Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Driving To Independence

Independence is happiness. ~ Susan B. Anthony
I worked most of my adult life to become independent. It has always been important for me to take care of myself. My parents taught me well. Then MS joined me on my Life Journey and put a chink in my armor. Life changed and so did my independence. I was going to need help.

Now, I know everyone needs help at one time or another, and not everyone is able to ask for it. Some people have difficulty even accepting help that is offered, let alone asking for it.

I remember when I got my drivers' license at 14, thanks to Louisiana. It didn't occur to me at the time, but that was my first step toward independence. I no longer had to rely on my parents or school buses or friends to go anywhere. In fact, I became the friend who could transport others.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dancing Wheelers

Dancing was once a favorite pastime of mine, but I had to give it up when my balance left me. My scooter ensures my only dancing is with my arms and shoulders. However, some people just won't quit.

I wrote an earlier post about bunnymay wand her story about a woman dancing from a chair. She was not actually a wheeler, but she learned while actually living in a wheelchair in Mexico for weeks before the performance. She danced solo on stage.

Here is another one - Deaf Mom wrote about a wheeler who performed
ballroom dancing with an upright partner. She has the video and it is certainly worth the visit. Thank you bunnymay and Deaf Mom for these stories that tell us not to give up dancing.

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A Memory from the Past

When I was a child, I saw a young girl in a wheelchair being pushed by a woman I assumed to be her mother. We shared a smile as we passed. I was just a little girl myself, and I related to the girl in the chair because we were about the same age.

An adult nearby -- not someone I
knew -- said: "Isn't that a shame? She is so pretty."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wheeling Through Time

We were watching a DVD of the old TV series Connections the other night. Connections was a documentary series in which James Burke made connections from an early discovery through civilizations and time until it shows up as a magnificent part of modern civilization. It is almost a version of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." As I was watching, I wondered when and where did the wheelchair begin?

I knew a little, but I also knew there had to be more. The earliest reference I found was a wheeled bed in Greece in 530 B.C. I cannot imagine that was very mobile or convenient, especially for visiting friends or shopping. Just five years later, the Chinese put wheels on chairs.
The Chinese honor their elders and they appear to honor disability as well, because by the third century they had a "rolling apparatus for the infirmed."* The earliest image of a wheelchair was found incised in stone on a Chinese sarcophagus, but the histories that I found did not credit the Chinese with inventing the wheelchair.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Finding Joy in a Pain-filled Life

"But pain…seems to me an insufficient reason not to embrace life. Being dead is quite painless. Pain, like time, is going to come on regardless. Question is, what glorious moments can you win from life in addition to the pain?" ~ Lois McMaster Bujold, Barrayar, 1991

I always had a very low threshold of pain. Since my MS diagnosis, I am learning, much to my surprise, that I can live with pain and still find joy in life. I am learning to coexist with the scary pain monster.

One day last year, I was happily going through my morning routine, washing my face and brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush. Suddenly I had a blinding pain. It felt as if I was being electrocuted. There were shocks of lightening bolts jumping through my mouth. I dropped the toothbrush and after what seemed like an eternity, the pain resided. I was shaken, I had trouble understanding and tears were streaming down my face. I did not know what to do next.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Is the Bone Broken?

Apparently it's not always easy to know if a bone is actually broken. Some are more obvious than others.

In April 2006 I was transferring into the car when I heard a loud POP and my leg hurt really bad. It hurt again each time I moved it. My doctor sent me for an X-ray and MRI. I thought the X-ray would have been enough and the MRI was overkill.

The nurse told me everything was fine and I should go home, so I did. I was home less than half an hour when she called and said I had to go back. There was a fracture after all.

I always thought that was strange. Then I found an article on WebMD that says it may not be so strange after all. Sometimes an X-ray does not even show a fracture. Other tests such as an MRI or CT scan. I know the MRI simplified diagnosing MS and injured athletes often have MRIs, so I should not be surprised. The role of the MRI in diagnosing and identifying problems is expanding.

I was lucky they kept looking at my results after I left. Otherwise I would not have known my leg was actually broken and not merely bruised.

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