Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Journal: Surviving Christmas
There's just something about Christmastime: something about taking some time away from work, something about reconnecting with family and old friends, something about observing the wonder and excitement of kids, something about good memories jostled back to life. In quiet moments, it whispers something to the depths of your soul, the gist of which is this: "You know, things aren't really as bad as you thought. Actually, they're a lot worse."
I took some vacation between Christmas and New Years Day, intending to catch up on a couple of things around the house, spend some quality time with my wife, and get a little fresh air, maybe doing some ice fishing or heading to a ski hill for the first time in a couple years. Instead, I spent a couple exhausting days obsessively working on stuff around the house, resenting that my wife was not similarly obsessed and getting tired and cranky. Then weather turned warm and crappy and spoiled any prospects for winter sport. On January 3, I returned to work, feeling unrested and cheated, wishing I made enough money to afford a vacation that included palm trees and tropical drinks served in coconuts by friendly natives who ask, in heavily accented English, "Are you ready for your next massage, señor?"
But this past weekend, I took a vacation of a very different kind. I drove six hours north to spend the weekend with a buddy and two guys I didn't know in a 10'x16' ice shack on Mille Lacs fishing for walleyes. We fished with jigging poles all day long, stopped for dinner, and set the 'rattle reels' in the shack while we played Euchre until we could no longer remember what was trump, then went to bed. The fishing was lousy--only a handful of perch during the day, and some hideous eelpouts on the rattle reels--but the male bonding was outstanding. Let's just say we should have saved the baked beans for the last night.
Over the holidays, it felt like everything I did reminded me how old, weak, sick, and bald I've become. This week, it feels good to be back at work, to be busy, to feel useful, to come home at the end of the day and hug my wife and my dogs. The days are getting longer. And after a couple of weeks on Lyrica and weaning myself off of Neurontin, I'm feeling a bit less dopey and sluggish. I don't yet feel like it's made a significant dent in the pain vs. the Neurontin, but I'm still at a low dose, just 150 mg per day.
Yesterday, the sun came out. Initially, people around here were frightened, having forgotten that blazing orb in the sky meant us no harm. Soon, though, we remembered the John Denver song, felt the sun's warmth on our shoulders, and were happy.
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