Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Limp

I spent the morning considering Julius Caesar. Was Cicero being snarky as he praised the dictator for life for his victories and his clemency and his poetry? Did Caesar err by allowing his enemies to live? Since one of those who survived was Brutus (of Et tu? Shakespearean fame) perhaps it wasn't the best decision he ever made. Would the proposed Caesarean reforms have preserved the Republic had Caesar not been assasinated before they could be implemented? Did he really have a sexual relationship with King Nicodeme, as Suetonius's epigrams suggest? My brain was afire as I hobbled from the classroom at noon.

Three hours of sitting and listening is more than my recovering hip can handle happily. Sometimes I bring a footrest, sometimes I sit straight upright with my feet planted firmly on the ground, sometimes I cross my legs, one over the other, switching the over to the under every 15 minutes. I'm still looking for the appropriate solution. The result of stimulating my brain for hours is a stiffening of my hip joint and a hobbling gait that resembles Walter Brennan in To Have and Have Not. I'm quick but I'm wobbling.

The drive to the restaurant for lunch was too short to stretch my constricted ligaments; my gait worsened with every step. The parking lot was full; I left The Schnozz across the street in the lot for the meeting to follow and gimped into the nearly empty dining room. Where were the drivers of all those cars in the parking lot? As we ate and chatted, my friend and I watched as the Arizona Republican Club dribbled out of the meeting room behind the big wooden door to our right. Not one of the attendees walked without assitance – a cane, a walker, a friend's arm – and not one of them appeared to be younger than 70. I compared my walking abilities to theirs and I sighed.

Bette Davis was right – old age is not for sissies.

We had some more ice tea and walked across to the meeting where I found myself, once again, occupying an armless padded chair. My hip protested, but my attendance was mandatory. Leaving early was not an option. It's hard to concentrate when sitting sends shooting pains up the side of my torso, .

Tonight we're joining friends for dinner. There will be more sitting and readjusting and stabbing pains.

I'm not getting worse, though I'm not recovering as quickly as I'd like. I hurt and the rehab is hard and I'm getting frustrated and I know that if I don't keep up with the exercises and the strengthening I'll never glide gracefully across the dance floor.... not that I ever did before getting shot. 

 It is very confusing.

I parked  in a handicapped spot at the grocery store last week. I placed the blue plastic placard over the rear view mirror, grabbed my reusable bags, and amazed myself with the graceful nature of my exit from the car. I was complimenting myself as I walked evenly and precisely toward the store when my reverie was interrupted by an older gentleman who made eye contact and said “You look pretty good to be parking in a disabled parking space.” 

I stopped, I smiled, I thanked him. It felt great to be described as “pretty good” when walking was concerned.

Then I paused and reconsidered. 

 Perhaps he wasn't being kind. Perhaps he was aggravated. Perhaps he thought that I was unfairly using the placard. Perhaps he had perceived me as being whole.

I'm holding onto that thought and smiling. With motivation like that, I'll lose this limp yet.


  1. That is exactly when I knew that something had changed in my whole rehab process--when I began to get those comments instead of the pitiful looks I had been so used to getting. It didn't make my knees hurt any less or mean it was easier to get out of the car, but it was the beginning of a paradigm shift. Thanks for posting--it is so encouraging to know that someone else 'gets it'. I hope today goes better for you.

  2. It's amazing how the simplest thing can change my attitude... and it's nice to know that other's are out there too. It's a big part of why I write at all, Charla.

  3. It is so interesting that you mentioned the exchange with the older gentleman at the end. I too have a handicap pass because I am disable but I hate using it. I'm very sensitive to comments just like the one he dropped.

    Unfortunately for me, any PT that I do is just to keep limber enough to function as I am now but as I age I am losing and will continue to lose mobility/flexibility. But it is till motivates me as do your posts...thank you for this....T

  4. Way to REFRAME! You're becoming expert at it.

    This will sound wrong and selfish, but pain makes us say wrong things and be selfish: You describe exactly what I've been struggling with for the past several years. It's why I had to leave "the chair" after so many years of practice (and despite having found the best chair, my glove leather Stressless sweetheart). It's why continuing ed conferences became torture sessions. It's why I have a collection of portable cushions in my car when I hate having anything reside permanently in my car that didn't come on it...and none of them ever just the thing for a particular occasion or even particularly effective.

    Restaurants are now chosen for their seating rather than their food. Movie theaters, for their seats as well as their popcorn. Concerts had better be stupendous to make up for the cost in days of limp. It's a whole new world.

    It's crap. I hate it for us. Please reframe this comment for me; I need to get out of this chair.

    (Okay, I'll give it a shot.) And yet, when I can forget about it and accept it and just work with it, I love restaurants, movies, and concerts. (There, how was that?)

  5. I think the "older gentleman" was being a jerk, but you are very smart to take it as a compliment on your seeming lack of disability! xoxo

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