I stood under the shower for so long on Saturday morning I wasn't sure if I'd ever come out.
My doctor told me last week that I don't have to wear my leg braces around the house anymore.
I've been taking full body washes in front of the sink since December, which really don't cut the mustard when it comes to coming clean.
I know it's wrong to waste water, but after feeling that heavenly H2O raining down on me after all those sponge baths, I just didn't want it to end.
In sports, being sent to the showers means you're being yanked off the field, but I felt like I was slowly returning to the game.
So, after three months of clunking around like the Tin Man in my Velcro leg irons, I can now stand on my own two feet-literally. No more wrapping and unwrapping my legs every time I have to do my morning stretch routine. I'm free.
It still feels strange, walking around without artificial support. My legs are still so thin that I was afraid they wouldn't be able to hold me up. But they can.
I walk slowly, that's for damn sure, nothing like the speed-racing pace I used to crank out when I went to the store…or the subway…or the bathroom. No, I'm taking the slow ride.
My physical therapist Ayman, has been visiting me at home for the last few weeks.
When the insurance company first approved a PT guy, I was expecting a musclebound young dude who would drill sergeant me into a frenzy, but this soft-spoken Egyptian man is gently pushing me to levels I never thought I could reach.
It hurts like hell, but I'm Catholic so it's all good. Or all bad. It's hard to tell.
Walk on By
He stopped by my apartment on Friday night after battling through the hideous nor'easter that had snarled traffic down to motionless misery. I wouldn't have blamed him if he had scrubbed our session, but he came through.
"You're walking like you still have the braces on," Ayman said, as I lumbered across the living room floor. "You have to bend your knees."
That felt a little scary after all the immobility. But I listened as he took me through the walk cycle, a seemingly simple act that I'd never appreciated until I had it taken from me.
I'm learning how to walk all over again. I feel like my parents should be here taking my picture and cheering me on.
When I went to see my doctor this week, I waited in the hallway of my building for my sister to pick me up.
There's an image of Jesus on the door and I was so nervous I put my hand on the picture and prayed for good health and a speedy recovery.
But as I held my hand on that picture, I became calm and I thought about the people who are really suffering in this world, like the families of the shooting victims in Florida. And I went from being fearful to being thankful.
I have to wear the leg braces when I leave my apartment, so I'm still pretty much housebound. And after my sessions with Ayman run out, I'll have to continue the physical therapy as an outpatient.
I've got a long road ahead of me, but at least I'm not wearing those awful braces. Now it's time for a shower.