Keep On Keeping OnPosted: July 15, 2014
Never give up! That is something I’ve preached for years and now I am proving it in my own recovery. I haven’t been able to take up my bed and walk like they did in those Bible stories, but I do see real progress.
When I landed in the hospital with nerve damage last September, no one offered me much hope. All anyone knew was that my back hurt and I was paralyzed from the waist down.
No one knew for sure what happened to me, or what would happen next. I endured many tests, and many hours of physical therapy until January, when they sent me home in a wheel chair.
I got the impression the medical staff thought my recovery was as good as it was going to get, although no one said it out loud. They only said, “You can never tell about nerves.”
I prayed daily and I did my exercises. I didn’t waste my time worrying about what had happened or why it happened. I started each day with a gratitude list and tried to stay as cheerful as I could, because I knew cheerful helps.
The improvement was very slow but steady. I remember how pleased I was when I learned to move from wheelchair to chair without anyone helping me. I remember how thrilled I was when I went to the bathroom all by myself!
Small victories are still happening after months of physical therapy in rehab, at home, and now in outpatient care. Since I started with my current physical therapist, I feel very hopeful.
I’d been under the care of at least five other physical therapists, plus consultation with neurologists, a spinal surgeon and other medical doctors before I found Jennifer. She found what weak muscles are keeping me from walking. Jennifer’s new exercises definitely helped.
I’m now using a walker around the house sometimes. This week, I began standing for a minute without any support or help on balance. I do this at least four times during exercise. It feels like a significant break through.
I don’t have any guarantees but every little win makes walking seem more possible. I pay attention to the wins because I want to keep motivated. I do what the doctor says. My personal recovery plan includes compliance.
I developed this recovery plan when I was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago. That was a scary surprise and my recovery covered almost a year of surgery, chemo, and radiation. I’m now officially a survivor.
During my cancer recovery, I chose to follow a media diet of happy, happy, happy, all the time. I based my choices on Norman Cousins’ book, Anatomy of An Illness and I’m on a permanent diet of happy movies and books.
As a Religious Science minister, I am certain that it is possible to recover from any illness. The course of any illness will go the way of the individual’s prevailing belief system. Therefore, the most important thing is to keep my belief system as light and bright as possible.
I know that it is God that heals and God is present everywhere. While I pay attention to my present body condition, I do not worry about the past or future. God lives in the NOW and I do my best to live there as well.
My recovery plan depends on my spiritual practice and Western medicine. I realize Western medicine is not the only way to recover, and it may not be the best plan for everyone, but it suits me.
I believe the best path for anyone to follow is the path he or she believes in most deeply. I also believe you should be persistent and compliant after you decide what path you will choose to follow. Jumping around and trying to use Chinese teas, Indian yoga, magic numbers, Irish whiskey and Western chiropractors is probably not the best way to cure a sore toe or anything else.
Years ago, I discovered that I am a believer in Western medicine. I believe if you are going to use doctors, then you should do what the doctor tells you. My responsibility is to select the best doctors I can and do what I’m told.
Even though I am the patient and need to be compliant, I never forget that the doctor is there to serve me and I have a right to ask questions and get answers. It is never a good sign when I feel ignored or patronized. I have, on occasion, changed doctors or therapists because I didn’t think we were a good team.
My job is to ask questions when I don’t understand and to cooperate. My doctor’s job is to explain and not to patronize me. If it isn’t working, I have a right to change doctors or ask for a second opinion.
I sometimes hear people complain about their doctor. As we talk, I often find these people don’t question their doctors and don’t follow directions. What good is getting the prescription for an ailment and not taking it? Instead of thinking of themselves as part of the team, they seem to see themselves as victims. Assertiveness training is needed everywhere, even in the doctor’s office.
Speaking of assertiveness training – I do believe in following the doctor’s orders unless they say there is no hope. Never let anyone tell you that your prognosis is hopeless! You are a spiritual being and you are more than your disease – whether it is measles or bubonic plague.
I think of myself as a healthy person and from the beginning of this adventure with my back paralysis, I have tried to be positive about my recovery. I am so grateful for all the help from Religious Science practitioners. I consulted them over and over again. Right now, I have a daily prayer partner whose help I treasure.
I pay attention to my recovery efforts and I follow my plan but I do not make it the main issue in my life anymore than I can help. I have kept as busy with church work as I can because it is good for me to think about something besides myself.
I have continued counseling others, continued teaching and just gave a workshop with my friend Sharon Bagley. I write my blog about other things than my health. I’m helping others with their books. I’m writing the final draft of Spiritual Practice, a book I started last year.
So that is my program for recovery. I am very determined and never think of giving up. I comply with the medical advice. I pray daily for recovery and ask others to pray for me as well. I take good care of my diet and exercise. I keep cheerful and help others when I can. Most of all – I remember that I am more than a diagnosis – I am alive and well and living my life NOW.
Do I agree with this program?
How do I behave if I have a health issue?
What is my relationship to my doctors like?