I was always puzzled by the popularity of zombies and vampires in our culture. Repelled by the images, the movies, the books, I puzzled, “What’s this post-modern fascination with blood?” Imagine meeting a handsome, juicy man, for example. Granted, life gives the average woman at least a few occasions involving handsome, juicy men and various fluids—but seriously, could you imagine hooking your eyeteeth into his neck and hoovering up his elixir vitae like a slurpee?
Now, a prisoner of bed, surrounded by books in my working library that detail, among other things, how humanity has poisoned the planet, I, too, long for healthy red blood—quarts of the stuff. I would gulp it down if someone offered it in slurpee form.
On waking, to find that the body has not moved a millimeter since I laid it down, I detect not the slightest urge to move. My tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth. The arms lie crossed on my chest, like those of a corpse. It seems as if all the liquid in the body has succumbed to gravity. But for the insistent clangor of the bladder, I would be quite content to lie here and simply fade away.
It’s amazing how strong early toilet training is, however, even six or seven decades later. Getting up is an imperative I cannot refuse and fortunately, some years ago I had the bright idea of buying an electric bed, which, at the touch of a button, will raise me to a sitting position.
“Touch.” Yeah, sure. First, where is the control? Okay, it’s next to the right arm, the one that hurts more. Actually, it lies somewhat under the arm, which is bad news: the right arm must move out far enough for the hand to grasp the control. I tell the arm to move out. Aw, come on, just a little? It doesn’t move.
Maybe I could just go back to sleep? No. Damned bladder. I send a sterner message to the arm. It doesn’t move.
I reflect that human willpower evidently resides in the red blood cells. While the arm is lulled into that philosophical mode, I force it an inch to the right. And again. And again. Really ugly sounds escape my mouth and I have a new philosophical opportunity: to reflect on the meaning of pain in its many guises, ‘cause this kind of pain is certainly a new one.
Now the right hand is right on top of the control. Yay! I claw it back up to the chest, almost, paying out another paroxysm of pain. Put a finger on the button and apply pressure. Pressure—ha ha. At this rate, I’ll still be supine by noon.
Restrategize. Okay, it’s always a good thing to have two hands. I let Lefty creep across the chest, a process which hurts much less, and grasp Righty and pull the bitch to the middle of the chest. All right!
Lefty still has enough gumption to exert the required pressure, and up comes the thorax like a zombie from the grave. As the airline industry of long ago used to say, “Half the fun is getting there,” but I’m not even halfway “there” yet. The next step is the agony of the day: turning the zombie body to the left while swinging down the legs to the floor.
The Turn doesn’t involve the greatest pain I’ve ever had (that would be a gigantic disc herniation) but it’s the self-infliction aspect that makes it so hard to get through this bit that after the Turn I sag sideways against the raised part of the bed, gasping for breath and waiting for the groaning to fade. No wonder the dog doesn’t want to sleep in the same room with me anymore—I really do sound like the living dead.
Step Three: heave one’s sorry torso upright, remembering that there is no strength in the arms; so leaning on them would be a dreadful mistake. Okay: one, two…three! With a cry, I step out of the grave. “I am Zombie. Hear me moan. The blood I want must be my own!”
The legs move like two-by-fours in the direction of the bathroom. Thank goodness, the bathroom door has a lever rather than a knob. Rats! Now I’ll have to sit again—if there’s such a thing as a stand-up toilet, I want one. The floor is heated; I turned the heat up to max last night so as not to lose body heat now before lurching back to bed.
Oh, yes, more bed. Apparently I need eight to eleven hours’ sleep now, and generally that comes in three sessions, each a little easier to get up from. After Session One, I drink down my natural painkiller, prepared the night before and left at counter level where I can reach it with minimum pain. After Session Two, I make a hot mixture of iron, Vitamin C and creatine, and down the first instalment of Vitamin D, MSM, and lysine with a piece of organic fruit, all similarly readied the night before. After Session Three, which generally ends with Lord Tyee giving my face a good wolf washing, I take a hot shower to help limber up and force down a healthy organic breakfast with the colorful multitude of the rest of my nutraceuticals.
At some late point in the day, there’s usually a felt shift, and suddenly it’s easier to use my muscles again. Time to feed the wolf and plan our next meals! I can drive then but can’t parallel-park. I can sit at the computer for perhaps twenty minutes at a stretch. Errands and appointments and dog walks can happen. I can have an infrared-sauna session. I can sweep the floor and set out things I need help with, like opening a bottle or jar or moving the vacuum cleaner. It’s a strange life compared to how I lived before March 7.
Every effort, every day—once I escape the bed—is aimed at growing plump red blood cells. Finally I appreciate why vampires and zombies are compelling images for our society, for isn’t that what we’re all wanting—the long, vigorous, red-blooded life so many of us are denied?