No Guilt Nonni


Oh, my. Poor Nonni.

If you’ve read my recent post about snow tubing, you’ll know that I have a pretty badly bruised right arm and some cracked or bruised ribs.

This is, without a doubt, my biggest ever “ouchie”. I am finding it very hard to sleep (did you know that you need your thoracic ribs to roll over?), to laugh (holy chest pain), to sneeze (catch me, I’m going to faint) or to cough (I’m going to throw up, I mean it, get that bucket, I am serious!)

My right arm just keeps swelling, getting more and more purple/black/orange/blue/yellow with every passing hour.

Me no likies. Me wicked sore.

Nevertheless, being Nonni, I agreed to watch the kids yesterday. My daughter stepped up on Tuesday, so I did get a whole day of rest after my big tubing adventure.

But after that, I really wanted to see the kids. I missed them! I needed them! So yesterday I took care of my two grandchildren. I wanted them. I needed to be with them.

And I wanted to prove that I could handle a little ol’ tubing crash without missing a beat.

So I lifted Johnny with my left arm (ouch. I didn’t know my ribs would be so connected). I snuggled Ellie on my lap (Yikes, did you know your ribs were connected to your lap?) I changed some diapers and served some meals and some snacks. I helped Johnny climb into his crib for a nap (oh, man, ribs are used for lifting on the other side?), but I had to lift him out when he woke up (ouch, ow, ow, ouw).

You get the picture, right?

One cannot Nonni with only one working arm.

Last night I woke up every time I tried to 1) roll over 2) cough 3) breathe. Every rib I have ever met seemed to be screaming at me.

When I got up this morning, I was surprised (and completely disgusted) to see that my entire right arm was swollen like a sausage.

Yuck.

But what could a Nonni do? I got up, took my shower without looking at the ugly purple appendage on my right, and got ready to take care of the kids.

I tried. I did.

But.

You cannot wrestle an 18 month old boy out of his poopie clothes and into his clean ones without your ribs. You can’t snuggle a sad 3 year old in your arms without using your right arm. No matter how hard you try, you can’t wipe down two wet dogs with one working arm. You can’t make pasta, or a sandwich, or get a snack for three hungry toddlers without dragging that aching right arm into service.

So.

I did it.

I did what no self-respecting Italian Nonni would ever do.

I asked for help.

I texted my daughter, telling her that I wasn’t able to keep the kids safe with my one working arm. I told her that she needed to come home from work early, and that I didn’t think I should have the kids tomorrow.

I felt breathless with guilt. I felt weak, worthless, upset, guilty.

And then my daughter came home.

“Mom,” she said calmly, “You’re hurt. You can’t watch the kids. It’s fine.”

And just like that, the guilt and weakness and oh-poor-me lifted off of me.

Tomorrow I plan to sit still, with ice on my arm. I plan to read. I plan to take my ibuprofen and use my ice packs.

Tomorrow I will be Boo-Boo Nonni instead of Super Nonni. And I will be OK with that.

It isn’t easy, let me tell you, but even an Italian Nonni can find a way to give her swollen purple arm and her smashed up ribs a chance to heal.

Thanks, Kate!!!

This was the first night….you should see how gross it is now…….

Jeez, what a jerk


close up me

Do you ever have those days when you know, with absolute certainty, that you are a big fat jerk?

I do.

More often than I like, actually.

I mean, I try to be a good person. I try to be kind, to be generous, to be welcoming. I do. I try.

But sometimes in the middle of a visit or a social event, I step back just long enough (like 2 seconds) to listen to myself, and I have to think, “Oh, my God. What a JERK.”

Sometimes it’s because I’m not listening well enough. Sometimes I catch myself doing that awful, selfish thing. I sorta, kinda listen to the other person just because I’m dying for the other person to pause so I can respond.

Awful.

And then there is the whole “I know everything” syndrome from which I have suffered for years. I HATE people who answer every comment with how much more they know about everything than I do.

No kidding. I can’t STAND that. I mean, maybe I mention something about making homemade ravioli and the other person immediately jumps into a long lecture about the proper ratio of semolina to whole wheat flour. It does not matter if that person lived in Tuscany for a year studying under a master chef. It still just plain pisses. me. off.

So why do I do the same thing to my own friends and family?

I don’t know.

The other day I had a rare and very treasured visit from two family members. Two wonderful women who I’ve loved for 40 years. Women who are kind, smart, funny, loving, and (thankfully) forgiving. We started to talk about the medical issues that face us in middle age. You know, aches, pains, insomnia….I should have listened. I should have asked how they were feeling. I should have commiserated and made supportive sounds.

Instead I launched into a stupid lecture about medical treatments, benzodiazepine dependence and the benefits of cannabis butter.

Seriously?

Even as the words were flowing like a backed up sink right out of my big mouth, I was thinking, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!!!!”

Sigh.

I guess its a good thing to recognize my weaknesses and personal foibles. That way I can a) keep myself awake for three nights in a row telling myself that I’m a horrible person and am totally undeserving of friends and b) work toward being a better listener, friend, relative.

It also helps to put these thoughts into a little blog that is rarely read. That way I’ve thrown it out there, given it to the universe and possibly garnered a few supportive comments.

BUT: tell me the truth! Don’t you just HATE those know it all types?

 

Is This Healthy? Or Am I Kidding Myself?


The thing about summer is that all of the veggies are amazing.

Right?

It’s July now. So I can drive up the street to the local farmstand where I can buy fresh, buttery lettuce, fresh peas, tomatoes still warm from the sun, cucumbers that are as crisp as breadsticks.

I can run up to the weekly farmer’s market and get garlic scapes, fresh spring onions, tender, fresh kale.

I can go home and microwave some beets, then cool them and mix them into all those fresh, tender greens with a bit of goat cheese.

Holy delicious.

I am the healthiest eater in the world from June through October.

But does all that delicious green goodness buy me extra time on this earth if I refuse to touch salad in the winter?

I mean, I try. Every single year, I try to eat salad in the winter. I buy grocery store lettuce (bitter!) and grocery store cukes (flabby!) and grocery store tomatoes (tasteless!).  And they sit in the fridge until they begin to liquify, at which point I give up until the following summer.

So am I still healthy if I sort of stock up for six months? Can I still call myself a healthy eater if I only eat roasted carrots, beets, potatoes through the fall? Is it still a good veggie side dish if it’s roasted butternut squash with butter and real maple syrup?

My theory is that New Englanders learned to eat a whole pile of greens all summer (I DO!). And then they learned to preserve summer veggies like corn and tomatoes and beans (I DO THAT, TOO!) so in the winter they could eat pig fat while telling themselves “Well, at least we have veggies put up in the old root cellar.” (YUP, THAT’S ME.)

The early New England settlers managed to survive without eating hothouse tomatoes. They didn’t die of scurvy just because they refused to eat hothouse kale.

And I won’t either.

Right?

By shucking the corn and taking the peas out of their pods all spring and summer, I am earning my way into ‘healthy eater’s heaven’, aren’t I?

I love summer food. The peaches, the cherry tomatoes, the ripe berries all over the yard. I love it. I could forage all summer on the garden delights that surround me, as long as I could get a free pass to eat pork and butter my bread all winter long.

What do you think?

Am I delusional, or can I really save up my health points before the cold New England nights set in once again?

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What the absolute f*ck?


I know. That’s just such an improper headline. I know.

But my sister Liz showed me the most hilarious little video that had that as the punch line, and now its in my head.

And when I tell you what has happened to me in the past week, you will also feel the need to say that same phrase.

Really.

Let’s begin three weeks ago, more or less.

I realized that every now and then, when I sipped my nice hot espresso, my lower left molar would go into a screaming fit of pain. My mouth would fill with saliva and my left cheekbone would start to feel like someone was jamming a hot spike into it.

Now, I am not stupid.

The fourth or fifth time that happened, I realized that I needed to call the dentist. So….a week or so after I realized that I needed to call, I looked up the number.

A few days later, with “call the dentist” at the top of my To Do list, I started to notice the same hot spike feeling if I ate something cold. Or sweet.

So I called.

See? I am not an idiot. I called the dentist and I got an appointment for three weeks later.

Yay, me!

This past weekend I went down to Pennsylvania with my sister Liz, who is better than I am at everything. I love her in spite of her awesomeness, and the two of us laughed our way down the  highways toward Lewisburg Pa, where we were going to meet our brand new great niece.

On the way, we stopped for coffee.

I was driving. Liz was looking at the map and chatting away. I took a good deep swig of the hot coffee and I felt the entire left side of my head explode.

My left eye watered as I drove. My heart hammered in my chest. My vocal cords made an involuntary “eh-eh-eh” sound.

I needed to have my tooth yanked out. But I kept driving.

After a half hour or so, the pain faded down to a dull roar. All was well. I knew I could make it another week before my appointment.

Liz and I went to Pennsylvania. We met our gorgeous little great niece and we celebrated with her wonderful parents. It was so so sweet! And my jawbone cooperated without having a screaming fit, so I was very happy.

Last night I got home, and unpacked and chatted with Paul. I went off to bed feeling happy and relaxed.

Hahaha. Silly, silly me.

As I went to bed, I popped in the little rubber mouth guard that I’ve been using for the past 5 years. It stops me from grinding my teeth and breaking all my molars. It’s not a big deal.

I fell asleep and had a lovely dream about the new baby.

Then I woke up. It was 3 AM. Something seemed off.

As I came more fully into consciousness, I noticed that the tip of my tongue felt very very strange. It felt like sandpaper. It felt like a bloated balloon. It felt like a big, bloated, sandpapered balloon.

I ran the scratchy balloon across my lower lip.

What. The. Hell.

My lower lip was just wrong.

I got up, fumbling for my phone to give me some light. I stumbled to the bathroom and quietly closed the door so I wouldn’t wake Paul up. I turned on the light, and made my way to the mirror.

Holy horrific images!

There was a face looking back at me. Its eyes were ringed with wrinkled, puffy sacks. Its gray hair was standing up in tufts all over its head. It had a big nose and a HUGE, pendulous, swollen lower lip hanging out over its chin.

It was my scary, creepy Uncle Salvatore staring back at me from my bathroom mirror.

The shriek that came out of that mouth would have roused the dead.

Luckily, I realized that the sound was coming from me, and that the distorted face was the result of some kind of crazy allergic reaction. I pulled out the mouth guard, took a long cold drink of water, and tried to think of what to do.

My mouth was burning, swollen, itchy and numb at the same time. I took a Claritin and some herbal antihistamines. I laid back down in my bed.

I tried to sleep, but my giant lip kept finding its way between my teeth. Finally I dozed and I woke to another day.

I have no idea why my body decided to react to the mouthguard after all these years. I have no idea why my lip turned into a giant raw wound filled with hot coals. I don’t know if any of this is related to the nerve in my lower jaw that definitely needs to be removed as soon as possible.

All I know is that as I stood in front of my bathroom mirror in the middle of the night with my gigantic lip throbbing in pain, all I could think of was the final line of that video Liz shared with me.

“What the absolute f*ck?” could be my motto today.

What am I supposed to do with the world’s biggest lower lip?

 

Oh, Brassicas!


Bacon-Radish-Brussel-Sprouts-1-Watermark

Oh, how I love being the Mother of children who cook!  Its so rewarding to hear my three grown kids discussing the various ways to prepare incredibly healthy foods! All of them buy local, sustainable, GMO free organic foods whenever they can.  All three of them cook those foods and eat them with great pleasure and an awareness of the health benefits of what they are consuming.

I’m so proud of them!

In fact, I’m so proud of them that when I realized that both of my sons would be heading home this weekend to complete their tax forms, I decided that I should probably cook something local, organic, sustainable and wicked delicious.   So I defrosted a big pork roast, from a farm about 5 miles away.  As a fairly recent convert to fresh, organic pork, all I can tell you is YUMMMMMMMM.  Yum, Yum, super yum, holy yummification factor, wow, YUM.    I love these fresh pork roasts.  So. Much.

And I decided that I should also roast up a big pan of local, delicious, fresh veggies.  Like the red onion, the fingerling potatoes and the crisp fresh carrots that I got from our local food source last month.

But I also decided to add a big pile of brussel sprouts to the roasting pan.  Because my son Matt told me a couple of weeks ago that he “loves all of the brassicas”.

Yep.  The little boy who wouldn’t eat a grilled cheese unless it was served on a glass plate and cut on the diagonal, that little boy, “loves all of the brassicas.”  The child who refused to eat green beans or fresh tomato, that boy has grown up to be the king of roasted parsnips, brussel sprouts and cabbages.

So I tossed a huge pile of wonderful veggies in olive oil and flavored salt. I added some herbs from last summer’s garden, and popped it all into the oven with the incredible roast.

And everyone came for dinner.  My daughter and her husband and our beautiful baby Ellie, and both of our sons.  All gathered in the house for a wonderful dinner, for laughter and music and good conversation.

It was just what this Momma needed! Nothing is sweeter than seeing my children together, seeing them happy, seeing them with the baby.  My heart was full to bursting!

And after they left, and the table was all cleaned up, Paul and I went out onto the deck, to relax in our hot tub.  We gazed at the beautiful stars, and listened to the wind in the pines. We talked softly about how blessed we feel to have such happy and loving young adults as our children. We soaked in the hot water, feeling our muscles relax and our minds fill with peace.

And we stepped out of the hot water, and into the warmth of our home.

Where we were greeted by the lingering dirty diaper smell of roasted brassicas on the air. We looked at each other, our noses wrinkled.  “What the?????” Paul asked.  I hurriedly lit a lilac scented candle and opened the kitchen window.

Phew.

I know that no matter what I do to counteract it, we will smell the uniquely sulphurous aroma of roasted sprouts all night.  There will be no escape.

My only hope is that as I come awake at 3 AM to the unpleasant reek, I will roll over and murmur to myself, “I love having kids who can cook.”

Holy Brassicas.

Next time I’m going to make some frozen corn.

 

Feeling my age


Sadie, aging far more gracefully that some of us.

Sadie, aging far more gracefully that some of us.

Ya know, it could be the imminent arrival of my granddaughter into this world.  Or it could be the fact that my last haircut revealed that the salt outnumbers the pepper up there.

Maybe its the fact that I overestimated my ability to chop, prune, weed, mow and mulch.  Or it could be that I tried to clean out one too many closets this week.

Not sure what happened, but I woke up yesterday and realized that I feel like I’ve been run over by a cement truck.  I feel about 200 years old.

You name the body part, it hurt.  My posture looked remarkably like a question mark.

It hurt enough to keep me awake last night.  So I got up at midnight and took two ibuprofin.  Laid back down.  Twenty minutes later, my achy/nauseous stomach got me back up for some Tums.  Laid back down.  Neck hurt.  Got an ice pack.  Laid back down.  Dozed.

I must have fallen asleep, because I was yanked awake when my right calf turned into a giant ball of searing pain and I had to jump up and flex my foot.

Sigh.

I love summer.  I love the green yard, the gorgeous blossoms, the warm air. I love the smell of cut grass.

But my aging carcass is beginning to long for a nice cool rainy day where I’d be forced to sit still in my recliner and doze while the soup simmers on the stove.

I must be getting old.

 

Shots and Shots


Wow.

The entire country is up in arms about the recent measles outbreak.  And for good reason, too!  This disease is a threat to the children of our country, and it can be easily prevented.

We are all absolutely (and justifiably) horrified to think that our fellow Americans would put their own perceived individual rights ahead of the safety of our children.  I mean, really! Who do these people think they are, insisting that they have the right to put our children at risk just because they choose to engage in dangerous behavior! ?

The vast majority of the politicians speaking out about this issue are adamant that a parent does NOT have the right to endanger their own children, much less the right to endanger the rest of society.  I’ve been watching CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS.  I’ve read the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Washington Post.  Everyone out there is shaking their head in dismissive agreement: if you want to take an action or engage in a behavior that puts people at risk, you should be isolated from the rest of us.  No public school for you!  No daycare!

Hillary Clinton spoke out loudly and clearly on this whole thing, did you see it? “The Earth is round, the sky is blue and vaccines work”

Wow.

I get it.  Even though I actually had measles when I was little.  As well as rubella, chicken pox and mumps. I had ’em all.  They were not fun.  I didn’t die, but I know that I was lucky to walk away from all of those diseases unscathed.  And I know that these illnesses should no longer be a threat to our children.

So I say, “You go, media! You go, Hillary!  You go, politicians!”  Way to protect the average American from the threats of those who believe that their individual rights trump our rights to live our lives in relative safety.

Obviously the vast majority of Americans, the media and the political elite are ready to stand up and declare: “Your right to act like a selfish, self serving idiot, your right to behave in a way that is dangerous to the rest of us, is limited by the fact that you are a member of a society!  You have to help keep us ALL safe!”

I can’t wait to see them take on the NRA.

What? A fat THUMB?!


1310261210I swear to God, I am not one of those women who obsesses over my looks.

I’m not.

If I was one of those women, would I really be letting my hair go totally gray before my daughter’s wedding?  Would I be sitting here right now eating all of the leftover Jordan almonds from her shower?

No.  I would not.

I am not vain.

I am a realist.

I understand perfectly well that even though I used to be pretty and svelte and curvy I have now degraded into lumpy but loveable.

The world is far too fixated on physical beauty.  In such a shallow environment, I pride myself on the fact that I am spiritually beautiful.

(Please don’t ask what that means: just work with me here, OK?)

Still, there is a certain level of personal pride that one must maintain.   I remember a long, long, long, long time ago, when I had my first boyfriend.  I drove him home from a drama club rehearsal, and he asked me out on a date.  I was thrilled; at 17, he was an older man, and I almost swooned at the compliment of being asked out by an upperclassman.  Later, after our first dinner and a movie, he told me that he first noticed me when he looked at my “graceful hands” holding the steering wheel of my 1968 Dodge Dart (with the pushbutton transmission).  Holy romance, what a compliment!

I guess I’ve somehow kept those lovely words in mind for the past 40 years, because right now I am in the depths of depression, and its all because of a pair of yellow rubber gloves.

You see, my nails are all split and peeling, and my cuticles are a mess. I like to garden and I really like to shove my hands right straight into the dirt to pull up weeds and to plant the flowers that I just bought.  I love the feel of the earth under my nails.  I love the smell of grass on my hands when I fall asleep.

But I know that gardening with my bare hands makes the whole “graceful hands” thing seem impossible.  So last week I wrote the words “rubber gloves” on my shopping list, and sent my darling husband off to get the groceries.

He came home with every single item that I had requested, so there was no room for even the slightest complaint.

Until I looked at the package of rubber gloves and saw the word “medium” on the box.

Ruh, roh.

I am used to seeing “Large”, “X-large” and even “Jumbo-you-freakin’-whale” on my clothes.  I even have wicked big shoes.  I didn’t think that “medium” would make the grade.  But I didn’t want to complain!

So we ate our dinner and we cleaned up together in companionable silence.  Then I pulled on the “medium gloves”.  Phew! They seemed to fit! Granted, they were more cozy than my old pair had been, but they let me wash the dishes and pans, scrub the broiler and clean the sink, all without exposing my peeling old nails to the hot water.  I was feeling pretty good about life when I finished.  Pretty slim and trim, in my bright yellow latex medium gloves.

Then I turned off the water and tried to take off those cozy gloves.  Nuh, uh.  I couldn’t do it!  My pointer finger slipped out just fine, as did the ring finger, the nasty old middle finger and mister tiny pinky.

It was my thumb that was held hostage to the “medium” rubber coating.  I pulled, I slid, I coaxed. Nothing doing.  My thumb was firmly trapped in the glove.  After trying every trick I could summon, I finally pulled the gloves inside out to free my thumbs.

My obviously way-too-fat thumbs.  My porkie thumbs.

Seriously?

I have come to terms with my jowls, my thighs, my waistline and my prow-of-an-icebreaker-bosom.  Now I have to deal with a wicked fat thumb?

Sigh.

I sort of regret that first compliment from that first boyfriend.

And I really regret not doing the shopping myself last week!

Forgetting how to be sick.


What a completely ridiculous dilemma.   Seriously.  I am 57 years old. I remember how to ride a bike, how to build a fire, how to change a diaper.  Now that I teach fifth grade, I remember how to do long division and how to play “Rock, paper, scissors”.   I remember my age, my birth date, my social security number.

Most of the time, I remember the password that I set up two years ago to get into my bank account.

What I seem to have totally forgotten, though, is how to be sick.

Oh, before you get all huffy on me here, I know I’m not really sick.  But, see, that’s the damn problem!  If you have a fever of 106 and a confirmed diagnosis of pneumonia, you’re all set.  You get to lie in bed and moan for a few days.  You are under no legal obligation to lift one single finger. In fact, you are actively discouraged from doing so.

If you are really sick, you take a day off, and all of your coworkers scramble to cover you.  And you feel: No. Guilt.

Because you are honestly, truly, Marcus-Welby-Said-So Sick.

Lucky you.

I’m not that kind of sick, though.  I just feel really crappy.  And my throat hurts.  And I keep coughing.  And as long as I don’t move too fast or talk to loudly or breathe too deeply, I am sort of almost OK.

But I’m still sick.

And I don’t really seem to remember how to just be sick, you know?

When I was a little kid, being sick with a croupy cough and achy bones meant that you got to sleep really late. You got to stay in bed after everyone else got up and ate breakfast and brushed their teeth and put on their coats and walked the two miles to school.

You got to curl up on the couch in your PJs, with a pillow behind your back and a whole box of nice clean tissues at your side.  You got to eat pastina with butter, or saltines with peanut butter and jelly.  Your mom made you pots of Vicks vaporub to inhale.  You got to lie there like a big fat slug while the day slowly unfurled around you.

When I was a kid, we were allowed to wallow.  And it was awesome.

Now that I am a responsible adult, thought, things have surely changed.

I stayed home sick yesterday.  My chest hurt, my voice was raspy, every cough made me feel as if I was inhaling shards of glass.  I had the chills.  My eyeballs burned and my tonsils ached and my spleen felt kinda funny.

So I called in sick from school. I slept late, if 6:30 is late.  Then I got up, checked my email, read my students’ online essays and wrote comments, walked the dogs, did two loads of laundry, created a math lesson, vaccuumed the house, made some soup, swept the front steps, put away Halloween decorations and made a nice dinner.

At no point did I curl up like a shrimp and refuse to move.  At no time did I demand a bowl of Maltex.  I didn’t sleep or drop tissues on the floor or eat a pile of candy.  I didn’t call the doctor or mix up a secret remedy or even make myself some nice buttery pastina in honor of my Nana.

Nope.

I just went through a nice normal day, acting as if I didn’t feel even a little bit sick. Trying to act as if all was well.  It really actually wasn’t.

And so tonight I am sitting here on my couch, wearing my fuzzy PJ’s. My head hurts and my throat hurts and when I talk, I sound a whole lot like the neighborhood bullfrog.  I have taken tomorrow off.

I plan to stay in my jammies, watch really bad TV, eat some Maltex and maybe some canned soup, and do absolutely nothing remotely productive.

I need to remember how to be sick!  I need to remember how to let my poor old body just heal itself and get better. I need to remember that I just teach fifth grade; I don’t hold the secret code to world peace.  I need to remember that if I don’t show up, all will actually still be well.

Wish me luck!  I’m off to boil me up some pastina.

Payoff time.


I have had a rough few weeks, I have to be honest.

My class of fifth graders this year is very, very challenging.  It isn’t that they are defiant or badly behaved.  It isn’t that. It’s that they are incredibly needy, and every one of them spends all day pulling on my heart, my patience, my courage, my loving support. When I finally get to four o’clock, I am way past drained and exhausted.

Then there is the fact that my daughter and her fiance have moved in with us for a few weeks.  She is my beloved girl, my darling, my pride and joy, the sweet, tangy macintosh apple of my eye. He is calm, and funny and smart and gentle. He loves her to pieces.  And its great to watch.

Still, we have gone from one adult couple in the house to two.  It has been fun and challenging and interesting and stressful and rewarding and hard.  The fridge has different foods, the basement exercise room has become a home office, the garage has gone from finally-a-little-bit-organized to every-inch-is-packed-full. People are walking around the house at 1AM, and we are just not used to it anymore!

But worst of all, I pulled a muscle in the middle of my upper back last week.  I have no idea how it happened, but it may have been when I lugged a 20 pound curriculum box upstairs to my classroom. Or it may have been when I carried 15 pounds of professional development books and 24 science notebooks home in my workbag.  It could have happened as I tried to do the last weeding chores of the season, or when I was walking 175 pounds worth of big dogs.

Who knows.

All I can tell you is that I woke up last Saturday morning with a sharp pain just below my left shoulder blade. It hurt to breathe deeply, it hurt to raise my arm, and in the ultimate bizarre symptom category: It really, really hurt to burp.

I waited a few days, sure that it would just go way,  but the pain got worse and began to radiate from my shoulder blade to my rib cage and up into my left arm.  It was painful to brush my teeth, to drive, to reach into the fridge.  And I still couldn’t burp without feeling that knife blade between my ribs.

Finally, after two nights of tossing, turning and moaning in my sleep, I followed Paul’s advice and went to see my doctor.

Visions of medical disaster were dancing in my head the whole day before the appointment.  What if I had a blood clot in my lung???!!!  What if it was a blocked coronary artery???!?  A cracked rib?!? A TUMOR, for God’s sake!!!  Every indrawn breath brought a new twinge and a new surge of panic.

I burped more that day than I had in the past month.  And they all hurt.  A lot.

Finally, I was there in front of the doctor, johnny robe open in the back.  He poked, he prodded, and the pain surged like a bolt of lightning to my waistline and right around to my left hip.  He nodded his head, murmured, and sent me for some X Rays. By the time I had lain on the ice cold metal table  and returned to my doctor’s office, I was throbbing from waist to shoulder.

I sat in front of the doctor, waiting for the verdict.

He clicked some keys on his computer, looked up and said, “It looks like a muscle strain.  You should take ibuprofin and use this arthritis cream.” I felt relieved, but I waited for what else he’d have to say.

“You also need to apply moist heat for at least an hour a day.”

Moist heat?  What, like really hot water?

“OK”, I said, like the good patient that I am, “We, um, we have a hot tub…..?”

“Perfect!”, declared the best doctor ever. “You need to get in there at least twice a day, and really soak that sore muscle.”

Well, OhKay then!

It isn’t my heart. I don’t have a blood clot, or a broken bone, or a blocked artery.  All I have is the world’s best excuse to lay back, close my eyes and let those little jets work their magic.

I like to think of this prescription as the payoff for my slightly difficult last month.

You should be so lucky!