Monday, June 17, 2013

Walking the Walk

I received an interesting comment from an anonymous reader of my blog within the last week. This commenter suggested that I should perhaps just lighten up a bit about self-imposed successes and failures and what I perceive about walking or lack of walking.

This anonymous person related a story of a bicycling trip they had embarked upon. At the beginning of the trip, their objective was to ride 100 miles a day for 4 days, total trip was 400 miles. As planned, on the first day they accomplished their 100 mile goal. On the second day, despite a myriad of obstacles, they once again reached their daily goal of 100 miles. At the conclusion of the third day, exhausted, they collapsed near a beach for some much needed rest.

Upon rising on the fourth day, they decided that this place which they had stopped was so beautiful, with the beach and the surroundings, that instead of proceeding with the original plan, they would instead enjoy the beach, have a relaxing dinner and just generally take it easy. My commenter said he had experienced an epiphany of sorts, it had never occurred to him that these self-imposed plans, were just that, self-imposed. It would make no difference to anyone whether they bicycled 400 miles in  four consecutive days or forty days.

He went on to explain that when we set goals for our self, it is only ourselves whom we have to please. He used an analogy of comparing it to being self conscious about they way you dance. Most likely, it is only you feels self conscious, others are not really paying that much attention. He further explained that the experience of taking that extra day gave him a feeling of freedom, it freed him from arbitrary constraints, that need not be there in the first place.

I must say I agree with him wholeheartedly. Instead of placing a judgement upon myself, I should relax and enjoy the relaxation for what it is. I have discussed this type of thing before and I realize it is a slippery slope, determining what is sufficient relaxation time and what is time that should be spent in obtaining realistic goals.

It has been 2 1/2 years since the loss of my second leg and I would have thought that I would be walking on the full length legs by now, such is not the case. Does that mean I should constantly beat myself up over it? I think not.

I was talking to my friend Steve about this very thing and he had mentioned that first and foremost despite  what I had written in my last blog entry, there was no way anyone would ever consider me to be lazy.

Steve suggested that I may or may not ever walk on the full length "C" legs and if I never did, it was not from lack of trying. He pointed out that I am 55 years old and that this leg loss was caused by a  circulatory disease complicated by a blood disorder, and perhaps those extenuating circumstances contribute to my difficulty in attaining my goals. Maybe at this stage of my life I am not physically capable of walking in those full length legs.

Just because something takes longer that you had anticipated, does not necessarily preclude it from ever happening, conversely, if we are unable to reach a goal because of circumstances beyond our control, should we allow that unreached goal be a lifelong disappointment?  

Limb loss is a highly individualized predicament. Everyone handles their situation uniquely and as you may well imagine, the results are as varied as the individual and the various causes of their limb loss.

It would probably be advantageous for me to remember all that I have just written and at the same time keep working toward realistic goals. Sometimes we just have to let the chips fall where they may. Knowing we have worked hard toward a goal should bring some satisfaction, in and of itself.

As long as we can look at our lives and derive some feeling of accomplishment, I think we have already "walked the walk" as well as "talked the talk." Only we can control our own happiness, and I for one, plan on doing just that.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Life is Like a Rollercoaster

I am sitting on the sundeck writing this and surprisingly it is a little chilly, upper 60's and quite breezy, usually cool weather for Chicago this time of year.

A few positive things have transpired since I have last written. I have a new roommate, named Charles, and thus far I am cautiously optimistic about this being a successful venture and hope my cautious optimism meets with positive results.

As we know finding a suitable roommate has proven to be more than  just a simple objective. Along with finding a new roommate has come some much needed relief in the financial arena. Once again it has been through the generosity of friends that I have been able to barely keep my head above the monetary tidal wave, that at times, it seemed like a large wave always on the horizon, poised at any point to drown me in financial ruin.

It has been difficult for me through the last few months to stay as positive and focused as I might otherwise be because of the nightmare I endured with my last roommate. At the risk of repeating previous blog posts, the financial stress this leg loss has caused is an area of my life has, in a lot of ways, been the most difficult to overcome.

On a more positive note, I am still enjoying going to the RIC gym and I am beginning to establish friendships with fellow patrons, which brings me joy and happiness. One of the new volunteers at RIC, who assists the gym members, is a pretty young woman I will call Leslie. Leslie is a below knee unilateral amputee, she lost her left leg in a boating accident three years ago. She walks very proficiently on her prosthesis and has also qualified for the paralympics, I believe as a runner. She is one of many inspirational people at RIC.

As far as my own personal progress, with respect to walking, with both the "short legs" and the full length "C" legs, I seemed to have plateaued, at least to some degree. Perhaps I am reevaluating where I am, or where I want to be, but then again, maybe I am just being lazy. I am not sure.

My dear friend, Mark, asked me the other day how it was going, was I making progress on either the short legs or the full length legs? I told him not really, I am about the same, not better not worse. He asked me if I thought I would ever be able to walk on the long legs? For the first time, I told him probably not.

I think Mark was taken aback by my response; I went on to say that sometimes I question whether or not all that work is worth it? If I continue to work really hard, I may be able to walk on crutches into a restaurant or whatever, only to arrive exhausted and drenched in sweat. Why?

Is this the same person, who over a year ago in this very blog, attested to my own desire and drive to do just that, walk on the full length legs, given up?

I don't know. Sometimes I think the harsh slap of reality can leave a stinging impression that not only hurts but also can be disillusioning. Being a bilateral above knee amputee is a difficult life to live and not unlike life in general, has a tendency to be full of ups and downs. Maybe I am still feeling a little down, but this much I can tell you, despite what I have written thus far, I am definitely on the upswing.

As I may have told you, I am now on the condo board of my building. I am the treasurer. Not a treasurer in the traditional sense, in that I keep track of money, I am more like an an administrator. The person who oversees projects that need to be done in my building. This has not been a small task considering that since I took over as treasurer in January,  we have replaced the garage door opener, tuck pointed and waterproofed the entire 10 unit structure, moved the mailboxes, dealt with a bee infestation, had graffiti removed twice, reorganized the garage parking situation, and a host of other ongoing issues.

I must be doing a good job, the President of the board along with just about all of the other owners have complimented the job I am doing. Additionally I have received multiple emails of gratitude for carrying out to completion an array of various tasks in what has been described as a thankless job. I suppose some are surprised that a legless man such as myself would be capable of doing all that I have done.

I must admit that I had my own misgivings about my own ability to do this job, but I rose to the occasion as I have a tendency to do. Even though I complain about certain aspects of being treasurer, I guess it has helped me prove to myself and to others that I am capable of doing a lot. Guess what? I have a feeling that next year they are going to ask me to be president, and  as the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.

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