When the storm hit, I had been awake for an hour clutching my artificial knee in which an angry nerve protested my pushing its limits by stepping a mere 10 minutes, twice-a-day, on my new stepper.
In the last three weeks, I’ve increased the number of steps that I can attain in that ten minutes by about 10%. At some point, I will increase the tension in the machine to force myself to work harder; then increase the number of minutes; the number of steps; the tension — and so forth.
The road back to my ten-pounds-lighter self poses unique challenges for me. I navigate the spasticity, the broken artificial knee with its imbedded scar tissue and jangled nerves, my awkward balance, and asthma. But I’m not complaining: I have two legs at the end of which two feet can push down, however clumsily, however strenuous the task might seem. I can walk, therefore, I do.
I rose from the bed as the storm raged around the Holmes house. The only way to unclench a frozen malfunctioning artificial joint that I have found is movement. I did not reach for my glasses or turn on the light. I simply paced. The wind howled. The rain pelted. The streetlights flickered. And I walked.
Though the cursed knee hurts, and my legs ache, I won’t complain. My legs always hurt and I don’t take pain medication any more, so I’m back to the level of pain that I experienced as a young girl, before the doctors started me down the long road to prescription pain dependency.
I remember writing once:
I used to think the pain in my legs from this damned spasticity surpassed all other pain. And then I got hit by a car and suffered 32 breaks in my right leg. Then for a few years, I thought the pain of an unsplinted crushed leg must surpass all other pain. And then I watched my mother die a long, slow death from metasticized cancer that crept into her bones and attacked her brain.
Then I knew that I had light years to go before I experienced the worst pain imaginable.
Eventually, the storm subsided and I fell back into a heavy sleep. I woke this morning to the feeling of a soft breeze through the open window. I tested my knee with a gentle motion. It moved. The pain had calmed. The nerve had been released and only protested with a feeble whimper. I heard the dog grousing to be let out. Birds twittered in the neighbor’s tree. I rose and began my day.
It’s the twenty-sixth day of the twenty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining. I’ve weathered another storm and life continues.