Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Dog Days Are Almost Over

For the first time in many days, I am alone, sitting in my dining room, which has no table. My stepsons were here for a few days, fulfilling my birthday gift request: that the entire family be together for the first time since Thanksgiving.
The cicadas are singing along to “Dog Days Are Over.” They shed their nymph shells a few weeks ago, leaving brown exoskeletons scattered over my yard – paper-thin and perfectly detailed duplicates of the cicada’s body pre-emergence.
This has been a summer of change for me, and like a cicada nymph, I’ve emerged from an exoskeletal shell and am learning to use the wings I’ve grown in all the summer’s transitions.

I wrote a blog a few months ago about how a friend told me back in March that until I learned to live within the space of my new life with the same strength and determination with which I lost weight, I would be forever grasping for and holding on to bogus and temporary securities. He said I had to let the loneliness maul me, to feel it to my core and to not run away. In time, he said, it wouldn’t hurt as much and I would be stronger.

I took that challenge and allowed the loneliness to wash over me. I was in the middle of the mauling when my brother Marty had his seizure at the end of June. When he was released from the hospital a few weeks later, I went to Minneapolis to help in whatever way I could. I cried when I was dropped off at the Pittsburgh airport July 18. I cried for my brother and I cried for me. I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to go. I was afraid. I had no idea what to expect or if I was up to what waited for me there.

I worked on shedding that fear on the plane while drinking a first-class glass of wine (Literally, it was the wine they serve first-class passengers, since they’d run out of the cheap stuff they serve coach. And for my “inconvenience,” they gave it to me for free. *smile*) So while sipping said wine, I thought about my strengths: A) I am a mother; B) I used to be the secretary for the senior vice-president of a large general contractor (think airports and sports stadiums, many you’ve probably been to); and C) I’m a practicing Buddhist (I always forget that one). I possess super-human organizational skills and a little more patience than I once had, so whatever was waiting for me in Minneapolis was up against a somewhat powerful force. At least, that’s what I told myself. It and the wine helped.

Long story short, I hit the ground running. The mauling continued, but it loaned me (or “borrowed” me, if you’re from Minnesota) some strength and determination. For facing my fear, I was rewarded with a closer relationship with my brothers. Although I’d prefer the three of us hadn’t gained this closeness because of a brain injury, I’m glad for the trust it has created between us and the trust that I developed in myself. I continue to advocate on behalf of my brother and to keep his schedule from 1,000 miles away, and will go back to Minneapolis in a week. Only this time I won’t cry at the airport.

Some of you might remember that last year I was going to go back to school to become a dietary technician. The divorce, the move and the mauling made that impossible. So, too, did a worsening of the osteoarthritis in my knees, wrists and shoulders. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t blog as much as I used to. The main reason is because 1) sitting for and 2) typing longer than an hour is difficult. Dietary tech classes are mostly online and require several hours a day of writing and computer reading, so I gave up on going to school and, while I was at it, blogging, too.

But feeling sorry for myself is not a favorite pastime and it was making my family nuts. It was hard to accept that I needed help, but it was harder to stay locked in self-sympathy. Hmmm…where had I felt that before? Ah, yes, back in 2004, when I understood that losing weight would be a long and life-changing process, but that it would be even harder to stay 300 pounds. I’d shed my skin then, I could shed it again now.

So in May, I called the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and began working with a woman named Sara, who helped me think through what I wanted to be when I grew up. After evaluating my physical “issues,” she hooked me up with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Institute for Rehabilitation and Research and its Center for Assistive Technology. Last week I met John, a rehabilitation engineer, who took on my “issues” as a challenge to find the most adaptive computer equipment possible. Among other things, he recommended I use this:
Have any of you used speech recognition software before? I’m anxious to give it a try, but I have a feeling it will be like learning a new language. Or maybe it will be like a microwave. Just like, “How did we ever heat up leftovers before the microwave?” maybe in a few months I’ll be wondering how I ever typed without talking.

My friend assured me the mauling would eventually become a scratch and then a gentle touch and in time I’d come out on the other side stronger. In this shedding of my nymph shell, I find myself somewhere between a scratch and a gentle touch, definitely stronger and definitely happier. Sort of like the happiness Florence and the Machine sing about.

Happiness hit her like a train on a track
Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with her drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming
So you better run




7 comments:

Silvia @oronowest said...

Dragon is like a microwave. You install it, you start it, you read a text (read a long one!) and basically train the program to your way of pronouncing words and that's it. You talk away and dragon types it all out, in blogs, email, Word, any program.

Make sure to always use the same headset.

I used it when I broke my shoulder and typing with one hand would drive me crazy.

Lori said...

Are you my twin? I was just looking yesterday at purchasing Dragon! My job is typing all day and I am feeling the effects of that, so I was looking into getting it.

E. Jane said...

Such an honest, heartfelt post, Lynn. I have also nearly stopped blogging, in part because of my arm injury in May. I have also not been writing for the same reason. I'm healing, but have a long way to go. This Dragon program is very interesting to me. I'm going to look into it.

debby said...

Lynn! So good to hear from you. The longer you go without blogging, the more frequently I check on your blog! Today I was thinking about sending you an email to just say Hey! and to see if you were okay.

Wow. I could relate to what you said. I just don't like asking for help. thus, the state of my house... but that's another story.

And wow again. I didn't think of it when I was reading your blog, but reading the comments made me realize that this might be something I want to check out for when I have my carpal tunnel surgery!

Dingwoman said...

Oh Lynn, I haven't posted in years but started reading your blog again about a week ago. (I was the one who put you onto Kath Eats Real Food a long while back.) You are a ROCKSTAR sister! This is one of the most beautiful and well-written pieces I have ever read. I am in awe of your ability to articulate the extraordinary metamorphosis you have been going through... body, mind, heart, spirit and soul.

I read your post Saturday night and smiled wide because I love the "Dog Days are Over" song. Continued to think about your post later when I turned on the tv for a few minutes, and WHO was on but Florence, on SNL, just starting to sing Dog Days... She sang so powerfully. Is there any chance you saw it or can check it out online? The song built and built... And I wanted to jump out of bed and dance or do some type of sun salutation right there!

I bet that song is her testimony.

Thank you for sharing, and LIVING yours.

Sara

Laura N said...

I despise cicadas (they are loud, garish things) but I loved this post. You are such a brave, intelligent, giving, strong person.

I hope the voice recog. equipment works for you. It has to be very difficult for you not to write as long as you want to. You are so gifted at writing. Hopefully this will help.

krista said...

I've almost stopped blogging on about a million and one occasions - a few times I've actually planned on selling my blogs all together - thankfully I was smart enough to stick it out, and now I'm so happy I did. I couldn't imagine life without my blogs