I feel like I’ve seen a lifetime’s worth of doctors’ offices in the past two years. I find it’s actually a treat for me when I see a doctor who has nothing to do with my injury. If I go in with a cough, I’m just another patient with a cough– not a spinal cord case with a cough. Maybe it’s a form of denial but it returns me to a certain state of normalcy which I savor.
Yesterday I went to the dentist. A lot of the staff there know about my condition and they are very accommodating. Our conversations on the subject tend to be fairly one-sided since my mouth is usually full of fingers and dental tools and they mercifully only ask yes-or-no questions.
At yesterday’s visit, though, there were more than a few opportunities to chit-chat. (I was having a crown made which involved short bursts of activity followed by waiting periods) and the curiosity burst forth.
One technician knew I had a serious injury but was asking about the details. The dentist knew my whole story and was curious about recent developments. Another tech had no idea about any of it and began by asking if I had to rush back to work that afternoon. When I came back with my standard (glib) reply that I’m in a period of “forced retirement,” she wondered how I managed to retire at my age, so I had to retell my entire story.
It’s not like it’s such a chore to have to talk about all this but it makes me focus on my limitations– the things I can’t do, the injury, the surgery... the bad stuff. I found that after having reviewed the last two years, I was left a little demoralized.
It was then that I realized that a good deal of my attitude during my recovery has been based on a healthy denial. I can’t pretend it all never happened but I try not to dwell on “what was” and “what might have been.”
I keep moving forward, mentally and physically, because I won’t acknowledge that there are insurmountable obstacles: it’s not as if I don‘t accept that there is brickwall in front of me; I just choose to believe that the wall also has a door.