Santa came this year

In the holiday season for the past several years, I’ve experienced a moment: The moment when I know that Santa came.

I know that may seem a silly thing for someone of Jewish heritage and Wiccan practice to say. And to make it clear: I’m not talking about the tendency for Santa to show up at Yule parties or Wiccan rituals that I attend (though somehow he and I are never in the same room at the same time). I feel it nonetheless: a moment when I feel that people have been generous and kind towards me.

It has nothing to do with gifts. People keep giving me gifts, despite my protests and my general tendency not to give gifts at this time of year. I appreciate what I receive, but I keep telling people: Don’t give me “stuff.” If you’ve been to my place, you know I’ve got enough “stuff.” I value people and company and laughter and companionship more than I value “stuff.”

When Santa comes, it’s a feeling of warmth and togetherness and satisfaction.

Normally, that moment comes when I’m spending time with the family of a friend of mine. For over a decade, this friend has invited me to join her family on both Christmas Eve and for Christmas dinner. I listen to their conversations, which of course are pretty much the same every year, and the mood hits me: Santa is here.

This year was different. If you’re reading this blog post, you probably know that I’ve been sidelined by a medical problem. It kept me in the hospital for a week; it’s likely to keep me home-bound for several more weeks. I can’t travel. Even going up one flight of stairs to check my mail is a challenge.

This year, I didn’t have to go anywhere to find Santa. Santa came to me. Friends visited me in the hospital, even arranging a small Yule feast. Friends continue to visit me at home, to play games, help with household chores that are now difficult for me, or just to hang out.

All I can say is that it felt like Santa. I’m grateful to each and every one of you for the support you’ve given me.

I also have to acknowledge that the holiday season will pass. My recovery will stretch on. I’m not going to get this kind of special treatment indefinitely. Still, the memory of this time and this season and the feeling of Santa will linger and, I hope, see me through the weeks to come.

Again, thank you all.

“Give him six.”

A addendum to my last post:

he Doctor said I should be given some ibuprofen. The Hostess found a bottle. The Doctor asked, “How many milligrams of ibuprofen are in each pill?” The Hostess looked at the label. “200 milligrams.” “Give him six.”

So the Hostess gave me six pills and I swallowed them down. The Doctor was tending my back and didn’t watch this. It wasn’t until later, when six hours had passed and we discussing the next dose, that it became clear: When the Doctor said “Give him six,” she meant “six hundred milligrams” not “six pills.” Fortunately, my kidneys didn’t power-eject from my body or whatever happens due to an excess of ibuprofen.

The lesson: Make sure everyone providing medical care is speaking the same language!

Pain and fantasy

Last Saturday, I was at the home of a friend of mine. Call her the Hostess. The reason for the visit was to meet with Melissa Dinwiddie. She’s an artist, musician, and creative consultant. I was there to attend a workshop Melissa was giving on how to encourage creativity.

About a half-hour into the workshop there’s a bathroom break. I go to the bathroom on the second floor. On the way down, I slipped on the staircase and fell down about half a story. If this had been one of those old silent movies, or an action-adventure film, I’m sure this would have looked comical — on film. In reality, when I got to the bottom of the stairwell I was screaming. Everyone rushed over to help me. I was in so much pain that it took me a minute or so before I recovered enough composure to make sure I could still move my legs.

Fortunately, another one of the guests at the workshop was a physician. Let’s call her the Doctor.[1] She tended to my immediate needs (“No! Do not try to get up!”, cold packs, hot packs, etc.). While I was still lying on the floor, I requested that Melissa start the workshop again. It was important to me at that moment that my accident did not steal the focus of why the others were there.

The Doctor remained at my side. Eventually I was able to stand, walk to a chair, and participate in the workshop again. However, I was still in pain. The Doctor told me that, at minimum, I’d sprained my lower back and bruised my coccyx. I chose to try to drive back home that evening. I was OK for the first part of the drive, but towards the end it got really painful.[2]

Unfortunately, since then I’ve not gotten better. My lower back aches more, and the coccyx pain reasserts itself if I either stand or sit for too long (even with pillows). I’m only pain-free if I’m lying down. Ibuprofen (which I’m not supposed to take) and naproxen (which the Doctor told me would do nothing) don’t work.

So I’ve spent most of the past two days lying in my sofa and watching TV. I have an appointment to see a back specialist this Thursday morning. I can hold out until then. Fortunately, they’re being very understanding at work. So that’s one-half this post’s title.

What about the other half? As I was sitting on the floor, the Doctor start massaging my lower back to relieve the muscle tension. The Hostess joined her. The Hostess and the Doctor are very attractive women, whom I’ve known for years. If I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I’ve thought about them rubbing my back before, though not under these circumstances.[3]

So I hereby give Melissa a pull quote for her workshop: “I attended Melissa Dinwiddie’s workshop, and my fantasy came true!”[4]

[1] By now it’s obvious that I’m concealing some names to protect their privacy. You may speculate on their identities if you wish. It’s OK to ask, “Hostess Who?”

[2] Yes, there’s a pun in there somewhere.

[3] “Rubbing my back” sounds like a euphemism. It actually means that my fantasies are rather dull.

[4] Your mileage may vary.