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Choose Alone To Be Brave

Choose Alone To Be Brave

When I was about ten years old, my father took me and my two siblings to a Sears and Roebuck store to purchase new bicycles for us. My sister and I got twenty-six inch wheel bikes and my brother got a twenty-four inch. We had one set of training wheels, so my dad put them on my brother's bicycle with the intention that all three of us would learn to ride on my brother's bicycle after which we could graduate to our own.

As the first week passed, all three of us took turns learning to ride on my brother's bicycle. One Saturday morning, I decided to set a speed record for going around the block. As I came into the second turn, I miscalculated the degree of turn necessary to miss the massive base of the street lamp and I hit it full on. I was a bit shaken up but not seriously injured. The bike however was broken into two pieces. As I stood up overlooking the wreckage, I was mortified of what my father might say or do to me as punishment for destroying my brother brand new bicycle. No matter, I picked up the back end of the bicycle and hung it on my shoulder, and picked up the front end and put my right forearm through the wheel fork and headed home.

When I arrived, no one was outside. I placed both pieces in the center of the driveway and went into the house to confess. My father was sitting at the dining room table working on something. I quietly asked him if he would come with me to look at the broken bicycle. He was a hot tempered narcissist whose anger could explode without much provocation, so I expected to experience an eruption of rage similar to Mount Vesuvius. He stepped outside, looked at the bicycle in two pieces, "How the hell did that happen?" I sheepishly replied, "I hit a street light." He looked at me in utter amazement, "Well we'll have to take it back to the store. Get a new one. It shouldn't have cracked in two by just hitting the damn street light!" I was elated. He placed the two pieces into the trunk of the 1963 Starfire Oldsmobile and drove back to Sears. I had to accompany him so I could tell the salesman the story.

When we arrived at the store, my dad carried both pieces through the entrance. People stared at him and me. We walked downstairs to the basement and he handed the salesman the two pieces. The salesman's eyes doubled in size, "What happened? Did anyone get hurt?" I thought his second question was absurd, "I hit a street light and the bike broke in two." He looked at me, "Are you okay?” I replied, "Yep." "Wow, I have never seen this before. Here. Let me get you a new one." With the two pieces lying on the floor, the salesman hurried into the back of the store and brought out a new twenty-four inch boy's bicycle. "Take this one. Thank God nobody was hurt." My dad carried the bike to the car, placed it in the trunk, strapped it down and off we went. I thought to myself that was easy and painless. I thought that I was so brave for showing my father the broken bicycle, not knowing what the consequences would be. And it turned out okay.

A very special patient has been coming to the office for years with two bone-on-bone arthritic knees. Her gait has always been off and the pain associated with her walking has been profoundly severe. She is a strong woman but gentle, caring and compassionate at the same time. She lives in a whorl wind of drama both from her family and friends. She has children, a husband, and recently a couple of important family members have died. One of her best girl friends is profoundly ill. In the throes of this hurricane, she realized that it is time to replace both knees. I beseeched her to travel to Huntsville, Alabama to see the best knee replacement surgeon I know of because there was no room for error when two knees were being replaced at the same time. None. She had already settled on a Memphis surgeon, but acquiesced to my demands.

On her way back from Huntsville she texts, Huntsville it is. Thanks.

Over the course of weeks before the surgery, she undergoes a series of clinical testing like no other I have ever seen: nose swabs, blood testing for bacteria, and urine cultures. In additions, she has to takes several baths with specific antibacterial soaps used in hospitals before she makes her trip to Huntsville for the surgery.

The surgery takes place. It took this skillful orthopedist just one hour to replace both of her decrepit knees. When she awakens from surgery, she is greeted with profound pain in both her legs, but not the same pain she has experienced before. Now for stage two; rehabilitation.

Her husband made the trip to Huntsville with her and had stayed by her side all the way. He needed to get back to his job, so he arranged for her children to take shifts while she makes her recovery. He actually wanted her to travel home for inpatient rehab, but she refused knowing that the rehab she was about to face would be like climbing Mount Everest and if she was going to climb Mount Everest, she was going to do it alone and in the best place possible, Huntsville. She did not want her family idly sitting by her waiting for her to do some type of circus trick every now and again as proof that she was improving. Bravo for her. She is a brave woman, a different kind of brave than showing my volatile dad two pieces of a broken bike.

Her kind of bravery requires that she sacrifice all unimportant things to create the greatest will to heal from her surgery, and if it takes telling her family that she wants to be left alone, not only is she willing to do it, but able to. And she did. And she was left alone to climb Mount Everest with her physical therapists as guides and motivational healers on her journey. Last I heard, she was climbing stairs. This is amazing stuff that only the bravest people can do. She is one of them.

I was honored that she trusted me enough to get a third opinion about her knee surgery from an orthopedic surgeon whose practice is three or more hours away. I was certain she would decide to go there for her therapeutic adventure. I now can add brave to strong, gentle, caring and compassionate when I think of her hence forth.

How many brave people do you know? Truly brave. Now you know of at least one. And there's many more out there. Are you one? I hope so.

Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:11 AM
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