Before I begin, I must admit that I am overwhelmed and astonished by the touching and heartfelt comments that were left after the last blog. I am learning just how powerful words can be, especially when they are directed towards yours truly, so again thanks to all of you for your incredible support. Sure the blog is about me naturally, but use it anyway you can.
I have always been a very private person and have been innately programmed to persevere life with an almost discreet quality. It’s actually very unlike me to share myself with the world, so this blogging actually bears a certain foreign nature and an element of discomfort to me. In fact after posting it, if not for my claim to fame wife Linda, I would have deleted it without hesitation. I really am uncomfortable with public attention and much prefer going along quietly, efficiently, unhearldly accomplishing whatever it is necessary, without drawing attention to myself as that is to me much more comfortable and my “norm." It wasn't until my friends Meg, Dr. Roth, Linda and my amazing buddy Wheelchair Kamikaze (click here) , inspired me to express myself on paper for its therapeutic and rehabilitative properties. Ironically, the Kamikaze and I were acquainted during our attempt at CCSVI Liberation (which I will discuss some other time) where we chatted in Dr. Sclafani's Booklyn, NY office and joined the ranks of "successful failures" as he put it.
Anyway, Oprah Winfrey has without question brought popularity to the term “aha moment.” So much that several companies have ran with the coined phrase, leading to company slogans, and in some cases a cease and desist letter from Oprah and her team. I don’t believe she has a trademark on the phrase, and until today I don’t think I really ever knew what she meant. That was until I ran into Brenda.
I have been partaking in physical therapy at The Rehab Institute of Michigan every Tuesday and Thursday. It really is nothing more than a pain in the ass, driving to Novi in rush hour traffic, sitting amongst miles and miles of cars, unloading the walker and dragging myself into the facility like a deer that was spined by an errant bullet from a hunter, and complaining back and forth with all the other physically challenged patients. Nonetheless , it’s a necessity to use it or lose it, and today I was ironically actually excited to commence a different type of exercise, pool therapy: Turned out the pool was a cool 95 degrees, and other than my resemblance of Superman to kryptonite,(heat is not a friend of MS patients) it felt nice to actually “walk” unassisted. Unfortunately I couldn’t use the stairs to get into the pool and had to be lowered in by a mechanical device that looks like a lifeguard stand with a boom and plastic chair attached. The chair has a seatbelt and plastic guardrail that would surround my midsection and slowly yet methodically place me into the pool. It wasn’t a year ago I was swimming forty laps in an Olympic sized pool daily, unassisted, without any “lowering” devices.
My therapist, who shall remain unnamed, has about as much excitement in her as one of those dried up earthworms after a night of rain and a morning of sunshine. You know the kind that are dried up and usually run over by a tire? She walked me back and forth, stuck a few floaties around me, and stretched my legs a little. The heat of the water exacerbated my stiffness and spasms, and as my legs shook like a leaf on a tree in the gust of a windstorm, she barely noticed or commented, considering that delightful personality. After about twenty minutes she made her way out of the pool, lowered down the boom, and strapped the listless Greek back into the chair, raising me to the edge of the pool. As I was pulled from the water, the buoyancy diminished, and I returned to the overbearing sensation of trying to carry my own weight. After cooling off a few minutes I was wheeled off to the locker room where I was off to dress myself.
There was one of those long mirrors in the locker-room, and as I sat on the seat of the walker I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I am not sure if it was the evidence of my shriveled and pail sunless skin, or the lack of upper body muscle that I once prided myself on that put me in a state of shock. “God you are melting away”, I thought to myself, “and you can’t even get yourself into the pool”, what a fucking joke. After a quick round of tears, I slid my ass from the walker to the shower chair in an effort to clean up before getting off to work. My legs were still in full spasm from the water and the clonus, or the series of involuntary muscular contractions caused by neurological illness, and as I sat in the shower my feet smacked the floor repeatedly, performing a tap dance with the tile floor to the likes of Bo Jangles. I showered, composed myself, made my way to the reception area, and sat in the chair for a little while, cooling down and reflecting on the strain of what was only the last hour. Man I could swear that took like three hours…I was beat.
Once my body returned to its baseline temperature, I again dragged myself to the car, but was interrupted by Brenda, wheeling herself along with her caretaker to her car. Brenda had a nasty MS Flare that left her completely unable to walk, and after spending almost a month in the hospital and therapy, she was rebuilding strength in an effort to care for her two young children. Not an easy task for a single mother and to top things off her employer is a real prick and hasn’t allowed her back to work. She is a Veterinarian by trade, and if she worked as hard for that prick as she did for her therapist than he must be a real jerk to push her away, obviously provoked by his own fears. Apparently the Vet clinic is not handicap accessible, and her boss is clear on the fact that he is keeping it that way. Clearly illegal and just plain bullshit to treat her this way, as she went on with the story there in the middle of the parking lot I experienced my “aha moment.” Here I just went through my own hour of hell, but fortunately I was heading to work, unassisted, probably shouldn’t be driving, but doing so nonetheless, and when I finally do make it to work I will be greeted with jokes and smiles and scooter my way to my very own office. The thing really flies too! Who am I to complain? She would love to be able to go to work and provide for her two kids, but between the damage the MS has caused, and her despicable, rotten, selfish, and uncompassionate boss, she instead will begrudgingly be wheeled to the car and driven to her home, wishing, hoping, wondering, and praying that just maybe tomorrow will bring with it an opportunity to get back on her feet. Literally.
As I sat in the car, air condition blasting on a 58 degree day, I couldn’t help but feel saddened for her and her misfortune, and I thanked the Lord for the blessings he has bestowed upon me.