I did a thing, and it felt a little strange. More than that, it felt kind of wrong in a weird sort of way. It wasn’t bad! I didn’t break any laws. It wasn’t anything dramatic. It was actually a simple thing that should be normal. It used to be the most normal thing I did, but it’s become…Oh, how do I say it? Surreal. Otherworldly. It was just plain weird.
I should do a quick recap of my, uh, “situation,” yeah? If you’re new— welcome, it’s lovely to meet you— I have a few chronic health problems. I was diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure (kidney disease) when I was three. That led to multi-system failures and/or medical curiosities. I’ve had three kidney transplants over the years, and right now, knock on wood, my health is as stable as it will ever get.
I have regular appointments with my various specialists to keep everything humming along. It’s usually more of an annoyance than anything else. A day of needles and answering the same questions over and over. Yes. No. Maybe. Only on Tuesdays between one and five. Is that it? Great, see you in six months.
One of the few good things that have come out of this pandoodle (can’t stop, won’t stop calling it that) is tele-med. Instead of going to a crowded office or icky hospital, the appointment happens over the phone. I don’t have to drive all over the city to see one specialist after another. Something that usually takes a day now takes twenty minutes.
Yay, technology! The future is now. Goodbye waiting rooms and hello…
Wait, you want me to come in and see you? Like, in real life? Masked face to masked face? In the office with *gasp* people? I thought we had something special. Don’t you like me anymore? Why do you have to ruin a good thing?
Why? Why me! Okay, that’s a bit dramatic.
I’ve grown accustomed to a certain level of, let’s call it, luxury when it comes to doctor’s appointments. That’s what it is, isn’t it? Lavishing in the luxuriousness of tele-med instead of hauling my posterior off the couch. Using the conveniences of the modern world to indulge my laziness. Nay, to protect my malfunction systems from an invasive species because that sounds better.
It’s a fine line between laziness and self-preservation. A gentle breeze will tip me over the edge. That’s when utilizing technology for health and safety becomes a luxury. I fear I’ve fallen into the latter, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Forgive me, I’m going to have to force myself to be serious for a few minutes. Back to the medical blah, blah, blah. I’ve lived with it so long, I find it kind of monotonous. When I tell my story to someone new, and their eyes go wide? I realize that other people might not see it the same way. So, I should stop blah’ing myself and get on with it.
Anyhoo, after my transplant, I was put on heavy-duty anti-rejection medication. Much to my dismay, it doesn’t repel emotional rejection because that would actually be useful. No, it lowers my immune system so, it can’t seek and destroy the gift of life that was generously given.
The new-to-me kidney is a foreign body. It would seem that my immune system is xenophobic. It doesn’t want outsiders taking jobs away from organs that were born here. So, out you go with a swift kick.
That’s no way to treat someone…I mean a new kidney.
When did I become so political? Mm, I should stop reading the news before writing. It leads to unfortunate seepage. Never fear, I’m sucking it back in and moving towards neutral ground before there’s a revolt. Sorry, we sold out of pitchforks the last time this happened. Better luck next time.
Needless to say, tele-med has been a lifesaver during the pandoodle. I’ve been able to keep up with my medical team, manage anything that pops up, and stay perfectly safe. I don’t have to play dodgeball with an infectious disease that kills people like me more than other demographics. Instead, it’s become a two-year game of hide and go seek.
I never really liked games, and my dislike has grown in intensity.
Recently, my electrophysiologist went back to in-person appointments. An electrophysiologist is a cardiologist (heart doctor) that specializes in arrhythmias. My heart likes to beat to its own drummer, and it has no rhythm. More accurately, occasionally it partakes in interceptive beats because it believes in the freedom of expression over the greater good.
Wow, that’s another doozy of a topic, eh?
I’m just trying to say that my heart doesn’t always beat like it should. I take pills to calm it down, and I have an ICD (Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator) to shock my heart back into a healthy rhythm when it goes astray.
That handy little device needs to be checked every six months. I have a machine at home that automatically does that but, I have to go to the clinic once a year. I sit with the doctor and let the technicians run a complete diagnostic. We haven’t been able to do that the last couple of years so, we’re long overdue.
Arg, okay, I’m coming in. Stomping my feet petulantly.
The appointment usually involves a slight manipulation of my heart to see if the device picks it up. That neat trick can leave me feeling a little out of sorts so, I try to get a ride to the appointment. Due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control, that couldn’t happen, and I had to drive myself.
No big deal. I can do it. I‘ve done this a hundred times before. Except it’s been two years, and I haven’t been able to leave my little corner of the known universe because of, well, you know. Oh boy, no, you know what? It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. Why am I so nervous?
I live about an hour outside of Vancouver, BC, Canada, and I had to be smack in the middle of downtown shortly after nine AM. So, rush hour traffic? No problem. Stop. Go. Stop, inch forward, and mad dash followed by a sudden breaking. Easy, boom, my skills may be rusty, but they’re not dead.
Damn, why do certain types of cars live up to their stereotypes? You know the ones I’m talking about. They cost more than most of us will make in a lifetime, and they’re driven with an air of superiority or douche-ness. Yeah, I haven’t missed these cars, but I love the kinship with other drivers. We silently join forces to doll out a safe yet satisfying dose of suck it.
Ah, yes, I’ve missed that.
I’ve also missed the energy of so many different people from different walks of life. Different is good, it’s invigorating, and it’s so beautiful. All of those stories, experiences, and forms of expression walking by me on the sidewalk. It was so…Overwhelming but in a good way. It’s electric, and I’ve missed the jolt it gives.
Necessity has dictated that I live an isolated life, and I’ve had to make peace with that. At least, I’ve come to accept it reluctantly. But this was an opportunity to go out and rejoin the world. It was only for a few hours, and it was incredibly surreal.
Going out into the world has become an alien experience, and, if I’m honest, it was kind of scary. Of course, the fear of getting sick is natural, but that wasn’t what got me. I think I was overstimulated. There were so many sights, sounds, and the banality of everyday life. It’s the normalcy that shouldn’t take me by surprise, but it took my breath away.
When did normal become surrealistic? Is this a uniquely me problem, or do you feel the overwhelming shock and awe as well? Has life gotten back to normal for you? Or, are you more like me and discovering that normal is long gone? More accurately, a new normal has come town, and we need to become better aquatinted.
I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here. We’ve walked different paths through the last two years so, our experiences and views will vary greatly. For some, it’s been no big deal, and for others, like me, it’s been a white knuckle ride. We’ve both done whatever we’ve had to do to survive, and now…Now what?
The doctor’s appointment wasn’t a big deal. I got my driving legs back quickly. I made it home tired but safe. Overwhelmed, mentally stimulated, and emotionally exhausted. But there was one thought that bounced around my head. When did normal become so strange?
That’s what it’s become for me. A dreamlike fantasy that I visit when I have to and then hurry back to my hidey-hole. There’s still a pandoodle going on, and my body will still betray me the first chance it gets. I can’t risk it even though I take all the precautions when I’m out there. How can I be normal with all of that going on? Can I be normal, or is that a fairytale I once lived?
I did realize one thing on this strange odyssey. I’ve missed being a normal person who had normal things to do. Things like navigating rush hour traffic and cursing out certain types of cars. There’s nothing more normal than a doctor’s appointment.
I’ve missed it, but I don’t know if I’m ready to throw myself back into normalcy. I know I can’t, not entirely, but even if it was a choice? In all honesty, after the last couple of years, I don’t think my life will ever be the same kind of normal it used to be. That’s not a bad thing. Normal is fine, but what if we’re not meant to live a normal life? What if you and I are supposed to do more, be more, than normal?
I wonder what life would look like if we strived to be unconventional? Oo, that just gave me a jolt of anxiety. I think I might be pushing myself a little far too fast. It was one day of peculiarity. Don’t let it go to your head, okay? Yeah, your right… But what if?
You’ve always been more than normal to me.
But what do I know?
I’m a tall blue flamingo in a red hat.
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Normal is a highly localized concept. You do you.
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