap who was jotting down my answers to his questionnaire if the heat could be turned down. I could feel my face getting fiery red, as it always did if the temperature rose above eighty degrees. The pro at the golf course used to worry about me when I came in from the 18th green on a hot and humid day. I would tell him I was fine, the flush would fade as soon as I cooled off.
“We’ll be there in a few minutes,” the ambulance chap said.
I was rolled past the nurse’s station—she gave me a startled look—into Patty’s room, which was as hot as the ambulance. My roommate would later explain that she got easily chilled. Meanwhile, the head nurse and the doctor on duty had decided I had an infection, so I was ambulanced back to the emergency room, arriving at 2:00 a.m. I spent a sleepless night and a number of daytime hours looking at the ceiling until I persuaded a passing aide for God’s sake to bring me something—anything—to read.
Late that afternoon, a doctor checked my vital signs, gave me several tests and said there was nothing wrong with me. I could have told him that. Back to Clark House and Patty’s super-heated room. She told me she kept her house the same torrid temperature. Her daughter couldn’t understand how she stood it that hot, but to her, it felt comfortable. My bright red face continued testifying to my extreme discomfort. By morning I had a slight fever. The head nurse and the doctor decreed that I must return to the emergency room and have injections of antibiotics.
I called my personal emergency number. Daughter Kathie understood perfectly that I would be facing another Purgatory that would accomplish nothing. She said I should refuse to take the ambulance and refuse the injections.
This procedure had rules. The ambulance must be summoned perforce and the stretcher brought to my room, so I could formally decline the service. I went through the charade and signed the forms brought to me.
The next development: an angel named Jacinthe Charles raised the window next to my bed. Patty shivered and put on her warm flannel robe, while I began to cool down. Within a couple of days my complexion had almost returned to normal, and my temperature definitely had.
There were two other things that could set my face on fire: wearing clothing that was too warm or becoming over-excited about the way a bridge game was going, especially when it was way up or way down. Years later I learned the name for this condition: Rosacea. Tim has it. My ungrateful last-born doesn’t thank me for that or for his tendency to bruise easily. My sister Janeth's genes never heard of Rosacea.
|"THE BLACK TWINS" SISTER JANETH BLACK AND I|
HALLOWEEN AT ALLERTON HOUSE 2007