A therapist laid down the law:

“You can get better,” she said. “You will get better,” she added. “But..” There’s always a but. “You will have to acquire two traits that you don’t currently have.”

And those are?

“Patience and a willingness to take things slowly and let nature to its job.”

OK. I’m grown up — sort of — and I admit patience is never been a virtue.  Hell, it hasn’t even been in the same hymnal.  And taking things slowly is…well…just plain slow.

But I remember two things that embarass me still and probably always will.

First, my wife — for 30 years — never heard me cry out in pain. She used to think I was incapable of pain.

Second, she had never seen me cry until the night she came home and found me lying on the upstairs hall floor, curled up in a fetal position, bawling like a baby from both the pain and because I could not get up.

I have trouble acknowledging, or showing, weakness. Those two exhibits of weakness — while understandable — will haunt my psyche for some time.

So I will be patient. I will let me lower leg strength build back up. I will keep off the 45 pounds I dropped during four weeks of extreme pain.  I do not ever want to experience that level of pain again. Never.

It’s sobering to discover that you’ve been walking about for 35 years with a level of back and nerve damage that should have put you in a wheelchair three decades ago  It’s also sobering to discover that one slip-up in a tightly-controlled level of rehab can still put you in that wheelchair.

I’m a photographer. I operate by being mobile. I thrive by being able to move from one place to another with relative ease. I’ve already had to accept the fact that even if my nerves and spine heal as hoped, about the best I can expect is 90 percent of the mobility I once had.

I want that mobility back. I also want to get back on my motorcycle. And this slow but steady schedule of rehab appears to be the only way that I will either walk with a reasonable level of mobility or ride that Harley.

Pride, some say, is a sin. If so, I am a sinner of the first order. I’m a proud man. That is a failing that I face every day as a recovering alcoholic and as a member of alcoholics anonymous.

Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous is

admitting we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable. Admitting that we are powerless over anything can be hard to swallow for anyone, but for the alcoholic it is almost impossible. The alcoholic has a tremendous amount of pride (misplaced though it may be) and it can keep him from admitting he has a problem. Pride is one of the biggest downfalls of an alcoholic and it can sometimes take years of sobriety before he can see what this misplaced pride has done to his life. As you begin to work the steps in Alcoholics Anonymous with a qualified sponsor, you will begin to see how you have sabotaged yourself with pride.  It is paramount that the alcoholic begin to see how his drinking is affecting not only his life but his family and friends as well. Until he can begin to see this, he is in a state of denial. Denial is self-deception which can be deadly. The alcoholic must begin to realize that once the alcohol enters his body he becomes unable to control his behavior.

I haven’ had a drink in 16 years, six months and 17 days.

But pride remains in my body and that can be as damaging as the booze.

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