Birthday Reflections on the Lessons I’ve Learned in the Last Year

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by Adeel Rizvi |

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Welcome back to “Hidden Truths,” a column that seeks to offer an honest look at living with a neuromuscular disease. I not only like to present my own experiences, but also to challenge others to examine themselves and think outside the box. I believe that by questioning and searching for answers together, we can reach solutions much faster.

While every question has an answer, not everyone knows everything. However, someone knows a little about something. Through our experiences, we learn to answer and to adapt to whatever the world throws at us. I feel very fortunate to have this outlet to share, to learn, and to grow with you.

Believe it or not, today’s column marks the start of my sixth month of sharing myself with all of you. Additionally, this week brings with it another important day in my life: my birthday, which was on Monday. So, naturally, I wanted to go back and examine my journey this past year to share what I have learned to help you on your journey.

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Looking back

As another year comes to a close for me, I remember what I call the “three Cs” I’ve faced: challenges, choices, and changes. But first and foremost, I am thankful to have survived another year to be able to share my knowledge and experiences with my students and all of you. Though each of us has a different path, we are all on the same journey together.

While life and death are beyond our control, last year brought with it the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. While everyone is affected by the pandemic, those who are immunocompromised are at the greatest risk. When COVID-19 vaccines first came out, several of my friends and family quickly jumped on board and got vaccinated. However, I was reluctant, as I had heard stories of people receiving the vaccine and reporting adverse side effects.

It was not until I read an online post from someone with a more debilitating condition who received the vaccine that I genuinely considered getting vaccinated. Consequently, not only did I get the vaccine, but because of my influence on my students and others, I was also able to convince several others to get vaccinated, too. Please know that I am not offering medical advice, but rather anecdotal evidence, so please speak with your healthcare provider if you are considering the vaccine.

The reason I mention this story is to remind you that every action we do is powerful, whether we think it is or not. Each of us, whether knowingly or unknowingly, has someone who looks up to us. I am not fortunate enough to be a parent, but my students and peers are the next best thing. As I have previously discussed, knowledge is a power that should be shared with others.

Each of us is presented with challenges in our daily lives. Some are simple, while others are a bit more complex. For example, getting dressed or even brushing one’s teeth can be a challenge, depending on the person or the circumstances. Regardless, the choices we make create and define the changes that occur in our lives.

Controlling my emotions

With that said, it becomes an important reminder to think before you act. As a physical therapist with a neuromuscular disorder, I can confidently state that action is based on a combination of the mind, body, and spirit. While the mind delineates movement, the body and spirit set the limits.

Emotions are powerful, often even more than thought. However, action based on feelings alone can lead to making improper choices. Because limb-girdle muscular dystrophy affects the nervous system, it directly affects emotions and muscular responses. It was only after I truly recognized the interconnectedness of these systems that I began to control my emotions.

As I previously described, life is life. While it is what it is, we must do all that we can to make it work. Therefore, I have made the conscious decision to be happy. By actively choosing to be happy, I can mitigate the effects of letting my emotions get the best of me. Please do not get me wrong, there are good and bad days, but at least I have more control.

‘Be like water’

In my last column, I described something new I learned regarding the glass not being half full or half empty, but rather the wrong size. After posting it, I was reminded of a quote by Bruce Lee for folks to “Be like water.” If we combine these philosophies to describe how to live a productive and meaningful life, we must be willing to change, and be the change we seek to be.

I will end by reminding you to be you. You are who the other is not, and that is the beauty of life. So, stay tuned for the next column, where we will continue our talk about choices we make and decision fatigue.


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.


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