One day, several years ago, my then six-year-old granddaughter said to me, “Nana, you want to hear something?” I said, “Sure,” because she was giggling which made me think it was going to be extra good. She said, beginning the sing-song dirge of the ABC song, “A B C D E F G, H I J K et cetera.” Then she laughed the delightful laugh of a six-year-old. I chuckled of course, because it was so unexpected. I asked her where she heard that word and she said her Mom had told her what et cetera meant. In an attempt to be the adult, I warned her it was best not to use that phrase when she was asked to say the ABC’s in kindergarten.
Here we go again, many of us, facing yet another health crisis. For those of us who have lived with any kind of chronic health problem for years, we aren’t in as much shock as many of our fellows because of the current Corona virus. We are accustomed to being shut up in our homes, taking precautions, especially if we are compromised already in our immunity. For some of us it is frightening but for others it just means more time away from the family or perhaps more time with the family. My husband, Jim and I are simply isolating ourselves, eating food out of the freezer or eating groceries our dear daughter has brought over from an online order she picked up at the local grocers.
This time offers many families the opportunity to have more time together for trips to the extremely deserted beaches, walks along the quiet streets, etc. There it is again, that phrase. In thinking about this week’s blog I realized how this crisis in the world does tie us all together as never before because it involves the whole planet. To personalize it however, brings out a more positive side of this time we’re currently living in. Families can take time out from their regular lives, time out from the et cetera of daily living and play games, tell family stories, and actually communicate which isn’t always easy to do in the hubbub and bustle of the regularity and routine of daily living. It certainly is a change and change can often be good. Now, to further explore the interesting facets of that old phrase, et cetera.
I realize, except for the King of Siam in the old musical, THE KING AND I, one hardly hears that phrase any longer. If a child can figure out so quickly it’s a good way to get out of recitation, then we have to sharpen up our skills. Do you remember the last time you went to a new doctor and you had 6 pages of your medical history to fill out, not even including the sheet for your medications? Some of the doctors I have seen over the many years or been seen by, one couldn’t find my chart and winged it and the last two orthopedics men and one internist didn’t bother to look at them. Why do we waste our time and effort? I’ve decidedfor the next new doctor I see, I will simply write “I’ve been in pain for over thirty years, et cetera; if interested further, talk to the bearer of this paper.”
I think the phrase would come in handy when I don’t feel like cooking dinner, such as, “Same old, same old, et cetera; lunchmeat in refrigerator, bread out on counter.” Then I’ll go to bed. Don’t you become exhausted with the effort to be the person you once were? I confess, I still try and often feel the pull of love, duty and an ordinary life. But there are some days when the same old et cetera puts its gnarly hand on my shoulder and I become tired of even speaking the words it would take to explain.
Many years ago, in my past life, sickness was something you caught, obtained treatment for, received get well cards for and then recovered from. This life of living with chronic pain year after year has so many “so forths” in it they grow quite tedious. I even become bored with me, et cetera
Maybe FLASH CARDS would be a good idea. They could be an interesting variety of words and phrases for us to hold up or post in the front window like businesses do to alert the UPS carriers if they have a package pick-up. We could put them on strings and wear them around our necks when we leave the house after this crisis passes. Just think of all the things we could say to our family, friends and physicians, let’s see…
SPEAK TO ME AT YOUR OWN PERIL AND MINE
ROUGH WATERS AHEAD, YOU FIGURE OUT WHERE THEY’RE COMING FROM
COLD CUTS FOR DINNER TONIGHT OR GO GET TAKE OUT
DO YOU KNOW WHAT PAIN DAY AFTER DAY FEELS LIKE? NO? LET ME SHOW YOU
DON’T TELL ME YOU DON’T HAVE ANY CLEAN CLOTHES; THAT SHIRT LOOKS FINE TO ME
I WANT TO BE ALONE BEFORE I KILL SOMEONE…RUN!
I TAKE PAIN PILLS BECAUSE THEY’RE NOW CHEAPER THAN SILVER BULLETS
DON’T ASK ME HOW I FEEL UNLESS YOU MEAN IT!
I ALWAYS LOVE DOGS; IT’S PEOPLE I CAN’T ALWAYS STAND
HIDE THE GUNS BUT LEAVE THE KITCHEN KNIVES ALONE; A GIRL ALWAYS NEEDS A BACK-UP PLAN
PLEASE READ MY HISTORY BEFORE YOU ASK ME SOMETHING STUPID AND LOSE ANY CHANCE OF GAINING MY RESPECT
I’M THE ONE WHO’S PAYING YOU, REMEMBER HOW THAT WORKS?
SO, WE’RE OUT OF MILK? BUT STRANGELY ENOUGH THE WORLD IS STILL REVOLVING.
DOES THIS LOOK NORMAL TO YOU?
WHAT DO YOU THINK PAIN LOOKS LIKE? WANTA’ SEE?
BURN THAT DARN PAIN SCALE…PLEASE!
I’ll let all of you figure out who would be on the receiving end of these flash cards. It would be so much easier than speaking or yelling or getting hysterical and not quite as rude as that “Speak to the hand” business. It would be more like “Speak to the finger.” Did I say middle finger? Shame on you for thinking that. I could have meant thumbs up, for a “good job.”
Well, I’m already feeling a little bit better. I know we can’t be without the et cetera altogether because some people don’t listen or they feel they’ve heard about our health so much they know it by heart. No. We’re the ones who know it in our hearts, minds and bodies. When we’re faced with the same old pain in several places at the same time, we often do not have the physical strength to explain; we’re too busy writhing, crying or planning our next move.
I must confess, having so many problems at once becomes tedious, even to me. If only life would come at us with only one problem in hand but oh no, that’s not how it works. Skin trouble, joint pain, muscles spasms, cancer, viruses of all strengths, acute fatigue and weight up and down, need I go on and so forth? For me it’s a case of having multiple rheumatoid problems all at the same time and I know for many others, their problems cause other problems which begat other problems, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.