The COVID-19 pandemic messed with our minds and bodies. As news of more cases were reported in nearly all states, there was a sense of pandemic panic. Toilet paper flew off the shelf – like that roll of Charmin was going to improve your odds of survival. It was a respiratory virus, not gastric. People got antsy. The world got quiet. We hunkered down with loved ones, or pods, to allow for some interaction. Many parents became teachers. Strange times.
Restaurants were shuttered. Businesses turned to remote work and Zoom meetings. People either felt stir crazy, or settled themselves into being at home full-time. Were you team Social Butterfly, or Team Hermit?
By nature, I lean towards hermit. Sure, I can talk a good game, but I am primarily a socially awkward creature. Maybe it’s a part of
decrepitude aging, but in 2020, staying home worked for me. Mr. Lehnhoff already did all the shopping (he’s a consummate shopper control freak). I am not a big shopper, unless I can do it online, when my physical appearance suffers from what I a as ‘benign neglect’.
Since Mr. Lehnhoff is still working, I have the entire day (and house) to myself. I find I like the quiet and lack of human interaction far more than I thought I would.
But then came the first lockdown. March, 2020. Mr. Lehnhoff was permitted to work from home (because he’s the oldest
codger employee at the company). Luckily, that ended after a couple of months. He returned to his co-workers at the office. His return to the workaday world couldn’t come soon enough!
When he was home, his constant presence cramped my style. Gone were the days where I lazed around until a half hour until his expected return at the end of the day. I managed to accomplish quite a bit in those 30 minutes. I almost redeemed myself as being competent in the domestic arts.
You know what’s really weird? Since there are so many 30-minute periods in the day (like 47 more of them), you’d think that I have ample opportunities to get things tidied up, right? But no! There’s something about the bewitching half hour before a spouse returns home that makes my productivity soar.
I’m all about mastering the scurryfunge. Go ahead, look it up. I’ll wait.
During all of the remaining 30-minute blocks of time in a day, I continue to work at the speed of a sloth. My attention to details is nil. I am distracted by all manner of bright and shiny, hey look, it’s a teeny, tiny power drill bit under my shoe that’s preventing me from walking another step toward the kitchen and domesticity. I think I need to go scope out Facebook.
He may have expected me to prepare him additional meals while he worked. Didn’t I make dinner most days? What does he expect out of me, manual labor? Where’s Local 223 of the Wife Union? I need an arbiter! He’d occasionally suggest cleaning tasks I could complete (as if that would happen).
All of that was a LIE. By 2020, I wasn’t doing much housework at all. My body had betrayed me. Shakira sings that hips don’t lie – well, let me tell you, my hips had become so painful that walking more than a few feet was excruciating. Bending over was impossible. Standing for more than a couple of minutes filled my lower extremities with severe pain.
Mr. Lehnhoff bought me the Cadillac of walkers: The Rollator. I could sit and roll around the kitchen and get chores done. I could roll down the hall and get to the bathroom, bedrooms, or office. I felt like Cinderella in her pumpkin coach (except for the housework part).
I also used the Caddy as a regular walker. I loved the hand brakes! The seat was also high (and firm) enough that I could get up and down more easily. Even today, I still use it as my kitchen chair.
Chronic pain drained the joy out of my life. I was miserable, day and night. Anti-inflammatories could only do so much. My femurs rubbing on my hip joints sounded like castanets. When I went to Dr. Rude, he wanted to give me opioids. I refused his offer. He asked, “Why, do you have a drug problem?”
“No, and I don’t want one.” I dumped that quack and found a new doctor who listened to me. She got me a referral to a local orthopedist.
I first visited my orthopedic surgeon in March of 2020. In fact, it was the day the lockdown first began. I felt like I had some hope – it wasn’t all bad news.
Then, my surgeon dropped the hammer – he required me to lose
a shit ton of weight before he’d even approve me for surgery. Impossible No small feat when you’re unable to exercise.
Never mind, it WAS all bad news. Lose weight while I could barely walk? Bone-on-bone arthritis (severe, according to the doctor) in both hips. I perfected a wobble-limp-lurch gait AND could have won the Guinness book of world records monthly for 2020 AND 2021 for number of F-bombs uttered in a 24-hour period. Pain ranged from 8 to 10 on the scale of 1 to 10. I was miserable. And slow. For the most part, I was a lurching, grumpy jerk.
I completely understand how chronic pain can cause someone to give up all hope. I was almost there myself.
Stay tuned. Did Kim lose weight? Did the doctor scoff at her paltry attempts at weight reduction? Did Mr. Lehnhoff run away, tired of my constant bitching and moaning?
Find out in Part Two of this fairy tale/medical drama.
[Queue dramatic music]