Better Angels

Since starting real physical therapy this past Tuesday, and riding my Airdyne, I’ve finally been feeling that there really will be an end to this and again I will walk and sleep and cut grass and all the various things a person does every day without thinking about it. Still, I think for a long time I WILL think about it and for a while it will all be a kind of miracle, doing all these things without pain.

Yesterday at physical therapy, as I rode the semi-recumbent bike and listened to three songs (10 minutes), I thought about all this from another perspective. I don’t know how long it will be before I’ll really have come to a deep understanding of the changes in me and in my life apart from the repair to my hip, but there have been many. I came home from the hospital after my hip replacement with a list of restrictions beyond which I was supposed to do everything possible on my own, for myself. That meant I needed to learn to ask for help, to let others help me and also be very clear about what I don’t want help with. I learned that the people who care about me will do pretty much anything to help me; it’s my job to tell them how. This required two things of me that are difficult — asking for help before I get into a pickle and asserting boundaries.

I’ve also seen people in a way I would not otherwise have seen them. Every day something has happened that has made Washington DC and all of that so much less important or interesting. Who are we human beings anyway? Are we the monsters we read about in the news or are we the old Hispanic guy coming out of Safeway, using his cane to awaken the electric eye on the entrance so it opens for me making my life easier? Are we my UPS delivery guy showing up to see how I’m doing and offer his help? Are we the owner of my kennel who loves my dogs? Are we a woman I barely know offering to come and give me a ride to her house so I can use her walk-in shower? Are we my neighbors coming out of their houses to keep me company when they see me walking slowly down the street? Are we my neighbor and I discovering that going to the supermarket is fun if we go together? Without the hip surgery, we would never have done that.

Personally, I think that’s who we are. I think our better angels just want half a chance to come out of their hiding places.


15 thoughts on “Better Angels

  1. Since I have been moving in a wheelchair I have realised how kind and considerate people can be. As I approach the road crossing the cars automatically stop. I returned home today and the neighbour was at the door. She kept the door open until I was in and saw me to my door. I told her Mr. Swiss was at home and would open the door. -she asked if there was anything else she could do for me and to just say it. When I am on a wheelie people greet me and I often get into more conversations than usual. I have now put my walker in another room and no longer sleep with it next to the bed. I get up in the middle of the night and can move with just my cane. I am now really almost there. It was a long 6 months after breaking my leg, but I am almost back to how I was before it happened. It can only get better and I am glad you are now seeing the light at the end of a long, dark and sometimes painful tunnel.

    • I know what you mean about not sleeping with the walker beside the bed. I’m afraid to do that at night, but there are exercises I have to do on a bed (I use the spare room where my bike is) and I’m can get on and off fine with my cane. I just don’t feel safe yet doing that at night AND my bed is a lot higher than the guest bed.

      I’m really grateful for this whole experience, even the long, dark painful parts. It’s opened my eyes (and my heart). ❤

  2. It’s amazing how awful and wonderful we can be. I hope the better angels win the game! Because I think most of us really DO have better angels, but they buried under all kind of other stuff.

    • I think we (most of us) have better angels, too. I’ve found in my world and situation that a big smile and the willingness to try seems to evoke kindness. Every day I hear (in one way or another) “You’re one strong woman.” My UPS drive said that yesterday. Somehow that inspired enthusiasm, hope, kindness. I guess that inspires the same from me.

  3. I smiled when I read this, Martha. Isn’t it amazing how our thinking changes and what’s really ‘important’ isn’t important any more? It’s the things that really and truly matter that become important. You really and truly matter to all those looking out for you. Isn’t life grand?!

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