Scooting Under the Influence And Other Late Night Questions of Wonder

November 7, 2007 at 6:34 am (Uncategorized)

Sometimes I awaken in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. Too often I let my thoughts swim deep. Will I be having surgery on Friday morning to remove an enlarged lymph node to check for lymphoma or other malignancies? Will the stress fracture in my foot ever heal, so that I don’t have to use a scooter to get around my house and my ass to get up and down the stairs? Will I ever get healthy, or will I merely lurch for the duration of a shortened life from one sarcoidosis-related crisis to another sarcoidosis-treatment related crisis (like the aforementioned biopsy for lymphoma)?

These questions keep me anxiously awake, with the darkness and my husband’s truly impressive snoring (I mean, the man gets tones and rhythms through his nose that rival a fourth grader on a bassoon) pinning me on the sheets. Tonight—or rather, very early this morning—I decided to hell with it! Enough with useless matters existential and eschatological. Letting my brain trip and tumble down these neurological paths isn’t doing much for my health, to say nothing for my red-rimmed eyes.

It was time to ponder the things that truly matter in my life.

In the hazy aura the night light creates I caught sight of my beautiful stationary bike across the room. We bought it just a few short months ago, so that I could try to regain some fitness without going to our germ-infested gym, from which I, with my highly compromised immune system, was catching every ailment and ague that blew through town. But with my foot locked in a hunter’s-orange cast and with various doctorly prohibitions against putting any weight or pressure on the bad foot, I haven’t been getting a lot of rides to nowhere on my recumbent chariot. My attorney husband, who survives by focusing on the small picture rather than the chaos that is his partner’s — and thus his — life, had hoped to deduct the cost of the bike on next year’s tax returns as a medical expense. But, if I’m not riding the thing, can we ethically deduct it? Since attorneys rarely overly worry about the spirit of the law over the letter of it, I never raised my moral concerns with Jay.

But with the revelations of tonight’s useful ponderings, I won’t have to choose between either irritating my spouse or abetting tax fraud because there, in the half-light, I saw that our three-year-old son had earlier removed the closet’s worth of clothes I was storing on the bike and had instead lined up a row of his favorite stuffed animals along the seat. I vaguely remembered him babbling at me earlier, while I was across the room, trying to ignore him (but not look like I was doing so) and finish my novel. “Here’s Sweater Bear and Chickie and Blumbie,” he twittered, as he lined them up. “Mommy. MOMMY. They’re going to the carnival to ride on the water-go-round and eat cotton candy. Mommy. MOMMY. MOMMY! And they need your bike to get some exercise.” There you have it: Sweater Bear (sans sweater, I might add) is getting a workout, even though I’m not. Take that, IRS Man. Would Sweater Bear doff his sweater if he wasn’t working up a real — and tax deductible — sweat?

There’s only so much thinking about taxes I can do without needing to pee. But getting around the room in my current state, in the same gauzy light that made Sweater Bear’s button eye cast off a manic gleam, is somewhat hazardous. Let me explain. I’ve said before that I’ve been confined to a scooter because I can’t use crutches. Most people hear the word “scooter” and think of something fun. Let me set you straight. Spend a few minutes at: And, if like the pack of thirteen-year-old boys I encountered recently at a dinner party, you, too, still think my Roller Aid looks “cool,” let me assure you that 1) I hate you; 2) The scooter comes with a broken foot; 3) The scooter also comes with a free-wheeling three-year old who you have to beat him off your scooter to get a ride; and 4) You have to use (and turn) the thing in our house, which was designed and built by a man with no sense or any professional experience who did possess a love of corners, crawl spaces, and all things ninety degrees, as well as a virulent disregard for building codes.

I’ve gotten reasonably adept at operating my scooter in full daylight. I only fell over a couple of times yesterday. But when I’m tired, the light is bad, and I’ve taken a painkiller to ease the muscle spasms in my neck and shoulders from hauling the scooter around turns (and my body up our very steep stairs), as well as from the sharp pain in my never-healing foot that frequently catches my full body weight mid-topple off the scooter, let’s just say that all bets are off. I made it to the toilet and back (three sharp turns) and only wheeled over my good foot twice, but the harrowing journey did raise some more legal concerns. Is it possible to scoot under the influence (SUI)? Ever since my liver got eaten by the sarcoidosis, I’ve been forbidden to drink any alcohol. Our home is basically dry. But what if Jay, frustrated by me developing yet another ailment (I’m thinking boils is a good bet for my next affliction or, maybe, some type of plague), decides to drain the prescription cough syrup or make off with one of my painkillers, and then careens off on my scooter and really hurts someone — like Sweater Bear? Then what? Would the police take away his license to scoot? If so, I’m breaking out the codeine and taking out the stuffed animals. Guilty as charged, officer. Better confiscate my scooter!

If you find the thought of me toppling over en route to the toilet funny, you should spend some time watching me go up and down the stairs. Apparently, walking up and down them is a big taboo in the wonderful world of stress fractures. It has something to do with added flexion. We can’t afford to install elevators, so that means I either crawl up and down them or I sit on my butt and pull myself up and lower myself down with my arms. My father took one look at me doing the latter and said I looked like I was straight out of Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World” ( You get the idea. All this heroic-looking arm use was really aggravating my already-injured neck and arm, so the physical therapist told me to go buy knee pads and crawl. It was a good thing my Dad wasn’t still visiting. I’d hate to have a visual for this one. It wasn’t just my butt waving in the air. Worse was actually slipping down the stairs on the slick knee pads as I tried to ascend. (Remember our mad home builder? He also built the stairs on the steep side.) “Enough!” I shrieked, after a couple attempts. I ended up walking that time, before returning to ass-first ascents and descents. You have no idea how dignified I felt on my feet. As the dawn began to threaten the night, I wondered if it would be possible to install slides or ramps. Would these be tax deductible? Could I keep Andrew off the slides? Or would it be Sweater Bear monopolizing my route down and up just as surely as he took over my bike?

Somewhere in the middle of pondering the intricacies of ramp construction and whether I could help build a slide while on my scooter, my eyes began to feel heavy. Jay’s snoring had backed off from over-zealous beginning bassoonist to almost-soothing distant foghorn. Sweater Bear looked over sagely from the bike. “You can sweat the small stuff,” he seemed to say. “But it’s better to just go to sleep.” And then he pedaled off to the water-go-round and the rest of the carnival, where Chickie and Blumbie were waiting for him. I drifted off to sleep, with not a thought of lymphoma or surgery, only with Sweater Bear’s kind promise to bring me back cotton candy and a new foot.


  1. barb said,

    Do you have to wear a helmet? Yikes.

  2. Given the Boot « Chronic Town said,

    […] in 2008 and 2009 when I twice ruptured my right-ankle ligament, or when I spent months in a cast, zipping around my house on a scooter, because the sarcoidosis eroded my foot bones and I couldn’t put any weight on the fractures in […]

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