This is a true story: names and places have been changed:
Writing is our thing and we covet every moment we can grab to turn out a few pages. More often than not, external life pressures will find a way to trample all over our writing progress. We roll with it because most of us have no choice, that's the way it is, and probably won’t change anytime soon. If writing is a passion in your life, you can be sure family and friends don’t always get that. There is always something lurking in the shadows to snatch up more of your creative time.
My recent nineteen day hospital stay, and now follow-up therapy, caused a train wreck in my scheme of things. Fallout is trying to get its claws into my reformatting progress of my novel,The Legs Collector, with the use of the damn walker, pain and now edema [swelling of the feet and legs] to kill my concentration.
I'm fighting it, but the demon is grinning.
I'm lucky to get two pages formatted before I have to back up and elevate my right leg.
Being among the hobbled wounded is not something I'm cut out for, and it's a current reality that's a well of aggravation.
And here I sit holding a golden apple of creativity and ability watching the fruit turn brown.
Actually, I should be ashamed for complaining at all, and I'll share an example of why I feel that way:
After nine days in the hospital wing, I was transferred to the nursing facility for ten days of physical therapy. Of course, I raised a fuss because my new laptop was stuck in some Fed-X hub and I couldn’t work on my book.
Already ticked over lost time, I was not a happy camper.
* * * *
There were two patients to a room at the nursing home center. My roommate, Bob, fifty-one years old, was a victim of some horrific accident [I didn't ask] and he's been in the facility for nine and a half years. You read it right, and he's confined to his bed; Bob will never walk or sit up on his own again. The nurses use a portable mini-crane, with a canvas sling, to lift the man off the bed and transport him to a special shower stall.
For therapy, Bob gets lifted by two strong men and a male nurse into his elaborate wheelchair. That's the only time he can get fully dressed and take a ride to the physical therapy center. It's the highlight of his week.
My heart sank and I welled up when I saw all of the above for the first time.
Bob's speech is erratic and difficult to understand. I learned that, in his mind, his speech is clear as a bell. He has brain damage and there's a metal plate in his skull.
Nevertheless, when awake, Bob loves to chat. I told him I was hard of hearing so he would speak up and slower.
His mind slips and he loses track of the conversation. He must've asked me fifty times what my daughter's name was. He reintroduced me to every shift change of nurses, which of course they already knew, and he never failed to tell them I was an author, which they were already aware of.
We would debate about watching Letterman or Leno based on the guest lineup and I went with whichever Bob wanted. By the end of that hour he'd turn off his set and drift away for the night.
TV is Bob's sole entertainment and he loves game shows, Jerry Springer and People's Court, so I played along. There was no way I could watch other shows on my TV at the same time, it became pure chaos. In the evening I would ask what program he wanted to watch and told him I'd tune to the same one and we could watch together. He was so delighted by the gesture I damn near cried. Of course, my offer was to kill the chaos. He was a channel-hopper, so I joined the game and that pleased him more.
Bob has the use of his arms and upper third of his body, so he could turn toward me and talk and fire his trusty remote at the TV without a problem.
When he saw me writing notes, he'd ask if I were writing a new book and wanted to know what it was about, so I told him about scenes from the Legs sequel. He understood and asked several times how to order it.
I never had so many lumps in my throat as I did during the ten days I shared with Bob. Not once during that time did he have a visitor. His wife and son live about an hour and a half south of the complex.
I ached for the man and shed a few private tears on his behalf.
When my daughter, Jeanne, came to take me home, I introduced them. Bob said, "Your dad is a very kind person." To me he said, "Thank you for being nice to me."
I choked out my thank you and held back a flood of emotion.
For me to even think about complaining would be shameful to say the least. I feel blessed by the experience and brought something home with me. It's a treasure you cannot touch or see, and it remains in my heart for always.
God bless Bob forever, which I believe is being done every day.
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