Sunday, April 5, 2009


I don't do these extended silences for very long, but the past few days have been awash with emotion and activity, making it hard to find both the time and the mental capacity to try to string words together in a coherent way.

I worked until noon and then went to spend 2.5 hours in the doctor's office. Within the first 2o minutes I found out that: I don't have diabetes (blood sugar after eating 2 hours earlier was 107). Both my red and white blood cell counts appeared healthy. (No appearance of sinister disease at work.) And no sign of a urinary tract infection, so it would also appear no kidney or related issues were involved. All good news.

Then, I spent about 25 minutes in various and very uncomfortable positions getting xrayed. By the time I got up, my back hurt 10 times worse than it did when I got there. The fancy photos showed no broken bones in my back -- more good news. Xrays don't however shed much light on thinks like nerve and disc problems. So, the diagnosis for now is sciatica (just like suspected) due to a compressed nerve in or near my tailbone. This is possibly an after effect from the bookcase incident way back in January. The doctor said it can take some time for these kinds of injuries to make themselves known and the fact that my current pain started about 4-6 weeks after the fact seems to fit in with his diagnosis.

So, for now, I've got anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers. Applying heat and avoiding lifting more than 20-25 pounds during the next few weeks is also part of the regimen. (Thankfully, this is not during a project like the walkway where lifting 40-60 pound bags of materials was normal.) When I go back later this month, if it's not much better, the next step is an MRI.

Saturday began very early. I was up nearly as early as on a weekday even though I hadn't gone to bed until almost 2. The mother and I were dressed and out the door shortly after 8.

We were supposed to meet our family at 8:30 at the church. We were there a few minutes early, giving me plenty of time to marvel at the empty lot where one of my gradeschools (I went to two different ones in three total buildings) once stood. I knew it had been torn down years ago (one of my first jobs at the newspaper was to cover the Archdiocesan hearings that would ultimately close the school) but this was my first time seeing it. It was very strange indeed. It was a neat old building with lots of beautiful wood accents, including its original floors in each classroom, and a huge marble entryway that carried through the steps to the second floor.

The church across the street, site of the funeral, appeared to still be in good shape. It has a huge dome and I can remember being a kid and marveling at its size. The interior was equally large, about 3 to 4 times the size of the church for the other half of the merged parish, the tiny church where my grandparents were married and both buried from, where I was baptized, took First Communion, made my confession, and was confirmed. (And the same tiny place where Uncle Bill and his late wife, my grandmother's baby sister, were too.)

Oddly, when we walked inside, I was immediately taken by how small the church seemed. I said this to the mother. Oh, it's plenty big. I just recalled it being so much bigger. Later, when a small crowd gathered for the visitation, I couldn't help but laugh when a fire captain in his late 40s, someone who was several grades ahead of me in school but who took great joy in regularly knocking me down after school, said to his mother: I remember this place being so much bigger.

It's the first time I'd ever been to a visitation inside a Catholic church. Granted, I haven't been a practicing Catholic for more than 20 years, but I've still been to at least a dozen funerals during that time. It's not done regularly that I know of. I have to say, after a lifetime of seeing this process done one way, it was awkward and I didn't like it. It was particularly awkward and heart-wrenching when, just before Mass was to begin, the funeral directors came in, carefully removed the floral drape and closed the coffin -- with about 75 people watching. Then, they rolled the coffin out to the vestibule so it could be draped and blessed before returning for the funeral mass.

I'll continue in another post. This one is getting out of hand!