My Wobbly Bicycle, 52

Posted by on Dec 4, 2013 | 12 comments

This is the 52nd Wobbly Bicycle.  One year of Wobblies.  On the week a year ago that I decided to write about my cancer diagnosis, I gave the post that name, and kept using it. I’d thought to stop it after a year, and then I thought, well, when are we ever NOT wobbly bicycles? And certainly after a serious diagnosis,  one is evermore aware of the beauty of flying along in perfect balance.  Balance contains tentativeness, a little to this side, a little to the other.  Nothing stable.

hospitalJerry and I are in Ann Arbor, at the University of Michigan Hospital, where he just had back surgery. If you like drama, I could mention that he was in the O.R. for ten hours, with four surgeons in attendance. It must have been interesting, to figure out how to “fix” the spine from the deformity that develops after many years of the body’s leaning, trying to correct itself. Scoliosis and stenosis.  The motif is balance, our wobbly-bicycle bodies.

I brought a trekking stick with me because I knew the hospital is huge, I’d have to walk a lot, and I’m having maybe some sort of back issue myself, that causes me to limp if I walk very far. (There was no time to see a physiatrist before we left. I did have a hip x-ray, nothing wrong with my hips.) So, anyway, I’m using the trekking stick like a cane, and it keeps me from limping, which I think is a good idea, to keep from throwing my body out of kilter.

It’s interesting, being a “disabled” person, getting those quick glances, that special consideration, holding elevator doors, etc.  I feel like I’m faking it, but then, what disabled person doesn’t feel whole inside?

This large hospital feels like a magical enclosure. I’m thinking of the people I see, in extremis, the nakedness of the situation. I was taking a walk down the long hallways today, aware of a deep pleasure that comes, no matter what the anguish, in being just what we are, vulnerable humans, putting aside the posing and ambition that seemed so crucial, just being glad for a breath, for care, for a moment without pain, for simple thoughtfulness.  balloons

Something in this reminds me of being at the seashore. The waves come in and go out, and you can’t do anything about any of it, so there’s a great peace. Even in Hurricane Sandy, you can’t do anything about it, so you just act like a plain person for a change, taking care of what you can take care of, what’s right in front of you to do.

I sat for a while yesterday in the interminable time before the buzzer went off telling me Jerry was out of surgery, thinking how I might write about any of that—the immediacy of it—the moment seemed so just there, just what it was, that anything I said would be a distortion. You have to just leave moments like that alone, if you’re going to write about them, let them bubble up at another time, in another way.


  1. Thinking of you and Jerry with warmest appreciation, and especially grateful for your sharing the wobblies.

  2. I’ve been thinking about the 2 of you all week. You are always so inspiring, finding the right words to express a moment of truth. I especially appreciate, “I was taking a walk down the long hallways today, aware of a deep pleasure that comes, no matter what the anguish, in being just what we are…” I know that feeling. Love to you and Jerry.

  3. It’s like a form of time warp, the waiting…
    Healing comes after and I so hope for the best for
    Jerry, for both of you! Love to you both and good healing.

  4. Fleda, You painted an image of what it is to be human – to be vulnerable yet hopeful. The sheer poetic beauty of your words — there realness — reminded me of what Keats said, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” Last week I went to a doctor about a bit of dizziness and memory and focusing problems. Diagnosis: Dizziness related to my double hLp replacements. It seems the brain needs a little more time to reroute messages when there is hunks of titanium blocking the normal route. Memory and focusing – Lupus Fog, Who would have known? Please tell Jerry I am sending him warm wishes for a steady and lasting recovery. Love Billie

  5. Sending love to both you and Jerry. What a beautiful perspective on the hospital.

  6. Glad Jerry’s surgery is behind you both, Fleda. A hospital is its own world, it always seems to me, like a big, planet-sized space station. Well, maybe not quite that big, but you know what I mean. Be well, you two.

  7. Yes, we all feel whole inside (sometimes after much work). This outer shell is not who we really are.

  8. You’re right, we are always wobbly bicycles, but the speed at which we usually live our lives fools us into thinking we’re more stable and in control. When an illness or disability forces us to slow down, that’s when we become aware of the wobblies that were really there all along. The trick is, like the old saw says, fall (wobble) seven times. Stand up eight.

  9. Ten hours! Fleda, you get the medal for endurance. Waiting requires way too much exertion. Glad he’s alert, ready to balance. You too! xxoo

  10. Hang in there both of you! I’m hoping all will go well for Jerry and neither of you will have to visit hospitals for a long time again. Yes, the Vodka Days were good! Never drink it now, but still like it.
    Love to both.

  11. Another way of putting it that cruce just loves, that we saw posted on a Buddhist site: under the picture of people relaxing on a beach facing the waves coming in: “Relax. Nothing’s under control.”

    • I love that. Exactly.

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