And then a miracle occurs….

The other day I had another series of epidural injections into the vertebral areas around my spine. I was heavily sedated. Oh hell, basically I was cold-cocked so the doctor could work on me.

Children of photographer W. Eugene Smith walking hand-in-hand in woods behind his home, in photo entitled

I was unconscious when he did the work. When I was brought awake, the friend who brought me over drove me home. I was a bit dazed.

Epidural spinal shots come with absolutely no guarantees about whether they will work, to what extent, and for how long. Yesterday morning I woke up and could walk on pain-free feet. I still needed my cane because I walked like a guy about to go to the drunk tank for 15 days. But miraculously, my feet did not hurt.

A spinal, Neurontin, and Tramadol. I am feeling far closer to human than I have in quite awhile. And I love how it feels. Yes, I love how I feel. It’s novel for me to feel this good. I also got a high-powered anti-bipolar drug called Seroquel, and Cymbalta from a psychiatrist and my neurologist. It’s a juicy cocktail, but damn if it isn’t making me feel a hell of a lot better. How long will this go on? I don’t know. Two weeks, two months, two lifetimes? I’m not in the prediction business.

All I know is that I feel civilized again.

I’ve even begun to write again, and to edit some earlier work that I think deserves exposure via publication. I’m learning how not to be reticent about showing my work. I’m rewriting my divorce poetry sequence, tentatively entitled Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding), after Lorca’s play. I’m sufficiently far away from the divorce to be able to look at it now as an opportunity for craft, not to just spew. Enough, already, with spewing. I’ve done that.

I don’t walk well, but I can walk. I took a healthy stroll this morning from the local mental health clinic to the bus stop. Yes, I “sought professional help,” and I’m getting it. No pain. Oh, some wobbles. I’d still be busted for public intoxication, and I’m not signing up for a 5K run, but short walks now happen without pain. You can’t imagine how good it feels not to have your feet killing you. And I feel somewhat optimistic again. I can write, I can walk, I may even be able to love. given the right opportunity. I can’t predict but I don’t necessarily think I’m an idiot for feeling that way.

As for the pictures….

The photograph at the top of the entry is by the great photojournalist W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978). It’s known as “The Walk to Paradise Garden,” it’s the first image Smith made while healing from a severe shrapnel wound to the face and jaw he received in the Pacific Theater during World War 2. Remember, combat photographers are the ones who stand up to shoot when everyone else hits the deck. Smith got his two kids–Patrick and Juanita–outside and had them walk toward the light. He claimed the photo was mawkish, but it’s inspired people to the point where it often carried religious significance, an ayuda a la oración. Mawkish or not, it inspires me.

So does this, closer to home, of Misha my cat:

Misha FaceNever underestimate the healing power of a companion animal. Misha is my friend, my four-legged son, and a companion who’s held me together more than once. His effect on me is beyond any words I might otherwise have used to describe him. Plainly, I love him, just as I loved the three cats and one (really big) dog who preceded him. Cid the dog loved everyone, and almost everyone (except maybe the cats) loved him back.

Cures, or at least relief, come in all shapes and sizes. They may come through a well-placed injection. They may come through a cat or dog licking you. Stroking a cat is a fabulous stress reliever. So is walking a dog. A big doggie grin is an analgesic for lots of pain. Don’t discount it. Ever. Or you’ll be bitten.



About Ken Wolman

Sit still, shut up, and listen. We might both learn something.
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2 Responses to And then a miracle occurs….

  1. Thank God! I am so glad to hear that you are pain-free. I know there are no guarantees about how long that condition will continue, but I pray that it lasts a good long time.


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