June 15, 2020
“Let people see your struggles and don’t ever fake it.” ~ Rich Mullins
After the stroke, one of the accommodations we made was to put a bar on the edge of the bed for me to be able to pull myself up. Last weekend we were in the mountains staying at a friend’s lake house. The stairs to the master bedroom were too much for me to handle, mainly because there was no rail for the descent. So Judy and the kids slept upstairs, and I stayed downstairs. After a physically challenging day I closed my eyes and slept well.
I tend to wake up earlier than the rest of the family. The thought of a quiet morning sipping coffee with the lake in view sounded beautiful. When I awoke, I immediately realized I had a problem. How am I supposed to get out of bed? My solution was to throw my good leg up in the air and rock myself into a sitting position. Like many of my other flawed ideas, this one sounded reasonable. It took me three tries, but in the end, I found myself on the edge of the bed. What I didn’t count on was that the springs created a downward slide. I fell to the ground.
I titled my blog “Seeing Differently” after my eyesight improved to the point that I do not need glasses for distance. I did not realize how relevant that title would be. I do see things quite differently than I did 22 months ago. I perceive things now I had never considered before, such as how high a curb is, the side of a rail on a staircase, the height of a video screen for someone who uses a wheelchair, and plenty more.
The idiom “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” is a reminder to practice empathy. In my case, maybe I should say “walk 1034 steps (that would be a very good day) in my shoes.” A non-disabled person cannot fully comprehend what it’s like to face such obstacles. It isn’t easy to find a frame of reference when you are not living it out. This past weekend, I challenged my son Josh and son-in-law Josh (yes, you read that correctly) to lie on the floor and try to get up using only one hand and one leg. The results were entertaining for me to watch and enlightening for them as they struggled. They both walked away with a greater understanding of the things I face every day.
I decided to list tasks that are either very difficult or impossible to accomplish when one side of your body doesn’t respond. Please note this is not meant to make you feel bad for me, but rather to help you understand what being disabled feels like. I challenge you to try one or two of these:
Cutting up food
Trimming my fingernails
Walking on the beach
Climb a ladder (that would be disastrous!)
It is frustrating. I am beyond getting angry at God or lamenting what has happened. The damage to my brain is real. I’ve realized that I may never be healed, but that is okay. God is still good. I have felt his presence with me throughout. I just have to look back and see the tracks in the sand.
I am learning to see differently. My prayer is for you to see differently too.