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Spinal injury and the the soul’s backbone

May 2, 2013

I was at the spinal injury gym at the San Jose Valley Medical Center. A friend of mine fell off the second story of his house because the railing of a porch gave way. He’s going to eventually be okay, but he broke his shoulder, pelvis, all his ribs and punctured his lung. His right side is in a solid wave of pain but he has use of his left side. I told him it’s a good thing his spine broke his fall.

He was working out on gym equipment and I was keeping him company. All around us were various people with serious spinal injuries. Young kids in wheelchairs wearing brand-new sneakers on immobile legs, using their arms to work on weights. Others. their arms flat and unmoving, ass if their limbs were pancake dough int he shape of hands, blowing into tubes. One guy, a severe burn victim who had the use of all his arms up was working out to get his limbs going again.  A pale severely white middle-aged guy who black paintbrush hair, standing on immobile legs with the support of a stand and trying to strengthen himself. WOuld I have that courage–maybe.

A young black kid, maybe in his teens, is sitting in a wheelchair, his bright white eyes looking at me, taking me in. I return the look and nod. I know the look. I had the look. It’s when you’re spirit is buried in a cave-in from your own body, and you’re peering out,knowing only you can rescue yoursel;f from the darkness, and wondering if you have it in you. It’s the moment people either decide to push off the bottom or sink. I don’t see injured people, I see the spirit struggling within them. The courage. And the nurses, one guy brings people to the gym by arriving in a wheelchair to their rooms and speeding alongside them to the gym. What beauty people are capable of when they get out of their way for other people to reach them, and how the views increase, who needs mountain tops and peaks and journey to the moon when you can enjoy orbiting around the souls of others and spin off into the weightless of flight without limbs?

My friend said, “Thank you for being here. I’m surprised at all these people who are helping me. One anonymous neighbor called our house and complained about the dogs barking. That was the night I was med-evaced out.”

“Well, they didn’t know.”

“Some people don’t get the message.”

“When they find out, you’ll know.People can surprise you.”

“I can’t believe all these people who are coming to help me.”

“Those are the people in your life. You have the chance to see what your life is. They are only in your life because you’re alive and they responded to you. It’s the life you made. And that’s the best part of what you’re going through. You have a chance to see the life you made, and it will come to save you. Bad people don’t have that, all they can feel is their pain, and complain about their life, and give the nurses a hard time.”

Before I leave the hospital, I stop at radiology and give my cancer book to the staff. Tehy are so complimentary and excited about the book. They compliment me. and I smiled, pleased that I’ve helped somebody.

“I have to give it to you, I’ll bring some more,” I said. “I can’t make money from people who are suffering here. They can help me if they want. But just to hand off the fight.

A guy said,”I want to read it first! We say this,’ Cancer today. but tomorrow. And here it is. It’s so odd that you came in here with this when we were talking about it.”

Who knows where the ride ends when you get off it, huh? I wonder.

I get up early today. I have to work at 11:30. But I’m going to paddle out at 7:30. Kinda obvious why, huh? Because we can forget.

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