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?
A friend called and said she liked my blog about King’s Day and she thought it was great to suggest that we pray for someone other than ourselves and our immediate concerns. I asked her what group she’d chosen to pray for and she answered, “The mentally ill – you forgot them.”
She’s right. There is much to be done for the mentally ill. Between prejudice, ignorance, shame and secrecy, to say nothing of dysfunctional laws, there is a lot improvement needed. Believe me, it is very difficult to identify the problem of mental illness and then very difficult to get effective help. It is also difficult for the loved ones of the mentally ill to help them manage their treatment. The mentally ill and their caregivers are a good group to pray for.
Generally, I have been pleased by the response to my last blog about Martin Luther King Day and the many social issues that still need to be resolved. Several people have said they would choose a group and pray for them on a regular basis. One person chose to pray for all the single mothers in this country and that is another group I left out who can use help.
Everyone who responded seemed to agree that prayer is action and that it is effective. They also seemed to be willing to pray for people they didn’t know personally. I was happy for that response because I thinks it helps us stretch our consciousness and understand that we are all One, living in a spiritiual world.
I am also pleased that everyone who responded seemed to recognize the fact that Dr. King was concerned about all the people who were less than powerful on the social scale. It is instructive that King was killed while speaking to a Union group that included blacks and whites. His last years were spent working for all poor people and against the war in Vietnam. I feel fortunate to have such informed and committed readers.
This morning, I was reading Dr. Carol Carnes’s book, The Way In and she quotes former President, Jimmy Carter who said, “Peace, like war, must be waged.”
She continues on page 136 to instruct us how to pray for others. Dr. Carol says, “There is something about seeing oneself and all people as citizens of the same universe, as the people of planet Earth, as spiritual equals and human partners, that unblocks the best of us and frees us to live on a higher level.”
When we pray for others, we need to see them as equals. We may know more about how to get along in the world than they do but we are equals in the sight of God. We need to see the people we choose to pray for as perfect, whole and complete in the eyes of God while claiming their highest and best good for them on the earthly level.
We do not pray as though we are the judges or as though we know all the answers. We simply speak to God (or Higher Power) for them and we accept the best for them. We may want to visualize them as comfortable, well fed, cared for and having peace of mind.
I have used the following prayer for someone I know who used to have trouble navigating in the world. I say, “The Light of God leads him, the Love of God surrounds and comforts him, the wisdom of God guides him on his path.” Over a period of years, this person has made tremendous strides in his life and I like to think my prayers were helpful. Since my prayers were made in love and didn’t give advice, I’m certain they were a piece of the recovery process.
Praying for another person without judgment and without trying to direct his life will be very good for you. The action of prayer works in exactly the same way that the law of attraction works in every aspect of your life. You hear it all the time, “What you give away comes back to you.” It works with money and it works with love and it works with everything else. For example, you give away a smile and a smile comes back to you.
The law of attraction works when you are praying for another person because we are all One and we are living in the Oneness of God. When you pray for peace and happiness for another person it will go to the other person in the amount and manner that he can accept. It will also come back to you.
Praying for another person must be done with a clean heart. You want to connect to God and to the people you’ve chosen to pray for with a sense of love. You cannot pray from a platform or pedestal and expect it to work. Love is the key to unlocking the creative energy of the universe. Separation slows everything down. Check your attitude before you begin. You may want to pray for yourself to open up your own heart first.
Please make sure your attitude is not “Oh, you poor dear!” See the person or persons as being the same beloved child of God that you are. Situations are different but the essence of the person is the same. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience. We are all connected in God. We are one with God and that is good news.
Can I pray for people without judgment?
Can I see God in every person?