Crossing Over to the Other Side

crutches-350x350[1]I blamed Tae Kwon Do for the broken foot and bum knee. I told myself I’d be all right If I did an alternate exercise.

Not so.

I’ve learned that I’ve reached the age where you don’t fight through pain. You respect it. Pain means I stop what I’m doing and alter my workout. If not, I’m likely to be using crutches.

A couple of weeks ago, I could feel a twinge in my knee every time I took a step. It wasn’t from Tae Kwon Do. I hadn’t returned to Tae Kwon Do since I broke my foot last year. I thought I could walk myself right through the pain and come out the other side where it would feel better and I would be the stronger for it.

Yeah, right.

By the end of my workday, I could barely hobble to my car.

At home, Jody got me a broom to use as a crutch. The thought of walking upstairs or downstairs was too much. I wanted to fly up those steps. You miss being healthy the most when you’re not healthy.

182[1]Saturday morning, I was TRIA’s first customer. I told Jody I could drive myself. I knew once the receptionist saw me coming in the door that I’d be placed in a wheelchair. I put the broom in the back seat of the car just in case I needed it to get from the car to the door of the clinic.

A knee brace, steroid shot, and a pair of crutches later, I shuffled out of TRIA.

Lesson learned. It wasn’t Tae Kwon Do. It wasn’t the Boot Camp at YMCA. It was me who had crossed over to where the truism, “No Pain, No Gain” wasn’t true anymore.

I’m still learning lessons. I went to the YMCA to see what I could do with my newfound knowledge of respecting pain. I went from machine to machine. If it hurt, then I tried something else. Finally, I found what I was looking for—a cardio machine that is similar to skating and skiing that allows you to prepare for all sports that require lateral movement in your legs. I would have been okay had I stopped there. There was a diagram on the machine that showed how you could do squats at the same time as your lateral movement.

The next day, I felt as if I was kicked in the side by a horse. Now, I limped and I couldn’t straighten up.

You don’t miss health as much as when you don’t have it.

Well, there’s swimming. If I don’t drown.

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3-legged Cat

Antonio talking with Silver

Antonio talking with Silver

“I think we should put him down,” Antonio said through sobs. “I don’t want him to be in pain.”

I never thought that I’d ever hear him say those words. This was his cat he was talking about. His Silver. I had recently written a blog post about Silver and his sister, Oreo.

A coyote had crushed Silver’s back leg. We were looking at amputation.

I put my arm around Antonio and rested my head on his. Through tears I told him how very brave he was. Jody echoed the same sentiment.

How brave it was for him to see past his own want, his own need, to the life of his beloved pet.

And, to his death.

Antonio had experienced the death of two cats and a dog. Instead of the experience being tragic he participated in a welcoming end to a precious animal’s life. All of us, Jody, Crystel, Antonio, and me cried through each of the deaths and loved our companions to their last breath. The two cats and dog were either in our arms or one or two of us were lying next to the animal. Then we buried our buddy. Each taking turns shoveling the dirt.

The Boys

The Boys

Thank you MNpets for coming to our home, always making it easy and giving us just the right amount of privacy. I believe Antonio’s experience with dying has made him able to see past his sorrow to the restfulness of a pet who will no longer have to suffer.

Jody, Antonio, and I sat on the couch reminiscing about each companion that had died. Tears rolled down our cheeks. We talked about why we made the decision we did with each animal. You knew it was time.

I told Antonio that I wasn’t sure that it was Silver’s time. Silver had continued to eat. An indication that he wanted to live. Antonio needed to talk to him. Spend time with him and see what Silver told him.

“He’ll tell you,” I said. “You guys can talk. “

We pulled out the computer and read about the quality of life for a three-legged animal. We watched YouTube videos of three-legged cats.

In preparation for amputation, Jody and I gave Silver pain and nerve medicine as well as antibiotics every 8 hours.

When Monday came, Jody and I discussed how we needed to leave work and meet at home for Silver’s noon medicine. Antonio offered to get out of school. That was a possibility. We live next door to Richfield Middle School.

Silver our 3-legged cat

Silver our 3-legged cat

Looking ahead to Silver’s recovery after amputation, we talked about complications. Medicine might be needed on a regular basis and I was scheduled to be out of town.

“I can do it,” Antonio said.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “One person has to keep Silver’s mouth open and the other has to squirt the syringe or put the pill in his mouth.”

“I can do whatever it takes,” he said with certainty.

And, you know what, I believe him.