Monday, August 20, 2012

(Give Up)
Perseverance is a great element of success.
 If you knock long enough and loud enough at the gate,
you are sure to wake up somebody.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

     I don’t know about you, but I cannot remember a 24 hour period of time, when everything went perfectly.  Even though there are more days than not, when I get out of bed with a whisper of hope on my lips, or even a loud proclamation about the gloriousness of the day; it never goes perfectly. There are always challenges, obstacles, or some other sort of interference to deal with or resolve.  I remember one such day, when everything that could go wrong went wrong.  

     I was the room mom for my son, Colin’s, fifth grade class.  It was the morning of the end of the semester holiday party. Colin and I were loading bags of porcelain cups filled with candies, teachers’ gifts, and food and games for the party scheduled for that afternoon, into our car.  After the third trip from the house to my car, I started one last time to go back into the house for my purse and keys.  Upon turning on my prosthetic leg, I found myself falling forward and landing on my very cold cement driveway.

     I rolled onto my side and sat up like a seasoned pro linebacker hardly realizing I was down, and spotted the lower half of my prosthesis with my foot attached, three feet away from the rest of me. Colin was terrified that I had hurt myself, and he was on the verge of tears.  I assured him that I was fine, and instructed him to get the Secretary’s chair out of my home office.

     The words of my Physical Rehab doctor, “Cindy you will need to make friends with your wheelchair,” were swimming around in my head.  I had not made friends with my wheelchair, and in fact two years after becoming a bi-lateral below the knee amputee, I donated my wheelchair to an organization that was in desperate need of one. My office chair had to suffice.

     With Colin and my neighbor’s help, I got into the chair, was pushed to my car, and transferred myself into the seat right behind the steering wheel. Luckily, it was my left foot that broke, and it was proudly sitting on the passenger seat right next to me. My right foot was securely in place exactly where it belonged, at the end of my right prosthetic leg working the gas and brake pedals.  We made it to school in plenty of time.  After arriving, I asked Colin to go get his teacher, and have her come help unload our car. I saw a friend in the parking lot, and waved her over. She and Colin’s teacher arrived at my car window at about the same time.

     “Can you help take some bags into the school?” I asked. “I broke my foot this morning and can’t get out of the car.”  They looked both shocked and concerned, but after sweeping my arm across the passenger seat pointing to my foot, Vanna White style, they began to laugh. “Oh my gosh, Cindy,” my friend said, “I forgot that you don’t have real feet.”  We all laughed and agreed it could have been worse... a real broken foot.  

      I called my prosthetist, Chris, on my cell phone, and left a message explaining my predicament. I wondered if he could fix my leg quickly and easily. I started the engine to begin the trek to Chris’s office, in downtown Denver. When I turned my key, I found that I was “riding on empty.”  Rolling my eyes, and shaking my head, I wondered if this day, which had just barely started, could get much worse. I then remembered that there was a service station only a few blocks from the school. There was an auto repair garage attached to the station, and hoped that someone would be there to pump gas for me. It was still early in the morning. Most places had not yet opened.

     I drove into the station and up to the garage doors. The doors were closed, but I could see people moving around inside the garage. I began to honk my horn. As I waited for a warm body to emerge, I tried to reach Chris again. Bingo! I got him on the second ring. He could not believe what had happened. After assuring him that my left foot was indeed my passenger, he told me to come to his office as soon as I could get there, and to call him on my cell phone when I arrived. He would meet me at my car. And good news, he could fix my leg.

     Finally, after several toots of the horn, a grouchy looking guy came out of the garage, obviously not thrilled to have been beckoned in such a rude manner. I rolled down my window, and began to explain that I had broken my foot earlier that morning and needed his assistance at the gas pump.

     “You broke your foot?” As he looked into my car, I once again swept my arm across my seat where my left foot sat. He looked down at my legs, and literally laughed out loud, “Well there’s somethin’ ya don’t see every day.” He pumped my gas, while chuckling to himself and shaking his head.

      On my way to Chris’s office, I was listening to the radio and heard something that I felt compelled to impart to a friend of mine, immediately. I called him and during our two minute conversation, my phone died. I was out of battery power. I wondered how I was going to let Chris know when I arrived.

     As I turned into the parking lot by Chris’s office, he came out. Fortunately he had been watching for me. He took my foot and the rest of my left leg into his office. Ten minutes later he emerged with my left leg—foot intact.  I put on my leg, and hopped out of the car. He tweaked my alignment a bit, as I walked around the parking lot. I left his office and drove straight for the grocery store to stock up on groceries readying myself and my family for the ensuing snow storm, predicted to start the next day.

     After unloading the groceries and putting them away I sat down at my kitchen table, with a cup of coffee. I looked up at the clock, and began laughing. It was not yet ten o’clock. I could not believe all the events that had unfolded in such a short amount of time. But even more astounding was that any part of my morning could have been catastrophic. Had I given up at any point as each obstacle presented itself, I would have never been able to find the help I needed to get me back up on both feet.  

     Sometimes it’s the NEVER giving up, the perseverance which brings about success. When you knock long and loud enough, the person you awaken could very well be the survivor within you.

      And by the way, I made it to the 5th grade Holiday party that afternoon.