A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

An Exercise in Empathy

If you ever get to feeling too comfortable in life, try wearing an immobilizing sling on your good arm for a week (you can borrow mine when I'm done with it!). It's a great exercise in empathy. Consider the millions of people living with disabilities for their entire lives. We live in a two-handed, walking upright world of sight and sound. Losing any one of those abilities requires you to adapt in a big way. I'm thankful my disability is temporary.

Over two weeks have passed since I collided with a car and broke my right collar bone. I believe my body's natural healing process is working as intended. I can tell because I no longer feel the sensation of the broken bones rubbing together, catching, popping loose, etc. The broken area seems to have stabilized. The initial pain has moderated to discomfort. No longer a pain in my shoulder, the break is now more just a pain in the butt!

Every little task is tougher -- shaving, brushing my teeth, putting in and taking out my contacts, buttoning my shirt, grilling steaks, typing on a computer (ever tried hitting "control/alt/delete" with one hand?). I'm getting pretty good at doing all these things left-handed, but I'm sure it will go back to being the lazy limb once my right is functional again. Sleeping is still difficult, since I can only lay in one position comfortably. But I'm even getting used to that.

Not being able to drive is the biggest inconvenience. I hate being dependent on Leslie to drive me around. One side benefit, though, is commuting together. We're saving gas money and spending more time together. We should keep this going after I'm able to drive again, but probably won't because she won't let me listen to my radio station and I take up the space where she keeps her "stuff." Major issues ;)

Every time I feel like complaining I think about my friend Eldon Roush, a Cat 3 cyclist who was in a serious accident during a race this past April 28 near Lawrence, Kansas, breaking his C5 and C6 vertebrae. The doctors say the odds are that Eldon will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but he is determined to beat those odds. Leslie and I went to school with Eldon at Ottawa University, where he played on the OU Braves football team. We reconnected when we moved to KC 10 years ago and as I got into cycling and triathlons, Eldon always encouraged me and would invite me to ride with him, even though it meant he'd have to slack off considerably in order to avoid leaving me in the dust! And now Eldon encourages me and so many other people who are following his road to recovery.

To read more about Eldon's inspirational story, log on to http://www.carepages.com/, complete a short, free registration process, and enter the Carepage name "eldonroush." You will be inspired by Eldon's faith, determination and positive attitude. Here is the most recent entry from his CarePage:

26 September 26, 2007 at 07:48 PM CDT
Sometimes I feel like Job, the bible character. It seems like so many things have been taken from me in order to test whether or not I still believe in God. So much of my life was built around the ability to walk. I loved the outdoors; everything outdoors and this was taken from me. Other things, too numerous to mention have also gone wrong since that April morning, yet, so many things have been given to me in return. Friends, family, and people I do not even know have willingly given us money, remodeled our house and offered up their prayers. The weekend of September 8th was yet another example. A charity ride held in conjunction with the Tour of Missouri (pro bicycle race) was held to raise money for me to cover medical expenses. The initial estimate was that about 100 – 200 riders would attend. That Sunday, over 600 riders showed up – what a truly amazing and overwhelming sight. That Tuesday, the first stage of the race held on the Plaza, Janet and I arrived on the Plaza to find a huge banner that said, “The Tour of Missouri Supports Eldon Roush”. Again, this was a humbling honor and a testament to God’s power. Truly, like Job, what was taken from me has been rewarded back to me thrice.

I would write more updates, but I feel that since the progress happens more slowly now that I would be wasting everyone’s time. Every week, though, I am able to look back at the prior week and see that progress has been made. Every therapy session we work on standing and walking in the parallel bars. I have gotten to the point where I can stand without any assistance from the therapist (my hands are on the bars, though) work on balance. We then take steps. My ability to stay up is good, but I am still having a really hard time lifting my foot up enough to move it forward. When I can lift it up or the therapist lifts it up for me, then I am able to kick it forward. When we are not working on standing, then we work on core strength. I do things like crawling and then standing in a kneel position. All of this is so very hard. If you want more updates or other stories from me on a more frequent basis, then let me know with your feedback. By the way, last Saturday, I was able to get on my riding mower and mow the yard. What a great feeling to do something for a change. Never give up, never stop trying.

Keep the faith, Eldon. We are all pulling for you!


1 comment:

  1. That was awesome, Daren. Maybe other friends of Eldon will connect through your blog and support him.



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