I am feeling a little blue the past couple of days. There is no specific cause. Indeed, I would describe the feeling as being mostly a sense impression. I know that I have felt the blues at times in my life, yet, fortunately, by nature I am a happy-go-lucky sort of guy. Thus, I always assume that tomorrow will feel like a better day.
I spent overnight at a major hospital complex undergoing a long-scheduled medical evaluation. Nothing serious. Just following up, really, on something that I had initiated a couple of months back regarding an 8-year-old old diagnosis of sleep apnea that needs updating. I was scheduled to arrive around dusk. I parked my vehicle in the hospital complex’s visitor garage then walked two or three blocks to the clinic where the evaluation was to occur. Almost needless to say, the outside entrance to the place was dark and locked. A small sign on the lobby door directed after hours patients to proceed to a different building within the medical complex.
I came to the evaluation wearing only a light jacket, sweatpants, a sweatshirt, woolen socks, and my house slippers. I carried a small overnight bag with a few items in it. I was not expecting a marathon walk, but soon enough realized that I would have to backtrack past the visitor’s garage to the main hospital building, located a block past the garage in the opposite direction. There, I was directed by a security officer to the security desk, where another guard asked for my credentials, carefully looked me up and down, then chuckled when he noticed I was wearing my house slippers. He told me it was a long walk through the hospital to get back to the clinic, then politely directed me to an elevator to one of the upper floors. I wearily retraced my path through the maze of tunnels, hallways, and connected buildings leading back to the clinic, finally arriving there about 20 minutes past my scheduled start time due to this unexpected walking tour of the hospital complex.
When my technician stepped out of her station to greet me, she gently scolded that I was late. I snapped back that the clinic should have notified me that an after-hours visitor cannot directly access its building. Obviously, I said, someone at the clinic must be aware of this situation. The clinic should be notifying patients before they show up for their appointments. My mini rant was an ice breaker because she smiled at me for the first time and confirmed that patients make this same complaint all the time. She shrugged, adding that you would think that someone at the clinic by now would have taken steps to correct the oversight. After this, we got along famously for the remainder of my stay.
At 5 a.m. I got tossed, but not before first taking the time to note my complaint in writing as part of the clinic’s discharge procedure. I shook my head, thinking, well, of course the clinic knows about the problem, but, if so, then why not apply the easy fix of giving patients advance notice to proceed to the security desk in the main hospital? For anyone who might be less ambulatory than me, all this extra walking might be problematic. I have little tolerance for medical sloppiness.
One more time I trudged in my house shoes through the partially dark, empty, and twisting hallways back to the visitor’s garage. I imagined that the place smelled like a hospital. I was thinking how miserable it would be if you were entirely on your own inside such a place. In my case, there is not much family. I have no children. Other than for an occasional visiting friend, I would be isolated.
As I walked, I could not help but think back to the endless days I spent trudging through the hallways of the hospital where Lee was admitted for a myriad of serious medical problems. I have no happy memories of those days. I eventually removed her from that awful place and brought her home to die.
Now, as I walked these empty corridors, it suddenly occurred to me that my mother and my father had both died, separately and at separate times, of course, in hospitals. It is my sincere hope this will not be my fate.
The rain started up as soon as I removed my vehicle from the garage, as if it had been waiting for me. My hometown is not known for its favorable weather. As I drove back home in the rain early Monday morning, I had to wonder if this Spring’s weather has really been as historically miserable as I believe to be the case or whether it is merely my own recency bias.
In fact, I have read that this past April was the most overcast April on record since 1953. I do not remember much about that April, not quite being two years’ old at the time. Although I recently read one report, claiming that we have enjoyed exactly one day of sunshine over the previous 42 days, this claim struck me as hyperbole. However, thus far, the merry month of May continues to be thoroughly dismal, with more heavy rains being predicted through the week. Here, where I live, April showers only bring May showers. Of course, I do not need any kind of report to know that it also has been damn cold and windy to boot!
So, I wondered whether I should blame the weather for my recent gloomy outlook. A bit of checking, however, debunked any such notion. Except for a tiny slice of the population, there is no hard evidence that points to a correlation between one’s mood and the weather.
The world-at-large remains the same miserable place it has been throughout my 70-plus years’ journey: wars, pestilence, famine, natural disasters –but I have nonetheless personally enjoyed a happy and contented existence while being a part of it. Ditto for life in these United States, despite the unmistakable and growing animus that divides America and drives its citizens into “us” and “them” camps.
My friend Steve calls to say hello. We have been playing phone tag since Sunday. He starts off our conversation with a rhetorical question about our sh*tty weather. Misery loves company because suddenly, I am heartened.
Later, my friend Tommy reaches out to schedule a game of racquetball later this week. When I mention that I already have been to the gym today, he remarks, what could be a better activity on a day when the weather is as piss-poor as today’s has been. By now I almost want to smile.
Finally, I talk with Eric, my old friend and longtime business partner. I sometimes will picture Eric in my mind’s eye as a facsimile of Joe Btfsplk, a cartoon character from the Li’l Abner strip, who walked about with a permanent dark storm cloud above his head. In the comic strip Joe had been a jinx, his storm cloud symbolizing the bad luck he brought to everyone he encountered.
Now, in this respect Eric is nothing like Joe Btfsplk. However, this image of a storm cloud seems apt as applied to my friend, who still refers to himself as “Black Death” should the occasion call for it. Unsurprisingly, Eric tells me that has not noticed anything unusual about our weather lately.
Perfect! I am feeling much better already.