Yesterday we went to the zoo, all three of us, plus Laura from Child Life. It was Vivian's first time off the hospital grounds in four weeks, and she was delighted to be out and about. Aside from seeing giraffes, her favorite part of our three-hour furlough might have been the van ride itself and the wheelchair lift into and out of the van.
At the zoo, people stared. Now we know how the animals feel. Like them, we made eye contact with a few of the looky-loos but ignored most of them. I was tempted to throw excrement at one or two people, but I forbore doing so and am probably the better person for having exercised restraint.
Seriously, though, we talked later about our newfound recognition of what people must (might) feel like when they have an obvious or unusual difference or disability. In our experience, at least, it pretty much sucks to be the object of curiosity even if you understand people's impulse to look. Maybe over time one gets used to it, and maybe not. Maybe it's better if people just come out and ask, "What's that?" or "What's wrong?" and maybe not.
At any rate, we let the people look, and we enjoyed our time at the zoo. From what I could tell, the animals at the Hogle are mainly in rehabilitation, and when it's time for them to leave they go to a facility of equal or better quality. For example, the camels that were once there are now at a camel preserve. This kind of practice makes it easier for me to tolerate and even to support zoos, but I still get sad looking at these majestic creatures in habitats that are large and lovely but that still pale in comparison to the wild. I wonder at the human desire to see everything with our own eyes or, worse, to control and even kill to assert our dominance. Case in point: the yahoo at the wolf habitat who said to his 9-year-old daughter, "We kill those at our house, huh? We kill them because they eat our cats." He was saying it as much for us as for her. His wife laughed and beckoned her husband and kid into the reptile house: a fitting place for the likes of him. I thought, "Yeah, or you could leave your cats inside, a-hole." And I thought, "I hope one day you are mauled by a wolf."
Terrible, right? I shouldn't think such things, let alone so close to my daughter's surgery date. I should envelope that idiot in love and healing, and then maybe the universe would repay me in kind. Or maybe the universe is a friend to the wolf, so we're ok.
When we returned from the zoo, I felt relieved. Our van hadn't been t-boned at an intersection! The pins in Vivian's halo hadn't conducted heat from the sun and scorched her skin! There had been no lightning. The clamps in the van had held her wheelchair still. Safely back in the room, Alex and I crashed. When we woke up, I felt like I was getting a cold. That is no good. Vivian's surgery is (re-)scheduled for Tuesday, and she cannot get ill between now and then. Honestly, I don't know how we would handle another delay. I might just throw some excrement. To guard against that possibility, I went to Whole Foods last night--it was a less traumatic experience this time--and bought 10 packets of EmergenC Immune, five for Alex and five for me, one for each day between now and Tuesday. This morning Alex woke up feeling exhausted, so I sent him away to sleep. I'm two ticks away on the crazy dial from bathing Vivian in Purell. We've got to make it intact to Tuesday.
Then Tuesday will happen, the surgery will happen. I saw Mike Pond in the cafeteria this morning. He promises to be tanned, rested, and ready to go after the long weekend. Excellent! May Dr. D'Astous also get good rest, and come Tuesday may he work some art and magic on Vivian's spine. May Vivian herself stay healthy and happy and not too scared between now and then. And may Alex and I bear up. We are tired and cranky, but we are almost there. We are almost there!