Falling Down and Getting Back Up Again

Hook hasn’t fallen down so no worries there.  That title actually applies to me and I’ll get to that in a moment, but first a quick update on Hook for all those Hook groupies out there.

The Amazing Power of Hook’s Body

The last of the I.V.s was removed on Friday when Hook met with his surgeon for his post hospital, double-release check-up.  At the appointment, Hook shared some of his concerns with the surgeon about what he felt was still a failure to thrive (he’s kind of stuck on that).  The doctor told him, “Walking a block for you right now is the equivalent of running a half marathon for someone else.”

HDU_menAbs

This is not Hook’s real stomach but it could be!

That was eye-opening for Hook and his surgeon’s remark put his progress into perspective.  He’s been frustrated with not being able to do more. He’s not able to drive liked he used to, he’s not able to eat whatever he wants, he’s not able to do a lot of the things he used to do before.  But he’s healing every day, getting stronger, and I might add, getting back to some of his ornery ways which I take as a very good sign.

And, I just peeked at his stomach and am happy to report that he still has the abs of a 20-year old.   Although there is a visible incision on his abdomen, it is so diminished since that first day after surgery that I only expect the slightest hint of a scar when he’s fully healed.  Ditto for the holes on the sides of his stomach–yes, holes– where tubes came out to extract stuff you don’t want me to describe.  Now I can barely notice there were ever any holes at all.

For those of you wondering whether to email/text Hook, I think he would enjoy hearing from you.  If he doesn’t respond right away, it’s because he has a ton of work email to catch up on.

The Amazing Power of The Mind

A few months agRunners and joggers on the hike and bike trail town lake austin, Texas, USAo, I fell while running the Town Lake trail.  Actually, it was a stumble that turned into a fall as my left knee scraped across the dirt trail while both of my hands slid forward and my left elbow smashed into a rock jutting out from the trail.

HDU_TownLakearm

This is my real arm before the bacteria started to multiply!

From the photo Hook took of my forearm, it might be tough for you to imagine how deep the wound in my elbow was which had to be treated for an infection with antibiotics because green pus starting coming out of it within 24 hours.   That’s how people get gangrene and are forced to have limbs amputated at least that’s what I was running around the house saying to frighten myself into seeing a doctor.  It didn’t help that Hook fanned the flames of my fear by telling me that bacterial cells divide every twenty minutes.  This meant that my infected cells (approximately 100,000) were multiplying by the “hundreds of thousands” the longer I waited to get started on antibiotics.  Such were the wild bacterial times in the Hook house.

I mention the fall because after I fell the first time, I waited for a couple of weeks before returning to the trail.  When I returned, I fell again.  It was almost comical the second time as my foot slipped on that same damn rock.  My mouth started to form an O-shape, all of it happening in slow motion, with a thought floating through my head: I can’t believe I’m going to fall again.  It was more a trip that second time but my hands still slammed onto the ground. A week after that second fall I tripped, for the third time, in almost the exact same spot.  I did one of those numbers where you lose balance and you have to put your hands out in front of your body to steady yourself.   There was nothing wrong with the trail.  I’ve run that spot on and off for the past 12 years.  I just wasn’t ready to run yet.

If You Can’t Run Then Walk

Once Hook was discharged from the hospital the first time, I slowly and I mean slooowly went back to a walking regimen, not a running one, because I knew I needed to walk before I could run.  I’m not intentionally trying to sound like a cliche, but quite frankly, I was plain afraid of falling even while walking.  Part of my job as Hook’s caretaker, though, was to get him outside to walk once to twice a day.  In the beginning that was tough because all Hook wanted to do was sleep, a major side affect of his medications, and all I wanted to do was not fall.  Eventually, we got into a groove with Hook walking to regain strength and me walking to regain balance.

It’s hard for me to resist writing some feel good platitudes about this whole falling phase because who falls three times in the same place except a drunk person.  But I was worn down mentally and physically and I wasn’t even the one going through chemo and radiation.  If I was that worn down, what must Hook have been feeling and all of it before an incredibly invasive surgery.

So I’m writing today to tell you to walk until you can run.   By walking, I mean do whatever it is that you need to do to keep making progress, however you define progress for yourself.  And if you’re searching for the strength to get back on a trail or a particular path in your life, remember there’s a guy in Austin, Texas, named Hook who struggles every day to be just a little bit stronger by walking two street blocks which his doctor has said is another man’s marathon.   There’s also a woman in Austin, Texas, who is a major klutz but who needed to fall three times before she finally took a big, fat break.

No worries if you fall so long as you keep getting back up again and you keep trying.

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7 thoughts on “Falling Down and Getting Back Up Again

  1. My mom was the same way after her surgery — couldn’t walk from her bedroom to the kitchen without being exhausted. It took months for her to regain her strength enough to walk around the loop in her neighborhood which is a little less than one mile. One year later and she’s pretty much back to normal going on day hikes and stuff. The surgery they both had is similar and it involved touching/moving around several organs. That takes awhile to heal from! It’ll take time and it’s tough but Hook will get it back and crawling around looking for bugs soon enough. Just be patient and be sure to work at it little by little. It’ll come.

  2. You have put into words exactly how I felt last year when Greg was constantly in and out of the hospital for heart surgeries and procedures! One step at a time…he’s doing well, but we still have to take things slower than before. Gives us the opportunity to listen and think more effectively to all that is around us. We can make concious efforts for our goals instead of plowing into something and finding we learned nothing and accomplished little more. I find that also with music and performing. You can play something, but it may not be accurately executed until you take it slow, listen for the right notes, focus on one hand, then the other, the rhythm, bowings, etc. and gradually get the passage faster until it flows and becomes real music rather than just notes.

    Keep plugging and fighting! We’re all rooting for you. Much love, Amy

  3. My cousin Michael had open-heart surgery 3 or 4 weeks into his marriage. He was strong, powerful, and in fantastic shape. A few days after coming home from the hospital, he insisted his new wife go back to work, that he would be fine by himself at home. At mid-day, he thought he’d take a walk around the block. After getting down his walkway to the sidewalk, and halfway to the edge of his yard, he didn’t think he’d be able to get back to the front door. He didn’t believe how tired he was and totally incapable of walking another step (although he did – back to the front door).

    It takes time to heal and time to get back to how it was, or as close to how it was as it’s ever going to be.

    As they say in Costa Rica – poco a poco.

    Sending extra patience and energy your way…..
    Barb

  4. Lordy Lordy I thought I was the clumsiest fo the family…so glad you & Hook are strill striving. You continue to inspire me, especially loved the last paragraph. Love to you both!

  5. Oh my God. Rosemary, tell me you aren’t following in my mother’s footsteps (a little play on words). Do be careful (says Mom Emily). You were probably more worn out than you thought and certainly preoccupied. Anyway, I’m glad you’re at least walking, because I know you enjoy it. — And tell Alan that he is certainly thriving. Sounds to me like he is making good progress. Good night, or should I say Good morning (being the night owl I am, I’ll still be up for a long time.) Emily

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