This may sound crazy, since I spend my life sitting in a wheelchair, but I usually don’t see myself as disabled. Obviously, I’m reminded moment by moment of my limitations (depending on which new challenge I’m confronted with each day), but over all I’m just me, desiring the same things I always have. Over the past twenty years, I’ve learned to cherish the abilities I’m blessed with rather than focus on those inaccessible to me.
People often ask about my wheelchair and what put me in it. I know their questions are well-meaning and sometimes even relate to themselves or a loved one. I’m more than willing to share my perspective with them. Nothing’s more fulfilling than assisting others experiencing similar journeys. Their interest, however, is a subtle reminder that people see the wheelchair I conveniently forget.
Occasionally the reminder isn’t so subtle. I get hit over the head—don’t forget ME—your disability speaking. The most recent event occurred this week. A certain health problem arose (frequently the culprit of my wakeup calls) which emphasized my inabilities and the fact that I’m a quadriplegic.
Once again, I’m a woman in a wheelchair, with limitations, dealing with a rare neurologic condition. The emotions associated with the initial onset of my TM come flooding back in. You think you’ve dealt with those feelings, but there they are slapping you in the face again.
Good news. The feelings aren’t nearly as intense the second, third, fourth . . . time around. After experiencing the diagnosis playback several times, one learns better coping skills and has discovered that life does go on. I find myself, running through the five stages of grief very rapidly. Sometimes I’m fearful. Other times I’m angry. And other times I’m tearful.
At the latter stage I often find myself remembering the One who prayed for us so earnestly that His “sweat was as it were great drops of blood.” I’m comforted by the fact that He knows my pain and I’m grateful for His atoning sacrifice. My troubles don’t go away, and my circumstances don’t change, but I’m buoyed by the knowledge that in my trials he whispers,
"My precious child, I love you and will never leave you Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you."
—Footprints in the Sand (Mary Stevenson)