My brain rushes through all the things I think I must do today, or tomorrow, or should have done yesterday: paying bills; cleaning house; making, changing, and keeping appointments. I’ve already done a mile walk and 20 minutes of squats, planks, and leg lifts. My daily crossword and cryptogram are complete. It’s too early to play my three hands of Solitaire.
None of it matters. Not really.
Six months ago yesterday, my normal world ceased to exist when I fell ill suddenly and nearly fatally in Amsterday. I didn’t die. I survived. I recovered. I came home. It took three months in a hospital bed and another three months of physical therapy, slow shuffles, and pool walks to get to today.
I didn’t know I had that much patience. I didn’t know I had that much determination. I didn’t know would have an enormous global community rooting me on.
I didn’t know that our daughter and my sister would fly to my side and hold Ray up. And that the two of them would figure out how to get me home.
When I was in OLVG hospital, a sage doctor advised me to give myself time as I recovered to appreciate the journey.
“Don’t push to get back to where you were. Set small goals, and celebrate small victories. Take time to rest. Relax. After a few months, you’ll realize how much you’ve gained. And you’ll be where you need to be.”
So, these are my small victories.
Peeling a tangerine; twisting the cap off a yogurt drink; shuffling cards.
Bending one leg; rolling to one side; bending both legs; rolling to both sides.
Sitting up in the wheelchair at the park.
Learning to count to 10 in Dutch. Understanding that OLVG was gezellig.
Standing on legs that felt like hollow cardboard tubes. Taking that first step in my physiotherapist’s embrace. Taking a step without her.
Getting my own wheels and soloing down the hallway. My iPhone notifying me that I wouldn’t get calls while I was driving.
Getting prize foods for being a patient patient.
Going to a jazz concert in the OLVG chapel. Getting wheeled down for church by a volunteer. Finding the music of Tom Löwenthal on Apple Music that still lulls me to sleep.
Discovering I could manage without a catheter even on the long flight home, and that sausage, grits AND muffins for breakfast at Shands Hospital was part of the new normal.
Sleeping in our guest room, where the bed is low. Climbing into our own bed with my husband, falling asleep holding his hand.
Stationary biking. Treadmill walking. Squatting. Stretching.
Walker-walking. Cane-walking. Walking. Striding. Marching.
Graduating from FYZICAL physical therapy on Halloween.
I did end up paying a few bills, getting my nails done, and writing this piece today. I’m on my way to Shands for a status check on my previously aneurysmed arteries and embolismed lungs hoping to get off some medication and to be sent on my way.
My husband is driving, our daughter will meet us there, and my sister and brother-in-law will be here next week. That’s all that matters, really.
And you, dear readers.