Dear Blog Post Readers,
It’s been awhile since I have written a blog post for you all. I believe I need to tell you why. This last Summer has been a difficult one for me. I have been dealing with many medical issues which have been a source of anxiety, disappointment and discouragement. Depression once again raised its ugly head. After many doctor and counseling and physical therapy visits, and with the love of my family and friends, I am once again getting back to getting on with life. But, before I could get on with my life, I had to focus on my new physical limitations and how to face them and live with them. Before I could face them, I had to receive ten more ECT treatments, which did help my emotional state of mind. However, the treatments did a number on my short-term memory, finding the right words to express myself, my low stamina and short concentration span. In addition, I needed to find something to help my bowel and bladder control issues. I finished the ECT treatments about two months ago. I am now finally regaining all the things I had lost (listed above). Also, my doctor prescribed two medications that are helping with bowel and bladder control. Being able to write this blog post is a personal victory for me. I am once again a “Word Person” and a “Christian Woman Blogger”! Watching four-and-a-half-hour RED SOX/Yankee games must have played a part in improving my concentration and attention span.
As for my current physical abilities, I am not able to do the things I have worked my whole life to achieve. Oftentimes, cerebral palsy speeds up the aging process because of years and years of doing things “the wrong way” or what I like to say “compensating or adjusting to the only way the cerebral palsy will allow. For example, after years and years of walking with an abnormal gait, ankles and knees and backs and many other parts wear out sooner than later. Some people may say, “We are all getting older.” But, I don’t see these same people sitting in wheelchairs or having to deal with poor fine motor skills when eating or typing or struggling to communicate with labored and slurred speech. I may sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I really am not. I am only sharing what I am going through as a 61-year-old woman with cerebral palsy. The aging process may be more “complicated” for me and for many others who are challenged with disabilities and the other struggles of life. Saying, “We are all getting older” really does not help open up meaningful healing dialogue. What really helps is when someone is listening with compassion, understanding and empathy, and not with a judgmental, self-pious and superior attitude. It helps when listeners are able to imagine themselves in the other person’s wheelchair, braces, splinters, orthopedic shoes or “moccasins.” I have been blessed with people in my life who know how to listen. After validating my struggles as real, we can talk about how to get the help I need and what things I can do to help my situation. We can then move on to talk about our blessings, the RED SOX, the PATRIOTS, the BRUINS, CELTICS and other interests we have (H).
Independence has been my life’s goal ever since I can remember. At a very early age I wanted to grow up to be a person who lives independently, who is treated with the same respect as others are treated and one who is able to help others with the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings. The happiest day of my life was the day I woke up one morning, at the age of nine and started to walk on my own. From that time on I grew stronger and my balance got better and better and my body grew less and less spastic. I did grow up to live independently from the time I entered college until I began to lose my physical abilities in my 50’s to the present time. I loved being on my own, going grocery shopping, walking to church, making my own meals, having friends over and going over to my friends. I loved being a deacon at my church and helping those in need. I did so many other things in my independence – I was involved with three Christian organizations (in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Boston area) who ministered with the disabled. I led Bible studies in my home (i.e. “Wine and the Word”, “Bread and the Bible”, “John’s Gospel”, “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, just to name a few). I went on road trips to wineries and Fenway and Camden Yards, and Pennsylvania to visit friends. I went on plane trips to California and Oregon and Hawaii and Cozemel and Equator. I cared for my parents, alongside my sister, during the last years of their lives. I did so many fun and fulfilling things during my independent years. I had a blast! Independence is a beautiful thing, especially when acknowledging one’s total dependence on God at the same time!
So, how does “Queen Independence” cope with her life that is now almost totally dependent on others for her “ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING”? What have I learned this Summer that will help me get “on the road ahead?” I will share this in my next blog post in two weeks.
P.S. I have shared very difficult and personal struggles in my life. I would rather have kept them private and secret. However, keeping them to myself would not help others who are dealing with the same kind of struggles. I want you to know that you are not alone. There is help. Please do not give up.