On Friday, May 3rd, 2019 I awoke with a small twinge in my back. This unusual ache led to the realization of my greatest fear.
I am one of many people on the globe who deal with multiple possible health risks, but through healthy living (sort of) and modern pharmaceuticals, keep most of them at bay and live a life that I consider normal.
First, I have Cerebral Palsy since I was born. In a nutshell, this is a battle between my brain and body. My brain issues a command to move and my body will usually respond, “huh?”. My CP affects the left side of my body. One of my good friends at church has the same condition except his is on the right side. We often wonder if we can somehow merge.
My second condition is that I have Type 2 Diabetes. I was diagnosed in 2006. This led to a lifestyle change of diet and exercise.
My General Practioner will often ruminate whether a new symptom is caused by CP, Diabetes or door number three. He once told me that although I am 54, my body is physically 20 years older! No wonder my students call me “Old Man”
Now, that small twinge in my back snowballed into a full-blown health crisis!
Sunday, I went to Urgent Care because I couldn’t even stand up. Diagnosis: Muscle Spasms, which I thought was redundant, since my muscles are constantly spasming. I was given a pain shot and prescribed Muscle relaxers.
Tuesday I couldn’t get out of a chair or bed without both my wife and oldest son help. An ER visit prescribed Tylenol 4 and sent me to a specialist.
Thursday I went to the specialist (in a wheelchair). The specialist prescribed steroids and a MRI.
Friday was the MRI. Sent home with the instruction that they would call with the results only if I was dying.
Monday, severe pain shot down my right leg! Went to ER, by car although I thought I might need an ambulance. Diagnosis: Sciatica. I was given a morphine shot, went home, ate a sub sandwich and slept in my recliner.
Wednesday I walked into the specialist and got results from MRI. Little arthritis because “You’re Old!” ( my body is 74, remember?).
Thursday I went back to work with a cane and my students laughed at me and welcomed me back. One of the scretaries asked me what happened. I wish I could descibe the expression on her face when I said, “BAR FIGHT”
For almost two weeks, not only did I struggle with physical issues, condition one and two were also affected.
I keep the CP in check by riding my stationary bike every morning while binge-watching series. I stretch for about 15 minutes and I ride for 30. This keeps my leg muscles strong so I can walk for the whole day. Since I couldn’t ride, my leg muscles atrophied.
Condition two, diabetes got out of whack due to a combination of the steroids and lack of exercise, not to mention the increased snacking due to the boredom of sitting in a chair and watching TV.
Then there’s condition three.
I also have been diagnosed with depression. I have had this condition for almost 25 years since I attempted suicide in 1994.
My depression took a big hit during this current crisis. I sunk deeper into it because I always imagined that this was what the end of my life was going to be for me. My greatest fear is that I will have an active mind trapped in an inactive body.
I have worked so hard in my life to become independent. Little things that most take for granted I count as glorious milestones in my life. I remember clearly the day I learned to ride a bike, gave a presentation in front of a class, ran a mile in gym. I learned to drive, golf, and type on a keyboard, every victory opening up new worlds for me.
But during those two weeks, that all disappeared. I was at the mercy of others. Driving was out and writing is nearly impossible in a reclining position (mostly because I couldn’t see what I was typing). I thought, “This is it. This is going to be my life now!” I always assumed that those skills would diminish gradually over time, but to lose them in one fell swoop really kicked my depression into overtime!
I imagined myself an invalid, a shut-in, doomed to accept whatever life was presented to me. My own personal hell would be confined to a chair in front of a TV that was not turned on and a remote slightly out of reach.
But that never happened. People who loved me rallied to my side. As long as I could communicate, I was able to enjoy my life. Time off from work allowed me to clear off some seriously needed space from my DVR. Being confined to a chair was made easier with the enjoyment of my new recliner, which we got only a week before. In hindsight, the power button option was definitely a GOD thing.
Work rallied around me as well. Colleagues stepped up and completed unfinished paperwork for me. Substitute teachers were called daily, but the classroom aides and paraprofessionals stuck to my routines and kept order. One fellow teacher recorded students wishing me well and sent them to me over Facebook!
Having lived through this ordeal, at least I hope I am through this, I have a new hope my future. It is because of the choices I have made throughout my life that has created this support system around me. Good friends from church opened their hearts and provided me with a massage free of charge. My family has offered to get me into another specialist, also free of charge.
In other words, I am blessed! On November 21st, 1994 I accepted Christ into my heart and began to sow seeds in people in all my walks of life. I lived, like Christ, with humility, assuming others more important than myself. I try to treat every conversation as it is the most important exchange I have today. I comfort who mourn and correct those around me, who error, in love. I don’t do this all the time. But I try. I fail more than I succeed. But I try.
Over the past two weeks, I realize that I reaped what I sowed.
Now, I wonder about you? After experiencing the results of my harvest, I wonder. How is your’s coming? Have you sowed enough seeds? Are they the right kind? Do you tend to your weeds?
By weeds, I mean those things that distract us from the end result. Harvesting is a lengthy process, with long periods of inactivity. But, the good farmer knows, there are things that require attention while we are waiting for the end result!
Our destiny is the same way! God declared that we were destined to live with him for all eternity but he doesn’t stop there. Just like the farmer doesn’t plant a kernel of corn in the spring, wish it good luck and comes back at harvest time, God cares for us daily, providing the best care in order to produce the healthiest crop, which has many purposes, but one is to provide more seeds for future crops.
The people that I have loved and cared for are now sowing seeds on their own. Soon, their efforts will be rewarded by other sowings what they have received from them.
That is my future and when I focus on that humbling fact, conditions one, two,and three fades away. With that confidence and a renewed commitment to my life, I can only say one thing to the future…
Bring it on!
And hand me my SHADES!