My doctor is cooler than yours!

I saw JPJ on Monday. I took the results from my MRI for him to read and translate. I had the CD and probably could have attempted to look at it myself over the weekend. But, have you seen images from an MRI? I’ve seen many from all my years of testing and all I can tell is my spine. That’s pretty distinguishable. The rest looks like a weird, blobby mess. It means nothing to me. So I waited. Let’s just say that the appointment didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped. Cliff notes: I’d better get used to sitting. We’re still holding out hope, but………

Instead of going into details and specifics, I decided to focus on some of the positive. I hereby give you a couple “tops” lists.

Top 5 reasons being in a wheelchair isn’t so bad:

  • I am SOOOO much faster than I was before! I’ve never been a runner. I’ve never been fast. But now I can let the wheels go and feel the wind in my hair as I rush down the street. (Though sometimes I’ll hit a rough patch or a bump and almost unseat myself. But that’s part of the rush, right?)
  • I don’t fall. Ok, to be fair, I am still able to fall. But that’s usually when I’m doing transfers and my locks aren’t tight. But before I used to fall all the time. Right before my surgery I was falling down several times every day. One more fall and my knees would have jumped out of my body and run away on their own. They were over it. (One could argue if they did their job better I wouldn’t have fallen down as often. But have you tried arguing with knees? Very stubborn.)
  • I always have a seat. Like in a crowded place where there are only a couple benches, I don’t have to worry about my legs getting tired. I’m very comfortably seated while others are scrambling for space.
  • My arms are getting so strong that I should probably start entering arm wrestling competitions.
  • People are nicer to me. Usually. People tend to open doors for me. They offer to help me all the time. Some people rush over to my car to see if they can help me with my wheelchair. Complete strangers. I’m always amazed at people and their capacity to be kind. Well, most people. Some are complete jerks who live in their own self-absorbed worlds. But, it’s like 85% good people, 15% dbags. So, I still consider that a win.

Top 5 reasons why my doctor is cooler than yours*:

  • He wears cowboy boots. All the time. In his office. In the hospital. In the OR (that stands for “operating room” for all of you surgery rookies out there). When I was in the hospital, I would hear the slow “clack-clack-clack” of his boots as he walked down the hallway and I’d feel relief as I knew he was coming in to check on me and save the day.
  • He’s a cowboy from Montana. Legit. He has a farm there still. Fancy Beverly Hill neurosurgeon by day, cowboy in his spare time. That just reeks of cool.
  • He has been involved in all of my major spinal surgeries. He was a resident under my neurosurgeon when I was ten and most likely operated on me then. And then he operated on me this past time. There’s something very Zen and full-circley about that.
  • He saved my bladder. The way things were going, a catheter seemed to be in my near future. Like Superman, he swooped in and saved the day. How would that not win Coolest Doctor award?
  • He fills the room like John Wayne. I guess that relates back to number 2. His presence just kind of fills the room. He’s this combination of intelligence and confidence that makes you feel like he’s going to save the day. If my doctor and your doctor were in the same room, your doctor would be quivering in my doctor’s shadow. For real.

See, now wasn’t that more fun than some whiney post about not walking? You’re welcome.

*This list obviously excludes all friends and family who are doctors. You’re all obviously very cool or else I wouldn’t waste my time knowing you.


Life is super funny sometimes. Today I had to do an MRI because I’m seeing JPJ, my surgeon, on Monday. I didn’t want the MRI. My dad wanted it. JPJ wanted it. 5-0 wanted it. I did not want it. My want apparently didn’t matter. My theory: what does it matter what it says? I’m not having any more surgeries! If there’s something wrong, it will just have to stay wrong. This may seem crazy, but the way I look at it is that I’m in this mess because my spine is pissed that it had to go through another surgery. It threw in the recovery towel. And until there are major breakthroughs where people are walking after years of paralysis, I’m not interested.

But, what JPJ wants, JPJ gets. And I went in for my MRI. Before the appointment, I went to court and had a great result for a new client. In fact, it was so good that I got one of her cases dismissed and amazing resolution on the other. She was so happy she was practically in tears thanking me. The MRI was scheduled during a break in court, as I had to go back for the afternoon session.

I went to the facility where the scan was to take place. I called my mom and texted the hubs along the way to make sure everyone knew how thoroughly displeased I was to have to go alone. This was the first time in my entire life that I’d had to go to a test alone. That may seem weird to people. I’m an adult. A professional adult. A responsible adult. And yet I didn’t want to go to the test alone. I guess that on the surface it seems weird. Immature even. But, when you look deeper, it makes sense. Every time I do something like this, something bad is the result. Surgery. The last time I had surgery I lost the use of my legs. Most x-rays and MRI’s that I’ve had since I was 10 have resulted in my body being cut open by teams of surgeons. So, yeah, I hate going to these things alone.

Another reason is that I had to get an IV. I HATE needles!! I hate them even more each time I encounter one. You’d think it would get easier. You’d be wrong. Today the nurse put in the IV and I teared up. I didn’t full on cry. I was giving myself major kudos for being so strong. The nurse was quick and gentle. Definitely good at her job. She put it in the crook of my elbow. After it was in there, I was afraid to move my arm too much. She told me that I could bend it, that it would be ok. But, I’m really good at isolating body parts and decided to not move it. The only problem: I need to use my arm to wheel myself. Another nurse offered to push me. A) I don’t have push handles, and B) I hate being pushed. I politely declined. But I still tried to push with my straight arm. Do you know how hard it is to use a straight arm to push a 24” diameter round wheel? Answer: very. I looked absolutely ridiculous trying to keep my arm straight and push myself. The nurses literally laughed at me. At. Not with. So finally I gave in and bent my arm. She was right. It didn’t hurt.

I got onto the MRI table and went into the tubey part. I’m not claustrophobic so MRI’s don’t really bother me at all. They’re just loud. The technician put ear plugs in, but it’s still loud. After about 2 minutes of laying perfectly still (I’m also really good at not moving at all during these tests. Years of practice have made perfect) I started crying. My arm was aching where the IV was. My nerves were on overdrive. And I was definitely pitying myself at being alone. I then thought how funny this all was. Here I was an aggressive fighter that morning defending my clients. And now I was laying there with tears running into my ears when nothing at all was happening. There’s literally nothing wrong with me, but I’d gotten myself all worked up. Well, I guess not literally since my arm did hurt from the tiny needle.  But, I realized I was being ridiculous and forced myself to stop.  I realized that I was lying still and had a legitimate excuse to take a nap at 10:30 in the morning!  That was a very freeing realization.

The MRI was over after about 30 minutes. The nurse took the needle out of my arm, which made me want to give her a hug. I made a joke about liking her way better than the one who put in. And then I went back to court and back to being an aggressive fighter, wiping away all scaredy-cat thoughts and remnants of tears. Back to pretending that nothing ever happened. Well, pushing it all away except for the fact that I left the bandage with the small blood spot on until I saw the hubs so he could see the tangible proof of the pain I experienced that day. Hey, if I had to go it alone, I may as well milk the whole sympathy thing!

Country blues

Last night, the hubs and I went to a dinner dance at our church. It was Western theme and everyone showed up in their country-wear finest ready to feast on BBQ. It was an odd choice, since the date was February 14th, but I was still really excited. We made plans with some new friends to attend and get to know them better. I bought the hubs a new shirt for the occasion, since our home is lacking in western-wear. I had a shirt that was a dark blue with small brown and white hearts. I felt like this shirt was hanging in my closet with the tags on for months was made for a country dance on Valentine’s Day. The tags came off and shirt went on.

We arrived at the church and made our way to the gymnasium of the attached school, where the festivities were being held. Outside, there were a couple of huge smoker trucks parked emitting the most drool-inducing smells. We forced ourselves away from the wondrousness and went inside to find our friends. We thought we would be early, getting there 15 minutes or so after it started, but the place was already packed! Go figure that in a town where the median age is 53, people would show up early for an event. We located our friends and sat with them. They had the luck (or was it planned? I don’t even know!) of sitting at table 1. Why was that lucky? Because we were the closest to the BBQ buffet AND the first table released! Score!

Of course everyone offered to get my dinner for me. Come on, it’s a function for Catholics. Of course people are going to be nice. (Well, mostly. One lady rolled her eyes in dismay when she found out that I am a criminal defense lawyer. I guess some people’s Christian charity only goes so far….) I made my usual joke of “The hubs will get it. Isn’t that why I got married- to have someone to do things for me??!!” I got the usual polite laughter. Some people don’t get my humor. Or I’m just not as funny as I think I am.

The food was even better than it smelled. The pulled pork was pulled to perfection. The smokey brisket was smoked to perfection. The ribs were, um…ribbed to perfection? I don’t know what to say about them other than I heard that they were tender and the meat fell off the bone. I didn’t actually have any ribs. I try to not eat food in public that will get all over my face and the thought of using a fork and knife on a rib would never enter my brain. I’d be the laughing stock of Cowboy Land!

The night was absolutely perfect! Ok, well, maybe not 100% perfect. After dinner, the dancing started. They hired a woman to teach all different types of dances- line, 2-step, electric slide, etc. The majority of the 200 attendees filled the basketball court to engage in the festivities. It was so much fun to listen to all the cowboy hits (Willie, Waylon, Patsy, Johnny) and watch the mostly senior group dancing. But, part of me got really sad. I wanted to be out there so bad. I kept flashing back to high school dances where my friends and I would be dancing until sweat poured down our faces. Or in college and law school when my friends and I would get dressed all fancy and hit up the clubs. I was a regular at an amazing 80’s club in my early 20’s. There is nothing like flailing around to Cyndi Lauper or White Snake that makes one feel alive!

But here I was, the wallflower at this dance. Well, not entirely. I mean, the hubs stayed with me (though, I think he used me as an excuse to not have to dance…) and a few other people at our table sat the dancing out. But that was their choice. I was forced into not joining. I try to stay really positive about my situation. There is so much that I CAN do! Why would I ever feel sorry for myself? But, last night was hard. I instead focused on the music and enjoying watching all the people. But still…

The point is: I think I put up a pretty solid front of positivity. I try to stay really focus and motivated. But every now and then, I have to acknowledge that this situation sucks. It’s tough. I know I can do more than a lot of people. But sometimes I’m reminded of how much less I can do than others as well. Every now and then it hits me- like when I can’t follow my niece up a stair to play with her, or when I can’t join the octogenarians to line dance. The sadness won’t keep me down. I promise that. It won’t sideline me. It’s going to motivate me.