Guest Authors

See what are Guest Authors are writing about by viewing this section for a complete assortment of disability topics. Many of our guest authors tell about their personal experiences in dealing with their own handicaps. Their stories of the trials and tribulations they endure to achieve personal satisfaction are astonishing. Their un-candid ability to provide unrestrained access to their thoughts and emotions while dealing with their disabilities is unmatched. It provides a source of support and inspiration to people of all types.

Father Forgive Them…

miracle-hands

After being cursed at in the Wal-mart parking lot, this verse of scripture spoke to my heart. I had heard just a few weeks before about two ladies having their purses snatched off their shoulders there and about a man on a handicapped scooter being attacked and robbed. I’ve been using a scooter for fifteen years, and I cannot let statistics or fear dictate my life.

I “scoot” my scooter all over Salisbury and when the weather is as nice as it was that day in October, I rejoice in the Lord for those “freedom” days. I have learned it is best to get in the traffic lane there because if I’m right at the tail gate of cars, they may not see me when they start to back out of the parking spaces.

Most people (with common sense) might toot their horn and go around me (slowly) on the left, (if they are in that big of a hurry) but not on this day! Three young men, probably between 16 and 20, flew up behind me, swerved way out to the left and one yelled out the window, “You better get the —-(four-letter word that I despise) out of the way!”

Since I have never had anyone talk to me like that, my “righteous indignation” caused me to put the “pedal to the medal” and I caught up with them as they were getting out of the car. I could hear my kids (and friends) telling me to “ignore it…let it go…you might get hurt, etc.” but that is not my nature. Since I couldn’t whip this young man or wash his mouth out with soap, I replied with “You need to clean up your mouth.” He yelled more obscenities as he walked in front of me. I couldn’t help thinking about what we all were once taught so I said, “You need to keep to the right.” He spouted off again so I warned one of the managers to keep an eye on him as he is “trouble waiting for a place to happen.”

Should I or should I not have responded? This reminds me of “the other side of the coin” when I’ve had to ask many young men to help me. Everyone I have ever had to ask has been courteous and respectful and for them I reply, “You should read a poem called ‘Somebody’s Mother’.” It’s about a young boy playing with his friends when he notices a little old lady trying to cross the busy street. He leaves his friends and rushes to help the elderly lady cross safely. When he returned to play, he explained to his friends,

“She’s somebody’s mother, boys, you know, and for all she’s aged, and poor, and slow. And I hope some fellow will lend a hand to help my mother, you understand, if ever she’s poor and old and grey, when her own dear boy is far away.”

And “somebody’s mother” bowed low her head in her home that night, and the prayer she said was “God be kind to the noble boy, who is somebody’s son and pride and joy.”

mother-child

Well, boys that act like that have mothers with reason to be proud. I never had a son, but if I had, I hope that mine would not have been like the one in the parking lot. I think he even embarrassed the other two boys with him. But may God forgive this young man for he has no idea how his conduct and filthy mouth “ruined my beautiful day.” And may father forgive me for the anger I felt. His word tells us: “Do not let the sun go down on your anger,” so God gave me this story so I could get rid of my negative thoughts. Maybe someday this boy will come to know the Lord instead of the devil that is working within him.

A Chain of Events

Sometimes we wonder what possible good could come out of unpleasant circumstances. But if everyone would have a little faith and remember that God’s word (Romans 8:28) tells us, “All things work to the good of those who love the Lord,” then we might find unexpected pleasure in a change of events like I did.

Faith stones

Just short of a month before this particular day, I had been in the hospital with a multiple sclerosis flair-up and had just finished a round of antibiotics for a urinary tract infection at that time. Now I was 99% sure I had another infection and was getting ready to go in to see my urologist. As I gathered my stuff, a small voice suggested I take one of both my books in with me. I hesitated but, of course, they do sell better when I have them with me!

Well, my doctors say I “know my body better than anyone else” and sure enough, once again I had a full-blown infection.I was to meet my sister and brother at lunch. As I was getting on the elevator, a nurse stopped me and asked if I was coming or leaving. She had been one of my nurses in 2002 when I was in the Stanback Rehab Unit for five weeks. She told me later that she worked third shift then and remembered the night my toes started wiggling after twenty-nine days of being immobile.

Gina asked if I would go with her to a room where her brother was a patient and her aunt was sitting with him. She said, “My aunt loves your stories and has always wanted to meet you.” She thought meeting me might cheer her up a little and brighten her day during this sad time. I told her I was to meet my family at 11:00 but I would go for just a short visit.

As we entered the room, she told her aunt that she had bought someone to meet her. When this tiny elderly lady looked up and saw me, she sprang out of her chair, threw her arms around me and kissed me on both cheeks. It was obvious that she was very excited to meet me and made my day when she said that I am even more beautiful than she thought I would be.This little visit sure was special especially since I had dreaded going out in the 100 degree heat.

holding-hands

Under the circumstances I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was to offer to sell her my books, but somehow I knew that at times reading can have a calming effect during troubled times. I would have loved to just give them to her, but with the cost of living today I can no longer afford to do that. So now those two books that almost got left in the van are in the hands of that dear sweet lady and, hopefully, can be a blessing to her during the next few weeks.

While writing this story that night, I realized this had been one of those times when the Lord gave me an opportunity to “let my light shine” by having a word of prayer with this troubled family.

While I was letting the ramp down to get in the van, a car stopped behind me and a lady said, “Hello.” Once again I was blessed as she told me how much she has always wanted to meet me and what my stories have meant to her over the years. She also complimented me on my appearance and lifted me up out of my cloudy mood. (These kind folks sure see something I don’t see when I look in the mirror; age and bad health are taking me down.)

I asked her if she would like to buy a book. She said she would love to have the first one, “My Sanctuary” but had no money with her. I gave her a card with my address and told her she could send me a check later.

glowing-bible-book1

I realized I was going to be late for lunch, but I decided I would tell Mary, Mike and Dale that I had been “kidnapped.” Who would have thought that going to the doctor in extremely hot weather, hurting as bad as I was that anything good would come out of that. But it is always a pleasure to meet people who feel like they know me or want to know me better. God is so good even in the bad times!

A postscript: I’m beginning to feel like some pastors do when they tell how they needed money and received a check or cash, or even food. The following day I received a check from Southern Spirit Gallery where the manager has sold some of my homemade cards from time to time. I thank God for every blessing including that little bit of rain last night when I was working on this story!

Expect a Miracle

If someone or something told you to “Expect a Miracle,” what would you think or do? Could you hear God’s voice speaking to you through a person, place, or thing? Meditate on that for a moment; then hold the thought, and read on.

On July 5th, 2002, I suffered a major exacerbation of multiple sclerosis and went down on the concrete in the hospital parking lot. The following day, I was told I would never walk again. Nothing was working below my breast.

My family and close friends were devastated, but those who knew me best refused to believe that diagnosis. They thought I would overcome it, just as I had rebounded from other exacerbations.

Personally, I knew this was the most severe one I had suffered. I was having spasms and pain like never before, and other body functions were affected. The road ahead was unfamiliar, and I took a “wait and see” attitude.

I accepted the diagnosis because I didn’t have time to cry or complain.I had to work on building upper body strength and transferring myself to and from the bed, shower, vehicle, etc. (James 1:2-4 describes this as follows: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”)

When my body was unresponsive or wracked with pain, I would cry out to the Lord for strength to make the necessary moves. (Philippians 4:13 says: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”) And then, I would transfer.Later transfers became very hard on my wrists and hands, and the doctor ordered wrist supports which made a major difference in my ability to push myself up. (Another one of those things God used.Hold the thought; then read on.)

I had four weeks of intensive therapy and training, so I could learn to be a fully-functioning paraplegic. Rehab enabled me to return to my new home where I could once again live alone. There were many objections to this, but with the loving help of family and friends, I went home on August 6, 2002.

Another four weeks of trying to maneuver a manual wheelchair on carpet was physically exhausting, and even more emotionally debilitating than the original diagnosis. The road ahead was looking long and frightening, and this vehicle (my mind and body) was beginning to need a major overhaul. There was no point in being angry, though, as anger is not a healing balm.(Ephesians 4:26: “In your anger do not sin.Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”)

Finally, I received a power chair, and it was a gift from God! He saw my need just as He did in 1993 when He provided me with an electric three-wheel scooter. My optimism returned, and I knew that with God’s help, I would regain my patience and perseverance which according to His Holy Word would certainly improve my character.  (Romans 5:3-4: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”)It, my character, had begun to need a major overhaul anyway. Reviewing the scriptures daily enabled me to accept the situation, but also to work to improve it.

Other health problems kept taking place, but I was home where I was warm, well-fed by others, and fairly content, except for the emotional pain and physical drain my condition was causing my loved ones. Accepting help from others humbled me, and also shamed me, that I had not done more of that before. God has used this to teach me some lessons I needed to learn.

prayer1

People were praying for me and asking others in several counties to pray also. God heard and answered these prayers.He used a Christian friend and a stick pin to speak to me on December 19, 2002.

In August after I came home from the hospital, I realized I had lost the stick pin that read “Expect a Miracle.” I expressed my regrets to my friend, Priscilla, when she called to see how I was doing. She said it was no big deal, and she would try to find me another one.

With so much going on, I thought little more about it. After all, how important could that little pin be other than as a very thoughtful gift of encouragement from another victim of multiple sclerosis.

By December, I was beginning to be able to stand at a walker when someone helped me get up.Still, I could not raise my feet off the floor, and my knees would buckle after a brief moment or so.

As I was exercising on December 18, my right leg, and then the left, had major spasms, and my feet lifted high off the floor in that same order. I was amazed and decided if a spasm could do that, then maybe I could lift them myself. And I did! Wow, what a surprise! It was even more exciting than when my toes voluntarily started wiggling on the 29th day of my hospital stay when nothing else was working.

I already had physical therapy that morning; and while exercising on the bed, my therapist had commented that my legs were moving easier. And after having felt bad for several days, I knew things were the best they had been for awhile.

Later that day as I sat writing a story, I realized my wrists guards might help me get myself up to a standing position at my dining room table.With one hand on the table and one on the power chair, I pushed up and hunched sideways at the table. I was so excited!(Up!Plop down. Up again!Plop down, ouch bottom hurt! Up, push, try hard, etc.) Somehow, I sensed things changing, and the road ahead began to look brighter with each effort.

christmas-tree

The History of My Scooters

elderly

This story began in l993 in the parking lot at Holly Leaf Apartments.  Some folks who knew me during this chapter of my life may remember parts of this, but new readers may not.  My husband died in February 1993 and in May, I moved into an apartment at the edge of town.  I had sold our waterbed because of my bad health and ordered a single hospital bed to be delivered the day I moved.

When the guys came with the bed, they also set a 3-wheel scooter in the parking lot.  I told them I had not ordered that, and they said it was just for me to experiment with while they put the bed together.

At that time the color mauve was very popular and with one spin around, I fell in love with my scooter.  Since I was unable to drive back then, the scooter was answered prayer.  The scripture says that when we don’t know how to pray the Holy Spirit hears the “groanings” of our heart and prays for us.  The Lord knew what I needed and wanted before I had any way of knowing the blessing of owning a scooter since I no longer had anyone to push me in a wheelchair.

scooter

I immediately told the fellows that I wanted to buy the scooter that day.  They protested that it was their brand new demo model and would be rather expensive.  After some lengthy discussion, they called the home office and told the lady about this “crazy woman” who was insisting they accept a check and leave the scooter.

I got on the phone with the lady and discussed my situation.  She explained that the scooter was very expensive and that I might get help with the cost from my insurance company if I would be patient and wait.  I told her I had just sold everything I owned and would write a check that day if she would accept it.  After much pleading, she told the men to leave the scooter.

I was still insured by my husband’s “catastrophic” insurance plan and within a short period of time, they paid for the scooter, and my money was returned to me.  The scooter became my transportation to the mall, the grocery and drug stores, and several restaurants for lonely meals that sure beat eating alone in that small apartment.

mobilityscooter

But most important, it enabled me to ride back and forth to the apartment pool where I discovered water aerobics; the best atmosphere in which to get used to living alone.  During the following years, it became my “toy” and enabled me to ride my two grandsons around for different activities.  There are so many precious memories about those days; they became the “boy stories” that some folks have enjoyed reading.

We all talk about how time flies and before I knew it, and after many miles of wear and tear, the scooter was “on its last leg.”  After nine years, the cost of scooters had come down some, and my health had improved. I didn’t need one as badly in early 2002 when I first moved into my new home.

By then I had been driving for several years and only used the scooter for long distance walking, so I parked it on my back porch and used my rolling walker to get to and from my car.  Then in July I had the multiple sclerosis exacerbation that took away my ability to walk.

gift

A little over a month later, one of my readers brought a used scooter and a lightweight wheelchair to my home because he no longer needed those.  I offered to pay him but he wanted to give both items to me.  I felt so blessed!  (Another one of those times when unspoken prayer was answered.)

Two days later, I got a call from the medical supply store telling me that someone had come in and purchased a new scooter for me, and it would be delivered at my convenience.  A few hours later, he arrived with two scooters (a red one and a blue one.)  I was given my choice of colors and he told me the purchaser wished to remain anonymous.

I was absolutely stunned that someone would spend that much money on a gift for me.  He said they told him they had enjoyed my stories over the years and just wanted to donate this.  I told him someone had given me a used one; I wasn’t sure what to do at that point.  He said the new one was paid for, and he couldn’t take it back.

giving

After thinking about this for several days, I advertised my old scooter “free as is,” and it was picked up within hours after the paper was printed.  Finally, I called the giver of the first gift and explained I now had two scooters in my little house.  They were both too nice to leave outside, so I wanted him to decide what I should do with the scooter he had given me.

I suppose I could have given it to someone else or sold it, but it just didn’t seem right to do that.  I had been twice blessed and thought he might know someone else to bless.

By 2008, it was becoming difficult for family and older friends to load my wheelchair, so I purchased a smaller scooter that could be broken down and put in the trunk of a car. It is the one I now use in the handicapped conversion van which I purchased in August 2009. The heavier one that was a gift is still used in my yard for my gardening hobby.

I am still amazed and thankful for all the blessings I have received.  My family, friends, and other readers continue to bless me.  I do believe that God has had his hand in all these events and his timing has been perfect for my needs.  God is so good to me!

To read more of Linda Beck’s stories, go here: http://www.amsvans.com/blog/author/linda-beck/

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

listening

How often do we open our mouths and speak when we should just listen? I know there have been a number of times when I should have done more listening than so much talking. It’s never my intention to hurt the feelings of my loved ones, but I guess sometimes I think I can say anything to them just as they do to me.

Now that my grandsons are young adults, I’ve been told I stuck my foot in my mouth and hurt their feelings a few times. Sorry boys! They surely know their Nana loves them even on her bad days. When I am having excessive pain or side effects from medication, it does at times change my personality especially if my own needs are not being met. On those occasions, I’m sure I whine to someone (if only my Lord and Savior).

There was this one particular day when I went up on top of Dunn’s Mountain praying to catch a cool breeze, but God didn’t answer my prayer, so this was one of those days when I started “pouting.” It has been so hot this summer that I have had to stay in more often than I like. So there have been times when I should have just kept my mouth shut since I complain so much in cold weather.

brother-yelling-at-sister

My daughters warn me that I am too outspoken in public and that someday I will regret being that way. I do not live in fear of this, but I admit twice recently I was approached in my van. It was extremely hot so I had put the windows down when my niece and I got in the van. On the way to the van I had noticed a young guy that appeared to be on the lookout for something. Just as I got ready to start the engine, another young man came out of the shop in an obvious hurry. He walked straight towards me holding out a little red velvet jewelry box and started talking to me.

I couldn’t hear what he was saying and without thinking, I started to reach out to see what he was talking about. My niece interrupted by saying, “She’s not interested!” He rushed off, and both of the guys disappeared around the end of the building.

“Aunt Linda, roll that window up. You’ve got to be more careful!” It’s a good thing Tammy was so quick thinking. No telling what I might have said or done when I realized he was trying to sell me stolen property.

homeless-man

Another day, a man who appeared to be homeless was pulling a suitcase along as he walked by. Again, I was sitting there with the windows down. I had reclined back reading as I waited for my sister and brother. The rough looking guy came around to the driver’s window talking as he came. My hearing is not that good, and I wasn’t sure if he was asking for directions, a meal, or a ride. That was one of those times I just refused to talk. He shrugged and went on his way. What might I have done or said if he had just gotten in on the passenger side and told me to drive!

foot-in-mouth

I pray I will know the right thing to say or do if any other such episodes occur.

Sometimes there is one funny thing about putting my foot in my mouth. For one who can’t stand or walk right now, I can get a real reaction by picking my foot up and touching my nose. I guess if I wanted to, I could open my mouth and insert my foot. What a reaction that might cause!

Is That One of My Names?

There are a lot of words that describe me, some of which I like better than others. I guess my favorite title the past seventeen years has been “Nana.” I’ve also enjoyed being known as a speaker/writer and especially as a Christian. I’ve given myself some titles like hard of hearing, disabled, or handicapped. There are things that happen and the right descriptive phrases just don’t seem to always fit.

mobility-scooter

I get a lot of funny emails that discuss the good and bad things about being a senior citizen. I’ve been a disabled widow since age 45 and more of those do apply than don’t. I’ve been riding a scooter since 1993 right after my husband died and I moved to town. Since I was not driving and had sold our vehicles, a scooter was answer to a prayer I had not even prayed. God knew it would take me where a wheelchair without a caregiver would not.

So my first scooter became my legs to the apartment pool, the grocery and drug stores, the mall and several restaurants. It was also a great babysitter for my new grandson and later his little brother.

AMS Vans wheelchair vanThere was no thought at that time to the need of a handicapped conversion van. When I became well enough to drive in 1996, I bought a small car and had a lift put on the back for the scooter when I wanted to take it with me. One of the first problems I discovered with that was driving in bad weather. I even ruined an expensive cover driving on the interstate in a torrential rainstorm.

So a couple other terms have applied to me…hindsight and foresight! If only I had bought a ramp van back when prices were lower and before I gave my money away. As things changed over the years it would have worked during the good and bad times. Even during the time I couldn’t drive, it would have been better to have had the ramp for my caregivers to use.

And now in weak times, once again, the scooter and ramp van fit my needs like a perfect pair of gloves. The scooter is a substitute for my feet and legs. Some folks comment because I don’t have on shoes but in the summer my feet swell. Why waste my money on shoes? Just call me the “shoeless lady.”

The largest disadvantage a scooter has is how close one is to the ground. That can be an advantage when someone needs to pick up something they drop. It is also an advantage when one has to transfer to a low chair or toilet.

grocery-store

The disadvantage in a grocery store is that everything I need is always higher than I can reach. Asking for help is a good lesson to learn, but can be frustrating when no one is available. One example of my frustration is that my favorite crushed pineapple is always on the top shelf and whole slices of pineapple are near the bottom.

And this is where senior terminology comes in. Some seniors are hunched over or have lost inches due to osteoporosis. So here I am in the world of “little people” but I can’t climb like they can and someone who comes up with all these emails has a new title for senior citizens and, of course, scooter riders.

I had an aquarium once and I knew there were fish called “bottom feeders.” I didn’t know that someday this would be a new name for me when shopping in a grocery store. So a new name for me is “bottom feeder;” I’ve always said “if the shoe fits, wear it!”

Problems with Handicapped Restrooms

handicap_accessible_bathroom

All restrooms are not handicapped accessible, and those that are tend to be used by people who are not handicapped.  A handicapped accessible restroom is larger which makes it more convenient.   It is natural for people to desire convenience, so this often results in others choosing to use the handicapped stall.  This results in the handicapped person having to wait desperately to get a wheelchair into that stall.  (I, of all people, do not need to be told that some folks may be handicapped even if it doesn’t show.)  I am aware of that and have written about that in articles about handicapped parking spaces.

But sometimes when small children are allowed to go into the restroom alone in stores and restaurants, they either can’t read or don’t know how to recognize the emblem for the handicapped.  Parents need to be sure that they teach children what this symbol means.

At times, some young girls go into the larger restroom stall together to laugh and talk about school, boys, etc.  Often they choose to sign their names on the wall.  Most are embarrassed when they come out and see someone waiting in a wheelchair.  It is hard for one who is waiting to resist speaking sternly to those who are obviously not handicapped, but these days it is not safe to vent one’s thoughts in public.

I beseech parents to teach your healthy children not to use the handicapped accessible stalls and unless you use a wheelchair or need the use of the handicapped bar, perhaps you too can leave those restrooms for people who physically need them.

indoor_pool

It is so nice at the Hurley YMCA that they have handicapped accessible restrooms and showers.  When I feel strong enough after swimming, I go ahead and wash my hair and shower so I don’t have all that to do at home.

Another thing that I like there is they have separate dressing rooms for families with children under eighteen.  I don’t feel as uncomfortable about my body around other adults as I do in front of children and teenage girls.

I’ve had numerous unpleasant experiences in handicapped restrooms but am thankful to have the presence of one large enough for a wheelchair or scooter even if I do have to wait a few minutes and then bite my tongue.

Handicapped Gardening

garden_glove_with_flowers

I was so proud of myself.  Raking pine needles from my power wheelchair presented a new challenge in 2004.  I was only trying to reach as far as I could from my concrete driveway and that removed only about half the width that was covered with pine needles. (I would have to wait for my grandsons to rake the part that was out of my reach.  Their baby sister has arrived with the warmer weather and my odd jobs and I got pre-empted.  (But that’s okay; if I were able, I would rather be with the baby 24/7 too.)

But I had recently decided after two years of pine needles that it was time to redo my foundational landscaping.  Though this is more expensive originally, the chipped brick will be more long lasting and more attractive once it is in place.  I had already had the brick delivered before Hallie Renee was born, so now I had gorgeous weather, a beautiful granddaughter, and a job waiting to be finished.

Once I read an article about landscaping for the handicapped.  It referred to working only within one’s reach, so I had decided that’s all I would attempt to do.  That article showed flowers planted in raised beds like my husband and I once had in our yard.  Since I don’t have the needed wood or the expensive soil for that, I have discovered an easier way to have a few flowers.

handicapped_gardening

The miniature shepherd’s crooks are perfect for hanging baskets.  Even though these might be prettier spaced around throughout the area, I can water and care for them easier if I keep them within reach of the concrete driveway.  I can ride my scooter along watering, fertilizing, or deadheading the flowers.

I know many readers remember the stories about my house.  The landscaping was very attractive then, but some of the shrubs have not survived well during the ice storms or the dry summers.  I’m not really sure what to replace those shrubs with, but I can’t afford to do it all at one time anyway.  When I moved back to the country, I knew I would not be able to have the kind of yard I once had.  This house and yard are so much smaller than we had but without my husband, I have to ask for so much help from too many people.

cherry_tree

Recently, however, my son-in-law voluntarily planted two cherry trees that were rooted from trees my husband had transferred from his uncle’s yard many years ago.  My sister gave me cuttings that were rooted from a forsythia bush that once belonged to our mother.  Last year, I purchased three crepe myrtles from the 4-H Club’s fund raising project.  Bonding with these plants has given me more interest in my yard.

I do not have the manpower or money to reseed, fertilize, etc.  I have been very blessed that I’ve had volunteers to mow the grass.  There is still work to be done, but it will have to wait for another time.

I look forward to taking care of hanging baskets of geraniums, petunias, and who knows what else.

Reserved Parking

powerchair1

Well, it’s almost time to park this power chair in that handicapped reserved parking space that I mentioned in one of my earlier stories.  I’m moving around with the walker better every day.  The power chair has been my legs now for about fourteen months and has become so much a part of me that there will be times when it will be hard to separate myself from it.  It’s like a dependable friend; I have been able to rely on it to get me from Point “A” to Point B.”

The power chair, the “tray” (another story), and I have bonded in a way that enabled us to accomplish many things in my little dollhouse.  I could have done no chores without these items since the 2002 multiple sclerosis exacerbation.  Accomplishing chores from a walker will require a new plan of attack and I have to be very careful not to fall.  (Several folks have already had to pick me up and I would like to thank them but I hope not to have to call them again.)   I’m sure some folks have lived many years using a walker and I must meet this newest challenge.  Everything else has been a challenge so why should this be any different.

Physical therapy has helped me challenge myself more twice each week.  When something worked better at one session than it had previously, I felt God’s amazing  grace in the answered prayers of many.  As each goal the therapist set for me was met, I  marked off another milestone that I have passed.

Parking the power chair requires me to think of a new way of transporting items with me as I walk.  The phone has to be with me just in case I fall again.  A cloth bag attached to my walker might enable me to carry the phone, some snacks, pen, paper and a light-weight book to read.

swimming-lift

While writing this article, another part of the modern day miracle took place.  I had walked into the swimming pool at the YMCA twice but I was finally able to walk out.  It was an incredible feeling to reach that goal.  I hope we can now “retire” the battery operated lift after eight months of use.  It will certainly make the lifeguards’ jobs easier where I’m concerned.  (They have been wonderful, however, and no one should hesitate to go to the “Y” just because they can’t walk.)

As soon as I am able to make that last step out of the hot tub alone, I won’t have to ask for help there either.  I was telling my friend, Judy, that they have to take me out of the hot tub in a “basket.”  We agreed that we always thought I was a bit of a basket case.  Well, this episode with MS could have turned me into a real mental “basket case” when I was told I would never walk again but hey, folks, I knew that all things are possible with God.  Someone sent me this little quote over the email:  (“During this difficult time, isn’t it nice to remember that even Moses was a basket case?  Hang in there and keep the faith.”)

footsteps

In fact even since I first wrote this article, more exciting and challenging blessings have happened.  One day in therapy I took my first baby steps without holding on to the parallel bars.

When I was five years old, Santa brought me a walking doll.  She walks in a somewhat robotic manner as you hold her by the shoulders.  I thought of my doll as I took those amazing independent steps.  My steps require concentration as my brain sends the message to my feet.

Later that day I demonstrated similar steps at my Friday night prayer group. Then on Sunday I showed several people at my church.  Yes, I am proud but I know this is another blessing from our Lord and Savior.

I was reminded that “you’ve come a long way, baby.”  And that’s not all.  I recently had hand controls put on my car.  If all goes well, by the New Year I will have my license and as the old song says, I’ll be “on the road again.”

POSTSCRIPT: This article was written in 2004. I really wish now that I had bought a handicap van then instead of hand controls. I was only able to use those for two years and had to sell the car and the hand controls. Then, once again, I did not drive for several years until I bought the handicapped accessible van in August, 2009. Once again, I am unable to walk with, or without, a walker but I am a believer with the paraplegic Christian writer, Joni Eareckson Tada, “Walking isn’t everything.”

Please Don’t Say “Just”

Smiling doctor consoling patient sitting on wheel chair outdoor

When I spent six days in the hospital receiving steroids for what appeared to be a multiple sclerosis flare up, other tests had been done to rule out all that it might have been. After five days of solumedrol, the pain was gone and I was not having as much trouble breathing. I guess one could say, I had “survived” another attack.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sometimes it seems I take a step forward only to take two steps back. Sometimes I get weary of the repetition of multiple sclerosis, and that’s when I try to give it to the Lord. Thirty-four years of emotional ups and downs and in and out of hospitals has taught me so much about my physical problems.

The one thing I’ve learned is how the medications that help in one way have negative side effects in other ways. As in other things in life, sometimes I have to take the bad with the good.

Because of the scripture shown above, I know Jesus will give me “rest for my soul.” I’m sure five days of complete bed rest was part of the healing. I had intelligent, understanding doctors and nurses, and the hospital staff was there for me as I needed them. I had left my wheelchair van in the parking lot with the windows open because I didn’t know I was going to be admitted. With the threat of rain, one of the security guards got my keys and went out to put the windows up. The next day when I happened to remember that I had left medication in my van, the maintenance man went and brought the medicine in out of the heat. He was in the room fixing a phone when I thought about the medicine, and he volunteered to go get it.  It just so happened that we went to school together so thanks again, Danny!

maid2

You may be wondering about the title in this story. In my antique dictionary, the word “just” has about eight different meanings. In this situation, “just” means merely, only, simply, etc. One day, I asked the housekeeper a question and she said, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know; I’m ‘just’ the cleaning lady.”

I know the words that came from my heart were a gift from God. I said, “Oh, please, don’t say you are ‘just’ the cleaning lady. After all, cleanliness is next to Godliness. Are you a wife, or a mother?”

She nodded and smiled sweetly. She thanked me for “putting it that way.” And this applies to security guards, maintenance men, and all those other folks that get patients to and from where they need to be.

Actually, this can apply to all of us. In my case, I’m not “just” a MS patient; I am a survivor. I’m not “just” a mother; I’m also a grandmother.” I’m no longer “just” a journal writer; I’m an author of two books. I’m no longer shy or “just” a speaker. Instead, I am a Christian who is no longer “just” a Bible reader, but one of Jesus’ disciples trying to use speaking and writing to teach others what I’ve learned and how I try to practice what I believe. (Matthew 28:18)