Gentle reader, since you and I have become such close friends this year, I decided to include you in my annual holiday letter.
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh no, please don’t tell me this guy’s going to talk about how perfect his life is.” I wouldn’t do that to you. I’m keeping it real this year by sharing only the mundane highlights.
We started 2017 by buying a new mattress. Not an easy feat if you happen to be born, as I was, with the “Princess and the Pea” gene. Every mattress I tried delivered a different pain or sensation.
One felt like sleeping on a concrete slab left over from I-5 construction. Another had me sinking into a pool of quicksand so low I thought I’d have to set up a pulley system to hoist myself out of bed. A third got so hot at night that I thought I was going through “the change” despite the fact that I don’t have the requisite equipment.
I thought all my prayers were answered when I tried out a Sleep Number bed, but figuring out my preferred digits proved to be too much to ask. Night after night, I adjusted the air pressure to make it softer, then firmer, then somewhere in-between. At the end of the 100-day free trial period, I decided to face the ugly truth that math just isn’t my thing, and returned it.
That’s when I decided to change pillows. I tried them all: down alternative, memory foam, feather, side sleeper, back sleeper and combo sleeper. Still no clear winner, and every night is a boxing match. I bob and weave, throw a couple of jabs to rearrange the feathers, but the pillow still manages to land a sucker punch in my neck when I’m not looking.
As if that wasn’t trying enough, let’s talk about the year in health. It started with the extraction of one tooth and replacement with an implant. That was the easy part.
It was getting a file broken in my gum by the endodontist while removing a previous root canal that gave me pause. After three hours in the chair, I was convinced I had been mugged. She hurt me bad and then took all my money.
And then there were my feet problems. I’ve always had flat feet — I blame it on growing up in the swamps of Louisiana — but that’s just the beginning. Let’s add negligible fat padding on the metatarsal for constant soreness, a couple of neuromas that transfer electrical shocks with each step, and matching bunions each the size of the Tacoma Dome.
I thought new custom orthotics would be the answer, but I forgot that I had the whole Princess and the Pea thing going on. In my life, you fix one problem and you create a new one.
My last adjustment tried to add more cushion to the metatarsal area, but that increased the volume in my shoe just enough to make it too tight and cram my little toe against the outside edge like a late passenger boarding a subway train in Tokyo.
But 2017 could have been a lot worse. My pancre-aches (cross between a stomach ache and a pain in my pancreas) only wake me up a couple of times each night. My newly developed knee pain is still on an intermittent schedule, and knee replacement seems a good few years away.
My kidney stones gave me a couple of false alarms this year but nothing worse than a reminder that pain worse than childbirth could strike without warning at any moment.
As you can tell, it’s been a great year. I hope this little missive does what all good holiday letters should do: Keep you connected with important people in your life (you might want to rethink our friendship), invoke a sense of wonder and curiosity (how in the world does this guy survive with that Princess and the Pea thing?), and fill your heart with endless gratitude (thank God this is not your life!).
Ted Broussard is retired after working as a counselor and administrator in community and technical colleges. A downtown Tacoma resident, he is one of six reader columnists writing for this page. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org