Friday, November 30, 2012

What Lies Ahead?

It was two years ago at this time I was cruising the Caribbean with my friend Shawn, his sister, Lisa and her husband Dan. I remember before I went on that trip I had a little trepidation because of the loss of my right leg.

Even though I was going to the gym, driving around, and a lot of other things, I remember being a little apprehensive about the whole cruise ship thing. My sister Rhonda said, "Are you crazy? This is a trip of a lifetime, if you don't go, I will." I also sought and received a lot of positive words from my friend Ruthie, who has been on several cruises.

Obviously I went on the 10 day trip and I had a great time. It was one of, if not the only time in my life, I didn't know what day of the week it was, what time of day it was, I didn't know the date and I didn't care, that's relaxation.

I have written in past blog posts about my friend Shawn. Shawn was about a year and a half into his cancer diagnosis and he was doing reasonably well, all things considered. I remember, as I had anticipated, we had a couple of heart to heart conversations. One conversation in particular has really stayed with me. Suffice it to say the upshot of our talk ended up with Shawn crying, telling me he did not want to die.

Little did I know that this would be the last vacation I ever took when I still had one natural leg. Shortly after we returned from our trip, about two weeks, I got the final blow that ended up with my losing my left leg. Many times I had thought about what would happen to me if I lost the one remaining natural leg I had left (excuse the pun). I had no idea the loss of this second leg was so imminent.

Recently I found out about the death of a person who at one time in my life, I considered to be a very good and close friend. Out of respect for her and her family she shall remain nameless in this post. This woman was someone who prided herself on the care she took of her physical body. She was a vegetarian all of her life, she excercised religiously, she never smoked, took drugs or was ever overweight.

This past October she died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 57.

Now I know you might be thinking why is he writing about all of these things? What is the connection?

My point is who would have known two years ago at this time, I would lose two friends to cancer and lose my second leg?

I am glad we are not able to see into the future, knowing in advance what lay ahead for us. I think life is designed that way because it is nature's way of letting us continue down our respective paths unobstructed by the sometimes cruel twists of fate that lay in our future.

By the same token, we also do not know the joys that lay ahead either. I have heard people say I wish I would have known that was going to happen in advance, so that I could have prevented this or that.

I think nature or God has it correct, we should not know of the pain or of the joy that lay ahead so that we try to live today for today's sake.

Do you think I would have enjoyed my 10 day cruise knowing that two weeks after I returned I was going to lose my second leg? Do you think my two friends who both succumbed to cancer would have fought as hard as they both did if they knew for sure it was a hopeless endevour? I don't think so.

A lot of my blog posts have the same underlying themes but are expressed differently. Two of those themes are: stay in the moment and appreciate what you have while you have it. I think those themes keep reoccurring because they are truths and things always revert back to the truth.

You never know what lies around the bend, and I for one am glad not knowing. How about you?

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Monday, November 19, 2012


With Thanksgiving Day just a couple of days from now, I thought I would express some of my thoughts about being thankful.

I try to express my thanks for all that I have been given on a regular basis. I remember over five years ago I was praying to God that my name might be selected to receive this condo. I told God in my prayer that if I was given the opportunity to receive this home I would never take it for granted.

My prayer stated that I would thank Him/Her for this blessing each and every day. In the morning when I wheel myself into the main living area of my home, I look around and immediately thank God for my beautiful surroundings.

It is easy to get caught in a cycle of always wanting more, wanting bigger, wanting better, wanting more expensive, sometimes we need to stop, observe, and appreciate all that we already have and have been blessed to receive.

Some may wonder, given all that I have been through with the loss of both of my legs, what do I have to be thankful for? Actually the list is too long to even begin to write here.

As I have written before, my friend Michelle McKinney Hammond said to me in the hospital, after the loss of my second leg, "Through great losses come great blessings." I have never forgotten her precious words. What Michelle said is true, the loss I have suffered physically has afforded me the time to reflect upon my situation, and I have chosen to see the good where one might find only hardship and dispair.

The personal strength I found within myself was certainly God sent and I am ever so grateful for having found it.

I am not saying that my life is not difficult, because it is, however, dwelling on what is so terrible does not lend itself to leading a happy and productive life.

The people who are currently in my life, and some who are no longer in my life, have each demonstrated their love and compassion for me throughout the entire ordeal of losing my legs, and most continue to do so.

How can I not be thankful for such wonderful family and friends? There are so many other possible scenarios that could have been so much worse for me than where I find myself today, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

I am not hungry, I am not homeless, and I am not alone. I could have chosen to live a life of regrets, filled my days with wondering what could or should have been, driving myself crazy with feelings of guilt or living life in the past, however, I chose not to live that way.

We as individuals owe God and ourselves praise and thanksgiving for all that we now have and all that we will ever have.

As the holiday season is upon us, let us renew our appreciation for life itself and all of the opportunities we have to seek and find happiness and be thankful for our ability to do so.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone today and every day.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finding the Humor

I remember the first time I walked into Cheetah Gym after losing my right leg. I went to the gym before my prosthetic leg had even been constructed, using a walker and my one natural leg.

Another gym patron, named Whitley, saw me and said, presumably as a joke, "it looks like you lost something." If looks could kill, he would be dead now, I shot him a look of anger, disbelief and disgust. I then proceeded to tell him I did not think this whole thing was a joking matter. I continued to say in a very hostile manner, even if I wanted to hear jokes about my loss it would not be from the likes of someone like him, practically a stranger to me and obviously not a friend.

Well that occurred over four years ago and I am now able to see some of the humor in my situation. Finding humor and laughing about your predicament can really help to alleviate some of the stress you may feel and some of the uneasiness people feel when confronted with the disabled.

Just recently, I was talking to my sister, Rhonda, and she was about to tell me something really exciting so she said, "Are you sitting down?" We both laughed because a great deal of the time I am seated in my wheelchair.

In another conversation she and I were having, I was telling her about a friend of mine who is about to undergo a second knee  replacement. Rhonda said, "I sure hope that doesn't happen to me." I responded that I knew it would never ever have to worry about knee replacements, again we both laughed about the irony of the situation.

My friend Ruthie and I have also had some humorous moments regarding my leg losses. One time she was here visiting, shortly after the loss of my first leg, when she overheard a phone conversation I was having, when for whatever reason, I said to the person I was talking to, "but I don't have a leg to stand on." Ruthie started laughing and I asked why are you laughing? She said think about what you just said.

Just the other day I was telling Ruthie about the loss of yet another friend of mine to cancer. I was explaining that I have a photograph of three people, two of whom have died of cancer, leaving only me. She said," I don't mean to be disrespectful and excuse the pun but are you the last man standing?" Forgive me if it sounds a little sick to find humor is such a scenario but the way she phrased it was funny, and we both laughed.

Lets  face it when I am standing on those short legs which are completely disproportionate to my long torso and arms, it is funny looking, no two ways about it.

What has changed for me has been my ability to go with the flow, not get caught up in the seriousness of my condition, but rather see the humor in some of the things that are said or happen.

One of my closest friends, Steve, has said to me on numerous occasions, regarding someone who I had been having a rocky romantic relationship, "How hard is it to walk on eggshells without any legs?"

It goes on and on but you get my drift. I am  now able to see humor, where there once was self-consciousness and embarrassment, I can laugh about it most of the time.

If I had to choose between laughing and crying about my unfortunate leg losses, I am glad I chose laughter.

After all they say, "Laughter is the best medicine." and besides I have saved a fortune on shoes and socks.

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