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2011: The Year That Wasn’t (Sit Around On The Couch? No Way! I Might Fall Off.)

That's why it's still a mystery to me,Why some people live like they do. So many nice things happening out there, Never even seen the clues. Migration - Jimmy Buffett

By Randall Grantham Community Columnist

I know that I’m not alone in wishing the year 2011 a goodbye, good riddance and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. I cannot think of a single friend or family member for whom the year 2011 was good. I, for one, had a year that I could easily do without.

I started the year out with vision problems that drastically grew worse until I could not drive myself to court. Then, I had brain surgery to remove the tumor that was pinching the optic nerves causing the near blindness. That was, of course, followed by several months of recuperation and figuring out exactly how this “new brain” worked.

The recuperation and recovery was exacerbated by the fact that the pituitary gland, upon which the tumor was growing, while not actually damaged by the neurosurgery, apparently took umbrage at the insult to it and decided to shut down, taking the thyroid and all of the other major glands down with it.

After several more months of tweaking the doses of meds, steroids, hormones that I was prescribed, I thought I finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I quickly found out that the light was not the end of the tunnel, but was my motorcycle heading towards me, breaking my ankle in several places. Really just a fluke accident in the Georgia mountains, but it messed me up.

After surgery, which included implanting a small hardware store in my ankle, I then had to suffer through the rest of the year on crutches and keeping that leg elevated when not required to be up and about. This was all the more frustrating because the motorcycle accident happened the same day that I had been cleared to return to scuba-diving. But just try to put a flipper on over a foot and ankle cast.

While all of these experiences combined seemed to teach me a little patience (which everyone says is a virtue), I would have gladly done without those classes. Although pleasantly medicated and slightly sedated for the various surgeries, injuries and therapy, and only working about a third of the time I would in a normal year, I missed out on a year of “life.”

Sure, I was alive, and glad to be. But laying around the house while getting my wits about me, or keeping the leg elevated or whatever, is not really “living.”

No photography (That’s why no Christmas cards went out this year), no SCUBA, no hunting, fishing or biking (other than the time I broke myself, of course.). And there was no option of rushing through it. I had to be patient..

Patience was not an easy lesson for me to learn, but I had no choice. I also learned other important lessons.

I learned unbelievable respect for those without vision. As mine was fading, the fear and realization of how difficult life would be blind, terrified me. To even survive, much less be a productive member of society, I felt would be impossible for me.

I learned humility from those born with or who have developed disabilities and are able to make getting around in this world designed for those who can walk upright look easy and even natural. Steps, doors, even distances are obstacle courses when you can’t just stroll around. And I also learned of the kindness of strangers from those who went out of their way to help me during my temporary disability.

I learned to be empathetic to those with “hormonal” issues whether brought on by the change in life or a change in the brain and body’s chemistry from trauma or disease. You know, the thyroid is a pretty impressive gland.

And I learned that life is to be lived. I think it was Woody Allen who said 90% of life is just showing up. I learned sadness for those in life who can’t or don’t “show up.” They are not living life. Those who have no choice in the matter are to be comforted by us. Those who choose, by their actions, to avoid it are to be pitied.

Yeah, you take certain risks. And, as the Parrothead-in-Chief said, “those brittle bones don’t bend.” You make cost/benefit analysis’s. You may endure some discomfort, even pain. But you get out. Go somewhere. Do something.

This time may be all we have. Do you really want to spend it limiting yourself?

I don’t. As the ankle continues to heal, I’m learning to walk again. And as soon as I can walk, I’m gonna take off in a run.

See you out there.

(Randall C. Grantham is a lifelong resident of Lutz who practices law from his offices on Dale Mabry Highway. He can be reached at LutzLaw@aol.com. Copyright 2012 RCG)

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