One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three. Back in college, they held an “Introduction to Ballroom Dancing” class in one of the gyms adjacent to the sports medicine room for varsity athletes – not that the CWU wrestling team actually spent much time in that area. No, the redheaded stepchildren of the athletic department rarely mingled with the revenue-generating football and basketball players because the head trainer made it abundantly clear that we were a very low priority on his list. But on the occasion one of our freshman would poke their heads in long enough to steal a roll of tape to wrap our jammed/broken fingers, they would always come into the practice room snickering about the guys they’d seen going into the class. I tried to remind them that those fellas were dancing with cute, nice smelling girls and we were rolling around with sweaty men in spandex grabbing their butts, but the notion tended to fall on deaf, cauliflower-mangled ears.
Maybe I was a little extra antagonistic because I was interested in the class for myself. Along with my incredible sister, I’d inherited my dads sense of rhythm, so I was no stranger to cutting a rug, and figured a little formal training might come in handy at the occasional wedding or two. From the outside looking in, the waltz always seemed like a good place to start; the triple time tempo means three steps to remember instead four, which I assumed might be a little easier. Unfortunately I never got the chance to give it a shot, because the class was only held at the same time we had practice, so I was forced to observe from afar and spend my slacker PE credits on other endeavors. Little did I know, my dancing lessons would come more than a decade later, only in a very different format than you would expect.
The healing process feels a lot like a dance in its own right, albeit not nearly as much fun. Just like the waltz, it all boils down to three seemingly simple steps: (1) identify/accept the reality of the situation; (2) decide on a course of action; and (3) see how things progress. This most recent pressure sore has been an exceptionally frustrating exercise of that progression, because it’s become the classic cliché of two steps forward, one step back.
The problem with treating pressure sores like mine is the fact that my lack of sensation means we don’t really know how the issue developed in the first place. You have to embark on what is the equivalent of an archaeological dig through your seating system and body mechanics, systematically analyzing every position and piece of equipment you come in contact with.
We started with my seat cushion, one specifically designed to prevent pressure to a patient’s ischial tuberosities (the bony part of your butt), but four years of wear and tear might have compromised its efficiency. After making some drastic changes to the cushion we thought we were in the clear, but a culture of the wound revealed a MRSA infection, so that meant a few weeks of hard-core antibiotics and more downtime. Once the antibiotics finished, we tried something called a wound vac, which is exactly what it sounds like: they basically saran wrap the wound area and then hook a vacuum up to it to pull blood flow to the area while wicking away excess drainage. Although it’s safe to say that the thing literally sucked ass, it still didn’t do the trick. One-two-three, one-two-three.
Now we are almost a month into another treatment that seems to finally be showing legitimate progress, but at this point you get a little nervous being overly optimistic. After all, I’ve been telling people that I’m only a couple weeks away from getting back out in the world since before Memorial Day. Now here we are at Labor Day, and I’ve been doing this dance all summer long. It’s an emotionally exhausting process, because I also keep catching myself saying “okay, this has to be the last thing,” only to have the rug pulled out from under me time and time again.
I’ve tried to retain my sanity by keeping my mind occupied as best as I can, but it’s tough. By the end of June I had already mowed through every freaking episode of Game of Breaking Arrested Mad Cards is the new Black on Netflix — yeah, they’ve all blended together at this point. The World Cup came and went, and now NFL football season is about to begin. Those are all great short-term distractions, but the truth is that I am desperately missing the life I had built up over the last four years. I’ve had my time living vicariously through whatever is on my computer/television screen, I’m itching to get back out there and do life.
And I’m not the only one going a little stir crazy with all of the forced downtime these last few months: someone else in the house has been stricken with a bit of cabin fever and is exhibiting rather peculiar behavior. Check it out:
Leave it to my dog to lighten up the mood. Because when I really look at it, this summer wasn’t a complete bust. While I was down, the little mutt got to go to
boot summer camp for five weeks and came back a completely different dog. It’s almost like there’s a brain inside his head and everything. But aside from that, I was able to tackle quite a few projects around the house that I’d been putting off for far too long and even cracked open a Word Document and labeled it “book rough draft.”
To steal the metaphor from my favorite John Michael Montgomery song, I know that this whole life itself is a dance. It goes in cycles with good times and bad times intermixed like the high and low notes of a melody, and it’s all about navigating between the two as best you can. And right now, The Grand Cosmic Conductor is playing his tune a little slower than I would prefer, I can either fight it and get my toes stepped on, or let go and keep pace with the beat. Fortunately, I’ve got an awesome group of friends and family that won’t let me do this dance alone. Thanks to everyone who has helped worked on the house, brought me a meal, or just came by for a little uplifting conversation.
I’m sure I’ll be back out there with you in a couple weeks… Or so. One-two-three, one-two-three…