Wednesday, July 16, 2008


As I have been mostly lying here in bed over the last several days (occasionally being manipulated, fed, or visited), almost completely at the mercy of the fortunately merciful people around me. I do not even have the strength (or length of oxygen tether either, truth be told), to go to the bathroom myself. Number One is taken care of by catheter without my awareness (except once in awhile when the tube backs up). I understand that I go Number One a lot. Like, probably too much, like maybe I need to be eating more, drinking less water, and just in general working on my electrolytes. Number Two takes place in a bedpan. Frankly, I don't understand how it can be possible that a bedpan works, but, at least in my experience, 95% of the time there's no spillage. Nevertheless, 100% of the time it's an exercise in a variety of stoicisms.

All of this has led me to the realization in the last couple days that what I am going through is a sort of rebirth. I've been pretty much reduced to scratch, at least in one of the major ways I've always considered to be so exclusively me: my body (as for mind, spirit and emotion? Who knows what's coming . . .). For a while I couldn't breathe on my own. Now I can, but it's still much better with assistance. I can now sit up on my own, and I can even feed myself (this has been much less of a WAHOO! moment for me than you might imagine, because my taste buds are a bit off still, and, honestly, the food offered by the hospital for the "soft diet" is awful. Ian and I are working out a private larder). I could today, with the assistance of two strong PTs, stand, and march in place for 25 steps, before the combination of muscle fatigue and lung fatigue became too much and I had to sit down.

I am having to learn to walk again.

And I thought I was going to spend the summer waterskiing.


Same Socks Laura said...

Perhaps this is the summer that people waft in your glory. I will waterski in my mind for/with you : ) and then I will crash and bounce over the water when I attempt to cut too tight. I will then float comfortably in the water, wave my arm to signal I'm okay and wait for the boat : ) Then I will wait my turn so I can do it again. Ah yes, the happy places in my mind : ) Waterskiing with you there is fun : ) Even more fun in person I suppose...oooh lala. Love you, Same Socks Laura

Anna K. said...

Today a woman who called me at work told me she was a retired physical therapist who does neuromuscular retraining of some kind. ''I teach people to walk again,'' she told me, when they've been in an accident or have an illness, like MS. She wants to move to Sweden to volunteer at Karolinska Institute. She's a hiker, an inline skater, a snowboarder and in her 60s. I knew by the time we got off the phone that I would do everything in my power to make her next adventure possible, while at the same time wishing she could stay here and teach someone I love very much how to climb mountains again.

Walking is tricky business, even if it is just one foot in front of the other; one step at a time.

A new colleague of mine quoted to me this Swedish saying when I thanked her for helping me learn my new job:

Alla vi är barn i början. (All of us are children in the beginning.) Even if the beginning comes again later, it is a beginning after all and I am inclined to celebrate it. A toast to you, Calin! To your hard work and new beginnings. Skål!

Robert said...

Thanks again for the update, Calin! You know, my mother had to learn to walk (and eat, and swallow, for that matter) after the stroke she had when she was 39. It took several months, but as you may have noticed now and then, she does all of those things just fine now. If she can do it, so, I think, can you!