193. Tanpo’s Greatest Hits

In the Garden || AVM Recovery 3rd Hospital || Ann Ning Learning How

Yesterday was Father’s Day.  2 years ago I got a “Community Pass” from RIO (3rd Hospital) and my nurse M helped me get ready so my parents could take me to church.  It was the last time I went to W and I wasn’t aware enough to understand what was happening.  I was just kind of like, okay, whatever.  Although I thought that you couldn’t really make ALL those people conspire to act like I got sick at the same time, so maybe this did really happen.  I haven’t been back yet, but I really want to try and go soon – it’s just that i have to go on summer vacay at Boo Boo’s first, and then schedule my vocal cord procedure.  In that order.

I was just dozing with my iPod on and a Paul Baloche song came on and I woke up with a jolt because it made me think of going back to church in Oregon (I learned that song there), and I think I have a teensy bit of anxiety attached to going back.  Because 2 years ago I wasn’t very aware of my situation, but now I’m acutely aware, and if I’m not making a concerted effort to not be sad it can take me by surprise.

Here’s a quote from 102.  The Power of Choice

In general, once I had a better understanding about my situation, I have tried not to be too sad in front of Tanpo because he’s sad enough for me as it is. I’ve also given him a bit of a tough time – before I got sick, I was like, “Dad, I want to go to Africa.” Then I had this big brain thing, woke up after a month+, and the first time we were alone I informed him, “Dad, I still want to go to Africa.” It was Father’s Day.

Heh, heh.  That was after we went to church that Sunday, and I still had some time before I had to check back into the hospital so we lunched at the cafeteria downstairs.  Mommy was in line and Tanpo was sitting with me so I took the opportunity to make my intentions clear.  This is only one of the many funny things that have happened since I got sick and came home to stir the pot.  Well, they might be funnier for me than for Dad.  But still.  I heard my Mother’s Day post was a bit of a tear-jerker, so I’d like to give you something a little more light-hearted.  There are several more instances of me and Tanpo giving each other a hard time that I could have posted, but I limited my selections to the two below.  Happy Father’s Day!


7.  An Infinite Do Loop

Walking the loop

Walking the loop

Tanpo and I went walking on Friday and walked the “loop” in our neighborhood for the second time in my post-AVM life.  This has actually been a goal of mine since I woke up in the 2nd Hospital and was chattering away, making lists of things I wanted to do when we got home.  I told Mom where we needed to go shopping, and restaurants we needed to eat at, and I said I wanted to go walking with Dad but needed him to promise to hold my hand since after his triple bypass in ’09 I used to march him around the neighborhood but he refused to hold hands with me since he thought it was safer to meet oncoming traffic if we walked single-file.  Dad said he’d hold my hand now, but my hands are occupied.  I usually push Charles my Rice Baby (a stroller weighed down with 20 lbs. of basmati) when we go outside, but since E&R borrowed him to go on a Smithsonian field trip I pushed Jack, my blue transport chair.  The loop is only 1.8 miles long, and it used to take a leisurely 20 minutes, but this time it took an hour and I needed to rest periodically in some random driveways.  If Mommy had been home she would have come to collect me in the car around the 40-minute mark, but Mom was at the grocery store,  and Dad’s evaluation of my physical condition indicated that a little rest in the shade would give me the boost I needed to walk several yards, so we eventually made it back home with me pushing the chair, not riding in it.

It felt like I was on the never-ending walk, and in a lot of ways, this entire experience is like an infinite do-loop.  I’m not a coder by any means, but I took an intro to VBA course in B-school where we scoured our VBA for Dummies textbooks and emailed each other our models when they got stuck doing the same thing over and over and we were hoping a fresh set of eyes would uncover the infinite do-loop that was messing us up.  I definitely feel like a hamster on a wheel as I struggle to regain the ground I lost this past summer as my left leg began to act up.  I learned early on in Physical Therapy, however, that “the goal is for you to tell me before you pass out,” and then I met hardcore PT6 and his equally hardcore intern, PT7, so I’m used to people who mean business.  I shouldn’t be surprised that Tanpo is one of them – my prior experience points to this tendency in him, I was just hoping to play on his paternal sympathies.  Oh well.  I think that he thinks the best thing he can do for me is push me to do more.  So he does.

But its not just regaining lost ground that makes me feel like a hamster on a wheel – it’s every day living.  At the same time that I love to celebrate life’s events with my friends, every time I learn of a new home, a baby born, or a promotion won my happiness is tinged with longing.  It’s a longing for the kind of life that isn’t mine right now.  I suppose, though, that lots of people feel the same way, meaning that they are in an infinite do-loop.  Maybe it goes like this:  Get up, go to work, fight traffic, put a square meal on the table, help with homework, supervise bath time, enforce bedtime, go to bed yourself, get up and do it again.  I used to do that, minus the kid-related things, of course, and I was happy about it, because my life, although quiet, was purposeful.

A friend shared a B. Moore quote with me recently that said something like how we can live with pain a whole lot better than we can live with purposelessness.  So when I think about my life today, yes, there’s pain, but it’s still purposeful – I’m just in “waiting mode” to see what the purpose is.  In general, though, pain happens, but purposelessness doesn’t have to.

18.  Dad, tell me that thing again…

The "Spine Place" at Planet Rehab - note the fun spine artwork

The “Spine Place” at Planet Rehab – note the fun spine artwork

I went for a nice walk with PT37 in the Therapeutic Garden at Planet Rehab on Thursday.  Leo the Cane stayed behind in the gym since one of my goals is to walk sans assistive device, so we’re practicing.  Now I know I said it was a goal but I kind of assumed we were going to work up to it.  Mommy, however, has allied herself with PT37 and now just hands her Leo when we meet in the waiting room before Therapy.  Anyway, the weather was so beautiful and there were nice long pathways that were also wide – perfect for fitting a wheelchair or two people (one with an abnormally wide stance, like me).  After a long downward slope we came to an outdoor staircase.  It was actually more like 4 mini-flights and PT37 just said three words:  “Up the middle.”  I tried to hide my horror, but I think she sensed it since she assured me that she was right beside me, and I could feel her holding the gait belt firmly in back of me, so there really was nothing for me to do except follow instructions.

If I ever hesitated at The Place I’d hear PT6 start talking and I’d look at him out of the corner of my eye since turning my head entirely is risky in that if I’m not looking where I’m going the likelihood of falling increases exponentially.  “I’m still with you,” he’d say, or some variation thereof, but the rough translation was always, “Get a move on because I won’t let you fall.”  I could usually sense the couple of fingers PT6 kept on the back of my gait belt, but if I couldn’t I’d peer into any reflective surface we passed to verify his location.

I once heard OT6 coaxing a patient out of his wheelchair.  His session was after mine and I could see what was going on from my vantage point on the recumbent bike.  He was sitting back in his chair, refusing to budge, and OT6 told him with great conviction, “I promise:  I willnot let you fall.”  I think twenty years of experience lent her voice credibility and pretty soon that man was out of his chair, pushing that giant shopping cart across the gym like I used to do.

So the promise of fall-prevention, or just the mere knowledge that a licensed professional is standing next to me has been enough to get me to do all sorts of things in Therapy I’d never do otherwise.  This pattern became more prevalent when I became an outpatient.  As an inpatient I think fall-prevention was more implied than spoken, plus I didn’t really care at that point – I just did as I was told.   We were busy doing things like sitting, standing, and steering a walker while keeping it on the floor, so the risk factor was lower in general.  When I returned to Therapy at The New Place in August one of the evaluation tasks was a “Dynamic Gait Test.”  This included walking and then turning my head left/right/up/down when PT30 said so.  When she explained the instructions to me my face must have been like, Ummm…I think you’re insane – because PT29 immediately put her clipboard down and told me she’d hold my belt while I did this.  That was all I needed to hear, and I immediately focused on walking down the hall without any further ado.

I haven’t felt fear like what I felt about learning how to walk, or how to climb stairs without holding on to anything, since I woke up in the 2nd Hospital.  I wasn’t lucid at that point and I had no recollection of Mommy telling me what happened for the past month+ so when I woke up I was really confused.  I was so scared I’d say anything to delay my parents’ departure for the night.  Once I said, “Dad, tell me that thing again about ‘Immanuel, God with us.’”  I knew Dad had been enjoying a meditation on this subject and had shared it with me the day before in an attempt to show me how I didn’t need to be afraid.  Tanpo drew a chair up to my bedside and settled in and I triumphantly rested in the fact that I had gained an extra 10-15 minutes. (Side note:  Mom says she had no idea how naughty I was until I got sick.  I’ve always known my capacity for naughtiness.  I think it took some skill to hide it from my own mother for 30 years!)

Now that I’ve moved beyond that early stage of fear and disorientation I’ve realized that aloneness is still an anxiety-trigger for me, but knowing someone’s got your back is a powerful antidote.  If I ever lift the curtain (even just a little) on how painful it is for me to watch life pass me by while I clutch my stuffed horse (no offense, Ed), even the people nearest to my heart don’t know what to say.  I don’t blame them at all – I certainly wouldn’t know what to say, and I’m not sure if there’s anything really to be said in a situation like this.  I’m just grateful for their presence and their willingness to play my game of, “Let’s pretend nothing happened!”  So yes, this situation has been incredibly isolating, but I just have to remind myself that I’m not alone.

Matthew 28.20 “…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”


This one ALWAYS makes me laugh:

12B. Codebreaker

12B. Codebreaker

4 thoughts on “193. Tanpo’s Greatest Hits

  1. So one of my favorite Father’s Day memories (maybe it wasn’t even fathers day, but just felt like one) involves you and Tanpo!! Do you remember? My dad was in town on business, and so your family invited us to come for lunch on Sunday. I can’t remember if A and T were already married and she wasn’t there, or if she was helping Mom-mo in the kitchen. While lunch was being prepared, Tanpo had you, my dad and I come into the family room. He decided an impromptu piano concert would be a nice treat for the fathers. So he had you and I each take a turn playing the same piece…”My Father’s Favorite Things” from “Sense and Sensibility”. heehee.. He was sooo pleased with his idea and our performances. I can still see the expression on his face. 🙂 Remembering this event also reminded me of his mimicking different characters from Jane Austen movies….just makes me laugh.. heehee…such fun memories! 🙂

    • That is SO funny, and although I don’t recall this incident, it’s quite easy to imagine! I still like that song – but I think my music book is in Oregon. At least he didn’t make you sing! Although I’m sure he thought about it :).

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