Sunday, 15 February 2015

Keeping the Machine Running: My Therapists!

Hi everyone! I thought it was about time to do another post! I’m going to do something a bit different this time. 

In living life with a disability, we get support from many people. They make living life a little easier. They work behind the scenes, making sure our bodies stay healthy, and as mobile as possible. I am referring to our therapists. I want to talk about my therapists, and how they have helped me through the years. 

About four years ago, I discovered the wonderful sport of sit skiing. While I loved the feeling of zooming down the hill at light speed, doing as many daring jumps as possible, what I didn’t love was the effect it had on my body. As I flew down the hill, my head would bobble around uncontrollably, especially when the snow was hard and bumpy. After doing one too many high speed bumps and jumps, my neck had finally had enough. I woke up the next morning feeling like my head was resting on a metal spike… Ouch! I tried to treat it on my own, with heat and rest, but by the end of the day it became apparent that I needed help. I had been to the Chiropractor before, but had been in good shape for quite some time, so I stopped going for about a year. I decided to try a different Chiropractor in town, and after hearing some reviews, I chose Paul Attalla. Meeting a new therapist always makes me very nervous, wondering how they would react and treat me. Meeting my physical needs is kind of a monumental task, and tends to make people nervous… When Paul entered the room, I knew I was going to like him. He’s the bubbly, smiley kind of person I get along with. He did seem a bit nervous at first, which put me on edge a little. He was very gentle, a little too gentle I thought, but that’s something I’m used to. People tend to think I’m fragile because of my physical appearance. What I did really appreciate is that Paul didn’t treat me as just a “customer”. I immediately felt that he actually cared about my physical health, and that he wanted me to improve so I didn’t have to keep seeing him. He even went over my appointment time to be sure he was thorough. I went home with mixed feelings on the experience, but with that glimmer of hope, I decided to stick it out. I thought that maybe he just needed to get to know me first, and then he’d figure out that I am an independent thinker, and am able to speak for myself. The next time I went in, Paul seemed more relaxed, and he looked to me to answer his questions, and not my Mom. Each time I went, the more it improved. I’ve been seeing Paul on and off for three years, and without a doubt, he is the best therapist I have ever had. I can also say that besides prayer, he played a huge part in helping me survive the difficult high school years. He has seen me at my worst, literally in tears, and has helped me be my best. Whenever I feel upset or anxious over my physical condition, I feel that he genuinely cares and is concerned. I always laugh thinking of my first appointment. He went from being too gentle, to saying, “Grace, this will hurt, but I’m doing what I do for everyone else.” Currently, I have been going through the worst physical issues I have ever been through, but with Paul’s help, I am on the road to recovery. I am so thankful that God has brought Paul into my life, and I pray that God will bless him as much as he has blessed me! You are the absolute best Paul! What you do has had such an impact on my life, and I think you should know that! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!!!

I love my work with FIRE: Fernie Adaptive, but sometimes it takes its toll on my body as well. I can only use my right arm to do daily activities, as well as writing the many emails I must write for FIRE. When the program planning began in September, I became more involved, as I had finished school and could devote more time to it. After writing literally hundreds of emails, which is what it takes to plan for a new season, my arm decided it was most inconveniently going to tire out… Every time I went to write, my arm would go completely limp. It would also tingle, especially in my fingers. In January, I unfortunately re-injured my neck, and had to see Paul again after about five months. When I described these symptoms, and had a melt down with tears, he immediately suggested I see my doctor. I don’t really like doctors, and haven’t had an appointment for five years, but this one was pretty painless. I was diagnosed with tendonitis in my shoulder and elbow, and carpal tunnel in my wrist. I was then sent to a Physiotherapist. The old nervousness kicked in, meeting another therapist, but Paul suggested one he thought would work well with me, which made me feel better. Shawn is similar to Paul, in that he is very smiley and fun. He welcomed me with a warm smile, and made me feel at ease. When we sat down, I immediately told him that despite what people think, I will not fall to pieces when touched. Whatever he had to do to make me improve, even if it would leave me sore, I wanted him to do. I was very impressed with how he acted around me, and how he worked with me like he would his other patients. In fact, my first treatment lasted two hours, because Shawn was being thorough. It’s been a journey for both of us, as we are both learning about my body, and how it responds to treatment. We’ve made plans, found out quickly that it won’t work, and adjusted accordingly. We learned that my body is very strange, to say the least, and often leaves us puzzled... (By the way, I’m not supposed to be typing or using my arm right now, so don’t tell Shawn… Shhhh…) I can easily see my relationship with Shawn turning out like my relationship with Paul, and am very thankful to have Shawn in my life. 

I feel so blessed that God has brought these two people into my life, and I know that He has a plan in all of this. I know that I will never forget the wonderful support of my therapists, Paul and Sean! For all that you do, you are not forgotten. You are amazing! Thank you!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Don't give me money!

Hi everyone!

Something interesting happened to me today, and as I was expressing my feelings on it to my Mother, she smiled and said, "You should write in your blog about it!" And so I shall!

Today I spent the day with my best friend, Kate, for her 20th birthday. By the way, in February it will be our 9th "Friendiversary"! I can't believe we've known each other that long without killing each other... We should get a trophy or something...

Anyways, we went to Boston Pizza for lunch, as we HAD to get our signature Tropical Chicken Pizza. While we were enjoying our meal, an older man walked up to me, handed me $20 and said, "I think you are a brave woman." I've been in these situations before, and yet I'm still not entirely sure how to react. This happened to me in the grocery store once, and I ended up arguing with the guy, telling him that I was thankful, but I wanted him to take his money. In this instance, I decided not to argue, as the man was already half way out the door, so I said thank you very much. I sat there, staring at the money in front of me, wondering how I should feel about it. I never know how to feel about this certain issue. However, as I thought about it during lunch and then on the way home, these two things came to mind.

I always feel horrible about people giving me money. Some people might think it's awesome, in fact most of my friends thought that when I was young, but it almost makes me feel ashamed. I think it's odd, giving someone money because they think they are brave. I think that just the compliment would have been enough. Now don't misunderstand me, I am very grateful to those people, and I pray that God will bless them. But I always think, what is it about me that makes people want to do that? It certainly isn't just because I smile a lot, and like to laugh. I think it's my wheelchair, or the way I look, which might cause them to want to "satisfy their conscience". This is probably what makes me the most upset. I do not want to be pitied. I don't need to be pitied. My physical appearance is probably my worst enemy, because it causes me to be misunderstood and judged. I just want everyone to treat me like a human being. We are all flesh and blood, so why can't we all treat each other the same? If you receive a gift, and you judge it only by how it's wrapped, and never open it, how will you ever find out what's on the inside? People are the same way. How will you ever find out what a wonderful gift they really are, if you can't get past the outside wrapping? It's a shame. And yes, I have restrictions, but so does everyone else. We all have things that hold us back in life, or cause life to be difficult. I wish that people could look past those restrictions, and see how wonderful life really is. It's not about how hard it is, it's not about the nasty blows that it has dealt, it's about being thankful to even be living. It may be hard here, but we're here aren't we? Shouldn't we consider every breath we take as a blessing? I'm going on a rant here... I don't want people assuming that because I'm disabled, I am financially unable to support myself. I would rather have people put that money to good use, and give it to someone who needs it. By the way, I ended up putting the money up for grabs, as I didn't feel right in taking it. Some people will and have disagreed with me, but unless you step into my shoes, or socks... you won't be able to understand.

I also don't like being called brave. Again, I was thankful that he said it, but that's not what I am. I am not brave, by the definition of the word, because I manage to get out of bed in the morning, and remember my own name. I am not brave because I decide to have a good attitude towards life, and not lie in bed all day thinking about how terrible my life is. I am simply making the right decisions. Do you know what I consider brave? Someone giving their life for someone else. In fact, the dictionary defines brave as "ready to face danger or pain." Am I brave? Uh no... I can't even get my ears pierced without crying... I would have preferred it if this man would have said that I was joyful, or that he enjoyed seeing me smile, or something more appropriate. I am not extraordinary, because I live with a disability. I don't deserve any awards, and I should not be considered brave. I do what everyone else does: I live.

Now I know that a lot of you will disagree with the two points I made, but as I said, once you step into my shoes, then you can tell me I'm wrong. I still don't know how I'll deal with this situation in the future, but I sincerely hope that people will put more thought into it before they do it.