Tuesday, April 06, 2010


January 29 – February 2, 2010
Dear Diary:

The day I’ve been dreading has finally arrived. Everyone’s going to Scottsdale to our Global Sales Conference. To be precise, they’re going to the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale – a place I love. To be completely precise, not everyone’s going to Scottsdale. George Clooney will be staying in Hollywood, but all those people I work with during the year are going, and that’s tragedy enough for me. Not only will I miss them but I will also miss seeing our distributors from over twenty different countries, our educators and all of our national sales force – combined about 130 people.

It’s been a major endeavor pulling this week-long conference together; making sure that the content is informative and inspirational and appeals to everyone from Malaysia to Milwaukee. We have a lot to catch up on since so much has happened since we were together two years ago. We’re calling this year’s conference Beauty in Balance which seems rather ironical to me since balance is not one of my strong suits at the moment. Come to think of it, neither is beauty.

Bob is packing up his things and telling me that he’s only a BlackBerry away. But before he goes he’s going to supervise my trip. Yes, I’m going on one, too. I’m going one floor down to Physical Therapy. The insurance company has determined that three days is enough pampering when they discover that I can get out of bed on my own. The gadget that makes this possible looks like a stiff lasso that I loop around my left foot and pull. Miraculously, the leg follows and, presto, I have two feet on the floor. This simple gadget has made the impossible possible and I intend to write to the inventor expressing my appreciation as soon as I can find out who it is.

So now, I’m able to sit smugly on the edge of my bed and with the aid of my trusty walker, I can raise myself to my full height and stand on my own two feet. I’ll never forget the first time this occurred. I straightened up my body and thought, This feels excellent. Watch out world! I don’t have any infant memories, but I bet I felt just like that when I pulled myself upright for the first time.

The insurance company has approved a week in Physical Therapy. They obviously think this is enough time for me to reach independence again. What the insurance company doesn’t know is that at the moment I can’t put one foot in front of the other – walker or no walker. My angels of mercy assure me that this will happen. I’m going to take them at their word.

Wheelchairs are very useful, especially when moving. It’s amazing what one can pile on them. I’m simply astonished at how much I’ve collected in less than a week considering that I came in with nothing. I refuse to leave my flowers behind, which complicates the move a trifle, but the trail of petals is pretty. With the help of willing nurses, who I’m going to miss almost as much as my husband, the caravan moves inexorably toward what has been described as the torture ward.

When Bob leaves that night, he tells me there will be a camera crew in on Tuesday to film me for the conference. The gala dinner and awards presentation is on Wednesday and they want to play the film as the evening begins. I realize that the game is up, and I let go of my resistance to this insane idea. I remind myself of the story I heard that was attributed to a Rabbi. He was listening to a woman who was bewailing a tragedy and lamenting that it happened to her. The Rabbi counseled her not to resist the tragedy but to lean into it. O.K. I’m leaning… it’s just that I have to go on camera and I don’t know how I’m going to wash my hair. I haven’t even seen a shower yet!

Pulling out all the stops with my hairdresser, he assures me that he will have someone there first thing Tuesday morning. Great! Now the most important thing has been settled, I guess I’d better write my short speech. Surprisingly, it comes very easily because it really does come from my heart. The only problem is that when I rehearse it, I can’t get through the final paragraph without sobbing. I don’t mean gentle Vivien Leigh tears rolling down my cheeks; I mean uncontrollable sobs. You know, the kind of emotion that is really, really embarrassing to everyone but especially to the one who’s sobbing. I consider rewriting the last paragraph and then decide to put it away and try again tomorrow because I’m probably over-tired with the move, already missing everyone and lonely without my familiar nurses. Time for the Venus Boots and some well-earned sleep.

The next morning, I try the last paragraph again. No better. Friends arrive with an assortment of clothes and makeup. I rehearse my speech in front of them. I see the shocked expressions on their faces as I dissolve yet again. Never mind, I have two days of physical therapy before the shoot. That should toughen me up. I make a pact with myself to work very hard and I do. Of course, I overdo it so much that even the therapists take pity on me. They turn their attention instead to teaching me how to dress myself and make a cup of tea. The latter, being essential to life, cheers me up to no end.

The morning of the shoot the phone rings early. “Hi, Jane, just checking to make sure you’re OK with your hair today.” My hairdresser is not coming. Pride won’t allow me to beg. “I’ll be fine, thanks.” What is it about hair that makes or breaks the way we feel about ourselves? I know bad skin can devastate self-esteem, but I once read a study that concluded that women would choose good hair over good skin. I found that really surprising at the time, but this morning, I’m convinced. Then, out of the haze, one of the nurses enters with a plastic chair on wheels and a hole in the seat. “I bet you’d like a shower,” she says. I’m so excited that I find a strength I don’t know I have; I grab the walker and stumble towards her. She pushes me down a long corridor – nurses say good morning, patients peep out of doorways, cleaners stop mopping. It feels like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest because, firstly, I must be crazy for even attempting to go on film today and, secondly, I know I probably look the worst I’ve ever looked in my life and I don’t care. There’s a shower in my future!

In the handicap bathroom, my savior hands me a sachet of fragrant liquid soap left behind by someone else. “Better than our soap,” she says. I wash my hair in it and it feels good – really good.