• author
    • Cathy Speck

      Columnist, Photographer
    • May 5, 2013 in Columnists

    When Cathy isn’t so chatty

    The following story is 100 percent true — I’ll swear on a stack of Bibles, three books by Thich Nhat Hanh, two Wayne Dyer CDs, and one Oprah Winfrey DVD. This tale/tail is not required reading before you all continue evolving, but I thought you might find it thought-provoking, literally as well as metaphorically. Put on your safety goggles and hard hats:

    I don’t know what I was thinking — or maybe I wasn’t thinking at all. Did I find my perfectly imperfect state of zen? I was at home alone in our one bedroom apartment. My wife had taken our dog Mazie, the amazing monkey-face pug/poodle/terrier princess, out for exercise in the fresh, crisp autumn air.

    I was nekkid in the bathroom — no need to get dressed just to go potty. For some reason I brought a pair of socks with me. Ya’ never know when you might need socks, especially if you’re not wearing any clothes at all.

    I did “my bizzness” on our mighty high toilet with super sturdy handles, and since I was still sitting, I put on my thin black compression socks, first left, then right. Feeling pretty proud of myself, I stood up tall — on top of the World. Here’s where my memory gets fuzzy:

    I must have pivoted on my left foot when I felt myself losing my balance and falling backward toward the bathtub — our sturdy old porcelain tub with no handicap adjustments and no bathmat in it. And then in slow motion — I’m 5’9′ and I fall far, and I fall hard — I swung my elbows back and tucked my head into my chin. “Whomp!” My tailbone fell like a bomb that hit its mark, then “bap, bap” my elbows hit on the inside of the tub. My anklebones and other bony parts hit too, but I kept my eyes closed for a moment.

    I didn’t want to look up and see blood or shards of bone or cartilage. I didn’t want to open my eyes only to realize that the impact had shaken me badly enough to cause blindness. I took three long, deep breaths, then slowly opened my eyes. There was no blood, no broken bones, and my socks were still on, without a wrinkle. Hmm… I scooted around in the tub to relieve the pressure on my tailbone.

    I was alone and had no idea where Linda and Mazie were, or when they’d be back. The cell phone was in the living room, and the landline was out walking on the land (not the streets) somewhere — I don’t ask questions anymore.

    I just sat there thinking: “I fell. I fell backward into our tub. I fell backward into our tub and I did not hit my head. I fell backward into our tub, I did not hit my head, and the fall did not kill me.

    I couldn’t let it kill me this week because I’m hosting my Annual Christmas Caroling Party on December 15.

    At least five minutes went by before I attempted to get out of the tub by myself. Why was I so fortunate to survive such a fall? I had been an athlete all my life — I “learned how to fall” from playing intense, competitive basketball, volleyball, softball and flag football.

    In my previous career, I was the Davis Food Co-op’s Safety Director for about 140 employees. It was my responsibility and my passion to teach them how to prevent injuries, and how to treat injuries. And perhaps I also landed on a cloud of comfort comprised of prayers and healing thoughts sent my way. Geez, I truly had great training to prepare myself for ALS.

    Anyway, back in the tub: I managed to lug my left leg over the side of the tub, then drag my right leg and torso outta the tub onto the plush, clean bath mat. I was on all fours, feeling kinda like a donkey, or an amoeba — maybe both. A moebadonkey ?

    About four minutes later, Linda and Mazie came home, all huffin’ and puffin’ after their brisk walk. Linda’s cheeks were pink, and Mazie was befuddled. Why wasn’t I treating her like the true princess she is? Why wasn’t I baby-talking, and scratching her in all the best places ? Why did I look like a moebadonkkey?

    It’s just another day, part of a new chapter: “Life When Cathy isn’t So Chatty.”


    Cathy Speck is a Davis native who has ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease.) ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with a two to five year prognosis upon diagnosis. From 1993 to 2010, Cathy and her wife Linda Duval were well-known musicians locally and in throughout California. In 2009, Cathy was diagnosed with ALS, but Duval Speck and their band, The Essentials, continued to perform at ALS benefits and community events. They released three CDs, which will become collectors’ items since they can no longer perform or record: www.duvalspeck.com

    Duval Speck’s last gig was an ALS benefit in September 2010. Since Cathy can no longer use her voice to advocate for ALS, or to strive for equal LGBT rights, she redirected her vocal passion into the written word.

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