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The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

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and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

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« The Knife - Finding Spirituality in a World of Pain | Main | Soft Tissue Sarcoma 101 »
Sunday
May042014

Broken Words

I now have spinal cord stimulator leads along my entire spine. Well, almost my entire spine. My tailbone feels a little left out, as does the base of my skull. I consider them virgin territory. As for the rest of it, this has been the most painful recovery from any surgery I've had to date. During this time, my therapy dog, Reggie has undergone surgeries to remove malignant tumors along his back and side. Our backs mimic one another with trailed staples - taking the dog looks like its owner thing a little bit too far.

Blogging has been therapeutic. Each procedure or surgery has left me needing to explain the process for others, or purge the experience in words - somehow diluting the impression it left on my soul. But this last time, something shifted inside. After surgery the pain level was so high I had little left to say. Words evaded me, lurking behind thoughts too far away for me to grasp. I had the feeling you get when you have studied a topic for so long that you wonder how much could possibly be left to learn, or to share with others. How much more can one human being go through before words are so fragile they break into letters and randomly fall from the sky. I tried to pull them together - to write about the addition of more leads into my spine and drilling of my vertebrae. I wanted to describe what it's like to lay face down on an operating table while surgeons insert metal wires through your skin without anesthesia. My fingers grasping into the sheet and tears flowing into a puddle beneath my nose. How the anesthesiologist could not find tissues, explaining they had to keep me awake so I could tell them where I felt the electric currents in my spine before I went to sleep.

I wanted to write about sleep.

I wanted to write about something different. About how every night in every dream I walked and ran and could only vaguely recall a time when the only coats I saw - were white.

This morning I scrolled through my Facebook feed - the first thing I do each day - and stopped on images posted of an event with many of my friends. In that moment, I felt sad. In that moment I resorted to my childhood when jealousy made me quiet. When I turned a shade of green. Perhaps this might be a good sign, that a feistiness still lurks beneath; a longing to still belong. But I don't like this feeling, because it is much like the feeling of being left behind. And in that moment I did not like myself. I wondered who I am. Of course I can't control the fact I'm unable to go anywhere. I should be happy for loved ones enjoying life!

When dealing with a chronic condition, life sheds many skins. Dinner and a show is a picnic on pillows with our children parading a fashion show in A Capella song. Drinks come with bendy-straws and lunch with the girls is to-go.

Don't get me wrong. Treasured friends visit and have gone above and beyond all measures to make sure I feel loved. I could not be more fortunate than to have the support system I do. So, in moments when my I feel the self-pitty sneak in, I need to remind myself that this is not the end. I am so close to understanding what my future will be. This last surgery should be the final straw in this camel's broken back. Healing from this one will take about six months, and therapy begins again. I can now take gentle steps for a couple of minutes at a time. If I bend forward and face the floor as I stand I can actually bare a stride. It may look funny, but to me it is a sign. That perhaps one day soon I will be posting images from the outside world with friends. Until then, there is a very exclusive, invitation-only party with my dog I must attend.

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