Our Bodies: Do We Rent, or Do We Own?
posted by: Lori Holden
My Dad once told me that we are all TABs: Temporarily Able-Bodied. Being young and invincible, I dismissed his statement as a middle-aged mope.
Years later, I finally see what he means.
In February of 2007, my sister’s husband complained of numbness in the hands and feet. He got on to WebMD and self-diagnosed before he went to his doctor. The doctor said surely he didn’t have Guillain-Barre Syndrome — it was much too rare. Gino whipped out the WebMD printout and the doctor disappeared for a few moments. When he came back, he ordered Gino to get to the hospital — now.
Over the next two weeks, Gino lost function of everything south of his eyeballs. In went a trache tube. In went a feeding tube. In went a catheter. In went two central lines. Lost was the ability to move, to speak, to swallow, to breathe. His immune system had attacked his nervous system, quite effectively.
The advance of the syndrome finally stopped, and Gino was able to move from intensive care to a rehab facility. He spent six more months getting reacquainted with his body. As his nervous system reconnected, he experienced both great pain and small gains.
Hospital staff loved visiting Gino’s room to see his latest abilities. You see, Gino was in a rehab hospital dedicated to spinal and brain injuries. Most of the people there were NOT getting better — they were merely learning how to live in their new normal.
People at that hospital were proof that we are all TABs. An ATV accident changed everything for the man with a 3 year old. A stroke from birth-control pills turned a 32 year-old woman’s life — and that of her partner — 180 degrees. The trucker who didn’t wear his seat belt was not able to hold his wife’s hand when she gave birth to their first child.
Gino was lucky. He once again became Temporarily Able-Bodied.
This summer, I was reminded again about my dad’s TAB concept, when my husband ended up in the hospital for 11 days due to a go kart accident. Just last week he went back in for surgery, and the healing has started all over again. Fortunately, he should return to full health and function in just a few months. He experienced first-hand the temporary nature of able-bodiedness.
I am so grateful that I can walk hand-in-hand with Roger. That I can scratch my nose. That I can take in a deep, delicious breath of Colorado air. That I can hold my children and swing them around.
I am not owed my body, I do not own my body. Taking good care of it doesn’t guarantee continued use of it. Made from the stuff of stars and inspiration of the Divine, my body is on loan from the Universe. I am thankful for the small and large things I can do.
I am temporarily able-bodied and I get that fact — as much as a TAB can.