I’m sitting in the waiting room of a surgical suite, awaiting a cortisone shot to relieve the bulging discs in my lower back. I’m preemptively antsy that the doctor is going to keep me waiting again.
I got this from my mother, this impatient sense of entitlement that I be treated according to the rules. Whatever those are. She survived life in a one-horse town of the Deep South during the 1940s and 50s, and when she came north to a New York City suburb, fresh out of high school, she came with an attitude: Don’t tread on me. Through osmosis, she passed that ‘tude on to me.
Relax, I tell myself. Doctors keep everybody waiting; it’s not personal.
But I’m anxious anyway. I’m getting a shot in the back. My last shot to the back was the epidural when I had my daughter twelve years ago, and that was a disaster! It gave me a headache so piercing, I had trouble nursing her the first day of her life. And the day I came home, I couldn’t move my legs without severe pain for several hours. That’s not a good history with shots in the back.
Mom likely would’ve told me to pass on this option. She would’ve looked up every herbal concoction known to man that would relieve lower back pain and sciatica and shipped it to me in cases, like the care packages she sent me in college. She would have lectured me on quitting kung fu back when the tornado kicks began screwing up my back as a green sash.
She already thought martial arts was more trouble than it was worth, after I tore my meniscus in tae kwon do. That first knee operation almost kept me from being at her side when she took her last breath, her decline came so quickly after it.
I wonder what she would have thought about me starting up again, pushing through three more serious injuries to make it to teacher status. I think she would have been just like me when watching her grandchildren spar, hit the floor, sometimes even bleed. She would have winced – albeit through the phone, eight hundred miles away – then found a smile to put into her voice to encourage me to get back up and do what I needed to do. She would have told me to be careful, to take care of myself…to succeed. And she would have been in a front row seat the day I earned my black sash and again, nine months later, when her grandson earned his.
She would have hated me getting this shot today and told me to call her the moment I was home. Then, she would have asked me when I was entering my next tournament.