Wednesday, March 16, 2011


There are many things I still cannot do.  I can't drive or sit on the ground or place the soles of my feet against one another.  I cannot reach the top shelves of my closet or pantry or refrigerator.  I cannot kiss TBG without grounding myself first - the shocks after pushing the wheelchair to his side are memorable, to say the least. 

I cannot clean up the mess on the desk or the floor in the library because I can't reach and grab and cart and carry.  Take a look; it's becoming dangerous in here:

I can't bring Christina back, nor repair Gabby's brain, nor mend the hole in Mavy's heart.  If I could, I would.  But I can't.

It's all too easy to let my mind take me to the dark places.  Light reading is all that I am good for; anything that requires thought or which borders on the macabre lights up centers in my brain which are painful and scary.  Concentration is often spotty, and my ability to ward off hurtful notions is far from robust.  If you've ever wondered what good is James Patterson? let me tell you that he is the perfect antidote to voracious reader's wandering mind.  I'm captured, engaged, delighted and transported.  I am not drifting off to sunny Saturdays and gunmen.

But I don't really focus on the cannot part of my life.  It's there, whether I think about it or not.  It surprises me at times, annoys me at others, but mostly it's background noise to all the things that I can do now.

I can roll over in bed.  I can put on my own shoes and socks.  I can stand at the sink and rinse off my plate.  I can open the refrigerator and grab a bottle of sparkling water all by myself.

I can open and close car doors and front doors and garage doors - all of which involve leaning and reaching and stretching.  Ten weeks ago any lateral movement involved pain; today I move with impunity.

I am a whiz at driving the electric cart through the grocery aisles.  I can sit at the manicurist's table without wincing or rearranging my body.  I can slide across a booth to make room for a friend at the diner and I can even hold the back door of my house open for myself (ok, the walker holds it open, but still......).

I can get through a day without pain medication.  In fact, I haven't taken a pain pill since the 5th of March.  Aches and discomfort remind me of the fact that I am here and alive; I embrace the sensation and distract myself by straightening up our living space.

I can move around the house, pedaling the wheelchair with my own two feet.  My quads and hamstrings are still atrophied, but they are getting stronger and stronger.  When I first came home I couldn't bend my knee at all; today I can bring it almost to my nose.

I have vacated my throne on the love seat end of Douglas.  I can reach my own drinks and blankets and remote-control-tv-component-devices.  There is no longer a shopping bag filled with my stuff sitting on the pillow next to my throne.  It's moved into the library and I am completely able to lift it and search through it and replace it out of the way.  

My house looks more like a house and less like a rehab facility.  TBG and I agree that this is a very good thing.

I can party til the wee hours and be none the worse for wear.  I can walker-hop over curbs and on uneven surfaces and I can even carry a light bag or two as I'm doing so.  I can stand up to be hugged and I can return the squeezes.

These are all little bits of everyday life.  Since January 8th they have taken on monumental proportions.  I have three more weeks of non-weight-bearing-living, and then my small bits and pieces of progress will disappear into the box which holds those memories I choose to hide.  This hasn't been fun.  It hasn't been easy.  It hasn't been comfortable.  

But it has been.  I am here to be aggravated with how slowly I walk (G'ma beat me down the hallway this morning when Not-Kathy and I dropped in to say "Hi") and with how much time it takes to approach the sink to brush my teeth.  I am here to choose my clothes (even if I can't reach them) and to read the mail (even if getting out to the retrieve it from the curb is an exhausting task).  

I am here.  

That is a good thing.  All the rest is window dressing.


  1. Oh, AB, I know it's still frustrating, but you have accomplished so much. Most of all, you still have your determination and will to not let this over-come you. That in itself is an amazing feat. Most people would have cowered in a corner and given-up (I know I would have), but you have taken this on and you are going to be strong and back to yourself in no time.

    As someone said the other day, we can still keep sending you healing thoughts and still have enough to pass to others that may need them too.

    Sending hugs and healing vibes your way.

    Megan xxx

  2. Your coming right along. No doubt about it. It's nice to read all the things you can do now. I smile at them all. Have a wonderful day....debbie

  3. First, you're here. Second, you are making real progress every day. Focus on that!! And when the dark moments come, know we are sending love and strength. xoxoxo

  4. Progress... a wonder and a blessing, lest we forget!

  5. Your positive attitude is going to take you further, faster. Some bumps and bad days along the way are normal too. Do what you can, when you can and don't worry about the rest. Lots of people cheering for you!

  6. I only know you in the blogging world, but it seems to me if anyone had to go through such horrible experience, you were in the best shape emotionally to handle it.

    Your attitude is good, you're pragmatic and see the complete picture. You are a fabulous ambassador for Tucson and the healing process there. You've been embraced by the schools and children grieving the loss of Christina. I see why the media seeks you out. You express yourself very well. Such a messenger is hard to find. Such a healthy attitude. Not a whiner, but honest acknowledgement of anger, and pain followed by a healthy dose of honest optimism.

    You continue to inspire me to better thinking.

  7. Oh, denizens, my heart is bursting and I'm blushing. Thanks for the compliments and the strength. TBG calls my current situation "Goal Gradient Effect" - as I get closer to the end my impatience magnifies :)

    With all these kind words, how could I help but heal?

  8. I suppose it is normal when reading someone else's reactions to a horrible experience to wonder "what would I do if that happened to me?" I know that I would not have handled it with the strength, grace and focus that you have shown. Thank you for sharing.

  9. That positive attitude is a glory to behold! Only three more weeks and nothing can hold you back.

  10. As I tell myself, just keep on keeping on....your strenght amazes me...

  11. Your desk looks like mine - you have a good excuse. I'm one of your new followers - I've only been reading your blog since late January - directed here by another blog. I keep a daily eye on the news and blogs for any information about Tucson since 08/01/11. Just to add my good thoughts and wishes - even just reading of your struggles since the shooting makes me wish I could actually know you - you are a formidable lady - and you will recover.

    Lesley - from across the pond UK

  12. Hi there.

    I'm all the way in the UK but I am sending you a lot of good wishes and thinking of what you have gone through and continue to go through during this terrible time.

    Hang on in there.


  13. Whoo Hooo! Way To Go Girl!
    OXO's, Artess

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