Tender Loving Care

Well, it turns out that I have tendinitis. This is not, as they say, a particularly promising development in my life.

I have no idea how I developed tendinitis in the first place. I haven’t smacked any particularly aggressive volleyballs, or experienced an unlikely bout of push-ups, or engaged in defensive measures against a random assault, or, even more dramatically, picked up any unexpectedly heavy packages. The rather more mundane story is that I woke up one day with the inability to move my wrist without screeching in pain like a little girl. This is a situation that leaves many ludicrous theories to the imagination, most involving night terrors, Kerryesque thrashing, or alien interference in my bedtime schedule.

For a while I thought I could manage it—like I manage all of my life’s problems—with a deft mixture of ibuprofen, willpower, and Diet Pepsi. Usually after an hour or two of waking up the pain would subside and I would go about my daily routine of avoiding work, only this time I had convinced myself I had a legitimate excuse for doing so beyond being lazy. Then, when I was ready to go to sleep at night, it would start to hurt again.

Alas, as time progressed, the window of time in which the pain dissipated got smaller and smaller until they met, a cataclysmic event paralleled only in history to the time the neighbor’s dog rammed his snout in my crotch as a gesture of unexpected goodwill. So I broke down and did what I spend a large amount of my personal resources avoiding to do on a daily basis, and voluntarily entered a medical establishment.

Thankfully, the ER wasn’t busy and I was waited on promptly. The doctors at the emergency room did a good job, of course, but they still displayed to me, as they always do, the standard air of disapproval that all medical personnel give me. They can read guilt, like a nun or a Democrat, and register the same amount of condemnation on me as someone who commits venal sloth or supports offshore oil drilling.
And no one was more disapproving than the nurses. I have a deep-seated fear of nurses—a Pandora’s box of psychological issues that some poor therapist will some day unlock, along with the reason that I’m scared of the smell the furnace makes when it first kicks on in the fall for the year—and so the nurses looked at me with disbelieving incredulity. “Are you sure you don’t remember what happened?” they would say, like the grandmother holding a baseball in front of the neighbor’s broken window. “You don’t remember picking something heavy up? Pushing something harder than you thought? Beating your wife?” If my trip to the hospital were a cartoon, it would show the phrase “tsk, tsk” somewhere in the panel. Also, the nurse would be hot and quite possibly Asian.

While there was significant worry, mostly on my part, that I had managed to get a hairline fracture or the beginnings of carpal tunnel syndrome, X-rays displayed nothing. The doctor determined it was a mild inflammation of the tendons in the wrist, and prescribed a healthy dose of getting your act together. And Motrin. And a huge, white, Lode Runner-style bandage to keep me from flailing my arms in the air like I just don’t, uh, care.

The worst part, of course, is trying to engage in everyday activities with my non-dominant arm. Carrying groceries is a minor chore only occasionally punctuated by rampant profanity, and doing things such as, oh, I don’t know, typing a 800-word column required periodic rests with refreshing beverages and nice, relaxing episodes of Dexter.

Of course, having tendinitis has its advantages, too. There is an almost infinite amount of pity that can be farmed out of a ten dollar Ace bandage wrapped around your forearm. Every marginally cute girl approaches me with a standard “awww…” as if I were a lost puppy or a pile of designer shoes instead of a passive-aggressive slacker. (Of course, there may be some psychologically repressed tension that this is an obvious cry for someone to take care of me, but we’ll let Pandora keep the earned interest on that one.) Also, I can get out of doing menial work with a sorry look on my face and pointing wordlessly and lamentably to my forearm.

And, as everyone remembers with my Sudafed and Benadryl debacles, even standard drugs such as Motrin screw with me. While I can’t claim to any acid trips or conversations with fluorescent witch doctors on my floating sponge travelling the circumference of the earth, I have been rather cloudy-headed, and my decision-making process appears to be lacking. (“Hey! Hey you, the hot Asian chick! Are you a nurse? Can you borrow a uniform from one of your nurse friends? Don’t lie to me, I was in ‘Nam!”)

Still, though, I can’t quite wait to get this over with. Even as I feel it getting slightly less painful to move, moving through life with one operable hand is kind of a pain. At any rate, I’ll have a week or two to come up with some comparable excuse to not be able to function like a normal human being. It certainly can’t be more difficult than typing this many damn words.

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