In early July of ’76 my girlfriend Sophie and I were hanging in the back yard of a two-story Paris home on rue du Bac. It was the storied residence ** of Georges and Francois Raymond, a 40ish couple for whom Sophie has worked as au pair girl. A nice hot day, tall glasses of iced tea on a serving tray, relaxation all around.
Anyway we were taking turns shooting at a paper target with a heavy-duty, spring-loaded pellet gun, and as Georges was loading a part sprang loose and slammed into his abdomen. He had to be in awful pain, but Georges held his breath, clenched his teeth, didn’t make a sound. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow…tough material.”
That’s not me. I’m about to start my third day of godawful rib pain due to my falling accident in the Sierras last Sunday afternoon, and I’ve probably said “owww!” at least 30 or 40 times since the incident. I’ve also said “aagghh!” and “oh, God!” and “fuck fuck fuck!” a few times. I’ve also said “Jesus H. Christ!”
As much as I admire the Georges Raymond or Lee Marvin approach to pain (acknowledge but don’t succumb, no crying or moaning) I can’t live up to it. I’ll talk a tough game but when serious pain comes a callin’ I’m a wuss.
Every physical movement that requires the slightest use of back or rib-area muscles hurls me into the worst pain dungeon I’ve ever experienced in my life. Coughing is agony. Just raising my right arm can be murder. I’ve barely been able to sleep in the conjugal bed (no shifting positions, strictly on my back) but for some reason I’ve been able to nap on the couch in the wee hours. I can’t dress or undress without pain. I’ve had to ask Tatyana for help putting on jeans, slipping on socks, tying shoelaces, etc.
I was so distracted this morning I couldn’t make myself write. My adjustable cane is my constant companion, and it doesn’t help very much. I’ll be visiting a CVS later this afternoon to buy one of those supported rib-brace bandages. I’ve discovered a few Tramadol in my bathroom cabinet, which at least is something. Tomorrow I have a 2 pm appointment with a holistic chiropractor named Fernando Mata, whom I went to in ’13 after lifting heavy boxes up some stairs and screwing up my back big-time. There’s a strap-on heating pad arriving sometime this afternoon via Amazon. What else can I do?
Oh, to be where I was last Saturday, not a pain or care in the world, happy and speeding on a Nevada highway.
1:30 pm update: I’ve decided to go see a holistic chiropractor at 2 pm. A local guy, Santa Monica Blvd., takes some insurance but not mine.
** The Raymond home has a long tunnelled driveway right off rue du Bac, and this part of the home was used by the What’s New, Pussycat? people when they shot in Paris in ’65.