Thursday, November 15, 2007

L'essentiel est invisible pour les x-rays - Nov 15

On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. (Only with the heart does one see clearly. The essential is invisible to the eyes) - Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Le Petit Prince

On Halloween, I had some long awaited x-rays. Then, last week, I had the chance to go over the x-rays with my physical therapist. She showed me those x-rays side by side with others from August 10, the day that the rod and screws were placed in my tibia. No difference. The same gaping fracture showed up in the middle of my tibia on each slide.

Needless to say, the rest of my week was pretty hard. I couldn't shake the discouragement. Twelve weeks and no sign of the bone healing. My vision of bearing weight on a slowly growing bone crumbled into an image of walking around on a flimsy piece of metal with bone fragments and screws rattling loose. It's the most disheartened that I've been through this ordeal.

Well, there is nothing to do but continue. Melissa gave me a pep talk. Let this be a motivator rather than a de-motivator; this makes it even more important to have the right attitude and do the things that promote healing. Our friend Margot, who is a healer (and a Physician's Assistant by training) said that x-rays are crap. They disempower by dictating success or failure. Instead, we need to be empowered to promote our own healing. Deborah, with whom I stayed after the hospital, said to just deny the outcome of the x-rays and keep on being optimistic.

I think I'm through the slump. Everyone is right; there is nothing to do but stay optimistic. I'm also trying to take care of all bases. I've increased my calcium supplement; I'm heating the fracture area to bring blood flow; I'm bearing weight and promoting circulation on the bike trainer - and swimming, for the first time last week! We'll also try some massage and acupuncture. I'm ready to keep going.

Black and white x-ray images convey such a sense of authority. They seem to be the last word on how my healing is going. Long after viewing them, my mind's eye still traces the fracture lines. Given the apparent objectivity of x-rays, I found it exceedingly difficult to have faith in my body's own timetable for healing. It has been helpful to be reminded that the most important things - hope, determination, love and support from friends - are invisible to the x-ray.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

On receiving help - Nov 1

There are times that I think, "what did I do to deserve this?" when faced with the startling kindness of friends.

We have received so many amazing meals in the last few weeks. Our friends Dawnellen and Kurt cooked a magical chickpea curry and frosted Halloween cupcakes right before our eyes. Hondo and Alycia prepared us a medley of salad, quiche and lasagna. Then, Alycia's sister Greta - whom I have never met - treated us to mushroom and pepper quesadillas and chocolate chip pumpkin bread (which actually evaporates at room temperature). Tracey, my colleague at Girls' LEAP, besides loaning me the first two seasons of "The Office," brought over stuffed peppers - with vegetarian "lamb." Margot loaned her crockpot with some starter veggies for convenient stewing. The list goes on for a long time.

I have been transported to appointments. Many friends have lent their healing touch - through massage and energy work. Even the calls and emails buoy my spirits. When first released, I was taken in by Deborah and Phil for two weeks; now, I spend Monday nights at their house to ease the commute to Girls' LEAP. (Okay, I can't fib - it's really for the sci-fi tv shows on Monday night...who am I?) The help has been so valuable; besides spending a lot more time doing mundane tasks and physical therapy homework, we need to know that the community is there for us.

Our friends Rob and Aviva have helped as much as anyone. It has been hard for me to grasp at times. I assume that we are imposing, being a burden by needing this help. Rob and Aviva came bringing arugula, squash and fruit crisp while I stayed with Deborah and Phil. Rob has taken me to a few medical appointments. Lately, Rob has been escorting me on the 3/4 mile walk from Girls' LEAP to his house on Tuesday afternoons. Aya, their 14 month old daughter, rides in the backpack, then coaches me on walking when we arrive at their apartment.

At several points along the way, Rob and Aviva have thanked me for inviting them into my healing journey. Thanked me! I'm starting to let it soak in, though it's not intuitive for me. Rob and Aviva have plenty to do in raising their daughter in a kind and intentional way. I hardly understand how they are thanking me for adding more responsibilities. Other friends have said that it is great that we have communicated what we needed.

A quote on a recognition wall at Simmons College reminds that the point is not to pay back kindness, but to pass it on.

I am overwhelmed with kindness. It makes me look at the times that I have been self-absorbed or ill-attuned to another's needs. Feeling this kindness from friends makes me want to be there when the next person needs help. It makes me want to pass it on.