I spent a lovely autumn morning on the deck today, drinking my coffee with my not-dead orange tree, which is growing happily, before having to flee the sunshine, slightly sunburnt and quite hot, knowing that tonight we are expecting the first winter storm of the season.
Winter storm… Colorado kills me!
As I sat enjoying my coffee to the tinkling sounds of Aspen and cottonwood leaves being blown in the breeze, I thought of another recent autumn day and what I wrote that day.
I feel like sharing that story today:
After sitting on my sunny deck on a lovely, hot afternoon a few days ago, yesterday I laid in the hammock for the first time as an amputee on the first truly fall feeling day of the year: overcast, 50 F, a wee bit drizzly. My view of Pikes Peak was spectacular!
It’s there, I promise, hiding someplace behind those clouds. I think it was Saturday I watched a live stream from one of the area’s high mountain tunnels as the snow fell and I thought about how much I wanted a day like yesterday:
A hot cup of tea, chilly and damp enough to have a fire, sit with friends and laugh, sit outside in the coolness as the leaves start to change color, sweater weather kind of day.
Imagine my delight to wake up to that delicious chill! Off to my closet I went to find a thick pair of leggings and a long sweater pretty enough to wear with my favorite pea coat.
Breakfast with Earl Grey and some time talking to some amazing friends: laughter, tears, more laughter, and the decision to lay in the hammock.
Oh, the hammock.
One thing I am always surprised by is how many things are way more complicated because I don’t have that one foot. Getting into the hammock, for instance, I was about as graceful as a monkey that ate some far beyond ripe fruit. I mean, I managed not to fall and to keep my dignity in place, but only just.
Remember when you were a kid and you had that first experience with the hammock in someone’s yard? You fell once or twice, ended up flipped over and on your stomach underneath more than once, and managed to spin around completely by grossly overcompensating for one of your other failed moves before finally learning how to firmly plant yourself right in the middle, halfway between both sides. Lots of laughter was had by everyone there but you.
It wasn’t THAT bad, but I did suffer from a little déjà vu as I struggled to find the sweet spot sans foot. It turns out that hammock laying without one of your feet puts you surprisingly close to the edge next to the foot free limb, which feels odd anyway to be so far away from center but is also a little disposition distorting that requires a conscious effort not to flip out and overthink one’s location given the number of warnings amputees are given to protect the stump at all costs.
What? I haven’t told you yet about the Holy Grail of Amputee Life, protecting the stump?! Hmmm.
When your limb is first sawed off your body, you get the same lecture from every doctor, nurse, and therapist you see about the importance of protecting the stump from EVERYTHING! Mustn’t wrap the bandages too tightly because the stump will swell, your skin will die, and we will have to shorten it. Must wrap using a special figure 8 pattern because wrapping like a mummy will result in swelling. Mustn’t do anything without the stump protector on! (Stump protector: think big, hard, plastic thing that covers every inch of the stump like a plastic container some cigars have just in case you try to step down with it or are flailing your limb about wildly while going to the loo.) There was panic at the surgeon’s office one day when I overheard someone informing the staff that the hospital nurse the day before had seen a spider crawl into the perfectly wrapped stump and declined unwrapping the stump to de-creepy-crawly it because the wrapping was too perfect to undo because protecting the stump with a perfect wrapping was more important than the spider.
Yes. You did read that correctly. I too imagined someone unwrapping the stump to find a spider’s egg sac that would burst open with hundreds of little effers the moment the bandages were removed.
So as I tottered on my hammock, enjoying the crispy coolness of an autumn morning, I managed to put the protect the stump panic out of my head and enjoyed just laying and rocking in the breeze.
There aren’t a lot of truly relaxing moments when you’re recovering from something as epically kintsukuroi as this, but yesterday was filled with some lovely, peaceful moments where I forgot my troubles for a while, just breathed, and smiled in the autumn bliss.