Friday, May 11, 2012

travels with a faux down vest

“A journey is a person itself; no two are alike.”
John Steinbeck, ‘Travels with Charley: In Search of America’

Visiting a neighbor and recent spouse caregiver widower we share surgery stories. With 9 hrs of back surgery and basically a titanium spine his trumps mine, though bittersweet, of course, since home caregiving for a spouse with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) made his surgery previously impossible.

Wearing my faux down vest to protect my ribs while driving, my return to my ‘road rat’ self was MCing the Prince George’s County Maryland Special Olympic Spring Games.  As if divine coincidence nothing could have been more motivating and rewarding than to be surrounded by heroes.
Returning I stopped to visit old friends. Surprised by the home accessibility modifications I realized I've been too wrapped up in my own life. A manly, man hug can often be an awkward dance until ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) prevents one of you from lifting his arms; I learned what it is to hug a friend.

Pushing Patti around an “Art Walk”, she could enjoy the magnitude of the art of an Italian street painter turned sidewalk artist. However since much of the art was staged in restaurants we soon disappeared into our favorite, Helena's Chocolate Cafe & Creperie for dinner. A chocolate raspberry crepe is art in our book!
With each lawn mowing and push of Patti’s wheelchair I feel the muscles strengthening even though Patti’s Multiple Sclerosis memory symptoms prevent her from remembering whether outings have increased or decreased

Driving three hours in the rain to visit cousins in New Jersey I sit down to dinner with two other cancer survivors. Still weird to think of myself as a ‘survivor’ and frankly I ‘am not worthy’ contrasted to my youngest cousin who was my inspiration through my darkest moments. Many kids turn 6 every year but this guy also celebrates his 5th year cancer free since battling liver cancer and all the while living with Muscular Dystrophy.

After all how can I say that someone inspired me if I do not let them climb all over me and my ribs to really find out if they are healed after lung cancer surgery?  … Seems I do not need that faux down vest anymore.
Patrick Leer
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. Good to hear the physical healing is "complete" and ribs aren't (too) sore any more. I'm sure it will take awhile for the mental healing to be complete and to consider yourself a survivor. What a sweet cousin, what a battle he has faced and faces. What wonderful event to MC; I'm sure you saw it through different eyes this year. What a cute outing to go to with the sidewalk art and who could resist a chocolate raspberry crepe? I bet that was delicious indeed!

    Whether or not Patti remembers if outings have increased or decreased in numbers, I'm sure she enjoys immensely each and every one of them, no matter if they were a bit further apart during a particular period of time.

    May it be a relaxful day and a good Mother's Day for Patti, however it is celebrated.


  2. I know what you are saying, but still. You're pretty worthy..on lots of fronts.

  3. I'm so glad to hear that your healing process is going well and you're back to your active lifestyle.

  4. Thank you all for the kind compliments and thoughts.

    Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

  5. Glad you're healing process is almost complete Patrick! Sometimes I think having each day as a do over can be somewhat of a gift. My brother greets each experience with such gusto because for him it is a first whether he's done it a million times or not. Something to be said for that!

  6. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com


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