Staring up at the knotted ceiling, I imagine that’s how my back must look to some specialist somewhere. In my drug-induced state of semi-consciousness ~ thanks to a killer cocktail of Celebrex, Lortab, and Valium somewhat questionably administered by my husband and approved by my medical parents ~ I pick out shapes and figures in the knot-dotted ceiling of our guest room.
Like kids who see faces and animals in cloud formations, I sift through the abstract windings of wood and locate the duck or ostrich face that Andy showed me well over a decade ago. I also make out a wolf – a rare find comprised of two panels – its ears a pair of shirred twists in the wood, its eyes two tiny knots. On the bed, my body involuntarily contorts itself in spasms of discomfort, while my head vacillates among disappointment, resignation, and fury. This is not how I wanted our Columbus Day weekend in Ogunquit to unfold.
It began in fine traditional form ~ a beautiful and cool fall day, a dinner of fish tacos at The Front Porch, and the next morning an early breakfast at Amore, followed by an outlet jaunt in Kittery before the crowds arrived. Upon our return to town, I was taking photos of the flowers that led to the Marginal Way, when I must have bent over the wrong way. [Insert
cock joke here.] I felt fine at the time, but a few minutes back in the room, I went to stand up and a back spasm promptly left me flattened on the floor. I’ve only ever experienced back pain like that at two other times in my life ~ the last being after a hydrangea-pruning incident that knocked the wind out of me. Plants are no joke, people. Some day you will believe. The quest of capturing beauty is no joke either. In fact, its price is preciously dear and dangerously high.
On this day, just the second into our vacation, I had no time for back issues, particularly one that left me unable to stand. Usually I can at least shuffle, but this one left me breathlessly off my feet. Andy quickly gave me a muscle relaxant, but it was too late. I’d have to miss dinner that evening with Andy and my parents, but the pain was such that I didn’t mind one missed dining opportunity, and as the light drained from the day, and my solitude burned into the night, I drifted in and out of awareness.
Making it to the bathroom was the tough part. As Andy wined and dined with my folks, I rolled out of bed and onto the floor. I could not move, but my bladder demanded that I do my best. Pulling myself along and crying out curse words rife with pain and frustration, I made it half-way to the bathroom before I started crying. Not just for the sheer physical hurt, but for what I would be missing:
Ogunquit is one of the only times that my husband comes to bed and wakes when I do.
Ogunquit is one of the only times these days when my parents and I can bond and have adult time without them taking care of my brother’s kids.
Ogunquit is the only place where I can walk around and not worry about whether my tie matches my pocket square.
In short, Ogunquit is usually where I can be, well, happy – and most like the man I’d like to be. Yet here I was ~ alone ~ in the way I most often am. When I finally pulled myself into the bathroom, scrunching into the bathmat as if it were a bed, I wondered how on earth I’d get upright to pee. Brief contemplation of pulling down a plastic drinking cup with a thrown towel and peeing into that was dismissed. I’d never hear the end of it were Andy to find out, and with my sketchy history there was a good chance I’d end up drinking my urine by accident later in the evening (a not-unprecedented event, but that story’s been told before.)
For now, I mustered the extremities of my pain threshold, lifted myself up and held on for dear life ~ to the wall and to my penis. When done, I couldn’t bend over to flush (sorry, Andy) but eventually found my way back to bed, where the haze of medication covered me like some enormous veil – thick and velvet-like and intricate enough to bind me until the morning…