Saturday, February 26, 2011

February News

We are at the pool.

A couple of days ago I told Chico I'd pretty much stopped blogging-as if he didn't know.  Maybe it's time I said.  I was surprised by his response.
"Really?  Just like that?  You are stopping?  Don't you think you should kind of ease out of it or let people know or something?" I didn't want to say that there really isn't any news anymore because as soon as the thought formed, I realized how much news there is every day with him.  So what is it? 
"Well, I don't know.  Maybe I just have been negligent.  It feels indulgent....Anyway, people don't read it anymore."
"Yes they do!  I just got a text yesterday congratulating me on walking...It's important...Maybe you should just phase it into something else, some other topic merged in."
"Who? Who is texting you about blog news?"  and so on.  So, here we go.

This year we have lots of Snow Angels.  Corny as it sounds, I couldn't help thinking that as I shoveled very little of the ten or so inches of fresh, wet, heavy snow that we got over the last 30 hours.  Actually, the wet stuff had been moved by the SAs but then the weather got cold and it snowed some more so I got to move about 4-6 inches.  Our Snow Angels are Kit, Bobby, John, Gary, Reinhold and Edgar and probably others...Maybe even strangers.  Thank you. 

I like shoveling ok.  For one thing, it is a defined, discrete task.  Even when it just keeps snowing, as it has this winter, I feel like I've gotten something taken care of when I shovel out the driveway.  I like the feeling of completion. It's concrete rather than conceptual, this task.  Well sometimes I make it conceptual but it doesn't have to be.  It just has to be done.  At any rate, it has been luxurious to have assistance with the chore of it from time to time.

We returned the wheel chair to The Medicine Chest today.  Chico hasn't used it in a couple of weeks.  He doesn't use the walker anymore either.  He is sometimes resistant to using crutches too.  He uses one, or both outside the house but often only one or none in the house.  The walking is painful and slow but the progress is steady.  The people at the medical supply store seemed happy to finally meet him. I guess they'd gotten used to my comings and goings.  I'd thought I was anonymous.  Chico needed a new (smaller) brace and a few other things.  It was a uniquely attentive staff on this shopping excursion.  Twice I heard the young attendant say, "I remember I brought the stuff to your house.  That one on the corner.  I remember your face." 
"Yeah, October 8th." 
"Long time ago.  He looks good.  Hurts to walk, huh?  Reminds me of when I got my ACL fixed.  Then I whacked out my hip, and my back got crooked.  You have to to walk.  You compensate to protect.  You let the strong leg do more.  You twist around.  Then you do all this work to realign after.  He's doing...has to do that.  It's good."  Seems so.

Chester was home last weekend.  He was astonished by Chico's independence.  Sometimes Chico and I fall into framing our experience by his limitations or pain.  It was great to be reminded of the enormous progress he's made.  It was great to spend time with Chet. 

Loves to show his tricks.

Laughs at himself before
needing  a nap to recover!
 On Monday we were in Albany for a check up.  We visited the hotel desk people that had been so kind to me, the Starbucks Bartenders and then we went to Albany Med.  We first checked in on each of the floors Chico had lived on.  We saw many of the staff members we care about and missed a good many too; we visited each of his physical therapists.  People were all amazed and inquisitive.  Each time we met a person who was extensively involved with Chico's recovery he would hand his crutches to me and take a few steps.  I guess many of the nurses figured people get better (or they don't) but they said they don't actually get to see patients post recovery.  It was good to show them the outcome of their skilled compassion and care; their strength and resolve even.  [Chico just took off swimming.]  It was great to hear Chico tell each person what particular thing s/he had done for him.  "You prepared me so well for being home, I knew just what to do."  One of the physical therapists, the one key player on the first and second day transfers that were so scary and painful, moved right in to therapy mode, "Are you still seeing progress? Do you go to the pool?  Ok, well when you are in the pool...Jumping Jacks...Bicycle kicks..."  He gave us lots of great ideas.  I see Chico in the pool trying some of them out right now as I write this.

At the surgeon's office, Chico had a long interview with a new resident.  We discussed chronic pain the possibility of further surgeries (this is not something Chico is interested in-everything seems to be moving toward wellness as it is.) When Dr. Hospodar came in, he confirmed the crookedness of hips, the possible shortness of the left leg.  They explained the changed surface of the fibial plateau and how that will impact the length of the leg, the hinge of the knee.  I looked at x-rays for the first time.  YIKES! even now.  It was all very subdued, discerning and careful in that exam room.  Finally Chico walked so that the doctor could see his gait and the degree of stability of the knee.  Again, a quiet, pensive, "Well, it looks pretty stable."  At this point I said, "Aren't you psyched?  You never promised us this much!  He's already walking, he's healing."  Dr. Hospodar, "Yes! I am! I am psyched."  This might not be a direct quote, but it is pretty close.  He really never led us to expect anything in a positive sense.  He stressed the extensive and complicated nature of the injuries.  He cautioned us about complications: infections, bone grafts and so on.  And really we seem to be past those possibilities, at least for now.  He must be thrilled with his work.  We are; and grateful to him.

Tuesday we went to Chico's GP, in Burlington.  This doctor and his nurse have had countless conversations with Chico and with me since August 20th-usually when we are in a panic of one form or other.  Now it was time for a full check up and an exploration of some side effects we are seeing-sores, bulbous masses, bruises.  These guys-I don't know if they'd spent the morning steeling themselves for the worst but they were so obviously pleased with the state of Chico's recovery.  They could not believe his mobility, his strength, good spirits, and general health.  We left elated.  They really care about him, and know where he's been and what it has taken (must've taken, from their viewpoint) to come this far. 

Chico has reinvented himself to no small degree.  [He's jogging in the pool right now.  Looks excruciating.  But he's doing it.]  The hard workouts aren't new.  The ability to endure and enjoy the focus people place on him which includes the appreciation of his experience and the participation in his recovery (blog readers, friends, neighbors, new acquaintences)...the appreciation of his joy, and his challenges.  The way he lets people in is lovely to witness. 

Now we know kindness.  Now we know generosity. Now we know gratitude, again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


The winter has been completely beautiful.  Chico's steady, incremental progress marks the days and weeks.  This has kept us from feeling pent up and overwhelmend by winter's duration. Yes, the need to shovel is sometimes inconvenient but the beauty of the snow is always magnificent. 

Last weekend was characterized by rushing, repeated shoveling, fatigue and discrepant views about what is safe for Chico to do independently.  I did get to hike up the mountain and Chico used the pool and went to church.  Oh yes, and we got some time with Pam and Reinhold-that was a highlight.

This weekend is peaceful.  Chico's progress is so undeniable that his spirit shines brilliantly again-no lull there.  He was dancing on Friday night.  That wasn't so surprising to me, I've seen it before.  But the friends and neighbors at Dan's Place hadn't.  Saturday morning I saw him doing chair sits for the quads-YOUCH under the healthiest of circumstances.  After lunch we walked down to the post office.  As soon as we were out the door and down the steps (notice: he didn't use the ramp) he asked me if I could hold one of his crutches!  He walked the whole length of Spring Street on one crutch.  Actually I think it was all the way to the fire station or Almost Home. Later, on Main Street, he asked me to hold them both.  He walked independently.  What hurts the most in these cases is his foot.   More of these variations on the way home.  I'm sorry I forgot my camera; I would have liked you all to see this.

As we walk around our town, acquaintances and friends cheer him on, inquire about his progress, smile and generally make our life better.  One guy saw him walking with one crutch and a huge smile.  He said, "Wow, you look so much better than the last time!  I mean you still had that smile but you were in a wheel chair!"  We remember.  It was touching that he does too.  Thank you all.

We got home safely.  Chico urged me to go for a hike as he went up the stairs alternating legs. He napped.  I grabbed my phone and headed out in a sudden snow squall.  Lots of folk on the trail today.  Clearer at the top.  Four white tailed deer on the way down.  Renewing.

Back in town I got to walk around the block with Kit and Yoko. Icing on the cake. 

Today's a work day.  Pool too.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I'm not much of a football fan but I really can't complain on this day.  I woke up with Bob Marley (Redemption Song) playing in my head and ended with (my beloved) Black Eyed Peas singing all of my favorites.  Too bad about the altered lyrics. 

On the Chico front: he is crutching all over the place.  Brought himself back alone from church today.  I was still shoveling!

We are enjoying the beauty of snow and snow and snow.