Monday, April 30, 2012

Who Am I These Days?

I haven't examined the lint in my navel for quite some time.  I have noticed this dearth of introspective posts with a wry kind of amusement.  It seems that I've even begun to bore myself with my story.

The last few days have rearranged my thoughts, though.  It feels appropriate to work it all out here in The Burrow.  As I've said before, typing to you is great therapy.

I've been engaged with a new physical therapist for the past two months, and for the first time in a long time I am beginning to see some real results.  TBG had been after me for a long time to get back into the weight room at the gym and, of course, he was absolutely right.  I am weak.  That weakness can be corrected only with consistent exercise and constant attention to form.  The re-construction of my hip is not the issue; Dr. Boaz was a fine carpenter.  The absence of muscle, the reliance on compensatory patterns, the fear factor ...... it's all on me.

So, I have been to the gym this morning.  For the first time in a long time, that sentence means what it used to mean, back before my perforations.  I worked steadily for an hour, moving between equipment and mats, always with a purpose.  My iPod was cranking and I was breathing into the movements.  Even though those movements were smaller, subtler, lighter and less explosive than they used to be, they were also larger, more obvious, more weighted and powerful than they have been of late. 

I am not setting any records, except those I'm keeping for myself.  I can now do 2 sets where last month I could do but one.  I can move the hamstring curl machine with my right leg alone; that wasn't even a dream in January.  The fact that there is only 10 pounds of resistance on the machine doesn't disturb me.  I am fully capable of appreciating what I've accomplished and where I have to go. 

My new mantra is "You are only cheating yourself."  Turns out I'm a pretty stern taskmistress I have a fairly healthy superego I really am capable of listening to myself when it matters.  I laughed out loud as I looked at the clock to see if I could be finished yet; with only myself to impress, it felt self-defeating to leave.  Seems that I'm making mental progress, too.

I'm not doing endless sets of a single exercise.  I'm doing as many repetitions as I can of each one of the movements Becky's outlined for me and then I am moving on.  If I am in charge, I'm creating a program that doesn't bore me or tire me out or make me feel inadequate.  I admit it - I need to feel good about myself at the end of each exercise. 

Failure is an option of which I am quite conscious; the temptation to sit still and just be an old lady is often overwhelming.  I picture Christina-Taylor at those moments, hands on her hips, arms akimbo, eyes flashing as she silently chastises me for being a slacker.  That's usually all it takes.... and that's a good thing these days.

Used to be, when I went out on the town, running errands alone or having lunch with my sweetie, strangers would approach me with admiration in their eyes.  "Look at you!  Out with a walker/a cane/without any devices! How wonderful!"  I came to see these conversations as a whole, the overall impression one of marvelousness, of success, of achievement.  I said that "Tucson doesn't need to see me in a wheelchair,"  and it was true.  As I was healing, so was my town.  My progress was their progress and it felt good all around.

However, as TBG reminded me over lunch today, one can only be a hero for so long.

Nowadays, as I meander from the gym to the grocery store to meetings all over town,  I am more likely to garner looks of sympathy rather than awe. "You're still limping?" is better than "So, is that limp permanent?" which is quite an improvement over "Does it still hurt that much?"  I locomote but I do not ambulate... at least not very well.  I lurch and I lumber and while there are occasionally several perfectly even, weight-shifting steps strung together, for the most part my walking is a hodge-podge of strength and weakness, attention and distraction.

TBG wants me to listen to the rhythm of my footsteps.  So does Becky.  I really don't want to listen; it's asymmetric and a constant reminder of how far I have to go.  Every expression of sympathy from a stranger or a friend, every wistful look at my tilted hips, every shared sigh and shrug of the shoulders places me as a patient. 

It's incongruous.  A year ago, when I really was a patient, I felt triumphant merely to be both a survivor and upright at the same time.  Now, 15 months or so after the fact, I often feel as if I'm letting people down. 

Please don't rush to the comment section to tell me that you think I am swell.  I know it, deeply and profoundly.  It keeps me going when my body disagrees.  I'm not talking about reality here.  I'm talking about my perceptions. 

I have to remind myself, over and over and over again and again and again, that four months ago I was unable to conceive of a time when I could hike for a mile and be satisfied in my soul.  I have to accept in my inner most self that I will be able to do this.  I have to prove to myself that I have the fortitude to stick with a lengthy, painful, slow and unsteady process that may or may not result in my return to an absolutely normal gait.  I have to have confidence in myself and the team of miracle workers surrounding me.

Mostly, I have to stop whining and be glad that the sun came up this morning and I was here to see it, even if I did creak and crack as I bent down to retrieve the morning paper.  A year ago, bending that far was totally out of the question.  I just have to keep that in mind.

Thanks for listening, denizens.  As usual, I feel much better now.  This is, indeed, the cheapest form of therapy there is. 


  1. AB, I think you are making good progress and the fact that you can acknowledge you have to pep yourself up to get yourself motivated just means that you are making progress. Think about it... would you have been able to do the things you are doing now a year ago? The sheer fact that you are at the gym and spending an hour there is a great improvement. And if you are limping some, who's to say anything about it. Everyone heals in their own time/way. I find it incredulous that someone would even say that to you. Just imagine if you hadn't been in the great shape you were in before being perforated. You would not be this far along. Because you are already a healthy person, you are far more ahead than others would be. You should really take that into consideration. You were seriously hurt and it will take time.

    And even though you said to not say you are swell, I still admire you so much. Your resilience and perseverance are to be applauded and admired. You are a true inspiration to so many of us. You've put your big girl panties on and are doing what you need to do to heal.

    I'm off to the gym myself. You've inspired me to get down there earlier than I had planned.

    Sending hugs,

    Megan xxx

  2. Progress sometimes is made in very small steps, and it's just our human nature to be impatient about it. My knee injury (a year ago Wed.) was severe, although not as much as your injuries ... except that I probably wasn't as healthy as you before it. I just noticed today that I can cross the street a few seconds faster than I could as recently as a few weeks ago. (Bless those blinking numbers counting down the time & giving me hope!) And while people may think that I look like I'm walking "normally" ... I don't feel like I am since my knee is so tight. No one else can have exactly your same perspective on your healing. I can see how your "celebrity status" in Tucson could make such a private thing as your health and healing harder to deal with since you aren't really permitted to keep it all private. I like the way Megan said it: You've put your big girl panties on and are doing what you need to do to heal. Amen! You go, girl!

  3. Ah, Megan and FG - you took the time to write paragraphs to me <3 I'm so lucky to have readers who care.

  4. Your continuing progress encourages people all over the place who have injuries to come back from. You'll be doing super in no time.

  5. Am I still encouraging people, Lynda? Right now I feel as if I'm taking more than I'm giving.

  6. Give and take ... take and give ... it all evens up in the end. (Well, it's true that some people are only takers, but I'd like to think not most people, and certainly not you.) You ARE still encouraging people!

  7. The trick is to still encourage myself, I guess :)

  8. The first sentence of this post CraCkeD me uP!!! We all wonder who we are and WTH we are doing with ourselves!!! LoL

    CoMeBaCks are not easy and we have to ALWAYS ReMeMBeR to be GeNTLe with OuRSeLVeS, accepting where we're at and simply strive to do the VERY BeST we can on a daily basis. It can be hard to be PaTieNT with OURSELVES, let alone everyone else sometimes, I know it is for me....I'm not the same person I was a year ago & neither is my BoDy, but I'm trying everyday & that's ALL I can do. May as well EMBRaCe it, ya know!?

    THaNks AGaiN for KeePiN' it ReaL....Know that you are an INSPiRaTioN to ALL of US!!! <3


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