The Knee and I. Last Dance … for Now.

My knee seems to have assumed some manner of independent existence. I catch myself referring to “us,” in the plural. My knee and I. We are doing well.

After my first week of PT, the knee has a 125 degree bend. I’m driving. Even got back into the pool for morning laps (minus scissors and frog kicks). The walker, crutches, and shower chair are all locked away in my storage unit. The knee is still pretty achy with lots of inflammation. And while I walk unassisted, I’m slower than a snail. PT exercises are some days tough enough to bring tears.  But another 5 weeks of PT promises lots more progress. All in all, we are doing very well.

And with that, I’ll be ending this installment of my blog. I never meant for this to be a forum for chronicling ailment. Starting with Peace Corps, this was supposed to provide narration of travel adventures. And so it shall. Next time you hear from “Where in the World is Myra?,” I intend it to be all about some swell adventure to who-knows-where. Stay tuned. God, Covid, and my knee willing — I intend to be joyfully on the move.

Meantime, thanks for caring prayers and good wishes. Stay well and be happy. Blessings!

The Blessing of a Bended Knee

Jewish readers of this blog are very familiar with the Hebrew word Baruch. It means “blessed” or “praised” and is the first word of the huge majority of our prayers and blessings.

Hebrew words all have a (usually 3 letter) root. Tracking down that root and its meaning often adds nuance and fuller understanding of the word itself. The root of Baruch is berech, which means “knee.” A blessing seems to be that which merits grateful acknowledgment of bended knee. And so, when in prayer we utter that word Baruch, it is customary to bend the knee in a brief bow.

Can you tell where I’m goin’ here?

I saw my surgeon this morning. All is good. Good enough that I can take off the immobilizing brace and leave the walker behind, whenever I’m comfortable doing so. As I wait for my first physical therapy appointment next Monday, I’m on my own to start bending my knee. After 6 weeks of being braced straight, that poor joint is more than a bit stiff. Feels rather like a block of concrete, in fact. And my quads, having been on sabbatical, aren’t too crazy about going back to work either. But I’m at about a 20% bend on Day One, which feels like quite the accomplishment! Ok, a bit of an ouchy accomplishment. But I’ll take it. And I can’t wait for PT to start so that we can move this process along.

The blessing of a bended knee indeed.  Baruch!!

Journey

I live in a high-rise condo downtown. My unit is rather a distance from the elevators, which I’ve always thought a virtue. No noise, either mechanical or human, as residents travel up and down.

A virtue until now. My immobilized knee ambulates ok, but with great effort. And a walker.

Today it occurred to me that I might want to turn on the ignition of my car, which has been sitting for a month. That meant, first, the trek to that moderately distant bank of elevators. Then the trip to the lobby. Then a short walk around the corner to another set of elevators that travel down to our underground parking lot. 

And then . . .

My assigned parking space is as far away from those elevators as could possibly be. Another nearby resident once called our location “the back forty.” Should I bring my passport?🤣

It took a while, but I made it. And my car started right up!

And then it was time to reverse the entire trip.

All of which is to say that if you move easily through the world, take a moment for grateful thanks.

I will do the same since, in spite of it all, I *can* get around, albeit comically slow. So I too will offer thanks.  … Just as soon as I take a recovery nap.😃

Gangsta


Ever notice how all the movie-style gangsters take out their “competition” by breaking their kneecaps?

Me neither. 

At least not until this past September 11, when I broke mine. Now I get it.

One of my favorite Reno special events is our annual Balloon Races.  Starting with the early morning Dawn Patrol and continuing with the ascension of a 100+  gloriously colored balloons, it’s a truly magical experience. 

After my Peace Corps years in Panama,  followed by Covid cancellation of the event, it had been too many years since I’d been to the Balloon Races, and I was excited to be heading back to the open-field park where it all happens. It was well before dawn. A thick crowd of us walked hurriedly along old, irregular sidewalks. My foot caught a bump or a crack… I went flying and landed hard on my right knee. 

The pain was incredible. While I  tend to deny my own hurt and misfortune, this could not be minimized. I knew this was B*A*D!  After a complicated (and possibly, in retrospect comical … but that’s for another posting … maybe) set of maneuvers to get there, the hospital ER confirmed my diagnosis. My kneecap was broken. I would need surgery.

If this strikes you as unworthy navel- (or patella) gazing, you will unsubscribe from this blog or just delete the posts.

That was 4 weeks ago. Four very unpleasant and difficult weeks. Along the way, someone opined that this was “my second Panama.” While that may be an iffy metaphor, it has led me back to this blog, since writing was an important part of navigating that earlier adventure. Ironically, that was an experience of traveling to another country, while this — so far — is an experience of immobility. Yet I write.  

Otherwise, join me for an unanticipated iteration of “Where in the World . . . ?” Right now the answer is “Pretty much stuck on the couch.” Stay tuned. Maybe it’ll get more interesting. Maybe ….

P.S. While prayers and concern are greatly appreciated, I’m not writing this as a pitch for sympathy. Many people go through much worse. This is my way to process, and attempt to wrest something meaningful, from all this. Cheaper than therapy . . . 🤣

The Big Birthday

Yesterday was my 70th Birthday.  For months, while in Panama, I’d been planning a birthday bash weekend — celebrating both the years and my U.S. return, with friends and community from near and far.  Covid, of course, cancelled all that.
It’s been a bumpy road back.  First, we were ripped from service prematurely as the virus closed down Peace Corps worldwide.  Evacuation was followed by grief, in all its classic stages.  All of this while in social lockdown, unable to move on with whatever the “next stage.”
For me, that resulted in a kind of unmotivated inertia.  My Peace Corps time often feels like some alternate reality . . . almost as if these hugely significant two-plus years never happened. Since being evacuated, I’ve been well and safe … but without direction or any sense of how or when to get it.  I’m grateful for being blessedly situated, safe and well, within this terrible time.  But I clearly need to “get on with it” — if only I knew how . . . and what “it” might be.
But I think this birthday may be that proverbial corner for turning.  I have a car.  My Medicare is reinstated.  And I’m in the process of buying a condo.  All steps along the way to being resettled, at the same time that Nevada is taking small, initial steps toward re-opening.
I’m about to begin some English tutoring (virtually, of course) for a non-native speaker.  I’m Zooming every study opportunity that comes along.  I’ve found ways to reconnect with friends (albeit at a distance or virtually and nowhere near as often as I had imagined.) And, from rare time to time, I’m even called upon for a bit of rabbi-ing.  I’m thinking also that it’s time to get back to more writing and reflecting. (So brace yourself; more blogs may be coming once again. 😁)
And then my birthday came along.  Quite literally, the icing on the cake.  A day of anticipated disappointment turned out to be exceedingly lovely.  For all its faults, social media is an amazing vehicle for floods of greetings.  Between Facebook, WhatsApp, email, IM, and even snail mail (!), I was joyfully overwhelmed.  Several friends visited, at safe distance.  And the day ended with a delicious dinner-of-my-choice from my shelter-in-place “host family,” Jeff and Jane.  And Jane is a gourmet cook!! (The chocolate cake photo that follows shows only the ending of an amazing meal!)5B6FB8C1-2FE8-43A7-BF82-10553B0DB3F7

3B04FC57-0DA0-4A7B-A0D2-E95C9552617B 6ADD054A-895D-4429-82EB-357CF3AA328DTwo cakes (the second — the coconut cake under all that gorgeous meringue! — from the family of the Rabbis Zober) and one Happy Birthday girl.
So… Happy Birthday to me.🎶  I figure that I’m entitled to a second 70th Birthday, when the worst of this has passed, God willing.  So maybe next year, the BIG party.  For this year, the quieter celebration was blessing aplenty. My birthday wish is that we all be gifted with health and sufficiency.  May full healing come soon to our world and us all.
I did a pretty poor job of blowing out all those candles, but I’m hoping these wishes come true nonetheless.  Stay safe and well and mostly at home.  Oh . . . and wear your mask!!E0E5D079-B8D9-4E24-B76A-2B0FDFF50690

Today

Today I was supposed to be flying home from Panama after closing service on two-plus years of Peace Corps service teaching English, leadership and life skills.

Instead, I arrived back in Reno a full 10 days ago after being evacuated from my Panama Peace Corps site, as were Peace Corps volunteers everywhere across the globe.

 

Today I imagined I would be celebrating return to my U.S. life, albeit with all the mixed emotions of leaving friends and experiences that will ever be an intensely important chapter of my life story.

Instead, I grieve being uprooted — with just hours to throw my life into a suitcase — from people, who had become dear, and a life, though always challenging and often frustrating, of transformational meaning . . . all without the opportunity to even say good-bye.

 

Today I would have been eagerly anticipating reconnecting with treasured friends and community.  Hugging them tightly.  Sitting in sacred synagogue community.  Holding so much and so many that I treasure and have missed.

Instead, I am in the second week of voluntary isolation.  I reconnect with friends by phone and video.  I worship virtually (as I did in Panama.)  I rejoice at even this manner of reconnection . . . but, no, it’s not the same.

 

Today I am comfortably housed in wonderful friends’ casita.

Today I am well.

Today I am coping, even when sometimes overwhelmed, in large part thanks to lessons and skills learned in Peace Corps.

Today I miss deeply the amazing volunteer colleagues I was blessed to meet through Peace Corps.  And I still lean upon them by WhatsApp, phone, and Facebook.

Today I miss my Panama gente, who graciously check in on me while they too are being slammed by this pandemic.  And I treasure my Reno community that is making sure I’m ok, while they worry that they too will be.

Today, I struggle to stay grateful.

 

And tomorrow . . . ?  None of us knows.  All of us are uncertain.  We wait.  We hope and pray.

May we all be sustained by Whatever Force upholds us.  May there be a new dawn on the other side of all this.  May we all hold on for that sunrise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the U.S.A.

I am back in Reno, safe and sound.  Being tended with great care by the friends in whose casita I am staying.  Travel home was the easiest international journeying I have ever done.  While that was nice for me, it was terrifying in terms of virus conscientiousness.
I am well with no symptoms of any illness.  I will self-monitor for the next two weeks while also trying to do some tasks of settling back in.  Though with virtually most business shut down, there may not be much that I can accomplish.  So I may have time to post or I may not.

Meantime, prayers that all stay well and that our world may be righted in the not distant future.

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 5am!  3 flights later, and — barring any more unexpected twists to this saga — I’ll be back in Reno by early evening, ready to begin my 14 day self-quarantine.  Which will give me lots of time to reflect and post much more about this crazy ending to an amazing and challenging Peace Corps adventure.
Hasta luego!

Evacuating

Some of you may have heard that Peace Corps is evacuating all of its posts worldwide.  At 8pm tonight, Panama volunteers got the word to head into the City.  Thinking that I’d be closing service in 10 days, I had one suitcase mostly packed.  In two hours, I had the rest of my stuff pretty much together.  My wonderful community guide and her husband drove me to the bus, since the busitos had long since stopped running.  I am now sitting comfortably in a hotel in Panama City with no idea what comes next.  I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.  I’ll send updates as I can . . .

This was a gut-wrenching way to end service.  No chance to say good-byes.
All in all, it feels like the world is coming undone.

Stay well, please.

And send prayers.  I’d be most grateful.🙏