I am so glad to say “Good riddance” to 2017 because it was a bit unearthly to me.
I mean, on top of being barraged by all the abject buffoonery in D.C. that was unleashed by that fool who occupies the presidency, I had to go around most of the year looking like a palm tree bent over by the wind.
All due to some life-threatening vicious form of bacteria that found its way into my body and started whacking away like a field hand taking a machete to the stems of sugarcane, devastating my belly and tightening and weakening my muscles, making an absolute wreck of my lifelong bad back. It made standing and walking upright kind of an aerobic exercise that took all my might.
And let me tell you, trying to struggle to get your health back in a world that’s out of whack isn’t easy by any means.
There where moments when I would be standing tall, seemingly winning the battle with my spine and I’d look at my TV and there would be Ivanka’s dad giving a thumbs up to Nazis and the KKK, or to a candidate for Senate who sees teenage girls as prey – and, in the next moment, my back muscles would just give away and once again I would be looking like a palm tree bent over by the wind.
In spite of all that I managed to stay reasonably fit, moving mostly to music for my exercise since walking and hiking, my workouts of choice, aren’t much fun when your shadow is in the shape of the number 7 and all you can see is what shoes you’re wearing.
In November I was starting to turn the corner in getting my health back, starting to stand relatively tall again; starting to, generally, feel much better.
Then reality raised its ugly head: my oldest daughter’s health went from bad to worse and in October of 2017 she was no longer of this earth. Dead. Gone. Leaving me chilled to the bone.
But I’ve lived long enough to know that life is for the living and we all have to move on even when our souls are burdened with grief.
So I kept on dancing which eased, as much as possible, my emotional pain, and I passed a physical with flying colors and started planning walks and hikes in my head as my back slowly started straightening even more.
Life, in general, in spite of my situations, was looking grand. But was I ever in for a surprise that arrived as I was out dining in Hillcrest with Maria and some friends. Oh, we were having such a good time, so relaxed and carefree, so full of laughter and wit, in tune with the holidays, feeling relatively hopeful about what’s coming ahead, with Doug Jones winning the Senate race in Alabama and #MeToo gaining favor in the nation’s collective mind… Life seemed remarkably divine…
My vegetable curry was delicious. My Manhattan was nice and smooth. My back felt easy and loose. My woman looked sexy, making me think “Hey, baby, wait until we get home…”
Then all of a sudden it felt as though I was taking leave of my body and I heard myself say “I feel weird” and the next thing I knew I was laying on my back responding to “Do you know where you are?” and “How many fingers do you see?” and I got an “A” since the questions were easy…
And soon I was breathing oxygen in an ambulance, traveling east on 8, casually shooting the bull with a medic, who was one cool dude…
Then, although I felt fully recovered, I was wheeled into Kaiser’s emergency room on Zion Street where I got a chest x-ray, a CT scan, a drink of potassium and a diagnosis of having experienced a “Vagal Reaction” – and not a wink of sleep.
I saw my primary doctor before the end of the week and she put a stethoscope to my chest and announced “You’ve got the heart and lungs of a 50-year-old” and I’m thinking “That must be a bit much for a 79-year-old.”
Now, however, a few days into a new year, I’m feeling pretty good, better than I have in a little over a year, in a new phase of my life, a new chapter in my aging.
What all that means, I guess, is that I will have more energy to deal with the hell that Number 45, a man who is still alive and unwell, puts us through every day as he makes 2018 look like a déjà vu version of 2017.
But as I bid last year an unfond adieu, I’m feeling grateful that I can now, as I continue participating in our country’s ever going political and social fray, stand less like a palm tree bent over by the wind and more like one standing tall on a calm breezy day.
As to whether I make it all the way back? I’m thinking: si puedo. Hey, I survived 2017.