Why the Hell is this Taking so Long?

It has now been exactly one month to the day that I experienced my ‘life changing’ day of pain and two (count em, two!) surgeries. One which  is often referred to as the ‘lunch hour op’ and the second which was emergency surgery and pretty damned serious.

*Although to be honest, the seriousness of the second surgery still has not really kicked in. I still keep looking around to see who the doctor is talking about when they get to the serious part. In my mind if it was that serious, I’d still be bed-ridden and hooked up to about a trillion tubes.*

I do have to keep reminding myself that is has been just one month since my ‘new life’ started. The parting words of my cardiologist were, “Get ready for your new life.” I still cannot figure out if she was being facetious or not. But new it most certainly is.

2012 has been a year of recovery for me. An accident in February caused so much nerve damage to my lower back that I still had not returned to work full-time when the heart attack decided to ‘kick me while I was already down.’  Of course the recovery for a heart attack and two surgeries is a lot different from recovering from lower back nerve damage.

As frustrating and painful as the nerve damage was, it was never going to kill me. Oh it might aggravate the living hell out of me but it definitely would not put my life directly in danger.

*Unless of course, my back decided to freeze while I was crossing a busy motorway. In that case I think all bets would be off.*

The other parting words from the cardiologist was that, “You need to completely rethink your life style and your attitude.” I was a little insulted. While in the hospital, I was so grateful to everyone who had made the galvanizing pain disappear that I had a permanent grin pasted on my face. Of course they may have misconstrued that as a grimace which, in all fairness, does look an awful lot like a grin.

But I got her point. I am by very nature, a little grumpy (A little grumpy?? I hear some of my colleagues say. That’s like saying Hitler is a little dead! I maintain, in my defense, that applies only to work. Not all the time.) and very impatient. Living in England I have always been able to pass this off as a less than attractive American trait. But to be completely honest, I am so impatient that even my fellow Americans disown me.

Mr Fredrickson from Pixar’s Up…Even he’s not as grumpy as I am.

I know that I have to slow down, chill out and be more cheerful. Unfortunately, knowing that I have to do this does not make it happen spontaneously. I still get impatient at the amount of time everything takes.

For example: I will walk to the post box, which is about 100 yards from my back door. I take my time and still have to stop halfway there. Not because I am winded or tired. No the reason I stop is because of my damned back! This pain in the buttocks ailment that I have been recovering from since February this year! It seizes up and I have to stop and stretch and rest it for ten minutes before I can resume my slow snail-like crawl to the post box.

Then, because of the seizure, I have to stop several times on the way back. Embarrassingly, the first stop is after I have posted what I needed posted and I limp slowly  to the fence right by the post box. I always wear a floppy hat and sunglasses in case someone I know is driving by.

I know that I am getting better though. Yesterday I cut the grass in my back garden. Now before you get too excited, I need to explain that my back garden is not that big and my mower is not that heavy. I also really took my time and besides dragging my right leg a bit, finished pretty much pain-free. I am having to wait to cut the grass in my front garden, which is considerably smaller than the back garden. I’m waiting because I don’t want to over do it.

I have gotten used to my right calf looking like an over-ripe banana and finding the odd bruise in places that don’t make sense. *The oddest one is right in the middle of my right foot’s instep.* I am also learning to walk that very fine line between hypochondriac and really knowing when something isn’t right.

I have learned not to panic when I get pains in my hands or forearms (both of which hurt beyond belief during the heart attack) and I’ve learned to stop worrying about getting fit for work, although that one is a bit harder.

We run a fitness test for my job. It is called a ‘bleep test‘ and it was obviously invented by a sadist. I have never really had too much of a problem passing it in the past. Not too shabby for a smoker of too many years to count. But now? I’ve quit the nasty weed and I am on the mend, but, the idea of running that test makes me feel nauseous.

Invented by the Marquis De Sade
Buzz Lightyear and Meg. My two guardians.

But the one thing I have learned from my recent ‘life changing’ experience is this: While I sit here and roll my eyes to the heavens and shout, “Why the hell is this taking so long!” I am, mentally at least, accepting that this is going to take a while and that I’m pretty damn lucky to still be here and if I ever forget this fact, my daughter will remind me.

Signals Mistaken, Misread and Missed

Cover of "Cheech and Chong's Up In Smoke ...
Cover via Amazon

I have always been a film nut. When I was growing up I had only one other friend who could spout all the dialogue from films like I could. This same friend and I would ‘re-enact’ all the scenes from Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke, much to the disgust of our workmates.

All my life I have been, if not the only one, the one who could recite verbatim a film’s plot, action sequences and all the characters reactions and dialogue. I had another friend who once told me, “Thanks Mike. You know, with you around I can save a fortune on watching movies. You describe them so well, I don’t have to watch them.”

I still don’t know if he was being sarcastic or not.

I am drawn to fellow movie nuts. These ‘nuts’ are hard to find. Because they have probably spent their entire lives running off at the mouth about whatever film they have just seen. And they have also probably spent their entire lives being told:

“Shut up!”

“Gezzus dude, give it a rest, will ya.”

“Gee, you really like your movies, don’t you?”

After a while you start talking less about the films you love. Of course these days you can talk about movies as much as you like via YouTube or in a blog. Pausing only long enough to edit both mediums and upload them on the computer.

It is a lot easier now to be a film fan who ‘runs off at the mouth.” That was not always the case.

In 1985 just after I’d married my second wife, I got sent to Germany for a conference. My first night there I met a young, pretty, female airman who was a fellow movie nut.

We spent the first night, alone in the crowd, talking almost non-stop about movies we loved. We also talked about films that the other person had not seen and traded notes as it were. She then made an oblique reference to a Marx Brothers film.

I was over the moon.

I could not believe that I had met another Marx Brother’s fan. We then talked and recited Groucho and Chico lines to each other. We only took breaks from this activity to replenish our beer supply and potty breaks.

Cover of "Duck Soup"
Cover of Duck Soup

She then did the entire courtroom sequence from Duck Soup. After I had stopped laughing, I took a deep breath and said jokingly, “Where have you been all my life.” And before I could do a Groucho eyebrow wiggle, she turned.

Her eyes went cold and icy. “What did you just say?” Before I could repeat it, she stood up and grabbed her beer. “You are married!” With a derisive snort, she turned her back to me and marched off.

You could have knocked me off my chair with a feather. Where had that come from? Marx Brothers fan she might be, she didn’t necessarily have a reciprocal sense of humour.

She ignored me for the rest of the week.

I talked about it to her male friend who came to the conference  with her. It turns out that her husband had been fooling around with another woman. She, quite understandably, was not very trusting of other married men.

On reflection I can see how she reached the instantaneous conclusion that I was ‘coming on’ to her. She had mistaken my joke for an invitation.  I, in turn, misread her love for movies. I thought that anyone who was a Marx Brothers fan would get my attempt at humour. She then missed my also attempted explanation.

So not quite ships that pass in the night. Still it would have been nice to know just one other film fan to talk to. Now I have my daughter and we both hinge our tongues in the middle and let them flap non-stop while we talk about movies.