Perils of a Quadriplegic Gardener (Part 2)

by Patrick Muir on May 20, 2012

It seems appropriate for another Perils installment considering I’ve been in hospital four times in the last six weeks and I’m writing this post during my sixth day in ICU at the local hospital. My blood pressure has been bottoming out in the 40s at night and they can’t figure out why. I have to get outside to enjoy the weather and make garden plans.I haven’t been blogging since early January when my computer fell off its stand and I lost all files. Then it took two months but two of my brothers were so kind and they chipped in together for a sleek MacBook Pro. And then I had to learn the Mac which leads me to today.

It’s been several many months since I posted Perils of a Quadriplegic Gardener (Part 1). Part 2 has proven to be more difficult to write than I had planned but I’m ready to share Part 2. Where we left off I had just had my 12 hour surgery and was off to rehab. My first question in rehab was “When can I go back to work?” But fate had other plans. Right when I entered into physical therapy my doctor incredulously pulled my depression medication cold turkey because it had side effects with some sort of muscle relaxer she wanted to put me on. If you know any thing about anti-depressants you know it’s not as simple as just starting back on again and expect them to continue working, so I fell into a spiral of depression for six months of difficult rehab.

I became so depressed and suicidal that I tried to end it all by driving into the local highway. All I recall is being in a deep fog and hearing cars crashing all around me. Praise God that nobody was hurt. I always went to Shawnee Mission Hospital’s psych ward  but it was full. So I was sent to a hospital in a bad part of town but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I finally met a young psychiatrist who cared enough to get to know me and determine I am actually bipolar and put me on the right course of medication and I could return back to life again.

So after I was accepted into the extension master gardener program at Kansas State and I began to write a column in the Kansas City Gardener featuring outstanding plants which you can read most of them under the Patrick’s Picks category at right,  I soon began gardening around the new house and my mood has for the most part been very generally positive ever since.

My next challenge came up when I moved into Trinity Nursing and Rehab and was divorced 18 months later. My ex-wife reconnected with an old boyfriend on Facebook (How cliche?) and moved my two boys to Des Moines. I get to see them monthly. But Trinity is such a very special place with a wonderful staff. I seemed destined to be here with two patio areas next to the entrance with 12 window boxes. I created a daylily garden with donated plants from a regional nursery with a retail price of over $900. I’m planning a peony bed for the Fall. Then there’s the trees. I’m creating my own arboretum with donated trees placed all over the property. I’m only 46 so short of winning the lottery, I’m thinking I have a good 25 years working on this earth and probably all at Trinity, so can you imagine how beautiful the grounds will be then? Making the transition from my old home to a nursing home is one of the proudest achievements.

When I first came to Trinity I worried if I co could survive here but now it’s place where I thrive! So although it’s sometimes tough to live day by day, in general life is good and I look forward to see what blooms for me tomorrow. Jimmy Buffet is a personal fav and he has one line which sums up my life very succinctly:

Jimmy, some of its magic, some of its tragic,but I had a good life all the way.

Jimmy Buffet, He Went to Paris 1973

May you learn from my story and be thankful for every day you can get out of bed and walk to your toilet. Do miss standing up at the john and always making a splash, so to speak.


Patrick's Garden

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

tina May 20, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Hang in there Patrick surely things will get better for you! It sounds like gardening is your therapy and that you have fantastic plans for your future and Trinity’s as well.


Patrick May 22, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Hey Tina,
Yes my relation with Trinity is symbiotic and I love the relationship. I can’t wait to share the ongoing results on my blog. Thanks for your comment. Best, Patrick


Kimberley May 21, 2012 at 11:50 am

Hi Patrick! Glad you’re back on line with us! I think you are as much a benefit to Trinity as it is to you.

You might like to know that I followed through on one of our discussions last year, and planted some allium, Purple Sensation. We had an awfully early patch of warm weather, so they were up and budded by late March. Then we had some very cold weather in April, and I was worried for them. Some of their foliage got brown, but they have all opened up and bloomed beautifully! I have already written on my September calendar to be sure to plant more for next year!

Also, I was able to get a copy of the For Love of a Rose book from interlibrary loan (it came from the Pennsylvania Horticulture Socieity library), but I found the literary style very difficult to read, and never did finish it. I have done some reading about the Peace Rose on line, though, and it is a great story!

Looking forward to hearing more from you through the spring and summer!



Patrick May 22, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Hey Kimberly,
Glad you love Purple Sensation and plan to get more.
Sorry about the book. Maybe I’m so excited about the subject it was an easier read for me. Thanks for visiting my blog. Best, Patrick


Donna May 21, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I would have never guessed you had depression because you always comment in such an uplifting manner. I believe you will do great at Trinity despite how hard life has been treating you because you have a good spirit and leave others feeling better because you seem a happy soul to me.


Patrick May 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Hey Donna,
Than you for your kind words. I pride myself on my recovery. It’s the toughest thing I had to conquer but I’m winning and don’t plan to ever go back into the darkness of depression. Thanks once again.


Laurie Jorgensen June 18, 2012 at 10:05 am

Hi Patrick:

Just checking out your blog! So sorry to hear about your extended hospital stays! You need to catch a break and hopefully it’s soon!

Thinking of you! Get well!


Patrick June 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Thanks so much. I know you’re so busy, so I’m touched.


Cathy and Steve June 21, 2012 at 6:56 am

Patrick, your gardens sound fabulous! A peony bed would be so grand. Might I suggest that you add some ever-blooming grandiflora and floribunda roses in with the peonies, since the peonies bloom for such a short time. A couple of double knock-outs in the middle of the bed (they come in red and pink) would give color from April through November. But roses like Queen Elizabeth, Fragrant Plum, and Scentimental will give not only beautiful color but exquisite fragrance as well. I find that mixing peonies and roses is a good combination as the peonies have such deep dark foliage that looks beautiful all season long, and it hides a multitude of sins in the dig days of August if your rose foliage begins to get a little skanky.


Patrick July 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Hey guys,
That’s a great suggestion. If I can arrange for a donation. I think double pink Knock Out would be best to compliment most peonies. Your thoughts?


Ray @ A Leafy Indulgence June 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

I am hoping you remain active and continue sharing through your blog. We have a lot to learn from you – (more than just gardening.)


Patrick June 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Hey Ray,
Thanks for your kind words and I hope I live up to your expectations.


New Hampshire Gardener May 13, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I fell out of a tree at 14 and fractured my spine in two places and then found that I couldn’t walk the next morning, so I don’t have to imagine how you felt. Luckily I was young and, after several long months in a body cast, I was able to walk again. I hope, as time goes on, that your health will improve and that you will continue on with your blog because you write very well. You also have important things to say and an attitude that is to be admired. I’ll be thinking of you and will be a regular visitor to your blog.


Patrick May 14, 2013 at 10:13 am

Thanks for the kudos. Look forward to hearing from you again.


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