Wheelchair Archive

12

Reaching Goals

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“If I thought about it, I could be bitter, but I don’t feel like being bitter. Being bitter makes you immobile, and there’s too much that I still want to do.” ~ Richard Pryor

Life is a habitual attempt to achieve goals. Reaching, with arms out in front of us, trying to grasp our greatest moments we believe have yet to come. It’s a grand pursuit we all have in common. But in that constant chase, the difference between most people and myself is the fear my main successes in life are behind me. I worry my best days are now only realized through reminiscing.

Once MS took over my body, I re-entered the world as a different person. I have a pain no one sees, my confidence is tested everyday and I have to accept I can’t do all the things I use to do. The hardest part is learning to live with my new normals. I need to not fight it so much; instead I have to learn to accomplish things within my limitations.

I still have goals I want to reach. Just on a smaller scale. Like in the past, I had ambitions to jog at the park three times a week. These days I can no longer run. So instead of running, my new goal is to ride my scooter around the track twice a month.

I must remember I don’t possess my future. No one does. Reminiscing can be fun but when you play the past over and over in your head, it becomes impossible to concentrate on happily living in the now. My new objective is to focus on what’s happening at this instant. Living in the moment. And no matter what, I have to keep trying to achieve goals.

10

Standing Up To MS

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“Either I will find a way, or I will make one.” ~ Philip Sidney

I have been bound to my wheelchair for two years. I can no longer safely use a walker or cane. I am also not strong enough to “wall walk” anymore. Therefore, the chair has become an extension of my body, which I rely on 100% to provide me with mobility.

I realize using a wheelchair is not a horrible experience or the end of the world. It’s actually a really good thing. It enables me to get around and be more independent than I would be without it.

But I must admit, since I am always sitting, some days I just want to stand up for a little while. Just to give my backside some relief from the constant pressure. Usually, I only get to stand up when I am transferring to another chair or too lay down. But during a recent visit to my physical therapist, I was introduced to a walking sling.

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The sling helps lift me from a seated to a standing position. It provides upper body support and gives me enough freedom of movement to engage in exercises and physical therapy. When I first saw it, I didn’t believe it would actually help me. But it does. My core feels stronger.

When I’m in the sling, I can stand for 20 minutes. Hopefully, as I use it more, I can extend my time even further. I am usually so tired after my session I have to take a nap.

Multiple Sclerosis has taken away so many of my abilities. With the walking sling, I get a chance to stand up to MS. And in my own way, give the disease the finger.

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11

The Devil Inside: Living with MS

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Part 1: Shaking the Devil

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” ~ Khalil Gibran

It can be hard to stay positive when so many negative things are happening around you. My cursed search for a meaning to the madness that is multiple sclerosis (MS) consumes my life.

Living with MS is a rollercoaster. Some days are up and some days are down. Happiness is here and then it’s gone, leaving a cloud of smoke behind. And just when I think I’m getting some relief and can finally breathe clearly, it strikes again.

It’s like the devil has found a home inside my body. Nipping at my faith. Growling. Constantly showing his teeth. Scarring my spirit. Marking my soul.

The power MS has over me is so strong, I start to believe I’m chained to it and there’s no escape. It feels so bad; I would trade anything for a cure. That’s when I can’t see beyond the fog of the disease and I wonder if the pain will ever let me go. Like nothing good will ever come again.

I hate how it affects me. It is mind-numbing the paranormal way it constantly tingles in my fingers, manipulates my thoughts, and destroys my confidence. I’ve cried so much, I feel like I’m drowning.

I just don’t comprehend what’s happening. If I keep getting weaker, what am I going to do? My mind says, “You can handle it,” but my body refuses to follow its lead. The worst part is, I’m beginning to sense there is nothing I can do about the progression. I listen to my doctors, but sometimes I feel stupid for taking all these different types of medicine. The side effects are draining. It’s like I’m killing myself as I try to kill MS.
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Part 2: An Isolated Nightmare

It’s the stuff of nightmares.

But thanks to time and loved ones, I’ve been able to craft a new normal. Be it with a limp, cane, wheelchair, or scooter, I’ve managed to face and live through it all.

Still, I never imagined it would get this bad.

In the midst of losing my physical abilities, I’m also afraid of losing myself. I’m scared MS will take away me. But my competitive nature refuses to let that happen. It’s become my goal to continue being me, in spite of MS.

One of the most aggravating things about MS is the social isolation it begets. As if society has forgotten about me.

It’s just so hard to fit in when I can’t drive. I have major fatigue issues, and sometimes I get confused during basic conversations. My limitations cause me to feel cut off, especially when I’m surrounded by a group of able-bodied people.

It’s particularly hard at parties and gatherings. Normal interactions turn awkward or involve just a smile or a wave, but fail to develop into standard encounters. I’ll sit in the middle of a room and people will walk by me like I’m not even there. Since I just can’t do “normal” things, it’s as if I’ve just disappeared, gone missing without a trace.

I think the problem is related to a lack of understanding. When I tell people I have MS, they look at me like I’m a unicorn. It’s so misunderstood, most people shy away from spending time with me. They’re not sure how to treat me or what questions to ask.

To counteract the loneliness, I continually reach out to people who are on a similar path as me. When I do, I always seem to have a great time. I find myself talking for hours and usually making some new friends.

My family, friends, and other people with MS provide that much-needed support and companionship. I even use them when they are not present. When my feet go numb, I think of them. When my fingers don’t work, I think of them. When I try to walk and fall face first to the floor, I think of them.

Nothing else compares to the love of my family and friends. That love allows me to freely accept help and accommodations, ultimately giving me a better life.

Scared initially, I’ve now accepted my diagnosis and discovered how to incorporate MS into my life. I’ve learned to soldier ahead. Well, at least I try to. And as I look towards my future, I know there will be dark days, but I also can see the sunrise.

Despite the trials and tribulations, I choose to focus on the positives and leave the rest to faith. I can continue to harp on all the negatives or I can choose to be happy. I’d rather live my life no matter what obstacles come my way, have fun, and hope the universe hears my prayers while I try to stay positive about my life with MS.
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Original article appeared on Healthline.

15

Road Trip

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“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” ~ Earl Wilson

I’m going on vacation for two weeks. I do this once a year. Most times, I go somewhere close to home. But every once in a while, I fly to a place several hours away. My upcoming vacation will be different from both of those scenarios because this time I am taking a 6-hour road trip.

The difficulty with doing this is, my MS has always given me problems when I ride in cars. So I guess you are wondering, if that’s the case, why do it. Well, my biggest obstacles have been bladder issues due to frequent urination. Three months ago, I had a suprapubic catheter surgically implanted and I’m calling this car ride my first big test to see if it was worth getting.

During past road trips, we would stop every hour and a half so I could go to the restroom. We not only had to locate a restroom on the highway but, because of my wheelchair, it had to be an accessible restroom. Also, frequently getting in and out of the car would usually wipe me out before we even arrived at our destination. I’m hoping the catheter eliminates both problems.

So, I’m off for a couple of weeks and with any luck I will pass the test. I look forward to a fun, peaceful and MS free trip. I hope you find some time this year to relax too. We deserve it.

35

Never Apologize

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“I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes — until I met a man who had no feet.” ~ Jewish Proverbs

I’m Dying!

Or at least that’s what I feel like.

MS tends to put me in a fragile wavering psychotic state.

Between the optic neuritis, numbness, fatigue, dropping things, tripping and falling I think I may be losing my mind.

My dream for normal used to be so strong but now it is slowly withering away. Each passing day brings me less confidence that I can get my former life back. I always keep a little hope alive but that may be because I can’t face the reality that I will never get back to normal again.

MS just makes everything suck sometimes. Like when I can barely push my wheelchair two feet without getting tired. Sometimes I can only do two rotations before my arms begin to give out. I don’t think that hardly being able to move about is a good sign at all.

Despite that limitation, since my home is small, you would think that making it to the restroom would be easy even for someone who occasionally has trouble maneuvering around. But that’s not always the case.

On one of my particularly bad days, while trying to stand, my right leg decided to give out and make me better acquainted with the floor. I was trying to go to the restroom and ended up on the bathroom tile, only a few feet away from the toilet. To further humiliate myself, while face down on the floor, I could no longer stop myself from urinating. It began to trickle and I knew I had only seconds left before I was at the point of no return. I crawled and actually made it to the side of the toilet but that was about as far as my arms could pull me. Then my bladder could not hold it back any longer. Suddenly the urine broke free and it was a full-blown gusher.

I began to cry.

Yes, I was lying on the bathroom floor crying and peeing at the same time.

The worst part was that I could hear my husband, Tommy, coming into the front door. He was back from a 30-minute workout at the gym. He rarely leaves me at home alone for more than an hour. I knew he would be heading straight to the restroom to cleanup after his workout so I only had a few moments. I quickly tried to close the door by kicking it shut but my legs would not respond. Before I could think of a plan b he had turned the corner and was standing over me.

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The funny thing about Tommy is that he always appears so stoic.

He asked me, “Are you alright?”

Totally embarrassed, I shook my head yes and continued to softly cry.

He lifted me to my feet and walked me over to the toilet. I sat there while he helped me get my clothes off and then assisted me as I got into the bathtub. I ran the water and he got me towels. As I sat in the tub soaking he cleaned the urine off the floor. It was taking him a while as it had spread throughout the bathroom. I sat in the tub watching him. I started to think that he didn’t sign up for this. If I were only normal again this would have never happened.

I just kept saying, “I‘m sorry. I‘m sorry. I‘m sorry.”

From his hands and knees while crouching in urine, he looked at me and said, “Don’t ever apologize for having MS.”
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This article was first published by MultipleSclerosis.net.

10

The Power Of The Chair

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“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” ~Mother Teresa

I own two power chairs. One is portable and the other is heavy-duty. Due to limited space in my home, the heavy-duty chair has been stored at my parent’s house. I never use it and it just sits in their dining room taking up space. My parents didn’t mind it staying there, but it bothered me. So last week I decided it has been at my parent’s house long enough and it was time to sell it.

So, what did I do? I took some pictures of it and tried to sale it on Facebook. I thought it was a good idea, but apparently…no one else did. Not one call.

Plan B was to give it away. I wish I had done that from the start.

I connected with my local MS Society and they gave me some leads of people who were in need. After a few days, I was able to connect with a fellow MSer who needed a power chair.

I recruited my dad to handle the specifics and the actual transfer of the chair. He’s good with that kind of stuff.

The man resides roughly two hours from my parent’s home, but was happy to make the trip. He was so appreciative.

Who knew how rewarding helping someone would be.

16

Living Cliché

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“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that
self may prove to be.”
– Mary Sarton

I wish I had a boring life.
I would be a mom with two kids and a stay at home wife.

I’d watch TV half the day.
Then shop the other time away.

I’d have lunch with friends.
Then, the next day, meet them again.

Go dancing on weekends and stay up late.
Every night, dinner with my husband is a usual date.

No medicine to ingest. No shots to inject.
I can go all day, no need for rest.

No doctors to see. No nurses around.
I’m always happy, you never see me frown.

I wouldn’t have to explain why I’m in a wheelchair, because there would be none there.

I would go to the movies and watch it from beginning to end.
I would run at the park with all my old and new friends.

I would sleep all day by choice.
And when I spoke, everyone would respect my voice.

No more smiling out of fear.
I’m the best at everything, the envy of all my peers.

My husband would be my husband, not my caretaker or nurse.
I would love that the most, because that part hurts the worst.

Am I wrong for wanting to be like everyone else?
I’m sad that I feel this way, but I really wish my life were a cliché.