Getting in the groove

Getting back in the groove when you’re so very far outside it is difficult. Since returning from India 6 weeks ago, my life has been a flurry. As has Edwina’s.

I’ve yet to wake up in the morning feeling like I’ve had a solid night’s sleep. When I think about it, my weariness could be attributed to the non-stop treadmill of teaching, writing, speaking, transporting, . . . I’ve had three deadlines in the last three weeks, given two lectures (one for students enrolled in UAB’s genetic counseling MA program and one for a breast cancer survivor group in Perry County, a short drive from Selma), and tried to keep my anxiety in check while sending out one pitch/submission after another and hearing either “no, thanks” or complete silence. Ugh.

For Edwina, it’s less about the doing and more about the waiting. Edwina had a breathing test and a mammogram, but she has to wait until later this month for the results. I went with her to the pulmonary doctor who got after her for not using her breathing machine at night like she should and for puffing away on cigarettes even though she struggles to walk just a few feet without losing her breath. Oh, and the weight gain, another result of limited mobility.

“I’m doing good,” she told the doctor. “I’m using my machine most nights.”

“How many nights a week, would you say?” he asked.

“Oh, ’bout three.”

“That’s not ‘most nights,'” he scolded her. “What about smoking? How many packs?”

“Oh, I doin’ real good with that,” Edwina assured him. “I’m down to a pack every two days and Tyrone got me one of them electric cigarettes.”

After a long sigh, Edwina’s doctor said he’d be referring her to a lifestyle counseler at Cooper Green to address some of the behavioral issues Edwina faces when she’s away from the hospital. Like the six-pack of Mountain Dew plus a Coca Cola here and there to get herself through the day.

“I hate this place,” Edwina whispered to me as the doctor headed out the door.

On top of worrying about complying with the doctor’s orders, Edwina sits waiting on the next phase of her son’s incarceration.

“Oh Miss Ryan, my daddy hired a lawyer, a good one, and he got Steve 9 months instead of 15 years,” she told me as we waited for the doctor to return to the exam room. “He still in county [jail] and that counts toward the 9 months, and he goin’ to the training camp before they send him to prison . . . might not even spend that much time in prison.” She lit up while telling me all the things Steve would make it home for, including “‘fore anything happen to me.'”

Forget the groove. Survivorship is hard enough.


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