Thursday, January 16 2020
clinics, pinball machines, and cardboard boxes

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! I hope you’re staying warm today. This is one of those mornings where I feel like I woke up on the frozen planet of Hoth - that ice planet from Empire Strikes Back. We’re in the single digits of temperature, and you can feel the brutal cold and dryness in the air, even in doors. Today I put on my biggest, warmest hoodie, because I get the feeling I’m going to need it.

This morning I’m feeling pretty good in both mind and body. I saw a doctor yesterday. After attending stand-up remotely from home, we packed up the car and headed to the doctor’s office. A nurse checked my weight and blood pressure. I think now I’m at the age where I’m just waiting for my blood pressure to become a problem, but evidently yesterday was not the day. I was still 120 over 80 on the nose. I gave a sigh of relief.

When the doctor entered the examination room, his incredible stature caught me off guard. He must have been seven feet tall, and he practically had to clamber into the room through the regular size door. He chatted with me, and explained that he was a “DOD” doctor of osteopathy and specialized in spine manipulation. I told him about my history, when I get spasms, and what makes them worse. He spent a few minutes feeling around my back while I lied face down on the table. “I think these are the guys that are spasming,” he said touching the tender muscles on my back right behind my rib cage. He gently pushed them to the left and to the right. “That’s actually causing a bit of pain, and it’s reminiscent of what a back spasm feels like, if that makes any sense.”

He offered to set up another appointment for a full back manipulation treatment. He explained that unlike occupation therapy or physical therapy, these treatments are things you only need to get occasionally when flair ups occur, like after the holidays or a long road trip. This delighted me. More OT appointments would be disappointing, and I was happy to learn about this new track.

So things are looking up in the back spasm front. I have an appointment two weeks from now, and in the meantime he told me to pick up some magnesium, which may also help with the spasms. “People usually take it to help with constipation, so you may get some diarrhea at first.” Later in the car, Marissa and I joked, “just keep eating bowls of magnesium and ibuprofen until you get diarrhea, then taper off a bit,” teasing at the young Doctor’s cavalier attitude toward dosage.

All throughout the appointment, Rodney wriggled on Marissa’s lap, seemingly giving up on the back pack full of toys we brought. Rodney sat in Marissa’s lap, her arms holding him still like a vice grip, and his toys scattered on the floor.

We collected Rodney’s toys, then jumped in the car to find somewhere to eat. We had driven by the Ale Asylum on the way to the clinic, and the empty parking lot and promise of good beer beckoned me. As we entered and found a table in the back, the room full of pinball machines caught Rodney’s eye, and he asked to go check ‘em out. “Maybe after we eat, dude,” I advised.

After a few sips of beer, my phone rang. The hospital said that we had left some toys in the examination room. I laughed, “OK, thanks for letting us know, we’ll swing by after lunch.”

It felt good to sit somewhere and chat. Marissa and I griped about the appetizers we ordered. “Do you find it odd that they would season the chips served with salsa?” I asked, holding up one of the taco chips liberally dusted with paprika and chipotle. “Just put all this seasoning in the salsa, right?” Marissa laughed. “You should taste the fries,” she added.

We finished eating our lunch, and having some beer left I decided to take Rodney over to the pinball machines. Marissa slipped us some change before we left. I let Rodney select a machine. He chose a pinball machine that was monster themed, prominently featuring a very busty lady dracula on the front, but he seemed oblivious. We played a few rounds of pinball. “I’ve got more dollars in my purse,” said Marissa. “I’m sure if we wanted to we could stay here all day.” I thought about how much fun it would be to spend an entire day playing pinball. “We need to make that happen sometime,” I said.

We swung by the clinic, where they had Rodney’s forgotten truck and helicopter neatly zipped in a biological sample bag. The packaging would have made you think the toys were toxic or something, and that made me laugh as the nurse handed them to me. We headed home, and Rodney watched water slide videos on the couch while I worked. He went down for a nap, I worked the rest of the afternoon, and soon I went down for a nap too. My nap was glorious. As I drifted off to sleep upstairs, I committed to making Wednesday naps a priority.

I woke around 6:30, when I emerged to start heating up leftovers in the kitchen. I played some music and plated up some leftover fazool, a pork chop, some sliced salmon, toast, and some cut up gruyere. Watching my family quietly, but ravenously eat dinner after a deep nap kind of reminded me of the opening scene in Alien when the crew is wolfing down breakfast after emerging from their sleep pods.

After dinner, we let Rodney play for an hour while I caught up on chores and practiced Dutch. Rodney’s bedtime filibustering was at an all time high last night. He stretched out bedtime by 45 minutes, between asking for water, asking to go potty, and asking to be tucked in (as well as all the other animals that sleep in his room). Finally, once he ran out of late night time wasters, Marissa and I were free to start working on the basement.

We attacked another corner, sorting things into garbage, good will, and things that belonged elsewhere. It was hard work, but it felt good.

Outside, I piled all of Marissa’s extra cardboard boxes so they could be recycled. I joked that I was staging an intervention for her cardboard box addiction, which would take place after we finished cleaning. She rolled her eyes.

After loading up the car with things to discard and donate, we crashed on the couch. I brought two opened beers, so clearly I was not planning on moving from my spot on the couch any time soon. Muscles aching, feet throbbing, it felt so good to sit on the couch, drink beer, and finish watching Alien.

That’s what I got today. Hope you have a wonderful day.