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Archive for May, 2012

A Visit with the Village People

I decided to go visit the rehab center where I spent a week awaiting surgery.  I was really hoping to see Andy, the physical therapist that I worked with daily.  I wanted him to know that all those things we worked on (me not as willing some days as others) were just what I needed post surgery and since I came home.  I also wanted to visit my former roommate.

I called in advance to see if Candy was still there and if Andy was working on the holiday. Yes, Candace was still there but it looked like Andy wasn’t working the holiday.  I decided to go anyway.  I realized in route that I had never driven there but since I knew the address I got there fine.  I walked down the hall where my room was at the end near the nurse’s station. I looked in toward the window of that room and that wasn’t my roommate.  I waited at the nurse’s station and when I turned around I saw Andy enter someone’s room.  My lucky day!  I waited til he was done and when he saw me I could tell he barely recognized me.  We had a great catch up session and I got to tell him how grateful I was for all he taught me while I was there. He took me to Candy’s new room.  I think she was happy to see me and explained that her room was that much closer to the entrance/exit and she hoping to be out by the end of June.  She is bedridden now awaiting some healing that sitting in her wheelchair doesn’t allow. Our visit was cut short by the nurses with the Hoya Lift.  She was going to get her shower.  That is huge and doesn’t happen daily so I was happy for her.  On my way out I got to see two of my favorite nurses, Ben and Maria.  They were excited to see me up and walking on my own and looking healthy. Lots of smiles and hugs all around.

 I’ll go back before the end of June and this time I will bring treats from the outside world for Candy since she hasn’t been able to ‘escape’.  She can see the light at the end of this tunnel and I could see it in her eyes.  Soon she will be back in her own apartment living her life before Avalon.

Reflections on my first week back

My head – is still intact as I found my way back into my work computer (okay, I had my old password written on a strategically placed post-it). 

My heart  – was warmed by all the coworkers who stopped by my desk for hugs and offers of help. I have learned that those are not empty promises and I plan to take them up on their offers. I was treated to a free beverage at my Starbucks and genuine joy to see me back.   I never feel like just a customer there, I have friends that work there.

My body – barely tolerated the one hour drive into town.  I wasn’t expecting to feel that stiff. I learned that flexing my neck forward causes a buzzing sensation all the way down my spine.  I couldn’t wait to check with my OT to see what that might be.  She blames residual swelling so I’m going with that.  I will stop flexing my neck.

 Work from home

I found a ‘spare’ headset from an old Blackberry which plugs into the cordless phone.  That works well and allows me to spend time on the phone without straining neck and shoulders. I discovered that I was reaching too far for the mouse so it is now tucked next to the keyboard.  My right hand will eventually find it there (old habits die hard). I have to remember to do computer desk stretches at both locations.  I have an instance of our vendor product installed now so I am just as dangerous at home as at work (wait, I mean HELPFUL).  I completed a project of redoing some provider program structures which got me into the nuances of the job.  I even created a custom ad-hoc report to validate my work.


It looks like I will be commuting in the rain this week.  I am up for the new challenges that might impose. Slow and steady wins the race.

Back to work!!!!

Yeah I know, seems kinda sudden.  Once the neck brace came off last Wednesday,  progress came in leaps and bounds.  No, I’m not leaping and bounding but I am driving, sewing and shopping.  Tomorrow I will drive myself to work (traveling up and down hills by foot is a challenge I am not sure about yet) and get reacquainted with my job.  If other absences (so far longest I have been away is 7-10 days) is any indication the transition period will be quick.  I have been instructed to not sit in the same position at my desk but to get up and move around or at the very least do some stretching exercises in my chair.  This will take some discipline but I will make appts. with myself as reminders.  Overall, pacing myself until my endurance has increased will be critical to continued improvement.


I am excited to see my coworkers/friends who have been so supportive during this event. Today I look around the house/rehab palace and see piles of things that could have/should have been neatened up while I was off and then remind myself that this was not just a hiatus from work but rather a time to physically heal (pacing at home is even harder).  Once I am stronger those nagging chores will get resolved.  I have also learned to ask for help.  I hope to make a cameo appearance at City Toasters . Hope I don’t have a role, I am pretty rusty.

My Band

During my recovery, I have come to the realization that the muscles and nerves in your body work together like a well tuned, well practiced band.  When you have an injury to the spinal cord, it is very much like the band practice has been suspended and the instruments have been left out in the rain.  Each morning the band conductor (me) still expects a concert-like performance.  Lately, once the baton is raised it is more like the band members came rushing in the building, grabbed the wrong instruments and sat down to play. Can you imagine the tuba player trying to play the flute and the trombone player attempting the clarinet?  It just doesn’t work well.  The conductor must lower the baton (and all expectations), wait for the band members to gather the correct instrument and begin again.  Then and only then should the conductor expect a fine musical performance meaning I can rise from the bed and make the trek to the bathroom.  Any attempt before the band is fully ready is ill-advised.

Top 5 Books since the accident

On the Island – Tracy Garvis Graves

Just finish and I loved it.  Can’t wait for her next book due in the Fall

Sing Him Home – Jodi Picoult

Love her writing style, hard not to get absorbed after the first few pages

Lone Wolf – Jodi Picoult

Totally amazing, you learn so much about our brother the wolf and know you don’t want this book to end.

Defending Jacob –

Loaded it before I was laid up.  Reading at rehab became part of therapy (holding the Kindle, turning pages without dropping the Kindle).  Just when you think this one is over, expect another twist

Lifeboat –

I learned that I never want to be presented the choices this woman had to make. 

Starting GT

I am most of the way through my prescribed physical therapy and occupational therapy, so it is now time to begin ‘Gwen Therapy’.  The weekend before my accident, I had attended the Sew Expo at the State fairgrounds.  I came home with a bag full of ‘stuff’ and a head full of ideas.  For nearly two months the sewing area has seen no action (ok, we stored stuff there from the crowded laundry room/spare bathroom).  I decided as PT and OT wind down, let’s see if I can still cut fabric and plan a quilt.  I am going to call this my ‘therapy quilt’.  Thank goodness I had the forethought at the expo to purchase some ruler grips (premonition?).  They don’t look much different than the grips we have ‘installed’ in the shower for safety purposes.  For now I will continue using my trusty ‘ol rotary cutter, although I am sure there are newer ones out that would feel better in my ‘less-than-normal’ right hand.

 I have to promise myself to:

  • Pace myself (if I get tired I will find another activity)
  • Watch for a sale at Joanne’s for ergonomic rotary cutter
  • Resist sewing anything together til the neck brace is gone
  • Take JB up on his offer to neaten up the space so I have room to move around
  • Enjoy this therapy (although self-directed) knowing that I will learn from it
  • Share my progress on the blog (watch for pics)