Friday, March 25, 2011

Outsourcing for Good or for Bad??

I'm a do-it-yourself kinda girl.  It's in my genes, my parents and my brother all do the same thing.  I can't help it, or maybe I can. Who kows I'm working on it.

 Case in point:  I fired my garden a few years ago, because I knew I could do a better job. Before I moved back home a few weeks ago, my garden was full of weeds, sad and neglected.  Between being away, not being able to walk, life etc. there just had been no time for gardening.  I love to putter in my garden but pulling weeds isn't fun.   A friend has taken to sending me a  gardener to deal with my yard.  A precious gift. Outsourcing a gardener is a good call, now i just need to find a new one to do my yard on a regular basis. See, I'm learning.

Further, case in point:  I like to sew, I have recovered most of the furniture in my house so that it matches my color scheme and my style.  It is a laborious project, but one I enjoy.  I've recovered couches, made chair cushions, recovered more chairs than I can remember.  I bought fabric a year in a half ago for curtains for my dining room, that fabric is still folded up in my closet.  Sigh, one more project for me to do in my new found spare time.  I'll get it done I swear and no I won't outsource this one.  (yes, I fully realize I could buy curtains in a fraction of teh time and energy required to make them, but that is not the point, sillies.) Outsourcing curtain, good idea, but not going to happen.

Lately, I have had to outsource something else, walking my beloved dog and constant companion Sadie.  I love my nightly walks with Sadie. Really all she wants from me is some attention and a couple of walks a day.  That is what being a dog is all about.  However, I can't really walk right now, so someone else has to take Sadie.  Therefore, I hired the dog walker that my friend who kept Sadie while i was in New York uses.  He knows her, she likes him, it seemed like a great idea.  However, when I am home and he comes to get her, she doesn't want to go.  Hello, my dog doesn't want to go OUT?  He says if I'm home as soon as the business end of the walk is done she just wants to get back home to me.  Talk about a bonded puppy.  It makes me sad to be outsourcing the one thing she wants from me a day, but what am I to do.  I've taken her for a couple of walks with my crutches and the poor dog is afraid of the crutches, but desparate to go out.  talk about doggy PTSD. So, I persist, I'm not outsourcing my dog, I'm taking care of her right?

I could go on, but you get the idea I like to do these things, but there are only so many hours in the day and one of me.  So, some things get pushed off.  It is the way of things. I'm getting stuff done that needs to be done.  Some things must be outsourced, some things can wait.  Maybe next year, I'll even hire an accountant to do my taxes, maybe?  Outourcing is good.  Learning to ask for help is a big step forward.

Such is the ying and yang of life.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Two Months

Two months ago, I was wheeled into an operating room after kissing my mom and best friend good-bye.   I had signed a consent for what felt like everything short of amputation, and a separate consent for all types of reconstructive options.  The truth is I didn’t know what they were going to do, my surgeons didn’t exactly know what they would do until they saw how big the tumor  was. We had agreed that if possible without significant long term risk, they would spare my posterior tibial nerve, but it looked like the tumor was surrounding it.  Therefore, I knew there was a real risk. 

Thirteen hours later I woke up and looked at my parents and said “what happened to me?”  They wouldn’t tell me.  I cried.  I knew the surgery had been bigger than planned, and I knew I was in horrible pain, but I didn’t know what they had done to me.  All night long the nurse wouldn’t give me details.  I slept no more than a few minutes at a time due to the pain, and them dopplering my ankle to make sure there was still blood supply to the graft.  As morning dawned, I asked everyone what happened to me.  Finally, my surgeon explained to me that the tumor was bigger than expected, that she had to remove all the soft tissue in my ankle including the nerve, veins and the artery. However, they had done a nerve graft in hopes that the nerve might grow back.  In hopes that someday I’d feel my foot again. 

Processing that news was hard.  My drug addled mind couldn’t compute it.  I got through each of the next days with the help of my family and my friends near and far. Now two months later, I’m still having trouble processing that I can’t feel my foot and that that may be my new norm.

 Still I make strides everyday.  I’ve been swimming again for a week.  I work out as I can preparing the rest of my body to help Lefty out.   I’ve taken several steps without my crutches, but I hate the feeling.  Today, I walked my dog around the block alone for the first time in 2 months.  We both loved it.  These strides forward should be written on a calendar.

In 2 short months I’ve learned a lot about living with a numb foot even while I test for nerve growth once a week.  When I look back on the last two months I know that what I will remember is not the pain, not the hard times, but the support and love of my friends and family.  Looking back is always colored by how you choose to look at the past.  Recently I’ve had a reminder of how precious life is, and the fact that I have a numb foot suddenly seems like just one more thing to get through.  Time does give us perspective.  Time does heal wounds.  Time will even make me think its OK to walk on a numb foot.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lap by Lap, yard by yard, I feel more like myself!

Last year at this time I started training in earnest for the Malibu triathlon, and I had to force myself to swim.  By that time I was riding and running regularly, so I was pretty confident there.  However, it had been a couple of months since I'd gotten in the pool.  So, I declared it time to swim.  First time in the water I easily swam 2000 yeards, so I was fairly sure the distance wouldn't be a problem, but open water swimming is totally different.  So, I prepped to train for the ocean.  I started in a protected bay and slowly moved to the Pacific.  Open water was hard, but I pushed through it.

Whatever the venue swimming has always provided me a place of comfort, of escape.  I used to joke that it was the only time in my overly connected world where I was truly unreachable.  I joked about this, but it is profoundly true.  I run with my phone on my waist, ditto on my bike.  When I swim the phone is safely locked away from that corroding water. I am unreachable.  Sometimes I relish in that.  

I happily proclaimed on twitter and facebook the other day after I was finally allowed back in the pool, "lap by lap, yard by yard, I start to feel more like my old self." I thought about why I felt this way.  Was it the return to some form of real-ish cardio for the first time in 2 months, maybe.  Or just the return to the order of exercising, training for something, maybe.  Or was it the simple stillness that swimming in a pool is, possibly.  Whatever it is, being back in the pool feels fantastic. I can only imagine how great it will feel to get back on my bike, or to run (if I'm ever allowed to do that again).

Still there is something about swimming, especially in a pool.  To me, it is rote muscle memory.  Lap after lap, stroke after stroke, same thing over and over again, your arms propel you from one end of the pool to the next.  You can hear nothing but your breath and the occassional splash.  You focus on your breathing and your forward progress, you see only the black line beneath you.  To me, it is made for meditation, or for a clairty of thought which is a form of meditation itself.  According to yoga philosophy during mediation you are both observer and observed. Iyengar says, "Meditation does not make the dull. Rather, in meditation the mind is still razor sharp, silent but vibrant with energy." Further, according to yoga philosophy, when in mediation time should have no meaning.  I'm not sure I can reach that level of clairity while counting my laps and swimming away, but I know that I see things more clearly when swimming and that time has no meaning.  I lose myself in the water.

All this begs the question, is my missing of my exercise routine, missing the exercise or the clarity of mind?  Missing the place of protected isolation that allows for me to see my life clearly?  Maybe I should meditate on that?  In the meantime, i'll keep swimming!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Promised Land

Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start
            Bruce Springsteen, “The Promised Land”

When I originally returned home from New York, I wanted to go to my house.  I needed to pick up some items, but mostly I just wanted to be in my house.  I stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up. Could I make it?  How could I be so weak?  This recovery road is long, but bullheaded I was I determined I had to try.  I made it up the stairs exhausted, and then I needed help to get back down.  Clearly, I wasn’t ready to move home.

Fast forward a month later and through the benefits of physical therapy and exercise the stairs while still daunting are able to be scaled without too much thought.  The time to move home has arrived.  While being fortunate enough to have been given the time and place to heal, I am ready to move back to my house.

So say goodbye it's Independence Day
It's Independence Day
All down the line
Just say goodbye it's Independence Day
            Bruce Springsteen, “Independence Day”

Thank you so much to my parents for providing me a place of respite and care to allow me to heal and get back to this place.  I can only hope that my progress will continue at the same pace.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I remember turning 16. I don't remember if I had a party, though i assume I did. I don't remember what I wore or where we went. I don't remember any of the adolescent drama that I'm sure seemed tres important at the time, but I do remember...

Rushing home from school to get in our family's old Chrysler LeBaron station wagon to go get my drivers license. I remember waiting in anxiously in the car to Take my behind the wheel test afraid of parallel parking between cones. I remember making sure I knew how to do a 3 point turn. I remember these things across the expanse of time. A car meant freedom or a little of it. It meant, going to the movies with friends, the mall, swim team practice, etc. It meant my mom no longer had to shuttle me everywhere.

This past Tuesday I awoke with that sense of anxiety, anticipation, joy at what the day held. I was off my pain meds and thus could drive again. We'd agreed we'd pick up my car after PT. My mom worried and fretted probably not unlike when I was 16. Still I drove us to PT, just to check. All good we proceeded to pick ip my car. That little bit of freedom, independence returned to me. I was so happy, I couldn't stop smiling. My car, the ability to drive, I will never take it for granted again.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Afternoons with Mom and Dad

I've been on this recovery journey for almost a month and a half now.  I got released from the hospital just over a month ago.  I have had long hours to fill while I am able to do very little.  I've had visits from friends, gone on outings for tea, burger/ beer /and sports, dinner, etc.  However, I still spend most of my time with my parents who are graciously caring for me.  Along this journey, I've spent a couple of afternoons with mom and dad getting otu of the house and into nature in whatever way possible.  These days have both come at good times and boosted my spirits.

An afternoon in Central Park with my Dad:
Shortly before we left NYC, the mercury finally topped freezing and so my dad loaded me in my wheelchair and we headed off to Central Park.

Thus, prepared for the cold, with Lefty wrapped in cashmere and me covered in a blanket.  We headed out to take in what the last few snow storms had done.

We even bought the roasted nuts from the street vendor.  Dad and I both relished time outside.  I insisted on helping to roll me up the hills.  He managed to not roll me over his toes on that day!

An afternoon with Mom at The Huntington Gardens:
Back in SoCal, we arrived at my parents house just as the camelias were in full bloom.  I asked if we could spend an afternoon at the Huntington Gardens to explore their camelia gardens.  The Huntington is just a few short blocks from their house.  Yet somehow we didn't make it for this outing til yesterday.  Mom and I headed out.  I swallowed my pride and agreed that the only way I could explore properly would be in my wheelchair.

The camelias didn't  disappoint.

The Clivia were amazing.
The Chinese Garden beckoned me, but the hills were daunting, so we'll save that for another trip when I have two legs for locomotion.

Mom enjoyed it too.

These days are special memories in a world of pain and frustration. Thank you will never be enough, Mom and Dad.