At the end of April, I was invited to visit my fifth grade teacher’s class at North Elementary School. Ms. Clifford’s students had pledged to reach their reading goals in my honor in March and had written beautiful cards and letters of support. In fact, the entire school got involved in fund-raising efforts. I felt loved and honored coming back – and like quite the celebrity!
I’ve posted pictures from my visit to Flickr. (update: Ms. Clifford also made a movie. If you would like to spend an hour listening to me answer questions ranging from “how did you get through your education?” to “what is your favorite color?” I highly recommend it.)
Speaking to Ms. Clifford’s class was extremely invigorating. It turns out that I can inspire kids to get excited about school, just because I’m still excited about school! Certainly, I was very keen to return to North for the end of the year assembly. I also made plans to speak at the graduation ceremony of my Polish School (which I wrote about here).
Unfortunately, being paralyzed got in the way. Suddenly, I found myself in mandatory bedrest – a pressure wound on my tailbone was getting worse and an unending series of urinary tract infections left me incredibly fatigued (unverified fact from my urologist: until the 90s people with spinal cord injuries primarily died of kidney infections). Flashbacks to unpleasant times at the ICU meant I was not only bedridden, but also a bit depressed. I have the van! I have the wheelchair! And here I am, again immobile.
I had to miss the assembly and the graduation. But, my visit to North – much like all of the amazing support I have had in the past months from strangers and friends alike – meant I couldn’t stay ineffectually depressed for long. Ms. Clifford’s class thinks I’m awesome! I need to start acting awesome! These are the final moments to logistically prepare for New York. So, while lying on my side, I have mastered my computer dictation program and directed those around me in sifting through paperwork. Most importantly, I think, I’ve started internalizing the patience necessary to survive my physical situation. Everything takes longer, seems harder, and is so often predicated on the responsibility of others – but that’s okay, as long as it gets done.
May was a back to basics kind of month: I had to put my health first and I had to get motivated again. Now it’s the final push to New York! Registering for classes, finding housing, choosing caregiving – not to mention, not panicking about the budget (every penny counts!). I have a huge project. As I work on it, I owe a huge thank you my cheerleaders at North and really everyone who has been sending me so much encouragement! Thank you – every “step” forward is made with your help.