its time for what may in some form become an annual ritual for the rest of my life: observance of an anniversary of the spinal cord injury visited on me july 11th, 2009. the first installment was written here last year, but even though this one will contain better news, i’m underwhelmed at the prospect of writing it. i hate writing about the injury and it’s subsequent domination of my life, even though my recovery has been something undeniably worth writing about. it bores me. it doesn’t feel creative; it’s just another unwanted part of post-injury life i’d rather do without.
writing is supposed to be cathartic, to help you express and understand your feelings constructively. in the likely event you’re angry with at&t or comcast, sending a profanity-laced missive may help. disillusioned with politics as usual? post snarky commentary on facebook. not sure how to tell your spouse how in love you are (never a problem for me!)? write a love letter.
grinding through an unbelievably difficult recovery from an unfair and devastatingly debilitating injury? oops. who do you write to about that one??
the answer is i write to you. i don’t do it in the belief that it will directly make me feel better, but rather in the hope that it will make you feel better; better about yourself, your life, your situation, or that it will cause you to take an action with that same result. maybe then my situation won’t seem like such a cruel waste of my time on earth. that actually would make me feel better.
all philosophical motivations aside, this is also just a good venue for recording the story of my progress as i continue to squeeze water from the stone. one significant measure of that is the fact that i’m typing this by hand rather than relying on dictation, although calling it “typing” is a bit generous. it’s certainly not the 70 words-per-minute abandon with which i used to tackle the keyboard. i’ll take it, though. a year ago tapping even a few words was exhausting and excruciating.
it’s still pretty tiring, but typing this is a good reflection of the bigger picture. i’m stronger and i hurt less, but far from home free. if the numbers i see at physical therapy are indicative, then i’m still only about 1/3 as strong as i was pre-injury, but that’s about twice where i was last july. at that time i could barely move the 10lb weight on the bench press machine. now i confidently knock out 3 sets of 8 reps with 30 lbs. i realize how pathetic those numbers sound when you say them out loud, but, again, i’ll take it. same thing with the 700-foot walk i was doing then – 6 minutes has become 4, and now i’m going uphill, outside, in the breeze.
and so, every day i move forward in these glacial increments. i’m nowhere near where i’d hoped to be at this point, but i get up every morning with the firm belief that by bedtime i’ll be bloody but a little closer. i tell people it’s like escaping from prison with a spoon; freedom is possible but you have to be willing to dig every day.