Part 7. In the Land of the Living


What did living look like?

On the outside, “living” didn’t look much different than “existing”. It was the conversation I was having with myself on the inside, with every action I took, that was different. For example, my energy level might have had me want to drop a shirt I was changing out of onto the floor. Instead, I would look at it, look at a hanger, and say to myself, “People who live hang up their shirts." I would reach for the hanger, "By my hanging up this shirt I am saying to the Universe, 'I choose to live.' ” When I would think twice about showering because, “who is really going to see me; I’m not going anywhere.” I would say instead, “People who live shower. By taking a shower, I am saying to the Universe, 'I choose to live.' ” “People who live put a dish in the dishwasher. By putting this dish in the dishwasher, I am saying, 'I choose to live.' ” Hanging up a shirt, showering, loading the dishwasher; mundane tasks that became intentions to live. 

Matt had said, “If you can’t do anything but lay on a couch you can still fight for your right to live…do a mantra.”

“I am happy, I am healthy, I am abundant, I am free.” Lying on the couch, brushing my teeth, or soaking up the sun on a patio chair, I would repeat that mantra over and over to myself. “I am happy, I am healthy, I am abundant, I am free.” “I am happy, I am healthy, I am abundant, I am free.” 

 He also said, “If you can’t do anything but lay on a couch, bless everyone you see on television.”

 The NBA playoffs were on, and my family and I were watching the games on TV. I would follow a player down the court saying, “May you be blessed with stamina.” To another player, “May you be blessed with confidence.” To the refs, “May you be blessed with objectivity.”Someone shooting a free throw, "May you be blessed.” Basketball games move quickly, “Oops, I missed that player, “May you be blessed!” “Oh, I think I already blessed that player, well he gets another one!” During a time out, to the grown man with the beer belly sitting behind the announcer's table wearing an official NBA team jersey, “May you be blessed with good health!” Dramas were easier than sporting events; they moved much slower and with less people on the screen. When I left the house I blessed people driving by in cars, walking the corridors of the hospital, buying produce at our local grocery store. Every time I blessed someone else I was getting out of my own "sad" story and serving the world in the only way available to me; by putting good energy, good intentions out there. In return, I benefited as my heart is/was the recipient of everything I say…whether to myself or others.

I had three goals back then, and, when accomplished, I would feel like I was in the Land of the Living again…getting off the pain medications, relearning to walk, and driving a car. The pain meds kept me from the later. At the height of the pain, I was taking 110 milligrams of Oxycontin/Oxycodone in a 24 hour period. I tried morphine once for one day; actually, one dose. Wes had to rub the top of my head for about an hour straight to keep me grounded. If he hadn’t, I think I would still be flying around the ethers. I don’t like my consciousness being messed with. During my call with Matt I expressed this sentiment about my consciousness. He matter-of-factly said, “Well, then set the intention that the pain meds effect the pain and leave your consciousness alone.” “Oh, I can do that?” I did set the intention and it helped.

I was worried at the time that coming off the pain meds would be difficult. I was fortunate; I had an easier time than many people I've known or heard about. Was it perhaps because I wasn't on the meds long enough; the dosage wasn't high enough; or perhaps it was because of the intention I had set? My hands would shake in the mornings, but I kept reducing the amounts, gradually, until I was down to 1/2 of one Oxycodone pill, about 2 1/2 mg. That one was the hardest to give up because it was like oil on rusty equipment. My body moved easier with it. There were a couple days where I thought about that 1/2 pill knowing how much better I would feel with it, but somehow I found the wherewithal to leave it alone. I have a lot of compassion for people who find themselves addicted; I had a taste of a world that can be easier to live in than the one we do.  

With one goal down, my attention turned to the business of relearning to walk.  I began physical therapy twice a week with Laura Clever, my most awesomest (I know that is not a word) PT. Laura explained that part of my pain, and part of my problem with walking was caused by two months of inactivity. The inactivity caused the fascia in the groin, hip, and leg areas to cement in place. “Move it or Lose it” is the saying as fascia, the collagen fibers that encase our entire body, need to be able to slide between the muscles, nerves, bones, and organs. That ability depends on movement; the inability causes pain as the fascia becomes "sticky." I began daily exercises and walking. A lap around our backyard was 117 steps. I did that the first day. Day two I did two laps, day three, three laps and so on. As I got up to double digits I would do some in the morning, some at night, pausing in between laps to rest my leg. I then ventured out to our neighborhood. At first our cul-de-sac, then the others, and finally I ventured out to many of the paths I took before the proverbial s__t hit the fan. Within two months a Fitbit indicated I would do in excess of 11,000 steps in a day. There would be a setback a few months later (August 2015), but fast forward to May of 2016. I went on a walk the other day and thought, “I wonder if I can run?” I’m sure the cars driving by were wondering, "Why is that middle-aged woman who is running so slowly, barely moving at all, smiling so brightly!" 

Two goals down, one to go, and I would be in the Land of the Living again! Do you remember the excitement/trepidation of being 16 and opening the driver door of the car for your first drive without your parents? The heart beats fast, a slight smile on the face as you slide onto the driver’s seat; a glance at the ignition, the key gets shoved in and turned to the right; the motor starts up. The right hand lets go of the key and joins the left on the steering wheel. The head looks up, followed by a deep breath, an exhale, and another smile. Another quick glance down so that the correct gear is selected, “D,” and the car begins to move forward. There’s that smile again. “I’m really getting to do this...Drive on my own...Freedom!” I got to feel that again after forty years, the first time I took myself for a drive last summer. I was smiling and I was crying. I was back! If the cars driving by noticed, I'm sure they were wondering, "Why is that middle-aged woman who is driving so slowly, barely moving at all, smiling and crying so brightly?"