Friday, June 25, 2010

Viewing Life Through My Mind's Eye . . .

Or Maybe I Just Need to See An Ophthalmologist?

First - (and I must say I'm quite proud to admit):  I just had a look at my 'To Do List' for today - 7 items to do, 6 items done!  Granted 5 of the 7 were phone calls to be made. But, hey, just last week, one phone call would have knocked me out for hours. I'm doing much better today.

Second sign that I am healing: My arm which was numb to the wrist is no longer numb! Yes, that means the herniated disc is receding and allowing the nerve to bounce back. The bad news is I still have weakness in the grip of my right hand. That's OK. I don't have the energy to hold on to anything heavier than a newspaper anyway, and luckily I'm left-handed, so not a huge problem right now.

Third and the most important reason to believe I'm headed in the right direction:  Slowly I've started cutting back on the morphine and finding (so far) I am still pain free and not suffering from withdrawal symptoms just yet. You can't know how happy I am about this. I am getting back to being my old self.  Well, not totally, but today I drove down to Trader Joe's, did a little shopping (being very careful to buy only what I could easily carry), drove home and actually made dinner (with my husband's help). OK, I did have a one and a half hour nap between the shopping and the dinner making but still, this is progress. 

Meanwhile, I saw my physical therapist, Wayne last week and he showed me how to make my very own cervical traction contraption so I can spend time being in traction twice daily. This supposedly will help relieve the pressure of the herniated disc on my impinged nerve. Before Wayne gave me the printed instructions on how to construct this very simple device, he handed me a paper to sign saying I wouldn't kill myself by knowingly misusing it (implying suicide by towel and rope) or unknowingly (implying I might overdose on my pain meds, put my head face down on the towel and thus accidentally asphyxiate myself which apparently has happened before). So far, I'm happy to tell you I haven't been tempted either way.

Otherwise not much else to report. When I take the time to reflect on my life as it was BHD (before herniated disc) and try to imagine how it might be after I'm "healed", I realize this is another one of those 'aha moments' - one similar to the one I had soon after my mastectomy/reconstruction over eight years ago. Then someone asked me if I was looking forward to getting my life back to normal.  My first thought was my life will never be 'normal' again. But then upon further reflection, I realized the real truth of the matter, that this was my 'new normal'. That my body would never be the same as it was before all the surgeries nor would I. From that moment on, I realized the life I was living was my 'new normal'. 

So here's how it begins this time in my mind's eye:  I work my way off the pain medications, hoping to be pain free but always aware of the fact that at anytime, the pain can and probably will return to throw me off balance. Hoping beyond hope to once again be my 'normal' self in the studio, I see myself effortlessly wedging clay into conical shapes. I take one and slap onto the center of the wheel. With wet hands and a water-filled sponge held lightly in the right, I bend over and with my elbows pressed down onto my thighs for stability, I put all the weight of my upper body into my arms and hands which are cupped around the clay as the wheel turns at top speed.  Very soon, I pressure this lump of clay into the beginnings of one of my lovingly crafted vessels. 

Or perhaps, being more realistic, I may have to find a way to accept that this may never be part of my new normal.  I may have to accept the fact that my mind's eye can't even begin to see what a picture of new normal might look like.

Hey, do you think 3D glasses would help?

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