After weeks of lounging around, trying to remain conscious, and doing things I have no memory of later, I finally did something useful this weekend. I made it to my first Children’s Medical Center Holiday Parade on Saturday.
It’s our biggest deal of each year, with 350,000 people lining up along downtown Dallas streets to watch it live, and zillions more catching it on syndicated TV later. It’s a fundraiser for the hospital, and a heckuva lot of fun to boot. We get tons of media for it, so I really didn’t want to miss it my first year here. D and I headed downtown about 6:15 a.m. Cold really hurts my nerve pain, so I bundled up heavily to protect myself from the freezy 69-degree weather.
I also had my trusty trekking pole to help me, which according to a quick poll of my co-workers really does look like a ski pole. Dang. At least it was red, so it was Christmasy.
I got to ride around and see the parade production in a cool golf cart, driven alternatively by a colleague and my boss. That was fun and enlightening. Especially going over the curbs, dodging the kids drawing with chalk on the street and zipping underneath the big floating balloons. And despite those vicious rumors, we had nothing, absolutely NOTHING, to do with that hole in Mr. Potato Head’s leg.
I did really well with the golf cart, in fact, until I made the tactical error of moving to the backward-facing seat so my boss could have the front seat. While allowing me an entirely different view, it made it virtually impossible to lean into the curves. This was made even more interesting, if painful, by the fact that my dear colleague behind the wheel took off like Mario Andretti in the front row of the Indy 500. And then she accelerated. (Hi, April!)
I was super-stoked to get my picture taken with one of the Minions, from “Despicable Me.” I love, love, love the Minions, so much that my Facebook profile picture is now me with said Minion. (“Whaaaaaaat???” If you don’t get that reference, then grab the movie when it releases on DVD on Dec. 14. Just don’t try to cut in front of me in the Best Buy line at 12:01 a.m. that day. I put it on my Christmas list, but who am I kidding? I’m not waiting ’til Dec. 25.)
The parade itself was very cool. I got to see many of my media friends, who I’ve missed for the past few weeks. There were dancers, those big balloons, Iron Man, Batman, Spiderman, Word Girl (she was new to me), a couple of Texas Rangers (the baseball ones, not the cops), bands, Idol finalist David Archuleta and, of course, Santa. When the big red dude went by on his float, I made sure to chunk my list at him. Maybe I shouldn’t have tied it around that rock, but I wanted to be sure the wind didn’t take it. He looked kind mad… I’m thinking I may not get my Porsche this year after all.
I did well throughout the parade, too, even waving energetically to Batman and the cowboy band. D enjoyed it, too, despite her initial reluctance to wake up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday. I’m not sure either of actually knew there was such a thing as 5:30 a.m. on Saturdays. I guess we just thought weekend days skipped right from midnight on Friday to 9ish the next day.
Given our age difference, we were able to help each other fully understand the nuances of the parade. I was able to explain who Porter Wagoner and Little Jimmy Dickens were, after a float went by that showed them re-created as a gingerbread men. And she was able to introduce me to the concept of the Cabbage Patch doll after a giant balloon one floated down the street, being as how those debuted when I was in college.
Neither of us had zilch to offer each other on Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and Word Girl, though. Luckily, several folks sitting with us had procreated, and therefore knew all marketing references, both famous and obscure, for children.
The best thing about the parade, though, we seeing my work peeps, who I’ve really missed. They worked non-stop to make the parade so great. I can’t wait to get back to work, and it’s not because I’m on unpaid leave. (That’s why D wants me to get back to work, since because of that it appears she won’t get her Porsche this year either.) I just miss the camaraderie, talent and warmth of our team. And I’m really grateful for the quick reflexes of the three colleagues who caught me and kept me from tumping over while standing around on the bleachers afterward.
After we made it back home from the parade, I was a real whirlwind of activity. Here’s what I got accomplished: I put my PJs on. I was able to hit “play” on the DVD remote to watch a really bad movie (“Not Forgotten,” with Simon Baker. Ewwww.). I dumped a cup of food into Chase’s bowl. And I tottered to the mailbox and carried back into the house three credit card offers, a page of Arby’s coupons, our electric bill and a promise from the Geico lizard that I could save big money on car insurance.
I’m changing my Twitter name to “BallofFire.”
I have gotten a little Christmas shopping done, thanks to the wonders of the Internet. A young man in Nigeria emailed me with some lovely special prices on a few great presents that I think friends and family will love. It was very sweet of him to offer to fill in all those other blanks on the shipping form for me, once I got the ball rolling by adding the credit-card portion.
I’m still hoping to go back to work next week, assuming we can get this screaming misery thing figured out and I can convince my surgeon this week to sign the magic form. I finally got in to see the pain doc today. I’ve gotten a bit better in the past week or so, but not enough to spend all day vertical and running into the OR with energetic TV crews.
So the pain guy’s bedside manner makes Dr. House look warmer and fuzzier than a golden Lab puppy. We had a deep, intense give-and-take conversation that epitomizes the perfect doctor-patient relationship. It went something like this:
Me: “I’m still having really bad pain right under my incision, which as you noticed is about a foot long, and extending several inches on both sides. It’s a dull ache all the time, plus sharp pains often and really bad knifelike ones when I get cold or bounce around in the car very much. It really seems to be nerve pain. My new meds seem to be helping, but I really want to get off of the narcotics, since I can’t remember my name most of the time and last night I put the milk away in the dishwasher. And I really need to get back to work. This is a really busy time for us, and we’re really shorthanded so I feel bad about being gone. Did I mention the achy pain all the time? And the frequent stabby pains? So, if it’s nerve pain, what can we do about it? A shot of Marcaine? Any new meds out there for this? My back’s hurting, too, because I’m bending over so much because of the pain. What do you think?”
Doc: “So when did this all start?”
Me: “Uh…. after that massive abdominal surgery five weeks ago?”
Silly me, I thought he might’ve actually glanced at my chart before I crawled in. I’ve really got to reel in my expectations a bit. I’m so demanding.
He ended up giving me a prescription for some Lidocaine patches, with the comment that maybe I’ll “be one of the lucky ones and they’ll work.” Yay, that ringing endorsement made me so very happy, not to mention hopeful. I’m sure he’s tapping away at his home computer right now, though, working up a new treatment plan that he’ll call me tomorrow to discuss personally.
So now I have big, sticky white foamy patches all across my abdomen. I’m willing them to work… demanding that they do, actually. I’m already dreading 8 a.m. tomorrow, though, when I have to peel this first one off. I can’t imagine that will be fun. I’ve got a tumbler of whiskey ready, and a bullet to bite on. Oh, and a dental appointment lined up for later, for when I lose a crown from the whole bullet-biting thing.
But then I think of Elizabeth Edwards, who’s heading into her final months after years of fighting breast cancer. And I think of Savannah, and Bishop, and Brandi, and Dylan and all of the other brave kids I’ve come to know while working at two of the greatest jobs in the world.
And then my belly doesn’t hurt nearly as bad.