Watching Mom, Part 2
In that moment, at the airport, Mom set the tone for how we would deal with MS – for then and always. I don’t believe she meant we would cure it. She was an Occupational Therapist [OT], and for years had taught patients how to adjust and live their best lives after a loss; to see what they could do or learn to do with the abilities they had left. She was also passionate about having them knock the “t” off “I can’t”. I was her next patient.
Mom’s rehab was not a “piece of cake”. For example: “Out of bed by 8am. Naps were allowed, but no sleeping until noon.” I could sleep 10 or more hours and still be tired. “Eat lots of fresh fruits, nuts and seeds.” And, “Find something to do each day. No sitting around and watching TV all day.” Whatever she said, I did it. Surprisingly, the more I did, the more I could do.
It was only recently that I understood that, by getting me up and active, Mom was following a principle of health. Those who are weakened by disease or injury should have something light and useful to do each day – suited to their condition. This helps to occupy their thoughts, time, and attention on something other than themselves.
Dad’s version of rehab was having me go to his awning shop. I was shaky and clumsy, and my speech was slurred, but he had me work at the front desk. I was embarrassed, but answered the phones and helped customers. And little by little those symptoms went away. Then my younger brother got involved. He ‘instructed me’ to ride 5 miles a day on his stationary bike and bounce on his mini trampoline. I’d biked a lot before MS. But with poor balance it wasn’t easy. Dad and Mom combined efforts to strengthen my leg muscles by walking me on the beach. They each held one of my hands, like I was a toddler, and walked me along the shore. When I think of those times my heart overflows with love for all my family.
After being home about two months, I noticed my condition had improved. Was it from the Prednisone [steroids], or my family’s love, support, and rehab? I believe the steroids helped my body. But my family helped my body, mind, and spirit. Then Mom gave me a surprise.
One day she casually said, “It’s time for you to go back.” Go back where I asked her? “To your life”, she said. Terrified of the thought, I told her, I can’t. She said, “Yes you can. You’re ready.” I couldn’t argue with Mom’s motherly and professional evaluation of my condition.
I returned to Illinois and my job. For a while it was hard. I tried working part-time, but had to reduce it to casual. I don’t know how I made it financially – except for God’s goodness. Eventually I got stronger and was able to do full-time, and even 12 hour shifts!
Those were very dark days for me. But I will never forget how my family and dear friends did all that they could to help me be strong and get better.
Life changes. Adjust. Compensate [can’t do that, but can do this]. And try to live your best life.
Attitude matters. Thoughts and feelings affect our health and ability to heal. We will feel the way we think. So, choose to think and speak positively – to yourself and to others.
Support systems are crucial. If yours is not positive, seek out people or groups who are, and can help you on your journey with this disease [like from church or MS support groups].
Feed the body so it can make more energy and do its repair, healing, and detox work better. Best foods? More fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables [also 100% whole grains and beans]. Or fresh juices. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, other elements that feed the cells. My favorites: carrot, celery, and beet juice or pineapple and strawberry.
If needed, ask your doctor for a referral to:
A Social Worker – to learn about financial options while you’re unable to work. I didn’t know of any for a long time and struggled.
Physical Therapy [PT,] – to learn how to move and use mobility devices. For over 10 years I used a cane the wrong way. My body was thrown out of alignment. When I got PT, I learned how to use a cane and walker.
Occupational Therapy – to help you live with your present abilities. And to evaluate your home for any accessibility improvements.
Well, that’s all for now. Any questions? Let me know if there anything you want to hear more about? See you next week.
Copyright © 2013 Regina Spence