Journal Entry: September 8, 2014

We are currently visiting our older son in Montreal for his 23rd birthday. This would be the one that graduated college in May, The Pragmatist. He is living with his girlfriend in Montreal and figuring out what he wants to do for grad school. Thankfully, this son loves to work and is currently managing the morning shift at a brunch café near his apartment and is gloriously (mostly) self sufficient, for now. Not sure he was really expecting to be able to use his Comparative Literature degree anyway, ha.

Last night we all went out for his birthday dinner. We are in old Montreal and I shouldn’t have worn heals. I thought I would break an ankle on those old cobblestone streets, but what a lovely city. Our hotel is right in the middle of the action in the old town, and our room faces the street where two very popular, and LOUD nightclubs are open into the wee hours of the morning. Once closed, people spill out of the club onto the street and seem to be able to make more noise than the beating bass of the music that was recently blaring from within. I kind of like it though. If cities had human type personalities, old town Montreal would be a party animal, with a very diverse palate. There seems to be every kind of cuisine imaginable in Montreal and so many restaurants. Since I am not sleeping well, the noise from the streets helps me not feel so alone.

Today, our son announced he wanted to make us dinner at his apartment. He’s a great cook. He decided a fun excursion for the day would be to take a walk from our hotel to a local farmer’s market to purchase the ingredients. He said it was a short walk there and back. He rode his bike to our hotel from his apartment, and after lunch, we headed out. I briefly considered wearing my tennis shoes, but I wanted to wear a skirt, so I chose a comfortable pair of sandals with a practical heal… I have been feeling a bit uneasy lately. Along with my sleeping patterns still being out of whack, at my recent check up my blood sugars were elevated, my blood pressure was high, and after being sent for an ultrasound of my heart, apparently I have a stress induced heart murmur. The stress since discovery day is affecting so many facets of my life, I do not function normally. For a while I was getting horrible leg cramps, probably due to water and salt loss from all the darn tears. I have also been sick since about April. If it’s not a cold, it’s a stomach bug, or allergies, or something. My doctor prescribed a blood pressure medication in the morning and a blood sugar medication to take with meals. I now have to monitor my blood sugars every morning. I know I need to figure out a better way to manage my stress, but I just have not had the energy to do much. My body is failing me.

So, as we set out for the market, on foot, I realize it is pretty damn hot and humid. I am sweating after a few blocks, and I realize right away, I should have brought along some water. I start to feel lightheaded. And it seems like we have been walking for a long time. My sense of time is off and I am having a difficult time focusing. After walking through a pretty congested part of town in the glaring hot sun, we finally get to a canal that is blessedly shaded. A couple times, I feel my ankle buckle a little on the uneven surface. I definitely should have worn tennis shoes. After at least a couple miles of walking, my son promises we are not too far from the market, maybe another mile or so. The path we are on merges with a bike path and there are bikers riding by at high speeds. I start to feel uneasy. I have a phobia about people following close behind me, and also of bicyclists approaching me from the rear. I have quite a few phobias, actually. We are approaching a bridge and the path is curvy and the number of bikes has increased dramatically. I ask my son if there isn’t another path that is for pedestrians because I do not think it is safe for bikes and peds to be on the same relatively narrow path. These bikers clearly aren’t just out for a leisurely afternoon ride. I ask where they are all going, and so fast, in the middle of a weekday afternoon. He says once we cross the bridge, we will have our own walkway. As I round a curve, I can feel myself losing my footing, and I am so dizzy, I feel like I am going to faint, and I do go down, hard, to the pavement. I cannot remember a time where I have actually fallen down. The whole thing feels like slow motion and for a split second, I black out. I know I put my hand out to block my fall, and when my head clears and I realize what has happened, I look down at my hand and leg and they are both red and scratched and bloody. I look up and both my husband and son are asking me if I am okay, can I walk, a man passing by kneels down and asks if I am okay. I am still kind of dizzy. I think it is my medications. Maybe low blood sugar or blood pressure. I don’t know. I stand up and realize my right hand is swelling up and extremely painful, it’s probably sprained, not broken. I would know if it was broken. I can feel my right knee giving me trouble, the one with the torn meniscus. I feel really, really old. I am fine to sort of limp along to the market, which turns out to be about a half mile down the canal. As soon as we get to the market, my husband searches out some ice and a cold drink for me. We wrap my hand in the ice and I go into the restroom to wash my hands. I realize I actually need to use the restroom, and when I get up, I have excruciating pain on the right hand side of my chest, my ribs are bruised too. Ugh. The sharp pain sucks the breath right out of me. All I can think about is how much it hurts and how far from our hotel we are. How far from home. How unsafe I feel. How lonely. My husband and son are really worried about me, but I tell them I will be fine and we proceed to purchase fresh vegetables for dinner, some cheese, and wine. Our son decides he will purchase the chicken, and rice from the store near his apartment.

When we depart the market, I assume we will be able to catch a cab, it is Montreal, after all. But no such luck. There is no really good place to catch a taxi in this part of town and all the taxis that approach are full, it’s rush hour. We walk about a mile to the nearest station and catch the subway to the stop nearest our hotel. Then walk an additional three blocks, since it would be silly to take a cab three blocks, right? Our son rides his bike back to his apartment taking with him all the items he needs to prepare our dinner and he leaves anything not crucial back with us. We will take a taxi to his apartment later. As soon as I get to the hotel room, I realize just how much pain I am really in. I pop some Ibuprofen and suggest my husband go to our son’s alone. I will sleep. He refuses and says we should both stay back as he would be too worried about me, which effectively eliminates my option of staying back and resting, as we cannot both blow off our son. Of course I want to spend more time with our son, but geez I am in pain. I take even more Advil, and wait for it to kick in. Then I take Tylenol too. The only good thing about going through what we are right now is, I used to laugh at the drop of a hat. I have a feeling laughing is going to kill right now, so I guess not finding too many things to laugh about will be beneficial.

Our son lives in a fourth floor walk up on a busy street in Montreal. The flights of stairs are long, steep, and uneven. As I stand at the bottom of the stairs and look pretty much straight up, I want to cry. I tell my husband to go up before me so he can get the other ingredients up to our son, but he won’t hear it. He stays by my side and goes up with me, one stair at a time. My son prepares the most amazing chicken and rice dish using middle eastern spices plus a shaved fennel salad. His girlfriend prepares a homemade yellow birthday cake with chocolate ganache frosting for dessert. They’ve already mastered entertaining at 23 years old. Those four flights of stairs are no easier going down than they were going up.

Journal Entry: September 9, 2014

Today we flew home. My hand is still swollen and now bruised, my knee and ankle are fine, but my ribs, they must have absorbed most of the blow. Geez they hurt. I feel like I have suffered enough, emotionally, now physically. This must be what it feels like to be eighty years old. Thank goodness I didn’t break my hip. A couple weeks ago I had made an appointment with a personal trainer, to get back in the gym, now I am going to have to cancel again. I really want to get past this whole suffering and illness phase. I want to move forward to health and happiness and laughter and and and…. I need to get a grip.

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. -Eleanor Roosevelt

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