Always Something New

It seems like when you have any type of disability, just when you think you are getting everything under control and have it together something comes along just to knock you down again. At least that is how I feel right now.

I was doing better than I had in a long time actually. I was staying on my medication for my Bipolar Disorder and it is helping me a lot. I broke down and had to take some extra medication for my anxiety that I had not expected, but with the help of my very good doctor and therapist I realize that is okay. It helps me even the playing the field so I can be happy and live my life. There were still some big stressors going on in my life and we were adjusting my medication which at times made me feel like I had failed because I had been doing so well for so long. I had to realize that there will be times I will have to adjust it because your body gets used to it and it does not do the job it is supposed to do. I am not a failure for that. I would be failing if I did not adjust it and just tried to live with my life on the same dose or with no medication. I would eventually go back to the big ups and downs that had caused so many problems before. That is not what I want.

So in December  when I ended up in the hospital with blood clots in my lung I really just broke down and did not think I could take anymore. I was very scared I would not be here to see my kids grow up because I had lost two cousins to blood clot issues. I was very terrified. My youngest son would bring me a little toy every night when he came to visit so I would not get lonely and my other son just gave me a big hug and told me I better not die on him. I know they were just as scared as I was so I had to show them I was not leaving them yet. I was very lucky I went in when I did and I am still here today and I am so grateful that I am. But no one prepared me for what life would be like after that. I did not think it would affect me so much.

I can handle being on the blood thinners for the rest of my life if it means it will help keep me here on this earth. At first they made me tire out a lot easier and I bruise a lot easier but that is okay. I have felt really bad this summer for my kids. I love summer. I love the heat and the warm sun. Now though, when it is too warm or humid my legs hurt so bad that I start to feel sick and all I can do is try to cool down and put my legs up. It makes me feel like I am being a bad mom sometimes. Then it starts making me feel down and I do not do the things that I know help me to stay well mentally. Things like writing or even just coloring with my son. Watching him play in his little pool. As my legs have bothered me a lot this summer I have had to have the boys help me a little more and that depresses me. But they like being able to help mom and sometime they even ask if there is anything they can do even when I feel good.

So now they laugh at me when I say it is too hot in the house because I am the one who is usually too cold all the time. My youngest son has become my best walking buddy and really pushes me that way. I am trying to find positives out of all of this because it seems there is always something new happening just when I think I am getting control of my disabilities. I am starting to write again since I have lots of time when I have to rest my legs and I am getting to spend nice quality time with my kids. Hearing them laugh and fight is something I will not take for granted. I am doing my puzzle books I love and listening to my son read to my and teaching my other son to drive. I get to see my granddaughter through facetime which is wonderful. I may miss out on somethings but I have to look at the big picture. I can feel my children’s wonderful arms around my neck giving me hugs and hear them tell me they love me. I just have to take things one day at a time. To remember there are many beautiful things in this world if you just take the time to look. There are even beautiful things within our disabilities.

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IMAGINE

Take just one moment and imagine with me, a life like you never dreamed of. What does it look like? Pause….

Do you live in a castle with servants at your every whim?

Do you live in a beach cabin that you own, no payments, no worries, just swimming, laying on the beach or surfing all day?

I know…you live in a cabin in the mountains. You are perfectly safe and hardly a neighbor within a few miles. Imagine the smell of pine and cedar when you walk out in the morning, the sound of the water from the nearby river splashing against the rocks in the gentle breeze and then in the evening, the smell of the wood burning in the rock fireplace.

Well, none of these scenarios are exactly what I was thinking of when I asked that question. I was thinking more like: what if one of your very first thoughts every morning was, ‘oh, that’s right, I can’t feel anything from my waist down.  I was just dreaming I could walk and I could run, but although my mind says I can, my body tells me different.’

Or maybe if you can imagine with me for a minute, waking up every morning knowing that the depression that pretty much debilitated your life yesterday, made you feel hopeless, an inability to construct or envision a future, could find its way back again today. Even with the meds, there isn’t much you will be able to do about it, except fake the ‘happy’, ‘normal’ person until your mind just won’t allow it any longer and again the enemy of your mind wins another round of the battle.

There are a wide range of disabilities,  such as depression, autism, cerebral palsy, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, visual impairments, hearing loss, speech disorders and on and on. Can you believe that 56.7 million people live with these disabilities every single day of their lives, and this is in the U.S. alone? Can you imagine living your daily life with a disability?  Can you even dream of what it would be like?  I don’t think many of us imagine this for ourselves.

We have many of our own neighbors here in Bismarck, ND, that daily deal with these and numerous other disabilities. What are we doing to help them to have the same quality of life that we are able to enjoy?

We are coming up on 27 years since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else has. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Now let me give you another challenge.

Imagine yourself for a minute as a person with a disability. What would you want to change about our world so that it would be less difficult to live life like everyone else?  Pause….

Now, change that one thing in yourself, whether it would be an attitude you have or stepping out of your way to make it easier for a person with a disability to enjoy what you naturally get the opportunity to enjoy daily.

The theme for the 2017 Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act is “Pledge On”. Let’s all make a new commitment to be sensitive to our neighbor’s needs, no matter who they are or what their daily struggles are.  It’s part of being a Community.