Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Friends" vs Real Life and Friends

I haven't blogged much lately (well, for the better part of the past year I suppose) because I've lost interest in talking about my private life so publicly, and I write more on my Author Page on Facebook now.
But lately I have felt like writing a few things, so maybe the blog will rise again.
Or not.
This week was very unusual for me as I had kidney stone surgery (sort of). A few weeks ago, right after our family cruise, I thought I had severe back pain. And I probably did have actual, regular back pain (from traveling and riding a horse in Mexico with the worst saddle I've ever seen). The back pain was bad enough that I didn't recognize the symptoms of kidney stones until it was too late. I was in so much pain I decided to go to the E.R., which required either an ambulance or a friend to take me, as I was in no condition to drive. I texted everyone I could think of who wouldn't be at work at that time, and found one wonderful friend to take me. Even as I waited for her to pick me up, I debated calling an ambulance. But ultimately didn't take an ambulance because I was worried I wouldn't be able to get to the door fast enough to let them in.
These are the real problems of being single and living alone. How to keep from dying alone in your own home because there was no one else around to open the door for you. As it was, it took me nearly 30 minutes to slowly move across my bed to reach my phone to call for help.
I've been watching "Friends" a lot on Netflix for the past few weeks. (Being bedridden from kidney stones and then the surgery will do that to you.) Sure it's a sitcom and far from reality. But I think sometimes all these silly TV shows that glamorize single life do a huge disservice to actual singles. Life isn't like it is on "Friends" where everyone is buddies with the cute guys/girls across the hall, and everyone comes and goes and eats each other's food. I don't know my neighbors' names. Believe me, as I was sobbing in pain, praying for a miracle that someone, somehow would know that I was in need of help at that moment, I wracked my memory trying to think of a neighbor's name I could yell out to get help. But the truth is, I could probably recognize one guy who lives on my floor, but I've never asked his name. But of the other 2 apartments, and presumably 5 other adults who live here, I have no idea what they look like, or what their names are. (I don't even really know that 5 people live on this floor.)
And it has always been like this. I never know my neighbors or anything about them. They are just people who could afford the same amount of rent I can, and need to live in the same area. We have nothing else in common. We don't even speak the same language.
On "Friends" they do everything together. They hang out in the coffee shop. They spend holidays together. They go on vacations together. Again, sure, it's a sitcom, and it's all fiction. But the truth is, when I want to go see a movie, and invite friends, it takes a week's notice, and 50 text messages for all of us to agree on something.
I had little to no expectations for my friends to be able to drop everything and come assist me after my surgery this week. I have been grateful for the few friends who have made the time and effort to come over and help me out. (I really was bedridden all of Tuesday and Wednesday. Today I was able to shower on my own, and I think by the end of the day I will be able to walk my dog.) I know my friends love me and would help me if they could. But the truth is that life is nothing like it is on TV. Friends can't make time sacrifices like that to always be there for you. When you are single, your job is to look out for yourself. You don't have the luxury of assuming other people will be able to help you out.
Part of me finds this all a bit ironic and funny. Because I definitely get the impression from non-singles, that they assume that since I have no family to tend to, that when they need help, I should be able to drop everything and be there for them. (And I often do.) But when a single person needs help, it can be far more difficult to find someone to give the help.
I'm grateful for the system my church has in place to provide help and compassionate service when needed. Yesterday a woman from my congregation that I didn't know showed up with dinner for me, and took my dog out for a big walk. (The dog came home one very happy pooch, which is good, because help isn't coming to walk her for a few more hours today.) She didn't know me. She just knew I needed help because of our compassionate service system. Next week she is having surgery, and I've signed up to repay the favor by assisting her. (Although there is no expectation that I should do so. I did it because I want to.)
If it weren't for the compassionate service through the church I don't know how I would get by this week. I know my mother wishes she could be here. And my sister has offered to come help me (but she lives over an hour away without traffic, and has a full-time job, plus goes to college at night, so it's hard for us to work it out).
Single life is not what it ever appears to be like on TV or in movies. Singles aren't a codependent happy bunch of people who do everything together. They are floating, independent ships, looking for a comfortable place to anchor and find reserves and supplies.
As for the rest of my story and situation, I did have surgery on my kidneys on Tuesday. I'm recovering as well as can be expected. I have high hopes that tomorrow I can leave the house (for a job interview). I also have high hopes that I will be able to sleep for more than 3 hours before the painkillers wear off and the pain wakes me back up. Sleep would really make me happy right about now. I do expect to return to regular life by Monday. We haven't completely solved the mystery of my kidneys yet, and that situation is far from over. I expect there will be another surgery next month, but I'm going to push that off for as long as possible. I have no desire to "recover" from another procedure for a good long time. 

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