January 8 – A Date to Remember

January 8 is a day that is to live in infamy in my small world. It’s the day, two years ago, when I was run over by an SUV. It happened in the Mission Hospital parking lot by a Mission employee. The driver was late, distracted, and speeding – you know the type.

She ran me over and I fell backwards on the concrete, resulting in a concussion and cracked vertebrae in my back. After a lot of tests in the emergency room, I went home. Then the hard work of rehabilitation started.

I don’t obsess about it; the accident does not defines me. I would have forgotten the exact date but January 8 is my friend’s birthday. I send her a card and take her out for sushi – it’s becoming a tradition. So the date was on my mind when I heard about Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords being shot in the head by a crazed man. This was not an accident, a natural disaster, or an act of God. Just like the woman who ran me over, this tragedy was perpetrated by a person. But this is where the similarities end.

With a lot of luck, perseverance, and hard work, I am back on the hiking trail. Rep. Giffords may not be that lucky. A bullet went through her brain. “Her doctors have declined to speculate on what specific disabilities the 40-year-old congresswoman may face,” according to an Associated Press report. But they will be severe.

I searched for Giffords’ biography and found that after she graduated college she was a small business woman and a politician; some now call her presidential material. But I couldn’t find anything about what sports she had engaged in or her exercise routine. It probably doesn’t seem important to the press right now. Getting to where she can walk and talk will entail a lot of hard work.

But I wonder if she was a runner or a cyclist. Did she play golf? Was this an important part of her life? It’s not good to pretend that Giffords will recover completely. Maybe her mental capabilities will be questioned. Certainly she will have physical difficulties.

If you hike with me, you’ll think that I’ve recovered completely. I can walk 15 miles a day and I work hard at staying fit. I exercise almost every day. I still do all the routines that my physical therapist gave me. But I have random headaches and backaches which I try to ignore or explain away as an exception. My neck is giving more trouble contributing to the headaches. I’ve started to go to a chiropractor regularly. He says I have osteoarthritis, a condition I don’t really understand. It’s associated with age and trauma. Well, as you get older, you’re more likely to have had a couple of traumas. Everything I read about it says that you can’t do anything about osteoarthritis other than move and take pain killers. I do a lot of moving and try to avoid pain killers.

Small problems compared to what Giffords is going to have to go through. And for what? Because some crazed man used a gun instead of fighting her with words. Even by some miracle Giffords recovers enough to go back to Congress, she’ll still be the woman who was shot on January 8.

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