Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Stories, October

Thank you this week to Katherine in Texas and Katie in Maryland 
On Monday I go to see my doctor. Just my general practitioner, not a specialist. The nurse weighs me, remarks on my weight loss. "Good for you!" She says, brightly.

I don't respond. I'm curious why she mentioned it at all, it's only a few pounds. I don't tell her that I only weigh less because I have less muscle than I've ever had before.

I do tell her, once we're both settled in the tiny white examination room, that's it's been frustrating to feel continuously awful when I live such a healthy lifestyle. "It's been tough on me and tough on my marriage- I've only been married four months." She nods her head and waits. "I'm trying- I see a chiropractor, and an acupuncturist, and I mean, I don't even drink alcohol anymore! That's how healthy I am!"

"Oh- then have a beer!" The nurse says, waving her wrist as if to say, well that's an easy fix! "Nothing wrong with that, I drink a beer every day!"

"Oh, it's not by choice," I explain. "I'm allergic to alcohol. Alcohol and chocolate. And fruit."

The nurse widens her eyes and lets her jaw drop, an exaggerated pose of horror. Then she leans in and whispers, conspiratorially, "I would kill myself."

This is, of course, the moment where I should gently inform her that perhaps, with future patients, she might choose her words a bit more delicately, remind her that many people who chronic illnesses do indeed kill themselves, or at least live with the idea as a permanent, morbid fixture in their thoughts. Not me, I'm not that sick. But many.

But I don't. I don't say anything, just study her for a moment and move on. "Well, I've gotten used to the diet. But not being able to exercise when it flairs up, that's what's really tough on me."

"It's a good thing you don't have to exercise," she says, turning back towards the computer.

"What?" I'm missing something. "What do you mean?"

"Well honey, look at you. You're in good shape. For people in good shape, like you? They don't have to exercise. It's not so important."

I lean back, exhale slowly. "I think I should see the doctor now," I say, and close my eyes.
David, my husband of four months, comes home from work one day after I had a particularly sedentary weekend. He's hiding something behind his back. I'm in my room, rearranging a drawer, avoiding work. "This week is treat week," he announces. "I'm going to bring you a treat every day." Then, with a flourish, he presents me with a delicate white and purple potted orchid. I look at the flower, look up at him, at his perfectly familiar face.

For a moment he looks shy. He traces a finger around the ghostly thin white petals. "You're supposed to feed it an ice cube of water once a week."

I keep the orchid on my bedside table, next to the two succulents we bought to replace the first succulent, which lived outside and melted. We figured two would be happier than one.

In the week that follows, David brings me something new every day. A tiny carton of salted carmel ice cream, a carmel apple. He makes french toast waffles and brings them to me in bed so I can eat them, turn my head, and fall back to sleep.

One day, he drives me out to Hickory Nut Gap Farm so we can visit the pumpkin patch, some inane, little-kid outing I've been wanting to do all season.  There was nobody around in the field, so we stopped in at the farm store. It smelled like woodsmoke and roasting meat and cold mornings inside the store, exactly like my house in Vermont. I felt a wave of homesickness wash over me, and then another wave of guilt for feeling homesick. "We'd like to go to the pumpkin patch," Dave announces to the young girl standing behind the counter.

"You don't want to do that," she says. "It costs six bucks per person, and it's not really a pumpkin patch. It's just pumpkins in a field."

So we go outside, and pick a pumpkin from a pile that's been laid out by the shed. A woman approaches and asks if I would take a picture of her with her husband and their toddler, who has red hair and marble blue eyes. David pats my shoulder. After they leave, I take a picture of him and the dog, smiling in a sea of bright orange. I love them so much.
Every morning I go to the forest at Richmond Hill and I walk for three miles, sometimes five, on an intricate network of narrow, looping trails. The trees are either shockingly yellow, not gold but bright yellow, or completely bare. I listen to audiobooks or podcasts as I walk, or talk on the phone to my best friend, the girl in Seattle whose life took a serious unexpected turn in the last few months. Together, we try and grapple with her new reality which is, for the moment, a stark one. We haven't figured it out once, but we keep talking. Once every day.
There's a bakery down the street from my house that I've taken to writing in every afternoon. It's busy, and cheerful, almost chaotically loud at times when the great groups of friends that gather around the tables (magically, in the middle of the day, how is is possible to have so many friends in the middle of a week day?) raise their voices to be heard above the hiss of the milk steamer. 

It's especially nice to work there when it rains. It's been raining a lot lately, the sky dark and lit with diffused light, the puzzling type of light that doesn't seem to make the world any brighter. The clouds feels very close when it's like that, more like a ceiling than a sky.

I particularly likes that this bakery has stacks of a magazine that currently features an article of mine. I love that I'm simultaneously inside the magazine and watching other people leaf through its pages as I'm waiting to order.

I've been writing a lot, nothing poetic or personal or profound (not that it would be, when I see writers try their damnedest to say something elaborately profound I immediately set the book back on the shelf, most of the time) but articles for work, easy but time consuming.

Well, they're not exactly easy, I shouldn't say that. But they're not impossible either, the way some things feel, which is a good start.
join us on Instagram @melinadream
And now for the winner of Mystery Prize Monday. Thank you all for your patience over the last few weeks! I am sorry it's taken me this long.

Blogger Marie said...
I'm in a happy place, feeling as if finally, my ship is coming in. But, scared at the same time, because one never knows this for sure, but one day at a time. Hoping this is it for me.
October 20, 2015 at 10:46 AM
Congratulations Marie! We are so happy that your ship is coming in, what a great feeling. Now you can expect a ship, and mystery prize in your mail box. Just email thewildercoast@gmail.com, and we'll get you all squared away.

As always, everyone- thank you. See ya. Soon.


Sarah said...

I hope the doctor was less of a jackass than the nurse!! :( Thinking of you Melina!!

meg bird said...

I love that you found such good, sincere love. And how do people like that nurse exist? Do you think she's somehow related to that dude in the van??

Mom Starting From Scratch said...

Having a child with a rare illness means we've met and had consultations with more drs/nurses/residents/therapist than I can count. I can say with assurance that some people in the medical field are simply GOLDEN, and I count it an honour to have them helping my child, while others may have big words to spout but not an ounce of sense or compassion. Just always remember that you are the only one who knows what it means to live as YOU!

Aimee said...

Well, I think it safe to say she should never ever have taken up working as a medical professional. Or possibly be allowed human interaction? Meh, there's always one. Everywhere, every continent, every hemisphere. In every walk of life too.

Actually life sounds good, in the grown up, slightly mundane yet reassuringly routine way.
As someone who is only walking too at the moment (broken, oh, so broken) it is exercise, ok its not high impact or impressive when you tell people. But its fresh air, and space, and time.

melody said...

i just love you bunches friend. i am so glad you have a man that loves you so well. <3

Chelsea Kastelnik said...

I truly enjoy your writing and the realness you tell. Thank you for sharing!

Sarah Koznek said...

I enjoyed reading this very much. Last week was a hard week, but this week is easier. I have two doctor appts on Friday, I'm hopeful for no weird nurses. Fingers crossed.

Ashley said...

I commented last week, and your reply felt like a hug. I just went to a specialist appt, where the Dr. brushed my symptoms off (weight loss, good for you! Nothing wrong with 105 lbs!, hair loss-no problem! Panic attacks out of nowhere-take Ativan!) and it left me swimming in a thick mud of fear and doubt. Again. Have you thought about seeing a functional medicine practitioner? I hear you on the difficulty that our spouses walk through as we muddle through unwellness. It sucks.

Katie said...

Thank you for your real writing! I appreciate it so much! <3

Maria said...

Elizabeth Gilbert will be in Asheville tomorrow, Malaprop's books. You going?

Sri said...

Have the doc check your Thyroid levels of they havent already. Good luck!

Brittany said...

I have Lyme and basically went through the same thing. 12 different Drs telling me stupid stuff like that nurses! So frustrating!!

Theresa said...

Hey Melina. Hope you are doing alright. I know that you've taken hiatus's in the past, but during my time as your reader (something along the lines of two years), this is a record if my memory serves me right. I hope this has been a happy I-feel-so-much-better-I'm-going-to-just-enjoy-living-and-worry-about-blogging-later kind of break. <3 Thinking of you.

Cali Gal said...

Thinking of you and hoping all is well with you Xoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

As someone who is typically healthy and healthful, I've been frustrated that I keep getting sick this season. Laying in bed last, unable to sleep thanks to a cough that won't quit, I was feeling quite sorry for myself. Then I get up, grab coffee, and check, as I always do, to see if you've written. It hit me how much lyme must SUCK for you, to have your life so completely interrupted and derailed, to have illness take center stage as you learn how to live despite chronic illness, etc. I'm just so sorry for you. I hope you're getting better and stronger each day. Know that strangers across the globe are rooting for you (and missing you too).