Cloister Commentary, Day 318: This is The Break

For the first month in I’m not sure how long–many, many years–I didn’t buy a single CD, vinyl record, or download. I don’t really feel like I cheated myself; if anything, I didn’t contribute my share to gifted musicians. I’m going to keep going with this resolution. Also, I only bought four books: three digital Virginia Woolfs for a total of five bucks and Brian Coleman’s Check the Technique, Volume 2, which our libraries don’t have and which doesn’t exist in digital form. Self-abnegation is the bomb!

My mom Jane has been due for a break. Her husband died suddenly midsummer and during a pandemic; they’d been married almost 61 years, and had lived together in the same house for 40. In November, she fell when a strong wind caught her umbrella as she went out to get the paper and suffered a rotator cuff tear; the injury worsened to the extent she couldn’t lift either arm more than a foot, couldn’t sleep in a bed (only a chair), and felt such pain she was frequently reduced to tears. Her surgery to repair the tear was scheduled for 6:15 a.m. yesterday, and she was filled with anxiety about its prospects. However, she’d demonstrated as we sat drinking coffee that she could lift both arms, and when I looked surprised, she said she wasn’t feeling pain at all. Then, as she was being prepped for the surgery and the nurse asked her to rate her shoulder pain from zero to 10, she said zero: “I haven’t felt pain in several weeks.” This I didn’t know–and I began quietly freaking out about the procedure: was it necessary? As I was messaging my brother to share my concern, the surgeon arrived, introduced himself, and, after having flipped through Mom’s chart, asked her, “Do we need to do this surgery? I like to operate to relieve pain, not cause it.”

15 minutes later, with the dawn light still not peeking through, we were back at the house, trying to wrap our heads around a new reality of no sling, no extreme pain and meds, no six-week rehab and PT. That break had arrived.

And she got her $600 gummint check in the mail! Note: I’m no fool–I’m grateful and happy for her, but I’m still holding my breath.

Special thanks to my “niece” Madison Dickens for constant health professional wisdom and reinforcement. Bow to your school nurses today for me and my mom if you get a chance.

Streaming for Strivers:

Black History Month Heads-Up, Hip Hop Division.