Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Some very big things have been going on in my life lately all of them good. I'm making measurable gains in my strength and stamina in both occupational and physical therapy. The approximately 13 months I have been going to the VA for therapy sessions have resulted in going from sitting in my wheelchair for about an hour a day, was unable to hold my head up straight most of that time with very limited range of motion in my arms and legs;  to spending an average of 10 to 12 hours a day the same wheelchair with little or no fatigue. I've completed countless hours of physical exercise and I'm to the point where the home health care system at the local VA has decided to promote me out of the home healthcare program!

this is a good thing!

along with physical and occupational therapies, I'm in psychological therapy. I've written about that a couple of times so this shouldn't be a surprise. This posting is directly attributed to that psychological therapy. Because of my transition, I'm no longer going to be able to see the psychologists I have been seeing in the home health care program. And because I'm obviously still nuttier than a Christmas fruitcake she recommended I attend therapy sessions in the hospital at the mood clinic. I have an appointment on 19 December for evaluation there. They think they are evaluating me, but I assure you I am doing as much evaluating as they will. And in light of this transition Dr. Steiner has asked me to write a little essay about what it is I hope to accomplish in sessions at the clinic.

1. I'm still having a hard time with my mental self-image.
A little background:
in grammar school I was one of the smaller kids in the class. Boys my own age were at least half a head taller than me, and although I ate like a horse I was skinny as a rail. But I had a built-in mean streak and an extremely quick wit that prevented me from being bullied in class. I attended the only Catholic school in my hometown and as such I was required to wear black trousers, a dress white shirt and a necktie everyday. None of the other families near me attended that school I was the only one going home every afternoon dressed in something other than jeans and T-shirt. They may as well have painted a bull's-eye on me. I averaged one flight a week and sometimes more, from the first grade all the way through the sixth grade.

Then in the summer before 7th grade a miracle took place. The first time I walked through the doors of Jacksonville junior high school in September of that year I was 6 feet tall, broad shouldered and looking for a little payback. Ansd since I was no longer in the Catholic school I wasn't required to wear a shirt and tie every day and fighting back without the fear of being punished for having my school clothes ruined gave a free reign to the anger I had from those grade shool days.

But I still had a mental image of myself as a small skinny kid. A physical confrontation with a bully, where I was able to intimidate him just by my size alone, helped me to reform a more positive mental image of myself. And as I grew older, I grew larger and my mental image grew with it, so that before this cancer struck I was physically and mentally 6'4" tall 225 pounds.

Today I'm still 6'4" tall on my right side and approximately 5'9" tall on my left side. But from my vantage point in my wheelchair I'm probably right around 4'5" tall and I literally have a belt buckle view of the world around me. 
I have not come to grips with this physical situation and I guess my biggest problem is I'm still carrying a mental image of 6'4" tall man. This problem becomes more complex when I continue to hang onto the notion that all I need is a prosthetic leg and a little more time to be that 6'4" man again.

2. I want to work on acquiring skills that will help me cope with the situation if I am unable to accomplish my goal of walking again.

3. I want to discover who I am now on the inside, regardless of success in number one above. The things I have gone through in this ordeal have made significant changes in me. I want to recognize, address and embrace those changes.

4. I need help in acquiring new skills of communication with people around me. I'm still unsure what is considered proper etiquette or protocol when people question me about my status. This isn't new. I've always been the kind of person who wonders aloud when people say things like "nice to meet you" 
to which I usually reply "really why is that?"
but now there's a whole new set of circumstances and opportunities for people to say things to me that elicit a sardonic response. And while sometimes such a response is mandatory for my well-being, there are other times, like when a child asks what happened to you? It is quite inappropriate! 

5. I want to accomplish all of the above without being institutionalized…

Merry Christmas


NanaDiana said...

A very profound and touching message. I am proud of you for acknowledging the angry person you used to be...and proud that even though you might have a "belt buckle view" of the world, you stand taller than a lot of "regular guys" I have known in my life. Merry Christmas to you, Kurt. Underneath that tough, gruff exterior beats the heart of a pussy cat! Hugs- Diana

MsDarkstar said...

All of your stated goals sound very realistic, my friend. I agree with Diana... no matter your "belt buckle view" of your surroundings, you stand tall in my mind and in my heart.

Have a joyous Christmas season! Merry Christmas to you!

floweringmama said...

I don't know your whole story, but it sounds like you've faced many challenges but have faced them head on. Sometimes when something effects us so profoundly as a child, it certainly effects who we become.

Merry Christmas

Ms. A said...

I have no doubts you will accomplish your goals. It isn't the wheelchair view, it's your perspective of the wheelchair view. I believe you are seeing yourself as somehow handicapped, both by the chair and emotionally. Kurt, you are the least handicapped person I know, with either one.

Blessings my friend.

Cloudia said...

Just allow your natural sympathy for others (you fought and risked your life for ALL of us - after all!) to blossom and how you interact with others will sort itself out. I know you are a good man with your presence and energy and MORE to contribute. wherever you are, THERE YOU are. And that's great. I so believe in you, though we've only 'met' in blogland.

I'm gonna thank God for you in my prayers today.

Warm Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

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Karen said...

You stand very tall in my eyes, Kurt. Your goals are realistic and your honesty and tenacity will get you there.


The posts I love the most are where you talk about your life. We need more posts like that.

As for this:

' I want to discover who I am now on the inside, regardless of success in number one above.'

You are a dignified, intelligent, compassionate, deep person who is a true friend and family man who makes this world a better place. For real.

You're wonderful.

And I am always right.


Merry Christmas to you and yours Kurt. xoxoxoxox

Charlotte said...

You made me laugh with #4 on your naughty and nice list. No candy cane for you big guy! Have a very MERRY and BRIGHT Christmas.

Red Shoes said...

What a great upbeat wonderful message, Kurt! You are a winner!!

Merry Christmas, my friend!


Blue Ridge Mountains said...

Hoping the best for you in the new year. Merry Christmas.

Choleesa said...

by reading your goals, Id say you are on the right track.
You are an inspiration.