Wednesday, January 10, 2007

seriously, folks...

Things continue to be a bit solemn at our house, probably because of the fact that it is just about one year from the date of Robb's accident and spinal cord injury. Although the observations of these kinds of anniversaries are ultimately an artificial way in which to structure our lives, there is something very seductive about them. One can't help but asking, "am I where I thought I would be, at this point in my life's journey?"

The answer to that question varies from day to day.

Many months ago, we had asked Robb's neurosurgeon what the path of Robb's recovery might look like, if one were to plot it on a graph. Would it be a long, steady slope upwards? Would it be a staircase, with dramatic rises, followed by plateaus? Actually, we were told, the path is like a roller-coaster. There would be alternating improvements, and regressions. And Robb seems to be in the midst of a particularly bumpy phase, right now.

While Robb has been, up until recently, astonishingly optimistic about the entire outcome, I had somewhat been expecting a more gloomy turn in his mood. However, anticipating something and being able to deal with it when it arrives are two different things, and I'm actually a bit freaked out by his change in attitude. I think he and I need to be particularly careful in our own inter-personal dealings, so as not to get the day-to-day relationship stuff scrambled up with our feelings about Robb's recovery.

The above photo is a hiking picture from 2002.
I wish we were able to do this sort of walk, these days!


Martha said...

You two are absolutely amazing. You've been an inspiration to probably everyone who reads your blog. Relationships are difficult enough on a good day. I can't even imagine having such dramatic struggles as you two have gone through.

I know that with your wonderful outlook, humor and sensitivity you two will come out alright.


Anonymous said...

Taking a deep breath and having patience is a good way to get through things, all things will pass, remember that- it just sucks having to go through them when the ups and downs happen.

I anticipate Robb might be having changes happen to him if medication has recently been altered, or as his body's response to it also changes over time. Make sure you guys know what the side effects are that come with the stage he is at, as well as the meds- that goes a long way to helping understand what your going through now as well.

It's to be expected that this first anniversary will be a moment of reflection and frustration, no one else knows what you guys are going through, so spilling your guts here on your blog helps us all to understand and be supportive. When I was sick overseas for a year, the Docs told me it would take lots of drugs and rest and years of recovery- and they were right, and my condition was a heck of a lot less severe than what Robb is going through. Even though I suspect Robb isnt pooping blood in the bathroom, eh? Go ahead and file that under Too Much Information.

Knowing what you know NOW as opposed to the condition you both were in a year ago is helpful, believe it or not. You were not even sure if he would even sit upright. The pathway to recovery is a slow one, but your still on it, thank god. Remember that on the hard days.


Anonymous said...

This one's for Robb (warning - it's long!):

I know I've often expected that what is always in the process of changing to be graspable and even predictable. Because I've mistaken what is impermanent to be permanent, whether good or bad, I've suffered. Who knew so much was impermanent? The real beauty of the state you are in is that it is not permanent. And you really KNOW this. (Though it is something that is also true for all of us -- it's just that most of us can live in denial of that fact for a while!)

But Robb, you really really know this, deep inside. Where you are right now is not where you will be a year from now nor is it where you were a year ago. That is all you know. But it an important thing to know. Change will happen. The nature of the change is unknowable. But in the midst of this sense of impermanence and chaos is a gift. And one you have both generously shared with all of us. The gift of being whole present and alive and aware of the present moment as often as possible, even when it's painful - and leaning into that moment more often than shying away from it and seeking security or escape in either fantasies or fear. That is what really being alive is about. You have done that bravely. And so much more often than many of us have or could. But there is more to remember. . .

I remember when I spoke to you not long after you first came home from the hospital and you talked about how much more alive you felt in some moments, how much more humbled and aware of your capacity to feel things and ask for things that had been difficult in the past. Remember that, too. Even if nothing had changed physically, there were still some amazing epiphanies, changes, and deep growth there.

As you approach the anniversary of the accident it might be helpful to take stock of how far you've come, how much you've dealt with and how much more you know about yourself and your capacities and your relationship to others and the world than you did before this. Not to try to make yourself feel better or to change your state of mind or because it's something you feel like you SHOULD do to distract yourself from the shifting physical reality right now. But merely to mark the places that cheer you and that scare you and simply KNOW them. You can't know everything about where your BODY is at and so you are forced to read the unknowable through all of these shifting outward signs and signals. This is incredibly frustrating and causes suffering. But you can know where YOU (your mind, your emotions, yourself) are at and you can choose have nothing but curiosity about and patience for yourself. Be curious about the feelings you are having. Lean into them.

And be patient with yourself - and not just physically. Patience is not learned in safety. It is never learned when everything is harmonious and going well. And patience involves changing our habitual responses to both pleasure and pain so that we can continue to be as present and as curious about yourself and life and others in each moment, without thinking about where you THOUGHT you might be or about where HOPE you will be. Don’t try to push those thoughts away - they are inevitable right now. Simply label them as thoughts -- for that is all they are, nothing more -- acknowledge the thought, and then the next and then the next

I KNOW there will be things, wonderful things, you can not even imagine coming your way. Annalisa is right ( and sooo much more pithy!) You are still on the pathway. And if I know you, Robb; you're inclined to look up and at least take notice of the view, maybe even paint a picture of it for later -- and more than likely notice something cool on the horizon or on the path that the rest don't even notice. And there are many of us walking along in front, behind, and beside you. . .



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