Two Years On

19 07 2019

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

Two years ago today, my life almost ended.

A year ago today, my life began again with the job offer of my lifetime.

***

Because I was told repeatedly that whatever I was two years after the fact was highly likely what I will be for the rest of my life, I now know that it ended up with a noticeable loss in cognitive functionality, but not enough to be permanently debilitating, or enough to hinder me making a living. I know I’ve lost much of my subversive creativity, some measure of my speed of cognition, and I know there are still some gaps in my short-ish term memory even now. And because it’s now two years after the fact, those things will most likely never come back.

No matter how you slice it, you’re never the same after taking that kind of a blow to the head, even if you recover most of the way.

Physically, and projecting out based on the rather likely circumstances of a successful leg rehab, and I’ll get to that in a minute, I know I’ll never have the kind of physical finesse to do things like play golf. However, it looks like I’m going to have almost all of everything else in 95%-ish proportions of what I was two years and one day ago.

***

I have not had any setbacks since the first week of rehab, and the only reason I think I had those was because I was despondent over my last remaining blood uncle dying at about that time. At the start of the second week, I looked myself in the mirror and told the guy on the other side that we have to let the dead bury the dead, that we’ve come too far to let this knock us off our rails, and that either we really want this or not.

I’ll properly grieve later.

June 14 was my last setback, and presuming I have no more, December 14 is my new Freiheitstag. That’s actually my biggest motivation; Imagining the brand new car I’ll be buying and driving not long after, and being all the more useful in my job for it.

***

You may be wondering what physical rehab is like for me.

It boils down to three things: (1) Lose weight, (2) Regain muscle, (3) Reteach my brain how to use my legs properly.

Because, as you know, I was overweight before, and only gained more weight in the time of being in a wheelchair, I have to lose weight in order to keep so much weight from pressing down on my knees and feet, so as not to cause stress fractures, now that I can be upright and on two feet again. But I have to engage in my weight loss methods in such a way that it doesn’t stress my knees. Which means the pool, the rower and the bike, every day. And, in the first month and change, I have lost twenty, meaning I’m back down to the same 250 I was two years ago today. Really, that extra twenty was Germany weight, the weight I gained from vacationing and then living in a country whose name is synonymous with beer. Once I lose another twenty to thirty, preferably thirty, then my daily cardio can expand to other things that would mean me stressing my knees and feet, and that in turn will help me lose more weight even more quickly.

Because I lost some muscle mass while in the wheelchair, I have to get it back. Again, not in ways that stresses my knees. Which means relatively moderate weightlifting, but nothing like squats or deadlifts. Every day.

On top of that, I do professionally supervised calisthenics. That’s the part to reteach my brain how to use my legs with some measure of finesse and detail.

So, there you have it.  Calisthenics, then lift, then row, then bike, then swim.  Every day.  Yes, it’s a grind, and a tiring grind.  But once again, it’s all a matter of I either want it or I don’t.

***

There’s also something and someone new in my life. Well, the thing isn’t new, even the the one is.

In typical me fashion, it has a back story, and going to need a little bit of an explanation, with several polite circumlocutions.

When I called my doctors at the end of April to tell them about my improvements over that month, one of them broke away from the typical “err on the side of caution” in terms of prognosis that was the habit of my relevant physicians until then, and let himself be optimistic to a point. He told me that while what he was about to tell me was not a guarantee, that my coming that far would probably mean I’d come at least most of the rest of the way. Furthermore, he said, it was pretty likely that a certain missing for almost two years piece of functionality would soon be coming back to me. He sent me enough blue pills for a weekend, for such a time if and when it came back.

Well, it was about a week after that, that I suddenly had that strange and long lost tingly feeling. Of course I knew what it was. I looked at my hand and asked it: “Do we still know what we’re doing, hand?” (It’s not crazy to ask my own hand a question, but if it would have answered me back, I would have checked in to an institution that Germans call a Nervenkrankenhaus). After an act that Germans formally call Selbstbefriedigung, (hint: “Selb” = Self, “fried” = The root of peace, satisfaction, etc.), even though that word more often means “self-gratification” in the non-sexual sense, it was clear that we were back in business.  It was also clear that I needed those pills.

Already, I had a practical application for my newly restored functionality and those pills, besides my own hand and that long German word.

We had been looking at each other on and off since September. She’s my German tutor.

We both knew from our body language toward each other since not long after the start of the tutoring that we’ve had feelings for each other. But I was also totally upfront and honest about what was at the time my affliction in that department, and just about everything else otherwise. Upfront about the reason why we couldn’t take it to the next level.

The morning after the night of being back in business, I saw her just based on our normal tutoring schedule. It must have been the way I looked at her, but she must have immediately read my eyes and knew what happened, and then she looked at me in a very different way. All without saying a word in either English or German. Needless to say, our tutoring session that morning was rather abbreviated. And that night, the curriculum officially expanded from foreign languages to sex education.

When we’re in that mood, she wants me to talk Deutschy to her.

Now, I have to remember it’s me, and in this department, I have a big body count and a lot of tears in my rearview mirror. She might be The One, or she might be just another one. Experience and cynicism have taught me to take these things at eye and ground level, and don’t invest inordinate hope in any one frau. But by the same token, I’m going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts, and now that my blue pill script is a permanent standing one, I’m sure she will, too. Of course, I now need pharmacological enhancement, because I’m 42. That I probably would have needed anyway even if two years ago today was just another day.

One thing we’ve both made clear to each other is that we’ve both got our jobs and our lives, that we have to tend to those first. This relationship will fail if I ever become that kind of a pussy hound, or she becomes that kind of a dick hound. The way both of us figure, if our “catch as catch can” circumstance becomes too much a problem, that will be what makes it cool off.  By the same token, our commonality in that department means that we get each other’s kampf.

To that end, one slight complication in our relationship started when I moved here to Wiesbaden for the summer to do rehab; She herself lives back in Cologne. She comes here about once every other weekend for a conjugal visit, and she certainly is into conjugation, verbs and otherwise. But what it is, is another test of whether our relationship can stand that much absence and distance, now that it has crossed over into all-the-way territory. It was one thing for me to be gone the whole time from mid-September to late October, because we just started tutoring, and then again for me to be gone late January to the end of February, because by then, we were at the point of feelings for each other but my physical limitations got in the way.

If we can keep this thing together after this summer, and after my next extended roadtrip, and the latter will be in the second half of next month ranging into early September, for the Brandenburg state elections, and then in the second half of October for the Thuringian state elections, then I think we can seriously start pondering this relationship with much more long term thoughts in mind.

Note:  All I will say about her publicly is that she’s 32.  Anything else, I will only tell to the trusted few and definitely not in public.

***

Looping back around to a previous topic while staying on this one, once I get back from Thuringia, and that will be at about the end of October, presuming my rehab track goes well, that’s when I’ll go back to my own apartment in Cologne, and continue the rest of my rehab self-guided. Including the long process of looking for a new apartment, as, again, presuming no more setbacks, December 14 looms large on the calendar. In spite of rehab, I do have to go to Brandenburg and Thuringia for those two states’ election cycles, so that will slightly interrupt my rehab, even though, again, by then, I’ll be able to do some self-guided things so that I stay on track.

In between Brandenburg and Thuringia, from early September to mid-October, is when I’ll be re-learning how to drive and taking the German written driving test, presuming I have no more setbacks. Remember, like I wrote here back in May, the German government has partial reciprocity with Missouri drivers’ licenses, so all I legally need is the written test. Even though medically, I will need supervised driving lessons; You know, the good ole empty Parkplatz. But also like I said, I won’t drive on my own until December 14, again, presuming no more setbacks. Yet and still, driving a car, any car, even supervised, even in an empty parking lot, for the first time since two years ago today, is going to be a big step, and a psychological hurdle.

***

That light at the end of the tunnel is getting temptingly closer and closer.

***

Because I’m living in Wiesbaden for the summer, after having visited twice before, the first time being my first Saturday after actually moving to Cologne, Wiesbaden and Mainz being the end point of the Middle Rhine cruise, and then again late the next month for the Hessian state elections, I’ve done a deeper dive into Wiesbaden and Mainz.  They were not part of the vacation last summer.

One of my objectives of the summer voyage was ancestry chasing.  Because I have no documentation of my supermajority German ethnic constitution before the immigrating generations along all lines, I was left to rely on racial memory, that tingling feeling, where I get the sixth sense of people seeming the most familiar.  I had the same objective with my Czech lineage, and as those few of you who have asked me and I trust know because I told you, I was very successful in that regard, to the point of narrowing it down to a single small town.  Back to Germany, what I found is that I had by far the biggest tingling feelings in the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Neckar regions.  Meaning the Kraut in me is Rhenish.  Which makes sense, because it would mean that German ancestors left one major river region for another on the other side of the world, the Mississippi-Missouri.

To be honest, I get an even more strong tingling feeling from this area than I do anywhere else along the Rhine that I have felt it.  If my senses are right, then it means that Wiesbaden and Mainz are the epicenters of my German ancestry.

In a sense, I’ve truly come home.  Again.

To make matters even more eerie and spooky and deja-vu-ish, the Busch in the founding generation of Anheuser-Busch was born around here, in territory that is now legally part of Wiesbaden.  Furthermore, there is a bridge over the Rhine between the heart of Mainz and the edge of Wiesbaden (the heart of Wiesbaden actually sits a bit north of the river front, while Mainz’s heart is right on the river), called the Theodor Heuss Bridge — Look it up, and St. Louisan, tell me if it isn’t almost a dead ringer for the Eads Bridge.  Since its first iteration of its current style (1885) was after the Eads (1874), I bet that the Heuss designers and engineers used the Eads as a model.

***


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17 responses

19 07 2019
Lewis33

Glad to hear all of this uplifting news!

19 07 2019
countenance

You’ve got a bright future in the double entendre business.

Speaking of, she is coming this weekend, and as I write this, a few minutes before seven, she and her WV will be here very shortly.

19 07 2019
Puggg

I’ve got money put aside already for the airline tickets. I call dibs on being your best man.

19 07 2019
countenance

Quit thinking that far ahead.

In related news, our kids will be dual citizens.

19 07 2019
Life Takes a Bite Out of Your Blogmeister | Countenance Blog

[…] Two Years On.  The two year anniversary, and the goings on since the beginning of May. […]

19 07 2019
19 07 2019
Alright Dan

We’re all cheering for you over here.

20 07 2019
Alex the Goon

but if it would have answered me back, I would have checked in to an institution

21 07 2019
UlricKerensky

Very few writers make jokes in dual languages.

21 07 2019
countenance

Either you’re praising me for being in a stratospheric category, or giving me a hint that a certain shtick is flopping.

By tonight, I’ll figure out which.

21 07 2019
UlricKerensky

The first.

21 07 2019
nowhereman1968

Hope things work out for you!
I had a similar set back years ago (car wreck that wasn’t my fault)
You have made more progress in 2 years than I have in nearly 20.
As Red Green used to say ‘Remember I’m pullin’ for ya–we’re all in this together.’

22 07 2019
countenance

I’m lucky to have made any one of the major elements of recovery that I have. More than that, I’m rather lucky just to have survived it at all. Much later on, after a lot of things passed, the doctors told me that, at my nadir, the calendar day after the fact, I was 50-50 on the prognosis of even surviving.

22 07 2019
David In TN

Six and a half years ago I was diagnosed with a malignant tumor. On the good side it was “encapsulated.,” meaning in one place.

When I went to the Vanderbilt Cancer Center, the interns looked at me as if I was a dead man. I guess it is with many people they see.

The first doctor I saw said “You have a malignant tumor.” But she also said “We can cure you.” When I asked the surgeon “Is there any hope?” He said, “Sure.” First it was chemotherapy, which was supposed to reduce the tumor. The surgeon said he would operate even if the chemo didn’t work. Fortunately, it did. The tumor was reduced considerably.

After 10 once a week chemo sessions, there was a five and a half hour operation. The idea was to get all of the tumor. It did.

I was week for a month or so after the operation, no energy. One day, my strength came back and i could do what I wanted. Then I had radiation for several weeks.

I had yearly scans for several years, all clean. Now, I have a checkup once a year. I feel good.

What I’ve learned is enjoy yourself while you can. If you want to go out and have fun, do it. If you want to do something, go and do it.

Do what you want as long as you’re healthy.

26 07 2019
Nicholas Stix

Gratuliere!

Hals- und Beinbruch!

26 07 2019
countenance

You just made my brain blue-screen.

Really though, I’m surprised you’re not in my e-mail wanting to know what I can’t write here.

8 06 2020
From Glass Houses | Countenance Blog

[…] might seem very familiar to St. Louisans at first glance. Even though you remember.  This protest is on the Mainz and RP side of the Rhine, the Theodor Heuss bridge in the […]

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