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(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

The winter of my son’s discontent has begun to thaw thanks to—his Grandma Mae’s accordion? Really. These long days and nights of waiting for his post-concussion syndrome to subside have left him with time on his hands since he is still banned from doing his martial arts—the activity that previously filled his evenings and provided an outlet for the excessive energy that runs through his body whether or not his head is aching. Winter’s low light, his restrictions, and his pain have led to a massive case of cabin fever, especially as he has no idea when his healing will pick up. He needed something (safe) to do and we needed him to have something do when he wasn’t at work—which was more often since he’s still not released to work a full schedule. Who knew the accordion really could step in against the face of doing too much of nothing?

Not I, but I was getting desperate. If you don’t know, people who are concussed (mini-rant: when did that become a proper term?) get pretty irritable. Plus, any brain challenges a person has get exacerbated—which means my son’s rant gene (we’re pretty sure there must be one in our family including in his mother) has ramped up the monologues around here. What could he do that would grab the attention of his brain while having a physical component? I thought he’d try out my LEGO suggestion but instead he grabbed onto the accordion idea, especially after I pointed out he could start learning by using the Internet.

After the first two days he had already played the thing for eight hours. His bored (yet bruised) brain sang with joy—or at least his fingers did. Pretty soon he was researching how the accordion was put together and how to fix the stuck buttons. He knows the background of his accordion’s brand and has a good idea of its age and value. He can tell you about different styles of instruments and accordion-playing traditions across different countries and over several time periods. I’ve become used to falling asleep to the sound of an accordion—which is fine since he most often chooses to play with a sweet tone—it’s almost as if I’m rocking asleep in a boat in Venice. Almost.

At first our dog Sam ran from the music. Something about the vibrations or the movement of the bellows scared him in a way that our playing other instruments hasn’t. Thankfully Sam’s made a truce with the instrument because I don’t think it’s going away any time soon—and that’s a good thing because this personal music therapy has done more for our son than anything else has over the past three months.

Perhaps he’ll become the next Lawrence Welk? When I first said that, I meant it in jest, but after finding a really old video of the Bubble-master playing his accordion, old Lawrence is much redeemed in my eyes—I’ve yet to forgive him for all those dull shows of his I had to watch while visiting my grandparents, but if he’d played his accordion that way in his later years, he would have kept my attention.

Maybe my son had to get hit on the head to find his true calling—or not. But thank goodness the accordion is a friend when he needs it to get through this overly long healing period. Even if his music didn’t sound so sweet, that alone would make it enough for me. How sweet it is indeed.

P.S. Check out Lawrence Welk’s playing–it’s well worth a listen.

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Shoes by Christiana Lambert, 2009

Shoes by Christiana Lambert, 2009

Long time no write, huh? It’s just that little thing called “Life” getting in the way of plans—the best laid and otherwise.

This has been a rough month here because a few weeks ago my father-in-law returned to the ER for the third time since the beginning of this year. The poor guy has been fighting an incredibly resistant staph infection, something that is no minor matter no matter how old you are, but is really dangerous when you have reached your mid-80s. Not only has he been incredibly exhausted and in constant excruciating pain, but he’s also gone through two separate multi-week daily IV antibiotic regimens—and all the inherent disruption from driving to and from appointments and going through all that’s involved with treatments—only to have the infection surge again after it has been supposedly defeated.

Talk about feeling defeated, right?

So that’s why the infectious disease docs felt that the post-treatment results have demonstrated that the medication treatments could only do so much for him—and that only surgery stood a chance of knocking out this bug. Once again, though, surgery becomes pretty risky as you add years, especially if your system is compromised in the first place.

The family had a lot of reservations about going ahead with the surgery, but let’s face it, he hadn’t had much good quality of life this whole year. Besides the decision was really his to make—and decide to proceed with the surgery he did.

Wish I could say everything’s been easy ever since, but the first good sign was an early call from an ecstatic surgeon who expected a much longer and more challenging surgery. As my husband says, either he’s an exceptional salesperson or he really felt the procedure was going to make a big difference.

Now a week and a half out from that surgery, my father-in-law is starting to look stronger than he has for a long time. Pain remains, but I can tell by his willingness to move that something has changed for the better. He explains that movement is tough for him because he’s tired, but not because it’s too painful. That’s a big step in the right direction.

Last week he moved from a regular hospital bed to one in a long term acute care rehab hospital which is the sort of place where people go to recover when their care needs are higher than a nursing home can provide, but when they are on their way away from immediate post-surgical recovery and toward long-term recovery from their surgeries and/or illnesses.

The especially good news, though, is that he finally seems capable of believing that it’s still possible for his life to improve after all.

In my mind, this is the most important step of all—this one step alone drives all the others, making all the difference between shuffling through his remaining days versus doing whatever he can to break back into the dance of life in whatever ways still left to him, no matter how small—or big. One foot in front of the other . . .

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