Sixteen months ago I was operated on to remove an e. Coli infection that had lodged itself in my upper spine. In order to stabilize the part of the spine that was affected the surgeon had to put a couple of pins in. And in order to do that he had to sever a nerve connection to my legs.
This essentially left me a paraplegic. While I had still had feeling in my legs, and an almost complete range of motion I was not able to stand without feeling like I was going to topple over at any moment.
This was the beginning of my first exposure to the true magic of the human body.
As time went on, and in steps so tiny that you could hardly perceive them as steps, I got up on my feet, and over and over and over again, explained to my legs that they had carried me for more than 70 years, and they could do it again, regardless of what the surgery had done to my balance.
With the help of a number of very dedicated people, including my wife and my sister, I was cajoled, challenged, goaded, prodded, and pushed to get up on my legs, then to start moving them the way I used to.
This was the hardest work I have ever had to do in my life, and I spent 50 years of it in advertising. But inch by inch, tiny step by tiny step, I pushed. And I pushed some more. I was all about the push and I still am.
I was never quite sure of where I was going to end up. Or how mobile I would be until, at a certain point, just recently and about a month from my last rehab session, something magical happened.
All the training and advice I had received for the past year and a bit suddenly all started to make sense and had become, in a strange way, second nature to me. The tiny bit of nagging fear and the ever-present nagging doubt had disappeared. I had finally given into the magic of what my body could do and how it could do it. And I realized that the heaviest weight I was carrying was my inability to believe in myself.
When that crystallized, it really and truly felt like a magical moment. And from that point on, I was heading downhill. Everything I was doing got easier. My strength and stamina started to improve dramatically, and though my lack of balance was still real it was being compensated for by the confidence that the magic gave me.
Slowly but surely I was able to start walking unaided for distances longer than I had imagined I would. I have a little track of about 18 feet on my porch where I do my walking. Today. I did that track with and without my cane about 80 times. And I did it all without thinking about my balance or my legs buckling or tripping over my feet. I just gave in to the motion of walking like I used to walk and that’s what I did.
I can now envision a time when I can walk around the house and have more of it to live in than I have currently. I can now envision being able to do a bunch of stuff standing up as opposed to sitting down. I can even imagine figuring out a way to get onto the three-wheeled bike in my shed, that we did not sell because
I wanted to keep it in there to remind me that once I could get my ass onto that contraption. I will have made it pretty much all the way back.
So yeah. There is magic all around us. There are wondrous things that happen to people every day, and they show us all what’s possible when you decide to check your fear at the door and just go for it.
I do believe what is happening to me is magical. But I also believe that the magician is me. And now that I understand and accept all of this, I can use it to take me all the way to where I want to be. It won’t be 100% the same as it used to be. But right now, as my pal Dean Raynor, who has pulled off his own magic trick a few years ago, is fond of saying, it will be close enough for cowboys.
I encourage everyone out there to look for the magic in their lives and open your heart and your mind to the possibilities.