Friday, June 01, 2012


Every time I see this photo I'm reminded of the old headline in The OnionWhy Does Our Joyless President Never Dance? It's what The Onion does best — providing a laugh riot with a serious finger in the eye. I can't imagine today's Americans would hire a guy in a wheelchair to run the country, especially if that guy and his entourage worked hard to keep that fact from the average voter.

All of us have secrets behind the curtains of our lives, and all of us like to peek behind someone else's panels; we want to see the train wreck as it happens.

Thursday night I wrote a screed about disillusionment and the black depression that has seized control of my brain. I deleted it in the middle of the night — it felt too personal for public consumption, and it wasn't completely accurate — but that wasn't right, or fair, to those of you who've made the choice to go along with me on this ride of realization. I'm trying to keep the curtains out of this room because being honest about what's happened — about what is happening — is healthier than bottling it up inside and saying everything is alright. I've done enough of that in my life and it has only led to great misery.

(I would repost but the wayback machine doesn't have a copy. Ojala.)

The post touched on a few things, including my curious, cautious dance with Calliope and her lapses into silence. It was enough to make my friend Donna post on Twitter: "The facade has fallen ... Quit drinking her kool-aid. It's poison." And Tamlya wrote: "How dare you give ANYONE that much power over your life?"

That wasn't the point of the post — hard as some find it to believe, there's more to my life than the muse — but I understand why some people took it that way, because I still had curtains on some of the windows. But that wasn't fair to the girl, and for that I'm sorry.

Here's what's really been bothering me: tomorrow will be one month since the stroke. I'm a voracious reader, so I've spent a lot of time in that month reading about rehabilitation. Recovery time is generally capped at a year — if things don't get better by then, they probably won't — but the one-month mark is an important milestone, especially for men.

About one-third of people who've had mild strokes "recovered their motor function by 1 month," according to a study. That same study showed "a further significant improvement between 1 and 6 months occurred for women but not for men."

Based on that and other reading I've done, I had set it in my head that if I worked hard enough I'd be all better in a month; I would ditch the fucking quad cane and go back to limpless Friday night walks. Yeah, I know, I'm Pollyanna, and in this case the infectious optimism was a fever that warped my thinking. I'd even put it in my calendar: JUNE 1: DITCH THE CANE.

So when I realized I wasn't going to be out dancing Friday night, I crashed. Of course it came after a day of disappointments; isn't that the way of the world? It's enough to make any heart grow cold.

I busted my ass and worked as hard as I could and I failed to succeed. I missed my deadline. That may sound like no big deal and just a lot of whining, but fucksticks, it's a crushing blow to me (and in the world of daily journalism, missing your deadline is a cardinal sin — it's a deserved one-way ticket to damnation).

The blow has been compounded by nice people trying to say nice things, like: "You're walking a lot better than you were! A hundred percent better! Faster than ever!" Yes, thank you, I appreciate the kind words. I know I couldn't do this the day after the stroke. I know it's gotten better. I also know I've hit a plateau in the past several days and it's frustrating — and compounded with the look I get at work and on the street, I feel like nothing is ever going to get better. I feel like this quad cane and I, we're going to be best buddies for the rest of my life, along with our sidekick, Mr. Theraputty.

And fuck. I mean, really. Fuck. That just makes me want to kick the cat, and while he probably deserves it for many things, he shouldn't have to pay for my sins of pride. Or my belief at this moment that nothing is going to get better, that I'm going to be remembered for the stroke and the slide into oblivion instead of anything noble or good or gracious.

Yeah, I'm feeling sorry for myself. I'd kick myself in the teeth as punishment, but my leg isn't working the way it's supposed to. And it doesn't seem like anything is going to fix that anytime soon. It's the old joke line: I'm as useless as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

There: full disclosure. The reason for my meltdown. The backstory on why my heart is cracked. The glimpse of the man behind the curtain. And while we're evoking the Wizard of Oz, here's one more line for you:

Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.

1 comment:

Jason Wert said...

Ron, you know I'm here and if you need anything even if it's just talking, just call.

But I can't resist this. I hope you'll forgive me in advance. :)

"a further significant improvement between 1 and 6 months occurred for women but not for men."

Ron, it's time to get in touch with your feminine side. Brewer's in the newsroom. He can help.