Last year at this time, I had finally returned home after a three-month hospitalization in Amsterdam’s OLVG Hospital following a ruptured aneurysm. My diagnosis was Segmental Arterial Mediolysis (SAM), a disease that weakens the walls of the abdominal arteries. My belly had been a mess of aneurysms when I was in the Amsterdam ICU. There was a significant likelihood of additional ruptures, but the medical literature could not yet say how this relatively recent disease would progress.

The University of Florida’s Shands Hospital gave me some good news when I flew there at the end of July. The aneurysms were gone. We drove home. I began outpatient PT and walking with a walker and a cane.

My foot rises. Before it falls there is a tiny moment when neither of my feet are really carrying weight — a suspension, a moment of physical trust. Something in me knows that the ground will still be there. Let me return to this innate knowledge — this ancient confidence.

Gunilla Norris, “Walking,” Being Home, A Book of Meditations

My November checkup at Shands continued the good news. No aneurysms. I graduated from PT and walked up the three flights of stairs to our daughter’s apartment.

Help me to not be so afraid of the heights and depths! Help me to concentrate on the connection between the two: those humble steps, those one-after-the-other steps, which are the only ones I can really take. Help me to love a slow progression, to have no prejudice that up is better than down or vice versa. Help me to enjoy the in between.

Gunilla Norris, “Climbing Stairs,” Being Home, A Book of Meditations

I kept progressing. I added weight workouts to my routine. I walked longer. I jogged a little. I felt like I could run, but I wanted medical clearance first.

My six-month checkup was to be at Shands in May, but the pandemic threw off those plans. I stayed home and kept my eye on Florida’s Coronavirus infection rate as the virus burned viciously through the state. I felt great but I had felt great before my illness, too.

Finally, the COVID curve peaked and bent downward, and Shands, which is a five-hour drive away, accommodated my request to have the CT scan done locally and forwarded to my doctor at Shands for her review. I suited up and had the test on August 19.

Yesterday, I got the results. No aneurysms. No restrictions. I did the happy dance and went for a run.

Photo: Lannis Waters, The Palm Beach Post

Next checkup is in twelve months. It’s the first appointment on my 2021 calendar. Happy New Year!

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