Sunday, October 5, 2014

It Would Be Stupid To Give Up Now

Yeah, I've basically deserted my blog.

For those of you who have been kind enough to ask if I'm okay, the answer is "yes." I'm doing okay. Making rehab progress a little every day and enjoying spending time with family and friends. But I'm exhausted and I have a major . . .  well. . . 'shitty thing' is the only way I can describe it . . .  coming up this week involving my ex-husband, lawyers, mountains of paperwork, a mediator, and a metric ton of bullshit. Preparing for it has drained me and sucked vast amounts of much-needed energy and writing time from my  day-to-day life. But this too shall pass. Right? Hello?

We all have times in our lives when our plans take a back seat to whatever emergency happens to be in our face at the moment. That's life. But honestly, I feel like I've been living in emergency override mode for the last three years and I'm really sick of it.  I'm not sure how much mojo I got left in me.

When I went in for my post-op visit with my orthopedic surgeon a couple weeks ago, he took me into his office and shoved my x-ray into the viewing window over his desk. The first thing out of his mouth was -- "yours was a particularly violent surgery." And then he went on to describe screws and bone grafting, and grinding, and shoving metal spikes into my femur, etc, etc. I sighed. Seems he won't know if everything's going to hold until mid-December. And if things look good then, we'll set up my knee replacement surgery -- next on the checklist.

I resumed outpatient physical therapy last week. I hadn't seen my buddy Ethan in a long time, since pain had prevented me from rehab. So we were were catching up with each other while he asked me to roll over there and lift here and resist force over there. He asks me if I'm ready to basically start from scratch in my effort to learn to walk again.

Shit. I put the pillow over my face and started to cry. It's not like he said anything I didn't already know. I'm right back where I was in the spring of 2012, when I received my first prosthetic leg and began the work of figuring out how to walk. It's like these last three years never happened. But Ethan was right. This is day one. Again. Starting now, I will know what it's like to be your average unilateral amputee -- a person who loses one leg but can rely on their "good leg" to get them through. I never had a "good leg." Now I do. It's held together with screws and bone grafts and metal spikes but hey -- I'll take it.

So there I was, sobbing into my pillow on the evaluation table. "I'm done, Ethan," I mumbled. "I'm so done with being disabled, going through life as a cripple who needs all kinds of special crap and extra time for every-little-damn-thing! I'm just so DONE with all of it!"

There was a moment of quiet before Ethan said anything. "But you're not done."

Yeah. I know I'm not. I made the choice a long time ago to never give up. It would be just plain STUPID to change my mind now.

The next day I was doing exercises in the PT gym and looked up to see a calendar hanging on the wall in an adjacent office. In giant-assed while letters on a plain black background were Winston Churchill's famous words:


I laughed. I told everyone that I needed those words pinned up all over my house -- with a few more "NEVERS" thrown in. Sure enough, someone went and made several copies of the calendar for me to take home. Winston's words are on the wall over my desk as I type this.

Bullshit. Pain. Delayed plans. Frustration. Screws and metal spikes and lawyers.  I'm exhausted, but I'm still here and I'm not giving up.


DachsieMom said...

Oh, Susan, my heart goes out to you. Another tough day in Earth School - damn. We'll link arms, raise our faces to the sky, and yell NOT FAIR NOT FAIR NOT FAIR until we're red-faced, hoarse, panting for breath ... then we'll sigh, mutter, and go back to keep on keepin' on.

A long time ago, I had a huge bear of a dog, one of my rescues to whom the world had not been kind. I was going through one of those Learning Experiences that was crushing me, grinding me into bloody raw exposed-nerves hamburger. There were a couple of times, late at night after the kids were asleep, when I just could. not. keep. going. I'd go sit on the retaining wall in the back yard and sob. Great racking soul-tearing sobs. Curled into a ball because I can't even sit up any more sobs. Beau would sit beside me, leaning his massive weight against me, until he couldn't take the pain any more. Then he would howl. His howl told the universe about pain, about suffering, and about how it broke his heart that his human was hurting and he couldn't make it stop.

And I would hug him, and I would laugh as I cried, and I would feel his love and his devotion. The crushing-grinding-soul-destroying reality of my life was still there for me to deal with, but Beau reminded me that I wasn't alone.

And that's why I'll link arms with you and yell until I'm red-faced, sweaty, and hoarse. I can't take away your pain or change your reality, but I can lean against you and let you know how I grieve with you over this setback and assure you that you are not alone.

My mantra: This too shall pass. One of the Universal Truths that keeps me going. When one day at a time is too big a chunk to handle, take it one breath at a time. It helps.


Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,

I hope you eventually make a book out of this. I'll gladly pre-order.

I got a lot out of your blog. I especially like "It's just a thing," and "I'd like my leg back now." I have a permanent illness, and in some dysfunctional way I prefer to read someone admitting the struggle and frustration and sometimes despair, rather than a perky perfect person who claims that despite their illness life is all sunshine and roses. The latter always makes me wonder WTF I'm doing *wrong*, because I sure would like some more sunny days.

My elderly BFF had the same illness, so we kind of coped with our "old friends," the reoccurring
routine setbacks, in our own weird way. There was no patronizing "oh, you poor dear." Sometimes we could laugh wryly instead of crying, and we celebrated the small good events without deluding ourselves that someday our troubles would be "over."

I can't compare my situation with yours - I've not had the *same* challenges. Despite my age (only 51), I'm afraid I have more in common with those seniors. My work was my whole life, and I can never return to it; our (boring) illnesses are often the only new things to talk about, lol. I'm excited and happy for you to be working again.

I developed a quiet amusement about people saying, "get well soon," because that can't happen. So my private gallows humor is, "I hope you feel as well as possible under the circumstances."

Maybe that's setting the goal too low. But it's what I wish for you: as few bad days and as many Good Days as possible.

- T.