Friday, August 19, 2011

Off-Again

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Off-again arrives to pick me up for my epidural shot.

“I’m almost ready,” I say.

“Do you mind if I check my e-mail then?” he says.

“No, sure. Let me unlock the computer for you.”

This statement sails through the air and lands in Doug’s personal space with the grand welcome that any pile of shit might receive from anyone at any given time. Up to the last time he used my computer, he knew my password. He tries to look disgusted. “What must you think of me?”

I reply: “Well, I have asked you for my keys and garage door opener back once, and you did pretty much stalk me a couple times, and I had to change the locks once, and you’ve admitted going through my home phone and cell phone call histories, so I think that anybody in my position would consider all of that and take any necessary precautions to avoid feeling violated again.”

Doug sighs, throws his hands in the air and goes to read the paper instead. “I can’t argue with that.”

Soon enough we leave, get to the outpatient medical center, and I check in. Doug waits for me, chatting up an elderly gentleman whose wife is in for the same procedure that I’m there for: an epidural steroid injection in the so-called “lower back” region. In my case, that means, once again, my ass. My ass hasn’t seen this much light of day since they let me swim in the lake without a diaper back in ‘68.

I’m getting the shot because my ass has been hurting for about thirty years, and since the x-rays I had last month showed an old, small, healed-up fracture in my coccyx--and the MRI didn’t show anything else out of the ordinary--my physiatrist, Dr. Lee, decided that an epidural would do just the trick.

I am lying on my stomach, face through a padded donut, ass to the world, when I look down and focus on the poster taped to the floor beneath me: a nice pastoral picture of woods and lakes and blue sky. I say to no one in particular, “Is this picture of Minnesota?”

One of the nurses—a jovial sort who could have been working the pull-tab counter at a bar in Minnesota for as serious as she was taking all this—piped up, “Why? Are you from Minnesota? Dr. Lee! Katie’s from Minnesota! Have you ever eaten lutefisk? Dr. Lee doesn’t understand how people can eat lutefisk….”

I know Dr. Lee is fiddling with my ass and poking needles into it and talking to me, but now the pastoral Minnesota scene is bobbing around, swaying gently to the left and right, as the pain meds work their way through my veins.

Lutefisk. Ugh. I wouldn’t eat that stuff. I hear it looks like watery white Jell-o. I’ve never even seen it, just heard about it. Why do people always think that everybody from Minnesota eats lutefisk? Does everybody from Arizona eat cactuses? I would never eat lutefisk. I miss Minnesota. My Grandma Lotus loved lutefisk. I love lakes and trees. Look at that, the water’s moving.

“No,” I say, “that doesn’t hurt. "No…yes! That hurts!”

Well Jesus, glad he asked for Christ’s sake. How many pokes does it take? I wonder if Doug’s still outside. I wonder if he’s still talking to that old man. He talks to everybody, totally socially aggressive. I can’t relax around him. Maybe he went out for coffee. He’s so nice for bringing me here, so patient. Too bad he screws up so much. I could live by that lake. I could totally live in a cabin and fish on that lake. Maybe I’ll take us out for sushi later. Maybe that would make up for my changing my password. Man, he super-didn’t like that.

We go to a hip, downtown Scottsdale sushi place when I’m released from the outpatient place, and I go to use the bathroom. I’m about to wash my hands when I remember, I just had somewhat of a near-surgery on my ass. I should take a look at that. I put my purse down, quickly unbutton my shorts, pull them and my underwear down a little and twist around to see my bare ass in the mirror, but a pretty young girl comes out of one of the other stalls before I can get a good look. I’m pulling up my shorts and refastening them when I notice that I’ve placed my purse in a motion-detector sink: water from the spigot is pouring inside. I swear, grab my purse, set it down, and quickly finish buttoning up my shorts. The girl slides me a withering look. “You’re not from Arizona, are you?”

What, do I wear it on my sleeve?

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