I was at San Clemente Beach a few days ago. After a nice brunch with my family we decided to go for a walk on the beach. A five minute walk on the sand after a big meal instantly makes all those calories you ate disappear. It's magic (something to do with the sea air). As we started walking we couldn't resist going "just a little further" until our walk actually turned into some decent exercise.
After awhile we needed to head home because RC had to get to work.
We were nearly back to the pier when Briefcase turned to me and said, "Look". I did, and what I saw struck me to the core. Ahead of us was a man hopping on one leg across the sand to his beach towel. He was holding his boogie board. He had a huge grin on his face having obviously enjoyed the waves. He was young, I would guess mid-twenties, and he was hopping on one leg because he only has one leg. When he reached his towel he sat down and began strapping on his prosthesis.
I was stunned into silence. Sometimes, I truly believe, things happen for a reason. People are put in your path because you need to learn something from them. Two days prior my surgeon had informed me that he had just finished writing a report on my prognosis. Nearly 2 years post-car accident (and 3 months since my last big surgery), he was trying to foresee my future. He told me he would prefer for me not to read his report. When I asked him why, he replied that he only wants me thinking positive thoughts.
Obviously, that means his prognosis is (at minimum) discouraging. He also told me that I could be looking at another two years of physical therapy. (Making a grand total of 4 years? Truly, he can't mean that?) He told me there are many things that he believes I will never be able to do again, but he doesn't want me thinking that I have limits. Excuse me? Can you repeat that please?
I left the doctor's and went straight to my standing appointment at PT. The Torturer took one look at me and instantly knew. "We'll talk, go find a room," he said. I fought back tears and went into "denial mode" where I just won't allow my mind to go THERE. I have spent an awful lot of time denying what's happened in my life over the last two years.
The Torturer joined me and began one of his infamous pep talks. (Yes, for a Torturer, he has moments of being nice.) He told me to remember that I am better than I was just 6 months ago. To not allow myself to believe things won't improve further. To not allow myself to think about how long it might take, or what I have ahead of me, but to just focus on today. "Just take it one day at a time." He told me to keep believing that someday my right (dominant) arm will work again. There have been times in the last two years when The Torturer has been the one to talk me down off a high ledge and I am forever grateful for that. This time, however, something is different.
His words eased a little of the fear and anxiety, but deep inside … deep inside the thought that "this might be it" won't go away. I am facing down my 2 year anniversary of the car accident this July. I have gone through 5 surgeries and will not go through more. Maybe it's time to start accepting what has happened. To learn to live with who and what I am now.
I feel like, without even realizing it, I have spent two years just waiting for things to get better. Waiting to get through this so I can move forward with my life. The pain has been teeth clenching and the surgeries have been one, after another, after another. So many things have been lost in a drugged up post-surgery haze. My life has been on hold.
Now, maybe it is time to accept that there is no end to this. Yes, there is an end to the surgeries. There's apparently no foreseeable end to PT. Possibly I will only have one fully functioning arm for the rest of my life. Maybe it is time to accept this the way the man with one leg has accepted himself. Maybe it's time to start moving forward … one day at a time.