August 18, 2018

Being hooded at med school graduation

It’s time for another long update. Why that should be, I don’t know. I just know that I was missing Tommy more than usual today; it wasn’t a prolonged longing or sadness, more a sense of going through the day and thinking ‘I need to tell him that when I get home’ and automatically wanting to call him around mid-afternoon to check in on his day and find out what he had going on and what I needed to put into my brain to keep all the balls in the air at home. It may be that we’re in the swing of Dolly rehearsals and as we did so many projects together over the years, rehearsal time often became family time for us. It may be that the weather has been miserably hot and humid and that always makes me irritable and start counting down the weeks and days towards fall. Fall has always been my favorite season with a crispness in the air and, having always lived by the academic calendar, it’s my season of new beginnings. Having grown up in Seattle, fall always comes with a special golden light in the late afternoons of September and early October that I have never really found anywhere else.

Everything is more or less back in the groove at work. I have all my clinical responsibilities that don’t vary much from week to week and a few extra projects going on, mainly some public speaking engagements. Why I agreed to do one this Saturday at 8 AM I’ll never know but at least it’s only a half hour on ‘Communicating with Your Aging Parents’. I can’t say that I’m an expert on that but I do have a few tips after nearly thirty years in geriatric medicine. There’s nothing wrong at work, but I am still feeling a bit detached from it, like I’m sleep walking through my days; I think it’s a deep psychological defense mechanism that’s allowing me to deal with the pain and grief of others without triggering my own too much.

Travel plans are set for the rest of the year. I’ll be in NYC from October 17-21, Seattle November 17-23, and out of the country December 15-30. (More details on that last one once everything is booked – I’ll just say that I think I’ve found a way to escape the holidays completely this year which is a psychological necessity. I’ll consider dealing with them in 2019).

Hello, Dolly! is going well. Rudolf is only in Act II so I’m filling out the ensemble in Act I. Let us just say that I am not a chorus boy, but, like most shows, there aren’t as many men as they might want so all hands on deck. I am learning my Gower Champion as filtered through Roger Van Fleteren of the Alabama ballet as well as I can despite being more than twice the age of most of the rest of the ensemble men. We had three hours of ‘Put On Your Sunday Clothes’ tonight. I came home and took a long hot shower. Having had rehearsal every night this week and all last weekend and this coming weekend, I am behind on MNM’s version of Dolly. I promise to get back to that soon and am likely to put some of my cast mates in her world.

The conversation at lunch today centered around concussions and traumatic brain injuries so that brought up a story that I haven’t told yet. This one is from my distant past, before Steve and Tommy. The year was 1988. I had just graduated from medical school and had matched for my internship and residency at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento so shortly after graduation, I drove down to go apartment hunting, staying with my old friend Vickie Rozell. I knew I wanted to live in the historic part of town, known as midtown so I called up a number of places in my price range and was driving from one to another to take a look. In the midst of the driving along unfamiliar streets, I was T-boned at the corner of 24th and K and bonked my head hard on the dashboard. I remember nothing about the accident, just being dazed and confused and loaded into the back of an ambulance and raced off to the emergency room where I was due to start work two weeks later. I started vomiting as one does after a concussion, as a nurse by the name of Diane got all my clothes off and I was checked for various fractures. Fortunately, other than the concussion and some superficial scrapes, I was fine, and Vickie was able to collect me from the ED and was kind enough to check on me in the middle of the night and make sure I wasn’t sinking into a coma.

There were three sequelae to the whole thing. One, a totaled car (my first car – a Ford Fiesta) which led me to purchase Vickie’s old one which had no air conditioning, highly unpleasant in Sacramento summers. That B210 later went to John Rambo so it had a lot of life in it. Two, a post concussive syndrome from which I had some mild narcolepsy for a couple of months. Not useful in an intern. Three, an ED nurse who must have seen something she liked as she pursued my relentlessly for the next year and a half despite my complete lack of interest. This continued until after Steve and I got together and it was rather bizarre when she showed up on the doorstep uninvited asking me out when Steve and I were both in our bathrobes and obviously quite domestic. What made it even weirder was she was seven months pregnant with an ambulance driver’s baby at the time. She stopped calling after that so I assume she finally understood the message.

No rehearsal tomorrow, instead dinner at a friend’s house. It will be a nice change.

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