Monthly Archives: September 2012

Summer Coefficient

It’s early July.

“Do you think I should have a little more anesthetic? I’m a coward, you know”

“We’re just going to drill down into the tooth and get that nerve out and then……”

“I really do need more anesthetic!” I am pleading.

AND I am thinking: WE are not going to do anything! Iam going to surrender my gaping mouth to the torturous whining of a dental drill. YOU are going to numb any part of that mouth in contact with the guilty teeth and then MY mind is going to wrestle with painful memories of childhood dental treatment: the sudden hideous jab of the needle into unsuspecting gums; the incessant high pitched whine grinding down – endlessly.

A visit to the dentist is always enough to convince me that I would have delivered all and any secrets to the enemy had there been even a hint of a dental drill.  It is depressing to realize how far from hero status I would be if subjected to pain. And I am there by choice!

Sylvie was a quiet hero and there were no secrets left for her body to tell. It had rotted from the inside and the only choice was morphine. She died July 31st. She was younger than me; her adopted daughter was 13 and her boy was 23, I think. The last time I saw her was in April of this year when she was complaining about a bad back. Her friend, Genevieve contacted me some time after mid July to say Sylvie had refused chemotherapy and had opted for palliative care.

“Shit, that bad?” It was more of a statement than a real question.

“That bad,” she answered anyway.

“How did she get from a bad back to morphine and palliative care within less than 3 months?”  I enquired, flabbergasted.

And there is no real answer it seems. One examination lead to another which lead to another until the truth couldn’t be avoided and hope walked away. Sylvie took her decision and, so I understand waited in excruciating pain for 3 days while hospital admin caught up with patient decision making. Morphine was administered until her consciousness dissolved into coma and then, on a fine summer’s day, she was gone.

Early September and I was wandering along the beach when I saw a notice that said “low tide 14h – high tide 20h – Coefficient 90” In all the years I have spent swimming in the ocean I have never asked myself the question, “what’s a ‘coefficient’ when it’s at home?” and, “90 what?” I marched straight up to the surf life guards and asked them.

“It’s 90,” they said.

“90 what?” I queried.

“Coefficient,” they replied.

“Right……… well……… thank you,” I said.

I wasn’t the only one who knew nothing about the relationship between highs and lows and how to measure them.

Wikipedia told me it was all to do with amplitude and the difference in the height between consecutive high and low tides in any given area. It mentioned the waxing and waning of the moon and how space and time were also influential in the calculation of a coefficient.

And I wondered how one would calculate the coefficient of a human life; how one would estimate the amplitude of the tides of joy and suffering that succeed one another; what was the distance between one’s earth walk and the celestial body.

The Bay of Fundy in Canada and the Bay of Mont Saint Michel in France have the highest tidal coefficients in the world registering at 118.

What was the coefficient of your summer?

Keep your eye on the movements of the moon as autumn comes to join us


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