View From My Wheelchair: Who Is That? Do I Look Sick?

Rose Wolfe eyes

Has it ever happened to you?  You are washing your hands and, without thinking, you look up and see some stranger in the mirror looking back at you?  In that split second, you are shocked.  “Who is that person,” you wonder?

I mean, I know it’s me.  Yet, it’s not Me. It’s not the Me I was. It’s not the Me I thought I would be. It’s not even the Me I think I am.

So, who is that person looking back at me?  What do people see when they look at her?  Who do they think she is?

Just the other week, someone said to me, “You know, you don’t look sick.”   Do they mean I don’t look like someone who needs a wheelchair and is, therefore, faking it somehow?  Or, do they mean I look better than someone should look when they are mobility challenged?  What does sick look like?

Does it even matter?

This is a strange concept to me.  I don’t look sick.  Hmmm.  Does that mean that I need to wear sweat clothes and gym shoes?  Does it mean I should not wear makeup?  If you saw someone wearing sweat clothes, would you say, “Oh, look, that person is sick.”?  How about if you saw someone without makeup on?  What conclusions would you draw?

And, if I were to dress in a different way, what would I be saying about myself?  What would I be saying to you?  Some people have no choice.  They have been burdened with a stroke or paralysis.  This does not mean they are sick.  They are disAbled, mobility challenged, and dependent on a caretaker.

My reflection has changed.  My disease is changing my face.  And, I don’t always immediately recognize that woman in the mirror.  Still, she doesn’t look sick.

I keep coming back to the same question: What does it mean to look sick?  I don’t have an answer.

What I do know is that I don’t look sick because I’m not – sick.

Do You Feel Hopeful?

 

Orange HeartIs it even possible to feel hopeful?

As I face the demons of unrealized dreams squarely, it occurs to me that they are just that – unrealized dreams. Nothing more. Should this loss be so traumatic that I should feel hopeless? Is it even possible to feel hopeful?

Adding to my personal loss, the stress of living in a world where tens of thousands rally around banners of hate, my heart aches for those who are facing loss caused by these monsters of society. Is it even possible to feel hopeful?

Yes, it is.  I sit calmly with hope in my inner being. Not because I refuse to face the turmoil of loss, but because I have a faith that goes beyond today.

When I first lost mobility and the resulting loss of dreams, I was frustrated at how little I could do and how little I felt understood.  It was overwhelming; not only was the world’s situation hopeless, but my medical team held out no hope to me, as well.

Over time, it occurred to me that I needed to examine my thoughts, challenge my mindset, and make decisions that provided me with a clear vision. My struggles would serve me and others. Each challenge would work a deeper truth within me and, as a result, carry the potential of life-giving gifts to those around me.

Hope keeps me going through my darkest times. As I encounter challenges, I have the option to face my tribulation with faith. In truth, the greatest moments are those when I have suffered with purpose. For suffering produces patience, and patience develops character. As character matures, hope emerges.

 

 

“To live without Hope is to cease to live” ~Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Way to Start a Perfect Day

2 Cor 12 9

It may have only been 5:30 a.m., but I am already at my computer getting ready for the day.  Although I would have preferred to still be in my warm bed, my mind had other plans.  That evening I was leading a discussion on “The Perfect Life,” and I wanted to review my notes.

Only moments into reading, I hear Teddy bark . . . and then, another bark.  Holding my breath, I wait – hoping that he would settle back to sleep.

All is quiet.  Then, another, “Woof.  Woof.”

My quiet morning had dissolved.  A barking dog might be a good alarm clock, but my husband would prefer to sleep for another couple of hours.  Since I am already awake, I have no choice but to convince Teddy to be quiet.

Struggling to get out of my chair, I grab onto my walker and roll to Teddy’s bedroom (the large bathroom on the first floor).  I tell my 15-year-old dog to be quiet.

“Hush,” I say as he wags his tail at me.  “Be quiet.”

Just as I manage to get back to my chair and sit down, I hear his short bark, pause, and another bark.  I know if I let him out of his bedroom, he will bark at the squirrels having their breakfast at the bird feeders in the back yard.

So, I whisper, “Teddy, quiet.”

“Woof, woof,” Teddy replies.

After a half-an-hour of repeated trips and corrections, I labor out of my chair one more time.  Thinking that maybe he needs to relieve himself, I amble to the side door and let him out.  Happily, Teddy takes off to roam our wooded back yard.

Giving him a few moments, I call Teddy to come back in the house.  I get no response.  Each minute I lean on my walker calling Teddy feels like an hour.  I continue to get no response.  Because it is 42 degrees outside, I cannot leave the door open.  The morning has taken a toll on my body, and I can feel it starting to quit on me.  I don’t know what to do.

I wonder, “Should I just leave him outside?”   Just as I begin to think this is the best solution, Teddy comes around the bend and stands about 15 feet away from me.

“Teddy, come,” I command several times.

Finally, Teddy decides to comply and trots over to me.  Getting halfway through the threshold, he changes his mind, turns around, and bolts out the door.  He scampers 10 feet away, stands erect and calls out, “Woof, woof.”

I have now made matter worse.  Not only am I concerned about Teddy waking my husband, but I also have my neighbors sleep to consider.  In my frustration, I decide that I can walk down the stairs and get Teddy.

“It is only three stairs and 10 feet,” I tell myself.

Letting go of my walker, I shuffle out the door and grab the handrail.  As I manage to get down one stair, my body has had enough and, luckily, just sits down.  In the meantime, Teddy continues to bark.

It is 6:15 a.m., I am sitting on my stairs, in my pajamas, in the cold, and sobbing.  Teddy barks.  I cry some more.  Teddy barks some more.

A loop of thoughts keep running through my mind, “What am I going to do?  Dennis is asleep on the second floor on opposite side of the house.  I am getting colder.”

I try pulling myself up. . .three times.  I cry. . .three times.

“Okay, God, I get it.  Here I am, trying to do it all on my own.  I do believe that I have the perfect life.  Not because my life is perfect or I am perfect, but because You are Perfect.  I need Your help.”

I grab onto the newel cap and pull myself up.  Suddenly, I am standing on solid ground.  With shivering legs and cold hands, I cling to the posts.  Each stair a struggle; I climb the three steps.

Leaving Teddy, I close the door.  It is now 7:00 a.m.  Shivering, I shuffle to the stair lift and ride to the second floor.  I grab my walker from the landing and open the bedroom door.

“Teddy is outside barking.  I crumbled on the stairs trying to get him.  Please bring that dog in the house,” I tell Dennis.

He immediately jumps out of bed.  Covering me up and tucking me in, he asks me if I am okay.

“Yes,” I reply. “Everything is okay.  Thank God.”

As I fall asleep, I say, “Thank You, God, for Your Perfection and for my perfect life.”


 

“My help is enough for you; for my strength attains its perfection
in the midst of weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9, NCV)

 

WHAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST? 

 

Hope
“FAITH, HOPE, LOVE REMAIN” by Rose Wolfe

 

“WHAT IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?”

Shifting his weight, he tried another position as he sought to find a comfortable spot.  The morphine drip took the edge off for awhile but never long enough.  Feeling helpless, I sat next to his bed and held his hand.

He was only 25 years old, and cancer devours the young as well as the old.  For six short months, we had battled together to fight this invader.  Now, the war was over, and we had lost.


 

We were young.  Around us were people who told us that he should put together a bucket list.  They didn’t understand.  We had one, and it was short.  Spend as much time together so that our four-year-old daughter’s heart would be imprinted with her dad’s love and joy.  If she couldn’t have him physically, then we wanted her to have him spiritually.


 

Now, it seems as if most people have a bucket list.  I guess it is a way to cheat death or enhance their life in some way.  Maybe they want to have an excuse for risky behavior or spending money they don’t have. Regardless, the items are as varied as the people behind them.  It is incredible the things that people have on their lists, from traveling the world to achieving their ideal weight.

What does it matter if you learn a new language and you expire tomorrow?  When someone dies, how many of us say, “Well, at least he saw the Grand Canyon.”?

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with having a wish list.  In fact, having goals and making plans to achieve them is admirable.  Although, it seems to me as if there as two types of bucket lists: (1) the Rusty Bucket List, and (2) the Legacy Bucket List. The first list consists of temporary achievements that have no enduring value. The second list is what remains after someone passes away.

As I think back on the lives of those who have died, it doesn’t matter if they had the opportunity to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef.  Rather, I am struck by their legacy.  Did they leave behind love?  Were they the reason they were estranged from others?  Is there guilt or anger?

I might live another ten or twenty years, but I doubt it.  My disease continues to strip my muscles.  My energy is wasting away.  The bell is tolling faintly in the distance.  There is no time to squander.  Which bucket will I choose?

I have made up my mind.  The decision has been made.  I choose to love, encourage, and accept.  No saint here.  That’s obvious.  Nevertheless, the time has come.  The battle trumpets are sounding.

It may be another lost war, but I will continue to forge ahead.  May faith, hope, and love remain.


“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”  Matt. 6:19

View From My Wheelchair: The Art of Me

 

A New Day
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps. 188:24)

 

Finally, I finished my latest painting, “A New Day.”

As I mentioned in a recent post (VIEW FROM MY WHEELCHAIR: RENEWAL), my disease robs me of energy.  Still, I make plans, and even if I am waylaid, I am content in every situation.  However, my life is not only a mirror of what I say and do.  It is also a reflection of the light in my soul.

So, I continue to wage a war against my disease – not in anger but in determination.  I know that my moments are strung together.  It is as if time were paint, and I hold the brush by which I make bold strokes on the canvas of my life.

Each response applies a color.  Beauty and depth are created with blues, yellows, and reds. Carefully, I work to avoid muddy colors that can dull or darken my life.  Reactions such as anger and hate destroy the picture and leave my dreams unrealized.

Today was a good day.  Tomorrow will be, too.