Today, I could play a walk-on on the Walking Dead, you know, the crowds of gray people, shuffling about, reaching their hands through chain link fencing, seeing but with no light in their eyes. I think my kidney stone is moving about, trying, despite my too-narrow stent, to plow its way out.
Yes, I played a zombie on the phone today too. Someone from my family called while I was resting and wanted to know how I was feeling. Like shit, or rather crap, I wanted to say. I know I was supposed to perk up, to say I was fine, to assure her I was ready and able, still cheerful despite everything.
I wasn’t. I let the conversation fall on its face. I couldn’t carry it. I couldn’t take responsibility. The best I could do was ask a question that diverted attention from my gray tone and hope she talked for a little longer before she realized I was simply holding the phone and panting on the other side.
I needed to lie down.
Why couldn’t I say I needed to lie down?
Oh right. I did say I needed to lie down. I said I had to walk upstairs because the call was crackling on my one bar from my comfortable place in my bed. I said I didn’t have much energy, that I felt a constant need to lie down even when I was reclined on my couch.
And still she talked. Worse, she asked questions I felt too exhausted to answer. No, I had no idea about the tests they would run on me after the surgery to make sure they took out all the pieces. No, I had no plan to demand that they analyze the pieces of my kidney stone after they’d already told me they would analyze the pieces. And no, I had no idea whose kidney stones, among the family kidney stones, were bigger and more damaging.
There are roles people play in any family. Mine is to comply, to entertain, to remain cheerful despite all evidence to the contrary. I’m fifty-seven years old and my family still expects me to smooth over every conversation.
Fuck that shit. I am the walking dead.
Thank you for listening, jules