Now would be a good time to discuss the effects my “broken” status has had on friends and loved ones. I should first explain a little about myself. I am a friendly, outgoing person, who never knows a stranger’s face. I have countless acquaintances, but allow only a select few close to me. I’m stubborn, have trouble asking for help, and never want to be a bother. Being independent and living alone with a pig and a cat is all fine and well, that is until you break both your ankles. Facing this hurdle was about to teach me not only about myself, but those I held dear.
I will begin with my four-legged children. I honestly believe Uncle Put, my black cat, enjoyed my “handicapped” status. I was constantly in bed for him to lay on, he loved attacking and eating my physical therapy tools, but his favorite was my wheelchair; he was always curled up on top of the seat cushion as if it was his throne. I swear he went through a mourning period when the wheelchair was no longer needed and returned. All the nurses and home aides loved Uncle Put, and Uncle Put loved all the attention. This was not the same for Officer, my mini pig.
Officer didn’t like the idea that Mommy was hurt and there was a revolving door of strangers coming in and out of our home. His personality changed with the snap of my ankles. He took on the role of protector – and enforcer. If my nurse or physical therapist made me cry out in pain, Officer charged. If I was sleeping and anyone got too close to me, Officer charged. He would guard my bedroom, not allowing anyone in, and if they did, he would charge. I finally had to get a gate to lock him out, so the nurses could come in an assist me. My aides would carry a bag of treats to manipulate him with food, and after he ate the treats, he would charge. He never hurt anyone, that wasn’t his intention; he wanted to scare the hell out of you, and that’s what he accomplished.
My mom had been a constant presence, comfort, and help during this time, but by the end of my second month of immobility, she had to leave town. Her’s had been the only familiar face I’d seen in all this time, and I was going to miss it desperately. I had a few people reach out, which I will always appreciate, but it was my closest friends I wanted. One of those friends showed up.
Every week he’d come visit, bringing me Starbucks or some other treat, and ready to watch another movie. Twenty four hours a day I was at the mercy of strangers. I was so lonely; I needed the company of those who knew me best. And every time my friend showed up, I was the happiest girl in the world!
One time he came over and was wearing a back brace. He threw his back out weightlifting and could hardly walk. The two of us made quite a pair; I’m not sure which one of us was more disabled. I was in bed, obviously, and unbeknownst to him, Officer was sound asleep under the covers. As we chatted, he sat down, and time flew. When it was time for him to leave, he gently got up, safeguarding his lower back. Officer woke with a start, and bolted out from under the covers upon hearing a male voice. At this point everything happened so fast it was a blur.
Officer flew through the air, (and they say pigs can’t fly), and went charging after my friend who was running faster than any cartoon character I’d ever seen. Holding his back, he sprinted from my bedroom, booked it through the living room, hauling ass past the kitchen, and almost to the foyer I heard him yell something about a “damn pig” and “I’ll see you later”.
I called Officer’s vet to discuss his behavioral problems and he informed me that he was stressed and overwhelmed with anxiety. WTF! HE’s overwhelmed?! “Well, Ms. Volpe, you did name him Officer. He is only fulfilling the expectation you set for him.” Again, WTF!!
Throughout my incapacitated months, I discovered a few things: Sometimes the people you believed to be closest to you are actually where they are supposed to be – far, far away. And sometimes one person can make up the difference for all the others. Then there’s farm animals, and the power of words. Therefore, I will call my next pig Harmony, the harmonious Hog.