Only good news and no change to report today. The big victory of yesterday was that the catheter came out and her bladder worked on its own. Those close to mom know that this has been quite a concern for her, as anyone with a SCI, and it gave her lots of trouble in 2002. So it was a huge relief yesterday when the water started flowing!
As it was the weekend, there were no physio staff around so she didn't get out for a walk, and her leg strength remains the same.
Mid-day she received an unexpected phone call from Dr. Fehlings himself. He said the reason he was calling was that he had left town the previous day and felt bad that he didn't get a chance to talk to her before leaving, as she was in the MRI machine...but dad and I think he is just trying to flirt with her. He said it is important to note that they have a three pronged approach. First, administration of a drug currently in clinical trials for acute spinal cord protection. Second, the use of steroids to reduce swelling around the cord and promote healing. Third, Lyndhurst the best rehab hospital around. Dr. Fehlings told Mom to get walking and then said, but we don't have to tell you that, because you have already shown us that.
She remains in ICU for another day, until the autonomic disreflexia is under control.
Learning to Listen by Margaree Forks
Well here is my chance to have a say, knowing the many folks who are reading Maureen’s blog will hear me. It feels rather strange to be writing, knowing it’s not just for myself. Knowing I am going to share what’s in my heart and there are people listening. What, given the chance to do this – do I want to say? What message do I have that could help someone else. To look inside and ask myself, “what’s the one thing that could have changed the direction of my life?”, might have made me notice the big signpost on the road that said: ‘Health and Wellness’ in one direction and ‘Chronic pain’ in the other.
My life got derailed and the gift of hindsight can now allow me a chance to look back and see where the accident happened. Not to point fingers and blame – perhaps in the beginning yes, but not now, well into the journey.
Let me start with that momentous chance meeting that led to an unexpected job offer and then BAM - the beginning of my career as Social Worker. Life can do that when you listen. You go to that lecture on a whim - and you meet that person who begins the dots … that eventually connect…and a beautiful tapestry begins, a road stretches out before you. A life path unfolds in the field that fulfills your inner passion. You are discovered. How cool is that, when the Universe orchestrates such a symphony? And that’s when I met Maureen – at that very first chance job. She trained me, coached me and I watched, learned and tried to emulate her style. What a bounty to have such a skilled communicator at this juncture in my life. The gift of synchronicity: dubbed by C.G. Jung loosely defined as the fortuitous intermeshing of events. Being open to discovery and acting on intuitive thoughts is pivotal to finding happiness.
I went on to complete my formal education in this field, while continuing to work full-time, both front line and then management. While doing all this I continued to raise my own children and watched them grow and blossom into loving and dynamic youth and then adults. They were extraordinary years, blessed with the rewards of parenthood and a thriving career. My husband often worked out of town, so I was sometimes stretched very thin, attempting to meet the needs of both career and mothering. Many women these days are caught in similar circumstances and I remember learning about the ‘Superwoman Syndrome’ from Linda Kavelin Popov author of The Virtues Project; she used to say “you can do it all, but not all at once.”
Eventually the Universe had to step in for me, and I had to quit the job I had loved so much. Sometimes you don’t know how exhausted you have been until it’s all over. I look back now on those years and say “Whoa Nellie, slow down, back off.” Although I loved it and not for another minute would I change it, I could not imagine doing it again. But a forced move due to my husband’s job meant a new city and a new opportunity for my life. Its funny – I remember Maureen telling me before I left, to write down my ‘dream life’ in this new city. Not just in my mind but ON PAPER. What did I want for myself? I still have that list. Part of it stated: I want a Part –Time position, front-line and of course with really good pay. So I slowed down, one momentous day of self-reflection and journaling. Bam. Got it again. So note to self: self-reflection and writing your goals down on paper– it really works!
I got my perfect job – a permanent part-time position and I loved it with a client group that was both challenging and fulfilling. Everything should have been great, and it was initially. For many years I worked happily and I’m not sure exactly when it happened - but fear and worry crept in. I know I was worried about some big life decisions - but I silenced the voice. I had had some losses, significant ones – and I tend to be a worrywart about my kids…. I accepted a full-time contract. I chose not to remember the fact that 3 days a week was the perfect fit for me and was what had kept me healthy.
Others can do full-time; I accepted that I could not at this time. I had lost work life balance, got too exhausted and too many light bulbs were burnt out - and not all had been replaced. Some were damaged. But at first it was just for 3 months, then another, and then it was finally up to 2 years. I got more and more tired but instead of slowing down and reflecting about my tiredness, figuring out what to do about it - I ‘ran’.
I ran half marathons. I ran fast. I’m a runner and a runner at heart. Running is a great exercise and lifestyle – but at that time I ran to get away from myself. The self that worried and stewed and didn’t do what Maureen so aptly suggested in her blog – that when you experience loss – you need to grieve and ‘feel fully’, because until you do that – you don’t really heal. I also remember reading something similar in the book Tuesdays with Morrie, which says a Buddhist belief states that until you ‘feel’ a loss fully – you do not detach. Too many deaths in my family in a short period of time had left me slightly broken. When I ran I went into a safety zone where I didn’t feel – a protective place for me, but unfortunately I think it stopped me from listening to and hearing my inner voice. I ran - until I developed a stress fracture in my pelvis - and then I continued to run. I ran with a fracture and somehow to the amazement of my Doctor and Physiotherapist blocked the pain I felt physically.
Then one day I could not run anymore. I was stopped. I could barely walk. Sometimes when you really don’t listen, after you have been sent many messages, God finally has to hit you over the head with a stop sign. Then and there began my journey with acute then chronic pain. That was 3 years ago. It has been a long road and I have learned much along the way. The first step was how to listen again. So my message for you here today, is to get in touch with that inner voice, your inner pilot light and learn to listen. Synchronicity will happen in your life. The dots will begin to connect. Remember that grieving takes time and it’s an important process. My inner voice had clearly yelled – “front line, part time, feel, grieve, cry”. I allowed myself to burn out once and here now came the second round. I will make it, I will return to health, but the second time, it’s not so easy to recover.
The second time for me has been an ongoing path of chronic pain. More on that another time.