Literature and Conflict Resolution

61Hq5TQ8UpL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_Source: Literature and Conflict Resolution

Many books can inspire peace in children. Silver People by Margarita Engle, which tells the story of the Panama Canal, is just one.The Jane Adams Peace Association honored this book in its annual awards. For more books that promote peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races go to

Physical Therapy

photo (4)     I am so excited. Today I get to start physical therapy. No longer will I be that couch potato growing roots into the cushions. Now I will be active and on my way to getting this new ACL in my  knee working. Yes!

I clip clop with my crutches across the parking lot envying those people with handicapped stickers in their car, head for the elevator, and go upstairs to Beck and Cale’s office. I know this place. I went here after I injured my shoulder jogging with my weimaraner years ago. Their expert staff is as sweet as my favorite, chocolate raspberry truffles.

Physical therapy centers are a lot like gyms with weights, exercise balls, and a stationary bike or two. But they also have multiple exam tables, stability bars, and rolling carts with ultrasound machines. All around therapists direct patients in squats, finger stretches, shoulder rolls, and other strange-looking  exercises.

I’m ready. I head inside imagining  working out on the bike until sweat drips off  my face. Unfortunately my knee is not. Instead I do a few leg lifts, band exercises, and one where I press my foot into the ground. I have to wait two weeks for the bike.

I try not to look too disappointed as I follow Don Cale’s directions but finally blurt out what a drag it is . Then he patiently explains, in words I’m sure he’s used thousands of times before, that although the holes in my knee are small, it’s still surgery and I need to give the knee time to heal. I nod and vow to make that my summer’s work.

Next,  they apply adhesive electrodes beneath a cold wrap and I watch my tingling muscles twitch.  The electrical current is at the maximum I can bear so I grit my teeth, try to focus on fluff inside People Magazine and tell myself that it will all be over soon.

Thankfully it is and as I hobble to the elevator I realize that, just like writing, recovery takes place one page at a time.

Baby Steps

172I’m walking into the doctor’s office for my two week follow up since ACL surgery. A time to get stitches out and ask those nagging questions at the back of my mind. Am I doing the exercises correctly? Did I hurt anything by doing 100 reps instead of thirty? How soon can I do weights at the gym? Can I swim?

And most of all, how long do I have to wear this stupid brace that makes me walk like a peg leg in an old black and white pirate flick?

My doctor snips the blue nylon and pulls the stitches out with a needle-nosed instrument.” Ouch, that one hurt,” I say as he mumbles normal normal a couple of times. Next, he asks me to straighten my leg and bend my leg,  nods approvingly when I can.  I’ll have to admit that I am pretty proud of doing my exercises so religiously to get to this point.

“Time to start walkng without the brace,” he says demonstrating a careful tread across the floor. Baby steps at first and then more and more as your leg gets stronger.

Embarrassed to try in front of him I just ask my questions before thanking him

But once home I rip off the brace and take my first tentative steps across the floor. Strange to feel my naked leg shaking as I go heal toe from the kitchen to the living room.  Wobbling, I reach out an arm for the couch and make it.

My first baby steps.


crutchThere they are: two dull grey appendages leaning against the wall daring me to get up and use them.
But it’ll hurt!  I think looking down at my bandaged knee. It’s too soon. I can’t.  The doctor said I had to be careful.

So I wait.

An hour later they’re still there. Now the dare has turned into a judgmental glare. Did you know that crutches can glare?  Well they can. When a post-operative knee patient refuses to get off the couch, they give the dirtiest looks imaginable.
I try shooting dirty looks back but know it’s no good. I turn on the tv. They don’t disappear. I try looking the other way. Still there. I bury my face in a book.
Now the looks have turned into whispers.
“Come on, Laurie. Get up. You can lean on me,” the crutches say.
“Shut-up. You don’t know how much it hurts,” I growl back.
But they are insistent, a constant susurration that finally makes me shout, “Fine, have it your way!”
The pain is excruciating as I try to get up. But as I reach for their steel support I’m surprised that it throbs  just a little bit less.

Maybe a crutch is only a crutch until you  tentatively step forward.