Friday, October 26, 2018

Sugarloaf Loop Road

Once again thanks to a reader for sending me some pictures. I actually met Mike on the Sugarloaf Loop and he remembered the encounter as did I. Anyway out of the blue he mailed me a bunch of pictures of his latest excursion. Pretty cool so here they are and grateful I am to have received them, a window for me on the outside world. A reminder of walks Rusty and I took and will take again. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Friends Absent Speak

I have been postponing this entry but it has finally dawned on me that I could postpone this forever and that would not yet be time enough. There was indeed one new mail arrival yesterday at home. My wife was unable to decipher the sender  but whoever sent me a copy of The Yearling thank you very much. I keep receiving get well mail and at some point I need to express appreciation to  you thoughtful kind people.  Today is the day to say THANK YOU! 

You will know who you are and I know who you are who sent me the cards illustrated here and I am extremely glad you made the effort and thought of me. 

I blame Rusty for the dog theme. 

Though other animals appear too, slothfully...

My attention span is suffering from my closed quarters life but I have received all manner of books. They are ready to be read and I shall enjoy them. They will be good memories of a tough time. 

Look at all this stuff. Fantastic. Nan who used to work with my wife sent me the coloring book. A laugh per page and a few I didn’t know. 

A box of cookies from the baker Sheila in Key West. Someone I have actually met.  Very sweet. 

My wife got the flowers but I’ve been here so long I now have a plant - thank you Carol. 

Glenn in Colorado wrote back to me, faster now he has my current address. 

I’m ploughing on with the first book I received from Meg Cabot a Key West writer I’ve never met. A great read about teenage tenacity. 

Friends and strangers write to me. It is heartwarming. I had no idea so many people read my page with such close interest. So many letters and notes start by telling me I don’t know who the author is but they have been reading my page for years. I am touched. Very much. 

I have held on to books I can dip in to.  Poetry and humor I have bedside but I am cruising through one novel at a time 

An indecipherable envelope came from Wales which, since I left the UK has developed its own language confusing dinosaurs like me. POST AWYR. Air Mail maybe? Luckily the contents was a very sweet letter in old fashioned English and thank you for the kind thoughts. I urge you and anyone else to contact me when you return to the Keys. 

This next one was a book I bought myself and have it on Kindle. It is a harrowing read explaining the origins of the opioid epidemic about which many headlines are being written and which will soon be forgotten as the next crisis catches the fancy of our creators of public opinion. It is a fast flowing narrative illuminated by intimate portraits of the addicts, the dealers, the front line medical people stemming the tide but at the same time it puts the pharmaceutical company and the family that has made a fortune from painkillers uncomfortably into the spotlight. Recently the President announced an initiative on the problem and having read this book I understood our leaders have once again missed the salient points of what needs to be done. The Obama administration was no better. An excellent read and worth your time and money. 

My sister in Scotland sent me a book of Irish poetry. Nice to dip into one poem at a time. 

This ones next on the reading list and it looks to be fun. Then my buddy Robert sent me a book of real life sailing adventure which will follow this one...

I have a bit of a reputation for interrupting therapy by receiving mail. You can see why, as envelopes are a constant stream: 
This was an early arrival. The message remains valid. Very much so. 

My wife uses the phone to keep in touch:

More stuff from my Scottish sister whom I am so glad I went to visit last Spting, and with whom I made a strong connection after years apart. My Italian sisters amaze. They call a couple of times a week to check on progress.  I’ve never been in the hospital and I think this mess shook them up. They are very much on my team. Near death has given us all I hope an appreciation for life.  Hug your loved ones. 

Here’s Luis the Argentine bringing me mail. Since he found out my Italian ancestry he greets me in Italian as he walks past my room. Tons of Italians emigrated to Argentina. Sometimes Spanish speakers mistake me for an Argentine when I mangle Spanish with my Italian accent. Very confusing for whoever I am attempting to address in my far-from-Castilian EspaƱol. 

Thank you all.  I am overwhelmed by your kindness and attention. I can’t believe anything less than the very loud message you have sent that you care. It spurs me on to live a better life.  I will make sure I surround myself by those of you who seek joy and good cheer. 

I trust when I am back on my feet you will seek me out when you are in the Keys and train me to come out of my shell. I’ve made  mistakes and one of the biggest is not understanding how much my little internet page means to you. I will redouble my efforts when I can get on my feet. I promise.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Turning A Corner

Last Sunday my wife and I rolled down to the cafeteria where there was a musician performing. Antonio played a mixture of oldies and Cuban ballads and I drifted off looking out the window at people driving and cycling in the luscious south Florida greenery under a sunlit sky. It was a fine couple of hours out of my room. 

It occurred to me looking round the room that we were all in wheelchairs. Next door was a wizened old Latino fussing over his almost immobile wife. He loves her my wife whispered somewhat unnecessarily and I knew she was imagining a future similar for us. Behind me a guy in a hospital gown was sitting alone.  Across the room I saw an East Indian woman in a white  sheet taken from her hospital bed as a comforter who was surrounded by her family picnic (I’ll bet they’ve got great food the curry oriented peanut gallery whispered) but for none of us was there any sense of being out of place. Except maybe the leggy Latina walking on cowboy boots in spray painted jeans and much hair and jewelry. She stood out among the wheelchair audience. An oddity. 

It is an institution I live in and a very good one. But here I am protected. Sure I am looked after and helped in so many ways, but beyond that I am normal.  As normal as normal can be. In a few weeks, maybe fewer than  I want, I will be back in the world. I don’t know what proportion of time I will be in a wheelchair and what proportion managing a walker. Maybe even walking with a cane...who knows? I don’t think I will be walking with my former carefree strides for a good few weeks to come though I know I will get there one day soon. And as I lie here and think about that future I wonder how it will feel to be the cripple in the room. 

I will be the head at waist height getting respectful looks from the anxious able bodied eager to help me in my struggle to get through the door yet not wanting to appear impatient or callous toward the poor guy in the chair. No one will accuse me of not deserving the parking placard as I climb out of the passenger seat and cling to the open car door, pivoting my slow legs into position with my walker. It must be awful they will think with gratitude as they stride away and listen to me tap slowly down the sidewalk. No.  I can safely say I’m not looking forward to this.

I have no choice. I haven’t adapted as well as some to life in a chair. A Key West woman showed off her cupholder in physical therapy yesterday and we all thought it brilliant.  Of course I can’t reach down that far without tipping my chair. Then I’ll end up on the ground and they’ll have to call 911 to get me help. Yes I want to go home.  No I don’t want to be my wife’s date, the cripple. I am afraid of the future for the first time. In the good news department they do want me back at work. I talked to the captain and he said bring a doctor’s note and we will do what we need to and glad to have you back. I’m looking forward to that for at the police station I will be safe among friends. Besides I like telling the cops where to go. 

I have a few ideas how I will take him for walks. Rusty and I will discuss them this weekend when my wife comes visiting. Meanwhile I fret about being a cripple in a world populated by the normal. I wonder how it will be out there? 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Zombie Bike Ride 2018

Thanks to my friend Chuck Licis I got a bunch of fabulous pictures from the Zombie Bike Ride last night. For many of us this is among the best of events from the weeklong madness of Fantasy Fest. This is all about costumes and fun, on bicycles. I hope you like Chuck’s pictures as much as I do. 

I couldn’t be there this year but this is the next best thing. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

My Date With A Cheerleader

Eddy says I lack stamina. Which reminds of the time the nurse’s assistant was helping me to pee in the bad old days before I could do it myself. Sharnae is a slight woman, dark skinned with long black tresses down her back and the air of a schoolgirl even though she is in her late 20s. She grew up in Miami and has the wiry toughness you would associate with a survivor of  the  inner city streets. Usually when I pee I almost fill the bottle which pleases the medical professionals in some mysterious clinical way. Anyway she peeled back the sheet that day and peered down at the almost empty bottle nestling between my legs. “Is that all you got?” And at the same moment we both burst out laughing. A running joke. First time any woman had the balls to say that out loud to me I told her and she giggled some more. 

So, back to physical therapy and Eddy’s rather dim view of my stamina. Thus instead of walking Friday he used his new student to supervise building my ability to support myself on my arms and legs. He started out by showing Kimmi, the one in the students’ brown coveralls how to deploy the red ropes. The way he supervises the students reminds me of how I train new dispatchers.  Out of the pan into the fire. I figured my job was to test young Kimmi...not a bit of it. She took charge. 

I laid out on the bed and got 90 minutes of unending torture. Young sweet Kimmi from Kentucky had me on my stomach, the second time I’d ever done that since the accident. “Try a plank” she ordered. Wh-a-a-t I muttered feebly. A plank? I can’t do one of those. I am a cripple. I have a broken leg. Broken in several places. Fat lot she cared;  I did several bloody planks sweating and trembling. My longest was 30 seconds finally, I told Eddy as he swung by to check up on me. No he didn’t Kimmi protested. By my watch it was 26 seconds, he was counting fast. Holy shit I said, are you descended from a line of drill instructors or time keepers? The torture continued. Of course as she is pretty and dressed in brown Elias stopped by from occupational therapy and said hello. 

It didn’t stop. Pretty Kimmi stood over me and moved my legs in and out and up and down and followed up the muscle burning sensation with bridge poses and moved my leg supports to put more effort into my lower back. Time’s up I said looking frantically at the wall clock. No it’s not she said looking at her infernal never wrong wristwatch. Three more minutes. Lift again... and again...and...Okay. Rest. So I asked her about herself as she busied herself supervising my transfer back to the chair. 

She wanted to study away from home in Louisville, and South Florida has excellent therapy schools. Who knew?  She studied hard in high school but wasn’t a nerd I discovered. She was popular. Thank heavens for Meg Cabot’s gift to me of a novel called “Vanished” which gave me an outline of what to ask her. No she said I was never a cheerleader. (Liar I’m sure). Did you pick on the unpopular nerds (Jess in Vanished I’m thinking)? Oh no she said acting like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.  I’ve got this one pegged I thought to myself as Eddy wheeled me dripping with sweat back to my room. Pray God she gets another therapist trainer next week. Stamina yes but at the cost of my life seems a bit too steep. I can’t help but think she’ll make an excellent therapist one day. I’m glad I’ll be fully ambulatory and a hundred and fifty miles away by then. Great date, sweet young woman, but lord I’m an old man and I need a Percoset.