The Hammock and The Maple Tree

Sometimes it takes a kidney infection – well a UTI to be more precise to corner you — or land you on a hammock.  This is where I find myself today with spasms of pain growing more intense in my left side.

The last time I recall having a UTI, I was a senior in college.  I called in to work to say that I couldn’t walk, could barely make it to the phone to call out.  I was met with a snarky manager asking me if I’d be in the next day.  I told him I wouldn’t be back. Ever.  It felt like I was dying and quitting my $7.50 job seemed to be a logical response to the pain that nearly had me toppled over in pain.

I spent the next few hours calling every healthcare provider in the county (PA).  None would take me because when my father died a few months prior, so did my insurance plan.  I have credit cards, I have cash. I’ll even donate one of my kidneys once you heal them. None would take me.  I called my boyfriend (the one who is now my husband) and he drove the forty-five minutes to my apartment, took me back to his county (as I cried actual tears in the passenger seat of my jeep) and took me to his Dr. It ended up that I was probably a day away from being admitted to a hospital.  It was bad.  The visit and the medicine cost hundreds of dollars.  I put it on my credit card. It took days before I could stand up right again.

So when the faint, yet familiar symptoms came to me last week, I did what seemed the smartest thing — I ignored them.  It’s summer. I’m busy.  I’m preparing to take a last minute trip. I can’t get sick right now.  I. Can’t.                                      But I did.

When my Dr. asked me why I was at his office, I told him it was because I had an UTI.  He looked at the results of test and told me that women know their bodies better than anyone else — they’re almost always right.  It’s true. Nine times out of ten, I tell the Dr. what my diagnosis is and he agrees (usually based on medical education and test results) and gives me my meds.  So why then, do I wait until I am in so much pain, that I find myself lying on a hammock in the 90 degree heat wishing I had a pet monkey who could fetch me a cold a beverage and a hot compress?

Being sick in August isn’t all bad though.  I need to reiterate that I am sitting on a hammock beneath a giant maple.  I want to name this tree, give thanks to it for holding up me and my hammock, but I don’t know it’s name.  I can’t very well give it a new name if one already exists.  I also want to keep this tree happy, because I suspect that a broken branch which hangs directly above me could  easily be dropped on top of me – making my achey kidney the least of my troubles. I’m grateful for this tree and I’m already wondering what I will do come winter, when I can’t lay beneath it and read my books or listen to my music.  This reminds me that we’ve had a good summer.  Sufficient rain, but mostly sunny days.  People have been complaining about the rain which baffles me.  They must not tend gardens or else, like me they’d have noticed the rain when the gardens needed watering.  Realized that most of the weekends this summer have been perfectly sunny and not too hot.  But people tend to forget — especially those without gardens.

In addition to noticing the wonderful weather, my kidney has caused me to halt in my tracks.  I slept most of an entire weekend.  A perfectly sunny, gorgeous weekend. Saturdays are grocery, baseball or soccer, house cleaning, laundry, dog walking and endless errand days.  But this past Saturday, I crawled into a pile of fresh laundry on my bed and SLEPT.  Then on Sunday, I did the same (minus the laundry which ended up balled into a pile in the basket). I even read an entire book (The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman) on my hammock.

My body had enough of my crap.  Enough of my busyness.

Monday, I went to the Dr., bought an Italian ice, drank cranberry juice and slept some more.  Then I rewrote a chapter of my novel.  A pivotal chapter that I’ve spent months on, because with a well rested body, a bit of meds, and a head that wasn’t concerned about the dishes in the sink, I managed to create. And do it like a bad-ass too.

But more than anything, when I get sick, I realize how terrible I would be at it long term.  It’s hard to sit still.  Hard to do the things that I love, like a spend a whole day reading a book.  It usually means I’m taking time away from something else.  My family. My house. My novel.  On the other hand it seems like a good reminder that if I don’t slow down (at least a little) I might very well be sick long term.

Anyway, a few more days on the hammock beneath the maple and a few more books and I hopefully, I will be good as new.

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