Share |


Positively Speaking

 Facebook memories tells me this time last year the great siege had taken over. The notation reads “Eye treatment on top of flu compresses on my chest...” Eight days later I found out it was not ‘flu relapse’, it was pneumonia.

This year I did a mitzvah. I held a toddler for four hours, who was visiting my host family. He had this wretched fever and cough and could not have slept in the play n’ pack, and so his Grandpa and I took turns holding him. I knew I would catch whatever he got. I didn’t realize that, for some, once you have had pneumonia, bad pneumonia, it goes straight back to form.

And so...herein I have lain these last seven days with a good two more ahead of me.
Discoveries from the crypt read something like this.

Working on my memoir at this time, I have an understanding now of why ‘too sick to stay energized for long’ has always translated to ‘screen time excesses.’ When I was confined to a bed in a hospital for twelve weeks and then two weeks of rehab when I was nine, the Salvation Army visited me every week. Some nice officer and his wife came and witnessed to me of kindness. Part of their kindness was a roll of quarters. I am so old that, in those days, you paid a quarter an hour for TV. Actually there was a slot in the TV to put it in.

There were very exciting things going on during the day. Alan Shepherd was being launched into space. There were daytime game shows being developed. At night there was Hazel, Dick van Dyke, The Defenders, Ben Casey, The Andy Griffith Show. American TV was hitting it’s prime! And I had quarters. Every intern and nurse and doctor and orderly on a break knew I had quarters. I welcomed the company.

Lest this descend into memoir material, let me leave it that, combined with the 3 O’clock afternoon movies, later when I was a latchkey kid, screen-time was diversion and entertainment and, depending on the content, hope and inspiration.
Like all parents in the late seventies and eighties I became very strict about consumption of the flickering images, but for myself, I decided I wanted to go into scriptwriting and, by golly, have a couple in the hopper for future consideration.

This is the first time I have actually done ‘bed-rest’ since that year when I was nine. Sickness usually meant barreling through the work day. Last year, the year once called ‘The Grand Adventure, and now as I rewrite and refine them, called The Year of 50,000 words, I snugged up with a blanket up to my chin in my office chair typing away.

Now? I can tell you the guts of any story. I can share the five turning points of a rom-com. I analyze the first and second conflicts and denouements of any number of genres. I long to be the kind of writer that could write smash and crash and blow ‘em up scripts; the testosterone flicks I watched with my oldest son as a single mom after his dad bailed. Truth be told, it was actually Denzel Washington who helped me raise my son, but that’s another column.

So...last Tuesday I called a few folks and let them know I was truly going to stay down as much as possible. I canceled various volunteer activities that were definitely work related but didn’t hinge on my presence. It has left me typing late tonight by this little light you plug into the hard drive and shine on the keyboard that Robin from knitting group gave us as gifts years ago.

There are two reasons I will remember this week without a sense of loss. First of all, I also got a book read I had been asked to read and review. I got a work project done and out to the readers who are reviewing it. (We writers are always reading and writing and reviewing).

Secondly, memory lane has been real fun and reading every Facebook ad I’ve ever wanted to wander into but certainly had no time and no priority for doing so has been a visit through Americana.

For Valentine’s Weekend, I researched and posted clips from probably a dozen of the formative films of my youth and adulthood and that was fun.

But the best reason was because when I was first realizing that the dry cough and chest pain and fever were the onset of ‘not good’, I received another set of words that were ‘not good’. They read ‘abnormal cells. Please return for a biopsy’. This odd peace came over me, but my mind went into full on panic. Just when things were settling down and I was being freed from the worst abuse,there was possible cancer. Four hours later another set of words came back from my doctor that read ‘since your cytology report was negative, there is no need to return. In fact, you are finished with these screenings altogether.”

So you see...guilty as I felt because I have so many friends and loved ones who are fighting or have lost the battle to cancer, everyday, as I coughed unproductively and then started the antibiotic that would eventually help me get well, I could say to myself, “I don’t have cancer. It’s a good day”.

What’s a little pneumonia? They have pills that can heal it. Next year I’ll get the preventative shot. Each day I’ve been able to do a little something. I had to save all my energy to do it and it would wipe me out for the next twelve hours, but a little something. Now, as I see the signs of final healing, and remember watching Torville and Dean dance to ‘Bolero’ three times in a row on YouTube, I think to myself, I don’t have cancer.

A little perspective please.