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Life with Paul After Surgery

Still hanging in there. . .

     "I don't agree with God." Paul announces. He's standing nose-to-nose with Jesus on the small crucifix on his bedroom wall, gripping the walnut handrail beneath his collection of pictures. He stands far straighter than he was when we left you.

     "You don't agree with him about what?" I ask—even though I know.

     "His plan. He shouldn't have made Jesus be crucified. He could've just died in his sleep or had a heart attack so he wouldn't have had to suffer so much."

     "Since Jesus is God and they're one person, actually they both made the plan."

     "The Trinity," Paul says softly. But he's not giving up his dispute with God.

     For Paul, the tough stuff is over, but the journey continues. Gradually his motor skills are improving. He can plug in his phone now; he can put his right leg brace and right shoe on by himself; he can walk a short distance with his walker or holding my hand and a railing.

     His brother Craig has two pictures on his office wall: one that Paul drew early in his recovery; one that he drew more recently. The earlier one is composed of larger areas filled in with bright colors that occasionally wander outside the lines. Paul calls this his "stained glass window art." The more recent one has much smaller areas, with no outside the lines bleeding. Craig points with pride to the visible improvement in his brother's artistic skills.

     Visits to Urgent Care for a sore shoulder and later for severe neck spasms slowed the recovery, but Paul never complained. Therapy for the shoulder took care of that problem and after that he tried physical therapy for walking. Unfortunately this caused the severe neck spasms that took us to Urgent Care. The good part is that this resulted in a CT scan that showed that one of the replaced discs was only partially fused, so it was back to the neck brace he had discarded several months before. He loves his neck brace!

     Kidding—he hates it. It itches and pinches his neck. We switch it around, try different types and basically, he just puts up with it—when he isn't flinging it across the room, saying, "I hate this thing." His last doctor visit brought good news: wear the brace January and February and probably take it off after that. Fingers crossed—or, in Paul's World, lots of prayers.

     Patience and optimism are the watch-words at our house. The wait is enjoyable for the most part, because of Paul's enthusiasm, sense of humor and love of teasing.  But then there are the nights he can't sleep. "I have a lot of things on my mind." Or the times he feels frustrated.

     "Why do I have cerebral palsy?" He wants to get married. "I'm thinking about how I can trick Lola into marrying me," he tells me with a grin. He hates wearing the neck brace. "I think Dr. Altenau should have to wear a neck brace and see what it's like," he says. Some nights he just sits in the chair by his bed and thinks and prays before he's ready to go back to bed.

     The fun part? It's time to put the neck brace on—not fun for Paul—but suddenly he lets forth a deep-throated, wicked giggle and quick puts his hand where I have to fasten the Velcro strap. I wait for him to lift his hand so I can fasten the strap. He lifts his hand; I reach over; he snaps his hand back. He giggles.

     "I like to tease you, Mom. I love you."

     So that's been life with Paul lately—that and the daily wordplay and trips to Starbucks or dinner out or just another cruise down Willow Glen Road with Paul lustily singing to the "Supercalifragilistic" CD until I think I'll die if I hear it one more time.

     See you next week. Let me know if you want to hear more about Paul…

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