Sunday, September 23, 2007

Strong at the Broken Places - Mark - September 14

I hope that this update reaches all of you in good spirits. Please
know how much your support and contact have meant to me during this

The short version is that I am progressing well, and I should be out
of this rehab center next week. I am a lucky man to have a partner as
loving and committed as Melissa. I am deeply appreciative. The
recovery process will be long, and physical therapy is unbelievably
painful (dangling my leg). However, I'm happy to do it in order to

Today was amazing! I have been in a rehabilitation center for a week.
At my follow-up appointment with Plastic Surgery, they poked and
prodded and peeled off dried blood and dead skin. They told me that
the graft is stable and that I can bear weight (if ok'ed by
Orthopedics), touch it, stretch, shower, ... They also took out my
last wound drain, stopped my antibiotics and blood thinners and gave
me their blessing.

It is humbling to notice my process. Even though I want to have
normal function, I notice the fear. Subtle thoughts occur to me - Am
I really ready to start bearing weight? Will I stay healthy without
antibiotics? Perhaps I'll wait another week to shower, just in case.
Institutionalization at work - I have only been in the hospital for a
month and have a strong drive to recover. If fear and doubt creep
into my psyche, I can only imagine the experience of people who have
been in this setting longer:

Down the hall is a brain-injured patient. At odd times of the day or
night, he WAILS, calling for the nurse. In many cases, they are right
next to him. He cries, "Nurse, don't be a witch."

Another woman is usually cheerful and dedicated to her physical
therapy. However, she was dispirited yesterday. She had a spinal
fusion (fused vertabrae) in June. She is disappointed because she
still can't walk after three months.

A young man lost the use of his legs 10 years ago as a senior in high
school. He simply lost feeling and the ability to move them--no known cause.
He is here for sores and infection, but he has no place to go afterwards.
He grew up in poverty and doesn't really have skills that could allow
him to work, to contribute, to find worth. Melissa and I have both
talked with him about some possible steps.

In this context, I am incredibly fortunate. I am healing well. I
have resources and a beautiful network of people who have shown me
their support. And Melissa... Melissa is a godsend to me. I can
hardly believe what an incredible partner she is. When the going
wasn't easy, Melissa really stuck by my side. She has massaged me,
stayed late hours, helped me to visualize and brought me treats. How
can I ever thank her enough?

Yesterday, I walked about 75 yards on crutches. Physical therapy
consists of (1) light workouts to strengthen both upper and lower body
and (2) the hugely painful process of letting my leg dangle. When
blood flows into my leg (as in standing or even just dangling it off
the bed), it throbs and swells. I start to get light-headed and
sweaty. I like to think of myself as a pretty tough character, but
after 10 minutes of dangling, I'm crying for mercy.

PARTING IMAGE: Did I mention that I shaved my head? Fun! I've never
done it before - sure makes hair washing easy. Wow, do I have a
widow's peak!

We think our next update in a few days or a week will be a "last"
update as we switch over to writing in a blog on a website
( that a college friend is creating for us. It
seems hard to think of signing off with all of you. Maybe we can plan
a global simultaneous "toast" to healing to appreciate this joyful

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