closing in

Almost, but not quite. That’s what this week has been. A series of discoveries that things that I thought were OK are still not right. Things I thought had been fixed were still broken. A personal life that I thought was moving in a positive direction actually isn’t.

Tuesday was when the trouble began. I don’t know why, but I suddenly decided, that day, that I’d had enough of the water pooling in my shower, toilet, and sinks. I called a plumbing service at 7:45 AM and was promised that a plumber would be here by 9:00.

I should have known better. He didn’t show up until 12:30, and for some reason, it took him two more hours to discover that he was going to need to snake out the main line for the building and run a camera through it.  And of course, he didn’t have the equipment for that particular task on his truck, so he was going to have to come back Friday and do it then.

So I was in for three more days of pooling, bearing the brunt of the other building residents’ carelessness with regards to flushing inappropriate items down their toilets and drains. I’d sent countless e-mails during my years managing this building warning tenants to be careful about this. Apparently, no-one paid any attention. And why should they have, since it didn’t affect them? It only affected me, as my unit is the waste water’s last stop on the way out of the building.

So I was angry, not just at not getting it fixed, but for even having to deal with it in the first place. I’d finally bullied the board members in to hiring a real building manager back in January.  I wasn’t supposed to have to do this crap any more.  The fact that I had no-one to blame but myself for the timing was completely beside the point. The point was that if I had passed this off to the building manager, it would have been weeks, if not months, before he handled it, and I’d already waited too long to have it seen to, in the futile hope that someone besides me would have noticed something was wrong and taken it upon herself to do something about it. Ha. As if.

But whatever. Go ahead, inconvenience the bitchy, handicapped woman. It’s not like she has anything else to do.

Wednesday, I was supposed to get an arthrogram, which is some sort of radiographic procedure in which they take multiple views of the anterior face of my scapula (the side facing my ribs) and search for physical abnormalities in the bone and attached tissues. If I had to guess, I would say it will likely involve insertion of a needle under said scapula, followed by a camera of some sort, not that I bother getting worked up about how painful a procedure might or might not be any more. But when I arrived at the radiologist’s, the woman behind the desk informed me that they don’t do arthrograms at that office. She said someone should have told me that before they let me schedule the appointment.

This should have been pretty upsetting, because it meant I’d have to wait another three weeks for confirmation of the most recent orthopedist’s diagnosis, never mind treatment. But for some reason, I couldn’t find the strength to express my disappointment, despite the tears that had begun to overlay my eyes. My driver for the day seemed willing to back me up if I chose to make a fuss, which was certainly within in my rights to do, but instead, I thanked the technician, put the prescription back in my folder, and walked to the door, leaving my friend barely enough time to rush around to get ahead of me to prop it open.

He expressed frustration for me on the way back down to the parking garage, putting a sympathetic hand on my back as we walked the short distance from the elevator to the handicapped parking spaces. I assured him I was OK; that in fact, I felt bad for him, as he was the one who had taken off work so he could taxi me to and from the appointment. He insisted, as we got back in the car, that I was the one who should be angry.

But I just didn’t feel like getting angry. There didn’t seem to be any point. “Waste of energy,” I muttered, directing the remark to my knees, which were pulled up onto the passenger seat in an effort to round my spine away from my knife-edged scapula. In fact, I didn’t know why I was unable to produce the appropriate emotional response. Was I just getting used to this? To being disappointed? To things not working out the way they were supposed to?

Thursday, I had to run errands; I’m leaving town on a two-week, family vacation this weekend. I had planned to split the errands between Thursday and Friday, but now that waiting for the plumber looked to swallow the lion’s share of Friday afternoon, I had no choice but to do them all Thursday morning, which meant that by the time I got to work at 1:30, I was already in pretty rotten shape.

I’m down to three hour shifts at this point, but I ran out of energy at about the end of the second hour, and watched the last one tick by from inside a shrinking well, the narrow walls slick with pain. I imagined it was my life smeared on those walls, the life I was supposed to have, that I almost made it to, but not quite, now sucked out of me and bleeding down the stones into the mud below.

I had to stay for dinner at my parents’ house, a short drive from the office, because there was no way I could manage the rush hour version of my twenty-mile commute home in my beleaguered state. As I laid on their bed, an ice pack strapped to my back, Momma Ape kept me company, packing her own mountain of necessities for the trip and chatting about what a production it was to pack to go anywhere when you had to account for so many physical disability issues, a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly concur.  After about fifteen minutes, though, my stomach was too upset for me to be horizontal any more.  I said as much and got up to make my way to the kitchen.

“So it’s just going to be like this from now until you go to bed tonight?” Momma Ape asked.

“Yes,” was all I said.  I felt, rather than saw, her reaction. After all, it was no different than mine would have been, were the situations reversed.  Both my affirmation and her response were the plain and simple truth, and me and Momma Ape have long since passed the point of bothering to dress it up, or not for each other, at least.

A few hours later, I took the scenic route home, cutting through city neighborhoods, charming and verdant with their old houses snuggled up to each other under large, arbored canopies.  I opened the windows to let in the cool evening air, and put on some upbeat music in an effort to lift my mood.

It had the exact opposite effect.

Now, it’s Friday. On Fridays, I work in the morning, from 8:30 to 11:30. I was already in some discomfort by 7:00, which did not portend well for the rest of the day, but mornings are usually OK. I doubled my meds in an effort to get ahead of the pain, rather than waiting until someone stuck a cheese grater under my scapula to ante up. But just in case I was planning on trying to have a good day anyway, I got snapped at by the receptionist at the plumbing company at 8:15 when I called to get a time for the afternoon’s work. “You’ll get a call when they’re on their way.”

“Yes, I know,” I replied, forcing myself to remain calm and friendly, “but I just wanted to let you know, I have to be somewhere at 6:00 tonight, so if they can’t arrive by 2:30 or so, this isn’t going to work today…”

“Ma’am, you’re on the schedule for twelve noon and I’ll call you when they’re on the way.”

“Of course, I understand that, it’s just that Tuesday you said they’d be here by 9:00 and they didn’t arrive until 12:30, so I wanted to give you a heads up that I don’t have as much wiggle room in my day as I did then…”

She cut me off again, “Yes ma’am, I’ll call you when they’re on their way.”

I sighed, and thanked her, and hung up.

I spend too much time on the phone with irritated staff people. I still haven’t heard back from a doctor I left three messages for earlier this week, and I know Momma Ape would insist that I call his office, again, but I just don’t have it in me to get sh*t on by another receptionist.  Not today; not after the week I’ve been having.

I had wanted to get a different sleep medication to take with me to the beach, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. Hopefully, just being away from here for a couple of weeks will be medicine enough. I was restless last night, but I don’t care any more; sleep, no sleep, it hardly seems to matter.

Everything else…
As for my personal life… I just don’t even want to get into it. A thing that looked promising a couple of weeks ago has stalled out, leaving me right back where I started. So last night, I e-mailed a f.w.b. to arrange to partake in the benefits tomorrow afternoon, because one way or another, goddammit, I am getting laid before I leave town on my last official outing of this waste of a summer. It’s not even about the sex (not that I’ll be turning it down, of course); I really just want a man to come and wrap himself around me, break through my personal space and shove my loneliness out of its favorite chair for a couple of hours.

Also, while I try to avoid dwelling on it, I have exactly zero job prospects, a circumstance which may or may not improve upon graduation next Spring, provided I am actually able to graduate. I still don’t know if I’m going to be able to handle my course load this semester, which includes a class with a three-hour lab that I have to pass in order to graduate, and have had to drop out of, twice, because of this f***ing shoulder business.

The entire horizon is gloomy, including this vacation, what with me artificially depressing my expectations to avoid being disappointed. Last year, we had freak weather and I didn’t get to go in the ocean. This year, weather or no weather, I still probably won’t be able to, even as I maintain a secret intention to get out in it at least once anyway.

I will have to sneak it behind Momma and Big Daddy Ape’s backs, since there’s no way they’ll let me do such a wrong-headed thing if they have anything to say about it. I’m a grown woman, though, and can choose not to give them the opportunity to say something about it before I actually do it, thus saving me from wasting any energy pleading my case beforehand. They can have their say afterwards, when I’m in pain and regretting it.

The end of the summer is closing in, and I have miserably little to show for it. Injury-wise, I have a bit more range of motion, but the pain and sleep situations continue to deteriorate. I’ve nailed down what exactly exacerbates my pain, and what I have to do to ensure I won’t be in too much pain, but since that what-exactly entails sitting and/or driving, I’m not certain how much control I’ll be able to exert over matters with regards to school.

So, long story long, I have no idea what I’m going to do come September. Part of me just wants to throw in the towel and drop out of school and go back to working in veterinary clinics.  However, that would require ignoring the shoulder completely, and I’ve admittedly not had much success in that arena.

But the whole reason I went back to school was so I could get a job working with animals. The rest of it, the research, the teaching, the technical writing – all of that was a reaction to the changing conditions on the ground. None of it is what I really want to do, although I would have been – would still be – perfectly content doing any of those things. What I really want to do is get a hold of the dial on my life timer and wind the spring back five years, to before any of this started, and take another crack at it.

Not that I’d have a much better chance of getting a base hit than I did before. I was one of those kids in gym class who struck out at tee-ball. My life batting average is similarly dismal, and just because I now have a handicap to justify it doesn’t explain the twenty years leading up to said handicap, which were defined by my inability to extract my cranium from my rectum.

Even as I know that all I’m doing right now, with this post, is winding up my current situation into a pity party that doesn’t serve any purpose other than making me feel worse, I just don’t have anything else to do, nor the energy to do it with. I’m spent. Dried up.  Totally empty, even of fumes.

I do need this vacation. If nothing else, the smell of the ocean should help me loosen the shackles of my depression for a spell and give my soul a chance to run around a bit. I’ve been spending too much time in this damned well, staring at the shiny walls, imagining the worst. If I can get out of it, even just for a week or two, maybe I won’t mind so much when I find myself back in it, as school ramps up and my shoulder injury once again takes over the reins of my life.

The summer is almost over, but not yet. I still have some time left before I have to relinquish the driver’s seat; I still have one place left to go. And I’m going, even though it will hurt to get there, and probably even more to get back. But pain, no pain, I just don’t care any more. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I get to the finish line, just this once, before the reality of my total impotence closes in.

About C. M. Condo

I am a late-diagnosed, high-functioning autistic living with chronic pain. I started this blog in March of 2014 as a way to try to process what was happening to me. It is my hope that by sharing it with you, we can both gain something, or at least learn something, from my experience.
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