Some Life Lessons to Remember as I Start a New Chapter
Welcome back to “Hidden Truths,” a column where I seek to describe and express my feelings about my diagnosis of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. This week, I originally wanted to continue the discussion about questioning everything about my diagnosis and care management, which I discussed last week. However, because I left one teaching position for another this week, I wanted to discuss some of my life mottos in the hope that it might help you to accept all that life has to offer.
As you may ascertain from my previous columns, I am generally a very positive person who loves to motivate others to be successful. I truly feel empowered and happy when someone learns and uses my reflections to better themselves. As I left my current teaching position, my students’ attitudes reminded me of why I love to do what I do.
During the final class, my co-instructors and students stopped the class to honor me with several gifts. One was a bobblehead of my likeness in a wheelchair. As strange as it may sound, this was the first time I appreciated seeing myself in a wheelchair. Although I received my diagnosis in 2008, I genuinely have not accepted it yet.
I know my body is weak, and I can’t do what I once could; however, I still have refused to get a handicap parking placard. In fact, rather than protecting my energy after I was diagnosed, I continued to walk unaided until I had a fall that broke my toes in 2013. I then began to use a cane, which later changed to a walker in 2017. I only started using a wheelchair full time in 2019, soon after my father passed away.
Overall, emotions are directly correlated to how I function, and therefore, I try to always be happy. The bobblehead and the thank-you messages I received have truly made me glad to do what I try to do: educate. We have one life, and if I am able to change the knowledge and perceptions of even a single student, I have done my job.
The students reminded me of the lessons I taught them, and they wished me luck in my future endeavors. In addition, several students commented about how I strengthened not only their knowledge base but also their interest in working with people with disabilities. They were honored to have me not just as a teacher but also as a role model.
The students reminded me of my mottos by writing them down and promising to explain my philosophies to the next class, whom sadly, I won’t be able to teach. The following are the four sayings they reiterated throughout this discussion.
Firstly, as can be learned from my first column, “You are who the other is not.” The students affirmed this by giving me a copy of one of my favorite poems and reading it aloud to both the faculty members and the students who were present. This poem, which I highly recommend, is titled “If All the Trees Were Oaks.” As you will notice, I genuinely believe that differences make each of us unique and special.
Secondly, the students reminded me of my comment “It is what it is.” This saying applies to all that we do or know. When a student asks what someone or something is, I answer, “It is what it is.” This truth has always been with me. The sooner we recognize and accept something for what it is, the sooner we can learn from it.
Thirdly, a statement that is true not only in my physical therapy profession but also in all walks of life is “Make it work.” If something isn’t working as it should, or even as we would like it to, make it work. When injured, our bodies shut down, and it is vital to make it work or risk further injuries or complications. This is the reason why passive range of motion is essential for someone if active range of motion is limited or nonexistent.
Lastly, as we understand and appreciate differences, as we recognize and define something for what it is, and as we make something work, the last lesson is about having “fun times.” This refers to enjoying all that you do. Even the most mundane and boring tasks can and should be fun. Without fun, there is no learning, and without learning, there is no growth.
All in all, the only constant is change. So change what you can, and accept what you cannot. I am very fond of the American saying, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I believe that life is not perfect for anyone; on the contrary, life is a test, and even hell is a state of mind. So, stay happy my friends.
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.