John Dunning's Journal
Written Feb 1, 2014 8:01am by John DunningIt's been a while since I posted a "tornado" update, I think for two reasons: I've wanted to get a handle on this phase of normal first, and frankly, this is much closer to "normal" than we've been for months so it doesn't feel as update worthy (though I'm afraid that perspective is an unwelcome remnant of times gone by - read on).I've now got two calendar weeks of work under my belt, though between the two I only put in a bit more than a half a week's worth of hours (13 and 15). Everyone on campus and in my professional associations is incredibly supportive of my slower pace, for which I'm so appreciative. I think the only person pushing is...well...me, but that is appropriate and while I am pushing myself, the level of exhaustion I'm reaching each day and week feels like a healthy stretch without setting myself back.It is wonderful to be spending time strategizing and problem solving with friends - good exercise for the mind and healthy for the soul as well to be engaged in the work of supporting the teaching and learning process once again.Ann and I are relishing being home, cuddling puppies and each other, puttering, running errands and such - such simple things but now experienced with a more profound realization of joy than I think ever I've had.I'm recognizing that in that sense of wonder lies my most important recovery challenge: as the leg gets stronger and my hand gets more deft and my mental endurance returns; how do I retain and nurture this childlike sense of appreciation for the simple, beautiful, precious things in life? What a gift to be reminded at mid-life how lovely things can be (even if it took a whack upside the head with a dumpster).
This is life
Written Jan 18, 2014 4:09pm by John DunningOur first week home is under our belts and it's been wonderful and productive. Friday was a day I'll never forget, from the tearful and heartfelt farewell at Madonna to the amazing crazy jubilant welcome home parade in Wayne. Since then we went to a birthday concert, started rehab with the great crew at Providence, got cleared for and planned my return to work next week, bought a truck and picked up a few things at Bomgaars (which truly signifies being home).
Ann had insisted that we keep the week light and relatively open and boy was she right - I tire so incredibly easily still. We've had fabulous meals brought to us every night by meal train volunteers and even with the job of meal prep pretty much offloaded and a light week it's been exhausting.
We knew there would be challenges in this phase and one of the interesting ones is recreating the motivational sustaining environment of full time rehab. It's easy to be upbeat when you have great professionals structuring your time and your goals to be attainable if you work hard and stretch. Finding and setting those goals yourself when you are face to face with things you'd really love to work on but simply can't tackle yet is difficult at best.
It really forces you to focus on what you can do this week that you couldn't do last week, what you can do today that you were afraid you might never be able to do again. Every little victory is one step closer back to "normal" - a state that was far more beautiful and amazing than I ever gave it credit for and yet, time and again in this journey my view is pulled back into the current moment to find the joy and satisfaction of it. I drove again this week. I shared a beer with friends. I cuddled puppies. I was able to hold my wife on our couch and watch a favorite show. We had breakfast with mom at our own table. I drank coffee from my favorite weekend coffee cup all week long.
The big moments of life are amazing - little moments of life are beautiful. In between are the challenges that make us better than who we are.
We. Are. Home.
Written Jan 10, 2014 5:52pm by John DunningWe. Are. Home.
I. Am. Floored.
We received the most remarkable welcome back to Wayne today. We had the campus "Cat Car" leading us into and through town and a ladder truck bringing up the rear with lights a blazin'. There were people all up and down Main Street holding signs, waving and yelling "Welcome Home!". I think all of campus (and then some) was waiting between Hahn and Carhart with more signs and smiles and cheering.
It is literally overwhelming, in the most wonderful of ways.
A good friend told me that I had, for many people, become the face of the tornado. I suppose in that light our return and the wonderful greeting we received was a victory celebration for us all. A chance for us to cheer ourselves. The storm didn't win. The road ahead is long and we are not yet whole, but we will be.
We are Wayne America Tough, after all.