The Tricky Business Of Living One Day At A Time
(The image on your right was taken on the grounds of Hotel Dieu Shaver, where I did my rehab.)
I have been home for a bit less than 4 weeks now, and I have to tell you it’s been kinda scary. The scariest thing of all is all the stuff you have to do for yourself, and how much longer it takes having to wheel around, swear (quietly) about all the stuff you need but can’t reach, and how tricky it is just moving from the inside to the outside.
All of this is a learning process, and something that’s necessary because there is no one on the planet who can tell me when or even if I will have my legs under me and be able to move around on them.
Half the rehab I am doing is designed to make my life in this chair as easy as it can be, while the other half is working on my leg strength and muscle tone. So that at this as yet unknown point in the future I will be able to grab my walker and head out around the block.
All of this stuff would definitely be easier if I hadn’t been so hyperactively mobile before I got sick. If I was a true couch potato, I would be, well not much is different except the chair I sit on.
But one of the things I resolved not to do, very early on in this trip, is to dwell on what used to be. That not gonna be the same, maybe ever. So all that’s left is moving forward.
On the upside, I am surprised at all the things I can do, at how adept I have become at not wreaking havoc on the walls and doorways that I have to pass through; how quickly and efficiently I can get in and out of bed; and how much better I am getting at sitting up more or less straight which I am told is great for building my core.
But overall I have learned to apply an element of oriental wisdom to my modus operandi, which states, “Never do anything that is not useful.”
This has turned me into a much less impulse driven person and much more of a planner and thinker on a fundamental level. It involves little rules like: Thinking through not just what you want to eat, but how you’re going to access it, prepare it efficiently and clean up afterward leaving little or no trace of what you did, and: always make sure that you are putting things back in their place, so you don’t have to waste time and energy looking for them later on.
These things sound simple, but that’s only because that simplicity is something I used to take very much for granted. Remembering to do these things consistently now is actually hard work, but well worth the doing.
Another thing that’s had to become a necessary part of my life is exercise. I have exercises I do in bed, exercises I do in my chair and exercises I currently do on the front porch to keep both my upper body and core strong and help restore muscle tone to my legs.
This became a bit of a religion for me after the surgery, and I had to build my entire life, such as it was, around the schedule that was set for me.
When I got home, however, it took at least two weeks to adjust to the fact that I was going from two sessions a day to just two a week and I had to figure out what to do with the rest of the time. This was compounded by a general discombobulation that came from actually being home, which was a lot more disorienting than I ever thought it would be. Stuff was still being done to the house. I was riding around in a big van instead of a small Scion. And the rest of my entire lifestyle was collapsed down into just stuff I could do in a wheelchair or my bed. It fucking wore me out.
It has been just this week that I have started to feel like there some sort of normal here (re-defined like everybody else’s) and I am finally coming to terms with it.
Writing posts like this one help me keep my perspective, and are, in their own way, a bit of a reminder of how far I have come since my surgery and, of course, how far I have left to go.
So for now, my best bet is taking things one day at a time. On the one hand it’s a way to slow things down and keep my expectations from outpacing my abilities, and on the other hand, well you really do have no choice.
Be well, my little droogs.
Jim Murray is a writer, a reader, a sports fan and a TV watcher who has been writing about the sports & entertainment worlds since1998, which is when he created his first blog, The Couch Potato Chronicles, which he publishes regularly along with this blog.
Jim is also a former ad agency writer and art director and has run his own creative consultancy, Onwords & Upwords, from 1989 until just recently when he closed and opened a freelance enterprise called Murmarketing.
He lives with his wife, Heather, in the beautiful Niagara area of Ontario and works with a small cadre of companies that are trying to make a difference in the world.
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