a little help from my friends

I haven’t been feeling well for a while and checked in with my new endocrinologist (as fate would have it) last week. He ordered me a boatload of tests – labwork worthy of juice and a donut upon finishing, an ultrasound of my thyroid is slated for next Monday night, and I have a follow-up appointment with him in two weeks. He said “you feel crappy and there is good reason for it, we will get to the bottom of it.”

I never simply feel “well.” I haven’t felt well for a couple of years, and I am also guessing that could be part of my general malaise issues, seemingly every weekend. It is almost as if I give my body permission to break down on Saturday, so long as she’s “up and running” on Monday morning.

I had my lab work done Monday so I missed my a.m. meeting. I went on Tuesday, but wasn’t feeling great and when I sat down in my chair after grabbing a cup of tea, I started having back spasms between my shoulder blades – spasms so fierce, they took my breath away and refused to give it back. I sat forward in my chair – that didn’t help. I twisted side to side, to no avail. I leaned back and one of my buds, H, said “you know, you don’t have to go to work every day…” I took that as my cue to leave so I grabbed my knitting bag (barely) and started for the door. My mind (and heart) was racing. I think I was starting to panic.

Cue B, one of the guys in my home group. “Pen, you don’t look good, what’s wrong?” I said “nothing, I’m fine, I’m just going to the ER and will call my husband from the car and he’ll meet me there.” He insisted on walking me out, carrying my bag (which I fought, of course) and wanted to drive me to the emergency room. I am a stubborn girl and said, “No, thank you, I’m fine, I just can’t breathe.” (I thought I always had issues asking for help, never thought I would have issues simply “accepting” help!)

I got myself to the ER and sat down after giving them my name and my plight. Out of my peripheral vision, I had a flash of “B” coming up the sidewalk. He walked in and sat down next to me, and we just started talking as if I were expecting him. He kept the conversation going until the triage nurse called my name. I rose, squeezed his hand and whispered “thank you” and left to go into the little side room. Unbeknownst to me, he waited for my husband to arrive before he left, just to make sure someone was there for me.

[It turns out I have a little pneumonia in my right lung, but the pain in my back was definitely stemming from a pulled muscle. I left with an anti-inflammatory (non-narcotic, non-mind or mood-altering, sadly) and was told to go home and rest.]

I was thinking about the events of the morning. How B was the only one I “heard” share (because of my pain) and recalled that he was sad because the previous day, he had attended the funeral of a close friend and had the thought of a drink because everyone else was drinking at the tavern after the services the night before…how he was disappointed he couldn’t join in with everyone else and it haunted him thru the night and to the next day.

I know I came into the rooms of AA because I had stopped drinking and was having a difficult time staying stopped. I didn’t come because I wanted to make friends, I came because I wanted to stop drinking. It is beyond my wildest dreams the friendships I have formed as a result of my admission of being an alcoholic. It is incredible to me the wonderful folks I have met because I am in a fellowship of men and women who don’t want to drink, just like me, one day at a time. That there are people who are willing to enter into my world, neurotic and chaotic and painful, yet joyful and joy-filled at times too. People actually care about me as much as I do about them.

I also couldn’t help but think about how grateful I was to know someone like B, who was struggling only the night before but he left his issues behind to make sure I had help getting to my car, coming to the ER, and staying until my husband came. Someone who performed such a selfless act, without anything more than a “thank you.” For someone wondering why he stayed sober the night before, I don’t think it is a stretch to think God kept him sober so he could help another alcoholic who needed him.

(Even if it that alcoholic was me.)

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