Saturday, October 15, 2011

Suck it, Doctor

Less than 2 weeks ago a neurologist told me it was doubtful I would be able to walk with a cane. He felt my right side was still too weak to go very far without support. However I knew at my next physical therapy session, my PT would have me attempt to use a quad cane, just to see what it’s like. A quad is one of those canes that are typically reserved for the 80 years and older crowd. It’s got a big silver rod mounted on a metal square with 4 prong-legs for support. Like this:

Part of me was excited about possibly graduating away from the walker, but the other part of me had a vision of myself with that ugly hunk of metal hunched over a slot machine in Vegas, clinging to a bucket of pennies with a Virginia Slim hanging out of my mouth. I mean seriously? Me, with a freakin’ quad cane? Oh brother. Then I remembered when I refused to go on a public outing with the rehab staff because I wasn’t ready to be stared at in a wheelchair. I remembered how awkward I felt strolling into the mall with my old lady walker, like I was embarrassed the “cool kids” would stare. I mean hell, I was one of the cool kids and now I’m totally losing my street cred. So fuck it. Bring on the quad.

I went to physical therapy and we tried it. I walked well with it, but it was awkward. It didn’t feel fluid as I felt each prong hit the floor one at a time. After about 25ft, the PT said “hey, wanna see how you walk with one of these?”

I swear I could hear cherubs singing as part of the roof opened and a ray of light shone down on this cool, sleek, shiny black cane. I said “ uh hellz yeah I wanna see what that’s like!” He showed me how to properly place the cane ahead of me on my good side and take a step with my bad foot, then follow through with my good foot. After 2-3 steps I realized I was leaning on it, so I straightened out and pictured myself walking like a normal person. I started to giggle. I couldn’t contain myself. I could do it! Suck it, Doctor!

I went home, showed my husband and asked him “honestly, how bad is my limp?” He watched me take a few steps and said “Wow. It just looks like you’re walking all gangster.” So it isn’t just all in my head. (The not-so-bad-limp part, not the gangster part.) I have a lot of practicing to do in order to adjust. The walker was also psychologically comforting because it was support on both sides. My pimp-ass new cane will take some getting used to.

I figure I’ll go back to the mall to practice. This time I’ll walk around with my head high, limpin’ like a gangsta and reclaim my street cred. I even gave my cane a custom detail, so they’ll all know this bitch means business. Peace.

"It's hard out here being a pimp."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


This word resonates with me for different reasons. There is of course my breakin’ body, as I’ve become disabled; my breakin’ heart, as I’ve lost a certain quality of life; my breakin’ back as I bust my proverbial balls to overcome paralysis. But if you’re like me, Breakin’ is of course a classic 1984 break dancing movie (which incidentally was Ice-T’s film debut.)
This afternoon, after stuffing myself with Korean BBQ, I was in the car rockin’ out to a totally rad song. I can still bop my head normally and pump my good fist in the air, but it occurred to me that I’ll never co-star in the remake of Breakin’. Sad, I know. Fancy shmancy foot work is probably not in the cards for me.

Neither are chopsticks. I married a man who is half Asian and I had already shamed him by not mastering chopsticks before my stroke. Today I sat in a Korean restaurant staring at my food realizing there is no way that chopsticks are in the cards for me either. I got to thinking, “Well shit. What else can I not have the pleasure of doing?” Here’s the rest of my list so far:

·         Calligraphy

·         Take my shoes off while standing up (can’t stand on one leg and remove shoe with other foot when one of them is paralyzed.)

·       Graffiti artist. I can barely hold a pen let alone a can of spray paint and push that little button down with my finger.

·       Stripper pole. Holding on with just one arm may be a safety hazard. And hopping on one leg may not be that sexy. (Then again it does involve hopping…)

·       Chorus line. Unless of course we’re going to kick with only one leg in one direction, but that may not work on an aesthetic level.

·       Balloon animal creator. Do I really need to explain that one?

As they say, “you always want what you can’t have.” When I look at this list what really stands out is that I probably would not have ever done most of these things even if I hadn’t had a stroke. I admit it’s a bit annoying to have them taken from me anyhow. I have moments where the reality that I can't do everything I put my mind to bugs the crap out of me. Not so much because I can't do nor will ever do many things, but because I don't want to feel like maybe I didn't make the most of my abled body while I had it. 

Regret is poison. I don't dwell on it, but it does come in small bursts like today while rockin' out in the car. As I fantasize about leaning on a stripper pole, standing on one leg, doing a high kick with the other while I twist a balloon into a wiener dog and spray paint my name across its ass, I have to make peace with the fact that Breakin’ will probably be remade without me. Head spinning is not in my future. But pop locking…well now hey, pop locking might be doable.