Once I met a man who had no nose. Well, he had a nose, but it was made of silicone. A fake nose, held in place by magnets on four metal posts embedded in his face.
He wasn’t wearing his artificial nose when we met, at the UI Health’s Craniofacial Center. He was sitting in the examining room of Rosemary Seelaus, an anaplastologist — a medical specialist who makes facial prosthetics. I shook his hand, trying to focus on his eyes.
Our meeting rattled me, and afterward I had this thought: “I am NEVER ... going to complain about ANYTHING ... ever again!” Because this guy didn’t ask for whatever nasal cavity cancer put a big hole in the middle of his face. And he still woke up, brushed his hair, took his fake nose off his dresser and popped it into place, and went off to face the day. My woes dwindle to insignificance compared to that.
But life doesn’t work that way. We live in difficult times. This plague showed up about February 2020, seemed like it was going away for about 15 minutes in June 2021. Now it’s August and it’s not only back, but starting to feel like the general crisis — medical, social, political — will never end. It’s getting to people.
“In reality, I’m barely hanging on sometimes,” S.E. Cupp, whose column appears in the Sun-Times, wrote on Twitter last week. “I’m anxious all day every day about my kiddo, my health, my job, my parents, my friends, my causes, my community, my country … the truth is, it takes a huge toll. I’m sorry to vent and lay this all out there. But I’m burnt out.”
That takes guts. I’m reluctant to say “I’m burnt out.” It would just spark a chorus of trolls. “You sure ARE, Stinkberg. Why don’t you go hang yourself?” Plus my boss pursing his lips. “Hmmm, he IS burnt out. I mean, three columns on picking up after his dog ...”
But I can’t leave Cupp out there by herself. I feel obligated to stand with her, like the other slaves standing and saying, “I am Spartacus.” I am burnt out, too. I must have scattered a half-dozen typos in a single column last week. The copy desk plucked them out with tongs, a raised eyebrow and a polite “Do these belong to you?”
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