Small Steps and Big Adventures

I don’t know if the title of this post should be “Small Steps and Big Adventures” or “Small Adventures and Big Steps.” Nor do I know which are the steps and which the adventures. Perhaps each activity is a bit of both.

Although I have been using speech recognition software for my blogs, today, in the interest of physical therapy, I am typing by hand. Two hands. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

The effort to type probably falls more in the category of masochism rather than a step or an adventure. My real adventure came the day after my “I Have a Secret” post. Not wanting to spend another day dealing with the emotional side effects of my injury, I made plans to meet a friend for ice cream. Normally, this would be a simple and quick pleasure — drive for ten minutes straight down the closest major road to the ice cream shop. But when one is not able to drive — it’s too dangerous to drive one-armed in traffic, especially under the influence of pain pills, and without the pills, I would be in too much pain — the trip is more complicated, involving buses and transfers, and two hours of travel time one way. But I did it! And it was nice. A small adventure and a simple pleasure.

Yesterday a friend took me shopping, which is always wonderful. We stopped for lunch, had a good time, decided to do the thirty-day cleansing diet (no grains, milk products, legumes, or sweeteners of any kind) starting on Monday. And I promised to stop by ballet class for barre work on Tuesday. Both of those (the diet and dance) were major decisions. I haven’t been feeling well — understandable because of the pain, the continued effects of the injury, and my attempts at rehabilitation — but some of my malaise, I am sure, is due to my need for treats and poisons. (Hot dogs, potato chips, and soda. And jellybeans. Oh, my. How low I have fallen!) I hope the stringent diet will help me get back into more sensible eating habits.

The dance class promise is more problematic. I don’t want to go back to class. I feel as if the deformed arm and resulting disability are a direct result from dancing (or indirect, since I was walking out of the theater after a performance when I fell), and though people tell me I can’t feel that way, I can’t help it. Besides, the injury is way too severe to come from something that was supposed to be fun. Even more than that, I am not ready to confront all I have lost — there is too much I can’t do, too much I shouldn’t do, at least not yet. And most of all, I took dance classes to bring me to life after Jeff died, and now here I am, right back where I was — in agony.

But . . . I promised. So I will go. I also said I would try to get to Hawaiian class tomorrow. We’ll see. (I’m using a photo of me in a costume in the hope it would make me feel better about going, but it doesn’t seem to be working.)

The main thing that happened is that I took a shower!!! All by myself!!! The last time I took a shower, I had help. For the past two months, I’ve been washing my hair in the sink and taking one-handed sponge baths, but my new bathroom (private!) came with a shower chair, so today I took the plunge.

A shower should not be such a big deal. I spent decades showering by myself. And yet, today, showering (and typing) are huge steps. Painful steps, but still steps. The hardest part about all these steps and adventures is trying not to look back at what was or forward to what will or won’t be, but taking it from here.

My brother, the mostly sane one, has a golf metaphor about hitting a ball into a sand trap. Once you’re there, you can’t worry about how you got into the mess. You have to assess the situation and go from there.

Well, I assessed this situation and decided I much prefer speech recognition software. It is a lot less painful.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”) Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

12 Responses to “Small Steps and Big Adventures”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    You’re doing the cleanse? And I thought we Jews were masochistic for doing the Passover diet 8 days out of the year (only 6 days to go!).
    The negative feelings about ballet class are completely normal. A couple of months back, I came down with something that seriously upset my stomach and kept me sitting on the toilet for a while. I don’t know what it was that I came down with, but right before it got really bad, I was at a dinner party with an open bar, and I’m pretty sure the alcohol exacerbated things to the point that I had to head home early. I did not touch alcohol for a month! But, once I decided to try a drink, despite all the strong mental barriers I’d put up, once I made a decision to flip a switch and have a drink, it was a simple thing, and I enjoyed it.
    Now, do I still drink less than I used to? Yes. Was my aversion to alcohol nearly as bad as your feelings about dance? Probably far from them? But does the principle apply? Yes.
    Whatever you decide to do, Pat, if you do go to dance class, I think you’ll find it’s very simple to get right back into it, and maybe with a smile when you do.

  2. LordBeariOfBow Says:

    After I’d had my gastrectomy (isn’t that a great word?) I was on a morphine drip for a few; or several not sure now; days, after which it was switched off and I was given a small pill every 12 hours, to relieve any pain that I may have been in, although I never was in any real pain; anyway the pill was prescribed for me after leaving hospital.

    Perhaps your doctor will prescribe them for you,They are called Targin and they are an excellent pill which slowly releases whatever is inside it over 12 hour which gives complete relief. Come to think of it this is probably why I was never in any pain.

    I’m not too sure about the Hawai’ian dancing, doesn’t that involve weaving/waving the arms and hands around quite a bit? A spot of ballroom dancing would be okay I suppose, you’d have some bloke to rest the arm and hand on.

  3. Constance Says:

    You seem to have it together. You look beautiful in your Hawaiian Costume. Just take it easy and things will get even better.

  4. Charlotte M. Liebel Says:

    Fantastic that you have speech recognition software, your bath is like discovering a creek, your brother knows how to spread his sense of humor and, best of all, your photo is rich with color displaying an absolutely gorgeous head of hair. Of course, tweaking activities with your sense of humor had me giggling, Pat, and best wishes for a restful sleep.

    P.S. Googled: removing the smell of smoke and most suggestions recommend leaving a bowl of baking soda out, and sprinkling it about over carpets, and curtains. White Vinegar is the other item… make a spray to spread around. =Both are my stand-by odor eaters.= Also, fill a room with lots of green leafy plants to help absorb the odors. Green tea has anti-bacterial properties that knock out the stink.

    {{Hugs}} Charlotte M Liebel (Sharliebel)

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