Survival Of The Non-Fittest #9: Chop Wood … Carry Water

There was a steady stream of people coming into rehab every day and night to see Molly now.

The nurses were used to patients getting visitors, but only for a short time, and then there would normally be a big drop off in visitors. But with Molly, there was no drop off, just a steady stream of people with meals, flowers, plants, posters, pictures, poems, messages, handmade bits of love, and companionship, for the whole 6 weeks Molly was there.

People were bringing her meals, and feeding her, 3x times a day.

Molly began to ask the people who came to visit, to make contact with her physically. To touch her and to massage her, anywhere.  Feet, legs, thighs, hands, wherever. She wanted contact and she wanted to study and experience her lack of feeling and sensation. She knew that she had to find a way to reconnect the neural pathways in her body.

It was a good thing that most of these visitors were body people, comfortable and easy with touch.

One friend who came to visit Molly, was a woman who was practiced in TTouch. TTouch was originally developed for working with animals, but it has also been found to have a profound effect on people.  This woman would approach Molly’s legs very slowly, and she would talk to them like they were her children. Molly’s legs would respond,  by relaxing completely and just flopping open for her.

It was when this woman first started to talk to Molly’s toes, and her toes moved for the first time in response, that Molly began to sense the intelligence in the spinal cord, separate from the brain.

It also corroborated what Molly already had understood about her body, so she put into practice some of the theories that she had already been working on before her injury.

The nurses were beginning to get used to Molly’s level of awareness, information, body connection and body understanding, and they began to trust her suggestions more and more. She was kind with her suggestions, yet she did not back down and challenged them.

One of the night nurses in particular was always a hurry when she would come into Molly’s room at night to catheterize her. She would try and force Molly’s legs open and Molly’s body would completely freak out, get stiff as a board and freeze up, making it impossible for the nurse to insert the catheter. It was a big fight for a couple of nights with this nurse and Molly’s legs.

Molly’s legs won, both nights.

On the third night, Molly asked the nurse to slow down, and instead of trying to force her legs apart, to take her time and even talk to them like she cared about them. It took a while for the nurse to get over her embarrassment, but when she gave Molly’s body the time it needed and she saw Molly’s body and legs relax, her eyes got very big and she broke out into a huge smile.  She learned something that night.

Each time that Molly was catheterized, she would remember in her imagination what it felt like and sounded like to urinate. She kept reaching for that memory and for anything familiar.

It was at this time that Molly began to experience her first spasticity.  It was fetal position spasticity, as opposed to extension spasticity where the body goes straight out and gets stiff like a board.  In this case it was fetal, curled up, yet stiff.

To counteract this, they wanted to give Molly Baclofen, a drug to relax the body and help fight the spasticity. She tried a low dosage of it to see what it would be like.

The drug made Molly feel even more removed from her mind body connection, and she didn’t like it. Plus, she liked her body’s spasticity and was excited by her body’s ability to move, even involuntarily. She did not want what movement she had, drugged out of her. So she refused to take the Baclofen.

Over a long period of time, Molly learned to use her body’s involuntary movement, and she learned how to control that spasticity most of the time. I will talk about this more later.

There were a lot of drugs. It is sad that our medicine is so drug focused instead of healing focused. But that is another conversation entirely.

Meanwhile, Molly was also getting shots of a blood thinner drug everyday in her stomach.  People who are immobile are much more susceptible to blood clots, and the use of blood thinners helps prevent this.  I guess in this case, the drugs were useful.

As I have mentioned a number of times, this period was very confusing and stressful for me. At the time, I was the president and co founder of an independent music company with international distribution. I had a lot going on. My partners were incredibly supportive of me during this time, and I took 2 or 3 weeks off to handle my family emergency. I was lucky to be able to do that.

Emotionally I was absolutely a mess,  but no one really knew because I hid it well. Traumatized by the whole event,  and in shock myself, I was holding on and doing the best I could under the circumstances. I didn’t really have the time or the luxury to fall apart.

Falling apart isn’t really my style anyway.  A mess or not, I had stuff I needed to do. You find out a lot about yourself when you face adversity such as this. Some of it, you might not like. I certainly didn’t.

One thing for sure I realized, no one is trained or prepared to deal with these kinds of traumatic life events.

Plus, I didn’t have the time to process my feelings yet. It was all too fresh and demanding and in my face, and it wasn’t until later when we began to settle into our new circumstances and the new flow of our life, that I began to deal with some of the deeply personal aspects of the challenges I faced, and that Molly and I faced together.

Right now though, I was dealing with the fact that everything in my life had abruptly changed, and with Molly’s well-being.  I wasn’t happy about either and I tried my best to keep my responses simple:

  • What do I have to do next?
  • Who do I have to talk to now?

Things like that. You know,  Chop wood … Carry water.