By Carol Pearlman – June 6, 2015
Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.
HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa
The Vallejo Times Herald reports student graduation is up & dropouts are down. PBS aired a special feature on a program in the Vallejo Schools. The Public Relations pro hired by the school board is doing her job. Superintendent maintains high schools are safe and points to Vallejo’s environment for the reason why a kid got shot on school territory, and why she had to call the cops when 50 kids got into a fight on school grounds. She got a round of approval from the board, the public, & her constituents. I read that Vallejo is number 1 in the country for home health care; very promising for the likes of me, and our port in Glen Cove is also tops in the land. The Mayor is ridding Vallejo of pot & all the benefits that go with it. We’ve stopped talking about the pool table. I guess things are getting better in our fair city.
We must elect Robert McConnell as mayor next time; don’t settle for less, and when their time comes get rid of the others. And elect Bernie Sanders; I think he’s the best & makes a great case for how he’d run the country. Yes, I’m still a leftie.
Meanwhile, I feel better, well, actually; strong enough to ditch the doctor who described my imminent demise with such lurid details I could see nothing but my funeral while I was his patient. Found another doctor, a person who cares, and wants to help me, not intubate me & administer the coup de grace as soon as he can.
Best of all I’ve discovered the John Muir Pulmonary Rehab in Concord, which for me is like finding god. They’re teaching me how to live with my disease, and making me exercise like training for the olympics. They call it living in the “preventative mode rather than the rescue mode,” and it’s working. They won’t accept negativity; I feel more positive. By dumping the bad doctor I killed the messenger & put those thoughts into the trash, where I dumped his body. I’m going to live as well as I can as long as I can & to hell with the naysayer.
One can live, I’m learning, but in a different way. Hey, that’s why I moved to Vallejo.
So, I’m living La Dolce Vita, exercising every day, which makes me happy; I always did that. Working a lot in the kitchen, preparing healthy delicious meals for myself, like I always did. Staying close to home – nothing new there. Tethered by the nose to a 50 + foot green plastic tube that’s connected to a noisy machine that takes in air & spews out oxygen? Oh man, this a new and strange experience; an odd road hithertofore untraveled. Can’t say I like it but I’m learning to live with it.
Oh yeah, “live” is the operative word here. Next month I plan to celebrate the birthday I didn’t think I’d live to see. I’m not dead yet, baby. Fuck you, doctor L—! (This must be the meds, I don’t talk like that.)
I drive to Rehab twice a week, stop off at Trader Joe’s on the way home, and I’m good to go; two birds with one stone, so to speak, though I don’t care for that image. I learn so much at rehab I’d gladly make the 17 mile drive + bridge tolls 5 days a week if they’d let me.
Still using my phone’s navigation system everywhere I go; I’m lost without it. I drive to medical appointments in places named Fairfield Vacaville & Concord, words I never dreamed would be in my vocabulary. I’m hopping onto freeways & trying to shut-up about it.
Efficiency is key; gotta re-think everything. In addition to the long tube at home & the small portables, I’ve got 4 big oxygen tanks stored on my Patio. I formed an “Oxygen Brigade” consisting of 6 neighbors who’ve agreed to think of me in case of a power outage & if they’re able, to come help me with my tanks. Anyone else out there is invited to do that too.
Good food has become more important than ever. Thinking about doing a cookbook for invalids. No kidding. What a concept. It might sell more copies than my memoir.
Have you gone to my website, flatbushprincess.com to buy it yet?
Started walking along the river. There, in my opinion, is the heart of Vallejo: the murky currents, the steady ebb & flow, the sparkling menacing sludge of it is so much like this city & it makes me feel alive. It’s a challenge, I need to slow down, buck the wind, pace myself. Gives me time to look around & see who’s there, recognize the true colors of Vallejo on a human level.
I meet other regulars who come down to the river at Independence Park – MY PARK – most days. We wave, nod, sometimes stop to chat. Walkers acknowledge each other and keep walking, bikers are careful with eyes ahead, parents pushing strollers are happy to stop & let me admire their beautiful babes. Fishermen tend to be reticent but they’ll show me what they’ve caught. Quite a few grandma’s with little kids, talking, enjoying each other. I pity the moms who miss all that.
One day I was struggling to walk in a strong wind, hanging on to the barrier, my teary eyes fixed on the oxygen meter dangling from the index finger of my left hand, when a young man dressed in black & silver, his hood covering his face, and pants below his tuchas, came up to me, touched his heart & asked, “where you goin’ mama? Do you need help?”
This guy looked like the lurkers in the alleys behind some Vallejo homes that I read about on Next Door. I could tell he was up to no good, except for the fact that when he saw me he responded straight from his heart. Later, we sat & talked. I told him to stay out of trouble, don’t hurt anyone. He said, “I’m black, they want my heart. You don’t know how hard it is.” Then, what blurted out of me was, “shut up, MF. I know it’s tough. But next time the going is rough, think of me — struggling to walk, struggling to breath, struggling to stay alive. Then get on with it, and be good – like you are with me.”
I don’t know where that came from. It must be the meds.
Then there’s S–, a truck driver in his 60’s from South America, who talks dirty to me. He’s got a twinkle in his eye & says sooner or later he’ll get me into bed. He tries to grab my hand, but I tell him “don’t touch,” and he obeys. Imagine propositioning a little old grey haired Jewish lady with an oxygen tube up her nose, pushing a tank on wheels, barely able to walk for more than a few minutes at a time. Obviously, a wack job, but he means no harm. He shows up most days & pins the bait on the hooks of his friend in a wheel chair, who fishes all day long. If he promises not to touch, I take his arm & let him help me cross the street.
I’m thinking of joining the infamous Senior Center. I actually used to shoot pool once upon a time in my life, & would like to take it up again. And… if anyone is wondering, the Mayor & I are moving ahead swimmingly with the Independence Park project. More about that anon.