There wasn’t one moment, it was a number of small things. Unconsciously squatting to put washing in the front loader and being able to stand up. Forgetting to use my stick when I walked to the photocopier. Being able to stand on my right leg during physio without my right hip feeling like it wants to break apart. Being able to go up steps in the hydro pool. My legs felt stronger. And the leg spasms were gone. It was the difference between one day and the next.
I noticed the change when I was standing behind a lecture stand. It was the last week of lectures and the lecture I was just about to launch into was my favourite for the year. For the next two hours my students and I would be devoting our minds to the Book of Psalms, the Tehillim. For this lecture I need the white board, all of it, and the freedom to draw and write on the board as I talk. The moment when I needed to push the lecture stand aside, doubt crept in. Can I lecture without the stand? Could I lecture without my walking stick to keep me steady? I couldn’t teach this class in the way I have in previous years with my walking stick. So with a big deep breath, I put my walking stick aside and for close to two hours, although moving was difficult, I hardly used my walking stick. I grew weary quickly, but the content of the class was a good distraction. By the end I was ready to collapse, but I knew my legs were stronger. That corner we had been waiting for since August had finally been turned. The difference was undeniable. I was no longer wandering aimlessly on a plateau. I was no longer flat. I was elated. And the moment wasn’t lost on me. I was lecturing on a book of poetry, and reading it aloud, where the psalmists express their confusion in crisis and yet their questioning is turned into words of joy, even before their circumstances change. The elation lasted a moment, but soon relief swept in. Relief that there is progress. And just great thankfulness. This wasn’t a result of the hours of rehab work and forcing myself to walk longer distances than I could manage. What was the difference? The muscles supporting the right hip joint decided to begin working again.