The following editorial was intended for our last update, True Review 78 . Then, the unexpected happened - the passing of my former colleague and friend, Carl Spicer.
Typically, I just replace the old with the new. Then, I re-read this editorial. All too often those that have a huge impact on our lives are forgotten. Placed in a file cabinet or on a shelf. That’s just wrong. And life’s too short. And we can never say “thanks” often enough.
However, as a fellow journalism grad and publishing cohort, Carl knew that you march on. Not so much forgotten but perhaps just moved to the side a bit for the next issue coming down the pike.
So, rather than take down Carl’s info, Carl’s page will now become part of “Our History” Page, to be added to as time goes on and I remember and recall all the people who were not too busy to help a young, sometimes brash, but eternally grateful kid along the way.
I confess I’ve never prayed much. This despite growing up Catholic under the guidance of lifelong, church-going Catholic parents, attending Catholic school and even assisting the priest as an altar server.
Each Wednesday was Novena, the Mass for our Blessed Mother Mary. Step by step, bead after bead, we would say the rosary, murmuring our prayers quietly under our breath.
I would rush through a mumble of “Hail Mary’s” at about 10-second recitals. A hyperactive kid really struggles through a Novena Mass, let me tell you.
One of the few times I can remember praying was when my son, Kevin and I were involved in a violent car accident in 2007. We both landed in the hospital – but, thankfully, with no lasting issues.
Still, I regret not praying when I should have.
On a somewhat cold day this past February, I headed out to run some errands with my wife, Debbie. (Ironically, as I was to find out, the first stop was her doctor’s office.) The previous night had brought a light coating of snow. So that morning before my jaunt, I had applied an “environmentally safe” de-icer to our sidewalk. (In this case, environmentally safe meant personally deadly.) Unfortunately, instead of melting and dissipating, the de-icer turned the sidewalk into a gooey (and unbeknownst to us) very slick surface.
Coming off the side door steps, my left foot went to the right, my coffee cup went flying , my weight shifted to the left and I pushed away, trying to avoid a collision with a brick wall. Suddenly…a pop, and the slow-motion feeling of helplessly falling and having no ability to ward off hitting the cold, hard concrete. (Unfortunately my Catholic upbringing did not stave off some choice words.)
The pain was fast and terrific. It felt like someone smashed me with a sledgehammer. But hearing the “pop” was actually more frightening than the actual pain.
My wife had started the car and pulled into the alley alongside our home, waiting for me. When she looked up, she could not figure out what I was doing on the ground. Leaving the car running in the alley, she ran over and tried to help me stand up to no avail. Then, realizing where she was headed, she flew into action. Gently placing me and my hapless foot into the car, she motored off, grabbing her cell phone and calling the doctor’s office to alert them I was coming. A quick exam and x-ray, one of many to come, and I got my diagnosis: fibula fracture. I would be off my feet for about 6-8 weeks – or more.
I was given a set of crutches and off we went to an orthopedic surgeon’s office, who said the X-ray showed a simple fracture. I would need to wear a knee-high removable boot and remain in a non-weight-bearing condition for two weeks.
Good. A “clean” break, if ever there was one – not a compound fracture.
Through the help of our local church ministry, a nurse visited and dropped off crutches and a shower chair. I was set to recover.
Two weeks later the orthopedic surgeon took another X-ray and found the break was “displaced.” “This just happens sometimes,” he said. I would need surgery. Two weeks and three days of useless “recovery.” More choice words. The surgeon installed a four-inch stainless steel plate with seven screws and wrapped a fiberglass splinter cast around the calf and foot. The cast would stay on for two weeks, after which I would return to the walking boot for several weeks.
Cast removed. All is good!
Next up -- several weeks of physical therapy to regain my walking ability. I’m introduced to water therapy in the HydroWorx® pool designed by Debbie’s former boss, Dr. Paul Hetrick. A treadmill in a pool! Many of the top athletic teams in the country, like my beloved Philadelphia Eagles, use this pool to condition and rehab. Really cool!
Finally, on Easter Weekend, I rise, crutch-free, and walk again!
Losing your ability to walk is bad for someone as independent and stubborn as I am. Having to endure the pain and humiliation of sometimes total dependency on others, and relying on the flexibility and strength of a remaining good leg, makes you appreciate your blessed ability to walk.
Even today, the feeling of walking again retains that sense of wonder.
The following thanks and prayers are wholly and sincerely mine:
Blessed be our gifted orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors. They are lifesavers.
Blessed be our gifted nurses, from which we are able to patiently endure and heal.
Blessed be our stubbornly patient and thorough physical therapists, without whom we wouldn’t be able to walk again.
Blessed be water therapy and Dr. Paul’s pool!
Blessed be our visiting volunteer nurses in ministry who donate their precious free time to providing absolute essentials to recovery.
Blessed be the crutches and the shower chairs, along with the people who make them.
Blessed be the many people on the street, who open doors, whose kindness and courtesy are beyond reproach.
Blessed be the power doors with the handicap placard button, one push and they open.
Blessed be the handicapped parking spaces and ramps to all the good places to visit and shop.
Blessed be the wheelchairs. Blessed be the power wheelchairs at my favorite supermarket.
Blessed be first-floor access to many facilities.
Blessed be shower chairs. Again.
Blessed be removable boots – what technology!
Blessed be our loved ones, who help us through this misery. If we thanked them a billion times, it would not be a billion times enough.
On a shopping trip a week before St. Patrick’s Day, a woman wielding a cane held the door open for me and said, “I do this for you hoping that when I need this done, you would do it for me.” I will do it for her 100 times over without question and without fail.
Heartfelt “Thanks” to all the wonderful people who make such a difference!
Oremus. Let us pray.