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.
When one is in Paris you pinch yourself, when one is in the Louvre you shake your head at your luck, when one is in line to see the Mona Lisa you think the day can’t get any better.
Only thing that might if you let it get in the way of full happiness is that I was in a wheel chair. It helps me get around as easily as possible and see as much as possible, but I don’t like how I feel in a chair with wheels and sometimes I don’t like how folks treat me in one, but on occasion it is a necessary part of my life and I must deal with it. On to more important things, the Mona Lisa! So just at the moment when you think the best view you will have of this lovely lady is the backside of the rows of people in front of you a very tall man dressed as a museum guard points at you. He begins to speak to you in a language you pretend to understand much better than you actually do and somehow you do understand and before you know it he’s opening a gate for you and you are in a cordoned off area two feet from Mona Lisa. The crowd of hundreds is many feet behind you as you feel their jealousy and you stop and connect with your new friend. She is protected behind glass but you realize you are as humanly close to her as anyone other than museum staff ever gets to her. You know that she on this special day in your life, has smiled at you. Because of this chair with wheels and the problems your body has that put you in it to make this day possible to even be here has all come to this moment when Mona Lisa smiled at little old me and made me not only first in line but as close as possible! Thank you, you made my day, made me feel very special and I will never forget meeting you! Paris, you are not always an easy place for me, as people talk and walk very fast and bump into you and never look back, but in that moment a most famous painting and I had our moment and all is good!
PS. I haven’t posted in a while, well, two months or more. I was busier than I wanted to be but still doing traction. I missed you guys, I missed connecting with the group of folks I’ve created in my mind that cheer me on, some of you are very real and some probably not, but anyhoo, I’ve missed you and it is nice to be back.
As I was sitting in traction this morning pulling my neck with a ten pound bag of water I was watching a video on YouTube. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know that I’ve done a lot of things to distract myself while I’m sitting there passing the time. My neck hurts today, my fingers are numb and when I finished traction my back wanted to punish me. As far as life goes I had a good weekend, as far as my spine is concerned just seeing a snow less ski slope invokes a feeling of cruel and unusual treatment. Although I enjoyed time with family and watching my niece graduate surrounded by the Green Mountains of Vermont I also knew what was ahead for the week, recuperation from the travel, i.e., many hours lying flat on my back.
For me the ordinary things require a lot of me, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it’s just the way it is. From walking across the room to pulling laundry out of the washer, any activity that requires standing, holding a pen or even the telephone these days for more than a few minutes leads to my arm feeling numb and painful. Things aren’t going in the right direction for me in terms of my cervical and spinal conditions, but I’m trying, I’m not giving up. I’ve written before about the importance of that, how in moments that seems like victory enough. I’m ready for things to get better for me physically but unless I experience a miracle they probably won’t. I’m losing ground and sometimes that feels frightening, sad and frustrating but after watching a video of others experiencing their own challenges, surviving to tell their stories, I feel better. We aren’t alone in this fight, that gives us courage, it gives us the freedom to tell the truth. I’ve said this before and it’s worth stating again, life stinks, more than stinks and pushing forward a second at a time is a freaking victory.
Let’s do this thing people.
My favorite season is here, I love the Fall! This year I’ll get the special opportunity of experiencing two Autumns. I’m going to Vermont this week and I hope to see their color explosion show and then when I return home it will be time for the leaves to do their beautiful thing here. It’s sweater time, scarf and hat time, not too cold and snowy to change your plans time, but it’s not sweltering and sticky time.
Thank you for time marching on and for all that the Fall reminds me of, all that it brings back to me every year! Traction is going on the road and I’m packing this thing up as soon as I finish typing.
See you next month!
As I was sitting in traction recently in a hotel room at the Waldorf Astoria I was thinking about how many other people in the history of the beautiful hotel may have ever checked off another day of their cervical traction routine “hanging” in one of the lovely rooms. The hotel boasts that Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Durante and many more legends have all walked the block long lobby with golden columns and crystal chandeliers. The legendary bar, Sazerac, serves the strongest drinks I’ve ever drank and quickly helps you forget any traction woes. From the beach at the Hard Rock Hotel to the Holiday Inn Express, traction came along and hung over the doorways of all. I’m back home now staring at my own door frame and thinking about what might be the next hotel I sit in traction. I realize it doesn’t matter where it is or what floor or how beautiful or famous or not, my traction will come along and make it feel just like home.
So there’s a lot of hoopla over the upcoming “royal wedding.” Seems there are two camps, those that could care less or those that care a lot! Hands down best part of any of their weddings are the hats. Most either look like you could land a 747 on them or nest a lovely family of robins. Perhaps I could introduce this traction strap currently around my head as a trendy wedding guest fashion statement. Glue gun some feathers and a broken bird wing, (seems appropriate) and voila, a versatile, yet perfectly charming chapeau leaving the Brits to wonder what we’re up to over on our side of the pond.
When in London a big concern for me is avoiding being hit by a car. The cross walks get a little tricky, you know those little cars coming and going in the “wrong direction” can take you out if you have to use your makeshift cane for its intended purpose and keep the raindrops from melting your hair as you limp along a busy intersection. Other than the fear of being splat on the pavement in an unsightly, undignified, mortifying sort of way the UK is a fine place for a nice cup of tea with or without a homemade traction hat; but hold all the hoopla please.
(You know, some days even as I’m typing I really know there’s much cause to prove this thing is cutting off the circulation to the gray matter)
I’ve been thinking about all the hoopla over the TSA’s full body scans. I wonder what they can actually see, I mean is it sort of like a free CT or MRI? You know if the TSA agents were medically trained as well you could save such time and money! Just have them pass you a note when you’re in the seated area putting your shoes back on, “might want to get that spine looked at, looks like L5 is slipping a little.” Really, how convenient is that! Once you’ve seen your films up on the big screen at the doctor’s office there’s nothing to be shy about, actually it’s always nice to have a second opinion.
I’ve always felt the technicians know if there’s a problem but aren’t allowed to tell you what they see as soon as they pop you in the oven to bake, kind of like when they are extra nice you start to think, wow, I must be glowing inside there. I’ve always been so fortunate with all my technicians, so professional and kind. (here’s a little shout out to a great tech, Linda)
Well, posts don’t get much sillier than this, but think about it, the full body scan isn’t so bad, not only are you making sure the dude next to you isn’t packing a lead pipe it’s another opportunity for a liberating medical experience to see if all your parts are where they’re supposed to be. What’s not to love about that?
I was out-of-town for a couple of days recently and in the past I’ve always taken my traction gizmo with me. Its been hung on some pretty nice doors in Santa Monica, The Biltmore Inn, Sea Island, DC, it’s willing to go just as long as it’s packed like a Faberge egg. For whatever reason this time I thought I’d be ok to leave it at home, I didn’t take it to Massachusetts and that wasn’t the best idea. I had so much numbness in my arms and hands it was nuts. It’s weird because traction on the road is usually a nice break in the traction routine and even though it’s just as much of an inconvenience as ever you tell yourself life could be worse. When I sit in traction at home I don’t hear the ocean or have access to room service, it gives me a new door to stare at, maybe sometimes they are extra jazzy and have slates for my entertainment. What was I thinking?! The traction missed out on fall in New England!
So the moral of this story is, have traction will travel, always, never again will it be left behind!