One Thousand Words on Head Injuries and Coffee

Today I was working at my desk and decided I was thirsty. So I pulled my bottle of diet ginger ale out of the drawer and poured some into a paper cup.

(I have to keep it in the drawer. If I put it in the refrigerator, it disappears. There is only one other full time person in the office, so I know who’s drinking it, but it seems so stingy to say, “Don’t drink my diet ginger ale.” So I keep it in the desk drawer and drink it warm. It kind of makes me feel like a character from Mad Men, having a bottle in my desk.)

When I picked the cap up to put it back on the bottle, I dropped it. It rolled way under the desk. As I climbed down to pick it up, I hit my head on the edge of the desk, hard enough to bring tears to my eyes and make me wonder, just for a minute, if I might have a concussion.

(By the way, even though it really hurt, I held back with the curse words and just exclaimed “Jeez Luigi.” Very refined of me, wouldn’t you say?)

I’m always banging my head against things. And I don’t mean figuratively, although I do that too.

In college, I gave myself a concussion when I leaned over to pick something up and banged my head on the metal post of the bed.

And then there was “the sledding incident” which you can read about here.

I wish I was one of those people who got cool injuries instead of just bumping my big old head into walls and desks and such.

I’d like to be one of those people who, when asked why I’m on crutches or why I have a burn on my arm, reply with a nonchalant “Oh, I was skiing in the Alps and broke my ankle outrunning an avalanche” or “I ran into a burning building to save a cocker spaniel and her fourteen newborn puppies.”

I’m more likely to be the person who fell off the kitchen chair or accidentally brushed against the rack while pulling a frozen pizza out of the oven.

Not cool reasons for an injury.

Luckily I’m also not the type of person who gets injured very often, other than bashing my head into hard objects.

I’ve never even broken a bone. (Although I hesitate to write that. Just one week ago I wrote I never get really sick. Like stay in bed sick. By midnight I was throwing up and I was out of it for three days. So I’m pressing my luck writing about broken bones.)

It’s probably a good thing I’ve avoided injury because I heal very slowly (I blame this on my father. He had psoriasis and I always blame any skin problems, like breakouts, blotches or scars, on him.) Even minor burns and cuts take forever to disappear. I hate to think what I would look like if I did do serious injury to myself.

My worst injuries have been sprained ankles, a couple of burns from ovens and curling irons and that tragic sledding accident. (Luckily I’m not bald, so that scar doesn’t show.)

But see what I mean? Not a cool, travel-related, heroic injury in
the bunch.

===

My grandmother was a smoker for many, many years. I can still remember the way her car smelled like cigarettes and playing with her cigarette case. It wasn’t one of those fancy, hard cases the ladies in all the old movies have. It was the soft kind, with a clasp on the top. I used to like snapping it open and closed to hear it click.

She wasn’t a very good cook, but my grandmother used to make these cookies that were really delicious. She’d layer apple jelly between two spicy, gingerbread type cookies and spread frosting on the top. Just writing about them makes me want one.

My mother tells this story about watching my grandmother make a batch of those cookies once. She was smoking and an ash from her cigarette fell into the bowl. She just mixed it right into the batter and kept on baking.

Then one day my grandmother just quit smoking. Cold turkey. I was too young to remember the circumstances, but family legend has it that she got sick and just lost her taste for cigarettes.

When she got well, she never started back up.

I wonder if it was really that easy.

I kind of hope not because I haven’t enjoyed a cup of coffee since I was sick a week ago and I don’t want to lose my taste for it. I don’t want to quit coffee cold turkey.

There’s something about a cup of coffee. The smell, the color, the heat.

I can get caffeine other places like tea or diet coke, so it’s not about the caffeine. It’s about the ritual. If I never regain my taste for coffee, I’ll miss it.

And I might even turn into one of those people who is very defensive about not drinking coffee.

I emailed a board member a while back and asked if he had time to get together for a cup of coffee. When he returned my message he wrote, “I don’t drink coffee but I’ll have a cup of tea with you.”

I didn’t mean he had to drink coffee. I simply wanted to know if he had time to get together.

I also ask people if they’d like to “grab a sandwich.” I’m not suggesting that they can only order a sandwich. I’m not offended if they have a salad or soup instead.

No, I’ll never be like that. I’ll just have to retrain my palate to enjoy coffee again.

I loved my grandmother and many of her traits and talents I would have been proud to inherit. But I can do without her ability to lose a lifetime habit during a bout with the flu.

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