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So, This Is 53...

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Today I am 59 days post operation. I did nothing much for the first four weeks after surgery, but once released by the surgeon to resume all activities, I resumed twice weekly hour long private Pilate's sessions, twice weekly hour long on my own weight training sessions and daily evening walks in the pine woods with my dogs three; Sam, Ethel and Lucy.

 The Pilates Method is not just exercise, it is a series of controlled movements engaging your total body and mind, performed on specifically designed exercise apparatus and supervised by extensively trained teachers. Developed in the 1920s by the legendary physical trainer and founder of The New York Pilates Studio®, Joseph H. Pilates, The Pilates Method is an exercise system focused on improving flexibility and strength for the total body without building bulk. Some of the first people to use the Pilates Method were dancers such as Martha Graham and George Balanchine.

I am not much of a dancer, but I love to dance, have done much and I have lived a life that has been hard on my knees.

I was scheduled for knee surgery in the summer of 2004. The third hurricane of that season slammed my sanctuary the day before I was scheduled to have my left knee laid open. The surgeon then would remove then reattach my wedged knee cap, sow it up where it belongs and put my leg in a cast for six weeks. I would have gone nuts. Hyperactive kids grow up to be hyper active adults.

In junior and senior high school I played left field in softball and left wing in field hockey. My mind would wander easily while in left field and I missed many balls I should have had my eye upon. But field hockey is fierce, and there was never a moment of NOT looking at the ball.

I was independent at 18, had a job, roommate and fulltime school. But I gave up exercising and considered Popeye's fried onion rings vegetables. After graduating nursing school fat and out of shape, I quit drinking, smoking and eating processed food. I resumed working out and never stopped eating chocolate.

Aerobics and Jazzercise followed "the burn" with Jane Fonda. Jane is one year older than my husband Johnny, but better preserved. I admired Jane first at the Drive Inn showing of Cat Ballou. Also fell in lust with the little Indian guide. I wonder what ever happened to him.

In the late 60's and '70's I would bleach my hair at Jones Beach using Sun-In. My straight thin locks extended to my waist; parted in the middle and without bangs. The day after I saw the movie Klute, in 1971, I got a Klute-haircut. I have had bangs ever since and every shade of blonde, a few reds and have no clue what color it really is now.

I blew my knee out during a three day party in Memphis in the summer of 2004 during the wedding of my husband's niece. Hurricane Charley blew by our home without doing any damage while I danced to live Memphis bands, feeling no pain and sustained by Vodka tonics in the last few days before VIOXX was pulled from the market. I returned home in agony, got NO sympathy from Johnny, figured I am just getting old, ignored the pain and resumed my usual routine; rollerblading or swimming in the mornings and walking in the pine wood forest in the cool of the evening.

A few weeks before Hurricane Jean wrecked havoc on my home, I fell down while climbing a stair, and could NOT get up. The surgeon said all that could be done was open me up, remove and reattach my knee cap that was wedged in the corner between my upper and lower leg bones.

Well and hell, I thought and cried the whole way home, and then resigned myself to what was to be as I sat on my ass and read more books. That lead to thinking deeper and writing then followed.

When my mom was diagnosed with malignant cancer in December 2006, I then assumed the role of parent as my parent became a child; weak and requiring protection, someone to look out for their best interests, someone needing an advocate. 

I normally spend ten hours a day, reading articles, responding to emails and banging out words at a keyboard.I am grateful it is not me-yet?-personally navigating through the medical maze and most acutely suffering the physical pain and emotional torture of facing death in the eye and resisting the inevitable by choosing chemotherapy; the medical euphemism for poison.

It is a physical hell for the patient and, for family and friends, a brutal hell of helplessness coupled with a desire to do something to help. What everyone can do is be an advocate when necessary.

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Eileen Fleming,is a Citizen of CONSCIENCE for US House of Representatives 2012 Founder of Staff Member of, A Feature Correspondent for Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" (more...)
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