Leaves are changing

Yesterday I took a day for me. I went for a long drive and saw some beautiful leaves painting a gorgeous landscape on a sunny morning, and got to spend a chunk of time with an old friend, which was really great.

This morning I had to go to Metro for an MRI. You know you’re at Metro for your MRI when they come ask the guy next to you why he checked the box for metal in his body and he says it’s a bullet in his shoulder from 1979. Then they came and asked me, and I had to explain I have screws in both feet and an internal ileostomy pouch that’s secured to the rectal wall with staples. The lady just kind of looked at me and then wrote something down. I think sometimes people look at me and think I look fairly young and that I’m probably in decent overall health and are surprised to find that’s not the case. It’s always been this way. “You’re too young to be sick” I heard a lot in college, when I first started experiencing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, which would rob me of five years of decent living and plunge me into debt in attempts to pay for my medical care on credit cards. But nobody is too young, so don’t make that mistake.

I don’t have a problem with claustrophobia. I rather like close, dark spaces, but the problem with an MRI is they want you to lie on your back, which I really can’t do. I have a grade two separation of one of my vertebrae – grade one was from a horse riding accident, grade 2 came while carrying my son inside me – and I cannot lie flat. After my c-section, my back hurt way, way longer and much, much worse than my incision – I had to go see my PM&R guy for a steroid shot so I could walk normally again. So we tried it with me lying on my stomach. Which was ok for the first 45 minutes or so, but then my arms started to cramp, and the weight resting on my kneecaps, which always hurt because I am a mid-40s runner, became too much for me to bear. I finally buzzed them after an hour and said I couldn’t lay in that position any longer. They insisted on turning me on my back “just for a few minutes” to try to get the remaining images. Five minutes later, my leg started to tingle and fall asleep and 10 minutes after that, the pain was so excruciating I was in a panic. With earplugs in and the noise of the machine, and being hard of hearing on top of it, it was a bad place to be. I buzzed the control room but either nobody answered or they were just trying to finish the current scan but I really couldn’t deal anymore, and I yelled, “YOU HAVE TO GET ME OUT OF HERE, I’M IN HORRIBLE PAIN!” By the time they came in and pulled me out, tears were streaming down my face and everything on my body hurt. I mean, an hour and a half is a really long time to try to lay in very uncomfortable positions, and I had just reached my limit. The tech felt bad and kept apologizing, but when I’m in really bad pain, I can hardly talk as I’m busy focusing on getting on top of the pain and I don’t have the mental energy to conduct chit-chat. I gimped out of the room and got dressed and left. Someone from work texted me to ask where I am, because they got their wires crossed and forgot I had an MRI. And my coffee was cold and my lunch sat in my car for 3 hours and is probably not all that safe to eat, but tough shit. There are worse problems in the world, I know. But it was a nasty contrast to how nice yesterday was.

I bought a pair of jeans this past weekend in a size that’s too small for me. I have never done that before. I mean, I could get them on and zipped, but they were short of what I’d call being comfortable enough to wear all day. But I intend to get into them and wear them. I’ve lost 16 pounds and am nowhere near done. Some of this is by studious exercise, but I’ve kind of always done that, so I can’t really attribute it to exercise. Some is from almost completely giving up drinking, as I no longer have the money to buy much alcohol. And some is just that I’m so stressed out I’m not interested in eating most of the time. It’s a convenient combination, especially going into winter, which is when I usually gain weight.

Soon, the leaves in the woods behind my apartment will be completely gone, and I’ll be able to see straight through to the I-71 on-ramp in the distance, which I look at to decide how bad my winter commute is going to be in the morning. But for now, the leaves are very busy making a yellow, green and orange burst of rusty, dying love, saying a colorful goodbye before they drop, turn brown, and curl up.

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