Baby, I’m Electric
On December 10th, 2016, I had surgery to have a spinal stimulator implanted into my back.
The surgeon put one electric lead on the left side of my thoracic spine, and the other lead on the right side. Then, he put a battery pack in the area above my right buttock. I literally have to recharge myself. I have to lay on this disc every few days for a few hours that keeps the battery charged.
This all means I will enter 2017 without the physical agony that has haunted me for ten years.
I am disappointed I am not pain-free, but the constant, small electrical shocks do a “good enough” job in changing my life. It can tickle or vibrate too powerfully but trade offs, right?
I will be able to exercise more freely. I will be able to travel moderate distances. I will be able to sleep. I will stop complaining doctors would never really give me pain medication. At least, I bypassed the addiction.
I am getting the final surgery of four — that have been planned between last May and this one — sometime this Spring. Ostensibly, my body will be fixed up. That’s huuuge.
I want to feel like the chance to double my writing output next year — which makes me so excited I woke up at 3:30 am to take to Medium — will make 2017 a magical year.
The shadow of what is happening with our government looms over the future, though. I can’t feel the heady thrill of a new life chapter. I am filled with fear for the fortunes of others.
My fifty-something husband can’t find a job in his field of mental health services because of age discrimination; these services are sure to be cut, not expanded. My “adopted” son is a Somali man named Mohamed. With the caveat that I have many “best friends,” the women I am closest to are lesbian or bisexual. I am worried about the people of color in my life under a police state.
These anxieties about race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., are selfish because the well being of my loved ones affects me. But I am just as concerned for the anonymous people in the country who are targets.
When I was a young girl around 1979, I had a nasty ear infection that my parents couldn’t afford to treat because we didn’t have health insurance. When I was curled up on the floor with my ear on the heat register that lined the room, I wondered if anyone in the world was thinking of people like me.
Since I was a child I wanted to concretely imagine the face of the rich adult who would help me if he or she only knew of my suffering. My mother had told me to pray to God, which I dutifully did. But I was a reader, and poor children weren’t rescued by God in stories. They were rescued by rich people. Think Annie.
(Resolution of that story — my brother had the ear infection, too. He screamed loudly until my mother took him to the local doctor . He kept my brother for several hours in the waiting room screaming while other patients were practically begging to let him go before them, all because we didn’t have insurance. Anyway, I got some of my brother’s antibiotic.)
When I grew up, I learned there were adults fighting for me while I silently cried all night in pain. Maybe they were inspired by God? At any rate, they fought for Medicaid and food stamps. And for many programs like it.
Nowadays, I have this goofy mental telepathy with a poor little girl out there almost all the time.
I don’t know you. I am thinking of you. I am fighting for the programs you need. Hang in there. You are loved
I imagine she must be out there. A girl in poverty who feels no one cares. And I send her these mental messages in response to her thoughts. I spend my time advocating and writing to resolve her poverty.
Someone did it for me.
A lot of people actually. They fought for the government program that was responsible for me escaping poverty. How can I focus my writing on anything but the next generations’ fortunes?
I mean to do this I’ve been trying to tell what I know. My story of poverty. And how the government helped me escape it.
Contrary to Ben Carson’s narrative, his whole life story is about aid that helped. No — it is not enough. Sometimes a little bit of something is more of a tease than a help. My mother’s best friend who has been dependent on her abusive boyfriend for 10+ years is trying to leave, and she can get $16 a month in food stamps. Craig T. Nelson never got any help from anybody when he was on food stamps and welfare 👌, but I bet his payments were higher than today’s.
So, in 2017, I may be personally more free than I have ever been. Or I could be arrested on a trumped up charge for hostile-tweeting the President too often.
I can use much of my time to write. Something many would envy. I am no longer feeling the urgency to generate my best writing tomorrow.
I still don’t believe I have a lot of life left, but enough to keep writing until I am good enough to tell the stories I need to tell. I am grateful to Medium readers for being the ones to tolerate the first pancakes.
May 2017 be a pleasant surprise. May government somehow not end up colluding with corporations and white supremacists. May the Medium community write their way to resolving some of the world’s problems. Cheers 🍻