(continued from "Behind the Smile")
When my Pastor, Bill, first recommended that I write a book about my life and become a public speaker, I was intrigued by the idea. I’d been looking to get out of the eight-to-five lifestyle for a long time. And although I am not happy about being on disability right now, it does offer me the opportunity to take on such a venture.
In the beginning I agonized – boy did I agonize! Where to start? Where to start? I had no idea. “Start anywhere” people would tell me, but that left far too many options. And I had no intention of starting from “My name is Alicia Messinger and I was born on January 31st, 1983….”
I looked to my husband for an answer and he suggested telling about how I learned how to walk again after my surgery. I told him I didn’t think anyone would be interested (of course I didn’t think anyone would be interested in any of my stories and I’ve been proven wrong daily). But he replied firmly “I want to hear about how you learned how to walk”.
So here we are, baby, 14 blog entries later. The rest of this entry is dedicated to you, Adam, for seeing something in me that I don’t see in myself.
As you may have noticed in the pictures I posted in my last blog entry, when it became apparent that I wasn't going home any time soon I was moved into one of the two actual rooms in the MSICU. But before that I was with the other patients, each bed only separated by curtains.
Now it is a complete myth that the hospital is a place for rest. Healing requires work. So despite the fact that I had just had major surgery, and despite the fact that I was still on heavy medication, and despite the fact that I was having lung complications, they couldn't let me just "lay around". It was time to get moving. Your muscles - use them or lose them!
It is also said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Well my saying would be "Before you can walk, you have to stand."
One day they came (I say "they" because I don't remember exactly who it was. Probably a physical therapist) and strapped me down to my bed. I remember the large strap across my legs with a giant buckle. Slowly, they began to tilt my bed upwards towards a standing position. The whole bed - it was crazy! On the side of the bed there was a device that told them how many degrees they were lifting me.
My legs felt weak, like noodles underneath me. I did not trust them or the strap over my legs to stop me from falling. With every degree I had to use more and more effort to support my own weight. They kept encouraging me to go a little further. "Just a little more, Alicia," they'd say. I became worried, asking them how much longer? When could I lay back down?
Finally they lowered the bed back down. I was relieved. They told me I did a good job.
This repeated every day. They tilted it a little more, then a little more. Once I was moved into the actual room I had a T.V. with some cable channels on it. The deal became "Stand fully upright for one half-hour while you watch the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air".
There I'd stand, strapped to my bed like Hannibal Lector (including my bi-pap face mask) watching the Fresh Prince. Counting the minutes until I could lie down again.
"In West Philadelphia, born and raised..."
(to be continued...)