I Am Broken Hearted

After hearing of the death of a retired Omaha Police Officer, Keith Thompson, I am reminded of the times I saw him with his wife at therapy in Immanuel Hospital Therapy/Water Therapy Department. He was injured as a very young officer; a car accident, a stolen Jeep with a juvenile driving t-boned his patrol car. His partner was injured, Office Thompson nearly lost his life.

He was paralyzed from the waist down, and he had the same rehab doctor I had. I saw him with his wife at the warm water pool, she helped him try to do his exercises in the water. Once, he got his foot to move, and she was excited, she leaned in and kissed him. I was so touched by that. Small victories helped, I imagine.

This happened probably at least 25 years ago. I lost track of his progress; I remember when he went back to work, he had a desk job, and retired after a 30 year career with the OPD. We were lucky to have him protecting and serving. I did not know he and his wife divorced 15 years ago. Life like theirs had to be difficult. There had to be depression, no matter how much you worked to rise above it. I’m so sorry for that part of their life. I am deeply sorry suicide was the cause of death.

They had twin boys later, and already had a little boy when I used to see him, in his wheel chair, racing the little boy to the therapy wing. It was so sweet, and made me be in awe of his attitude and zest for life and getting better.

Whatever happened after he retired in the last couple years must have become too much for him. His ex-wife and three sons were on the news last night, during National Suicide Awareness Month, they wanted to tell their story, their heartache. They had no idea Keith had such problems he couldn’t talk with someone. I’m so sad he felt so alone, that no one could help him. He always seemed so positive in interviews, etc. over the years.

After one of those warm water therapy sessions years ago, Mrs. Thompson took Keith to a family dressing room, dressed him, and set him in the hall in his wheelchair while she hurriedly took a shower and dressed. I told her the citizens of Omaha were with her, and that I personally prayed for them every day. She thanked me, then hurried to take her husband home.

And now, to the former Mrs. Thompson and her full grown sons: I am still praying for all of you. And for him. And I’m so deeply sorry for all of you. I’m sorry he gave up, but in a way I understand. And I still admire how long and hard he worked to get better. I hope you still know how Omaha appreciated his 30 years of service to it’s citizens. Prayers, love, and hugs.

Optimism, Part II

(Part I is right here).

When I was bedridden for those long six weeks, many moods appeared. I was on a lot of pain medication. There was no surgery pain, although my back had about a seven inch wound from the surgery. It was very frightening to know my spinal cord had no protection from anything. It had no cage of vertebrae around the muscles, covering it up and held it like the upper spine did. I worried about everything hurting it. I wore a plastic shell whenever I left the bed to go to the bathroom or to eat. I’d go walk up and down the stairs just to move around a little. At first, I immediately tired and returned to bed. Sitting hurt like the devil from the bone and disk infection. That pain lasted for months. Eventually, the disk disintegrated.

The neurosurgeon took pictures during surgery. I heard he wrote a paper about my challenge. There was no data on someone recovering from this. I’m it. To this day, I’m eternally grateful to God for what health I’ve had since that year. I can still walk, it’s increasingly painful, so exercise is difficult.

Once the IV antibiotic therapy concluded, I could try to drive myself. The doctor wanted me to go back to work even for a couple hours a day because my depression was taking over, despite being on medication. The medication not only helped the depression, it helps with pain. Your perception of pain becomes different. I take meds to this day for both.

The Doctor had a specific Physical Therapist for me to see. She is a niece of my ex-husband. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly fifteen years, but it was incredible to meet her as an adult woman, a professional and a wife and mother. We have developed a wonderful friendship that is still strong to this day. It’s been a gift to become acquainted with all those nieces from so long ago. They are all strong, loving women with families. I missed them so much! Terri taught me how to live with this disability. I’ve lost a little more every five years. Some is because of aging, the whole surgery, and some laziness I’ll admit to. It’s hard to keep your drive at 100% for years and years. Sometimes, you just need a break. The Babe and I are embarking on a healthy living journey. It should help both of us. I still go to Terri whenever I need PT. She makes it something to look forward to. I’m so lucky to have her. Thanks, Terri, for helping me live my life these past twenty-five years.

As I was gradually getting back to trying to live a new normal for me, I had a blind date with the Babe. We hit it off and have been together ever since. He has cared for me and about me through healing from this event, other surgeries and cancer. For five years I still worked, but the pain caused from sitting at my computer daily was too much. It never occurred to me to go on disability. The Babe told me to go for it. I hesitated. I felt like a bum, but no, I wasn’t.

As the time passed, I developed a terrible curve in my spine. It’s had no support to this day, and I can definitely tell if I try to sew an outfit. One side of my body is lower, at least a couple inches. Hip, shoulder, waist, it’s such a challenge to sew for me. To this day, my ribs hurt and I may have costochondritis, which is an inflammation in the cartilage on the ribs.

It still causes me pain, twenty-five years later. Last year, because of nerve pain, I had a laminectomy on the problem area. I still have pain, it just won’t affect the nerve anymore. Are there still challenges? Absolutely. Life is still worth fighting for, even after all of this. Like Fox, I’m thinking about my mortality. We all need to face it someday. I’m so grateful for these twenty-five years. It’s taught me so much. Like as soon as you quit thinking of being single, you meet someone. And you’re never too old to pursue a dream, it’s never too late.

I wish the best to Michael J Fox. I will continue to follow him, not as a celebrity but more of a common friend. A friend that has inspired me through a lot of our thick and thin. There are thousands of people like me, and like you, who deal with these same issues. It’s hard to go on disability when you’re 48, and Medicare when you’re 50. Your ego takes a lot of hits. You feel worthless, but then, you learn to cope. You have no other choice. You can learn. Begin. Today.

Lucky Us!

Find things that make you smile. Find things that make you happy inside. Read about them, take photos of them. Find like-minded people. Do good for those around you. By volunteering to help others, I think it’s helped me think less of myself and the chronic pain I have. I pay for it the next day, but I expect it. It hurts less knowing I’ve helped someone else.

Thank you for reading today, and for each time you visit. I appreciate it sincerely. Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Positive. Be Courageous. Be Grateful. See you tomorrow!