I was reclining in my suite in the daytime yesterday, enjoying the suite life up to a point, when sitting alone in my own space became thoroughly tedious to me, by degrees. Finally making the decision to get up and leave the suite toward mid-day, long before the required time to go for a meal, I made my way downstairs by use of the elevator. Handy thing, elevators. They’re perfect for giving a person a lift. Arriving on the first floor, I heard a chorus of middle school children down the hall, giving the last of a concert of Christmas Carols. Christmas scarcely feels right, since my mother and aunt have passed away. By the time I arrived in the lobby of the assisted living environment, where I live, the children were done singing, and they were milling around, talking to residents.
I quietly took a seat in the lobby, near the walkway, and was simply watching what the young people were doing.
Several children came up to me, wishing me a Merry Christmas, and offered me a gift: two pairs of the most outrageous looking socks you’d ever want to wear! I took them right back to my suite, after we residents had all been served our mid-day meal, and put one pair of socks on at home, as soon as I could get to it. I normally dress conservatively, but I really enjoy wearing an occasional pair of thoroughly loud socks. Those kids couldn’t have known that. It was a random act of kindness, a senseless act of beauty, exactly like that old bumper sticker used to say, on the backs of cars way back when.
The evening meal was brought around to our rooms by staff, so that staff could have their own holiday party. I went off to a meeting with my friend driving, as is usually the case on Thursday evenings these days. Since my bad fall last year, when I broke my right hip, I have not been able to drive a car at all. I gave one of Richard’s coworker’s a good deal on my used car, and have foraged ahead without so much as a valid driver’s license ever since.
I had a hip replacement last year, where the orthopedic surgeon took a good piece of my ass, and I find myself hurting almost incessantly. We’re talking a real pain in the ass on a regular basis. It doesn’t lend itself toward driving a car anymore.
My friend and I spent the evening at a meeting, and I mostly kept quiet. I purposed myself at the task of not being too much of a burden to anyone. I’d done too much imposing on others, recently enough. I’d made myself a terrific nuisance to someone important in my life, thinking all the while that I was doing something good. Boy, was I mistaken.
Now I know.
Some lessons are learned at a price.
After the meeting, I was talking with one of the young ladies, and she had said that she works for a hospital. Since my brother, Richard, works at a hospital, I asked her a few questions about her work. The two of us stood outside and talked for a long time. She’s a facilitator, who arranges schedules for an OR. Richard, working in an entirely different hospital system locally, does telemetry on the grave yard shift, watching the monitors of the life support systems. She does another kind of work, making certain that each OR has the time and space for the teams to work operations.
The young lady is a very nice person, but she concerns herself with her compulsive personality, which she finds very distressing. She addresses herself to the problem at our gatherings. If she’s not drinking, she’s shopping. If she’s not shopping, she’s eating chocolate. She’s a very compulsive individual. At one point, she had made me a gift of a huge shopping bag of knitting yarn, and I’ve been applying it to my crocheting projects. I can really understand compulsive behavior on the most basic level. I have compulsions myself. Cigarettes had almost claimed me a year ago, as my environment finally edged my habit out of my life. My prayers, as they’d done with my drinking so many years earlier, had succeeded in releasing me from the habit of chain smoking, after several months of the patch and a general deprivation of nicotine and smoke altogether. My prayers had been answered and I have walked away from the habit a free man. I stepped down from two or three packs a day, to the patch, to not smoking; all at the direction of my Higher Power.
My health has steadily improved since then.
After that our conversation, I’d spent more time standing and waiting out of doors, with no place to sit, while my driver kept himself busy talking to another individual on an equally important topic. When I awoke this morning, I was so sore from standing on my feet for forty five minutes. I’ve scarcely been able to walk all day. Ah, the joys of having a replacement hip! I can’t touch my toes at all anymore, and can only reach the floor with my left hand.
Though I’m living in assisted living, I don’t think I can afford to pay someone else to dress and undress me, since it’s something I can manage myself after a fashion. It just happens to be a very annoying thing for me to try to do. My body behaves differently with the titanium alloy hip I have on the right hand side.
My behavior recently has alienated me from two different people, who were both very important in my life. I’ve gotten a little cocky, and have gotten away from thinking about my behavior before I act. I have succeeded in annoying some people so much they’ve walked out of my life altogether. Oh, the joys of living with schizophrenia. If I can succeed at anything, I’ll be a happy man.