Friday, April 30, 2010

mind muscles matter

I have been consciously working my leg, back and arm muscles so I won't atrophy too much during this 8 week recovery period. But it's my mind muscles that are taking my attention now. A couple of people have told me that the anesthetic drugs can stay in my body for a month or so and that's the reason I have told myself for my occasional word or thought loss, my heavy-lidded eyes and mid-morning need to take a nap. But even beyond that, I seem to only want to watch movies and not even read (except for the review of the local and NY Times newspapers in the morning).

So yesterday, I made myself push through the nap-need to go online and respond to a Writer's Digest prompt, producing a short poem. Then last night, I showed up for my Grant Road Task Force meeting and took notes for 3 hours. I had a bit of a back and abdominal strain, sitting with an elevated leg for that long, but my ankle didn't seem to suffer from it. In exchange, I got my mind on something other than pain or discomfort in my ankle, and focused on relocation of utilities and what the TF members were expressing. It felt good to get the brain cells moving and reassured me that I can still do my work.

Today, one of my writing colleagues expressed the desire to see more details in my short poem from yesterday. I can do that and I can push myself to do another writing. It's important to have some others in my sidelines cheering me on. External motivation matters. I saw myself hobbling across the meeting room last night and managing pretty well. The same image can be a motivator for me in my writing. I don't know why I think writing should be as easy as gliding across the ice pond at Lord's Park in Elgin, Illinois. Writing sometimes is a glide, sometimes is a hike up a steep hill, sometimes is a tumble down a ravine and sometimes is a hobble across a room.

As I recall my mom's struggle with dementia, I am more empathy now for the challenge it was for her to connect her thoughts with reality. In the end, I think, she relied on my reading to her the familiar story of "Heidi" because she didn't have to try to compose the words herself anymore--the story showed her the way. I take comfort in believing that the sense of the story brought meaning to her last days.

All of this is to say, and I am stumbling and groping a bit here now--working my way through a forest of thoughts and words, that muscles of the mind matter, the words those muscles express also matter. And so, I write.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

four more days

It's not certain, but I am hoping that on Monday my cast gets cut off and will be replaced by a moon boot that will weigh less and offer me more mobility. It will be another month on crutches or the walker but maybe I will get into a therapy pool and have other inticements for normalcy.

I am going to work tonight and hope I can keep my mind engaged (as well as my leg elevated.) I still can't seem to shift up to 2nd gear and prefer to keep my reading time short and my movie watching long. Saw both a great movie (Traffic) yesterday and a horrible one (Four Christmases). There's a wide range of stories out here.

Last night, Aron came over and made us delicious cheeseburgers. We had gone to AJ's for kobe meet and fixins' and I hate to admit it but the better quality beef ($14.00 for 4 patties) makes a quality burger. Of course, it also takes a skilled grillmeister and Aron is definitely that person. I occasionally have a flutter of mother worry-attachment but most of the time during my recovery, I just let those flutters go, concentrate on the goodness in life and push aside the worries like the dust bunnies that gather under our couches.

It is amazing how the weight of the cast counterbalances my tendency to worry. I can detach when the physical load I am carrying already is too much of a burden. Will I be able to transfer that learning to normal life in June? Since I know I can detach more than I have in the past, will grasping come back with mobility? Even now, as I right this, after having a good night's sleep, my eyelids beckon me to rest. But I have a conference call to attend to and, again, I hope my mind clicks in and I can begin to use some brain cells for more than dreaming.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

signs of spring

Yesterday I had a late afternoon visit with a friend, Susan, and her 18 month old son. It was heart-lifting to watch him toddle around (he navigates space much better than I do at this stage), picking up tennis balls and throwing them to Lia, our 10 year-old nanny-dog, who was a gentle as cotten with him. When she was but a three year old, my then 3 and 4 year old nephew and niece, respectively, often stayed with us in the summer during the last full year of my mother-in-law's life and her battle with colon cancer. I guess the imprint of those early days with young children stayed with Lia during these more barren-of-child years and so it all came back to her yesterday.

It came back to me, too: the 26 years ago time of Aron toddling around our backyard on San Juan Terrace. A small pine cone was a mystery, a budding flower was a wonder. The soft skin of a very small child is like the finest silk and more valuable because it is a living touch. So that visit and those memories were the major highlight of my day.

We did go out for a short drive and saw the two young foals (about a month-6weeks old) and the newest (about a week old) at the UA farms close to our house. The young one's legs were twice as long as her body and it was amusing to watch the difference between the three of them: the distance they made between themselves and their respective mothers modelled the difference in their ages. The youngest kept her nose nuzzled in her mother's flanks as they walked, the middle one, brushed his nose against his mother's tail and the oldest, almost already an impudent adolescent, lagged behind a couple of lengths, tossing his head and prancing.

Other than these moments, I struggled, a bit, with depression and a sense of loss. My sleep last night was disturbed by the feeling of tiny pins pricking the outside of my leg, on the bone where the plate was placed. I did dream, though, and morning sounds are settling in as I finish my blog for the day. Another cool front comes tomorrow but today should be warm and windy. So, I will act "as if" I am contented, even though my spirit is restless and my mind wants to wander.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

a wonderful life

I read to the 3rd/4th graders at Pueblo Gardens El. School yesterday and received a folder full of "get well" cards that I later read to myself at home. All of them were straight from their hearts--all I give to them is some time, occasional treats and support for their future lives as productive person and they give me their smiles, hugs, honesty and affection. One of them had this line: "I hope you have a wonderful life with your leg."

It cracked me up--sort of like the "hopefully sad" comment made by the Starbucks barista on my first outing after the ladder accident. Language mash-ups (a term I learned from watching the t.v. show "Glee": a mash up is putting together two or more songs that don't seemingly work together) seem to be resonating with me during this recovery. I suppose that they are also called oxymorons, but I like the concept of "mash-up"--somehow that term is more active and both phrases I have heard elicited laughter from me.

Well, I am definitely having a different kind of life with my leg/ankle. The luxury of a massage has become a necessity; going to a local park and sitting on the hard concrete bench with my leg up brought some sense of normalcy as I watched dog walkers, grandmas with toddlers, seniors reading books under newly unleafed trees and freshly mowed grass.

I was watching the vintage movie, "Tender Mercies", yesterday and observed that as the script's long pauses between sparse dialogue and movie's cinematography scanned the Texas landscape, my life, like the movie, has become filled with large spaces of time, action, even thought. Within those spaces comes some quiet peace, maybe even a sense of grace, of something being given, offered, if I am attuned to reception.

It's like when I get a massage and a pressure point is touched--there is this release of the muscle and, with it, energy, that comes from within the body. A strange sensation.

So, living a wonderful life with my leg, is a mash-up, but it's one worth doing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

getting dressed by myself

I think about my mother in the last days of her life. About a year ago, her decline increased and in a month we would move her from Cascades apts. which she shared with dad, to the Golden Days home. In the end, she couldn't dress herself, barely wanted to eat. About two weeks before she died, I had made her famous spaghetti for Aron's birthday and he, like her, wanted white cake with caramel frosting for his birthday, soI brought both for her to eat. I had to feed her like the baby she was becoming: preparing for a second birth. She opened her mouth for the red sauce, juices forming around her lip and she licked them with a smile. When it came to the sweet cake, her mouth opened wider, greedily, taking in the last real meal she would have. Only now, do I begin to understand how she felt giving up the daily rituals she clung to in her final years in Green Valley and then, here, in Tucson.

I think about the early years of dressing my baby boy. I would pick out his clothes, his booties, later socks and shoes. Oshkosh was my favorite brand and he had no choice. Later, he would dress himself and make his own clothes purchases. Like my mother, he enjoys shopping for clothes and he is almost as "persnickety" as she is about what he wants.

I have a limited selection these days: the pants have to fit over a cast and be easy to slip on and off. With spring warming, I can skip a camisole (bras are buried in my drawers for work meetings only) and slip on a tshirt and, of course, only one shoe. But for the past two weeks, Mark had to help me get my clothes on and sometimes I just opted to sleep in day clothes--too much bother to go through the movements twice each day.

Last night, after my shower/bath, I wore pj's to bed and dressed myself this morning. I wonder if, like my mother, I will recover to a place slightly below where I was or if I will return renewed and stronger. It was hard to watch her age and diminish and I hope, while no longer in my prime, my diminishing abilities won't be noticeable yet. But, like much of what I am learning in this recovery process, I can only do the "footwork." Dressing myself is a step forward and I will appreciate the small victories as they come.

My 91 year old dad is looking forward to swimming again at the Cascades and I will be checking out the City's theraputic pool tomorrow to see if it can be a good transition between homebound and getting to the Y. There's some merit in being raised in a midwestern home where my mom was a farmer's daughter and my dad was a 1st generation Italian, honed from peasant stop near D'Aquila, Italy. We don't break easily and we are persistent in our living.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

mental recovery

I think I was having a mild reaction to the withdrawal of narcotic meds from my system: not only did I have a bit of light headedness and mild vertigo, there were several times when my mouth didn't come up with the exact right word I wanted to say--a close word, but not the right word. Yikes, that was an eerie feeling. So far so good this morning, although I notice my brain can't follow as many indepth articles from the NY Times that I am used to doing (course two weeks ago, I read nothing and last week only some, so I am moving in the mental recovery direction, I think).

I just resist any sensation that takes me back to the experience of the 3 hour post-recovery: the sound without sight feeling (like death is, sound being the last sense to go), the heavy-lidded attempts to see, the over-wrapped sense of being in a cocoon and trying to squirm my way out (mostly unsuccessfully--how does a butterfly continue with that arduous effort?), the relief of a cold wash cloth bringing moisture to the my skin.

I tried to watch "Avatar" last night (the non3D version) and it literally made me ill. The avatars looked like blue fish or fetuses and their liquid-like movements and the multi-colored visual stimuli that surrounded them was like a psychedelic video. When the humans go into those chamber-pods, I felt claustrophobic and I just had to leave Mark to watch it alone. (He admitted it was "freaky and disjointed and had everything in it but the kitchen sink" but he was also very adrenalized at 11:30 p.m. when he is usually sound asleep).

I retired to bed and a rerun of Nationa Treasure/Secrets which was more my speed (slow, semi-literate) of a story.

I am beginning to move things around at home such as newspapers or magazines (my level of "straigtening things up" is low) and pulling stems from my gift flowers out of the arrangement as blue and purple petals fall to the floor.

We have overripe bananas that Mark wants to make into banana bread and I hope to guide him to that task and I look forward to the smell of break baking, even if I am not the one to pour the batter into the pans.

Moving ego aside every day, making room for humility and gratitude, accepting this nuanced shift from post surgery to recovery isn't an easy task for me. But unlike the dead left in Mississippi after yesterday's tornado, I woke up today, and the sun was shining.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

easy does it

I think I have successfully weaned myself off of the narcotic med and onto tylenol which is a step toward more natural recovery. I did get a massage yesterday and the masseuse gave me a couple of tips about sleeping position which I used last night and did get a better night's sleep. I noticed, upon awakening and doing my in-bed stretches and mini-yoga, that the swelling around the upper edge of the cast has gone down and I can bend my leg more easily and without pressure.

I started to walk around the inside of our small (1450 sq. ft) house yesterday and after two rounds on just the concrete floor sections, I was pooped. I need to do that more today and maybe extend a tiny bit out onto the sidewalk when we go for a drive in the afternoon. I need to practice "easy does it" both physically and mentally because my ego-driven tendency is to try to go full throttle on both. Since I am both wanting to and am forced to live my life more slowly for the next 7 1/2 weeks, the slogan Easy Does It has to become more than a principle, but also a practice.

I see all the yellow winter eucalyptus leaves scattered around the patio outside and I want to pick up a broom and rake and pile them up, bag 'em, and take them to the recycle can. But I can't, and expecting Mark to do that NOW while he has to balance everything else is unrealistic so...easy does it.

I see my cluttered home office with too much furniture and the mental image of my UA office which I need to clean out and move home and I want to move the futon out, move a work table in, rearrange files and books but...easy does it, "forget about it" until a month from now.

Dust bunnies grow around the edges of the couches as Lia sheds her winter coat and I want to pick them up, but...easy does (not dust) it and I just blow them across the floor.

I have learned how to use my walker, pick up newspapers that litter the kitchen counter and table and drop the papers into the wicker basket for recycle pick up on Monday. But that's my biggest home chore I have learned to do to date. Most of everything else is "easy does it", so that's the best I can do for today.

Friday, April 23, 2010

26 plus in 24 hours

I am dragging a bit this (rare) wet and chilly April morning: woke up with a back spasm and had a hard time finding a position (with leg elevation) so I could go back to sleep. So still in jammies and will take a mid morning nap. Cancelled plans to read with the kids at Pueblo Gardens and, instead, will get a massage. Yesterday we went out for a short drive in the late afternoon rain and I saw a soft rainbow in the eastern skies. As we came out of the foothills, the air smelled sweet and the valley was as clear as crystal. Lovely.

I want to write about the 26 plus health care personnel contacts I had in my 24 hours at UMC. In another day or so, their names and faces may begin to fade and so I want make a small tribute to them on this page:

4/20 check in at noon:
1. First face and name, Janice, the receptionist who checked me into ambulatory surgery and made sure my leg was elevated.
2. Preadmission nurse whose name I don't remember but whose face and cheery personality reminded me of my italian Aunt Della. The significant contribution she made was to share her own story about her broken ankle and recovery which comforted me. She took the paperwork with her and my husband who signed whatever needed to be signed.
NOTE: first time I saw Dr. Chilvers who told me her 2nd surgery had gone longer and so she was just now headed into #3 and I was #4, so mine would be about two hours late.
3. Joan, the pre-op nurse who rolled me back to a) get my vitals and b) get me in a curtain shielded space for prep for surgery. (I would also see Joan again later, in the discharge unit).
4 and 5. The pain specialist/anesthesiologist/med student (female) who came to talk to me about my choice to have/not have a nerve block on the leg. The procedure would deaden the nerves through 24 hours of post op but, of course, there were also risks. Not having the procedure meant more narcotics in recovery. I opted for the procedure, so the resident anesthesiologist (male) also came in and guided her through the (pretty traumatic for me) procedure using sonogram, lanican, a 4 inch needle, tubing, syringe and anesthetic.
NOTE: Dr. Chilvers came and gave me a heads up on surgery schedule, she also wrote on my toe. Dr. Mahony, also came in and wrote on my cast--making sure surgery was done on the correct foot.
6. An assistant to Joan who both tried to keep me comfortable.
7. The surgical anesthesiologist who rolled me into surgery.
8 and 9. Dr. Chilvers and Dr. Mahony and an unknown number in surgery. Dr. Chilvers held my hand until I went to sleep.
10. A nameless Asian nurse in recovery, with short dark hair and quick hands with cold wash cloths.
11 and 12. Cindy and her assistant in discharge who valiently tried to get me ready to go hom that night.
13. Tony, a nurse who was responsible for seeing who would need overnight care.
NOTE: After trying to use my crutches, but being too wobbly, I took the option to stay over (Dr. C. had said this would be my choice) with Mark staying with me. That meant, since the discharge unit closed at 9 and the room wasn't ready I had to go back to recovery. Cindy recommended I get a PT evaluation, also, before I left the hospital.
14. Texas travelin' nurse (she lives in Texas but takes 13 wks. contracts in other hospitals) and
15. Unknown resident doctor who wore cowboy boots who checked me over visually and okayed the orders for my stay over.
16. Stephanie, a 250 lbs. nurse in the Critical Decision Unit (CDU/outpatient overnight) and
17. Leo, the med tech who took care of me during the night.
18. Lela and Madi, the nurse and med tech who took over my care in the morning.
19 and 20. Peter and John, a physical therapist and supervisor who checked out my crutches and assignmed me (thankfully) a walker, adjusted it, observed my motor skills, gave me lessons on how to handle steps.
NOTE: If I hadn't stayed over, I wouldn't have gotten a walker and the PT lessons. Thanks to Cindy and the drs. who okayed that option.
NOTE: Dr. Chilvers and Mahoney stopped in, checked my toes and swelling, discussed my step up and down with pain meds. Dr. Chilvers insisted I a) not use a wheelchair b) get back on baby aspirin (both to avoid blood clots) and use my own judgement easing on and off of vicodin while c) getting to tylenol because "tylenol is better for bone healing."
21. A case worker who reviewed PT suggestions and told us how she wrote up the orders for the insurance company.
22. A home health aide who brought my walker and checked to make sure the height was correct.
23 and 24. Two med techs who took me to the bathroom during night and day.
25. Food service worker who brought me my breakfast
26. Lilly, hospital staff who rolled me out to the car so I could go home. 4/21/noon
NOTE: This doesn't include the names of at least two women who came in to clean up my room, take care of the bathroom.

So more than 26 people at UMC contributed to my relatively simple ankle surgery. My gratitude and admiration goes to all---and to the behind the scenes staff who make hospitals hum.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I am back home after an unexpected (but productive for healing) overnight stay at UMC. I will be writing several entries about that experience but not today. Today I am trying to balance my post surgery discomfort with vicodine, the need to be able to be mobile (and avoid blood clots) and cogent.

But today, the short subject is flowers. Flowers in my front yard (roses, mums, verbana, chili peppers, sweet alyssum), in my back yard (daisies, mums, orange blossoms) and as thoughtful gifts from family (my sister's family) and colleagues (Grant Road Improvement Team).

Flowers bring color, scents and the beauty of impermanence as they change from morning to night. They capture the light of day and the movement of the wind. They bloom, grow and die. They tremble with delight when they are cared for and wither when neglected. They provide a source of sweetness to hummingbirds and bees, a home for worms and mites.

Flowers matter in my life. They balance out pain with glory.

Monday, April 19, 2010

rough start to the week

I didn't sleep well and woke up with muscle cramp in my back. I seem to be waking up about an hour before the birds do (and about 2 hours before Mark), so I lie there, watching the shadows of the (now infamous) eucalyptus trees bounce on the wall. Then light begins to emerge and the shadows fade, and the birds begin to carol and daylight comes.

I had an early appt. with my ortho specialist and it went pretty fast but I felt as if I had been knocked around mentally. She, Dr. C or Peg, cut through my leg wrapping and looked at my skin which, tho bruised, looked pretty good to her and to me, amazingly intact. Then, in answer to my questions, she described preop, the surgery and postop--all of which was more intense than I wanted to hear. She described the "hardware" which was much larger (4 " plate and two 2" screws) than I anticipated. She explained that it wasn't the dislocation that caused the fractures but the fractures that caused the dislocation More truth and facts than I wanted, I guess.

From there, thankfully, I went for a massage which began with my tears that I haven't yet shed very much. I was angry about the accident, angry that the damn latch on the ladder failed and that my life has been fractured, not only my ankle. I feel scared about the unknown and come back to Step 1 (my life is unmanageable) over and over again. But Step 2 (I came to believe), is the next step and my Higher Power this week includes Dr. C and my masseuse, Shana. So I turned it over to Shana (Step 3) and she did the massage and added a shakra, healing touch element. As she bent over my injured ankle I imagined healing and wholeness and Ifelt the inside fractured bone move. Very strange. I cried some more.

When I left (after making an optimistic appt. for Thursday and beginning a "routine" of M/Th treatments), Mark said my face looked completely relaxed, pain free.

Once I find out when I will be in queue for surgery, I can confirm with D. that he can come over tomorrow to do hypnotherapy prior to surgery. Hey, I am trying what I can to ease my weary body (only 2nd week with 6-8 to go, sigh) through these passages. Friends and Mark help hold me up), Lia, my dog, gladdens me when I move from couch to patio to couch to bed, and I know I have a spiritual source to lighten my path. So one step at a time, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

sunday morning

I was awakened with the birds, sometime around 5 a.m., I guess, so I am about ready for a nap already at 10--. Certainly a different day cycle than my usual, but then I am just in a different place for awhile. Some pain twinges woke me and I lay there, breathing deeply, trying to imagine light and warmth around my ankle, relaxing so that Mark could sleep a little longer. We got up by 7 and he's dragging too. We had enough presence of mind for him to take photos of my bruises before they completely fade away; put the photos into a file for future reference with the ladder.

I am so lucky in many ways: I can sit outside in the pleasant April air, watch my birds push each other around like dock workers jocking for wages. A couple of these males (deduced by watching them mate) are very nasty. I think I will give them names such as Richard and Duke. When they aren't mating, they are chasing other doves away as if there weren't enough seed for all (which there is). One is molting; I will call her Mabel--she already looks like a feather duster (with feet).

Other good fortunes: friends who call and care, a husband who (partly still fueled by survivor guilt from the accident, but mostly by love and concern) stops off at Safeway to buy one decandent pastry that we share, as we seem to do most of things lately. I felt a bit better about Tuesday's surgery after talking with my sister-in-law's husband, a former ER nurse and currently a salesperson for hardware similar to what my doctor will be using for my ankle. One detail that he clarified for me is that the "year" of recovery I heard relayed from Mark's conversation with him a few days ago, was in reference to comparing types of surgerical hardware, not the recovery itself which is more like 14-18 weeks.

I had to accept about a nine month recovery when I herniated my disc in '89 (course I was younger then), and so I can (if I have to) live with4 months. Let's see April 20 (surgery date) to August--. Through the desert summer, lots of swimming, I hope, maybe a little travel and some work, if I am lucky, too.

I was reading about some free online education courses in the NY Times supplement today. I got through my back injury, in part, by laying on my back and taking a poetry course through PCC. That led to my starting my doctoral program in fall 1990. So, whether it's about writing or something else, I may look into that option. So I am trying to look ahead, past Tuesday and be hopeful.

Backto the birds: Richard and Duke seem to be more mellow now and Mabel has flown the coop. I imagine her with her shedding feathers, dusting off golden Acacia pollen from a window frame, making the pollen fly in the muted sun. A brown sparrow dips its beak into the bird bath, almost tipping over into the pool. Yet another task I need to ask Mark to attend to. Maybe next week I will be able to get up and pour water into the bird bath by myself, but today, I am still only a sunday morning observer.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

luck, gratitude and how accidents happen.

I had ups and downs (not literally, thank g0d) yesterday. Ups were in the middle of the day with my 45 mins. of reading "Princess Bride" and, most of that time, retelling my accident story to the 3rd and 4th Graders at Pueblo Gardens Elem. School. They soak up details from stories like a thirsty traveler in a dry desert. Words and attention to them are like an oasis in their, often, economically distressed lives. Their attention to me brought on tears and their hugs brought me to smile. But I had pushed it a bit too long in the car (3 hrs) with a trip to my primary doctor's office to pick up paperwork for a handicap parking pass and stops at Walgreen's for tylenol and McDonald's for something to drink. I came home and sort of napped, half listening to my neighbor's 4 year old daughter blithly singing a made-up song about selling lemonade.

Then I fell into a deeper funk (4-7 p.m. seems to be a hard time for me) and my leg began to ache differently than it has--maybe because tylenol doesn't seem to work as well for me as advil but the advil is out until after surgery since it is a blood thinner (which I didn't know).

I turned off t.v. and read, then, turned it back on to watch Seinfeld which made me laugh a bit--even those reruns for the 15th time are funnier than most on tv (except for Parks and Rec and, sometimes, 30 Rock).

I did sleep pretty well--dreamed about an old boyfriend, our former westside house and the feeling of taking of my cast to look at the bruises I imagine are under the plaster. This morning I really had to take my time with my stretches and grimaced as the vice-like feeling drains into my leg as I stand. But stand I did, and got going with breakfast and the NY Times.

It's beautiful outside. Poor Mark is doing house duties. He came outside to look at the ladder again--a safety colleague suggested we not move it until we contact a lawyer and he may have discovered how the could have happened but time will tell. There is more to this reality and I will be interested in what a lawyer tells us.

I read an article today about a 78 year old woman who fell down a local hotel stairs several years ago and died. The hotel stairs lacked a safety railing, there was poor quality carpeting on the stairs and lack of visibility on the stairs. My reaction: gratitude that a head injury wasn't the end result of last Saturday (about a week ago exactly as I write this at 10 a.m.). Her family sued, and won, 2.4 million. Of course, the woman is dead and money won't bring her back but if this ladder has a flaw we need to pursue legal action--someone else might not be as "lucky" as I am.

I am going to take it a bit easier today. I hope a friend might call or come by to visit but we'll see. A week from now I hope to be feeling better--or worse, but on the road to recovery.

Friday, April 16, 2010

small steps

I slept well last night. We rented "Meet the Morgans" from Red Box and even tho we saw it before (and it was severly panned by the movie critics), Mark and I both laughed at several lines and I think it helped me fall asleep and stay rested. I did have a weird dream (the dictionary work for the day in "oneiric", meaning dreamlike, and I guess parts of this past week have been oneiric, tho not all in a good sense, just as not all dreams are good ones). Last night I did dream of surgery but the surgeon was a type A personality and an alcoholic who wanted not to do my foot surgery but instead some kind of gyn procedure but without an anesthetic; so I got a new doctor-in-my-dream and she was kind of like Sarah Jessica Parker's character in the movie).

Anyway, when I woke up, Mark was still sleeping, so I did relaxation breathing and visualization and my morning affirmations. I visualized warmth and light reaching throughout my body and into the cells around my ankles, comforting them and preparing those cells and tissue to be receptive to the foreign objects that will be coming into the area through surgery.

I had my second chair-shower today and almost took a tumble as I turned to sit on the chair, but the tub handle and wall were my rebalancing frames and I was okay.

In the middle of this writing (somewhere in the first paragraph), UMC called with intake for my surgery. It's real. It's going to happen. I am nervous, scared. I need to stop taking Advil (it's a blood thinner which I didn't know) and the aspirin w/Evista (I knew the aspirin was a blood thinner and was going to call the Dr's office about stopping it, but the system got in front of me and called me instead.) God, I hope this all works out okay. I read "Divine Order" a little Unity/New Thought pamphlet this morning and it talks about getting my self in alignment with Divine Order. Alignment metaphor rings true for me--ankle alignment, soul alignment. It reminds me that even though I am in a stormy period, in the midst, my Higher Power is my anchor. I have to trust that in order to have the courage and do what I have to do on Tuesday.

So, Mark and I will go out soon and I will be at Pueblo Gardens Elem. School at 1:15 to read "Princess Bride" to my 3rd and 4th graders. They will laugh, I will laugh, and for that hour, I will be whole again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

lights out

rough night last nite. after dinner, my husband shared a conversation he had with his brother-in-law who sells sugery hardware similar to what will be "installed" in my ankle next week. the gist of the info that I heard is that it will take up to a year to get me back to my pre-fall mobility. I was really depressed about that and wanted to just get to bed. Fortunately, the last and cheery episode of "Ugly Betty" was on t.v. and I was lifted a bit by Betty's ongoing buoyance and bravery and the candy colors of the sets and clothes.

But my ankle was aching on and off and at 2 a.m. I woke up to a total power outage in our neighborhood. I had been having a bad dream with a stalker following me in a nasty looking hotel and so when I woke up to total darkness I freaked out and made Mark grab flashlights to see what was going on. It took an hour for power to be restored and in between that time I was awake, listening to Mark snoring. Right before it went on, our dog, Lia, who sleeps on the leather couch in the living room and, since she is part Australian heeler, often lies on her back, legs splayed to all directions, well, she rolled of the couch and landed with a yelp on her back. Mark did go back to sleep but snored in spite of his nose patch, decongestant and nasal spray.

After saying my prayers and affirmations many times, I finally fell back to sleep and dreamt about a shining light in the sky that landed, upright like a space shuttle, with visitors expected to disembark. In the dream, the PR team I do, in reality sometimes work with and/or for, had pulled together a working team to make a sign welcoming these cosmic visitors. When I did finally get up and listened to the radio news, I heard that a meteor and sonic boom was seen during the night, not here in the SWester desert, but in northern Illinois, where I grew up. How eerie.

So, today, the sunlight shines again and I know I need to feel my feelings of fear and frustration as well as those of optimism and acceptance. Lights will go off from time to time, total darkness will descend, but out there, somewhere there is a meteor extending its silver arc across the sky, reminding us earthlings of the expansive depths of what we don't know, don't understand, and often can't imagine. That large universe exists, as we do, suspended in time, holding on to the edges of what we call life.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

massage magic

today I had a back massage and it worked like magic on my tense back and shoulders. this kind of body attention should be covered by medical plans because I have no doubt that the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual components are connected. so much irony in this experience: I have gone to The Right Touch for birthday facials and other bodywork when my back muscles got to the point of "do something different" and drove past the place the week before my injury and thought "I should make time for a massage, but it's so expensive." Now, here I am, figuring on going at least once a week, definitely next Monday before Tuesday's surgery. I found out that my masseuse used to work at a hospital in Calif. and did pre an post op massages and even, upon occassion, rubbed patients' feet during surgery. so I am literally in good hands.

other magical moments in the past three days:

*the barista at Starbucks was trying to maintain corporate composure--you know, greet you and act like she is my new best friend and wants to make me my drink as a gift (that I pay for, of course). this one had a sunny smile and perky eyes, so when she heard about my injury, I got a vente instead of a grande shaken ice tea lemonade and, since we were in drive-thru, time was short so she short handed her comments which she meant to say "so sad, but hopefully you will be better soon" but instead chirped "I am hopefully sad for you." My husband and I burst out laughing (first laughter I have had since falling) and it felt so great to laugh and to accept that phrase as a truth for the day: "hopefully sad."

*there is an acquaintance I know who was recently diagnosed stage 3 ovarian cancer. I sent her a card and have added her to my daily prayers. She called me today, while waiting for her second round of chemo, to see how I was doing--amazing. When I told her I missed going to the gym/YMCA, she said she had just purchased a temp membership and maybe she could take ME when I was up to it! what a woman, what resilience and yet, when I said, "thank you, I have your in my prayers every day," she quickly left the conversation (and had to get to chemo, they were "buzzing" her). So we all need to reach out, maybe especially when we are in our own trauma stories. Kindness counts, heals us as well as the person we reach out to....

*and the daily miracles with my husband: he's relearning me and I am relearning him. We are branching out with new growth like the mesquite trees through these days.

*and being fed good food by others: last night my aspiring chef son came over and made delicious NY strip steaks, brocolli with white wine and garlic, mushrooms and french rolls. What tasted more delicious: the red juice of the meat or the sight of him gracing my kitchen with movements he first learned on the basketball court and has perfected at the Arizona Inn?

so that's my post for the day. I am a good girl: I wrote!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

living another way

A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of annual mammogram and call back (third year in a row with benign diagnosis), I amended one of my daily affirmations: "God, thank you for another day" and added, "help me live another way." I do my affirmations on my daily brisk 30 mins. walks (a.m. and p.m.) and every other day 30 mins. swimming laps.

This Saturday, 4/10, I unexpectedly received what I had asked for: a slower way of life, mandated by a broken right ankle and 8 weeks of expected recovery. In a flash of a few seconds, my husband's aluminum ladder collapsed, smashing into the green plastic potting table where I was finishing plant pottings, both tumbling me over as I tried to move away, catching my right foot under ladder or table, red clay pots tumbling on my forhead and chest, elbows splayed on the concrete to break my fall, shouts of "watch out" from my husband as he fell every which way, "Oh my God", shouted twice by me as I pulled out my leg, clutching my knee to my chest and we both gaped in horror at the sight of my right foot turned to the extreme (almost 180 degrees) while a huge bulge the size of an orange appeared to the left of what used to be my ankle socket. Just like that my life slowed from my sometimes manic, always purposeful lifestyle to a crawl of minutes.

Minutes waiting for the EMT fellows to arrive, minutes in the ambulance, minutes stretching into hours in ER as I was assessed, put into twilight sleep, ankle relocated, x-rays taken, first "how to use crutches" lessons given and shuttled home by my husband who was suffering from survivor guilt. As a trained safety professional the quick failure of his carefully placed ladder, used over the years to trim our backyard bushes, also represented his self-identified failure as a safety professional and husband. But it was an accident he didn't cause and I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or the right place at the right time.

Maybe I was just where I needed to be to prevent his crashing and breaking his neck, or maybe my injury was setting me on another path. A path to spend more time writing, slowing down, watching how my 10 year old dog, Lia, licks her marrow bones three times and then gently lick the delicious remnants of juice the dribbles on her leg as she holds the marrow bones in her paws. Watching the cactus wren bully her way past the doves to the choice sunflower seeds on the bird feeder.
Maybe I was just where I needed to be....

So here I am, on the 3rd day of recovery, certainly not rising very fast, not yet sleeping well, wiggling my toes, icing my ankle, learning how to shower on a chair, how to exercise my arms while resting upright at the computer, how to breathe deeply while curved like a parenthesis on the worn leather sofa, always with right leg up and left leg resting between slogs to the bathroom.

Maybe I will learn to live more slowly. Maybe I will take those lessons past recovery into a renewed life, sometime around early June--the hottest month of the year in Tucson, past this lovely, extended, pollen-filled springtime when my dwarf orange tree is fully blooming and perfuming the infamous patio where this journey began three days ago.

I will attempt to post daily. Weave this into a new routine, take chances with new technology and grow, slowly, as I walk, one faltering but still purposeful, certainly more mindful, step at a time.