I, unfortunately was born with Chronic Icy-Cold Arm Syndrome. It can literally be 90 degrees outside, yet my arms feel downright chilly. I get goose bumps, and the 3 hairs on each arm stand straight up. (I didn’t come from a hairy bunch). Since I’m unable to substantiate when exactly this strange phenomenon struck me, I’m going with my birth at home, December 1950. I have found a couple of photos with me as a normal kid. And I’m baring it all. Well, I mean all of my arms. But I think those pictures have been doctored.
|Neese 1953. Pic has been doctored. I’m wearing a hoody…|
I thought long and hard about when my unique remedy for this chronic problem actually manifested itself. Seems like it’s been a few years, tops. But then I started going through the old pictures I’ve downloaded on my iPad.
|Summer 1955. Lin, me, Doug and Larry. Both Gerritson’s wearing long sleeves…|
You know, that’s often the toughest part when I write my blog. Selecting just the right pictures to go with my story. Sometimes I can visualize the picture in my head. But I can’t find it. Every couple weeks I end up hauling a box of old pictures downstairs. This is a learning process. And I’m a very slow learner. I am getting better though. At first, I was so focused on searching for a certain picture, I’d flip through them at warp speed with wild abandon. Where is the dang picture for that paragraph? A few days later, I’d slap myself along side the head as I was writing a new post and think, “ah, you dumb shit. You had that very picture in your hand, yet haphazardly threw it back in the box. Now you need it.” Lately, when I go through them, I stop, frown for a split second and ponder, wonder if I’ll ever need that one for a blog post? See, I’m getting better.
|Shannon 5, Joshua 8 mo. Me w/o flannel, 1976…|
Anyway, back to the old pictures. It seems as though I’ve been wearing long sleeved shirts for a very long time. Not always flannel, but about 90% of the time. It just feels so good. Soft and snuggly. Especially after they’ve been washed 400 times. They’re used as an apron cooking, baking or canning. And eating. Catching all my spills, keeping my t-shirt sparkly clean. But Job 1, first and foremost, is always about keeping my arms covered and warm.
|1979. Adam, 2 months. Mommy with Chronic Cold Arms…|
A dozen years ago I took a very nasty spill while walking. So embarrassing. It was still dark out, and I had no business being out that early. The cause of this bizarre accident? I, um, actually slipped on acorns. Yeah nuts. I know how to do shame right. One foot slid out on a dark sidewalk filled with nuts, (me included) and I went down in a heap. Landed hard on my knee, chin and left elbow. My elbow bone took the brunt of it, finally stopping it’s forward progress before getting cozy with my shoulder.
Several days later I had major repair surgery, complete with a dozen attractive staples. The surgeon explained that I would never be able to fully straighten my left arm. It seems the real problem and cause was an old junior high injury. Fell off the parallel bar in Rock Valley, during P.E. class. It had been diagnosed as a simple dislocated elbow. A quick shot of morphine, and it was rolled back to it’s original location. No, not by Dr. Hegg. My childhood hero. Our family doctor, whom I worshipped. He happen to pick that very week, (his first in maybe 5 years) to go on vacation. Timing is everything, and I’ve never had that technique down pat. But that early serious injury had caused a bone fragment to break off. Which had gone undetected and unrepaired for 40 years. Plus this new, complicated break. There was just too much damage. The incision itself caused nerve damage. Most of those little buggers repair themselves, but they their sweet time in the healing process.
|Probably 80 degrees! 1995..|
After weeks in a cast, I suffered through a month of physical therapy. My therapist was a sadist named Brunhilda. There wasn’t one session during rehab that I didn’t leak tears while she (brutally) attacked my arm. But she’s also the reason my arm is almost un-noticeably straight. She literally yanked on it for the entire month. Thanks Bruiny! You’re the worst-best.
To put things in perspective, easy to understand, I’ll use junk food. The incision area was about the size of a Twinkie. Totally numb like it was chocked full of novocaine. Weird numb. Feels creepy, like ripples, chills or goose bumps sliding up and down my arm. The numb area has been halved in size. We’re talking double-stuff Oreo sized, but still not gone after so many years. And that creepy, ripply feeling lingers too. I don’t feel it when my arm is covered though. If it’s bare and I set my arm down on a chair or table, it gives me the willies. So I keep it covered. Kind of like an arm burka. Sorry, that might be spuuting (Dutch equivalent for making fun of religion, not cool). Ok, enough talk about my fabulous 40 years in flannel high fashion-wear. Living the dream, Baby.
Over 15 years ago, Kathy, a friend and co-worker at McDonald’s moved to Grand Rapids. It’s only about 45 miles away, so I’d drive over after work every few months. Quite close to where she lived was a fabulous new mall called Rivertown Crossing. We’d go to the mall, then have supper together. Even though the mall was new, the area around the mall was not very built up yet. Not like now. But there was an older, small strip mall right between Kathy’s house and Rivertown. A really good Chinese restaurant, named Hunan was located there. Soon becoming our favorite place to eat. Wasn’t long before John was going with me, eating Chinese when we were in GR together. He liked it too.
|Shannon, Landon and flannel me, 2002…|
After Shannon had Landon, she took an extended maternity leave of about 6 months. Grand Rapids was about 80 miles from her. So we started a mini-tradition. Every couple weeks while she was off work, we’d meet at Rivertown Crossing. We’d shop for a couple hours, then enjoy Chinese food for lunch. She’d drive back to Jackson in time to get Ari from school. I’d zip back home the other direction to North Muskegon. We started this tradition again after she had Peyton in 2004. Although I have missed those days with Shannon and her newborns, I never thought it would be fair to ask for another grandchild because I craved Chinese food. (I’m kidding. She said no anyway). Soon she introduced Tracey and Ari to our Chinese restaurant. Now our whole family loves that place. And we almost always have the same waiter. A young Chinese man, who after 15 years of waiting patiently on me, I’ve yet to learn his name. He does however speak much better English now than he did when we first started going there. I’m so embarrassed. I’m going to ask his name the next time I go there. And how his mom is doing? Make up for some lost time cause I’ve been a jerk.
|Me, flannel and Marie, 2004…|
John’s sister Elly, her husband Dewey, their married son Ken and Jeannie came to visit us a couple years later. We had lived in their quaint little town of Spencer, Iowa for several years, forging a wonderful relationship and have remained close ever since. Elly is 18 years older than John (the hubs). She got married when John was about 2, so they never really knew each other very well. Our youngest son Adam was born in Spencer. (check out his story called “Party of 5” on my blog archives. Written on his 35th birthday. For all those not celebrating his birthday with us, it was 9-12-14). To our kids while we lived in Spencer, having Elly and Dewey around was like gaining another set of grandparents.
|2009 w/Graham. I'm wearing 3 layers. Sigh…|
So back to their visit. We had a wonderful time while they were here. Shannon couldn’t come to North Muskegon, but really wanted to see her aunt and uncle. (This is the aunt who used to French braid her hair so tight, Shannon looked Asian for days). So we decided to meet at our mutually loved favorite Chinese restaurant. Got one of those big round tables with the lazy Susan on top that spins your assorted dishes around. That you’re willing to share. As if. We had bragged up that restaurant to Elly for days. And there’s no person on earth who LOVES Chinese food more than Elly. We were all yakking, listening to Ari, 12 and Landon who was about 2. It was only fitting we got our usual and favorite waiter, who shall remain nameless (I’m really mortified here folks). I should make a quick trip there, snarf down some food, so I can at least learn his name. I mean, he’s almost like family. Well, a family member who you don’t care enough about to learn his stinking first name. Ugh. Anyway the coolest waiter dude ever was making his way around our table taking orders. (You know, he could have, at some point in the last 17 years, asked my name too. This can’t be all on me. Shouldn’t I be like family to him too)? When he gets to Elly, she looks up at him and says, “I’ve been hearing about this restaurant all week, so it better be good. I’ll have you know, I drove all the way from Iowa to get this Chinese food!” Without a moments pause, nameless dude shoots back, “And I came all the way from China just to wait on you.”…
|Shannon, Elly, Adam, Dewey, Josh. Spencer, Ia. 1980…|