Santa hadn’t been feeling well for several months now…. the “quite literal” pain in his neck, ran down into his shoulders and across his shoulder blades. Over the last few days, it had all become increasingly annoying; more annoying than even the incessant hammering, tapping, screwing and banging of the caffeine fuelled elves, who were now in the workshop, 24/7!
Mrs Clause, who had her own problems this time of year, was sure Santa’s health issues were related to the stress of the season; after all they were both far too old for this shit. However, Santa knew, in his heart of hearts, that this was something more than holiday stress.
On this particular morning, the day before, the day before the “Big Day,” he had woken with a God awful headache that was crippling. It was so bad, he told the reindeer to get on with their daily routine and exercises, and to complete their “check by check” maintenance on the sleigh, without him.
This was absolutely unheard of and Rudolf was so freaked out by Santa’s directive to carry on, had a panic attack just thinking about it! His nose lite up like a… well like a lightbulb!
Santa went straight back to bed after being up for only a few hours and fell fast asleep. When he awoke, many hours later, the headache (and muscle aches) were even worse than they had been earlier! He now had horrific pains in both temples, and his hair hurt to the touch. He was still exhausted and felt like he had been hit by a sleigh!
“Ohhhhhh, this is bad,” he thought, “…this is very, very, bad.”
He struggled to get his coat, hat and boots on, but when he finally did, he made his way (albeit slowly) across the snow covered compound. He walked past the reindeer barn, where he saw Rudolf, standing in the back, nervously downing a few Valium. He peeked in the window of the worksop, where he saw hundreds of elves, wired on espresso and suffering from sleep deprivation, hammering, tapping and banging on toys, cars, trucks and each other! He slowly strolled past the garage, where the ancient sleigh, which had been his for a millennium, sat parked… patiently waiting for the BIG day.
He made his way down Main Street to the North Pole Surgery and of course, being Santa, he just walked right on through to the first open exam room, and slumped onto the table.
The doctor, a Polar Bear and native of the North Pole, ran in right behind him, asking “Uhhhhh, Santa? Santa? Is there a problem?”
Santa responded loudly, “YES, there’s a freakin problem! I have a God awful headache, body aches and my temples and hair hurt to the touch. I feel like I’m dying…. ”
Being very good at his job and quite astute, the doctor’s eyes could not hold back the concern. He stepped into the room and proceeded to give good ol Santa a thorough exam; all the while asking him lots of questions about fatigue, appetite, his eye sight, jaw, hip and thigh pain.
When he was sure he had seen enough and heard… the doctor announced, “I believe you have PMR & GCA,” in the most matter of fact, authoritative voice. Santa looked at him with questioning, dubious eyes and said loudly, “What the hell is PMRG… what?
After a long serious conversation with the doctor, Santa felt washed out, depressed and quite sad.
What was he going to do? Why did this happen to him? How was he going to cope? What would happen to Christmas?
He got dressed and slowly started to make his way back home. On the way, he had to make a quick stop at Ollie’s Pharmacy; where Ollie (a wise old Snow Owl) fixed him up with a prescription for 30, 60mg tablets of Prednisolone. “Hmm?” the tiny, white pills looked innocuous enough, “…how bad could the side effects really be,” Santa wondered.
On the way out the door, Santa grabbed a bottle of Jameson 7 Year Old whiskey and shoved it in his coat pocket! “Ahhh, fuck it,” he said out loud.
Yes, after a millennium of good luck and good health, Santa had succumbed to not one, but TWO dreaded autoimmune diseases; PMR & GCA. Life as he knew it, at least for the next several years, would be changed drastically.
Meanwhile back in Mrs Claus’ kitchen….
Sugar Plum Mary, who was quite tiny, with long dark hair, bitched and moaned to herself, as she frosted her six hundred and fifty, third batch of cookies, of the day!!!
Originally from a far away province, she had been here in the North Pole for centuries, and had managed to progress to being “Head Of Sweet Treats” and Mrs Claus’ top assistant. “God this cookie making crap is boring as all hell,” she muttered, as she carelessly slapped the watery frosting onto an over baked cookie.
Mary had always longed to be someone of greatness! Someone who had an impact on the world. “Maybe one of Santa’s elves, ” she always wondered.
An elf with a “real” purpose. Not just the elf, who others whispered about; always accusing her of single handedly being responsible for all the fat kids in the world and for juvenile diabetes! Hey, it wasn’t her fault these kids ate all the crap she was obliged to make! They had freedom of choice… They could eat a god dammed apple every once in awhile!
Yes, she wanted to be one Santa’s trusted and beloved elves; but Mrs Claus, knowing real talent, when she saw it, kept Mary close to her and in the kitchen!
Santa came into the kitchen, without so much as a word to the kitchen elves, who were very busy but also very excited by his unexpected presence. He looked around for Mrs Clause, but could not immediately see her anywhere. When he saw the smoke billowing out from behind the cookie decorating supply shelves, he knew where she was.
“Yup,” just as he had suspected, he found her sneaking a quick cigarette, behind the fully stocked shelves of cookie glitter, chocolate buttons and sprinkles.
Sugarplum Mary stood quietly, hiding behind the large, locked cabinet of Unicorn Horn Dust. She knew she was eavesdropping, and she knew it was wrong, but it was much to exciting to walk away now…. She heard Santa explain to his wife that his “health issue,” wasn’t just “seasonal stress.” Nope, this time he had a very real medical problem and it seemed he (and Christmas) were really and truly fucked.
Sugarplum Mary was in shock! Santa was sick, “How awful,” and Christmas may have to be “cancelled,” for the first time EVER! She was in a panic… her mind was spinning around like a whirling dervish. She was sweating and feeling faint… but she knew, she could not let this happen!
“Oh who, who could save Christmas?” Certainly not any of the reindeer! Sure, they could fly, but organise, manage and facilitate Christmas, “I think not!”
“Hmmmm, Alabaster Snowball?” He was certainly clever enough to carry it off, but he had more than his share of responsibility managing the “Naughty or Nice List,” which was an integral part of Christmas. Best to keep him on that important task.
Pepper Minstix, the protector of Santa’s magic world, had worked his way up to being “Head of Elf Security;” but he was entrusted with the important job of watching out for the well-being and safety of Santa Claus and Mrs Claus! He would most certainly not be leaving the North Pole if Santa & Mrs C. where going to be laid up here over the next few weeks… months… years!
There were lots of other very capable elves, but they all had their own very important jobs and responsibilities, that could not be left to chance or handled by a less experienced elf.
Then all of a sudden it hit her! SugarPlum Mary had an epiphany! This was her golden opportunity… she would deliver Christmas!
She was sure she could do it and after all, “One man’s problem is another man’s opportunity,” said someone, at sometime, somewhere.
Santa and Mrs Claus had left the kitchen and returned home, by the time Mary had finished fantasising about how she would save Christmas. She wiped the dry frosting off her face, took off her apron and popped in a breath mint! “Yuck, coffee breath… horrible,” she thought, “nasty.”
Meanwhile back at the house…
As Mrs Clause made them both a cup of “special” tea (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) to calm their nerves… Santa reiterated everything that the doctor had explained to him; extreme fatigue, aches and pains, headaches, general feeling of malaise, flu like symptoms, etc… And then there were the side effects of the Pred; vision changes, dizziness, trouble sleeping, mood swings, personality changes, weight gain, chipmunk cheeks… the list went on and on!
The Pred should kick in within a day or so, but Santa had to take it easy. There would be NO worldwide delivery of toys for him in the next 24 hours, that was for sure. The doctor had said that was “…out of the question,” and Santa knew, he would not be able to carry it off anyway. He could barely sit at the table with Mrs Clause and drink tea!
Just then, there was a knock at the door, which startled both of them. Mrs Clause looked out the window and saw SugarPlum Mary, fiddling with her hat. “What could she want,” thought Mrs Claus.
As the door opened, Mary rushed in… she immediately admitted to eavesdropping on their conversation, back in the kitchen. She apologised profusely, but added that she was sure “it” had happened for a reason. She was 100% sure that “fate” had intervened and that she was supposed to hear that conversation, so that she could rise to the occasion and answer her true calling!
She was so overwrought, she wept as she explained to Mr & Mrs Claus that she had always known she was destine for bigger and greater things. She had known, since she was a young girl, that she was meant to change the course of history and be an icon to young girls (and boys) everywhere! She said she thought her role in the kitchen as “Head Of Sweet Treats” and as Mrs Claus’ Top Assistant, was that calling… but now, well now, she was sure it was not!
Mr & Mrs Claus listened, intently as Mary (now a woman clearly possessed by passion and conviction) tried to explain why she was indeed, the “woman,” for the job!
It was outrageous, ridiculous and as farfetched as all hell; but at that moment, they both knew, in their heart and soul that the “torch” was destined to be passed to SugarPlumMary!
From this Christmas forward, everything would be different! Girls and boys everywhere would be introduced to a whole new concept of Santa.
Little girls would have a new heroine to look up to and emulate; a strong, organised, hard working, leader, who for centuries to come would manage, lead, direct and support her global workforce with encouragement, empathy, kindness and understanding. She would provide growth opportunity and ensure that they didn’t become lost and stale in their positions. She would meet her yearly goals, within budget and on time, whilst nurturing and empowering her team.
A new day had dawned and all because of two auto-immune diseases called PMR & GCA.
Who said nothing good can come of something bad?
A very special thanks to “Teesher” (from the HealthUnlocked PMRGCAuk site) for providing the basis and creative inspiration for this seasonal “rant.” Without that “spark of brilliance,” this very first, fictional rant, could not have been written.
Many thanks Teesher!