Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, What’s the Fairest Resolution of Them All?
“Mirror in the bathroom
Please talk free
The door is locked
Just you and me.”
The time for annual resolutions to be implemented has arrived. The most impactful betterment plans arise from an honestly objective self-review. What more appropriate figurative venue to stage that introspective intervention than “Mirror in the Bathroom,” as depicted by ska band The English Beat?
Each year, I attempt to capture a year-end snapshot of myself. I reflect back on the prior 12 months for insight regarding the good, the bad, and the ugly. I seek to identify cause-and-effect factors that will frame my resolve in the new year.
Not unexpectedly, the result is always a mixed bag. Some areas scream for an overhaul, some are fine going forward, and occasionally one emerges as an asset to be emphasized. In that spirit, I again take stock.
Except for ALS, I ended the year in robust health. Regular feedback regarding heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and weight are all affirming. I take no maintenance prescription medications.
That tells me that my daily routine of food, dietary supplements, passive exercise, and deep — albeit, relative to my shallow maximum — breathing can justifiably continue. Of course, I’ll keep an ear to the ground for any research-based, or anecdotally reported, inspiration to consider modifying my regimen. But for now, the status quo is appropriate.
In contrast, my response to ALS’s incessant advances begs for a “Shark Tank”-like rethink. In particular, two elements of my anti-ALS effort are obvious loss leaders.
I have fretted over and groused about my eroding verbal skills for years now. Failing to take any action has now rendered me an incommunicado mute. I find myself the equivalent of Marcel Marceau without animated gestures, or Harpo Marx without props. Having already hatched a scheme to avail myself of eye gaze-activated speech-generation technology, my 2022 resolution is to become the Daniel Webster of robotalk.
The other noteworthy gaping sinkhole of my 2021 existence could have been anticipated with just a smidgen of foresight. As this is being written, I have yet another painful, foul, secreting, open cesspool festering on my leg. Like the infected wound of more than a year ago, it began as an annoying, occasional irritant, brought on by the perfect storm of friction, pressure, and immobility. Lack of attention allowed it to spiral out of control.
A resolution, and a welcome observation
In the new year and beyond, I pledge to be proactive. To forestall pressure sore development, protective boots will be worn, and my legs will be repositioned daily. I will also instruct my aides to inspect my legs, back, and buttocks — again, each day — for the faintest hint of discoloration. An antiseptic healing cream will be at the ready for early prophylactic treatment. Additionally, a wound care doctor and nurse are now members of my ALS rolodex.
Although it’s just me and the bathroom mirror behind closed doors, external input is welcome, as I attempt to put my best “Auld Lang Syne” (ironically, with the initials ALS) foot forward. Unsolicited feedback is often the most candid, and potentially beneficial. On one hand, it can painfully illustrate troubling differences in public and self-image. Conversely, it can gratifyingly highlight an unwitting collateral strength. This past Saturday, a pleasant, serendipitous critique — of the latter variety — sprang from an unlikely source.
Since switching home health agencies this summer, I’ve been tended to by a dizzying array of aides. Owing to demand outweighing supply, exacerbated by COVID-19 and tourist season in Florida, scheduling anomalies have become the norm. As a result, my “regular” Saturday aide has only cared for me six times.
Despite the many fits and starts brought on by seeking to cultivate a routine in the midst of a decidedly nonroutine set of challenges, a “normalcy” of sorts has been achieved. All it took was repeated viewings of a YouTube video demonstrating my uncommon transfer lift, frequent amendments to my enumerated to-do list, and the comic misadventure of my attempts to offer spoken guidance. That serpentine process left scant opportunity for rapport-building.
However, our interactions did make my garbled “Mary, thank you for everything” decipherable, prior to her departure last Saturday. Surprisingly, she responded, “No, it’s me who needs to thank you.” Correctly reading the puzzled expression on my face, she decided to elaborate.
She admitted that she had been struggling with her faith. She went on to explain that the strength of my faith was obvious. Her conclusion was that if faith could thrive in my circumstances, she had to reenergize her own. It was a behavioral confirmation of the highest order.
Consequently, beyond continuing my nutrition and exercise strategy, and shoring up two glaring shortcomings, I will double down on God.
Happy New Year!
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