Are you having an extremely cold winter? We certainly are. I had the first of two necessary total knee replacements this winter. I have been like a gangly legged new foal these past few months. Walking outside to my car through the ice and snow has been an adventure that I try to do without. My biggest fear at this point is that I will fall on the ice and need to have my new knee replaced. With the memory of the surgery only weeks behind me, I shudder at the thought.
The only time I go outside of my house is for physical therapy. A term from my child hood comes to mind…. shut-in. Our church would do special things for “shut-ins.” My mind would race as a child, what or who were shut-ins? I never imagined that I would for all practical reasons become a shut-in, even if only for a short time. This experience has caused another one-degree shift in my viewpoint.
Having had a brush with a possible knee infection early on and being unable to pin-point what the exact problem is, I have been placed on a wait and pray vigil for months. After several rounds of antibiotics the next step is another surgery. In order to rule things out, I am essentially a shut-in, so I don’t pick up the nasty germs floating around this time of year.
Needless to say, I am looking at the world differently. Without much human interaction and limited abilities I struggle to keep busy. I have time to notice and appreciate the little things. While the snow flies, the wind howls, and the ice freezes, melts, and refreezes on my drive and walkway, I am for the most part watching it happen from the other side of the glass, 150 year old glass to be precise. Many of the windows in our old farmhouse are still the original wavy glass from a by-gone era.
These are not energy efficient windows, but I love them. I can’t stand to part with them. Thick storm windows on the outside offer some protection but the wind howls through them, and the ice forms between the layers. This is a gift left over from a different time. Beautiful ice patterns form on the glass, some small some large, each as individual as a snowflake. They remind me of how individual and diverse each of us as people are.
My ears seem to pick up on every sound. You can hear the pipes and walls creak as they fight against the cold to deliver warm water through the walls. Our ancient boiler is working hard to keep the hot water running through the radiators this winter. So far it has proven up to the task. I appreciate my radiators as they can do double and sometimes triple duty. They make a great place to tuck damp shoes, wet mittens or a jacket to dry quickly. Radiators make a luxurious towel warmer, nothing like the feel of a toasty warm towel, pair of shoes, or jacket.
Sunny days have been far and between, when they happen they are glistening bright, reflecting off of the frozen landscape. On those days I find myself stretched out on the wicker couch on the long indoor porch room (that the mad-woman painted in my book, The Year of the Cicadas) absorbing the sunshine and pretending that I am in sunny Florida. Occasionally I can be found there between the hours of one and three wearing a pair of reading sunglasses while I work away. Aaaah …nothing like using your imagination.
I am unable at this point to lift or bend, making aggressive cleaning impossible. I have exhausted TV and movie watching, reading and Facebook are growing weary. I find myself coming down with a case of cabin fever, as my mother always called it. I believe it is way to early in the season for cabin fever. I still have surgery ahead for my second knee and possibly re-opening my first knee.
I know that my shut-in status is short lived, but it feels like forever. It does bring to mind all of those people who are permanently shut-in. What do they do to keep their minds and bodies sharp? How limited are their lives?
It brings to light the handicapped or elderly, and the insurmountable odds they face trying to get out their door to the car, bus, or train. The difficulty they face manipulating a body that doesn’t work to fit into a space designed for a body that does work. For many people this is a way of life. It is exhausting getting from point A to point B, add snow and ice it’s simply overwhelming.
The next time I am waiting for the parking space closest to the door, I will think of the person for whom this walk seems five times as far.
I needed this shift, to see things from a different viewpoint. Thanks for coming along on my journey of changing my world one-degree at a time.
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Send a copy of our book or write to one of your favorite shows, like the Ellen Show, Oprah, The View or Kathie & Hoda, tell them what you think about it. It only does so much if I say my book is good, you the reader carry a lot more weight than I do with the outside world.
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Without you, the readers of The Year of the Cicadas, this story would be in a shoebox in the top of my closet waiting for my grandchildren to discover it after my passing. Thank you for letting me see it find the light while I am still here. You rock.