Don’t encourage amputees by telling them, “It could be worse.” Amputees will learn on their own that IT COULD BE WORSE, and they’ll use this thought to encourage themselves throughout the day.
I had FUN on my mind. I was heading out the door to meet my friend Elaine at 30th Street Station.
Even when 20 years have passed between us -- even when some of those years weren't kind – our time together is just like it always was!
|(...Except I hope not quite|
Elaine hails from the booming metropolis of Lewiston, Idaho. But last week, she and her family vacationed in New York City. And she dedicated one day of that trip to see ME!
When I spot her at 30th Street Station, she's waving, wielding a huge Elaine smile. Already, the day is a victory for both of us. I've walked from the car to the train platform, almost a half-mile. She's navigated both New Jersey Transit and Septa -- an admirable feat for an Idahoan!
As we're departing the station, Elaine declares the day a GIRLVENTURE, a term she's coined for stepping out of her comfort zone. I'm more than ready to agree!
Like you’re swimming slowly through someone’s head, taking note of their thoughts and dreams – uncommon, artistic, and strange.
Elaine and I spend our last hour together on the edge of Chinatown, sampling summer rolls and grape leaves at Vietnam Palace. (She says these delicacies are scarce in Idaho!)
“Is it safe to drive?” I ask, figuring I’ll take it to my friend (and mechanic) Jim over the weekend.
While they work on the brakes, I pace back and forth, logging another mile on their short stretch of sidewalk.
Unfortunately, that night things screech to yet another halt.
There’s a gas leak on my street. At 9:15, the gas company pounds on my door -- just after I've removed my prosthesis. I hop to my bedroom window. The neighbors outside yell, “Gas leak!!!” (Very helpful to my state of panic.) As fast as possible, I pull on both leg and pants.
It's now 10 p.m., and I am in full blown "fight-or-flight" mode. With the gas company drilling outside, I know I’ll stay up all night worrying. So I fly. To my parents' house.
He raises his eyebrows. "Your worst?" he says.
The next night, I end up in the ER with a bowel obstruction.
|Saturday, 1:30 a.m.|
Duane wheels me into my new home.
But it turns out, the hospital is an excellent place to remind yourself that IT COULD BE WORSE.
|(Sneaky photo by Mark,|
Dr. K and Dr. P keep a close eye on me. The CT Scan shows this obstruction is in a different place than the ones last year.
"But I don't understand," I say. "I've been so careful!"
"You didn't do anything to cause it," they tell me. "And there's nothing you can do to prevent it." On the surface, this sounds reassuring; underneath, it rocks with uncertainty.
When I start to feel better, the nurses disconnect me from the machines so I can take a short walk around the unit -- no easy task with an IV port in my hand and an NG tube dangling from my nostril!
When I'm finally allowed clear liquids, Mark brings me tea from Dunkin' Donuts.
A handful of friends and family drop by. On my last night, I even get a surprise visit from one of my favorite surgeons, Dr. J!
Two years ago, I knew nothing of NG tubes, prostheses, or IV cocktails. And I definitely did not have the hospital ER on speed dial.
My friend Ashley -- who happens to be a nurse -- stops by my room at the end of her shift. She tells me they only give out that ER phone number to "gold card" members. We both laugh.
Special thanks to the staff of 7 West for keeping me comfortable and safe on this leg of my journey!