Kage Baker liked to reminisce, from time to time, about the diverse things that made our adolescence interesting and unique. It was a kind of mental aerobics for her – it exercised her memory, letting her keep the files tidy and up to date; it encouraged cross-referencing and refiling, as new experiences cast old ones into a new light.
Sewing the past in to the present was a constant activity for Kage. Executing the mental equivalent of turning the heel in a sock grew out of it, too: it was one of the ways she branched off from reality. It was how she found those turns that were 90 degrees perpendicular to everything, and wandered off into other worlds and dimensions.
So there were hours and hours spent going dreamily over old occurrences. Do you remember? was not a rhetorical question for Kage, or from her. We went over and over the high and low and just plain weird points of our lives, looking for unsampled views and vantage points hidden under the trash of years.
One of the constant themes of our teenaged years was the unending attempts of my right kidney to kill me; which I’ve touched on once or twice before. I spent a lot of high school lying on a table in the cafeteria, being used as a book prop or an easel or a draft excluder. My friends leaned their textbooks on me and had me hold their Cokes; I guarded coats and purses and judged the throwing plastic forks into the acoustic ceiling tile competitions, as I had an unrivaled view of the ceiling … a lot of Kage’s stories began as she propped a sketch pad against me and illustrated some plot point in what would become Lord Ermenwyr’s Universe.
But when I was 18, the offending kink in my right ureter was surgically repaired; and when I was 30, it was repaired again. The infections and debilitating pains stopped in my freshman year of college, and the old enemy only raised its banner rarely after that. The pain became a memory rather than a constant danger. I still wish I had succeeded in having the kidney removed and fed to Kimberly’s cats, but the damned thing still works. Mostly. Usually.
On my birthday, it decided to stop. Kidney pain is notorious for being vile, and I’ve discovered that time does not lessen its revolting power. By the evening of the 5th, I was reaching the point where I start throwing up – it always happens, and the pain subsides for a while after that, which is great. By that time, though, I was also in the ER, happily stoned on morphine and suggesting to my doctor that it would be amusing to have developed Stag’s Horn calculi; he agreed, but his only explanation for the condition of my damned kidney was: It hurts because it’s swollen, and it seems to be swollen because it hurts.
Interestingly Zen, and there’s no denying it’s an ugly kidney: it looks more like a dented cantaloupe than any kind of respectable legume. No stones, but a humdinger of an infection. I was given antibiotics, and sent home with more plus a nice supply of hydrocodone. It’s all kept me moderately numb and increasingly less inflamed over the last few days, and I believe my kidney is going to escape being ejected from my environs yet again. I don’t want to keep the thing, but all my doctors are loathe to condemn a mainly-functioning organ as cat meat.
Anyway, that’s what has occasioned my silence these last several days. Bright demented dreams and the necessity of staying lying down have prevented me from writing; I ought to take up opium, so I might have a chance of working as I wait out the rebellion of my viscera.
I could really have spent the rest of my life without reliving this portion of my adolescence. The constant companion of The Pain In My Side is NOT something I ever wanted to experience again. And I suspect the doctors are going to cut off my supply of narcotics sooner or later, so I don’t really have the chance of developing an interesting addiction.
Oh, well. I’d rather be lucid, anyway.