3 year anniversary

Isn’t it weird how a day that is so important to one person can mean absolutely nothing to others?  Yesterday was the three year anniversary of my paralysis.  It’s so weird that the world kept turning.  People kept living their lives.  People didn’t stop what they’re doing to mourn with me.  August 13 (both yesterday and 3 years ago) was just a normal day to so many people.  And for me, it was an emotional roller coaster.

Facebook reminded me that 3 years ago I was optimistic going in.  “Here goes nothing” was my status as I checked in at Cedars Sinai on Facebook at 4:30am that morning.  It was a Tuesday.  A few days prior to that my status had been something about how I couldn’t believe I was having another surgery and how I was hoping I wouldn’t be in the hospital too long.  Hey FB, thanks for reminding me how naive I was about it all.  Normally I go in to things very scared and nervous.  This time I was the picture of optimism.  I was in bad shape at that time and had been barely able to walk.  I was falling all the time.  I couldn’t wait to be fixed.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel yesterday.  Year 1 wasn’t a bad anniversary.  I was still optimistic.  Year 2 was a harder anniversary because the paralysis was now permanent and my hope at walking was pretty much gone.  Paralysis was my reality.  This year I figured it wouldn’t be that hard.  I was wrong.

It hit me a day early this year as I thought about how August 12 3 years ago was the last time I’d walked. Like, really walked.  Without braces.  What would I have done differently if I had known that?  I would have for sure rode my bike one more time.  And I probably would have had a dance party.  (Chair dancing is not the same.)  Maybe reached for something from a top shelf of a cabinet?  (OK, I really couldn’t have reached the top shelf then either.  But, I would have reached at least midway in the top cabinets.)  I probably would have done some squats and this butt workout I was super into at the time.  Hell, I would have looked in the mirror at my backside once last time since I wouldn’t really be seeing it anymore.  That’s all stuff I thought about on the 12th this year.  Yeah, I cried several times.

Yesterday was hard.  Don’t get me wrong: life in a wheelchair isn’t terrible for me.  I love my life.  But do I miss my old life?  Of course!  I tried to not cry in the morning.  I went to the gym and had a session with Ninja Trainer.  My normal trainer, GunShow, is out on medical leave and wasn’t around to give me hell.  That’s probably a good thing cause I would have for sure cried if he were around.  I managed to sweat it out and leave the gym without falling apart.  On the way home I cried.  The hubs and I had a nice lunch (read: McDonalds) before heading to Los Angeles for my niece’s 4th birthday party.  I managed to not cry then and keep it together, though he knew I was upset.  He didn’t pry.

It’s funny that no matter how tough I try to be, no matter how composed I am, my mom just has to look at me or answer the phone when I call, and I turn into a blubbering mess.  We parked at my sister’s house and the hubs got my wheelchair out of the car.  My mom came out to see if we needed help.  She came up to me and gave me a hug and I just lost it.  We played a game of  “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” “Seriously, what’s the matter?” “Nothing.” before I just said “It’s the 13th.”  She just hugged me and let me cry for a few seconds before telling me to suck it up, buttercup.  (OK, she didn’t really say that, but it was implied.)  I didn’t really need to talk.  What is there that needs to be said about it?  I just needed to be hugged and told that it’s OK to be bummed for a minute.

Praise the Lord for sunny days and sunglasses, because I wiped my eyes, put back on my sunglasses and went into a princess party.  I managed to make all the pleasantries and not bring attention to myself during the party.  I almost lost it once when the sweetest little two year old girl came over to me, grabbed my hand, and said “come play in the playhouse with me.” She was referring to a camper my sister has which the kids were playing in.  It’s up a couple steps.  While looking into her sweet little brown eyes I had to tell her that I couldn’t.  That almost made me sink into a pity party.  (Luckily I wasn’t dead to her because of that rejection and she went and got some bubbles and came back to play with bubbles with us a bit later.)

All in all, I managed to not give in to the pity and cry too much.  Don’t get me wrong: crying isn’t bad.  It’s healthy.  And I’m emotional.  I cry a lot.  But, I don’t want to be overly bummed about everything because there is a lot of positive.  This year I am in such a good place:  I’m working out and getting strong.  I’m able to be a really good mom to the Little Mister.  He always has a place to sit when he’s with me, which is a huge plus.  I’m a great wife to the hubs, though he probably wishes I cooked a bit more.  But, I have promised more meatloaf this winter which will make him happy.  I’m a great lawyer and help a lot of people.  I’m a great friend.  I’m a great sister.  I’m probably not the best niece because I often take too long to respond to my aunt’s emails (but I’m working on it) and I argue a lot about political stuff with my uncle.  But I’m still loved by them.  I’m really great for the national economy because I love to shop (you’re welcome Amazon and Target stock holders).  TMI alert- feel free to ignore the bracketed portion. [I am so lucky to have bladder control, which many people in my position don’t have.]

So all-in-all life is really good.  I gave myself a couple days to give in to the bummed out feelings.  And now I’m back to appreciating what I do have.  I think that crying and mourning is a good thing to do, as long as you don’t give in to it permanently.  I’ve always been a strong person, but I’m stronger now for what I have gone through.  That’s helped make me who I am today.  And I appreciate that because I really like who I am now.

 

Leg Day

Today was leg day.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Leg day.  I know that when GunShow nicely suggested demanded that I get on the recumbent bike I questioned it.  I think I looked behind me to see who he was speaking to, since it obviously wasn’t me.  I’d assumed the wheelchair had given away the fact that my legs don’t work.  Maybe he wasn’t that quick to catch on?  He’s been overworked lately so maybe he’d forgotten?

But no.  As I was slow to follow, he asked politely  yelled at me to follow him and stop lagging behind.  I guess he was talking to me afterall.  Since I am always pleasant and never second guess him With a look of confusion and quite loudly voicing that, I followed him.  I think the conversation went like this:

GS: Get on the bike.*

Me: My legs don’t work.

GS: Excuse me?!

Me: [Blank stare] You heard me.

GS: Get on the bike.

Me: You realize my legs don’t work?

GS: Stop waiting and get on the bike.

Me: How?

GS: I can help you.

Me: I don’t need help.

GS: Then get on the bike.

Me: ……

GS: Let’s Go!

Ok, so after a few logistical maneuvers, I finally figured out how I could position myself to hoist up to the seat.  The handle was in a very awkward place and it took a while figuring out how to get around it without getting awkwardly impaled.  GS told me to use his arm for leverage.  I told him I didn’t need help.  And I managed to not only get on the bike by myself, but I did it very gracefully [with the exception of when I first got on the seat I lost my balance and fell head first into the monitor.  Luckily I caught myself with the top corner of my left eye socket- you know where you’re not at jeopardy of losing an eye cause it’s just under the eyebrow.  Funnily enough, that was the second time that morning that I had lost balance and saved myself with my head.  The other is a story for another day.]  I thought GS was going to have a heart attack, which did make it pretty funny.  And of course, that’s when Smiles happened to walk over and announce that he had definitely seen that.  I used to be afraid of embarrassing myself in the gym.  Cross that off my bucket list.

There I was on the bike.  GS helped me strap in my feet so they wouldn’t slide off the foot plate.  (That was the beginning and end of his being nice.) Since Smiles was there, I asked him to film me for my YouTube page. “Start pedaling,” GS commanded. Being the very good client, I did not.  But then I eventually did when I knew my film crew was going.  And, with a little help from my hands, I actually did pretty well.  I was able push down pretty well.  It was getting the leg around that needed some guidance.  We stopped filming.  I thought I was done.  It was only a rest.  “Let’s go.” GS said again.  <Insert dramatic sigh here.>  But I obliged.  And I did well that time.  And I felt like I could go forever.  Well, I felt like I could go forever until it got really hard and my legs didn’t want to work anymore.  For some reason, GS felt like his slow-ass countdown was going to inspire my legs to keep going.  All it inspired was dramatic eye rolls from me.  But, I did it.  So maybe it did work.  Who knows?  After another short break, I went for a third and final time.  However, this was actually my best round as my legs were all fired up.  I actually did several rotations where I didn’t even need my hands to help.  “Keep going!” GS enthusiastically exclaimed.  See, that was the one we should have filmed.  It was amazing!!  I had the Rocky theme playing in my brain.  [Not really.  I was too exhausted to even think beyond “left leg push, right leg push.”]

Getting off the bike was much easier.  I lowered myself to the bar below the seat to avoid the impaling handle and then bounced over to my chair.  The funny thing was that I hadn’t told GS what my plan was, so when he sees me plop down to the lower bar he thought I was falling and almost had a second heart attack.  Now it’s just funny to me to try to freak him out like that.  Is that mean?  Maybe.  And maybe he’s mean with all of the torture he puts me through.

*(Disclaimer: GS and I have become really good friends, which is why we can have a conversation like this.  He is actually really nice to his real clients [something I often point out and question and beg for!].)