I remember back in the early to midnineties I was taking a shower and I noticed some numbness in my right leg. Additionally, I had always been plagued with leg cramps, an occurance that is usually associated with adolescence, often called "growing pains." However, my leg cramps continued to bother me for many years past adolescence.
As is human nature, I really never gave it much thought except for the usual complaining that one would casually mention to others.
Little did I know that these were the first signs of a disease that would eventually lead to loss of both of my legs. As time wore on, I began to have trouble walking distances, this was something I could not understand.
It took many years for my blood disorder to progress to the point of bloodclots. Perhaps five years had passed before I experienced my first bloodclot, that was the beginning of the end for my poor legs.
I recall a time in the mideighties, I was selected and served on a jury. The case presented to us jurors was a woman in her late eighties who had fallen in a restaurant, claiming the fall had caused her to lose her hearing. Much of the testimony that was presented was by medical professionals. It was determined the woman suffered from precpicuous, a medical term describing the gradual loss of hearing due to old age. I remember a doctor stating with respect to hearing loss, most people do not notice their hearing loss until fifty percent of their hearing is gone.
Such was the case with my gradual difficulty in walking distances. It is with great trepidation that I bring to light the feelings of fear I experienced when in December 2001 I was admitted to Cook County Hospital, which incidentally was the last year of operation for that one hundred year old decrepit hospital.
As I was lying on a gurnee I looked up at the ceiling with old paint hanging in sheets, about to fall, that I began to cry. I wondered how my life had deteriorated to the point where I was in such a situation and in such a place.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have foretold what lie ahead for me in the upcoming decade. A decade of never ending surgeries, recoveries, loss of income and a general downward spiral.
Have I gotten your attention? I hope so because this is how I will start the book I plan to write.
The idea of writing a book about overcoming adversity, has never left me. I feel this blog has given me the confidence I need and has helped me develop the skills necessary to put down on paper my life experiences in a cohesive and comprehensive manner.
As I have explained previously in other blog entries, this book which may end up being called, "Overcoming Adversity" is a book written to and for the everyday man or woman who find their lives embroiled in seemingly overwhelming circumstances.
What can we as individuals do for ourselves to remain optimistic and positive while facing serious ostensibly insurmountable odds?
How do we face medical challenges head on?
Where do we find strength, courage and perseverance?
For me it has been a journey of introspection, going deep within myself and pulling forth a strength that I believe everyone has within themselves. I have done this not even realizing I had that kind of strength to begin with. The inner strength I speak of, for me is God, you may prefer to call it inner spirit, divine knowledge, an innate wherewithal or whatever you chose to call it. Most importantly is the acknowledgement of a inner supply of will or determination available to us simply by seeking it out. The essence of the Bible scripture that states, "Seek and ye shall find." illustrates my point exactly.
It is a matter of believing in yourself and wanting to maintain quality, dignity, self-repect and grace in your life. I have never allowed myself to be resolved to a life less than what is actually possible in my circumstances.
As we know I am still on my journey of relearning to walk, which is key to my happiness and survival. My path has been a rocky one to say the least and there are certainly moments of discouragement and sadness.
I am constantly monitoring my mental state, paying particular attention to how I speak and think to myself about my life. Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time but it is up to us to not allow negativity to get a grasp on us. We will continue to seek happiness and fulfillment if we keep negativity, in all it's forms, at bay.
Paying attention to what we say or think to ourselves has a large impact on how we feel and what we do. Recognizing negativity in all of it's forms, either overt or the most insidious type of negativity that seems to rear it's ugly head at every opportunity, for no good reason, is paramount.
Happiness coupled with positivity are merely different states of mind. We can learn to control our thought patterns and be alert to negative thoughts as they emerge.
One of the ways that has been most beneficial to me is to immediately change my thoughts of helplesness or hopelessness to thoughts of appreciation of all the good things in my life. By focussing on family, friends, pets, your home, your hobbies or the passions you have in your life, will redirect your energy flow in positive constructive directions.
Sometimes I wonder do I have what or it takes to write a book that will be uplifting and beneficial to other people? Can I put into words how I have managed to maintain a level of happiness and fulfillment in spite of the dramatic and life changing loss of both of my legs?
I believe I am getting there or perhaps I have already arrived. What are your feelings?