One Step, One Dance

red flower fields

( Intermediate Level )

Each morning Amy asks herself what she is grateful for and she answers, “Clint. His love and his amazing courage and his sheer strength to overcome difficulty.”

She married the love of her life at age twenty-one. They bought an older two-bedroom home in the countryside. It was far from Clint’s work but he felt when the two decided to have children, he wanted them raised outside the big city.

After three and a half years of marriage, he was heading to work as he did every day and a semi-truck lost control causing a huge six-car pile-up. Clint’s vehicle was one of the vehicles involved in the accident.

Clint was hospitalized for months due to multiple fractures in his spine and a broken left leg. The doctors were concerned that he may not walk again. There was a lot of swelling and it was too early to tell. Every moment of her day Sally was by his side at the hospital.

She encouraged him when he had physical therapy and on those days when he felt he was less of a man or husband. “You’re young and beautiful and you shouldn’t be wasting your time with me. Go and find a man who can take care of you properly.”

“Clint, you quit talking like that. I will do no such thing. I am your wife and you are my husband. For better or worse, right?” She kissed him on the forehead and continued massaging his legs as he sat in his wheelchair.

“You realize I may never walk again or never be the same man you married. The doctors cannot promise anything.” He looked down at her to see her reaction.

“Either way Clint, we will make this work. I already had someone build a ramp so when you come home we can get you in the house without any problem. I moved our bed closer to the wall to have enough space for your wheelchair just in case.”

“Stop worrying. All I want is to have you home with me so keep trying your best. For me. I miss you not being at home with me.”

Clint, like most men, felt he wasn’t a proper man if he couldn’t provide for his wife. Go to work. Does the handyman work around the house? Instead, his wife, the love of his life, would have to take care of him. This didn’t agree with him and saddened him when he thought of it.

He would try his best to make a full recovery. He honestly didn’t want his wife to see his struggles but she insisted he come home to be with her. This meant she would have to take care of him around the clock until he was able to do it for himself.

The doctors had told him if he continued to make progress and everything was stable he would be released from the hospital in a week or a week and a half. Being a man of thirty-two he was still quite strong and healthy. This was a plus on his side.

Amy spent most of her day by his bedside. Going home in the evenings and returning as he was having breakfast. She would bring him some of her biscuits and gravy or an omelet since he didn’t care for hospital food.

His doctor always made early hospital rounds. If they had any questions this was the time to ask them. It was always the same question. “When can my husband come home?” from Amy or “When can I go home doc?” Clint chimed in usually.

The day finally came. Clint was discharged from the hospital. He was given a schedule to follow for his physical therapy. “Time is important, Clint. Follow this schedule and don’t miss a session. If you want the best chance to walk again, please do as I say.”

Clint agreed to do as the doctor told him to do. He was elated to finally be going home. Amy assured the doctor that her husband would follow the schedule. She knew the importance of this matter.

Clint’s father was at their house upon arrival. He had retired a few months earlier so he was able to make the drive to his son’s place. Clint’s mom still had obligations at work for another six months before she could actually get away and they both agreed it may be easier for their son if only dad had come.

The trip home had made Clint tired and he wanted to rest a bit before visiting with his dad. He wheeled himself to their bedroom and sat there in his wheelchair for a moment taking in the surroundings.

A new bedside commode was situated by their bed. A urine bottle hung on the headboard. There was a trapeze put into place hanging just above the head of the bed to help him get in and out of bed easier.

His room looked like a hospital room. He shook his head and pulled himself onto the bed. He laid there for a moment or two thinking this crap had to go as soon as possible. It made him feel more of an invalid than he imagined.

His father stayed two weeks and was a great help to him and to Amy. She was able to go into town to take care of business and buy groceries without worrying about Clint. Father and son were able to spend quality time together.

“I hate this Dad. You have to babysit me. I should be the one who takes care of you and mom now that you are getting older.”

“Who are you calling old?” His dad wanted to make the conversation more upbeat. He felt how embarrassed his son was needing help to do the minor things we tend not to think about doing like reaching for the coffee pot on the kitchen counter.

“It will be around as long as you let it be around, Son. It is up to you to do all the work to make yourself like you were before that terrible accident. We can be here to help you but you have to do most of it yourself” Clint shook his head in agreement. He knew what his dad said was the truth.

The next few months were exhausting and sometimes painful. Many times he wanted to give up and his father’s words echoed in his head. “We can be here to help but it is up to you.”

Once a month, Clint would see his doctor. He was pleased with the notes he read from the physical therapist. “Your therapist thinks you will be ready to bear weight on those legs of yours with braces.”

“As early as next week she will start you off with a few steps if you can handle it. Hopefully, your legs will build up their muscles again and the braces can come off. In another four to six months maybe you will not need therapy or that wheelchair.”

Clint knew this meant a lot of hard work was heading his way but he was determined to be back to his normal self as soon as possible. He had a plan to surprise his wife. Their four-year wedding had passed recently.

He wanted to have a night out with her but the wheelchair restricted what he had in mind. He was still determined to make it happen. It would be a little late in coming. With his parent’s help and his determination, it will be possible.

As the doctor forecasted, Clint began his weight-bearing between two bars in the therapy room. The first time he tried to have his legs hold his weight they nearly buckled underneath him.

He couldn’t believe how difficult this was. It was just months prior he was walking and wrestling with his wife for fun. Now his legs won’t hold his body up. He was frustrated.

“It will get easier. Your legs haven’t worked in a few months. Your spine has healed now you have to believe in yourself and do it.”

Clint looked at his therapist with dismay. It was easy for her to say these things. How could she know his pain and frustration? Maybe it was a standard thing she said to all her patients.

Each day Clint made a little more progress. One step then another. It was like a child beginning to walk for the first time. He looked up to the therapist and his wife to see their excitement for him just as a baby would.

This went on for many sessions. One step then another until his legs held up his body for the whole length of the bar. It was a great milestone for him. “Are we ready to take these damn braces off my leg yet, Doc?

“Not yet Clint. Let’s give it at least a week more than we can try without the braces. We can’t rush things now. Have patience.” This isn’t what Clint wanted to hear. He wanted those damn restrictive braces off. As much as they helped his legs hold up his body they also limited his movements.

After what seemed to be a lifetime, Clint had his leg braces taken off for his therapy session. As he took his very first step he felt his leg muscles strain to hold up his weight.

It was an odd sensation for him to step and feel so unstable. He thought he was strong enough to do this but now he has doubts.

It is normal what you are feeling. It will take a while for your brain to tell your legs what to do. Don’t give up now. You have come this far.” His therapist had seen his frustration and disappointment.

Sometimes his therapist’s positivity annoyed him. How can she be so enthusiastic if she couldn’t feel what he felt? She hadn’t let him down at all so he continued to do as she said and tried to keep positive.

Clint saw his wife’s smile and in her eyes, he could see the worry. How he admired her. She had never given up on him. It gave him the strength to keep pushing forward.

On Monday, he was to see his doctor again. Clint knew his doctor would read the reports and see the progress he had made over the past few months. Again, he found himself childlike, needing verbal confirmation he was doing great.

“If this progress continues you shouldn’t need therapy after a month. Your therapist says you are doing much better than she anticipated at this stage.” These words gave Clint the spark he needed to try even harder in the upcoming sessions.

That evening, Clint called his father telling him the good news. “Remember what we talked about?” His father acknowledges the conversation.” Well, I want to put things in motion. Can you do this for me?”

“Do you think you should wait? Maybe a month?” His father said with apprehension in his voice. “No, I want this dad. Amy deserves this. She has been by my side throughout these past few months. I want to show her how much I appreciate her.”

They hung up the phone and Clint rolled his wheelchair into the living room where he found his wife busy watching a movie. She was snuggled up on the sofa with a cup of hot cocoa on the coffee table.

How are your parents? she asked. “They’re doing fine and my dad was happy to hear the news of my progress. They’re planning on coming in about a month to see us.” He knew she was half listening to him. She was busy watching her movie.

The day came when Clint no longer had to rely on his leg braces. The therapist suggested he keep the wheelchair around for another month or so just in case he needed it.

After months of therapy sessions, she said she was no longer needed. “You have all the knowledge and you know what you are capable of. As time passes you will be better than today. I am only a phone call away if my services are needed again but let’s hope not.”

“No Doc, I will not be back,” with his wife by his side and with the help of two walking canes, he walked out of the therapy room on his own. Taking one step after another. He used the canes only for balance leaving his own two legs to work on their own.

His parents arrived at their house that evening and Clint’s mom smothered him with hugs and kisses. She felt terrible she had not had the time to help him through his journey.

Clint was able to speak with his father on the sly asking him if everything was in place. “Yes, everything is set for Saturday night. I contacted everyone and they will help.”

Amy had no idea what Clint had planned. All she knew was he wanted to go to his favorite restaurant on Saturday and have real food. A real steak.

He loved this place because of its atmosphere. It had live music and a dance floor. She figured it would be a relaxing night out with his parents and a way for him to feel normal once again.

Saturday night came and the foursome headed to the restaurant. Clint had put on a nice dress shirt and had his haircut that day with his father. It was the perfect excuse for the two of them to check on the arrangements that were placed over a week ago.

They pulled up in front of the building and Amy noticed how many cars were in the parking lot. “We may not get a table. It seems it is quite busy tonight.”

It will be ok, “he chimes in. As they entered Amy heard the band playing and as she came around the corner she noticed her friend and family had filled all the tables.

Across the staging area where the DJ stood, a banner was strung across. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY AMY and CLINT. Amy quickly looked over at her husband and she saw he was smiling ear to ear.

They made their way to the front of the room where a special table was set for the anniversary couple and his parents. Everyone in the room applauded as they walked through the room.

A few moments passed and the DJ was heard asking Clint to come to the front. Clint stood and instead of grabbing for his canes, he took the steps towards the DJ unaided.

The DJ handed him the microphone and Clint turned towards Amy and the crowd. “After months of dedication, I am able to stand here in front of all of you and especially my wife who never left my side.”

“Our anniversary passed and I wanted this night to be special for her to show how much I love her and thank her for loving me.” He turned to hand the microphone back to the DJ and extended his arm out to his wife.

The DJ started the song. Stand By Me. The words echoed, “Whenever you’re in trouble, just stand by me.” Amy held her husband tight as she swayed to the music and whispered the words of the song to her husband.

Written By: Angel

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I admire anyone who overcomes an obstacle in their life. Whether it is big or small they do not let it stop them from living life.

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Vocabulary:

sheer – adjective: completely

grateful – adjective: feeling or showing

countryside – noun: rural

semi-truck – noun: a combination of a tractor/truck unit with a trailer carrying freight

fractures – noun: the cracking or breaking of bones

discharged – verb: allowed to leave

elated – adjective: happy

obligations – noun: commitment

trapeze noun: a horizontal bar hanging by two ropes or chains

invalid – noun: a person made weak or disabled by illness or injury

minor – adjective: less important

exhausting – adjective: tiring

restricted– adjective: limited

forecasted – verb: predict

weight-bearing – noun: supporting the weight of something

dismay – noun: distress

milestone – noun: event marking a significant change 

sensation – noun: feeling

positivity – noun: to be positive 

enthusiastic – adjective: eager

keep pushing forward -idiom: continue doing something

anticipated – verb: to predict

put things in motion – idiom: to begin

half listening – idiom: to not listen closely

atmosphere – noun: mood of the situation

unaided – adjective: no assistance

Question ( s ):

Have you or anyone you’ve known gone through physical therapy?

Can you imagine the frustration of not being able to do things that you had normally done in the past?

Heart of Gold

bed empty equipments floor

( Intermediate Level )

Billy Ray looks back at his life, as he lies in the hospital bed awaiting a donor’s heart. “Why him?” he asks himself. He wasn’t the nicest person in life. He wasn’t successful. He was unmarried and recently lost his job due to his illness.

He knew that by receiving a heart another lost his or her life. How unfortunate for that individual but for him it meant a second chance.

He waited nearly two years for a donor. When he gave up all hope he received the long past due phone call. ” Mr. Gambino this is Nurse Smith. Dr. Abraham asked me to call you.”

“Please immediately come into Clark County Hospital. We have a donor heart for you. It will be here within the hour. We need to prep you for surgery. Do you understand Mr. Gambino? We finally have a donor heart for you.”

He arrived at the hospital within thirty minutes. He changed into a hospital gown and had an IV connected to his arm. He looked around and noticed he had a neighbor in the same room.

In the next bed was a young teenage boy. Billy Ray tried to have small talk with him but he was too frightened to carry on a conversation.

At the age of sixteen, Craig collapsed in PE class. The school sent him directly to the emergency room. His parents were notified to go to the hospital.

The doctors ran a battery of tests upon arrival. “Unfortunately, your son has a very weak heart. We call it hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It usually shows earlier signs.”

He, too, received the same good news Billy Ray did. “Please get to the hospital as soon as you can. We have a heart for your son.”

As the two lay in their hospital beds the sounds of nurses bustling around. Every so often they came in to take vital signs of each. Asked how they were doing and offered ice chips. “It wouldn’t be much longer,” they would say on the way out the door.

Nearly one hour passed. Dr. Abraham came into the room. “Hello, gentlemen. Today is your lucky day. I and Dr. Ingram will orchestrate your surgeries.”

“We have received the donor’s hearts and everything looks perfect. The nurses will be in shortly and get you ready. You will wake up with a new lease on life.”

The doctor left the room and the two looked at each other. “See you again soon buddy. I will be waiting for you.” At that moment the nurses came in and ushered each in their hospital beds to the surgery rooms number one and two.

“Mr. Gambino, just relax and take deep breaths and count backward from ten. You will wake up in four to six hours with a new heart beating inside you.”

The same thing was happening in the next surgery room. Craig was a little more nervous. His parents said they’d be just outside waiting for him.

We love you” was the last words he heard from his parents. He started counting. “Ten, nine, eight, seven… ”

Each of their surgeries went off without any complications. They would wake up, in recovery, next to each other. Mr. Gambino’s took a little longer. Dr. Abraham had to massage the donor heart to have it begin to beat in its new recipient.

Each of the respective doctors came in to see their patient before they headed home for the night. Tomorrow Dr. Abraham would read a letter to each of them written by the husband and father of the donors.

They rested comfortably during the night. The nurses took turns taking vital signs. It was of great help having both in the ICU.

“Good morning, the doctors both agreed if you are up to it, we will set you up and you can try to eat a light breakfast. They will be in sometime this morning to see you.”

“Craig, your parents will be here in about forty-five minutes. They called earlier to see how you were doing. They stayed quite late and we sent them home to get some rest.”

Breakfast was finished by the time Craig’s parents arrived. Mom gave her son a huge hug and kiss. Unlike most teens, Craig hadn’t pulled away. He actually felt comfortable having his parents there.

Billy Ray had not one person call or show up to see him. He had pushed most away in the years past. He used to have friends and a girlfriend. One by one he eliminated them from his life. Why keep them around if he was going to die soon.

Dr. Abraham arrived just before noon. He looked over their charts and told each of them, “Everything looks wonderful. If this progress continues we can let you go home within the week, of course with limitations.”

One more thing. I was asked to read this letter to both of you afterward. The donors were a mother and daughter who died in a terrible car accident where they both perished. It was the husband who signed the consent to donate their organs.”

He reached into his doctor’s coat inside pocket and took the letter out of its envelope. This would be the first time he would read it. He promised the husband he would read it so now he follows his wish.

“This is very unusual and I have never had to do this before. I saw how important this was to him so I gave my word I would read this to you both.”

He began to read,” I never, in my wildest of dreams, thought I would be writing such a letter. This is not how life should be. Saying goodbye to my wife and my precious daughter.”

“Actually, I do not feel as if I am saying goodbye but, in some strange way, I feel as if I will be saying, hello “

I want to tell you a little about my wife first. She was a magnificent woman. She had a huge heart filled with love for everyone and everything. She never complained and was always willing to lend a helping hand.”

“My daughter was a curious one. She always asked tons of questions wanting to know how everything worked. She was eager to learn new things and loved to sing and dance.”

“As a matter of fact, they were on their way to dance practice when they had the unfortunate accident that ended both their lives.”

“I gave my consent to donate their organs in hopes that their spirits would live on inside the body of others who needed them the most.”

” For those who receive their hearts, I want you to know you have received hearts of gold. Filled with goodness and kindness. You were given a second chance to live. Please, treat them well.”

The doctor carefully folded the letter and returned it to its envelope. He looked up to see Billy Ray burying his face in his hands.

He finally knew what it feels like to love so much and to sacrifice more than he could ever imagine. From this day forward he would not live in self-pity.

He hoped to reunite with his friends and most of all his girlfriend who never stopped loving him.

Craig knew he would not be like others his age. He knew, though, he had a second chance to live life to its fullest.

Written By: Angel

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Vocabulary:

donor – adjective: the act of donating something. For example money, organ or time

unfortunate – adjective: bad luck or unlucky

small talk – noun: a conversation about unimportant or matters

hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – noun: a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick

bustling – adjective: moving in an energetic and busy manner

vital signs – noun: measurements of the body’s most basic functions

orchestrate – verb: arrange

new lease on life -phrase: continue living

ushered – verb: to show or guide

backward – adverb: opposite or forward

nervous – adjective: tending to be anxious

complications – noun: complicates, difficulty

recipient noun: a person or thing that receives something

respective – adjective: belonging or relating

ICU – noun: intensive care unit at a hospital where patients are needing around the clock care

limitations – noun: restrictions

afterward – adverb: later

perished – verb: suffered death

precious – adjective: of great value

magnificent – adjective: impressive

curious – adjective: eager to know or learn something

heart (s ) of gold – idiom: a kind and generous disposition 

burying – verb: to hide

sacrifice – verb: to give or offer

self-pity – noun:  self-absorbed unhappiness 

reunite – verb: come together again

Question ( s ):

Have you or anyone you know signed up to be an organ donor?

Do you know anyone who is on a list to receive a donor organ?