December 7th, 2007

don't mess with me today, think so do ya?

What it's like: the snowy driveway edition

Dear Newspaper Deliverers,

Thank you. Thank the hell out of you. By driving up and down our driveway -- by making multiple tries at it when you failed -- you have created a compacted layer of snow just at the steepest, most difficult part. Chipping away at this for the last hour has availed me very little.


I want to amend what I said yesterday. I described the desire for more snow, so that the driveway service would clear our driveway, as laziness. It isn't, and I'm trying to be more careful about saying that sort of thing. I have vertigo. I know, I know, you all know that. I don't think you know what it means right now. I have fallen all but four days out of the last fortnight. One of those falls was this morning, on the driveway.

But anybody can fall on a snowy driveway, right? True. Very true. And in fact I did fall on the snowy driveway without having a vertigo episode, as well as with having one. You want to know the difference?

Without vertigo: foot slips. Attempting rebalancing skid and wobble combo fails; I am clearly falling down the driveway. My scarf slips up (I am still in glasses this morning) and my glasses immediately fog. I fling the shovel out to one side of me so as not to smack myself with it, and I partially catch myself with the shovel, so that when my butt hits the driveway, it is at far less speed. I am slightly shaken but fine.

With vertigo: foot may or may not have slipped at the beginning of this. I don't know. I do know that suddenly my upper body is not clear where up and down are. In the slightest. And I am moving through the air above the cold driveway. Again my scarf slips, so my glasses fog. This time I needed that view, because up? down? I have no idea. Have you ever been underwater and lost track of which way was up? This is like that, except that there are hard, sharp things around, and I will be inexorably pulled towards the big hard thing if I can't figure out the local vertical soon enough. I do not know which way to move to right myself, to catch myself, to hit the ground well. Because I no longer know where anything is. Anything. Except the shovel: I know that the large metal snow shovel is in my hand, and all I can do is keep the shovel as far from my head as I can manage, even when it responds inertially to all the wobbling and waving that is happening in less than ten seconds. I tuck my chin so that the odds are better that I won't hit my head and knock myself out -- I have had a long history of passing out, and this is harder than that, because the conscious brain can do a great deal more to screw it up. I curl my shoulders. I hope that when I find ground, whenever the hell that is, it's not at an angle that makes this my first really, really bad fall.

We know that unless something improves with this vertigo, my first really, really bad fall will happen sometime.

But it was not today; I hit with my shoulder and roll and manage not to let the shovel drop on top of my head. I am lying on the snowy driveway, with the compacted snow and ice stripes where our newspaper delivery person decided to mess with me further. My shoulder hurts. My back is jarred. I did not hit my head. I did not break anything. I did not sprain anything.

I still have 2/3 of the driveway left to shovel at that point. And this is a good day, this is not a vertiginous day, so I will be able to do things today, so I have to do things today, because we don't know if tomorrow will be a good day. Because there will be enough times when the shoulder is wrenched or the back is nauseating or any of a number of other things have gone wrong -- not just on the snowy driveway but in the kitchen, in the shower, on the stairs in my house. All of those normal, normal places. There will be bad days, and this is not one, so I get up and shovel the rest of the damn driveway to the best of my ability, thanks not at all to the newspaper delivery people. I slip again. I don't fall. This is what we call luck, not practice: the yoga balances I could consistently do six months ago, I cannot do today. Practice is not helping.

porphyrin was saying the other day that I need to be sure that the doctors understand that this is serious, because lots of patients with the same stuff as I have are not going to roll with it. They're going to take to their beds every time they have a vertiginous spell. They're going to tell the doctor that they can't do anything because they have vertigo. Who are these people? What are they thinking? Don't they have things to do? I don't understand.

I'm still kind of bitter with the newspaper folks, though. If the choice is ice stripes or slogging through the, oooooh, half-inch of snow to walk up to my door -- or giving up and leaving the paper in the convenient wee green box at the bottom of the driveway, provided for that purpose -- why did they pick the option that would be the longest-term PITA? Monkeys. I tell ya.