November 29, 2007

It’s hard to believe that today marks my two-week stay at OC. One of the joys of keeping a journal is being able to review events and thoughts, and see patterns emerge and personal growth take place. Without that record, I would be just like a June bug, taking off slowly and flying in erratic and wild circles until I bling against the wall and drop like a stone.  (I’d love to take credit for that analogy, but it really came from an Indian elder woman who mentored a friend of mine…).

At any rate,  I am taking stock now and beginning to think that I am strong enough and confident enough to leave here soon. I am even more amazed at how quickly the time has passed, even though I wasn’t exactly ‘having fun’.  I do bring with me some resources, however…hard earned personal strength which I’ve had to cultivate through a lot of personal crises throughout my lifetime.  And I am learning so much about personal resources here at Orchard Creek from the people who live and work here whose lives have been much more difficult than mine.  I’ve shared some of their stories in this blog, and some I have not, out of respect for anonymity—or because I simply don’t know their histories.  What I learned in AA, though, was to value the person in the present moment: it is the immediate moment which is important, not the past or the present.  The alcoholic asks only one question: do I take a drink now? And from that I’ve learned that it is today’s challenge which is the only important challenge for anyone.

My new neighbor across the hall is having a difficult time with this concept.  She did not want to be left here this morning after she was dismissed from the hospital, and the explanation that her stay was only temporary until she was strong enough to go home was not acceptable to her.  She refuses to eat and sits in her room with the door shut except for a moment of panic when her television failed.  The ever-polite support staff tries to comfort her without accommodating her resistance: it will be interesting to see how the issue resolves itself in the next few days as it becomes more clear that getting home is her responsibility and not someone else’s fault.

 “Miss!”, she shouts. “Nurse! Hey! Miss!”

I shut my door, and go back to my reading.

Finding the personal resources to meet physical wellness responsibilities is the hardest part of being here.  Watching my fellow patients’ daily struggles teaches me about strength and courage.  Beside me this morning in therapy, Al mutters “I don’t know why I do this.”  I am shocked—this crusty old man who wisecracks and jokes  his way through leg lifts and rubber band pulls has just complained a little, and it fills the room like a sour smell. But he continues, and today he knows why he kept going: his card playing buddies trooped in here for lunch and a game of euchre at a nickel a point.

Al has his cards; I have the internet.  Today I did some more Christmas shopping, answered a ton of emails, paid bills, booked a leadership training program for January, and wrote the poem and designed my Christmas card.  Bobbie brought me a mushroom-Swiss burger from Sleder’s Tavern, along with some spectacular onion rings, and Lisa-the-Wonderful brought laundry and mail.  I could dwell on the fact that I’m missing Chuck Ebert’s birthday/retirement party in Washington, DC this weekend, and feel sorry for myself.  But I am not going to.  I think I’ll take my walker for another spin, head for bed, the latest Alexander McCall Smith mystery, and the last of the Frango Chocolates.

Christmas Card


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