So be it

“Mijn dokter heeft een briefje voor me…a-a-achterlaten. …Is dat correct?”

Yes, my Dutch was correct and yes, I actually stuttered. Stuttered, for fuck’s sake. I tried to be smooth, fluent. I practiced before I went to the doc’s office. But when the time came, I got got that hit of anxiety/excitement/self-doubt and the words stuck in my throat. I don’t ever remember doing THAT before.

Physio. I like my physiotherapist for my jaw. She’s very nice, and we chat mostly in English but she’ll throw some Dutch words at me so I can hear them. Back and forth, little phrases and words. I’m so grateful when people let me do that – throw in Dutch words when I can but use English when I must. I’m also grateful for the little corrections and help people give me. Not that I’ll remember most of it; it isn’t written down. Nonetheless, I love them for trying. As usual, my jaw hurt post therapy. She really pulls on that big muscle on the side of my face. On my ‘taking care of myself’ kick, I decided to pop some pain pills to make sure, once again, that my jaw didn’t go wonky at night when I slept. Better to drug it away than experience that level of pain again. I’ve one more appointment with her as a follow-up. Could probably use more; that muscle is as tight as a band of iron. And, honestly, it feels good to be a bit pampered, to have someone rub my facial muscles and soothe my aches – even if it does set off that burning sensation afterwards.

Gobbled up more words. Just sat and read. I spent the day with Dan and his father out in the woods, poaching pheasants. …My brother was right. Again. I can feel how I’m eating this – the phrases, the prepositions, the grammar. I am again reminded of my earlier years, reading and re-reading the same books over and over again until I could quote passages from them. It’s how I learn to use words. How I find things that help me describe my feelings and viewpoints. The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, LLR, Asimov’s entire catalogue – these were my meals when I was younger. Doing this in Dutch just makes me that much more aware of it. I keep catching myself thinking things like ‘oh, it’s aan, not bij’ or ‘so that’s how you say that’. My emotional link to these stories is intense. I remember one time – vividly. Was reading LLR for the 12 time (or something close to that) and making food at the same time. Big mistake. Popped into the next room to ‘just read a paragraph or two’ and the next thing I knew my mother was at my side, berating me for letting the food burn on the stove. She threatened to take my books away. I knew it was an empty threat at that point, that books would always be available to me and there was nothing she could do about it. I also remember being ready to take sides, and if my mother was asking me to choose between books and her, she was gonna lose. Every time. She could never feed my soul like those stories could.

I’ve a scant 30 pages left in the Roald Dahl, and I’m already feeling sad because I know the end is coming. However, I must admit to curiosity in the new book my teacher gave me. Another kids’ story. I opened the book up, just to take a look at it, and immediately my eyes focused on the words and I began to read. …There’s a part of me – a small part – who’s ashamed and embarrassed to sit in a public place and read a book written for someone 40 years younger than me. I had to overrule her yesterday as I waited for my physiotherapist. I’ve actually resorted to taunting myself in my head ‘Oh, c’mon! Who cares? You’re reading! You’re not so chicken shit that you’re just gonna sit there, are you?’ [And, as a side note, once I overruled that part of me I fell right into that deep reading trance. So deep my physiotherapist had to speak to me to catch my attention.]

My brother has already taken the time yesterday to once again tell me our house is damned clean, that I don’t need to do much, that I should really just stay chillin’. I verbally compromised, scaling back my tall ideas of a total scrub down to ‘running the hoover around and cleaning up the table’ which was acceptable to my bro. Gotta stick around until my injections are delivered. They usually come in the afternoon, so that means (yes!) I’ll have loads of time to read.

And phone. calls. Must do, or try to do. Picked up that referral letter from my doc. Two pages long. A third was a listing of diagnoses – including depression. A third was a listing of my medications – numerous, and depressing in their own right. The last third she gave over to a short explanation of my back and forth, up and down, smoking and swearing I’ve got it under control at this point. There was one line that caught my eye. I haven’t fully translated it, just gave it as good a read through as I could. But it’s a note about by-passing the traditional clinics and just getting me to someone ASAP. I’m not sure I want to translate that sentence. If she thinks I’m really bad, that’ll make ME feel bad for being in such bad shape, and it’ll just feed on itself. …Hm. Maybe I’ll just let that one go. But…time to pick up the phone. The good house phone, not my crappy mobile. I’ll give myself as good a chance of being able to understand the Dutch as I can. And if the words get stuck in my throat and I have to use English, well…so be it.

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