69. Williamsburg

Taliaferro-Cole Summer Gardenby NH

Taliaferro-Cole Summer Garden by NH

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A little over a year ago we took our first vacation in my post-AVM life and the three of us trekked down to Williamsburg, VA.  Since I grew up in the DC area, the idea of going to Williamsburg has always been a big deal – it was my first big/overnight field trip.  We learned about it for months before going there in the 4th grade.  This time I think the goal was not to learn about our country’s beginnings, but to practice travelling so we could go to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving.

We stayed in a little time-share apartment, and I quite enjoyed myself, although I was super sick.  That was the time Tanpo had to go get me some smaller pills from the pharmacy and Mommy assisted him via cell.  It also happened that our vacation preceded the time that my discharge from Therapy was imminent.  I was as nervous about being discharged (or kicked out, I called it) as I had been about walking without holding on to anything.  My blood pressure was consistently high during the couple of months my therapists started prepping me verbally for leaving The Place.

I actually talked about it first with PT6 since I resisted the urge to talk to OT6 about it as I anticipated a higher probability of crying if I canvassed the subject with her (I was right, BTW).  They had suggested volunteerism/gym membership as a way to ease myself through the transition, but I declined, preferring a cold-turkey exit.  I explained to PT6 that since my injury my life has become one very long string of good-bye’s and I was not going to prolong another.   The one time I stopped laughing long enough to talk about all the things I was trying not to talk about with OT6 I admitted that I was nervous about leaving since Therapy was the only thing I knew since waking up.

Around that time I did a kneeling exercise with PT6 making sure I didn’t bite the dust.  He kept on asking me if my knees were okay, but apparently I wasn’t self-aware enough to know they were getting ripped up until I came home and actually saw the damage.  After that we didn’t do kneeling anymore, but since I’ve healed up in the ensuing year, PT37 has resurrected the kneeling exercise.  She even suggested I do some of my VT exercises while I kneel.  It will take my mind off of the kneeling as well as make me use my other body parts while keeping my balance – it’s like a 2 for 1 sale, she assured me.    At that point I think I fell over on the mat because I was so distracted by the thought she proffered I forgot to concentrate on remaining upright.

I have already decided to do the VT exercise with the marble and the pie plate (I really should get a marble.  I’ve been using a pretzel M & M but I want something I can’t consume after I’m done rolling it around.) when I practice my kneeling.  Our trip to Williamsburg was significant to me in that it was the first time I found myself able to kneel next to my bed for prayer.  I think the carpeted floor increased my desire to try kneeling since the wood in my bedroom is a little uninviting unless you put some significant padding down.

I am in no way inflexible in this notion, especially since kneeling is a real physical challenge for me now, but I do think the outward posture influences the inward attitude when praying.  Okay, let’s be frank.  Kneeling is also a very good way to stay awake.  I used a little green garden-kneeler (best $5 I ever spent at Target) to preserve my knees in OR.  It’s in storage now.

Now we all know from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade that “the penitent man kneels” (remember when Indy has to go through the booby-traps to get the grail to heal Sean Connery?), but kneeling signifies more to me than penitence.   You also kneel to get close to someone who is sitting in a chair and there’s no seat nearby for you.  Example 1:  Right after that fabulous scene in The Two Towers when Gandalf liberates the King of Rohan from Wormtongue’s poisonous influence, Eowyn (his niece) rushes over to him and since the King is naturally sitting on a throne she kneels/ sits at his feet so she can get close enough to embrace him.     Example 2:  I made friends with JJ’s maternal grandparents, the N’s, when I was living in OR.  They were missionaries in Africa among other places, and some of their children/grandchildren are following suit.    They had practical skills to teach me (“Mrs. N, I have zero garden-weeding experience, but I take direction pretty well”), and lots of wisdom to pass along, too.  One day when I was trying to ask Mr. N a question I knelt by his chair in the hallway at church so I could hear his answer.

The other reason I’ll always remember our trip to Williamsburg (besides the kneeling) is that I practiced as hard as I could so my physical condition would improve enough that I wouldn’t get “kicked out” of therapy – I was trying to get well enough (in 7 days) to be taken to the next level of rehabilitation.  My master plan did not work out.  I walked around that apartment without holding on to anything (it was so small I felt comfortable doing this), I practiced sitting down and getting up without using my hands as many times as I could in 30 seconds, and I even held on to the TV cabinet in my room and moved my legs like I was running.  I did that last thing just so I could see if I could move my legs like that – it was unrelated to my discharge avoidance. I did the other things to try and make myself get better even though PT6 would likely have been a little appalled at me trying some stuff on my own.  OT6 explained to me that I had to ask PT6’s permission before doing certain things, e.g. walking around my kitchen by leaning on the countertop.

Instead of influencing my discharge status when I returned to Rehab I had to report a fall (fall reporting was standard procedure).  I told PT6 I had been standing at the sink, washing my hands and minding my own beeswax when I was suddenly on the floor.  Sadly, I had even been leaning against the vanity.  I had maintained a wide base of balance (my feet were apart) and when PT6 asked me if my eyes were open I had to think about it but yes, they were open.

So my vigorous practicing had not hastened my recovery one iota and I was discharged after a couple more months.  That’s when I finally understood that things were not going to happen for me on my own timetable.  That’s also when I understood that God could make me okay with that.    I think leaving Therapy was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but by God’s grace, I did it.  The first time I had a major fall after being discharged Mommy told me I could be happy that I didn’t have to report it to anyone.  The other benefit of my Therapy Vacation was that I no longer had to seek permission to do things – so I soon ditched the walker and graduated myself to walking around with Leo the (single point) cane.  I informed PT37 that if she witnessed any improper cane usage on my part she was to correct it, and to also note that it wasn’t PT6’s fault – I had started using Leo myself.  (This is now a moot point since Leo no longer attends PT sessions.)

So in the end I knelt in submission to what I viewed as something scary enough to be avoided at all costs:  leaving Rehab.  When I did choose to submit myself to the circumstances I was being given I was sad.  I could still cry just thinking about it.  But at the moment of submission I also got close enough to God to receive what I needed to do what He was asking me to do.