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Friday, February 19, 2016

Transition Lessons

A post from my awesome friend Michie O'Day—fellow painter, triker and NF2-er.
I've had a revelation. It's taken a few day to unfold and I'm not sure that I can explain it adequately. It's spiritual, amongst other things, but I'll try.

I'll begin with the hymn that is playing on my mental jukebox.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
'Twas blind, but now I see.
Such a beautiful old spiritual. Everyone from the South knows it well. We grew up with it—Sunday mornings, every funeral and more.

Here's my news: I no longer hold any negative feelings about now being in a wheelchair. Wow! But it's true. I really don't. I'm beyond the shock of rapidly deteriorating mobility. (For the record, the progressive neuropathy seems to have slowed down. Not stopped, but at least not worse by the week.) I fully and totally accept who and what I am. Better yet, I even embrace it, as was my intention with deafness once Dr. Martuza told me that prognosis 20+ years ago. And it's been my goal with the mobility issues. But I had real trouble embracing such a sea-change and honestly thought my life was going to be all downhill from here. Not so!

Through the grace of God, I now see the beauty (a catch-all word) of needing help and allowing others to help me. This is not the way I was raised. I was raised to be independent and to take care of others, especially my mother and brother (who both had NF2) in times of trouble. So, it's a big leap for me to say, yes, I'd like help with [fill in the blank]. It can be as simple as carrying my coffee to the dining table to as intimate as help bathing—which I do need and appreciate.

Others have been helping me in many different ways for a long time but I often felt ashamed for asking. That's me, not them. Many people have been generous and kind. I'm the one with the hang ups. But what I've finally learned and accepted is that their generosity (be it time, money, good humor, lifting, carrying, the list goes on) is genuine. My job is to accept it and appreciate it. And to be honest about what I need.

Pretending just doesn't cut it.

So where am I? Well, I now have a new vantage point, a new perspective. Some of that comes with aging. (I'm now 59. Gasp!) but I also believe that dealing with something like NF2 accelerates the path to compassion and wisdom. And I'm grateful for that.

So how did this break-though come about? I have to give a lot of credit to Gail, my care-giver. She's here 3 mornings a week. Gail's a ray of sunshine, warmth and friendliness—letting herself in the front door and bustling around my kitchen, then waking me up for coffee and breakfast. Yes, I am spoiled! No way to sugar-coat this. I DO appreciate it—big time! Gail radiates a lot of warmth and positive energy. And I'm no fool—I'm soaking it up as fully and fast as I can.

I want and intend to learn from everything that happens to me. I'm lucky in that my basic needs are met: I love where I live, I have many wonderful friends, my days are full and interesting, I have creative and productive pursuits and I don't have any pain. (Amazing....) So the balance is good.

My disabilities will get worse. We know this. We just don't know what will collapse next or when. How does one live with that kind of uncertainty? First is to recognize that I'm not the only one. We all face these things at some point. The idea is to deal with it as best you can when it happens, to cultivate productivity and happiness, and to give and receive.

 This has been the lesson of transitioning to a wheelchair. I'm laughing and smiling as I type these words because I feel like the luckiest woman alive.

You can view more of Michie's fabulous work here at her website

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