The compressed fracture of the vertebrae from the August car crash was my first experience with extended pain. Finally, just last week, I stopped using pain killers and wearing the back brace. Progress!
Still, this issue was a minor setback compared to what I've seen others deal with, particularly when I recall the deaths from AIDS of so many close friends, and the more recent courageous fights that several of my contemporaries now wage against life-threatening and chronic illnesses.
With my PD and prostate cancer, I know more setbacks lie ahead. Now that I feel I'm moving forward again after the crash, I've been reflecting on what I've learned from this experience, and how those lessons might help me down the road.
Walking got me out of the house, and I feel like I benefit more from exercise outdoors. I canceled my gym membership ten years ago, because I'd rather be outside, biking or walking. I love the time I spend on my back porch -- it's good for the spirit -- because I feel like I'm outdoors... watching the birds at the feeders, seeing the fish in the pond, listening to my own little waterfall, enjoying my ever-expanding garden plantings. And thank heavens for screens; without them, the summer mosquitoes around here would have kept me indoors.
A new phrase, "nature deficit disorder," has recently come into vogue. It describes the range of physical and emotional ailments people suffer (especially the young and old) when they are disconnected from nature. Amen to that. I suspect I had a touch of if during my home-bound weeks after the crash.
Sixteen years into my "retirement" and I'm finally seeing the light! I've always subscribed to Mae West's maxim: "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing." I've always been go-go-go.
My son says he's sure he got his ADD from me. My good friend and boss Bill Beltz cautioned me about my tendency to "shoot from the hip"... to attack problems that -- if left alone -- might resolve themselves with better outcomes. I'm sure I drove my staffers nuts by charging in with new ideas and programs... and then getting bored with the essential follow-up and moving on to something new.
During this recuperation, I experienced low energy. To my delight, I've started to enjoy being more contemplative, and less "busy." I'm hopeful there's a trend here.
For decades, my day started with the tyranny of the must-read Washington Post with breakfast. Now, I'm trying to discipline myself to do nothing when eating... except to enjoy the meal. Who says multi-tasking is always good? Yesterday morning, for example, was a beautiful, unusually warm November day -- surely one of the last in 2011 when I'll be able to sit comfortably outside on the back porch. So I said -- to hell with the morning paper! I'll just sit here and enjoy this rare morning. What was even more rare, probably first ever, was that I spent nearly two hours doing NOTHING.
What a great way to start the day!