One Pedal At A Time

By the time you are reading this, Joe and I will have celebrated our 26th anniversary – appropriately enough, on the 26th of May.

And, by the time you are reading this, we will have observed another anniversary: one that is both celebratory and affecting. We have noted the one-year anniversary of Joe’s first stroke and the onset of the medical turmoil that became our focus throughout 2016.

Reflecting back upon last year a profusion of memories filled my mind; each thought battling for priority as they take turns thrusting themselves into the limelight only to be shoved into the background by another.

I pictured Joe’s inability to speak clearly. This was the first sign of his illness yet we held our anniversary celebration with our children and grandchildren, laughing, taking photos, enjoying the day and each other’s company. Dampening the merriment however, was the whispered concern, “There is something wrong and we are frightened.”

Recollections of doctors’ visits, fact gathering, tests and more tests, hospitalizations and fear flooded my head.

And hope. There was always hope that Joe would get through, come home again and, well, be Joe again.

Would he be a healthy biker dude once more? That we didn’t know. What we did know, however, was that as a long distance biker he had the stamina and fortitude to get through even the most difficult terrain as he rode from Virginia and Oregon in 2009. Three years later he pedaled from the Mexican border to the Canadian border over the Sierra Cascade ridge-line. Then, just a year before his illness struck, Joe went from San Diego to St. Augustine, FL.

The one thought that refused to leave me was that last ride and the torturous passage through 1,000 miles of Texas heat, floods, fire, hailstorms and tent-invading raccoons. When I had asked him how he did it – how he persevered – his response was, “One pedal at a time.”

So I began to refer to last year as Texas.

One step at a time: one pedal at a time, Joe ultimately found his way through Texas and he survived the medical emergencies.

We brought him home at the end of October, 2016 and he has steadily made progress; from needing a machine that lifted him out of his hospital bed to get him to a wheelchair, to watching him begin to ambulate with a walker, progress to a cane and now walking without any aids.

Joe is back with us and, although, there is more progress to be made, he is once again the self-sufficient, bright, loving and cheerful Joe that he has always been.

Each step of the way was fraught with great difficulty, yet he persevered and made amazing gains in all facets of his recovery.

And just how was this accomplished?

One pedal at a time.

Dear readers,

I am writing this on May 18,th and as Joe and I prepare to celebrate our upcoming anniversary, it is now time for me to end this series of articles on being his caregiver.

It has been a job I had never asked for, was completely unprepared for and totally uneducated in the skills I’d have to employ. But we learn well under fire and I recognized that and undertook this new role with a determination to do my very best for Joe.

I believe I’ve done well.

So many of you have reached out to me with kindness and caring.

And so many of you have also reached out to me to let me know that my words have made your own roles as caregivers a bit easier.

How wonderful that is, for we are all in this life together and knowing that in some way I have helped you through your own difficult situations is the greatest gift you can give to me.

Thank you.

May your lives be blessed as much as mine continues to be.

Now I shall close and get ready for our anniversary celebration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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