A goal of getting back…

After my rehab ranch resignation, my goal was to find normalcy, equilibrium, and balance in my new Floridian life. Unfortunately, in my newfound existence, I have yet to experience anything resembling physical peace and harmony, which I felt was in need. My life in Florida was wildly chaotic compared to what seemed like bumpy rainbows and butterflies in Ohio. However, my absolute happiness here trumps all the physical difficulties that had appeared since arriving in Florida.

The rehab facility had an accessible van, and Karen dropped me off and pushed me into my house as the ramp was still too steep. So, after my fifteen-day stay in the incredibly confusing medical nightmare called the hospital and rehab center, I arrived home. I wanted to return to normalcy, though I had experienced nothing in the realm of normal since coming to Florida. As Karen pushed me into my kitchen through the garage, I looked around, seeing everything I had only briefly experienced before the ER visit.

My office desk continued to be my uncomfortable sleeping space, which caused unexpected medical troubles. Sitting in a wheelchair twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is terrible for the human body in various ways. My legs were swelling like balloons at a kid’s birthday party, making me fearful of blood clots, which a doctor told me was the worst-case scenario. It was time for me to contemplate options for reducing the swelling in my legs and finding a better bed to rest my heavy head.

I am unsure what caused my muscles to weaken drastically, but I began periodically plummeting to the floor. These falls once again required me to call for that triple-digit rescue I dreaded and tried to avoid at all costs. My weakness was exhausting, making me fearfully hesitate and contemplate my every move. Again, I was overthinking every movement, making every transfer more risky and a fall more likely. I eliminated the idea of doing anything quickly wholly from my brain bucket, giving a new meaning to think slowly and move cautiously.

Another side effect of sitting in my wheelchair all day and night was that the muscle spasms in my legs became more frequent and violent. These vicious muscle jerks would thrust me forward painfully, slamming my chest into the table I was sitting at or even nearly throwing me out of my chair. The muscle relaxers my doctor prescribed were ineffective against these powerful leg convulsions. I found a strap that I used as a seat belt tying it off, making it unlikely that a muscle twitch, shift, or jerk would throw me from the chair again.

Thankfully, both physical and occupational therapy from the VA arrived a week after my return from my hospital horrors. First came an evaluation to test and find my abilities level, not wanting to push too hard or fast as that would be terrible for my MS. Next, they began asking about my overall goals for the sessions, and finally, pinpointing transfers of all types was my paramount priority. So we set a schedule for me to see PT and OT twice weekly for six weeks and then reevaluate.

To my readers, things may have appeared impossible, like the struggle was not worth it, as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but your thoughts are wrong. All tasks are a challenge, a big deal, and a significant struggle that I contend with daily, but these difficulties are manageable. You may not realize that for me, friends and family can take the wind out of the sails of this monster called MS. Camaraderie, togetherness and fellowship make the damage-causing MS beast impotent in its ability to ruin happiness and joy in my life. It does not matter where you are geographically, emotionally, or physically; strengthen and solidify your relationships. These individuals are your support system, which is essential as you will need them often for a healthy life. Family and friends are crucial weapons in fighting a chronic illness.

I needed things to get better, but life made things bitter. 

New Year, time for change… 

Now that we have rung in this New Year and flipped a digit to enter this new era, we need more. We should desire something to stand out from the crowd, as it is too easy to vanish into obscurity if we do not grow. No challenge should define us as it is simply a blip on our timeline and does not tell the world who we are. Every year, we should grab the tree of life and vigorously shake it with all the strength we can muster. So if you have a lot of power, shake, rattle, and roll until the branches crack like a tree in a tornado. On the other hand, if you have less vitality, vigorously shake the leaves and roar to the world I am here. We must not merely survive this game called life, but thrive like a cactus in the scorching desert sun.

Considering your limits is the key to finding the new thing that will change your outlook on life. You should stretch slightly past your comfort zone to prove that you can do more. Find something you have never done or are not particularly good at, as studies show, this builds your brain. Search out your neighborhood community center and look into taking some classes involving art or cooking. If it is age appropriate, find a senior center, check the schedule, and make new and possibly lifelong friends. There are plenty of events for the low and even mid-speed MSers if you will pinpoint and participate.

For those looking for high-octane options, there are a plethora of them from which to choose. Adaptive sports have become a massive industry, as no one enjoys being excluded because of their life’s limitations. We have come so far in technology that what was once impossible is now conceivable. Great minds have gotten together and figured out how to make things work correctly, specifically for the disabled. We have all heard the phrase; there is an app for that. We can now say there is an adaptation for that and be proud of how far we have come.

Adaptive sports include things such as surfing, kayaking, skiing, skydiving, and the list goes on and on. You can ride a bike with a handcycle regardless of your talent level and abilities. If you have the required skills, you can even go whitewater kayaking. If you are willing, it is not out of the question to snow ski in Colorado with the best of the best. Your willingness to act limits you only and what the imagination can create for these sports.

I have always said: do not tell me I cannot do something because, with time and effort, I will find a way to make it happen. My friend challenged me to do a 5K in my wheelchair, and even though others doubted I would complete it, I was the first wheelchair to cross the finish line. Some said that I could not do two and a half miles of swimming, yet I blew that challenge out of the water and swam eight grueling miles. There may be obstacles in your path, but you decide to allow them to stop you. The question becomes, how badly do you want it, and how much are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish the goal? So get off the couch and pick up your feet, cane, crutches, get behind your walker, or even sit in your wheelchair and do something new for the New Year.

Let no difficulty stop you from achieving your goals, disabled or not.