Monthly Archives: October 2016


16th October, 2016             IN NEED OF TIME


I had wanted to write last week, and again this, but each time I thought about uncapping my pen, I thought, for what? Who the hell wants to read a blow-by-blow account of recovering from broken bones? You know me, I’m all for discovering the silver lining, but frankly the last couple of weeks have been mainly overcast. Then, yesterday, I received a wonderful email from a friend in London who wrote:

“From your blog it sounds like you are in a great headspace…though I would be truly impressed if you managed never to give in to fits of swearing/being a bitch/violent thoughts and whinging.”

 Thank you Pheobe, for getting it! And no need for you or anyone else to be impressed as I have given in to all of the above and some others I’d rather not mention.

Like all journeys, this one has it highs and lows. I’ve been on more scenic adventures, that’s for sure, although surely the view inside my head is interesting to say the least. Why is it so hard to admit to feeling depressed? What is this investment in seeing oneself as indomitable? Isn’t that kind of insistence a major contribution to feeling isolated? For if you can’t share your lows with others, then not only can they not share theirs with you but it gives a false impression of superiority

So, here’s the lowdown:

  1. I am not indomitable.
  2. I sometimes feel sorry for myself.
  3. It’s hard to sleep.
  4. There is pain.
  5. It’s stultifying-ly boring.
  6. I’m bitchy to Joel.
  7. I have moments of hot resentment of people who can walk.
  8. I’m impatient.
  9. I’m disappointed with myself for not being more creative
  10. I cry every day.
  11. I am at times angry to the point of seeing red.


I know the above list is not a complete picture of who I am, but I still wish none of it were in the frame. It doesn’t fit with the idea I have of myself as being courageous and positive. As though only by being both those things at all times do I have the right to live. How ridiculous.

The stories we make up about ourselves! The other day I was thinking about this accident and thinking, wow, that’s so unlike me; I’m so not accident-prone. Ha. Really? What about all the broken fingers and sprained ankles in sports? The most recent being 2 summers ago playing badminton. What about the time I was leaning against the passenger door of a pick-up truck, talking to the driver and my 5 year-old daughter sitting between us when the truck rounded a bend, the door flying open and me bouncing on my back on the road? What about the broken neck? Or the dropped carving knife on my foot severing the tendon to my big toe followed by surgery and weeks of non-weight-bearing foot in a splint up to the knee?

With regard to the latter, I must say that the medical scooter I used for getting around, kneeling on the bum leg and scooting with the other, was far superior to a bloody wheelchair. I had a basket on the front of it in which I could carry food from kitchen to couch, although mainly the basket carried Windex, Fantastic and a roll of paper towel; clean and tidy house fanatic that I am. With the wheelchair I can just about manage a fly swatter in one hand and a cappuccino in the other, navigating with elbows and the good leg. Forget the cleaning supplies. I have a new method; I just kick crap under the couch and move on.

And yes, there are highs. Like taking the cast off my hand a week early (against doctor’s orders) and massaging it with arnica several times a day. I am now able to type with all 10 fingers although the ring and pinky digits are still only good for nose-picking, unable yet to fully bend on their own. And I am now able to hop to the kitchen and stand on one leg long enough to make 2 drawings.




But even then my expectations got carried away. Ah, I thought, if I can express myself creatively I’m over the hump. But the tears still come. And what are these tears for, apart from finally, after 26 years, getting me a loving pedicure from Joel this morning?

I’ll tell you what the tears are for; for washing away the sadness that accumulates over a lifetime. Sadness too vast to be cleansed in one good cry. And the tears are for the inevitable sadness one feels at this age; that life is on the short end. That there is no quota for pain. That pain, whether emotional or physical, takes us away from our vitality, our life force. Isaak Dineson was so right about there being a salt cure for whatever ails us.


So, if you can’t work up a sweat and you can’t get to the sea, tears will suffice. That life force we all have, it doesn’t go away until we die. But it does take courage and determination to summon it. And it takes the love of others to help us get there. In that regard I am a wealthy woman, for although our friends are scattered far and wide they still show up for me in emails and Skype and Facetime. And how about the woman behind the counter of Bar Moderno here in town who, when Joel went in yesterday to buy me ice-cream, on hearing of my accident, removed the entire metal container of coffee gelato from the freezer counter, topped it up with stracciatelli and said, “Eccola! Un regalo per Maggie!”



And then there is my Joel, my greatest treasure of all, who has fed me, bed-panned me, pedicured and praised me and put up with a sea of despondency.


Today he wheeled me out in the garden, handed me my walking stick with which to point at weeds, that he then hoed. Not to be outdone I hopped out of my wheelchair, lowered myself to the ground and gave a much-needed haircut to some thyme.


P.S. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your kind comments and emails.




2ND October, 2016


I’m pretty much off the pity pot now and headed toward the braggin’ wagon. Tuesday 4th will be 2 weeks since the old bones took a hit and last Wednesday’s follow-up X-rays showed some fine healing. Can’t keep a good/old woman down. But it’s a trip, I’ll tell you…no pun intended!

And what a trip to the hospital it was. Lorenzo, ‘our’ taxi driver is one of those angels who drop into your life when you most need them. He just happened to be the driver the hospital called to take me home, the day of the accident. He is now our driver for return trips and kinder man you’ll never meet. And he comes with a great zest for life and a good grasp of English. Without him guiding us through the mis-directions and bureaucracy of various hospital wings, we’d be lost.


It also helped that the admitting nurse of the X-ray department was mightily impressed to meet a writer and helped speed up the waiting process; a process much like going to the deli counter in the super market…yep, you actually take a number and wait for it to be called. Unfortunately it does not come with a pastrami on rye.


When one’s life becomes limited, one sees clearly how expansive life is. One also sees how much of it we squander. When you can’t do the smallest thing, like walk 3 feet to the couch and plump up the cushions, you are painfully reminded of how much you complain about chores, chores you would now give anything to perform. You also become extremely grateful for the little things still available to you; like being able to tell left from right, which evidently the radiologist couldn’t. Having taken the brace of the right leg, he then proceeded to line up the left one for an X-ray! Never leave home without a magic marker.

I have now had more wheelchairs in 10 days that I have cars in 3 decades. The brand for all of them is Surace, which rhymes with hurachi, so natch I call mine Liberace…we are in Italy after all. The first one had malfunctioning levers and flaps. The second looked good, sleek black, nice big wheels. But evidently looks aren’t everything; it was missing the absolutely necessary platform on which to rest my permanently extended leg. Liberace the third leaves much to be desired appearance-wise. In fact, it reminds of the first car I bought as a single parent on welfare with a one-year-old daughter. The car did not come with a key. What do you want for 50 bucks? However, I discovered that inserting a paring knife into the ignition and turning gingerly did the trick. Much like that car, Liberace the third did come with a major flaw: worn out brakes. So Joel to the rescue:



And how exhilarating is it to haul myself off the couch and sit in Liberace’s lap? It’s been a long time since either of us had this much fun! From there I can wheel myself into the kitchen/living room area, replace candles, wipe counters, stand one-legged at the sink and do the dishes one-handed. I’m becoming quite the wheelchair whiz. But if steps are involved, I’m screwed.


So many things that where out of reach the first week are now doable and I take great pride in being able to do my toilette at the bathroom sink, trim my hair with one hand, and lasso my knickers onto my right foot, which has never seemed so far away. Sure, it’s tiring. Sure, I get frustrated, but then I think about all the paraplegics who compete in wheelchair marathons and I’m humbled. And I think about how, when I broke my neck I was nearly permanently paralyzed from the neck down…and gratitude is an understatement.

There is a time in life when aiming for the unreachable is appropriate, necessary even. As kids, and into our 30’s and 40’s we need to strive for what we want. And if we fall short, well, we’re still further along than if we hadn’t tried at all. And by pushing the boundaries we learn what our limitations are and thus learn acceptance. But at a certain point in life we need to find the balance between having the courage to take worthwhile risks (like moving to a foreign country in our 60’s and 70’s) and when to know that enough is enough; when to let go of what you wish you could do and be grateful for what you still can do.

I have experienced quite a bit of sadness this past week that I am unable to work in my garden. One quick tour around it in Liberace and I can see how much needs to be done. Autumn, like spring, is not only an important season in the garden but an exciting one and I am saddened that I missed both of them this year: Spring was spent helping Z through illness, and now autumn is being spent helping myself heal. But just as I begin to head back to the pity pot, I look again and see all that I have achieved in two and half years.



And I see there is a rosebush within reach, and I wheel over to it and so some deadheading.


In the span of a lifetime, much will remain outside the realm of possibility, but it’s important to look up and out to the horizon, to dream of all that lies beyond it. Then the gaze must return to that which is within reach and the rediscovery of how vast is the ‘now.’