Codger column: A trip to Malady

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The neurologist recited Codger’s main symptoms: “Your hands are clumsy and you walk like Frankenstein.”

“Obviously,” said Codger, who had already reviewed his MRI with Dr. Google, “I will need a cervical spine laminectomy fusion.”

The neurologist sighed. “Unless you also plan to operate, I have an excellent neurosurgeon for you.”

The excellent neurosurgeon was so entranced by Codger’s monster gait that he kept him lurching back and forth across the examining room before he would book an operation date for next week.

“Are there risks?” asked Crone.

“There are always risks with surgery,” said the excellent neurosurgeon, looking eager to have another go with the blade. That gave Codger confidence. He thinks you always want your surgeon to have a bit of jockish swagger.

So, once again, our old hero is off on an adventure in Malady, that country of illness he knows too well. At his age and on this island, he has many fellow travelers. After Florida, it is the most common winter destination.

No wonder the canes have sprouted at the post office, the pharmacy and the IGA. Codger is most aware of the shuffling and tapping when he himself is on a Malady trip, alert to other canes and those abler bodies who breeze through doors without a backward glance. Whomp!

Codger has noticed that west and south of the Island, including New York City and Sag Harbor, the chances of getting pounded by a careless door is far greater than on Shelter Island. Codger has been using one of Crone’s trekking poles to aid his balance. He was delighted when the excellent neurosurgeon approved the stick and suggested using its sharp point. He, of course, was thinking ice while Codger was thinking careless door breezers. Whomp! Touche!

In the early stages of this current journey to Malady, well after Codger’s slow but triumphant 5K outing last June, weakness, fatigue and an unstable gait appeared. It was suggested that polymyalgia rheumatica was involved, perhaps vitamin deficiencies, then even Lyme disease. Maybe there was a long-simmering sleeper cell waiting in ambush.

Lyme is a go-to diagnosis here, and offers the chance to fulminate on deer, ticks, 4-posters, hunters and the failures of the Town Board to make Shelter Island great again or at least protect its very dangerous southern border.
But now it was neck cuttin’ time. Codger had prepared for the worst before. He had to put his financial affairs in order, secure his classified documents and express his final declarations of affection.

Finances would be easy. Just remind Crone which mattress to turn over. (That’s a joke, home invaders.)

As for the documents, sorry, that’s strictly need to know. But Codger has leaked that they include the evidence he has been assembling on those annoying people who might very well be to blame for the stress leading to Codger’s shaky spine; this includes those who irrigate their lawns all summer, those who do not pick up their dog poop on the beach, and the Tobacco Roaders whose front yards look like dumps (no wonder that word may not be used to describe the handsome Recycling Center).

This list is neither complete nor represents the worst, says Codger; that information will be available on the day of reckoning.

Thursday was  Valentine’s Day and Codger does not want to dwell on the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, despite his belief that the Island needs peace and legislation, especially in the form of a full-time dedicated code enforcement officer.

Who better than a cranky old pain in the neck?

Enough, said Codger. No matter his disdain for the affliction of commercialized affection, this year Codger wants to go beyond acknowledging the obvious supports of his life, especially Crone, the children and Cur II, to blow a kiss or tip a cap to three people whose public service has enriched all Island lives.

Thus a Happy Valentine to Jay Card Jr. His tenure as highway superintendent, public works commissioner and landfill supervisor was a model of vision, hard work and intelligence.

A Happy Valentine to Terry Lucas, who in four years as director of the Library remodeled, enhanced and added innovative chapters to the Island’s intellectual community center.

And a Happy Valentine to Laurie Fanelli, who rightly deserves a saint’s day of her own. As senior services director she is merely the mayor and mainstay of the Island’s largest growing and neediest population.

Codger would also like to thank his reader/enablers. An encouraging word here, a tapped cane there, is enough to fan the fires of outrage.

Soon enough, the staples and stitches will be gone, Cur II will dig up the documents, and it will be time to go irritate the irrigators.

The monster will lurch again.

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