Share. Connect. Love.

Posted 2018-12-17T03:34:52Z

In case you're still interested......

We're finally back in our home in Staunton, but aren't quite settled yet, as the final touches of renovations wind down. It has been so nice to be back home, to see old friends and neighbors, to cuddle up with our canine and feline landlords, and try to step back in to our old lives. But, of course, we'll never get our old lives back for obvious reasons. Even so, a new life for us seems to be emerging, no better or worse than our old one, but different. "They" say that the first year after a spinal cord injury is the toughest, and I suppose the truth of that is obvious, but "they" never really get much more specific than that. The hardest thing for me at the moment is the utter dependence on others (i.e. Nancy) for so many of my needs. Yes, I can get into and out of bed, on and off the toilet, into and out of the car, and I can shave, brush my teeth, and even dress, but most of these activities take much longer than they used to. What I can't do (yet) includes helping with laundry, taking out the garbage, bringing firewood in, and grocery shopping, to name just a few. But depending on others for transportation is probably the most difficult to bear, and I now understand why this loss is one that many of my patients grieve the most. Fortunately, driving is likely to be one of the first of these to cross off the list, as I'm scheduled to have hand controls installed this week, and for a driving test as the DMV shortly thereafter. So look out Staunton/Waynesboro/Augusta County, there's a new driver on the road!

While I've continued to get stronger, my recovery was interrupted by a brief stay at Augusta Health over Thanksgiving for a nasty urinary tract infection. I had worked the afternoon, and then wheeled across the street for a medical staff meeting. It was great catching up with many of my colleagues before the meeting, and just so heartening to realize that I'd been missed by at least some of them. A few minutes after taking my place at a table to eat I experienced the sudden onset of severe nausea. I was rolled outside for some fresh air, but felt no better and came back inside, and was eventually laid out on the floor of the back hallway as several concerned peers gathered around me. Much to my chagrin, the consensus emerged that I should be taken to the ER to be checked out. By the time I arrived just a few minutes later I was shaking with chills and have a fever of 103. That bought me a night in the ICU, and though I felt much better by the following morning, I was confined for another couple days until they could determine the appropriate antibiotic to use. Another week of a self-administered antibiotic at home followed. I will say that I had superb care throughout my hospital stay, and that it was comforting to be cared for by so many familiar faces. 

The most gratifying experience of all has been my return to work, albeit part time, starting in mid-November. The warmth with which I've been welcomed by co-workers and patients has been utterly heartwarming. It seems to me quite odd for patients to express so much concern for the well being of their physician, but it's so very therapeutic for me. I've also been given a ration more of patience from the staff with whom I work.  The actual seeing of patients clicked immediately, but I was definitely on the slow side getting the computer work done. However, within a surprisingly short time even this came back. What has been slower to return is my endurance, but even it has improved to the extent that I'm planning to start back to full time tomorrow. Hopefully I'm not being too ambitious, but I do think I'm ready. One insight I've gained since my accident is how meaningful my work is to me, and it's made me realize with more certainty that I'm not even close to ready to retire.

On another front, I've been forced to put my money where my mouth is by a group of friends (Jim and Betsy Vance, Craig Marthinsen, Mark Larsen, Mandi Smith, Rodney Young, Ann and Matts Brodow, David Ophel, and Kent Diduch), who have committed to paying for a high-end hand cycle. So, in addition to spending the next few months determining which hand-crafted, custom-fitted, carbon fiber, sleek Italian racing cycle to make them pay for, i'll also be training hard to get myself ready physically for this new challenge by hitting the gym religiously. I've been working with a personal trainer at Augusta Health's Lifetime Fitness Center, and it's just so interesting how she's found entirely new ways to punish me. Anyway, it's going well, and I am committed to not turning the generosity of friends into an expensive clothes rack.

Given the season, I'm tempted to pen a closing paragraph tying together my experiences of the past four months with a message of hope and love, but those of you with who know me well (or with an intact BS detector) would immediately spot that as out of character. Instead I will just say thanks for your support, prayers, words  and/or thoughts of encouragement during this challenging time. And, of course there's Nancy, who has borne the brunt of this ordeal, and for whom "thank your" is so blatantly inadequate. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary yesterday, and she has surely made good, and then some, on the "for better or worse" part of our vows. How can anyone make up for what she's been through since that fateful day in July? I don't think it's possible, so I'll just plagiarize the Brothers Avett with "I'm sorry, I love you."



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Comments (21)

  • Elaine Dunaway
    Elaine Dunaway

    Rob- So good to hear from you! Definetly interested in how you and Nancy are holding up! We missed you at the Harrisonburg Cancer Center holiday gathering but understood you were at your works party. The adjustment must be quite a challenge. Resilience will win the day! That 1 year anniversary will be here before you know it! Your patients are so lucky to have you. Best to you and Nancy this season and into 2019. Elaine

    one year ago · Reply
  • Ellen Swiss Rosi
    Ellen Swiss Rosi

    Rob! Rob! Rob!! (And Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!). Thanks for the update. Love you guys glad you’re in your own place and you’re still doing the work you love. And I hope to catch a glimpse of you on your new bike next summer. This is probably completely obvious but I’m betting the reason the first year is the hardest is not just adjusting to a new normal but the unrelenting pace of learning new ways to do old things, so many new tricks for you to learn, you old dawg!!! :-). But learning them you are and I’m sorry for the platitudes but you’re damned impressive Dr. Rob (But you always were :-). And as for that warmest and kindest and unbelievably competent woman you’ve called your wife for 30 years-ya picked a winner! Happy anniversary, Merry Christmas and may this year bring ... I dunno..everything you want it to bring. All my love...Ellen

    one year ago · Reply
  • Linda Morrison
    Linda Morrison

    We're so glad you've made it through yet another recovery with grace and humor. You have taught us a lot about being grateful for even the small things in life. Have a good first full week at work and a lovely holiday. Love, Glenn and Linda

    one year ago · Reply
  • Lynn Hall Coyner
    Lynn Hall Coyner

    Courage, strength, determination and love. You and Nancy rock. So glad you are back to work offering your expertise and care to your patients.

    one year ago · Reply
  • Laurel Weddle
    Laurel Weddle

    You and Nancy are inspirations to all of us. God bless you and Merry Christmas! Laurel Weddle

    one year ago · Reply
  • David Ophel
    David Ophel

    Rob, Find that bike and start training! I’m already planning a trip up to NY and a ride out to Southern Tier Brewery with you, Jim and Mats🍺🍺🍺

    one year ago · Reply
  • Pamela T Huggins
    Pamela T Huggins

    Absolutely still interested! And absolutely still inspired. Remember that, as herculean as it may seem, Nancy is doing exactly what she wants to do and exactly what you would be doing if the roles reversed. That's what 30 years-+ of love gets you! Love, Pam

    one year ago · Reply
  • Lea w.
    Lea w.

    Dr. Kyler, Again, you never cease to amaze us. We're so happy to hear that you've found yourself at home again and I'm sure that everyone at Augusta is so glad to have you back. Reading all of your journal posts has been such an inspiration to us and we're grateful that we have been able to follow this unexpected journey that you've been on. We can't wait to hear about your new biking adventures and best wishes on your full time pursuits at work. Happy holidays, Lea & Corey Woods

    one year ago · Reply
  • Deborah Ritchie
    Deborah Ritchie

    Rob, it's wonderful to have an update from you and I hope you continue to do that periodically over the next year or so. I want to know how it goes with your driving, your cycling and your going back to work full time; not to mention how much better you feel as you gain more independence. I know that everyone considers you a Christmas blessing and are looking forward to "having you around" for many, many more years! I don't ever want to see you as a patient again but will hopefully "bump" into you one day...Merry Christmas to you and yours and may your New Year be full of awesome new adventures!

    one year ago · Reply
  • Ellen Lewis
    Ellen Lewis

    Rob, I was wondering how it was going. I’d been thinking of you. So I’m glad to get this update. And Nancy, I’m sure you’re relieved to be home too. At least your pets probably don’t care about everything that’s happened. I’m sure they’re just happy just to have you back. It’s interesting to hear about the solace and energy you’re getting from work. At this stage of life, with or without the use of your legs, so many people are slowing down, cutting back, or just opting out of work altogether. And I think a lot of it is simple social conditioning. I’ve always been wary or the idea of losing work. It defines so much. It engages the mind and heart, provides challenges and accomplishments and It makes days off much more fun. So I’m

    one year ago · Reply
  • Ellen Lewis
    Ellen Lewis

    Oops hit the wrong button and sent this too soon! I was just saying that it’s really good to hear that work is giving you back a big part of your life. And I’m also really glad that you’re pals are getting you one of those super handbikes! Can anyone have a turn trying it out? Keep the updates coming. I want to hear about the driving once you get the car tricked out. And a big happy anniversary to both of you. xoxo e

    one year ago · Reply
  • Forrest young
    Forrest young

    Rob, you're an inspiration, buddy! I love reading these updates. Keep them coming!

    one year ago · Reply
  • John Mitchell
    John Mitchell

    Rob, so glad to get another update from you! Mary and I are so happy that you are settling back in at home in Staunton and are back to work. The progress you have made over the last 5 months is tremendous and inspiring. It's great to see you back in the game! All of your hard work and tenacity is bearing fruit and will only get better and more refined with each passing month. We look forward to catching up with you the next time we come to Staunton. Congratulations on your and Nancy's anniversary! John & Mary

    one year ago · Reply
  • Cristi Kyler
    Cristi Kyler

    Congratulations Rob & Nancy! You guys rock!!! Sending lots of love to all 4 of you! ❤️

    one year ago · Reply
  • Edward J Ricciardelli
    Edward J Ricciardelli

    Hey Rob. Good to hear you are back home! It was great seeing you and I plan on making a trip over the mountain next time I come to C'ville if the timing is right for you. Jay, Yahnno, Oneil and Charlie and I speak of you often and they are all wishing you the very best. We need to get together with the group for sure!. Have a Merry Christmas with your family and all the best. Ed R

    one year ago · Reply
  • Irv Bomberger
    Irv Bomberger

    Rob, thanks for the update. Your resilience, humor, perspective and honesty, as well as the genuine affection you engender from such a wide circle of folks, is toching...invigorating...enriching for so many of us.

    one year ago · Reply
  • Marilyn Marloff
    Marilyn Marloff

    Rob and Nancy, I'm glad to hear you're back in Virginia and just a short way up the map from me. I do think about you a lot and I'm following your posts. I appreciate the details of your journey. Keep hanging in there and keep sharing. I'll be happy to see you both in CHQ in only a few short months! Sending love, xxxooo -Marilyn

    one year ago · Reply
  • SHERRY Clarke
    SHERRY Clarke

    Yes...I’m still interested and glad you posted. I’ve been wondering how things were going. The UTI story is so familiar and it’s incredible how quickly it takes over your body. Scary nasty bug! Glad you had help nearby. Nancy...sending you a friendly hello. Congratulations on your wedding anniversary. Much love to both of you in your journey together.

    one year ago · Reply
  • William A. Jiranek
    William A. Jiranek

    Attaway Kyler, your toughness and perspective inspires us all. Eleanore sends her love. Keep trucking! BJ

    one year ago · Reply
  • Sharon Metcalf
    Sharon Metcalf

    Rob & Nancy, Much belatedly, I heard about your accident from Rachel & Phil when seeing them at their holiday party this past weekend. Rachel sent me the link to your journal and I’ve just read all your poignant entries over the past 5 months. My heart and mind are reeling with shock and awe. Rob, you are amazing ‒ having pulled through this by the sheer force of your indomitable will. Every note of progress demonstrates your profound strength, inimitable humor, and undeniable spirit. What a testament to the core of your being. Nancy, as Rob says, you are obviously the essential support in getting through each day ‒ providing not just the vital physical aid but, I imagine, so much more emotional fortitude to keep positive momentum going in each of your transformed lives. On this eve of Christmas, and just one among your many friends, fans and of course family, I send you my love and warmest wishes for continued progress in this journey. Big hugs all around ‒ which I want to share by visiting you in Staunton soon. And certainly in Chautauqua next summer. Sharon

    one year ago · Reply
  • Virginia Lloyd-Davies
    Virginia Lloyd-Davies

    It was so great to see you at Augusta Health a few weeks back. You continue to be a hero to me, and always will. Thanks for everything! May you continue to progress in your new life with courage, fortitude and rude sense of humor we know so well.

    one year ago · Reply