“I hate my physical therapist.”
“My therapist hates me.”
“She is a sadist.”
“Just watch and see.”
“She loves to see me grimace in pain.”
“She says my torture is my own gain.”
“I hate my therapist.”
“Can’t you see?”
“Because of this punishment, how can she love me?”
Alright, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh my goodness, that poor Aimee! She hates her therapist? What are they doing to that poor child?”
The above is a brief glimpse of a typical moment of rehab. I must add one important factor: Aimee loves her physical therapist.
During each of her physical therapy sessions, Aimee does two hundred crunches in seven minutes. Every ten crunches, Aimee is required to say a complete sentence with each repetition. Hence my rhapsodic poetic rendition, which is basically my take on what Aimee says, based on my discussion with Aimee herself.
At this point I have to pause and ask a simple question. How many of you can do two hundred crunches in seven minutes?
No, making two hundred crunching sounds while eating a bag of Cheetos does not count.
Wait, that’s not all. Aimee also has to do four hundred leg lifts in seven minutes, an untold number of pushups and something else that she calls “planks” and “sideplanks”.
I always thought sideplanks were something you put on your plate to keep the food from falling off when you visited the buffet line. Not the same.
These workouts serve a great purpose for Aimee. She is conditioning her body to be strong enough to shift her weight so that she can maneuver in and out of her chair onto any surface. She’s getting pretty doggone good at it too.
A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to buy a nice van with a lift, at a reasonable price, for Aimee. It had a locking mechanism for a wheelchair on the right front passenger side. You want to know Aimee’s reaction?
“No way! I am not going to be chauffeured around town like a handicapped person.”
I was taken aback. I thought she would see value in the van, just as her mother and I did. Where we saw value, she saw dependence. She wants to come and go as she pleases. She wants to drive herself wherever she wants to go, preferably (according to her) in a Prius V.
I bit my tongue. The same young lady who totaled three cars (and a golf cart) when she was whole now wants to drive when she lacks hands or feet? I didn’t say that to Aimee. The simple fact is that between her ears, Aimee is 100%. She knows that she can accomplish anything she wants and that lacking the hands or feet to accomplish such tasks is only a minor inconvenience. She is learning to work around these inconveniences and she is determined that she will prevail. Who am I to tell her any different?
Needless to say, the van ain’t happening.
The workouts are only one illustration of Aimee’s fortitude. The other is her incredible ability to see through the haze that often encompasses many of us in the normal course of our lives. How often do we get so fixated on a goal that we lose sight of the proverbial forest for the trees?
Aimee has taught me some valuable lessons this past week. I grew overly concerned over matters that I should never have been concerned about. I wanted to continue to coddle my “vulnerable” daughter and make decisions for her. Stupid me. No one is better able to make decisions about Aimee’s situation than Aimee herself. She is a very bright adult who has incredible clarity of thought and I have gained mountains of wisdom from talking with her. I have learned more about myself and I have become a better person because of it. Let me rephrase that: I have become a better father because of Aimee.
The blessings of our situation continue to pour in. These days I cannot even count the blessings anymore. The ability to learn and grow as a human being is a very important part of the process and I count myself very fortunate in that regard.
Donna and I are humbled constantly by the outpouring of love and support we receive. Letters and cards from well wishers continue to stream to our home and my office. Workers flood to our house to help with the ongoing wing addition and the renovations to our home. They all say the same thing to us: “Thank you for letting us help you!” That is extremely humbling.
We went to the Antique Mall on Five Forks Trickum Road in Lilburn today and we were presented with a check for a percentage of the day’s sales proceeds. The owners, Jim Underhill and Pat Flynt, commented about what an inspiration Aimee has been to them. Employees and patrons came up to Donna and I and told us about how they were also inspired. One young lady, who shares a common friend with Aimee, said that Aimee has helped her immensely. She held out a device that hung from her neck and said, “I no longer worry about this defibrillator.”
I was stunned. “Are you alright?” I asked.
The young lady broke down in tears and explained that her heart was failing. Twenty four years of age with a failing heart. Donna hugged her and offered consolation that only a mother can give. I took a more logical approach and asked the question that most people would ask in a similar situation.
“Are you on a heart transplant list?”
She wiped a tear from her eye and explained that her situation was not dire enough for a transplant. Although her heart is weak, a person has to be in full failure before such a move can be considered. She added that although doctors told her that she could never have children, she beat the odds and delivered a baby two years ago. She hugged us and asked us to thank Aimee for her inspirational strength and perseverance. As she walked away, I was the one who was inspired.
Aimee will soon know the full extent of how she has inspired so many people through her experience. She will soon discover the many people who have reached out to her with love and support. I have no doubt that each personal story of inspiration will serve to further strengthen Aimee’s resolve as she strives to better herself. In a world of shared triumphs, none are more meaningful than the triumphs you have shared with Aimee along her road to recovery and rehabilitation. I believe that road will never end, but it will wind through the course of Aimee’s life and your encouragement will only foster more inspiration in return. While I know this will make a sizable impact on Aimee’s life, Aimee doesn’t dwell on it. I think this makes her story even more compelling. Aimee’s focus remains on one thing and one thing only: not being “handicapped”. If hard work is any indication, I think we can all surmise that she is well on her way toward achieving that goal.