Wow!  September’s here already!  Fall is about to begin and all the beautiful colors and cool, crisp days with it. It’s my favorite time of year, can you tell?

I hope you’ve all had a safe, yet enjoyable, summer.  We have.  But because of that surgery I had in June, our lives are still in a slightly more extreme state than many.  We’re still at the same level of quarantine as when the pandemic began in earnest last March.  Other than for follow-up appointments with my surgeon, I’m still house-bound.  While I recover, I’m still at a higher risk level.  But it’s not just for my health, but we’re still taking extra precautions because of my (soon to be) 82 year-old smoking, diabetic, wheelchair-bound father, who, as his doctor put it, if he becomes infected with Covid-19, that’s the end.

John Michael Thornton with a home made maskJohn is still the only member of our household who goes out semi-regularly and that’s just to do the shopping.  He’s our protector and hero.  And to try to help our hero, one day I jumped online and found out how to make masks.  So I cut up some old bed sheets and went to town.  Now’s he’s got quite a stylin’ look every time he goes someplace.  If you should run into him at the market, you won’t see his face, but you’ll know those kind and loving eyes.

Joe Thornton in a neck braceYou’ve all basically been with me on my surgical journey, so let me give you an idea of what’s going on and where we are now.  In case anyone needs it, here’s a recap.  I was diagnosed with a rare condition in my neck, which caused my spinal cord to be bent almost in half.  If untreated, I would most likely become paralyzed.  In June I had spinal surgery to correct the issues and they inserted two cadaver bones, a plate and six screws to fuse my vertebrae together.  Since then, I have been wearing a brace 24 x 7 (except when showering) and using an electro-magnetic bone growth stimulator four-hours every day.  However, in a couple of weeks I meet with the surgeon again for a status check.

So where are we now?  Right where we were when we started; still locked into this contraption and staying as immobilized as possible.  Still no bending, twisting, lifting, driving, etc.  

This kind of restricted movement, I believe, is difficult for everyone who’s had to experience it.  But before the surgery, I was told that this restriction of movement and the brace were only going to be for four-weeks.  I knew I could get through that… with some help from John and with some patience on my part.  However, we’re now approaching three-months of this.  I’m incredibly frustrated that I have to be this way so much longer than expected.  Personally, I believe setting realistic expectations is a good thing.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t done with me.  And while I’m being as patient as I can be, I don’t know if I’m patient enough.

In every situation and experience, we should learn something.  I know that what I’m meant to learn is this:

  • It’s okay to ask for help (which is really tough for me to do)
  • It’s okay that you’re not able to lend a hand and feel like you’re carrying your own weight (rather than feeling guilty that others have to do your share of the work… and believe me, it’s easy for me to feel guilty about things like that)
  • Patience.I need to learn to be more patient.

Three foundling pups lounging on the sofaSo, how am I doing with my lessons?  To be quite honest, I’m getting much, much better at asking for help.  I still apologize, but I am better at asking.  Besides, in a lot of situations, if I don’t ask for help, I’m stuck!

As for as letting other’s do your share of the work, well, that’s probably been the easiest since I’m just physically unable to do so many things.  I don’t like the fact that John has to do the chores that I normally do, but I simply have to accept it and be sure to show extra appreciation to John.  And I am truly grateful.

            That leads us back to the biggest lesson I’m learning:  Patience.  We all know patience is a virtue.  But I’m not so sure I’m doing as well as I’d like in the virtue department.  Don’t get me wrong, I am truly trying and trying hard every day!  But this is a tough lesson for me.  I love instant results.  Having patience means that you’re the tortoise not the hare.  It means you can wait and all in its time.  

I can be patient and calm, or I can be impatient and frustrated.  Patient, impatient.  Calm, frustrated.  To be or not to be.  

Some days I’m feeling rather virtuously patient.  Some days I’m not feeling all that virtuous.  

I find some days to be very frustrating.  I get frustrated with the situation, frustrated I can’t do the things I want to do and mostly frustrated with myself for getting frustrated.

I’d like to be able to sleep in my own bed, but the brace and the angle at which I need to sleep plus the fact that I sleep very little while being all trussed up like this, I would keep the dogs but John awake all night with me.  Not good. Instead, for the past three-months I’ve moved into our living room full-time.

Puppy Leia is looking at you quizzically I miss the little things in life, too.  Things like getting down on the floor and playing with our three puppies.  Even just feeding them.  I miss being able to help carry groceries into the house.  But alas, they are too heavy and I’m not allowed to lift them.  I would like to vacuum the living room, but that’s on the “too strenuous” list.  I would love to be able to mow the grass.  I actually love doing that; I find it soothing, very Zen.  

I know that everything will get back to normal.  It will.  But that’s where the whole patience thing comes into play.  

            My biggest lesson is patience.  

I can be patient and calm, or I can be impatient and frustrated.  

Patient, impatient.  

Calm, frustrated.  

To be virtuous or not to be virtuous.