The View From Up Here

Dinner at WP24, Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant atop the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Los Angeles. With fun friends. Then a show. Like normal people. I can eat and drink and share and laugh. There’s no clock ticking on how long my spine can tolerate being at this table. The air conditioner isn’t killing me. My attention is not absorbed in the discomfort or pain in my body because there isn’t much of any. I can carry my own handbag and wear cute shoes! I’m not worried about sitting through a show either, needing a Vicodin to keep from screaming. Or passing out from exhaustion. Or having to leave early because I can’t take anything anymore and I have to go home. I will not be having a pain-fatigue meltdown when I get home. I don't have those anymore.

I’m thinking about how funny these two we are eating with are and wishing I had more time to keep eating because this food is really good, and when can we come back. And look at all these Japanese people here with their fine clothes and beautiful handbags. I’d like to stay and look at them longer. But we have tickets...

Is this really my life now?

And on the way out, I look down.

The view from up here is of the urgent care where I used to get a morphine shot in the middle of the night. That’s the 110 freeway running behind it. Quaint. It was convenient from where we lived in Miracle Mile. It’s open 24 hours. There were always nice to me.

I lose my breath. I turn and ask Mr. Pennington, "Did you think I would ever really get this well?"

“No,” he says, after pausing to think. “No, I’m sorry, I guess I really didn’t."

“I’m not sure I did, either. It scares me to look at that place and remember how sick I was.” I say.

We take a pic.

I will never forget waiting at that Health Care Partners in Downtown LA at 2:00 a.m., with Mexican soap operas blasting on the TV, sick children, injured people and me crying, last in the triage queue. I wasn't there because I had had an accident. I had just picked up a paperclip or something that day, and it was too much for my fragility, and I was in too much pain to tolerate being alive. Again.

That was my life then.

Mr. Pennington, brave face on, as always, never complaining, never breaking under the stress, getting me through the horror show of Ehlers-Danlos. These midnight trips for morphine were never a fun date. In fact, this was such a low point in my lifetime of physical failure after physical failure, it is where I learned that everything is funny, a point of view not everyone appreciates. Laughing through your tears of pain. You can get right back to crying the next second. Doesn't mean it isn't funny. Doesn't mean you aren't in unbearable pain.

But tonight, we have tickets.

This is my life now.

It's time to stop starring down from the view from up here.

It's time to go.