Sunday, May 18, 2008


Most people have a certain point of tolerance, which, upon reaching it, know better than to push onward. Having had Friday's procedure two times previously, I knew more or less what to expect. The first time was incredibly painful, the second a relief, the third, well, should be nearly a breeze. Right?

Going to the hospital, for once this week, was a strangely simple comfort. As I was wheeled from room to room, Michael got to help my nurses maneuver doorways, and sit by as the first nurse anaesthetist in my medical history hooked me up to what would be the first IV that did not lead to me being sick at all, post-op. Four different anti-nausea meds. Rolled into the operating room I crawl over from my gurney to the operating table and lay prone, looking at my arm as the anaesthesiologist pumps the sedatives in... and next I awake on my back, looking up at my nurses and The Butcher through bleary eyes. Asking if he is going to still be my doctor, through drugged tears. Its always curious to me what I wake up upset about when I come out of sedation. Inevitably I wake up upset, no matter how calmly I went to sleep.

Every few minutes thereafter the recovery room nurses come by and ask about my pain and if I wanted more crackers and ginger ale. My red-headed, daredevil self-appointed-surrogate-mother nurse opted out of the normal wheelchair exit from the hospital, instead walking together hand in hand. She and I stood in the doorway waiting for Michael to bring round the Oldman Mobile, talking about health, work, and men. Thereupon I was whisked away to the safety of bed, vicodin and buttery noodles.

Morning came painlessly and sunny. Knowing more of less what to expect of the bodily reactions, I felt a little braver than usual and hungry for fresh air. Mr. Michael and I threw around ideas about what we might do with ourselves on this suspiciously fine day. It was proposed we head north towards the area where he used to go camping in his youth, having recalled a wealth of abandoned and run-down houses back then. Pipersville. We hit the road, heading up Broad Street through North Philly. I was making ready with my camera, as we entered a stretch of road that was a favorite of mine. Midway through the intersection at Glenwood Avenue, a truck slows in front of us and we come to a stop in the intersection.... and suddenly we are jolted in our seats from a rear collision.

goldenrod © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Having many times driven through this area and dreaded this very sort of event, I was afraid to move or turn to acknowledge what just happened at our rear. Michael pulls off the road on the opposite side of the intersection. I look over my shoulder at the car that had just hit us and see a pile of debris in front of it. Michael gets out and goes over to speak to the other driver. There was a brief exchange with the elderly man and then Michael headed back to look at the damages on our end. And away the man... and his car full of elderly companions... drove. We sat by the side of the road for a spell, assessing our post-crunch beings and workings. The OM Mobile was basically unscathed, Michael had a stiff neck and shoulder and the thrust made me tense the um... site of the surgery a bit, but otherwise we were in working order. It made sense at this point to consider not bothering with an outing. But really it was minor, we shrugged it off and tried to make light of it as we drove onward.

Even in the grips of extreme post-accident concentration, we managed to become lost within a mile of our destination town. Again we encounter a bizarre map-related vortex... Two roads within 2 miles of each other have a matching pair with the EXACT same name that do not connect in any way just up the road. Driving twice end to end of the Wrong Old Easton Road we refused to give up and a little further on up the way, we stumble upon the Actual Old Easton Road that lead to Pipersville. Almost immediately we spot a few abandoned houses, deciding instead to go onward, awaiting the door of opportunity to open before us. As we approached and breached the edge of the Google map we had printed out, there IT was. Two, no, THREE abandoned buildings on one piece of land on a low-traffic road with ample area to drive onto the property and park it unnoticed from the road.

Michael veers off into the grass towards the center building.

And not 15 feet into the lawn, it is suddenly quite clear we are not moving any further. The previous night's rain had turned the ground into a bog. Neither reverse nor drive dislodged the car. I suggested that since we were lodged we might as well give it a rest and check out the houses now at our... stuck... fingertips. Instead Mr. Michael got out and pushed and I gunned it and turned and revved and we continued to not move... except for the part where Michael fell over in the mud. I stayed in the car and my man waved to the passing cars and the third one to pass, an older man in a pickup truck, finally stopped. Together they pushed while I gunned it. We gave him twenty dollars and again they pushed and finally heaved the car from its mucky divot. The Pusher Man asked what we were doing there, and Michael said we were seeing 'what was back there and trying to turn around.' The Pusher said his buddy had gotten stuck in the same spot not long ago. He went on his way, the car now out of harm's puddle, we decided to finally check out the buildings we had put so much work into getting to. The initially-spotted house was in too delicate a condition to be entered, the older house was a burnt-out shell with a front door ensconced in a hornet's nest and the final building, though overgrown, was locked up tight.

ghetto palm
ghetto palm © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

It was then decided that we should have definitely called off the day well before it had gone on this long. We continued onward, mapless, following only rivers and gut feelings... stopping only for peanut brittle and lunch, we finally made it home, vowing to not leave the house again until absolutely necessary.

There are really an endless number of permutations of these particular events that could have landed us in rather a lot more bodily harm and financial pain. Cripes, I didn't even get charged for my surgery because my favorite nurses was technically on lunch when she checked me in she said she would send me a bill later.

Until Wednesday morning, I should be able to manage to avoid personal damages, whereupon I will drink my celebratory contrast medium cocktails, in anticipation of the thrill of esophageal probings to come. Distractions in the form of anything are currently being accepted. Driving around North Philly's Allegheny West neighborhood with the constant threat of perishing while collecting photographic materials for the construct project, worked fairly effectively for about forty minutes on the way home from breakfast.

urban sprawl
urban sprawl © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

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