Separate, but Equal
Sometimes I lull myself into believing that I am invincible. I'm of a certain age (don't ask...okay, it's 40 something--NOT) hearty and healthy, and boy can I rock a mean pigeon, side plank or a down dog split. But. Even though I immerse myself in my community, work hard to stay ahead of the curve in my job, and chase after my youth each and every day, who am I kidding, really? Healthy living is a choice, but it's not an answer to all the scaries out there.
One of those scaries, I have to admit, is Alzheimer's disease. Who's not? There was a segment on the news the other day about new studies that can identify early symptoms. Oh my God, I just wanted to cover my ears and my eyes and walk away. But, I didn't. Instead I was drawn like a moth to hear the whole thing.
The smell test. Did you know they now test people to see how measurably far a jar of peanut butter has to be before its smell can be detected by the patient? (They even hauled out a ruler!) As I sat there and watched, the undeniable scent of my big old golden retriever was wafting itself into my olfactory glands! Thank God! So. We'll check that off dog beats peanut butter any day.
Then there was the celebrity face test, but I'm saying this upfront now, don't ever count on that for me. I have no clue, and never had, I am a paparazzi's nightmare. That kind of staring at other people's lives is just too embarrassing for me.
But on a somewhat other note, I showed up very apprehensive with a head full of knowledge for my Meniscus surgery the other day. I'd been all over Web MD, asked questions of the PA in my doctor's office, and even canvased people in Starbuck's or anyone I met along the way.
Me? I have a husband in a wheelchair, a giant dog, and a house I'm taking care of these days. I dug and planted for a week, and I had all kinds of company. I was ahead of the curve, and even though Tom (in the wheelchair) and me on foot would after the procedure look like a train wreck leaving that place, I was not aware that there could be worse.
In walks Willy. Willy was about 80ish, very short and a bit plump and bald with his belt pulled all the way up to his chest. He had on his gray velcro sneakers and two men following him. He, like me, went up to the window. And like me he was asked to show his license and insurance card. That's where the comparison ends.
Willy fumbled through his wallet for what seemed like an awfully long time. The one man, about perhaps five years younger and cranky, his brother, I think said "He doesn't know what the hell he's looking for." The other, younger, well dressed, casual business style jumped right in (a nephew, I think). So here's Willy, who was called Will by the woman (wife to cranky) who came in from the parking lot to save him--he's guided to a seat and told he's number 7 (I'm number 6). Willy and his entourage now stretch to 4.
He pulls out a scratchy paper towel from a men's room somewhere and attempts to wipe his nose. The woman, who was kinder thank God, tells him, "Will, you need a soft tissue to take care of that." Willy/Will/Number 7 sits there and looks at her. He knows he's supposed to respond. But...hmmm. Nothing.
When they call number 6, I hop up, and leave Tom to watch this unfold. I think about Willy, and I forget to worry about me. That is a very good thing.
Next thing I know, I'm waking up in the recovery room, and guess who's next to me? It's Willy of course; and now the doctor comes in and the nurses are making a big fuss over him. They ask him his name and he answers right away. And if he's had what I had, I know the black curtain inside my mind has not totally cleared. But, he pipes right up,"Bill," he says! And I can just hear the delight in his voice.
Bill. If everyone just asked me my name.
So here we were, Bill and I, numbers 7 and 6 with a hanging sheet dangling between our personal lives. I loved that man for the window he opened, and today, almost a week later, while I'm hobbling around, I'm wondering if #7 is doing any better than me! We may be worlds apart, but we all perk up with a little attention to our humanness and that one single word that we all love to hear, our name.