Monday, May 31, 2010

boundaries breached and broken

It was almost too easy to set up this blog. I think it took about 3 mins and I did it while under stress from the accident just a day or two before. But they don't give you an owner's manual with a blog; they don't suggest what to do or not to do. It appears as if the writer is just doing a diary--putting out thoughts that arise as one writes.

Of course, I know that putting words online means the words are "public" not private. But because I don't get responses hardly ever to the blog, after a while it feels as if no one is reading it. So I go on and on with the words on the "page."

Several days ago, I might have breached a boundary when I wrote about a kind and caring person who came to visit me. She is in her own exhausting cancer battle and yet, she has consistently been one of the handful of persons who have called to check on me and it was her idea to bring me a book. But as I wrote about her--with the motives of highlighting the goodness of her heart, the strength of her spirit, I may have crossed a boundary of her privacy. Even though I didn't name her, and don't name her here, if a couple of people we both know might read the entry, they would know who she is.

I wrote her, after the posting, to get her suggestions to edit out the passage but I haven't heard back from her, so my concern and worry has shifted into guilt. Hence, my private/public "amends" that I am posting today. I am going to learn from this lesson and keep my writing focused on me and not on others. If I shine the light on others, it will be more obliquely.

The remainder of my day today will have other moments of regret and sorrow: so many memories of family on Memorial Day, with many of the faces in the memories faded from the living. Stories of men and women since the Civil War who have died for ideals that we once proclaimed "unalienable" are now being denied and defined by geographical boundaries, particularly south of the "border."

As we, as individuals and member of a common country, stumble through this day, I wonder how many of us will remember boundaries we have crossed--sometimes we crossed these boundaries with permission but often just because we could.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Clean up

We thought we were going to have guests last night that would want to visit with us outside, so "we" (I supervised/directed, Mark did all the work), cleaned up the patio where, two weeks ago, the ladder collapsed and my ankle was broken and dislocated. Due to lots of winds these past two months, the red blossoms from the euchalyptus bushes--those Mark was going to cut when he went up the ladder--had blown on the two tables, chairs and patio bricks. So, first, they were swept up, then the bricks were hosed down, then the chairs were scrubbed free of blossom and bird poop stains, then we put on a new tablecloth and bedding cover, then a few flowers-in-pots were moved around and then we called it quits for now.

We both agreed that the trauma of the accident had prevented us from paying other than cursury attention to the "crime scene." By cleaning up the air, we also felt some of the trauma dietris (sp?) had also been swept away and we could do this, in part, because I do think that this week, the 6th week after surgery, my ankle is "turning the corner" toward healing. Although it still turns color when I it is hanging down, it doesn't turn color as fast, the area is more limited when it does turn color and it rebounds when raised more quickly. The stiffness area is declining and twinges seem to be aligned with where the swelling is, albeit slowly, lessening.

I shifted my home use of the walker to the one with two wheels, hoping it would generate less impact on my hands. I need to be aware of myself as I experience recovery because my instinct is to go fast and push it, and I need to hold myself back, restrain--at least until I see my doctor this week.

I don't feel inclined to push it outside of the house but to be open to going out to different places (we ate at Buddy's on Friday and that worked out fine) as I try to feel my way back to a more expanded world.

At the same time, I, like many in the U.S., maybe the world, could be riveted to watching the oil spill disaster videos that play constantly on the cable television. There's a different kind of clean up going on in the marshes, the sand beaches, the ocean surface and everyone there involved has, no doubt, been experiencing their own trauma and loss. An editorial in today's NY Times talks about how we/Americans expect everything to be "fixed" by technology and fixed fast. This is very true, I think. I know that when the first time I heard a doctor in ER tell me that recovery would take 6-8 weeks, I thought he was out of his mind. Somehow, I was going to make my recovery work fast and count on the doctors and surgery to "fix it." I still hope the surgery will make me whole again, but each day reminds me that recovery comes in incremental steps and that it is not linear--setbacks can happen, though I haven't, to my knowledge, experienced any yet with my ankle. But emotionally, I have had my ups and downs--the blog helps me identify where I am on this continuum and sometimes, it even helps me let go of some of the frustration and anger on "down" days.

Fortunately, today isn't a down day--the clean up on the patio brightens the outside space and demonstrates that, when we are ready, some elements of life's messiness can be swept away. Other elements remain (my ankle scars are the obvious clues), but every day offers moments of healing. I hope the residents of the Gulf Coast can find solace, somehow, also, in the acts of picking up tar balls, wiping oil off the wings of the brown pelicans, hauling in a net full of shrimp that are not yet (and maybe will not be) soaked in black oil.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

even though

I am grateful for smart people who can estimate how many gallons of oil are spilling out into the ocean, even though none of them are in agreement.

I am grateful for hardworking fisherman who haul in shrimp, oysters and crabs to be shipped to restaurants in the desert where people can eat them and imagine waves of water, even though I am one of those people who rarely order fish off a menu or cook it at home.

I am grateful for the camera crew who bring pictures of this drama into my living room 24/7, even though sometimes I turn it off because it's just too much information for me to handle.

I am grateful for reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation at 10 p.m. so that I can reboard the Enterprise and be amongst a rational crew that also loves to play in the holodeck, listen to classical music and order warm milk and nutmeg before catching some sleep between Klingon crises, even though I know that it's only a story and sometime in the early morning my slowly restoring ankle nerves will twinge in "wake up" mode.

There are many opportunities for my gratitude and yet I can't get there wholeheartedly; there is a seesaw in my psyche that keeps me from soaring to high in the air, that keeps pulling me back to earth, so that I am squatting on the soil, fingering the particles of the dust that remind me: this is what you will become some day, even though you are made of glimmer from the stars.

Friday, May 28, 2010


My mind seems a bit flat today. I had a good night's sleep and taking it slow this morning, too. In a week, I see my dr. for a progress check and I am hoping she sees progress and that it's as anticipated. When I get up in the morning, I take off the boot and do my in-bed stretches and exercises. I begin to move around and see my normal-colored foot begin to turn pink then purple and I would like not to see that color change. The stiffness behind the ankle is beginning to lessen, but it is (seemingly) tissue layer by tissue layer.

Today is going to be hot--maybe 100 degrees, and I have an outing planned around lunchtime (a nonbillable work meeting). Later, I hope Mark leaves work early so I can swim at the Y.

Mentally, I think my flatness is due, in part, because I a) have no immediate work tasks emerging and b) I am stuck with my creative writing. I don't feel inspired to do much of anything, although reading is good. I think my morning read of the NY times today harvested a new idea, compliments and nods to writer, David Brooks. He writes about "choice architecture" and, interestingly enough, this week I was talking with a friend about how we assess risks we will and won't take which is close to what he DB is writing about--with the added dimension of complexity of systems and technology that is part of our "choice architecture." So, the concept of how we make choices within complex systems connects to the oil spill disaster but it also connects to other choices, some of which we make daily. DB suggests we make a low calculated risk when we use a crosswalk on the street and more people are killed with this choice than with jaywalking because, in a crosswalk, we don't look both ways but rely on the technology of the crosswalk to make our pathway safe.

I took a calculated risk on 4/10 when I chose to place myself by the patio table while Mark chose to go up a ladder that he "trusted" was locked since the lock clicked (which should be the indicator that the ladder is locked). So consequences come within a seemingly simple system of a crosswalk or an extension ladder.

As I go through my day today, I am going to pay closer attention to my personal "choice architecture" and the systems I assume are working (ex: ligaments, tendons, bones and metal plate and screws in my ankle) in order for me to function and grow. What other systems do I assume are working and where are the choices I make to either support or impede these systems? What role/responsibility to I take on or give up in these systems?

Well, so much for my mind being flat today---thanks to this blog, I am now awake with almost too many questions swirling in my mind!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

effects of a flower moon

I read in the paper today that Native Americans call the new moon in May, flower moon. I like the idea of connecting the moon's emergence to the image of a flower opening. The first (probably only) bloom from our night-blooming cerus came and went already but it's supposed to bloom around this time of year--an effect of the full moon.

My sleep pattern also was affected by the light--I could not get to sleep last night and once I did, my leg woke me up twice after a few hours. I could not sleep at all on my back, so my left side was the only option, but the weight of the boot on the right makes my left knee ache. So it goes.
While I lay awake, I went back to a year ago when we were scurrying around to find Mom a place to move to as her care exceeded what assisted living could do for her. I think I have buried my feelings about those weeks deep into my subconscious. Sometimes I think of her, but rarely. It's as if she had left me long before she died in August.

I see my spring flowers are dying--the emerging sun is getting too hot for violets and pansies. I will need to plant some sustainable summer flowers this weekend. Watching flowers die is a sad sight. They tighten up into little dry buds, fall over the edge of the pots, almost like the heads of Henry VIII's victims were laid out for their beheadings (reference to "The Tudors" here). The saguaro blossoms, pearly white and atop the ends of cactus' arms, are the last to go before 100 degrees becomes our norm. As that happens, nighttime shifts to the best time to be outside, to watch the stars poke through the dark sky and gaze at the moon rising in the southeastern sky.

Melancholia is emerging as I write--more than werewolfs respond to a full moon. Something about the full face of silver draws tides and a sense of fullness but also deep energy that stirs up dark spirits. I need to rechallenge that mood into creative writing and/or reading. Images of Venice, Italy (from a book I am reading, no doubt) and deep waters with mysteries of death. I can see tonight's moon sending rays of light over golden bridges and villas teetering on wood foundations, slowly sinking into the bay.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Surprises and Joy

In my daily evening journal I have several prompts that are part of a daily self-inventory. Two that sometimes I write nothing for are "surprises" and "joy." I use a working definition of "joy" that defines "joy" as a response triggered by some shift from the inside out (contrast with "happiness" which is externally driven, i.e. I am happy when I hear the birds sing in the morning). I know I am out of sync with my Higher Power when, for that day, I have no surprise or joy that I can recall. I accept that lack of alignment for what it is and don't beat myself about it; for that day, I simply wasn't aligned enough to find joy and/or surprise in my day.

Sometimes, tho, surprise and/or joy just leap up at me and this morning was one of those times. Aron is taking some time off from work and so is "around" a bit more. This morning, in response from his dad, he came to make me (and himself) breakfast. That was a surprise! It was also delicious in taste. The joy came from laughter from all three of us as we exchanged banter about daily horoscopes and my morning captain-to-lieutenant barking "orders" for breakfast and chores. I reminded both of them that I am alone with Lia most of the day--and she does all the barking when it's just the two of us. The only "talk" time I have is before Mark goes to work and after he comes back, with the recent addition of talk and swim time when I am chauffered to the Y. And I digress: the point is joy. I felt joy in hearing them laugh and being able to laugh, too.
So tonight I will have something to write for those reflective elements.

I also experienced (all before 8:15 a.m.) humility and gratitude when an acquaintance came by to drop off a book. She was on her way to chemotherapy for Stage III ovarian cancer. Her husband was the only person who, years ago when Mark was laid off from BHP Copper, reached out to Mark to support him, mano y mano. Chemo patients have their distinct look: no head hair, no eyebrows or eyelashes, skin glowing like neon. She had that look but her own look, too: colorful scarf wrapped stylishly on her head, smile stretching across her shiny face, hands outstreched with generousity in spirit as she handed me a book. Now I shift from my earlier smile to contained tears--all these emotions now, before 9 a.m.

So, dear readers, whoever you are, whenever you read this, I challenge you to my challenges: to find a surprise today, to experience joy, humility, gratitude. To live the slow life!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

without a boot?

Another night of struggle-sleep with my gd ankle boot.

In between tossing and turning, I did have vivid dreams of traveling on hills (second night in a row; the previous night I was driving on a freeway, stomach tight with the turns and exit ramps), stranded in Mexico (I can recall the sight of a small farmer's market where vendors sold watermelons, dripping with red juice and--a dream anamoly(sp?)--baked pizzas). In Mexico, I was with Mark and Aron, searching for a friend's daughter who was prostituting on the sidewalks. We didn't find her but men chased us down the hilly streets, throwing rocks at us. I remember waking up and thinking: "this is Jesus' parable turned inside out--the pimps are throwing rocks at us while we are trying to save a prostitute."

And I recall these dreams with the only "drug" I take before sleep: one 500 mg tylenol. I don't know if I still need to take it, but I do, mostly to help me think I won't be uncomfortable during the night. And, though I have twinges from time to time, the discomfort is the weight of the boot. It either pulls my leg downward if I sleep on my back, or, if I try to sleep on my left, the weight of it on my right has to be perfectly buffered by a) pillow and b) leg positions. I have learned I cannot sleep on my right. Somehow the weight of it tenses up my right side so much that, with my right hand tucked under the pillow that I try to cram under my neck to counterbalance the weight, I wake up (twice) with a cramp under my armpit/near my breast that goes away when I move out of the position but, of course, does wake me up.

I go to sleep easily--tired from recovery and, lately, the much welcomed swim exercise I am trying to do at least 4x a week. I am improving my side stroke strength but the breaststroke is wobbly at best--something about that stiff right ankle and weight of it throws off my form. My masseuse says my back muscles show some relaxation so that's an improvement. My hands, though, still ache from the walker tho they are not getting worse. In talking with the Y aquatics director he told me of his broken leg/crutches story and he, too, suffered from impact of the crutches on his hands and armpits. My question is: why aren't the doctors or PT staff telling us of this at the outset so we can prevent this preventable discomfort? Seems to me they would want us up and walking (to prevent blood clots for one reason) but this kind of side effect can be immobilizing.

My horoscope today speaks of my probably feeling "hemmed in" and how I need to figure out how to get what I want within these constraints. Well, I guess I am figuring that out, slowly, as long as the "what I want" excludes what I ca't control, such as walking or sleeping. Example of a want partially realized: we made plans last night to fly to see friends in Colorado over July 4--a date, I hope, when I can celebrate my personal independence from the walker, even though my walking distances will still be limited.

For the near future, I am wanting small signs of progress: not great leaps across canyons but a short journey down the street, and sleeping without a boot!!

Monday, May 24, 2010


In the last moments of my mother's life, we played John Denver's "Sunshine on my Shoulders" for her. She was gasping like a fish, in the last stage of morphine-assisted death, and it was horrible to watch, but the music played its sweet sounds and I hope she was hearing it as she drifted away.

I thought of that last night as I watched, Treme on HBO, and one of the characters put an IPod earplug into a dying man's ear and New Orleans jazz music was playing for him. They say that sound is the last sense you lose.

When I woke up this morning, the tune of "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow", was in my head. Methodist music is probably one of the greatest religious gifts I received from my growing up in Elgin--singing in the choir until high school and, eventually after that, returning to the church for the "big music" Methodists love.

I can still recall the musty smell of an old building where I took a music history class at ECC and, earlier, all the music concerts (band and orchestra), practices, private lessons (clarinet), I was lucky enough to have as I moved through junior high into high school.

Music is the way I start each day thanks to KUAT classical music, and I ease past morning into 92.9 The Mountain with a music mix of Dave Mathews, Coldplay and others (but not Taylor Swift, thank you very much).

This all comes to mind because I was just reading about point of view (POV) for story characters, and thinking about my dominant senses--sound/auditory being one of them. Mark says I can hear a spider walking on the ceiling. Probably not true, but the sound of morning birds, neighbor dogs (and then Lia chimes in) barking and howling, laughter of a child--noises actually relax me and help me accept this long, slow healing process.

I read "Heidi" to my mother on our last two months' visits and, more often to not, she seemed to sleep through the pages. On her next to last day, I asked her if she wanted to talk or should I just read "Heidi"? "Just read", she weakly replied. So I did. But I also felt a bit cheated, that here we were, at yet another time when I wanted to talk with her, but talk is not what she wanted to do. I don't think, until right now, I figured out that my mom wasn't much of a talker. She was more like her dad than her mother. Mom was a doer, a fixer, a manager of situation. Where I wanted words shared between her and me, what I got, instead, was her request for a story. What I gave her, in her very end, was the sound of music. Different senses as substance, but connecting as essence.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

another page

It's too soon to tell if the new tools we are trying on my wrists/walker issue will work since my hands got so sore from the previous failures it will take a few days to discern. But here's what Mark figured is worth a try:

1. We purchased gell-padded bicycle gloves from the TREK bicycle shop near our home. I will wear those whenever I go out of the house and have to hobble longer distances.

2. For shorter distances, he went back to the shop and they wrapped around bicycle grip tape which has a thin strip of gell inside of it. They finished off the wrapping with electrical tape so nothing slides.

Both of these tools are originally designed, of course, to prevent wrist damage to long-distance bicyclists, softening the road and ground bumps that could be nature or man-made (i.e. speed bumps). IF these work, it is something that I hope my doctor tells her patients about and I will also be spreading the word through disability service groups that I come in contact with. I wish we had thought of this a month ago before my wrists (and into my arms, too) began to ache from the jar of hobbling with the walker and one leg.

While Mark was getting the walker pads wrapped yesterday, I subsituted my fitted walker for one we got from Craig's List when I first had the accident. It has two wheels in front which makes it less jarring as I hobble but it also is a bit high for me, so we'll wrap it too and use it as a backup.

I didn't really shift my attitude to gratitude yesterday (after admitting to the reality of being resentful and fatigued on yesterday's blog entry), but I did "get through it." I am viewing the past episodes of The Tudors which has been on Showtime. But since we don't get that channel, DVD is the resource. It's a bit heavy on the raw sex scenes for me, but I love the palace intrigue, sets and costumes and the script is literate. I enjoyed PBS' Henry VIII years ago and both take me back to my undergrad/NIU English History classes. Of course, I can't recall the mazelike lineage of the Tudors, or any of the English Kings/Queens--how cultures survive the inbreeding, murders, etc., is beyond me and makes even our current Tea Party goofiness look rather tame.

Knowing how "the story" of Henry turns out, with the long and prosperous reign of Elizabeth overshadowing his era, makes the early chapters of Henry and Anne Boyelyn more poignant. We just don't know, when we are the characters of our own lives, how "the end" will be written.

So, I just hobble along (even tho it's windy today, I will go to the pool) and consider each day another page in my book.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Coming Clean

I have several continuing challenges with recovery--

1. Finding some kind of walker pads that help the palms of my hands from suffering. This is a big issue--it severely limits where I can walk when I leave the house. We have tried several online products which continue to "flatten" after a few days' use. Mark came up with idea of buying bicycle gloves that have gell in them so we will go to a bike shop today and give that a try. The gell pads we have found need to be "slipped" onto the walker which means taking it apart which is a pain. I almost cried today when the last (failed) product came in the mail. Something so simple seems to be so hard.

2. Taking a shower/bath when I want to. I still rely on Mark and I am worried about three weeks from now when he is on a trip. The dog and security alarm system and good neighbors take care of the "home alone" syndrome but the basic care stuff is still outside of my one-legged reach. Monday I was so pissed because I had to rush through my shower/bath but today was a lengthy one. I trade off the swim today for the shower but it's okay.

3. Sleeping beyond 5-6 hours. No matter what time I go to sleep (last night was later because Mark was at a dinner at the BioSphere), I wake up around 5 because sleeping on my back time has expired: my leg aches as does my neck. I can roll over to my left side for about another hour of dozing time, but then I am up before 7 a.m. I cannot sleep at all on my right side. I do take a nap sometimes and will today but I am getting tired of waking already tired.

4. Resentments are starting to build up about the lack of tidiness in my house: Mark folds towels differently than I do and mix and matches them in the two closets. He uses/puts out wash clothes for hand towels. He has the "habit" of stocking the pantry and refrig with the minimalist method, so we run out of basics. Dust bunnies and fallen bits of food are beginning to sprout under the couch which is filthy from the dog being on it. The floor only gets "swept" once a week and it's not a sweeping but a swiffing (with the Swiffer) which pushes dust and dirt into the concrete block crevices, but does not remove them. I haven't seen my sister since I got home from the hospital and the only reason I have spoken with her since is to ask for her help when Dad was in the hospital. My work "team" doesn't call at all. My support group members haven't been supportive. If it weren't for my two friends (and a couple of others who at least call or email), Susan and Rita, I would be out here on my own. That sucks.

5. I have four weeks, probably more, to go with this recovery. I feel angry, lonely and tired. The time with the schoolkids is over until September so I need to find/create some joyful opportunities each day. But I am stuck today--and that's the way it is.

Friday, May 21, 2010


A couple of nights ago, I caught some segments of a 2007 movie, Beowulf, on FX channel and just finished reading about it and the original story online. I had to read parts of it in college and then again when Aron went to St. Gregory's, but it wasn't a story I particularly liked at either time. However, there was something about the story this time around that caught my interest. Maybe a person has to live long enough to get a sense of one's own storyline/narrative and have some experiences with slaying monsters before the story rings true.

I am interested in how the story starts not at the beginning of Beowulf's life trajectory but in the middle--maybe that's what appeals to me because I am past-the-middle of my own life and feel that my current recovery is a "battle"--mostly against my own demons of ego, independence, impatience and perfection.

Another detail that intrigues me is the picture of burial mounds that were common in Sweden during the 5-7th centuries and the excavation of one of these in the late 1870s "confirms" the Beowulf story. And, as I connect the dots in my imagination, I connect this interest to my creative recovery and reading in "The Golden Vein" of the importance of writing my own storyline. I have been pushing back against the idea of an autobiographical writing exercise, and I didn't do it a year ago when I first came to this exercise, but maybe it's time now. I certainly do have the time and some of the motivation to at least go for a first attempt.

My ankle recovery is now moving past the halfway mark on the 8 week recovery cycle. I have no idea where I really am in the reality of that cycle and have two more weeks before I see Dr. C again (that will be week 6.5 when I see her). Mark is planning an East Coast trip but I started to freak out last night about it, imagining all I would have to do by myself and 98% of that I can't yet do by myself. So, as I said, I have my own demons to confront. One sword swipe at a time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Moon in the sky

I am writing this later in the day than per usual because a) I didn't have a good sleep night, just couldn't get comfortable for long with the leg and b) I did go to the Y in a.m. and then to my last day of the year with the 3rd and 4th graders. I was supposed to go for a massage also today but cancelled it because I am just too tired. My limits are definite more clear (and narrower) than before I injured my ankle. I really don't even feel much like writing today but I will because I made a commitment to do it.

The topic of slow life also doesn't appeal to me what does? Maybe I should list surprises and see where that takes me (hopefully to a change of attitude):

So, recent surprises:

*two neighbors came over yesterday with the most divine Swiss dark chocolate (he travels a lot for the UA)
*dad wasn't reachable today when I tried to call him and so I had to call one of the staff people to check on him. I was praying he wasn't sprawled out on the floor due to a heart attack, stroke or fainted because of his bleeding ulcer. He called; nothing dramatic going on--just long bathroom trips and, I think, he's a bit depressed and missing our weekly lunches which are "out" until I can drive again.
*I couldn't come up with 20 things in my life that I want to be manifested--made evident. I came up with about 6 with "walking" at the top of the list. I need to go back to that "Golden Vein" assignment and add to the list.
*When we were driving to the school today the moon was evident in the Eastern sky. The paper said it was a quarter moon but it looked almost half and so strange to see it so high at 1 p.m.
*one of the smartest (to me) students in the class didn't come through on either one of two reading/writing challenges that would have put him in the mix or free books and/or fall ice cream cake and chance for lunch with me at the Arizona Inn. He always speaks up when I read and follows the details so well and speaks eloquently and, upon leaving today (I gave him and about 6 others--all boys--one more chance for the cake/luncheon in the fall by doubling up the required summer chapter book report from 2-4 pages), I said to him "you are too smart to not be in the mix." I hope he comes through for himself.
*My work team has been very quiet. Either not much work going on or nothing that involves me which is disconcerting.
*The Y lifeguards and Y staff have been very supportive. Maybe it's my imagination but since I left the Lthouse in the spring (due to frustration with a) seniors in the pool expousing conservative political views and b) their resistance to listening to contemporary music mixes while I did laps, when I get there now my favorite music is playing. I almost always here a Dave Mathews tune (on 92/9/the Mountain) and I just feel so welcome.
*My hands are so sore from the lousy pads (ha!) on the walker. That's the biggest impediment to me getting around right now

So that's my list for today. Biggest surprise: the moon high in the afternoon sky!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rhythm for now

I had a really good (considering where I am at) swim today--did several laps with the crawl (forward and on my back) and though it really worked my weaker (now) right thigh muscle, I know it was good for it. My ankle didn't feel as tight in the water either. I was "welcomed" by several aerobic seniors who probably are feeling might spry compared to my walking status. I used to get restless with their slowness and now it is me: another lesson in humility pour moi.

I so enjoy my times of conversation with Susan and Rita and appreciate the extra time they are giving me. I have a couple of other friends also stopping by but, of course, my sister is completely off the radar. I am surprised that I am still surprised by that reality.

Other realities are sinking in, too--wondering where my work income will come from this month, for one; summer is beckoning around the corner but Spring is, thankfully, lingering. I just have to go with the flow and keep my eyes awake for opportunities.

I began to review a couple of chapters in Julie Cameron's "Vein of Gold". Ironically, the last chapter I was working on was about "walking". I put that at the top of my list for elements I want to see manifested in my life: walking again!! Mark ordered new walker pads because my wrists are really aching by the end of the day. Someone needs to put on walkers similar foam cushioned pads as are on crutches. If I sprained my wrist, I would be so screwed since it's only by using my hands and walker that I can get anywhere.

I bought an "easy to read/summer beach" book yesterday and have a film noir on cable right now and both will probably help me catch thirty winks today. I do like my naps and need them since I still wake up around 5 and then shift from by back to my side for another hour or so. Watching "Star Trek" before I go to sleep seems to be helping me nod off without worries, so that's a bit later than usual, but it's my rhythm for now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I am not Emily D.

Yesterday, I was really bitchy when Mark came home later than expected. I was on my ass all day and even tho (small applause) I did contribute to my short story yesterday with a new scene, I felt mostly isolated and frustrated. My ankle didn't seem to be any better (each day I look for minute improvements and, sometimes, like today, I think I feel it, but sometimes, like yesterday, I don't) and so I was also depressed. I had been looking forward to my bath/shower but that had to be rushed because he was late. I went into my massage still grumpy and she ended the session with some energy healing over my heart which I felt was powerful and calmed me down a bit. Mark and I went to a new (for us) Greek restaurant and the food was very good so by the time we returned home, I was resigned to acceptance (again.)

I slept so hard I didn't get up once for the bathroom, tho I woke up a couple of times in early morning to rearrange my leg in the bed. I will be surprised if my right leg doesn't end up slightly longer than the left: during the night, it feels like the boot is slowly stretching my leg and my thigh aches in the morning.

I can see the heel bruising is changing color from blue to green (I think the bruise is from the dislocation) and, four weeks after my surgery, my ankle bones are slowly returning to a shape other than "swollen." The tautness underneath the ankle continues, but, maybe today, I can again feel it shrinking.

Negotiating swim times/drivers is a challenge I am having. This is probably the last week Mark has the flex to take me and I want Aron to observe my transportation and swimming process before he takes on some of the schedule next week until I can drive again. (When will that be? Mid-June, end of June?) Today, Mark will come home in late aft. so I can catch the afternoon pool hours and then go vote. I hope the voting isn't a hassle (standing up too much) because I want to vote and didn't get a mail-in ballot as Mark did.

I will probably write up my new story scene today on the computer tho sitting at the computer table is still iffy for me: my leg is down and the circulation sets in. I keep wearing the sock because I don't like to see my foot change colors like the horses in the City of Oz. I will read the article in Sunday's NY Times Art Section on Emily Dickenson's home--talk about isolation and writing. She found a way to live with both and turn the isolation into a foundation for her writing. Not me. I struggle with it, particularly when it is "imposed" such as now. But I will do my best--not to emulate Emily, but to balance, albeit on (still) one foot.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reading and Writing

Today might be the day I begin to write for my short story again. I have begun to "think like a writer" again--actually, I have only recently begun to think at all. Yesterday I experienced some light headedness again. It may be allergies but it still feels like I am almost out of my self for a micro second. Maybe I should be checking my low blood pressure, too, that could be a factor.

Anyway, throughout these five weeks, I have been slowly reading "The Boating Party" by Susan Vreeland. I ordered it, along with a collection of her short stories, because I had started by writing again with vignettes based on paintings that inspired me. She did short stories and this long novel on paintings, too, mostly the Impressionists. At first, the story was hard for me to connect with: dense with painting details I didn't relate to and short on action. But as the characters developed, I began to get immersed in the story and now I look forward to my twilight time when I sit outside and read a chapter or two.

My pace of life is similar to the rhythm I sense as the painter paints his masterpiece: very slowly and not linear--he starts a figure and then scrapes it off to start again. My healing seems to be like that. I woke this morning with more toe tingling and don't know if that's a step backwards or forwards. My swelling continues to go down but the nerve sensation process seems circular. Yesterday in the pool, I did a couple of more side stroke laps and a bit longer (not a full lap yet) on the forward and back crawl, as well as water walking. I could feel a "hot spot" emerge in my heel as I "walked" and could feel the ankle stiffness in front and back as I did the crawl. Maybe it's all to the good. I know I feel better in the pool and when I get out, I also feel refreshed. But it is a more concentrated workout than when I was well and could do my 30 mins of laps while enjoying the music or doing mental affirmations. Now, I need to concentrate on my ankle--or at least that is what I am doing, whether I need to or not.

Taking a break (necessary: no one to drive me today to the pool) from swimming but I have a massage and shower/bath later today. So I should have the energy to write; depends, now, if I have the desire and the will!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Slow start on Sunday...I read the newspapers and tried not to get stuck in the morass of mendacity (I love that word, from Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof": I can hear Burl Ives/Big Daddy, sort of curl the syllables on this tongue: men-da-ci-ty, and spit them out as if each syllable were a curse word). Maybe because of the news, mostly all bad, very little to be hopeful about, I feel depressed today. But also, because it is Sunday and yet it is, mostly, a day like the other 36 that have passed since my accident: most of the time is on my ass.

I will get to the pool today and try to hobble into Starbucks (we'll see how that goes with ADA accessibility) at Target while Mark does shopping. Both of those will probably tucker me out for the rest of the day. At least I have HBO's "Treme" to look forward to: what a show, what artistry to watch, listen to. Good words and stories.

Oh, I filled out two questionnaires this morning: one from UMC Hospital about the care while I was there and the other to United Insurance about the fall and I guess both of those took me back to a place I didn't feel like visiting again, but needed to. Also, yesterday, another unsoliticited story from someone who has had surgeries for arthritic joint replacements, told me 6 months is the more likely timeline for recovery. I didn't want to hear that, for sure. She also cautioned me about doing too much too soon which was probably good advice but words I hear almost everyday from Mark.

Meanwhile, what can I DO? I hope the work week brings me some opportunties and maybe my mind will start churning toward creativity for my writing. Right now, I am stuck in neutral and trying not to shift into reverse.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

New norm

I just read that today is Emily Dickenson's birthday. I have already lived 6 years longer than she did but none of my poems can match hers. I wonder what was lost because her letters were burned (per her wishes) by her sister? I have three boxes of journals, including one of my mom's, and I wonder if anyone will read them? I read a few pages of mom's soon after she died and it was good to hear her voice from the pages. What will be saved from emails, Facebook, blogs? It's an era of "delete" rather than "save."

Well, yesterday was a good day: I again went to Y pool and did a bit more "swimming" (4 jr. lengths by side stroke, a few more feet of the crawl) and several lengths of water walking, with some weight on the ankle. Susan, who was my chauffeur, and I went to Baggins for lunch and a very nice man opened the door for me and another moved to give me his table and chairs. I will frequent those places with kindness vibes and avoid the others.

One of the family adaptations that has evolved is, since I can't drive, Aron is picking up the SUV to do errands, get to work and back. He brings back the car in the morning so Mark can take Lia for her desert walks. It has been years since I have seen Aron in the mornings and longer still since, when he was "up", he was actually pleasant to be around. And although it's only for a few minutes before he leaves, it does brighten and lighten my day. I consider this God's Grace working in our lives, molding us into shapes we would not (willingly) do for ourselves.

Today I will reclaim another one of my normal rituals and with it, slowly feel as if I am returning to my old Self--but with a difference, I hope, or more than one. I am beginning to shift inside (not only my ankle bones have been reset, but something deeper, unnameable as yet) and consider new possibilities to living the slow life. I am not sure what shape that will take yet--a different kind of community work, perhaps, unpaid, probably but also open to new opportunities where consulting is involved. Yet keeping a third eye open on toxic barriers that don't contribute to my growth.

I am sensitive, each day, to the level of swelling that goes down on my ankle, how the bones are beginning (under the red-blue skin) to reemerge and with the bones some not-too-distant hope for stability. Of course, stability is an illusion (ask the survivors of Haiti and the Phillipines and see the smoke above the volcano in Iceland, the oil swirls in the Gulf), but some sense of terra firma is necessary in order to take one step each day. That is what I will accept as the new norm of my slow life.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Well, the pool was terrific yesterday and I was very cautious with putting my foot on the ground as I tried to buoyantly walk. Sidestroke was doable as was laying on my back, holding the rail, and gently water walking--one stroke at a time. I will go back today and try to get into a routine of at least 3x a week plus my massage(s). But today I am dragging a bit due to so-so night sleep: had another foot cramp in my left (walking) foot. That wakes me up and I begin to fret and can't get back to sleep. So I may nap after this, before getting ready to go to the pool.

I notice how the season is shifting to summer and how my outside routine is being affected by the additional warmth. I should get up earlier but I can't seem to muster morning energy. I was signed up for an online work webinar but don't feel interested in making the effort right now. I think I am mildly depressed (again) today. Too much bad news in the newspapers about the oil spill, wars around the globe, recesssion and the idiocy of Arizona politics.

Mark keeps bringing up possible relocation alternatives post 2011 when he retires, but I can't get very enthused about that idea. I can see the merit of finding a way to "beat the heat" during the summer but not move from Tucson completely. Even though my hand-holding relationships are few here, the few I have I value highly. I couldn't get through this period with Rita and Susan S. and a couple of others who have chipped in with time and food and offers to take me places (which I will start using as Mark is returning back to work at UA).

Being grounded in the desert is not an easy relationship to shake off. I suppose I could consider another place with mountains, but since we have ranges in all four directions, that would be a high standard to try to match. But I guess I have to remain open to possibilities of change; certainly, this injury has taught me that again.

So, this is short today--I really do need to lay me down and take a morning siesta.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

in the swim?

Today I get to try my feet again in the pool! I am meeting with the Y Aquatics Director for 30 mins and he will help me navigate my way in and out and determine what it is I can and can't do at this point. Dr. C says I can begin to walk on it and I am discovering, every day, what it feels like to very slowly have a numb/sleeping ankle wake up, one nerve or muscle or ligament (I have no idea) at a time. It means it hurts.

I remember that after my disc injury, as my numb leg recovered, there was the tingling feeling and then the aches and pains. That is how the nerves wake up, I was told. So I am applying that awareness to this recovery as well.

I may try to switch a bit from the walker to crutches, too, because my wrists and palms of my hands are getting mighty sore. I have a good friend coming over who is also a nurse in rehab for one of the local hospitals and I am going to enlist her in helping me try out the crutches again. I think it would be good to have two tools in my assistance repertoire.

I met with a couple of women yesterday about a potential work/dialogue project and it took a lot out of me to be intellectually and emotionally engaged. And, I noticed, I was engaged differently: I listened more intently and spoke less. I also, initially, had a hard time getting my brain to work. I fret a bit that my mother's dementia is already kicking in for me. But then I think that my brain is another muscle that needs to be exercised more, but gradually.

No billable work is pressing right now so I am open to other possibilities. I am also gradually reengaging with my creative writing. Oh, I have done my daily haiku throughout this past four weeks plus, but I haven't lifted a finger for a short story. But I am thinking about it, and reading about fiction, so I am edging my way to the doing stage.

That seems to be the metaphor for the day: edging myself into the waters, first a cautious foot into the pool, then a gentle drop of the body and into a float, buoyancy, act of faith before putting the plum-colored foot on the floor.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't get back to sleep with cascading fears and frustrations; so, when I did get back to sleep, I slept in a bit and woke to find myself "abandoned" by my husband who, denying my incapacities and acquiescing to his work fears, left for work. I almost tripped trying to retrieve yogurt and a spoon out of the refrig and that started a waterfall of tears. Hence, an emotional beginning.

I have asked work colleagues to call me because I feel so isolated and, finally, one of them did and that helped me work through a layer of questions and frustrations about work. Each layer of life takes energy and mindfulness that I used to take for granted. My dad should be released from the hospital and I had to set boundaries with my sister about what I cannot do, i.e. I cannot get there to help him get back home; she has to do that. And I got a call from my aunt in Illinois yesterday who was complaining that I hadn't called her to thank her for family photos she sent which arrived the week of my accident. Yikes!!!

Yesterday, when I was with the kids, I talked with them about becoming my "Ambassadors of Compassion"--opening doors for the elderly and disabled, being patient with others who move slowly, being kind. And, of course, being the young mind-sponges they are, they "got it"--even opened the car door for me before Mark could get to it.

When do we lose compassion? When do we become so motivated by self-centered fears that we deny the obvious needs of others. How can those who need help raise their voices to ask for help--and keep asking after it's been ignored? How do we accept the realities life gives us, the limits we want to ignore?

I don't have many answers today. Just questions about how to live in balance with a stiff ankle, a foot the color of a plum and a mind that needs to be stilled.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

stitches out

Yesterday, Dr. Chilvers clipped my stitches out. I guess I imagined a ripping out scene as I used to witness as my mom tore out hems on my dresses and slacks, pulling out the strings with a vengeance she deferred from some bothersome incident at work or snipy conversation with her mother onto the fabric and thread.

But, fortunately for me, Dr. C. didn't have displaced anger: just midwestern-born efficiency, clip, clip and out they came. She seemed to view my ankle "progress", as I proudly demonstrated it, with mild amusement. I felt like I did in 2nd grade when I took Mrs. Winbigler my "homework project" and wanted her to not just say it was "okay" or "good", but I wanted her to rave about the colors on the page, the neatness of my design, my excellence. I wanted "excellent" yesterdy, but didn't quite hit the mark. So I had to settle for my own estimation of progress which is still too little, too slow. Oh, well. Next step will be to actually now get to a pool and figure out what I can do, how hard to push it, accept my limits, be humbled and grateful I can move somewhere again.

We went to Starbucks after the dr's appointment and even tho I stared at the customers nested at the two handicap tables (at each large table, there was one female with her laptop and papers all spread out), neither person was willing to move to let me sit down with my boot and walker. The self-centeredness, sense of me-ness, is my bone of contention right now, as it affects those temporarily and permanently disabled. It really is awful.

Today, I will go back to the kids at Pueblo Gardens and take us all away to "Princess Bride" adventures. In contrast to the piggishness of the young women at Starbucks, the kids, last week, applauded as I entered the room and deftly set up my chair on rollers with another chair to carry my ankle. They are such sweeties. I wish I could drag the Republican legislature into this classroom, and Sec. of Education, Tom Horne, to see what their teachers do every day, what challenges they face, how the impact of no library, no librarian, no music, no art--how all that limits these kids who come from poverty and yet, have hearts and minds (and stomachs--all of the school is on USDA food plans) hungry to be filled.

I don't know if dad is coming out of the hospital today but I know I can't walk the halls to visit him if he isn't, so will just leave his outcomes up to his Higher Power.

I asked my colleagues at work to please "check in." I feel too detached from consulting and look forward to tomorrow's visit by UA colleagues on a small grant involvming women's voices and community change created by women. I have an "in" box full of papers I need to go through but one thing at a time today. My horoscope says I am "accident prone" and I need to be mindful, so I am going to take each step with mindfulness today!

Monday, May 10, 2010

There's a colleague of Mark's in the back yard and the dog, Lia, is barking. I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and there is no cup to rinse my mouth out. I hobble to the kitchen, dog still barking, to get a cup and the phone rings. It's my sister: yesterday my dad was admitted to the hospital and is undergoing some tests. I was frank with her yesterday and said "you will have to step up the plate" (underlying message: I cannot step up, so it's your turn). She didn't go out to the hospital yesterday (nor did I), but she called to say that if he's released today, she will pick him up.

My stitches should come out today. I have been gently massaging extra strength dry skin lotion on my foot, between the toes, around the still slightly swollen (from the dislocation) heel and around the stitched, up the calf. My calf is gaining some muscle back with my "air walking" and, as it does, the stingy numbness is shifting to muscle ache/nerve feelings restored. I don't have much discomfort on the side where the plate is (outside ankle bone), but have twinges or a slight burning feeling on the inside area, where the two screws are located. I can wiggle my toes well and bend them except for the stiff big toe. When I stretch my ankle toward my body, the stiffness (which might be ligaments or scar tissue) still feels taut, but less so. It will be interesting to see what the doctor says, what she asks me to do next. I wear the boot only at night and when I go out; it limits what I can do in some ways and expands it in others. If I start going out more, I will be wearing it more, I suppose.

I went to Borders yesterday and found I could manage the cafe pretty well. I bought a new mystery book to expand my slowly returning mind and, since its setting is in Italy, I am being entertained and intriqued. It already seeped into my dreams last night. Of course, one dream was about losing my walker and walking with the discomfort I feel currently, so that physical state has been imprinted on my subconscious. All of the learnings are interesting.

I am sitting at the computer right now, not the laptop, so my time is more limited. But I feel as if I am making progress.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Nurturing on Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day and the first one since my mom died in August. But life doesn't want me to dwell too much on that reality because, before 10 a.m. today, my dad (91 years) called and his ulcer is bleeding again. So, thankfully because he lives in a retirement care facility, the nurse on duty is arranging transport for him to go to St. Jo's nearby. I can't rush out there as I would with two good ankles and my sister won't, so in a couple of hours I will check with St. Jo's to find out his status and, probably, by early evening we will head to the east side and either check on him at the hospital or back at Cascades.

So, back to me and my recovery--learning to set boundaries about stuff like what I just wrote, accept and let go. Learning to be clear with my sister and say "you may have to step up. I read some 12 step literature and "just for today" I can accept what happens and let go. I don't have to try to do it all differently forever; just for today.

We are learning how to find food resources that prepare meals you can bring home. We will check out a housecleaning service because some of this is just too much for Mark to take care of and we have a small house! Mark talked with a dog sitter to walk Lia while he is out of town to Phx later this month and back East in June. Even if I can walk by then, walking in the natural park with coyotes and Lia is probably not a great idea, so I welcome someone else doing that task.

My son called to wish me a Happy Mom's Day before he headed to work (probably a 12 hour day) at the Arizona Inn. Mark got me a card and I picked out a flower for myself yesterday at Trader Jo's. So I am content. And on "Sunday Morning" tv show today, the nature spot was a video of a mother ground squirrel (in Arizona), chattering away to protect her baby boy squirrel: I know the feeling.

It was interesting to observe how people were so rude about my walker---it was in the way of their watermelons or something and they kind of brushed me aside with my black boot and all. As we observed up in the Foothills a couple of weeks ago, people come into the parking lot like gangbusters and don't want to slow down for someone on crutches or a walker. And, as I have observed, handicap parking is not always closest to the entryways; also, sometimes there is a ramp but no handicap parking and, even when there are other spaces, people will park right next to the ramp. I think I am going to look into a way to volunteer/contribute to our local NPO that focuses on ADA issues (and talk to a contact in the City's Dept. of Transportation), to see if what I am observing, dealing with, learning about can become a basis of improving mobility and access for others.

Besides, now, the need to check on dad later (more "mothering" but with the relief of knowing he has a "higher power" in the hospital staff), I have several new plants to pot and so I will move some dirt around and feel the nurturing spirit stir.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

as good as it gets

Movies are good: watched "Nine" last night and enjoyed it; watched "As Good as it Gets" today and laughed and cried. We do live in another time than when the AGAIG was made: adult conversations, excellent actors who can use silence to communicate, chemistry between them that makes the film bubble with energy.

Lots of energy in "Nine" and passion and probably too much of a juxtaposition for American film audiences who like linear stories with simple plots.

My daily plot is very simple and, for now, that is as good as it gets. My big adventure today may be to try to pot some new plants (not the same plants as four weeks ago when the accident occurred and the table I was using then was demolished by the ladder as it fell). But I think I can sit at the other table and spoon in dirt, pat it down gently and support new life.

Our front yard yesterday offered a big surprise: the succlent stem that a neighbor gave me last year has sprouted a gorgeous silky pink and white bud: it's a night blooming cerus. Mark went out with the camera several times last night but I think tonight will be its solo performance. One bloom, one night--that's magical. Magical that the stem actually has taken root and found its way through the hot summer and cold winter, the winds and frost.

So, if that is, for today, as good as it gets, it is good enough. (P.S. the stiffness on my ankle is from the swelling which is slowly going down; I just have to be attentive and accept.)

Friday, May 7, 2010


Tears are still falling when I am in a safe place for them to surface. Yesterday, at my massage, my masseuse laid her hands on my lower back and somehow heat from my body transferred into hers and my internal organs relaxed and I started to cry. I am holding a lot inside, not intentionally being a stoic, but just trying to focus on what I can do. But what I cannot do is overwhelming at times.

I didn't sleep well again, but I did dream and, again, I dreamed I was walking on two feet. My husband got caught up on the drama of Wall Street's 1000 point drop but I pay attention to the millimeter motion improvement of my ankle. I still feel light numbness and, when I move the ankle toward my body, a stiffness underneath the ankle--I don't know if that's muscle inertia, ligaments or the screws settling into the tissue. I will ask the doctor on Monday.

I did my best to get consulting work done and got criticized by peers for not doing it perfectly. That hurt me, too. But I didn't get caught up yesterday with that b.s. and let it go. Today, tho, I expressed myself, went on record for my perspective and now will let that go--again. I am also taking a step back from this work and opening up to other funded work with university colleagues and emerging work with a young professional colleague.

It's so interesting to me about who of my friends is really stepping up to help. One friend even offered to come over and wash dishes. Well, Mark is handling most of the daily stuff and I am ignoring how my household system has been usurped. My sister is AWOL which is consistent with how she had treated my mom and is now treating dad, so I don't take it personally. I just note it and acknowledge I don't understand. Another friend who is dealing with chemotherapy has offered to take me swimming. So many lessons of relationships at this time.

I hope I come out of this with more compassion for those who are temporarily or permanently disabled. Maybe I will find some way to give back. In the meantime, I will keep trying to stay open to my feelings of grief, loss and change.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Maybe I pushed it too hard yesterday by sitting at the computer doing work for an hour and then going to a casual dialogue meeting for two hours, but by the evening, I was done in. It's so interesting to be observing myself, which I seem to have to do as I observe my body movements so as to not upset the delicate balance of grace I appear to be hovering within--I see myself move, and think and talk. I note when my mood shifts. Last night I could not get comfortable in on the couch so I got ready for bed earlier and did my word puzzle. Then, after yet another bleak news summary, I switched to watching a Star Trek rerun and I could feel my tense body relax. The characters of that series, the cycle with Patrick Stewart at Capt. Pickard, is so reassuringly adult and intelligent. Contrast their scripts with what is most common today--all the sitcoms seem to be following the movie "Hangover" with lewd language, adult males acting like adolescents and women either following with the same behavior or putting up with/settling for emotionally empty relationships.

But, on "Star Trek", we had adults working out their relationships and challenges with thoughtfulness, slowed reactions and creativity. Watching it, relaxed me to a pretty good sleep, tho I woke up too early today with the sounds of the birds. I had a dream about my boot coming off and I could walk again. And I was grumpy when wakeful reality set in and there is was, my daily anchor. First thing I have to do I slowly raise it up and begin to slowly stretch out my knee and thigh so I can "carry the load" out of bed. So I stretch, do my morning affirmations which didn't sink in much today because, once I dropped myself into a chair, I began to bark at Mark for breakfast.

I get so depleted between meals. I need protein to shift from idle to first gear and it's almost a desperate need. Then, as I feel nourishment cascade through my cells, my mind begins to open to the sounds of the day and I shift into thinking about what comes next--what to wear that will fit over my boot and be cool enough to be comfortable on a 95 degree day, how to move when I dress, brush my teeth, comb my hair. What I need to get "settled" so I can work and write (my first phase, not the serious work writing I will do later which needs more mental acuity than I have at 8 a.m.). Everything is slowed down and observed.

So here I am, with Lia (my dog) on the couch next to mine, table top full of books, granola, juice, laptop, tv remotes, journal and reflective literature, newspaper and magazines, pillows and ice on or under my leg--the acoutremonts (sp?) of my recovery life.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

eight hours

Last night I got 8 solid hours of sleep and what a positive difference that makes in recovery. Like the night before, I still had dreams about my ankle but I dreamed about traveling, too, so that gave my psyche a break from reality.

Very slowly I am stretching my ankle toward my body as directed by the doctor and then I am also doing "air walking"--that's what I call it when I pump my leg in the air AS IF I am walking, trying to activate the calf muscle, build up some strength for the time when I can begin to put weight on it. I guess, also, when I air walk I am moving toward next week (I hope) when I can water walk--no weight on the ankle but using resistance in the water to move the muscles and build strength.

Will I remember these steps of recovery when I am back walking? How can I incorporate lessons learning from this into daily life? I watch my defined movements while I am dressing, for example, and I realize I am learning mindfulness--a state of being I have read about for years and wanted to "do" but in my 65 mph life, I was too quick to be mindful. Now, I have no choice. I need to be aware of movements, how I hold my unbooted leg, lifting, shifting weight, trying to stay in balance which is a metaphor for living.

Maybe because my mind is full of defined movements it can't carry much else. Work and other life issues just seem to cycle in and out with few remnants of meaning remaining. Oh, well, that's part of where I am right now.

So I sit here, unbooted, icing the ankle under my soft white "butter" sock (soft like butter; I bought this pair years ago at Phoenix's Neiman Marcus because it was the only purchase I could afford and never used them much, but here one is, planted on my foot like a fluffy cloud). Occasionally, I work my toes and two or three times I take a towel and use it for leverage to pull those muscles, gently, in a fake walking movement.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

chair dancing

I had the worst night's sleep so far last night (hence the delayed blog entry) because the boot, I think, was "stretching" muscles in directions they had forgotten in the last month and causing me sharp pains and aches. I got up this a.m. and took off the boot, icing the ankle and that felt good. Later, I took a shower and let the warm water wash over my stitches and gently patted my leg dry with a towel, rebooted, but kept the sock (not ace bandage) and boot a bit looser which I think helped.

I did get myself to the school to read to the kids: felt a bit woozy at the outset but as we got into the flashbacks of Indigo, Westley, and Fessick, the storylife of "The Princess Bride" dominated the time and I could let my aches and pains go for awhile.

Aches and pains: another potential terrorist strike in NY, a flood in Nashville, continued gallons of oil spilling into the Louisiana coastline. Our earth, our soul, is full of aches and pains. I can only let in so much toxic news and then I shut down: my chest becomes heavy with sorrows. I have detached so much for everything but my ankle--my son, my work, my writing. I stay minimally engaged through my women friends and reading. It's all so weird. The way the days are stretching out into summer and the way my days speed by with so little "getting done."

I have very little inspiration in me for anything; I feel like a dry well.

But it's only 2 weeks post surgery and I have at least, now I understand, two more months of this delicate dance I seem to be doing each day: eat, poop, hobble, rest, read, write, sleep.

A couple of days ago, I was listening to "Mamma Mia" music while eating dinner and I started to move in my chair. Mark called it "chair dancing." I guess that's the high point of my life right now: chair (or sofa) dancing. Oh, well. At least some body parts can still move.

Monday, May 3, 2010

reality bites

I saw my doctor today and got my big, black moonboot. It's still a lug to haul around but lighter than the cast. I still have to wear it to bed which I was hoping was going to not be the case, but I can take it off to shower. I will have the stitches another week and can't try pool exercise until then.

My ankle didn't look too bad and the xrays looked good. I couldn't figure out how the screws/pins would work with the bone, but I do now that I have seen the pictures.

I asked about taking a trip in mid-June and the dr. pretty much squashed that idea, saying I would be going slow and still have swelling until July. That I didn't expect. I also didn't expect my calf muscle to have atrophied so distinctly. I also hurt a bit as the dr. showed me my stretch-the-ankle exercise that I have to do 2x a day (when the boot is off). But my masseuse (thank goodness I had a massage today) said that the muscle will come back but, like the recovery, it will take time.

As I left the dr's, I had a wave of anger, frustration and grief again. Mark was a bit short-tempered and that set me off into tears. We went to Rincon Market and I calmed down with some food (including a blueberry turnover) and a very weak caffe latte. I have to adjust to each "step" of this recovery: how little control I have and the message keeps coming to me over and over. Sometimes, like waves in a ocean can come, I feel overwhelmed and adrift. But then the reality settles in, just as the sun sets in the horizon, and I feel acceptance.

I know I will get through this.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

take me out to a ballgame

I am watching (my former favorite team) the Chicago White Sox and the NY Yankees (my son's favorite team) on tv. I like baseball; always have. It's one of the few fun things my dad and I did together on a regular basis while growing up. He would take my sister and I into Comisky Park once during the summer and we would return with bellyaches from hot dogs, cokes and popcorn. More regularly, when his summer grass cutting and house painting chores were done, we would throw the ball in the backyard or catch a quick pick-up game at Wing Park.

Baseball's slow speed relaxes me and I can watch it on tv without sound and still be engaged. I like the shape of the baseball players bodies, although over time, their arm and thigh size seems to have expanded with the width of the tv set.

Locally, Mark and I have gone to the spring Dbacks games and summer Tucson Toros games. Our little TEP Park has a nice grassy area with cheap prices and it's always very family friendly with blow up bouncy rides and evening fireworks. Up in Phoenix, where we try to catch a Dbacks game once a summer, the dome keeps the AC working and walks around the stadium are good aerobic breaks between "at bats."

A couple of decades ago, when I was first involved in the National Issues Forum, I met Henry Kissinger and we had time to talk while sitting on a bale of hay at the LBJ Ranch, following a public event at the LBJ Library. At the public event, protestors were voicing their anger at Henry about his previous political positions, so he asked me about the protestors, since I had acknowledged at the event that, like them, I once had taken to the streets vs. the Viet Nam War.

I told him that if he wanted to understand part of the American culture, he needed to become familiar with baseball. Several years later, he came to Tucson for a speaking engagement and I was in the audience. He came over to me, calling me "my little activist" and proudly told me that he took my advice and had become a baseball fan. Not too long ago, Billy Crystal was on Jay Leno and he was talking about how he and Henry Kissinger share box seats at the Yankees' games.

So now baseball is also part of the immigration protest and debate movement. I didn't realize that 25% of the franchises players now come from countries other than the U.S., so immigration matters to baseball, too.

I am at least a month away from being able to walk to a stadium, but I can enjoy the game at home and think about the implications of baseball on my childhood, my relationship with my dad, my insights and understanding of American culture and international politics.

As a white leather ball soars into the sky and we watch it glitter agains the blue sky or the silver glare of neon, all of our dreams as spectators soar with it, hoping for a run to home base.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Yesterday I "walked" from the car to the city's theraputic pool and was exhausted and depressed. Just three weeks ago, I could swim 30 mins of laps, walk the treadmill for 2-3 miles and now I can barely walk 1000 feet. I am not sure this pool is my preference because of the walk and also the temperature at 92 degrees. The city's other pool also has an incline entryway but is a bit cooler and less crowded. My Lighthouse Y pool probably has the shortest car to pool distance (if I skip the locker room) but it has stairs and I am not sure how to navigate those. I guess I will talk to Dr. Chilvers about it on Monday when she removes the cast, puts on the boot. I will see what my ankle looks like, stitches and all, but I do know the swelling has subsided a lot.

Several colleagues and strangers have told me unsolicited stories about their surgery recoveries and complications with pain and ligaments. It's not good for me to hear these stories because I need to stay positive which isn't easy.

I need to get outside today. Yesterday is was quite cool at 65 degrees but today it will be in the low 70s which is remarkably pleasant for May 1st. I wish we still had Maypole celebrations--fertility rites notwithstanding. I recall in ballet class how we practiced Maypole dancing to Vivaldi's "Spring", of course. We didn't have a pole but just did the weaving and pointing, twirling and skipping. It was fun.

I would rather be celebrating Spring's joys than thinking about the pros and cons of a protest march on immigration. Sometimes pagan celebrations out trump proletarian realities and in light of the recent oil spill, continued unemployment, racism's resurgence, etc., Vivaldi, flowers, bunnies and wine are quite appealing.

Okay, then: attitude adjustment--take a drive today and see the yellow palo verde trees, the prickly pear cactus blooms (red, purple, yellow). watch birds build nests and be grateful I have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a good leg to walk on.