Is my neighbor’s dog really wearing a pink dress?

Her dog did NOT look this happy

So I get home from my kidney transplant this past Saturday — not until about ten o’clock since I’d had to finish one last IV at the hospital. But my son and I hopped in a cab (okay, I totally didn’t hop) and home we were. And Sunday went all right, all things considered. Little by little we tidied the house back up. He went to the grocery store. He’d been pretty much on his own for the week I was gone — he’ll turn 16 in September. My older sister came and stayed at night and made sure he got back to the apartment at a decent hour. He went and picked up Percocet for me. I was surprised they let him but I’d called and said he was coming.

So about that Percocet. Yeah. Surgery is a drug haze. Of course I had the Demerol drip immediately afterward. That would have been after waking up out of the anesthesia which included fentanyl and Demerol, because, yes, I asked. There’s nothing wrong with being educated. I have the clearest yet haziest memory of being in post-op just watching everything happen around me as if from some kind of highly entertaining other world. About two days went by like that and then I switched to the Percocet.

In which I question reality

Anyway that first Sunday morning was a little rough-going. I was in the hospital for four days and by the fourth I was about to pop and had to get out of there. But then of course once home there was the reality of an empty refrigerator, a somewhat untidy apartment and the fact that I was on my own and pretty debilitated.

Well, the pharmacy opened at ten and off my son went. One Percocet took the edge off the pain. By evening we did laundry together. My son carried everything down and I directed him. It was a relief for him to be directed after being so responsible all week. I’d gotten him a debit card so he could go out and by all his food on his own. He revealed to me that had taken the majority of his effort. He also came up to the hospital every day and he was very thoughtful and solicitous.

We go down at about nine-thirty to pick up the clothes from the drier and one of the driers is open and the clothes are still completely wet. It comes out that I hadn’t started it — I’d only run one. Well, the evening Percocet. So we have to do that one all over again. On the way down I heard my crazy neighbor’s small, white dog sort of whining and protesting about something, and her talking cajolingly to it. I didn’t think anything of it because, well, she’s crazy, and the weirdest of weird things are forever going on there.

We get the last load of laundry out of the drier. By now it’s about ten-thirty on a very long Sunday. We get off the elevator on the 7th floor and there my neighbor is standing locking her door. She’s wearing a pink dress that is somewhat childish in nature. Btw, she’s about 38 or 40. When she first moved in she looked like a model. By all appearances she was a high-class hooker — didn’t seem to have a job, came and went at odd hours dressed to the absolute nines, men of all ages and types constantly in and out of her revolving door. Drugs. Impending violence. Twice she was hospitalized and then back again installed as my neighbor.

So now she just looks plain worn out and really just plain nutty. And there she is standing there in a childish pink dress and yes, one of her two white dogs has on a matching pink dress. Oh, yes, of course it does. Why wouldn’t it? Why would I not see my neighbor in a pink child’s dress with her dog in a matching number on the first night back from my surgery? “Hi,” she says, and smiles, not sheepishly, but with a kind of well-would-you-look-at-me? type of aura. “Hi Melissa,” I say. Again, why would I be surprised?

My son and I bring the laundry in. That is it for my first post-surgical day at home. My son is exhausted as well, having spent his reserves of responsibility over the past week. We both go to sleep — don’t even really talk about the neighbor/dog matching pink dress combo because there’s nothing to say. My son was six when she moved in and he’s gotten quite an education over the years from having her next door.

Am I on drugs or is this our president?

I don’t even think anything of it until the next day and then I do. So I’m on Percocet and I see my neighbor and her dog in matching pink child’s dresses. No problem. So what is really real? It that post-op drug haze real? Is my surgery real? (It is — easy enough for me to verify.) Are all those people in the hospital with all those problems real? That poor guy with colon cancer who was only in his late 30’s and so friendly and nice? That guy with the oxygen tube cruising around the halls with his wife at a breakneck pace? Those old people who didn’t quite know what the hell was going on except that they were old and in pain and debilitated? Those two separate people who were having rejection episodes after kidney transplants while mine was going really extraordinarily well? Did my sister really just give me one of her own kidneys?

Yes, all that happened. Also, Trump pretended to wrestle a fake CNN head. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re on drugs or not. You have to ask if this is all really happening. And it is. Life is of endless variety. How did the world line up the cards at this time so that our president is a National Enquirer headline in action? Where was my neighbor going dressed like that with her dogs at ten-thirty on a Sunday? There are endless questions to which there may never be answers. But at least now I get to stick around and keep asking.

Like what you read? Give Sandra Koppel a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.