Every morning, right upon waking, I have a little routine.
I check my fingertips, especially the fingernails.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s peculiar. No, wait. That’s not what you’re thinking — You’re thinking it’s flat-out weird. I’m weird. But don’t we all have our own little rituals upon waking? Mine can’t be the only one so unique, so strange, so idiosyncratic, you hypocrites.
There’s obviously a reason why I check my fingertips. For anyone thinking me weird, I’m about to make you feel a teensy bit guilty. For the past couple of weeks, my fingernails have become stubbier and wider than usual. The tips of my fingers are also stubby, almost flattened. I expect my nails to be short and jagged around the edges. I’m a biter, see. It’s a habit that visually illustrates to anyone who sees me that I suffer from anxiety. But that’s not what’s going to make you feel guilty about thinking me strange. Lots of people suffer anxiety, and a lot of us bite our nails. Granted, I hear you — it’s gross, but it’s also about body ownership. I do what I want with what I have.
Anyway, I conduct a little test during my morning finger check. I put both of my index fingernails together and check to make sure there’s a diamond-shaped sliver of a gap between them. That gap is called a Schamroth’s Window. If the gap is there, it’s a good sign. If it isn’t, the fingertip may be clubbing. In other words, the tips are starting to look like the meaty part of a drumstick, fat and thick with broad, sloping fingernails.
Now if your fingertips are clubbing, there’s an 80% chance that you are suffering from a pulmonary or cardiovascular disease. My mother’s fingertips showed signs of clubbing, and she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs. That particular hell on earth apparently runs in my mom’s side of my family (my grandmother died from it, too), but we didn’t know any of this until it was much too late. According to the research I have found, clubbing can occur within mere weeks. It’s rapid, and not coincidentally, so was my mother’s and grandmother’s pulmonary fibrosis.
Now you know why I check every morning. During my check, I keep in mind that my nails may be becoming healthier and tougher because several months ago, I started taking vitamin supplements every day. I realize there is ample research that indicates our body expels the excess of those sorts of supplements such as extra biotin and vitamins C & E. However, there has been a nicer, notable difference in my skin and hair lately, so there must be something happening there. For now, while there’s still a Schamroth’s Window, I will chalk up the nail changes to my vitamin intake.
It was during my morning check today when it struck though. The window I’d checked for was there, but another window had opened to something else entirely — the overwhelming, paralyzing feeling of being alone. I am now alone where I live. Utterly alone. My closest family members are a 5 hour drive away, so if I’ve an emergency, I am alone with it until any one of them is able to come down. I have friends nearby, but I cannot fathom having to call them at a ridiculous hour only to have them drive over to get me to an ER. During the last ER visit I had locally, a delightful event I blogged about once before, I did everything on my own because it happened at an ungodly hour in the morning. After that ordeal, several of my local friends insisted that I call them should it ever happen again.
I thought about that. It’s my emergency plan should I desperately need it, but think about it first. It still takes some time before they can get dressed somewhat, fumble for the car keys and make the drive over. By then, what would’ve happened?
And I am still alone. I Am Still Alone.
The last major panic attack I had was a couple of months ago, and I was so lucky. My guy was at my house, and I was so grateful he was there in my house, with me, for that Just In Case moment. I wouldn’t have had to worry about anything except getting in the car and riding to the hospital. That’s all.
He’s not “my guy” anymore though. He broke it off with me last month during my summer break. I wasn’t “doing enough” for him, or so he indicated. (I’ll let you fill in the rest with that.) Funny how those things turn out. I was angry for the rest of that month, angry that he’d felt entitled, and stupid me, I thought he’d been much better than that, much more “adult.” Stupid me, I’d thought that about him for the past seven years. My mistake.
Now though, I’m just achingly depressed. Everything hurts right now, and everything is scary again. I’m alone once more, and I don’t like it. Certainly, I like my “me” time in increments, but I realize more often that the older I get (now deep into middle age), we are not built to be entirely self-sufficient. We need others. We are not meant to be entirely alone for long periods of time.
So to be frank, I don’t need to hear condolences per the usual well-meaning, if worn, recited idioms like “There are plenty of fish in the sea,” “You’ll find him/the One soon,” “You don’t need a man to be happy,” “You’re better off being alone” and so forth. To them I say, “The older I get, the smaller the pool,” “Soon may not be soon enough,” “True, but as I’ve found, it’s hella nice to have a decent fella right there Just In Case The Shit Goes Down,” “When was the last time YOU were really and truly alone for a long period of time?” and so forth, as appropriate.
I’m learning, alone again, that this just isn’t for me whatsoever. It’s not how I was meant to be living.