Tired of Being Disabled

I am always stressing about attitude in dealing with the challenges of having a disability. I have even gone so far as to say that attitude is more important in dealing with a disability than ability, and I really believe it is. But what happens when your attitude deteriorates? It doesn’t happen to me often, but it does happen and it most likely happens to you also! I like to compare my situation to that of a juggler who can keep just so many objects in the air at any one time. It doesn’t matter whether the objects are the same or different, just add one more and everything comes tumbling down.

Well, I have too many objects in the air right now, and as a result my attitude has crashed. The last week of November into early December I started getting severe headaches followed by mental confusion. Saturday and Sunday December 3rd and 4th I went to the local hospital but on Monday I was transported to Upstate University Medical Center in Syracuse, New York. I had suffered a “chronic” subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain). I was scared, confused and very aware how helpless I was. I thought about all the limitations that my situation places on me. When I’m in this frame of mind, it’s hard to simply consider them as challenges. I begin to wonder if I really have quality-of-life, and when I’m like this seriously question if my life is worth it. I’m going to die someday anyway, so why postpone the inevitable. Giving up would be easy. It’s going on day after day that’s tough. If I stop and think about this for a while, I remember how hard I fought the first six months after my accident doing whatever I had to in order to survive; however, that was at age 55, and now I’m 68. When I get in this mindset it’s hard to put the limitations aside.

The last ten years of my teaching career was spent with a class of high school students who had emotional or behavioral problems. I often found my- self doing more counseling than teaching. Most of them thought life had given them a lousy deal, and they were right. At times, I feel the same way, so I remind myself of what I told them. The Gambler, sung by Kenny Rodgers was current at that time, so we would talk about its meaning; life deals you a hand of cards and you must play them. You can wish all you want but the cards aren’t going to change much. The gambler knows this so he advises:

“If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.
You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run….

Now, every gambler knows the secret to survivin’
is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.”
So according to this old sage, it’s not the hand you’ve been dealt that’s important but rather how you play it that determines the outcome

“Cause every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser,
and the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”

What is the gambler trying to tell the listener? I believe it’s that life is like playing a card game and how we handle life is all up to us. Our success is more influenced by our attitude then the cards we’ve been dealt.

“Happy” New Year? The choice is ours!

4 responses to “Tired of Being Disabled

  1. Thank You Rich for sharing your wisdom and courage with us. You were there for me in the beginning and I still treasure your advice and thoughts. A Very Merry Christmas to you and Marge. May God Bless You and Keep You and make His Face to Shine Upon you.

    Richard Wyatt

  2. I appreciate your honesty in sharing your thoughts with us. Similar to the discussion blog on the Chris Reeve site prompted by the passing of Chistine, and the question about the loss of Danny Cox, talking about quality of life, satisfaction with life, weariness of spirit and soul, physical exhaustion should be more open and should not be feared. There is no way any of us can imagine how difficult it is to be in another’s body, or how we would handle the physical challenges they have been given. but maybe If there was more open discussion of it, more dialogue, so that you, Rich, could honestly express your weariness, and we could let you know how much we wished for you that you were relieved.of pain, discomfort, aggravation, trials and tribulations. After al, your plate is pretty damned full already and it seems you could just push yourself away from the table and leave some for someone else to put on theirs.

    Apparently God thinks you are capable of much greater testing than you do. I personally want you to know that your notes have been a great help to me in understanding my mothe’s situation and it has given me confidence in talking with her. I have talked to her very directly from the beginning of er SCI that I understand she would have preferred death compared to her life now had she known he outcome. She knows I won’t directly help her drive her chair over the Golden Gate Bridge or give her an overdose of meds, but she does know that I will make sure her.wishes are followed if she ends up in the ER, so that no extraordinary measures are used. But there’s still much to discuss, does she want treatment for pneumonia, for DVT, for blood clots (in her brain)?

    I know lots of things about your life suck, and it sure doesn’t seem right at all that you have to deal with a brain clot on top of the paralysis and all that involves. Some people just seem to get so much stuff thrown at them and itdoesn’t make sense, and you seem to be the one catching it now.

    I’m glad you’re still with us for awhile more to share your perspective. I expect you to take a little more space in you blog to bitch about what irritates you and remind me that when I’m having a bad day because of a three day migraine,I’ve really got little to gripe about.

    I pray you have a year ahead that is one with little testing.

  3. Deborah,

    Thanks for your comments and encouragement.

  4. Hi RIch,

    You continue to be an incredible inspiration for Dan, and a role model in so many ways. We are going to get up to see you soon together, so Marge and I can also have a chat. You are wrestling with some of the biggest questions and challenges in life, and doing it in a public forum that allows others to benefit from your often painful process. I do understand this process, although more from Marge’s position, which is also full of complexities and much contemplation, no doubt.

    I’ve become a much more spiritual, contemplative person since Dan’s diagnosis in 2003. Not is a traditional Christian tradition per se, but more of a deeply personal exploratory (what’s possible, what do I sense/know) kind of way. I think many of us “know” much more that we “speak” or even ackowledge. This last setback has triggered a beautiful post on the nature of life’s challenges, and playing the best game possible with the hand you are dealt. This is incredible wisdom, and you are doing it, even on the days when you want to give up (but can’t quite – b/c your spirit isn’t ready to fold ’em – clearly).

    You already had great wisdom to share pre-accident. Now you have a heightened experience and deepened knowing of life that few ever experience – in part because we haven’t had these “wake-up” calls, and also because it’s much easier to float on top of the turbulent depths than to dive under to see what all the commotion is all about. Because of great challenges, you have been able to create a platform to share your journey, and your impact is well beyond the high school students you impacted so positively for so many years. My husband can attest to that.

    This doesn’t help much during the sucky moments in the hospital when they have blown a vein, or told you that some new possibly fatal condition seems to have invaded your body. Then, it seems, in my memory, it seems we have nothing more than pure faith and stamina upon which to rely. And sometimes letting go of consequences is the best kind of faith… Knowing that all will be well, in some form… And that it is out of our control for the moment.

    I wish you and Marge the very best today and every day. I wish you incredible life altering moments, and insights. I send you love and strength and shalom, with a hope that you receive it all unaltered.

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