Thursday, November 30, 2006
Two hours later he still had not shown up. There was no sign of him in the backyard so, thinking that he might have found a way out of the yard, I went out front to look for him. I saw a cat two yards over who darted in between the houses when it saw me. There was a guy and his son walking their dog in the street so I asked them if they would look between the houses. At this point I was feeling pretty useless since I couldn't really look for this cat on my own.
The guys didn't see the cat when they looked for it and the guy said he was going to take his son home and come back to help me. A half hour later I'd given up hope that he was really coming back. Looking out into a dark yard with wet grass I decided that I was going to have to find this cat on my own.
I put on the legs, went down the steps, and started walking around the yard calling for the cat. (The high pitched kitty, kitty, kitty call that I despise.) Keep in mind that the two times I've fallen at home have been in the yard at night. After opening the gate so that he could get in, if in fact he was out, and walking around the yard I finally heard a small meow from the other side of the fence. Unfortunately he was in a neighbors yard that is also fenced in. (these are 6ft privacy fences by the way)
Thinking that maybe he might be on the front side of the fence I headed back towards the deck. As I was climbing back up the steps he came running by and went straight into the house. I'm not sure how he got over the fence but that little adventure was over.
When I went inside I went into my den for something. In the process I knocked one of the folding doors off of it's track. I went out to the garage and got a screwdriver. I then stood in the den, holding the door in place with one hand, and tightened the screw on the track with the other hand. A few months ago I never would have been brave enough to make those attempts without anyone around.
The rest of the week was pretty quiet, with one exception. Yesterday I went to U of I to work with Renee and to be in a photo shoot for their new brochure. Renee and I are starting to work on balance, which includes walking with only one hand in the parallel bars. I've tried that before and it hasn't really worked. Yesterday went a bit better but we're still a long way off from walking with only one crutch.
The photo shoot was fun. They had two students and another faculty member work with me. A photographer took pictures as I walked, climbed steps, and took one of the legs off. Occasionally he would ask me to hold still for a shot. This usually was when I was mid stride or halfway up a step. It's not easy to freeze in place but we managed to make it work. I guess the point is that it's getting easier and I'm getting much more comfortable with the legs.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
It wasn't brought up but, the fact that a year ago, in a drug induced fog, my parents had to tell me what had happened, didn't escape my mind. (I was in the drug induced fog, not my parents. Although a year ago my entire family was on antidrepressants and sleeping pills as a result of the accident.) I was awake at this point a year ago but I have no memory of it. It wasn't until about three days later that the veil between fantasy and reality began to fade.
Mom and dad didn't plan on telling me about the accident on Thanksgiving. They had been told to wait until I asked. At that point I couldn't speak but, the way they've described it to me, I became very agitated, sat up in bed, and was pointing at my legs while mouthing the words why, where, and how. So they broke the news to me.
Now, I do have a vague memory of sitting on the deck of a cruise ship, somewhere in the Mediterranean, having a conversation with my dad. He was telling me that none of this (the cruise) was real and that I had been in a bad accident and a fire. It seems to me that in the hallucinated conversation I told him that I knew all of that but that it wasn't important. What was important was an imagined adventure involving drug smugglers and kidnappings that I had somehow wound up stuck in the middle of.
In truth the accident and the fire weren't important. It happened and it's changed my life, the lives of those involved that night, and the lives of countless others in ways that none of us could ever have imagined. On this day we should all pause and give thanks for what's important in our lives.
Certainly I'm not thankful for the accident (if I could find Mr. Peabody and use his Wayback Machine to change the events of that night I would happily do so) but I am thankful for the strength and support that has come out of it. I'm thankful for the fact that we both survived and that the scars from that night have begun to heal. I'm thankful for the friends, new and old, who have come into my life. I'm thankful for so much more that I cannot find the words to describe it.
This is a day of thanks. It's a day to recognize survival and all the things that help us to survive. Without the support you have all given, be it physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual I would not have survived this past year. Yes, I might still be alive, and while the accident did change me, many of you have made the comment that I'm "still Jeremy". Without you that would not be the case. Thank you for helping me stay whole and not allowing the personality that existed before the accident to be replaced by something darker.
Take a moment and think on the things that help you to be who you are. Give thanks for this world and the divine presence that permeates it. Give thanks for those around you and their influence on your life. Look up at the sky and give thanks for the fact that you are alive and have the opportunity to give thanks.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
During that time I'd get to visit briefly with many of them. They'd see me laying on the couch or exercising on the floor. I enjoyed their visits as it was a rare opportunity to see people who knew me when I was a kid and, to meet the new neighbors who have moved into the community since I left home. However, very few of them have seen me since I moved back to my house and continued to recover.
When we arrived home from church I decided to try walking up the ramp from the driveway into the backyard. This was a first as that ramp is at a steep angle and isn't exactly level. (This is due to the shape of the land in that place, not the craftsmanship, which is superb. It was built last winter by a combined effort of neighbors, members of the congregation, and other close friends.) We left the wheelchair in the car and it stayed there the entire day.
The legs stayed on from about 8:00am until 7:00pm. It felt so free to be able to move about the house without the wheelchair. There wasn't any pain, just a little discomfort every once in a while. The discomfort comes mostly from the occasional phantom pain, which would be there anyway. Sometimes the angle I'm sitting at has an impact on the comfort because it will put more pressure on one area of my residual legs but that is easily corrected. It was great to share that day with the people from the neighborhood.
The rest of the week continued in that fashion. When I went to get my hair cut the wheelchair stayed in the car. I had to maneuver some steps, sit in a barbers chair, and get up from the barbers chair. It was also the first time that I wore long pants. (The kind with the zip off legs that can also be shorts.) I decided to give these a try in order to prevent hair clippings from falling in my joints.
We brought the wheelchair when I went to U of I, where I practiced more stairs. It did come in handy to rest in after going up and down without the crutches, which really helped my momentum, but we left it in the car when we went to lunch. You should know that the thing with not using the crutches on the stairs is not a new thing. I don't actually use them during that process as long as there's a railing. Due to my bull headed nature (thanks Dad) previously I had always kept the crutches with me because there's not always going to be someone with me to take them.
Though it did help me to increase my momentum I think the real lesson is that I need to let others help me. Sometimes I want so much to be independent that I make things harder on myself by pushing others away. It's one thing to be able to do something myself, it's something else entirely to refuse assistance when it will make things easier.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Returning to work...and other stuff
Now, you should know that I usually avoid my office like the plague. Before the accident I was pretty physical and didn't spend much time sitting at my desk anyways. Generally my desk was covered with papers and other stuff that would get placed there as I was on my way to a different area of the hotel. After the accident my office became a supply dump for anything that didn't have a home. When I started coming back to work I wasn't too upset by this because storage space is at a premium here. But, as time has passed, the condition of my office has bothered me more and more.
I started to suspect that something was up when Jeff opened the office and Christy told me that the office was where we were going. To my surprise they had cleaned it out and rearranged the office. Christy, who is like a mother hen, said that she was tired of me having to go around obstacles and that they wanted my office to be functional for me again. It feels good to be able to work in my office and not be surrounded by junk again. I'm here once a week, usually on Fridays, and it is starting to feel normal again. For the last several months I've been working on a new website for the hotel. We finally went live this week. If you're interested in looking at the property go to www.waldeninncc.com. Let me know what you think.
Aside from work, the rest of the week has continued to be productive. I met with a Renee and a group of students at U of I (Indianapolis, not Illinois) for physical therapy. We worked on floor transfers (getting up from the floor). The thought was that if I fell someplace where there was nothing for me to pull myself up with, how was I gonna get up? We tried several different methods but nothing really worked.
Picture me laying on my stomach, doing a push up and then walking my hands back until my legs were straight under my waist. Once in this position my fingers were still touching the floor. It basically looked like I was trying to touch my toes but my legs were spread wider. Once in that position I couldn't lift my hands off the floor without tipping forward. Unfortunately I just don't have the balance to stand without some type of assistance.
Realistically, what are the chances that I'm gonna fall some place where there's nothing that I could crawl to, to help pick myself up? The only place that I could think of would be if I was in the middle of a field. When the question was asked "why would you be in the middle of a field?" The only answer I could think of was that I had lost my horse.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
One of the biggest benefits of the new alignment is that my left leg is much more stable which has allowed me to walk at more of a normal pace. My back doesn't get tired as quickly so I can walk farther as well. With the new found comfort level I've been practicing more and attempting more obstacles.
Last Sunday was Communion Sunday at church. The last time we had communion I stayed in the wheel chair and one of the Pastors came to me. There are three ways that we can do communion at our church. You can kneel at the altar rail and take communion when you are ready, go to a station where you dip the bread in the wine, or wait for the Pastor to come to you if you are unable to go forward. This time I walked forward to one of the stations although, I really wanted to kneel. (I didn't kneel because I figured that if I could get on my knees I might have to spend the rest of the service in that position.) Just going forward seemed to cause quite a stir as many people told me it made them cry.
Renee met me at church after the service was over. There were several obstacles there that I wanted to try. The most important to me was to see if I could get in and out of the pews. I've been sitting in my wheelchair in the aisle. It doesn't bother me to be in the aisle but, on the off chance that I can't stay awake, I'd rather be in the pew. (it's less obvious that way) So that was the first thing that we worked on and it worked out well.
The next thing I wanted to try was to see if I could kneel at the altar rail and get back up on my own. Getting down was the easy part but, to my surprise, getting up was easy as well. (I think Renee was more surprised than I was.) After that success we moved to the steps.
Going up and down steps is awkward. Up till then I had gone down a few steps very slowly. I had not attempted to go up. With Renee's help I figured out that the way I had been going down steps was a little dangerous and that it would actually be both safer and a little faster if I went down sideways. Going up is pretty much the same as going down. We practiced this for a long time and it became a fairly comfortable motion.
Later in the week we went to a Halloween party on my parents block. We left the wheelchair in the car and I sat in a normal chair in the yard. Today Mom and I went out to dinner and I sat in a booth. I still need the wheelchair but I'm getting more comfortable leaving it behind.