My Wobbly Bicycle, 141

Posted by on Sep 10, 2017 | 20 comments

download-2Is this a poem or a post? For sure it is not going anywhere. It is just staying here in this hospital room. Inside the room is a smaller room, which is the ultrasound screen, its still smaller rooms made of pulsating shadows. The light within the shadows are the rooms of the arteries, the veins, which all look good, open, doing their job. No heart problem, no clots. It was the CT scan and then x-rays that found the problems.


Nobody is going anywhere at the moment. Except me, back and forth, home to hospital. There is a deep enclosure that forms around sickness. It sucks you in. The outside world is just that: outside.


images-1As Jerry began PT after his hip surgery, one of the thigh ligaments or tendons pulled so hard trying to do its job that it yanked a small piece of bone away from the hip. This is called an avulsion fracture, and is what had happened when I reported his pain in my last post. There is nothing to do for this but wait and take pain-killers. But he got weaker and a cough started up, got more persistent. Our neighbors helped me get him back to the ER, where they quickly admitted him with pneumonia, which he’d caught in the ER, most likely.


images-2No, not true. We are not in the hospital, any more. After five days, he’s now in a rehab/assisted living facility, because he is so weak. Same sense of enclosure.  An actual enclosure. You use a code to get in and ask for staff to get you out. His room is small, true, but the real enclosure is the mind, his and mine, only taking care of immediate business.


It’s been a long winter, a long spring, a long summer. I’m getting enough sleep, but I’m so emotionally tired that there’s a permanent lump in my throat, forming toward a cry.


images-3Then Wally quit eating. He lay under Jerry’s desk, grief- stricken, missing him. I made myself cry last Wednesday morning. I had waked in the night, seeing in front of me my dear husband sitting in that room with a plate of perfectly inedible half-dollar-shaped pieces of what was billed as chicken tenders in front of him. The next morning I said to myself, “You need to cry,” so I worked it up until my body got the idea and made it genuine.


Needless to say, I’m bringing him food now, twice a day.


I saw a friend in the hospital corridor. Her husband has been very ill. We knew what others wouldn’t see: the loneliness, when the one person who knows you best, who is the one you turn to, is strangely only partly available. It’s not like death. I’d say it’s a little like betrayal. “How dare you be all fogged out? I need you to be my companion. I need us to talk about what happened today. But you barely hear me.”


I already admitted my anger. So this is another admission.


Neither is this true any longer. He’s coming back from the land of Percocet and Valium. Last night we watched Madam Secretary (we’re still behind) in his room before I left. He wants to come home. They said, “We would anticipate your stay of about 3 weeks.” “No way,” he said. Ten days, max. I think that will work. Once he learns the exercises, he’ll faithfully do them at home.


download-1Things shift. The pain comes from trying to fix them in place. Even real, physical pain. It’s always on the move, too. Even in the most lyrical poems, the ones that seem to sing from one branch, you notice there’s a narrative. Something moving, a story like an underground stream that surfaces occasionally.

P.S. Wally has decided I am better than nobody.


  1. I wrote a comment to the last post and then scratched it. I’ll try again. We are lucky, perhaps too generous a word, to be able to find some solace in art, our creative abilities, both the creating and absorbing. But that is not enough when illness strikes beyond our capabilities. Then, if we are lucky we can seek the help and support of others, professional care givers if our family resources are limited. This requires, in its own way, skill in finding what you both need.

    • Thanks, Norman. Good to hear from you. The thing about pain, emotional or otherwise, is that it’s only part of a whole picture, and we don’t get to have one without the other. In the middle of this, I am fine. I am happy even when I’m sad. Maybe that makes some sense.

  2. Like Norman, I also wrote and then deleted after the last post. I can’t articulate in words what I want you to know, so I pray. With words and without. Prayers for hope, for healing, for peace, for quietness of mind and body, for relief for you both. All in love.

    • As I just wrote to Peter, it’s hard to explain that even when things are shitty, life is good. We can’t have only half of creation. We have to have all of it.

  3. I am holding you in my heart this evening. May the Spirit of Love and Wisdom, which existed before creation, comfort and console you. May She look grant you peace within your worry and sadness.
    I have looked upon you and smiled as we both walked into Grace some Sunday’s. And have felt my eyes drawn to where you sit across the sanctuary when Spirit whispered, send her Love.
    Rosemary Hagan,D.Min.
    Spiritual Director, Grace Episcopal Church

    • Thank you, Rosemary. We are on the mend here.

  4. I am so sorry to hear of all the issues Jerry is having. Give him my love. I will keep the two of you in my thoughts & prayers. As his mom used to say “Keep your chin up.” I’m sure he has heard that many times. I know this is a struggle for you too.

    • Chin is up. Except when it’s not. :) Thanks.

  5. Just a little better than nobody. Hang in there kid. We are holding the two of you in our hearts.

    • Thanks, Peter. Things are improving. I’ve been thinking how I can explain that even when things are shitty, life is good. Does that make any sense?

  6. A while back when my wife took sick suddenly and she was taken to the ER via an ambulance, I remember sitting next to the driver thinking the worst. The testing that followed, the worry, the fears, the distance from home. But what I remember most was the fear. It felt like I breathed it in with every inhale but it never left me when I exhaled. I realized then that it took great strength to be next to your loved one as they suffered whatever they were going through at that time. More strength then we know we have. I found this out, because my wife sat through my ER visits, emergency operations, and stroke. It takes strength to do what you’re doing.
    Stay strong Fleda.

    • Thank you. Yes, it does take a fair amount of strength, from both sides. It’s like we’re a secret society, those of us who’ve done this. We know.

  7. All your other lovely friends have said all the kind, graceful, eloquent things there are to say, so I’ll stick to being myself: Fuck what’s hurting Jerry. Fuck what’s hurting you. I love you both and loathe that you’re doing this drill, and, as usual, am awed by your capacity for keeping-on. Also very glad to hear that Wally decided you’ll do. Give Jerry my best. I know you know to take good care of yourself, so I won’t bother with saying that, but i also know that no matter what good care you take of yourself, this stuff bruises. <3

    • Yep. You got it exactly right, every syllable. That is an interesting and accurate comment, that this stuff bruises.

  8. Thank goodness for the rest of us that you write from yourself. Truth Joanie

  9. Dear ones,

    It just doesn’t seem fair that Jerry has to go through all this pain after all he’s already gone through, but as we all know, life isn’t fair. I’m glad that there’s been a bit of improvement. Hang in there, Fleda. Kiss Jerry on the top of his head for me, and take care of yourself too. Tom and I hold you both in the light (as good Quakers do). We hope the next message will have better news.

    Love, Annie

  10. Coraggio. Easier said than done, I know. Or: easier at some moments than at others. But still, coraggio, and love—to both.

  11. Dear Fleda. Love your metaphors and how you are expressing the inexpressible. I found the burden of caregiving was like trying to reweave a constantly unraveling thread. Not just any thread but THE thread – all that was left to hang on to as it seemed the lifeline I was tethered to was about to give way. But you don’t let go. No matter what comes, your job is to not let go. Double hugs, Fleda. This aging crap sure sucks. Taylor

  12. Please tell Jerry that I am very sorry to hear of his maladies. O hope his recovery is quick and thorough. I would love to hear from him, and even more, see him. We have a lot to catch up.

  13. Fleda,

    I’ve been listening quietly to your postings since my last contact. It’s a stony road, a golden one. I meant to tell you that I reached my five-year marker on surviving stage iv cancer; I can only bow my head quietly in gratitude. I have three poems that just came out at the following link, one of them is titled “Stage IV,” but purposefully set in the third person:

    Warmest wishes for you and Jerry.


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