They’re done. Two hours of care, teamwork, tools, technology, bright lights, kindness, humor, and exalted privilege unfathomed and unattainable by most of humanity from Eden til today.
Goggles off. Stand up in a light cloud of endorphins and automatic pilot. Gather stuff. Thank everyone. Receive their shower of good wishes plus two pain pills with glass of water (tilt head to swallow; do not swish). Weave along in gingerly fashion to bus stop, climb aboard, sit still, get off at home corner. Take stairs one at a time. Open door. Ease shoes off with toes and kick them into closet; there’s no reaching up or bending over or lifting allowed.
4:30. Unpack Excel spreadsheet schedule in clear page protector, antibiotics, pain medication, antibacterial mouth rinse, instructions, gauze, styptic black tea bags. Set cell phone timer for every fifteen minutes from now to midnight, with orchestra triangle noise. Ting!
Open balcony door — or not. Dowel is on the floor holding it shut. Hm. My toes can’t budge it. Maybe the kitchen broom can sweep it out of the track? Nope. Wait, the broom handle works… there. Open door.
Get bag of peas from freezer. Wrap in washcloth. Hold cold side against face.
4:45. Pleasant tiny orchestra triangle sound. (Ting!) Cold compress interlude is up. Put peas in freezer. Stack bedding on chair to sleep with head elevated. Go fetch hassock and… uh. No stooping. Well, ok. Tilt head way back, and kneel on floor. Lean back against hassock. Inch hassock across floor to chair. Sit with feet up.
5:00 (Ting!) Fetch peas out of freezer. Put on face. Set up little card table with paper towels, bowl, water, and Bible.
5:15 (Ting!) Peas to freezer. Change to night clothes. Spread out sheets and pillow on chair. Sit. Fall fast asleep.
5:30 (Ting!) Get peas. Put on face. Fall asleep.
5:45 (Ting!) Peas to freezer.
Read antibiotics label. How do you open this? No instructions here on the box or label or directions. Tinker and fuss with cap. No good. Should have planned this. Where can I find a clever six year old? Oh say: this outer lip is flexible and bendy. What if I press it down while turning cap, then firmly flip cap up? Agh! Where did they go? Here’s one on the floor. Here’s two on the stove. Lift up stovetop; any here under the burners? Gotcha! Spread out pills on paper. Count up. Thank heavens — all here. We’re good for 6:00. Put pills back in bottle.
Sit. Fall asleep.
6:00 (Church bells sound effect.)
Church? What? Oh. Bells = antibiotic dose 1.
Tilt head. Swallow antibiotic dose 1 with large glass of water. Do not swish. Jot down the time in the correct Excel column. Spoon some bone broth back along tongue on right side of mouth. Do not swish. Take out peas. Sit. Fall asleep.
6:15 (Ting!) Drink some water. Drop pea package in bowl. Fall asleep.
6:30 (Ting!) Wake up. Forget all about peas. Back to sleep.
6:45 (Ting!) Hey where are the peas? Are they coming or going? Oh look, they’re here in this bowl still nice and frozen. No need to get up even. Put on face. Open Bible to John 14. Fall asleep.
7:00 (Ting!) Hey where’s the Bible? It was right here. No, really. I was just reading it.
Peas are getting slushy. Back to freezer. Oh, there’s the Bible. It fell under the chair. Well, in a couple of days I can bend over and pick it up.
7:15 peas on 7:30 peas off 7:45 peas on 8:00 peas off 8:15 peas on 8:30 peas off 8:45 peas on
9:00 Wind chime alert. That means 9:00/3:00 pain pills. Wiggle up out of blankets. Lumber to kitchen. Peas to freezer. Grope for stove light.
Take out pain pills. How do you open this? No instructions here on the box or label or directions. Tinker and fuss with cap. No good. Should have planned this. Wait, the cap shows a very tiny picture: a numeral 1 and two tiny triangles facing each other, and then numeral 2 and a twisty arrow. OH and there’s a tiny triangle on the lid, and a matching tiny triangle on the bottle. Then when they’re lined up, press down and twist and… thank goodness. Go me! Tilt head. Swallow pills with water. Do not swish. Jot down time in correct Excel column. Spoon some plain yogurt back along tongue on right side.
9:15 Sit down with peas. Think of the words for Orthodox evening prayer. (No hymns or chanting; no singing allowed for at least the next two weeks.) Concentrate on words for about a minute. Watch words swap around and unravel and float away. Fall asleep.
“Stay in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.”
Wake up. Where did that quote come from?? Oh, it was one of the Desert Fathers. Well, this makes a pretty good cell right here. Wall, table, chair arms, hassock, blankets, triangles and bells and chimes. There’s no place else to go. It’s all here: me, sins and fears, aches and pains, remaining teeth, sterile membrane, sutures, a new graft made of bone from somebody’s dear deceased loved one. It’s all me and all yours, Dear Jesus, to direct any way you will, with tonight and tomorrow and after.
9:30 peas off 9:45 peas on 10:00 peas off 10:15 peas on 10:30 off 10:45 on 11:00 off 11:15 on 11:30 off 11:45 on.
12:00 (Ting!) Midnight. Eight hours of cold packs is over; peas back to freezer.
Just 3:00 am pain pills left tonight plus water and snack plus antibiotic dose 2 at 6:00 in the morning plus water and snack. Oh, and first dose of this antibacterial mouthwash here, that I can’t get the cap to turn for. How do you open this? Any instructions? Well, tomorrow’s another day to figure it out.
Stove light off.