Thursday, March 13, 2008

A River in Egypt

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.


Anonymous said...

You could always just tell them your alien implant is acting up and is making you twitchy. Thats generally what I tell people when they get too nosey.


Marmalade said...

Good on ya, Robb. It's that sort of attitude that has brought you as far along as you are.
Go, Speed Racer, go!

Dale End Farm said...

Robb, I recently had to go through a similar thing with an application to a new job. My problem wasn't only physical, but I had to go through the whole story over and over, and it *did* feel bad. But you know what, it didn't feel as bad as the first and 20th times I had to explain it, because I have come very far with that as well.

I was widowed 26 years ago when I was very young, and whenever I have to include that fact in conversation I inevitably have to explain what happened. And I feel flippant because I am not as emotionally devastated as *I* feel that the listener thinks I should be. After all, it is 26 years, and I have remarried, gotten a new career, kids and everything. And it is tiresome to explain something that personal over and over again. But I do get used to it.

As things got further on in time, I developed a really short story, a shorter story, and a longer story, and a bosom buddies type of story to tell specific audiences.

I imagine this will happen for you too.

It's just that all of us people are fascinated and horrified by things that happen to other people "There but for the Grace of God go I." It is a human condition. And there are a certain group of people you will only have to ell once, and then they know, and then it will just remain a fact of you, at whatever stage you're in.

You have been living this status post spinal cord injury as a full time thing, just as my widowhood for me was a full time thing. But eventually, no matter where you are in your progress, it will not be a full time fact of your life, but just one of the interesting parts of you.

Dale End Farm


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