Friday, May 30, 2008

Gifts of Grace wondrous to behold...and ‘whammo to the head!”

Did I go boxing last night? Did I go with no voice and still barely fever free to go and test my theory that the fever was autonomic failure by trying with all my might, to sweat? Well, yeah, of course! What I wasn’t expecting was that it was “bout” night, and I had four bouts (the really groovy gifts are at the end so please hang in there).

See, the only way this works is that I must use as MUCH energy as possible in as short a period of time, which means throwing punches constantly, in order to sweat, to sweat and literally RESTART my entire cardiovascular and micro-capillary system. It turned out that all the women but one had gone so I got guys, big guys, ex-boxer guys, but I was SO intent on boxing, and boxing, and doing it ALL, that I never noticed there was an assistant coach hanging on the back of my chair to keep me in place. In the first picture, where my wheels are complete off the ground (by almost a foot), all I remember is thinking, “Wow, I must be getting really good at keeping my balance, since I didn’t fall over.”

It turns out that since I come on a bit like, er…a steam train, they are actually holding ME back in order to give the guys bouting me the chance to practice footwork and avoiding me. But as you can see ion this picture with me accelerating my right hand, that the guy in red better have some good footwork to avoid what is ABOUT to arrive. Did he swerve, or bob, or weave, or run away? Sadly, no.
And remember when I kept asking the assistant coaches and boxers to “hit my head” for three minutes. It turns out that I LEARNED something, specifically to use their trick and when they throw a jab or a roundhouse, to get inside, use my arm to push their arm out of the way as I follow it back to…their head.
From a different angle you can see me making the EXACT same punch on a new opponent, pushing his arm out of the way as I land mine on this new guy. The Coach told me that he was trying to figure out how to get these guys to work on footwork when it was like God answered his prayer and I rolled in. Um, I am not sure how me hitting people’s head is an answer to prayer but whatever. I will state that I did not bout these guys until we did a “Okay, hit my guard and then hit my head” with these guys, followed with, “No, I am in a wheelchair, I have STRONG arms, you need to HIT them.” Just to make sure these guys knew that they needed to bring it on. Okay, now for those who don’t follow a lot of boxing, I just want to point out a few things. If your opponent is MUCH shorter than you and nails you in the stomach (like this). What is the worst thing you can do? Well that would be, dropping your guard from your head as you curl up, which, YUP, puts your unprotected FACE actually CLOSER to me.
Luckily he was boxing the Neruo-slowed girl and actually got a glove up so he was able to hit HIMSELF in the face (I hit his glove, his glove hits him). Try to remember that I am not evil or viscous, that this is all PURELY medicinal, and that the excitement of playing chess with body parts has NOTHING to do with why I am smiling so much.

Now while I barely slept last night. I have restarted my system and other than the OVERWHELMING pain which is more than the pain pills I take can handle (I woke up because I dreamt someone was skinning me with a skinning knife, and that WAS because of my pain), I have more energy and in short, it WORKED!

Also this week, now that I am conscious, I can show some of the amazing gifts that people have sent me, some people I think I know hardly at all (or not in some cases, but that might just be part of the “forgotten parts” left over from the seizure). I have NOT put in any names, in case you wanted to remain nameless but I wanted to ensure that EVERYONE could see that I am in a state of grace. Christianity says that grace is a gift, freely given that a person neither deserves nor can repay. And while I will try to live up to these gifts, appreciate them and somehow show my gratitude and gift back, there is simply NO WAY I can repay some of these gifts, so exquisite and overwhelming are they.

The first example is the Boston DaiBoken, a handmade Victorian Scrapbook sent to me, HANDMADE, with ribbons and pictures and pressed flowers (I have altered the photo specs to make sure no one is recognizable). In this book, each page is an adventure through a cemetery with (among others) the image of the Victorian “pure child” (sorry female in photo, that is just the term) followed by the ‘three sisters’ which go back to Greek times. Each page has a pressed flower and it is all hand made. It looks like it could be something bought by Conan Doyle to prove that fairies are real (see how I avoided the whole Lewis Carroll Photos). There is no way I am worthy of such a treasure, but am I keeping it – darn straight! But it is a gift which the care in making and love shines through. I can only be grateful as I wonder, ‘who am I to receive something like this?’

That is followed up by a gift and card from a person who I think talked about starting something like this when I was at Himeji Castle. And if this is the quality of your handcraft, your handmade cards and products, oh what talent! There is a carefully wrapped package in gold and ribbon. This is what I of the limited hand function call, “A puzzle box” since how do I get into it without EATING my way in. But I did and inside I find this Japanese style MINI book, about an inch long: with handmade spine, handmade covers and with a gold bow tying the mystery together. I pulled the bow, knowing I will not be able to re-tie it once it was opened to reveal handmade paper (I think) and stamps on each page, a thing of beauty, a precious object. Linda said it is like her Stamp Book from Japan only more beautiful and amazing. I said, “I can’t ever make something like this to return.” She said, “Me either.” I said, “No, my hands can’t stay still and do small work!” And she said, “I did scrap-booking and making Victorian Cards but this is WAY out of my league, I don’t think in years of work could I come close to this.”

So thank you both for these precious works, both leading to adventures of the mind, and the spirit. As it happens I received from a friend a gift to keep the tiny book in: a SKULL box with a Gothic E on it and a summer tank to match. Oh, my gosh, isn’t this so COOL! Seriously, with all this stuff I am gushing like a 15 year old (the ones who aren’t sullen and go, “Yeah, whatever!”), it is just TOO BEAUTIFUL to be...and someone really gave it to me? Of course that doesn’t mean I am not keeping it – there is a heavy case of the “Mine!” going on once I see these things.

Someone also noticed my noise intolerance and sent me FROM JAPAN (I think I have a clue who this is since there was no card), the Hello Kitty who suffers from noise. See her in her pain, then see her all happy and sleeping with these Hello Kitty ear plugs. Haha. I can’t wait to take these to the hospital next time I had to do an admit.

Also to go in the Special Skull box is this cool neck, head bandana which also has, skulls on it. I mean, unless people actually stop dying, I think this is a theme that is going to keep going on for a while. Thanks, mystery person for this (I know who you are but in case you don't want to broadcast it)!

But this, wow, I mean, wow. I don’t know if I deserve to wear it. A pendant of a goth woman wearing a Morticia Addams dress surrounded by candles. I couldn’t get the face to come out (since it is SO PALE, along with her clevage), but you can just see the eyes. It is made on an antique domino and may be of ivory or BONE. SWEET!!!!!!!!!

So that is why I am in a state of Grace, because really, this is like when people surround some kids on Peds ward and Xmas comes early. I can’t thank all those who have sent cards and presents enough because, you spent time and thought and effort for someone you never met, well except in spirit and online. But sometimes, though separated by distance, we are close in heart and all I can say is thank you and I hope that one day you can feel what I feel right now: That someone made me feel special, just because they could.

For those who haven’t seen it, here is the video of Victor’s from last weeks outings.

The Weekend Adventure from Victor Kellar on Vimeo. It has more of some people’s and less of others. This is likely my fault because I think I assumed Raccoon forwarded his photos and I don’t know if he did or ask, and the same with other people but it is a good watch and thank you Victor for the work he did on it. You know, it is days like this which erase all the specialists and the jerks and make me think that people are actually amazing. Here is to a good weekend and good times with the people we care about!


cheryl g said...

Wow, I do a lot of rubber stamping and the little Japanese book is amazing. I'm with Linda, it would take me years to do that.

The Victorian scrapbook is also fantastic!

I spent 3 hours downloading this morning (dial up) to see Victor's video and it was worth every second.

Sometime I am going to have to go to boxing with you to watch. Seeing the pictures of you boxing just make me smile.

yanub said...

Gracious, what a long reach you have! And in more ways than one.

I love the boxing photos. You look like you are having a blast. I bet not a one of those guys ever thought they'd learn how to be better boxers from bouting with a woman in a wheelchair, but they sure weren't shy about finding out. Too bad their attitude can't be bottled and force fed to certain doctors.

Lovely gifts you have there. Thanks for sharing them. I envision you with your treasures spread before you, a goth princess and her jewels, watching Victor's gift unfold on screen. Beautiful.

Cygnet said...

I don't think I'll be able to stop smiling for days!!!

Victor Kellar said...

You are a strong woman in a lot of ways; after your last two posts just to see the boxing pics made me smile, I hope you didn't pay too high a price for it.

You have some remarkable friends, remarkable in their talents and in their generosity. The scrapbook was amazing, as was the amulet.

I'm glad you enjoyed the video, I had fun making it. Sorry I left images out. Send me a link, there can always be a sequel.

At any rate I'm burning you a copy on DVD and I will be sending it along

Neil said...

Elizabeth Wonderful McClung, you're worth more than just gifts. But that skull t-shirt rocks - it's just so YOU!

As for boxing, good for you for not TAKING too many head shots. GIVING them is just fine. But I suspect you'll pay for that exercise tonight. And it will be worth it.

Zen hugs, and prayers for a good night.


PS: My wife tells me she thought she could hear the finches in our back yard. But it's 1:30 am.... Turns out it's our refrigerator; it's chirping like a finch. Fortunately, we've already bought a new one that is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.

SharonMV said...

The card & the little book were from me. So glad you like them. The card is the first project I've done in a long time - was just too sick to craft. The little book is from a series of mini-books I made with paper from Japan, the last projects I did before I became too ill. I thought you might have trouble opening the package, but I wanted to wrap it perfectly, like some of the gifts you purchased in Japanese shops. I sent a couple of little things for Linda too. I must say, I still enjoy thinking about your visit to the paper store in Japan. And I'm still hoping to finish the project I started last weekend - my weekend fun project. I'm very happy that I'm making things again, so thank you for encouraging me. OK, now I'm going back to read the blog & look at the boxing pictures.


Elizabeth McClung said...

Cheryl G: Yes, it really was a work of craft; something you have around to remind you that the world isn't completely mass produced anymore. I agree on the scrapbook - totally amazing! Victor's video just makes me eager to get his software and try, of course, I don't have his years of experience but that is what learning is about.

Linda said, she could tell I boxed BEYOND exhaustion. Sometimes my head would be lowered during shadowboxing but I wouldn't give up punching.

Yanub: yes, I am short now but the Marfan's reach is still there. Yeah, I wonder what they thought when I rolled in and was paired up with me (particularly as I had an assistant coach HOLDING ME BACK behind me).

I do have a lot of good memories, I am finding gifts and letter can be memories too.

Cygnet: Great, then you and I feel the same. It was very, very much what I would have loved to do, so inspired!

Victor: Actually the coach noticed how much I had wasted in the muscle mass and body size department.

I think we enjoyed ourselves, in the films the guys are smiling, I think meeting someone who challenges you in a new direction as an athelete can be fun. Well, I am still paying the price but hopefully tomorrow I will start anew!

I really do have some remarkable friends and YOU amoung them considering it took two videos to get the first version and another for this one I was worried you were in "When will I escape this video hell" land.

I look forward to the CD, Linda really enjoyed the Video too.

Neil: Yeah, the T-shirt is great and the box is great.

As for fridges, we thought someone was trying to break in a few months ago...but it was our fridge in its final stages! Glad to hear you have a new fridge tomorrow - you and your carrying things in your bike - an interesting hobby! I take it the fridge is not coming in the bike attachment?

SharonMV: Oh, see now I would have definately gotten some paper for you if I had known what to get you. Oh, too late for a quite trip to Kyoto is it? This was a great card and a superb book, I think people need to click on the picture to blow it up and even that doesn't do it justice. You are a very talented artist and remind me of the people I used to see making minature books at the bumpershoot book festival in Seattle.

I did appreciate the wrapping and Linda her present. I am glad that you are taking this up again becuase after recieving this it is like hearing in Japan that "a great living artist" is working again (they get designations). Having helped Linda and done binding myself for vellum and other bookwork as a bookseller and basic biblophile I can appreciate what you have created but have no idea how to replicate it. Thank you again.

Gaina said...

That book is just mind-blowing, the patience it must have taken!

And of course you deserve nice things, ya silly sausage! :P

Gaina said...

Doh! I wish they'd make the 'email follow up comment' box a bit more prominent!.

Neil said...

No, dear, I'm not bringing the fridge home on the bicycle. Not this time....

On the other hand, I MAY end up buying a shop vacuum; that could come home in the trailer, since I took the kid-seats out a few years ago.

FridaWrites said...

What great gifts. Every single one is magnificent. I love the scrapbook and the miniature book in particular. The skulls on pink is also beautiful.

I think med students should read about experiences such as yours with the neurologist and the cardiologist as examples of how doctors can harm rather than heal.

Sharon, I'd love to read more about your health experiences if you start your own blog. I feel like I'm getting to know many of the commentators from the comments--it's a nice community.

Heather said...

I still have the giggles from the crazy boxing pictures--a combination of seeing your glee, your long reach, and the surprise on your opponents' faces. Somehow I am not really surprised that they had to hold you back.

Hope today's pain passes quickly so you can move on the to next crazy-very-Elizabeth adventure.

imfunnytoo said...

Thanks for this! The writing is straight on, but the pictures say more than even the words...

Maggie said...

Hey Beth-Glad things are going well. Sounds like boxing was fun. I enjoy the pictures where the coach is holding you back! True Beth! Sorry I've been a bit absent this week I was in training this week--working under helicopters and it was several very long days. But I put pictures on the picture page.

Great presents and Great Video from Victor! I'm gona run and I hope you are getting some rest after your system restart.

Donimo said...

Very cool gifts, people. You're very deserving Elizabeth.

I hope that when I come to visit you that we can box! I love sparring and Sarah always complains that here I have a disability and I always kick her ass. She's strong, but I'm fast! I wonder how we could set it up? I can't stand for very long but sitting down I don't know if I could reach past your great, long arms. Hell, standing up I don't know if I'd be able to land anything, either, but I'd like to try. I guess we could have short bouts with me standing and then resting. I don't have any training but my brother is 10 years older than me and I guess taking him on as a kid did me some good!

I'm glad you've figured out some stuff that helps you cause the doctors certainly haven't been able to tell you anything. Carry on, Rocky!

Raccoon said...

I... uhm...

Damn, that is some reach!

I just sent the pictures to you, you can forward them if you want.

Ooo! Ooo! Mr. Kotter -- I mean, Elizabeth! One of the sites I'm going to be taking some pictures at is some Royal Tombs. Just for you!

Marla said...

I love those ear plugs. Living on a street that sounds like we sleep in the middle of a freeway...well, I wear ear plugs at bedtime. I can't sleep without them now. An addiction.