It all started at the gym this morning, where I’m trying hard to adhere to physical therapist Heidi Engel‘s strength routines, called “pyramids,” in which the trainee lifts progressively shorter sets of heavier weights.
On one machine, the Dual-axis Row, I’m up to 140 pounds, which is getting back up to where I was before our ‘little problem‘ last summer. As I pulled back hard on the bars, my left hand abruptly died (a ‘feature’ of neuronally-challenged muscles) and the arm flew off in a shot, throwing me suddenly and completely off balance, a twisting motion that carried me off the machine’s narrow seat, wherein I came to renew my relationship with Mr. Floor.
Mr. Floor and I had quite a connection back a couple years when, newly half-paralyzed, I was still learning the operational envelope of the new neural ‘downgrade’, but we haven’t spent much time together lately. Naturally, me crashing into my old friend set off a minor flurry among my gym mates, who rushed over to help. One fellow even had the presence of mind to check to make sure I wasn’t having a hear attack. No, just my hemiparetic muscles reminding me that we still have work to do.
Red faced, I got back on the machine and finished my routine before making as low-key an escape as I could manage. Then it was off to Safeway – the nice new one on El Camino – for a ‘big’ shopping outing – we were out of all the bulky stuff like paper towels, bathroom supplies et al. A quick stop at the new Peet’s in the same complex revealed the usual crowd – it’s basically the cheapest office you can rent in Menlo Park (unless Le Boulanger can claim that honor).
Then home, only to find a Jaguar was blocking more than half the driveway – given the hour, the driver was likely an Oak Knoll School parent waiting for a child. I approached as closely as I could, but the driver refused to budge. I sat, feeling foolish, in the street, unable to enter my own driveway, flashing turn signal and other efforts bringing no response – the driver kept her head steadfastly averted (a behavior we have previously noted). Cars started to back up behind me, so I got out of the street by driving over a corner of the lawn – trying to avoid the sprinkler heads – and then angling the car into its normal slot as best I could.
Even when I backed the car straight toward the Jag, twice, as I was trying to straighten out, the driver kept her head rigidly focused on her lap, where some small device (an iPhone perhaps?) held her entire attention.
Usually, when we do a ‘big’ shopping, we back the car up to the garage, shortening the number of steps we need to stump to get everything into the house. I’m sure you able-bodied folks think this trivial, but it’s a bigger deal here in hemiplegia land, where every step is a minor project, and weak limbs struggle with weights like grocery bags. In any case, the Jag’s position made backing in impossible.
Anyway, we were on our fifth trip to the opened hatch of our Ford – mere feet from our nemesis – when the woman suddenly looked up at me and very animatedly began mouthing something. I couldn’t hear what she was saying (admirable soundproofing in Jags, I guess) but I don’t think it was “I’m sorry.” Rather than confront some enraged CEO or VC (or, perhaps, wife of a CEO or VC), I fled – though I’m not sure what my crime was – she had been blocking the driveway for some 20 minutes at this point, and I wasn’t bothering her – quite the contrary. Not that some Oak Knoll School parents aren’t wonderful – they are (one woman brought my recycling bins up from the curb one morning). So go figure… at the least she could have helped me with the groceries…