I fear I am become institutionalized inside the walls of rehab. I have three or four days left until I have to face the outside world this weekend. This is my 54th day learning to cope with half a body and already in the gym a gulf exists between myself and the other patients. Not only are they all new faces but they also cannot relate to me as they see me, no longer visibly broken, lifting weights and climbing stairs. I am alien in my own gym!
I am far removed from the lump barely able to sit up in a wheelchair unable to propel myself or bend my braced leg. Today Eddy banished my wheelchair after watching me push my walker from my room to the gym, at least a ten minute walk at my slow lumbering pace through the endless corridors.
He looked at me did Eddy as though challenging me and said no more wheelchair. I must have looked horrified as he said I’m serious. And left me standing in the middle of the gym with only the walker. I did some leg exercisess and walked back to my room. My right leg aches as I stepped ever more clumsily down the corridor, the endless corridor.
And so my wheels are put away. I sat in a regular armchair wondering how hard it would be to get up ( a little hard). Now I no longer have the rolling chair I miss the comfort of rolling, the ease of sitting, the security of being able to stop anywhere and rest. Now I have to walk. May I have many walks left in me.
I enjoy listening from time to time to Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs the lyrics to the last of which are as follows. Actually a German poem Im Abendrot by Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff. The elderly composer was in exile in Switzerland to escape the Nazis looking back over a long and fruitful life preparing to walk into his final sunset with his beloved.
At Sunset (Im Abendrot)
We've walked, hand in hand,
through hardship and joy.
Now we both rest
from walking across the silent countryside.
All around us the valleys are fading,
it has already become dark.
Just two larks are still rising,
dreamlike, into the heavens.
Stand here, and let them fly about,
it will soon be time to sleep,
lest we go astray
in this loneliness.
Oh further, silent peace!
So profound at sunset.
How tired we are of traveling:
Is this perhaps death?