Posts Tagged ‘wheelchair’

Silver Lining

July 28, 2014

“Look on the sunny side of life,” Mister Chet Baker crooned as I grumped back into my studio this afternoon.

I really wasn’t interested in looking on the sunny side of life or seeing the silver lining, but it sure was funny timing, that song coming on just as I was battling the self-pity tears.

I never even got to get a good self-pity party on, hadn’t even donned my little hat with the upside down frowning faces in yellow and the sad pom-pom sitting askew on the pointed tip.


I pretty much got perspective immediately.

And information that I was grateful for.

Though upset when I first had gotten it.

I just wanted to go to the grocery store.

Not the one that is a block and a half away from my house either, the one that is four blocks away from the house.

I had decided this morning after getting up and feeling pretty good with my ankle, did the alphabet in my bed with my toes (this is a rehabilitation exercise, you’re supposed to imagine that you are holding a pencil in between your toes and write the alphabet with it-helps to work the ankle and rebuild the muscle) and stretched and it felt good.

Good enough to seriously entertain riding my bicycle.

I was nervous about it, I realized after eating breakfast and having coffee while I was writing my morning pages, but I figured, you know, time to get back on the bike, and four blocks was going to be easy.

I turned over the load of laundry in the dryer and proceeded to stare with longing at my bike.

Give it a shot.

You can do this.

I feel good.

I feel strong.

I got this.

I feel nervous and maybe I don’t got this but maybe I am going to try anyhow.

My bicycle needed a touch of maintenance, I haven’t ridden her since the night of the accident, June 5th, so seven and a half weeks, no bicycle riding for me, that is a length of time.

I haven’t gone that long without being in the saddle since I started riding in the city eight years ago.

I have missed my sparkling speedy whip, I had fantasies about riding it to work this week, I am really over MUNI, but I thought, start slow, go to the market at Noriega and 46th and see how you feel, if you feel ok, then maybe a ride along the Great Highway.

All flat, all easy, nothing that I would have thought twice about riding in the past.

I went to my bike, “hello friend, I’ve missed you,” I patted the saddle and lifted my two u-locks off the handle bars and pulled her away from the wall.

Both tires needed air, I pumped them up and felt scared again, maybe this is too soon.

Maybe I should just forget this.

Maybe I should just chill out and stick my foot on the pedal and shut it.

I swung my right leg over and slipped my foot into the Hold Fast strap (foot retention device on the pedal similar to a cage, but adjustable and much cooler looking, if I do say so), I adjusted it to fit my Saucony.

I was uncomfortable with how my foot felt in my shoe and how it fit in the Hold Fast, so I adjusted it a little and fantasized about wearing my Converse, which I know better, but I am just going for a little bike ride.

I could hear the story in my head as I told the doctor in the ER.


So, no Converse, just stay with your good shoe, and open up the strap.



On to the left foot, the injured foot.

I back pedaled, took my right foot out of the Hold Fast strap and set it down, steadying myself, I placed my left foot into the strap on the pedal.

I felt wildly unbalanced.

I never set down my right foot when I am at a stop.

I am left footed.

Right handed, but left footed, don’t ask me why, but I kick better from my left foot, and I have always planted my left foot down on the pavement when on my bicycle and at a stop.

I sighed, it feels weird, but I can go slow and maybe I will just turn the pedal over and not wear the strap at all.

I got off the bike and went inside to grab my messenger bag.

I said a prayer and went to it.

I took my bike out into the world.

I opened the garage door and swung my leg over the top bar.

I put my right foot in the strap, squared my shoulders, looked for traffic, and pushed off.

I put my left foot on the top of the pedal and pushed down.


Oh ouch.

I pedaled one more revolution.

More pain.



I had gone five feet.

I got off my bicycle and walked it back to the garage.

Ok, God, I got it.

I am not supposed to be on my bicycle.


My heart hurt, I really wanted my freedom, I really wanted my wheels underneath me, I really wanted to go grocery shopping at Noriega Produce Market.

I shut the bike up in the garage and went inside to take a minute to collect myself.

I turned on the stereo cube and the song that randomly comes on, Chet Baker, there’s a silver lining, just look on the sunny side of life.

I couldn’t help to break a chagrined smile.



I can do that.

I am not on crutches.

I am not hobbling about in a walking boot.

I can walk to Other Avenues, it’s just a block and a half away.

I have money to buy groceries.

I paid rent for August already.

I have a job to go to tomorrow.

I turned off the stereo, walked outside and headed to the closer market.

I turned the corner from 46th to Judah and saw a man in a motorized wheelchair climb up the little hill between 46th and 45th.


I get it.

There’s nothing wrong.

And I will get back on my bicycle.

Just not this week.

And until then.

I am able to walk and I get to ride MUNI and I get to go to work.

Silver lining.

Another way of saying perspective.

I got mine today.

T-Minus Sunday

June 29, 2014

And counting.

One more day before I fly home to Wisconsin.

Not really home, this home.

Wisconsin ceased being home a long time ago, almost twelve years ago now, and I am not going back to the part of Wisconsin that I grew up in.

I am going to Hudson, Wisconsin where my best friend and her skulk live.

I am excited to see them.

And I realized today, anxious.

A feeling I am not particularly fond of and one I would prefer to not feel and also one that it took me a minute to identify that I was having.



I did not know that was what was happening.

This is actually astounding progress for me.

First that I identified that I was having a feeling.

And that the feeling was not “shit” or “fat” or “fucked.”

“Fat” is not a feeling.




That’s a feeling.

Some shame.

Yeah, there’s that too.

And then the anxiety.

The nice thing about feelings is that they pass.

By the time I was finished with my commitment for the evening it was gone.  I got to check in about it with someone and talk and of course there’s anxiety.


Traveling is an anxiety inducing affair, even if I am excited about the trip.  Sometimes, too, I will confuse the excitement for anxiety or vice versa.

And I am not one hundred percent me, ankle stuff and all, and so yeah, this is all a different kind of travel than I am used to.

I also am feeling a bit of anxiety about returning to work.

Will I be ready?

Will I fuck up the ankle more?

Will I be able to handle the kids?

I believe yes to the former and not the latter, and I believe that the free-floating feeling of “there’s something wrong” is just a tendency of an ill mind to try to get me to fabricate a crisis where there is none.

There’s nothing wrong.

My bills are paid.

(Thank you friends again and again and again.)

My ducks are in a row.

I even have a TSA approved travel toilette bag.


I investigated getting the wheel chair today online, to wheel me through the airport on the way to the flight.

Turns out that SFO won’t do it for you, per se, you have to contact the airline that you are traveling via, itself.

Basically I will request it when I pull up to check in for my flight.  I won’t go inside and print of my ticket, I will go curb side to Delta and request the wheelchair at that point.  I will also check into my flight there as well instead of checking in at one of the kiosks.

I may ask my ride to actually come and get me just a tiny bit earlier to make sure I sail through on time.

I don’t believe I will actually need more time, but I would rather have it than not.

Needless to say I will be requesting it, “the chariot” as a dear heart said I should think of it, and I will ask to be seated outside my assigned seat if I can be made more comfortable.

I don’t think I can get the extra leg room in the cabin by sitting in the exit row, you have to be physically capable of assisting others, and well, I would love to play hero, but perhaps not on this flight.

I have a feeling though that the flight won’t be packed, it’s an odd time of day to fly out and it’s a Monday flight to Minneapolis, I think it will be fine.

It feels fine anyhow.

I don’t have much to do tomorrow.

Take care of packing my suitcase, doing a little laundry, taking a shower, having a normal day, whatever “normal” looks like.

Today it was have tea with a confidant for an hour on the back porch and do a lot of inventory.

I also called a lot of folks just to check in and say hi and see how my friends were doing.

I got some sun.

I sat and flipped through a Vogue magazine.

I ate nice meals that I cooked for myself.

I drank lots of tea.


I edited more of my book.

It feels good to have done some work on that and to be moving forward with it.  I can see the piece getting cleaner and the showing, not the telling is happening.

I also love seeing the comments from my friend, it’s great to have a reader who can point out, this doesn’t make sense to me, this works, this doesn’t, try this not that, this is awkward, this works, but not so much this here, “you’re showing, not telling” is a big one and it is a pet peeve of mine to be told rather than shown.

I want the experience to be like watching a movie, so the more I can show what is happening the better that feeling will come across.

It feels quite satisfying to have had some distance and some time and perspective away from it and to be reading it bound, my friend bound it for me when he edited the manuscript, I am making notes in the margin and finding fresh ways to retell it in the details rather than in the use of adjectives and superlatives.

Extraordinary too, to relive the story.

Because it’s not just a story, it’s my history, it’s my interpretation, really or my history at that time in my life.

My perspective on the time has changed seismically, however, in just a sentence or two, I can be right back there, in the meat of it, in the city, on the Lake, where a lot of the action takes place, down in the Florida Keys, in and around Homestead, Florida, I am right there participating in the action.

And I see it.

Now I just need to have you see it.

I don’t want to describe that feeling.

I don’t want to say I am anxious.

I want you to see me sitting and bouncing a leg or wringing my hands, re-tracing the lifeline on my right hand while holding a cigarette in my left, over and over again.

I want the description of the action to be palpable and thick so you don’t have to hear the feelings, you can see them loud and clear.


Don’t tell.

I wrote a book.

Anyone can write a book.

Now I want to write a book that is readable.

I want to tell a story that is consumable.

I want you to want more when you are finished.

I want to inflame the appetite.

Of course going back to Wisconsin is going to arouse anxiety.

I am heading back to that place where I vowed to leave twelve years ago to become the next great American novelist and I shall return not having published or finished writing that great novel of mine.

That is ego.

That is not why I am going.

I am not going back to prove a point or be anyone other than myself.

Because my friend wants me, not the idea of me.

The idea of me can stay home.

I have better things to carry onto the plane.

Or wheelchair on to the plane.

As the case may be.


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