Summer Diary: 11 June 2012

The old dog insisted on going on the morning walk, but lost her legs on the way back and had to lie down to rest until she could make her slow shuffle home. It's up to me to set the limit for her, despite her initial enthusiasm. She slept the entire day, waking to eat or growl a warning at the cat and small dog. I'm getting all my yearly well check ups out of the way this week. The doctor told me to relax, but I knew what he intended and tried to calm myself in between adjustments. I ended up clenching the sides of the table. He waited until I released my grip to continue. I'm learning to breathe into it. I have to pretend I'm somewhere else. Later, I am in a dark room, focusing on a tiny blue dot, peering into a device that measures corneas. I have a flash from Orwell's 1984 and immediately pull back. The doctor is surprised. I ask him if anyone ever told him this procedure reminds them of the torture scenes from the book. He says an unemotional "no", but his forehead is fighting what looks like a war that advances and recedes very quickly. The first time he examined my eyes he said "has anyone ever told you that you are too smart for your own good" after I asked him if he was going to change the screen since I had memorized the order of the letters. His question made me laugh even though I knew it wasn't intended to be humorous. I asked him to change the screen not to challenge him, but because I knew that unless he changed it, I would repeat the memorized letters because I always want to do well on tests of any kind, and then he wouldn't get an accurate reading of my eye strength. I am a little tense when I see doctors. I planted a dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes and basil in the last of the day's light. A neighbor waved hello and I walked over and we talked, his fence between us. He spoke for the first time about being a disabled vet, his PTSD and the strategies he uses to contain it. I pinched the inside of my arm so I wouldn't cry. He said my father means so much to him, that as vets, even though of different wars, they speak the same language. I could hear the anguish in his words. I cried, but he kept talking as if I were just standing there nodding, smiling, politely commenting on the weather.

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