The first signs of Spring, broken bones

Wow, what a long winter…..and yes, it is not officially Spring but one step out into the world and the first thing you notice in addition to huge piles of melting parking lot snow, is every other person seems to be wearing a cast or a sling from their time in the non Olympic events of snow and ice walking!

These are just a few of the first signs that we are headed out of our caves, looking for any sign of crocus and daffodils, birds chirping, dented car fenders, clogged gutters, dirty cars, crater pot holes, anything that can tell us we are headed in the right direction, we survived, we have made it thru. It felt like an endurance race this year, it felt like it took the discipline of doing traction to keep the winter blues at bay. Every few days another storm, another arctic blast, another blow to the idea that next week will be short sleeve weather. Heck, at some point you found your self giddy only wearing three layers and wondering what your reflection would look like without ice stuck to your scarf. Dark, cold days, traction had prepared you for non fun events, preparing for tomorrow when today wasn’t a bowl full of cherries.

Who knew looking out at the icicles hanging from the roof would be entertaining when you sat in traction. Or watching the fir trees sway in the snow and wind would remind you of sitting in the same place watching the same trees sway on gloriously warm, blue sky days.

Come snow, sleet, rain or heat, traction always has a story to tell.

Q and A

For some people so much of life is hard. People who don’t know that first hand should be on their knees saying thank you. So much of life is something we can’t comprehend, are we meant to ever understand. Are all the mysteries answered in the end? Is there a big question and answer session after we die, or is there more mystery, more discovery, more waiting to understand?

Some days, some times life is very predictable and simple, get up, go to work, come home, do what you need to do for the next day, be with family and go to bed and do it all over again the next day if you are lucky enough to do so. Other days your life experiences its own collapse, its own tsunami, its own personal September 11th. Your life blows up, maybe it just starts out as an ordinary Wednesday but by the end of it your life feels gutted, gone forever what ever you held most dear. Every day someone somewhere experiences that kind of pain, that kind of fear, that kind of despair. If you don’t know that, start counting your lucky days.

Just been thinking how much we all take for granted or how some folks just don’t seem to get it. They seem careless, not care free. They don’t seem to cherish the moments, the people who matter….maybe they don’t ever think about it….but some day their life will implode and they will be left on the side of the road wondering what the heck just happened. Hold tight to what you have, look up and say thanks to what ever you believe in and love more, do more, be more….we only go around once and the clock is ticking.

Tram courage, Traction courage

Traction has given me courage…….who knew…….Recently I was in a tram going up the side of a snow-covered mountain in the “last frontier” state of Alaska as I chatted with an older gentleman attempting to distract me when I realized I wasn’t afraid. I had a peace about me, it wasn’t new, I’ve felt it before, just not in the air…I’m not a big fan of heights. He seemed to sense this in me and chatted all the way, looking at me with his kind eyes and weathered face, almost saying, just keep looking at me and you won’t notice what is going on around you. Before I knew it we were tethering to the dock at our destination. The ride was fast and worth it. Beautiful snow-covered vistas, one after the other. A few years ago I would have never made the attempt, I probably would have never considered it.

Today when I was sitting in traction I realized it was one of my better days…the traction was easy, without much thought I had hooked myself up and was looking out at my pretty view….since I’ve moved I sit next to a window and I’m looking out near the treetops…it’s a sunny day and maybe the sun reminded me of Alaska…..although, Alaska isn’t known for its sun shine the views were filled with blue cloudless skies over the snowy mountain tops matching my color blue sky view today.

Traction has been a journey, to still be at it……and to still have the condition that leads to doing it…….for that not to change, for that to be my unforeseeable situation….it gives you courage over time…..you deal, you have pain, you feel ‘not good’ a lot of the time…..you struggle to find a place to be content and happy and when you find it you have survived. You have strength you didn’t have because you had to find it….you had to change, you had to make it better in a way that you could.

Traction, again,……I owe you.

Did you ever leave early and regret it?

Did you ever notice the people who leave the baseball game in the top of the ninth or the basketball game with two minutes to go or leave church before the last prayer? Where do you think they are going? I know I’ve been tempted to leave things early because sometimes in a crowd folks don’t have a lot a patience for the chick walking with a limp. If I’m using a cane it’s amazing how many times it has been kicked out from under me or the back of my shoe has been stepped into causing it to come off, literally folks at my heels.

As I “celebrate” the second year of this blog, third year of traction, I think back about all the times I did want to quit. All the times I left traction early or cut out on some exercises, but just as many or more did I stick with it, I’m still here. Although I clearly understand my reasons for wanting to leave traction early, even leave it in the dust, I also know I’d be missing out on something. It’s so tempting to not finish something that is so not fun, so not entertaining, so not pretty, so not anything I’d ever wish on you or anyone. But it’s not a sporting event or chosen event and as a result, I won’t beat the traffic, I won’t get home in time for my favorite TV show, or make my dinner reservation. Life isn’t always a simple, neat little package you can plan and organize.

Sitting in traction and writing this blog is for me, I benefit most, I suffer most when I don’t do it, when I leave early, when I stop caring. Many of the subjects of these blogs have been about mind over matter. In these few years I’ve not found a trick or a secret or a magic wand, I’ve just hung in there, some days more gracefully than others, some days more painfully than others, some days wanting to scream or cry or laugh my self silly at this gizmo and the tediousness of it all.

Is that why people leave the game early, are they bored, are they in a hurry, or are they a control freak like me that wants to be in charge of everything? You will not find the answer here but you will have time to think about it. I’m taking what this experience is offering, sometimes that doesn’t feel like much but it is SOMETHING and when I forget that, I’m in trouble. So for now, I’m watching the last pitch, listening to the sound of the buzzer and saying Amen with the few stragglers left in the pew because I don’t want to miss a minute of this thing called my life.

(ps, I should run thru this entry again to make sure it makes sense but again, that’s not what this is about, I need this blog to be here for me just as it is, to ramble, to whine, to laugh, to be. To help me get thru and today I don’t feel like making sure it all makes sense, does that make sense 😉

A Cloudy Day at the Beach

We’ve all experienced that day that we’ve looked forward to for months and it’s not quite what we imagined it would be. It may be the drizzle on the first day of our supposed sunny beach vacation or a stomach bug that keeps us from the party where we’d reconnect with old friends or some other disappointment that at the time seems so “unfair.” Then something rings our bell and we are reminded we live in an unfair world and if someone promised fairness, they lied. My pain has been bad lately and I’m a tired grump. I’m frustrated with thinking about a future without solutions to my spinal issues, where spinal transplants are still something out of the Jetsons and I’m left with a hand shake and “I wish you the best of luck” from yet another Neuro doc.

How funny is it that some days when we remember that cloudy beach day and how unfair we thought it was, how unhappy it made us, how our concerns where nothing more than rooting for a good weather report, how weird is it in hindsight when those days feel so selfish, so silly, so not the point of anything. I get so stuck, so caught up in the one tiny moment that I forget to think about all the moments, in all the places, in all the world. If I had just really looked at that ocean on a rainy day I’d see what a little speck of water I am, and although I believe in the importance of my speck showing up, there are plenty of other specks out there with far worse going on than a disappointment that will all but be forgotten in a week or two. Sometimes I tend to focus so much on the rain I forget to take in the ocean. My pain is as real as the rain and on cloudy days I easily get caught up in the moment, but looking back or borrowing on tomorrow is a waste of time, today is it baby, rain or shine, today is all we have!

Appliances with attitude!

Did you ever think about your appliances, large and small, having personalities of their own? I think my washing machine is lazy, the dryer is maniacal, toaster is short-tempered, the refrigerator is loud and never cleans up after itself and please, don’t even ask about the garbage disposal! As far as I know they have not come alive, I’m not Dwight K. Shrute, I don’t believe in robots and zombies taking over the world.

I’m just sitting here in cervical traction and thinking about how each of these household appliances takes an explanation for operating instructions, beyond the manufacturers’ recommendations. The washer seems to have a favorite cycle and if you ask for more than that you risk a Zumba dance recital in the laundry room. The dryer works over time, you have a heck of a time shutting it off, the toaster is feisty, cinnamon toast is beyond its job description, it seems everything has issues.

If I tried a house swap like in the movie, The Holiday between Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet characters I’d have to leave a dozen special directions. (I was always taken out of the moment with that movie because I couldn’t imagine being organized enough to turn my place over to a stranger in 24 hours!) I’ve often thought about renting out my place or letting a friend stay here while I stay with family; come to think about it I’m not sure how much of a headache I’d be leaving them. Maybe I’ve created these problems by not being more pro active with these silly machines. Calling in repair folks or just replacing them at the tenth sign of trouble. Yet somehow I’ve slowly accepted their faults, maybe I like knowing that in order for something to work you have to really “know it” or as my Mother would say, “sweet talk it.” There are people in our lives we have to “sweet talk” every so often and sometimes I have to “sweet talk” my own body to get it to do what I need it to do. In the morning I have to give myself a pep talk, to get these bones moving. I get tired of my body hurting and on a cold morning like this I am very tired of “managing pain” but maybe as a result I give more allowances when it comes to dealing with everything else in life. I realize nothing is perfect and I’ve not seen anything in a long time that even comes close, we all have weaknesses, we all could do a better job, some one is always there to point out another’s faults. Maybe not operating smoothly builds creativity, patience and cooperation in ways we’d never have guessed.

Trying to find the bright side today of waking up with swollen, stiff fingers, this after traction, traction, traction, oh, but I really like my stove!

Traction leftovers

By now most of us living in the US have probably eaten our turkey leftovers. The excitement has worn off, the potatoes have been reheated, the dressing is gone and the turkey, well, we will be ready for some more in about a month. That’s how I’m feeling today about traction, but I had to indulge in a little today and will have to do some more tomorrow…..how to make traction taste new again? I’ve certainly had my fill of traction and the thought of more is not pleasing but I will have to dive in again tomorrow because this neck of my won’t quit its’ ways. I’ve been at this roadblock before and I’ve overcome it so I’ll just have to rely on the things I’ve learned. Unlike the Thanksgiving leftovers, traction is in my house to stay. I’m dealing, that’s why I’m back to typing. Sometimes I can routinely sit here and sometimes I need a little motivation.

What do I look like?

That was my first thought today when a young man, appearing to be about 15 years old, sitting in the front passenger seat of the car that pulled up next to me at the gas station asked me a question. Another boy, looking 16 or 17 hopped out and started pumping gas and as he did the younger boy yelled over to me, “hey, do you have a cigarette?” I was flabbergasted and said no as I was shaking my head in amazement at the question. No one has asked me that question in many years. Before I sit here in traction and analyze why he asked me, what do I look like, somebody that smokes, was it my sunglasses, my youthful appearance, nope, I have a shitty spinal column, but I’m not delusional. I’ve already recognized he simply found himself in a convenient situation to ask. Yet, I do find myself focused on how sad the random experience left me feeling.

After I got over the shock of the question I wanted to ask him some questions, I wanted to preach to him, I wanted to tell him what a gift his health was, how fragile it will seem someday. I wanted to tell him, heck no I don’t have a cigarette, that stuff will kill you and you are too young, yada, yada, yada….but I felt like all he’d hear was the parental voice from the Charlie Brown animations and just see it as some crazy person at the gas station “yelling” at him.

All the things any reasonable person would want to say to a teenager about the dangers of smoking crossed my mind, but also came with it the bigger question, WHY! Why on earth in 2011 is a kid still asking to bum a cigarette and in a gas station where we could blow up no less!

I need to get out more, or maybe less.

Home Remedies

I was walking down a long corridor last week and an older gentleman came up next to me and said, “Excuse me Miss, mind if I ask why you’re limping, you seem like you’re in such pain.” The man had my immediate attention because he called me “Miss,” there could have been a time in my life where I wouldn’t have liked that term, but now I consider it a solid victory if someone doesn’t refer to me as “Mam.” He then quickly went on to add that he too has a limp and he wondered if my issues were related to my spine, he starts to tell me about his situation and then waits for me to answer. I briefly describe my problem, in part because I’m still a little thrown off by a complete stranger stopping me and asking me basically what feels like, “what’s wrong with you?,” but yet that has happened before, I’m really more interested in NOT standing in the hallway since standing is pretty much my least favorite thing on the planet. After I answer him he sympathizes and goes onto to describe his spinal surgery. As we end the conversation and I turn to head down the hall he wishes me well and says he’s sorry for my trouble. It sometimes feels weird to know what to say. I guess I do have “troubles” yet everyone does, mine just might be more obvious sometimes, but he was just trying to be kind or “help” in some way or at least that’s how I prefer to take our exchange.

Recently I’ve been encouraged to try a couple different home remedies. One is to prepare a cup of water like you would for tea but rather than adding your favorite flavor, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a spot of honey. Another one is to pour GIN over a cup of golden raisins and count out 11 every day to eat. The recipes come from folks that want to “help” and although I’m not sure I’ll be downing gin soaked raisins anytime soon I do feel some healing by the great compassion I’m shown.

I’d rather think of that while I’m sitting here in traction than all the crap going on in this world, don’t you just want a break from all of it, I’m so tired of hearing bad stuff. I’m overwhelmed by the news of horrific natural disasters, misery, suffering and economic world woes; everyday it seems there’s some awful thing worse than the day before.

So I’m asking, just please dear world, take a freaking time out and be nice!

ENOUGH already, come on, give the planet a break for a minute, let it rain where the ground is so cracked and parched it’s causing severe droughts and famine, sprinkle some tolerance and peace over massive parts of the world. Please help everyone to suck on a Pollyanna pill, calm down and be kind to one another for a day or two. “Help” each other, stop and talk to someone, just let us have a moment where we can still believe there is more right with this place than it being one giant mess, give us a splash of hope, please. Who knows, maybe a simple home remedy will make a difference.

In the meantime I am going to go sip some hot apple cider vinegar honey “tea” and try to think of something besides the negative, and then I’ll wait for the good to come, because I still have to believe it’s bigger than the bad. Cheers!

Yours truly, Pollyanna