Disability 101: My lessons
February 15, 2009
What have I learned as a person with a disability? That everything can be lost in a moment, no matter how carefully I plan. That even when everything is lost, there is still something left. I am still me no matter what. The most important things in life are unchanged. Fear is my biggest enemy. My attitude makes more difference than anything else in my life. Waiting for someone else to fix things is pretty useless. I really do know what to do. I am my own best health-care provider. Its critical to be informed and to make my own decisions. Its important that I educate myself about my health issues and about the ADA. That makes a difference. Things work out best when I focus on today. Worrying about tomorrow does no one any good. Complaining gets me nowhere. Even just complaining to myself gets me nowhere. Likewise, being angry gets me nowhere. Dont sweat the small stuff. Its just not that important and its not worth the energy expenditure. Walking is frequently not necessary. The key is to get out of bed. I just have to get up and start moving. The smallest steps lead to the biggest changes. Bumbling about is okay as long as I keep moving. Persistence Ive learned persistence. There is always another way to do everything. Being open to change and to doing things differently will open a new world. Bonus points for creativity. Sometimes life is hard. But I really do have enough strength and wisdom to handle it. I am stronger than I ever knew. Theres a saying that what doesnt kill me makes me stronger. Thats true. Im honed to steel at this point. Its possible to be sexy while sitting in a wheelchair.Anything is possible. The key is to begin and then to keep going. The greatest challenges are the greatest opportunities. My greatest weakness is actually my greatest strength. I know you dont believe me, but its true. I have a lot to contribute, even while Im sitting in this chair. Sometimes I need to not believe what other people tell me. I need to trust myself and believe in myself. Then I can educate others. Ive learned who my true friends are, who really cares about me, and who is just flapping their lips. Sometimes life sucks. Even so, sometimes life is amazingly wonderful.The smell of wild roses still brings me bliss. The taste of chocolate still brings me ecstasy. A really good book or a really good movie can still bring me to tears or leave me rolling in laughter. The sun shining on my face can still make my day. The view of my mountains, towering over it all, is all I really need to feel at peace.Its critically important to keep my sense of humor. Its therapeutic to be able to laugh at the ridiculous situations I sometimes find myself in. Its exceptionally therapeutic to be able to laugh with my friends. It just cant always be all that serious.Its possible to dance while sitting in a wheelchair.Patience I am learning patience … but Im not very good at that one, yet. I have plenty of opportunities for practice. What I cant figure out is how do I reconcile patience with the knowledge that everything can be lost in a moment? Isnt it important to grab what I can, while I still can? Ive learned that I can choose how I live. Even so, I can choose how I live.Sandy Lahmann, a former Frisco resident now temporarily lost on the Front Range, can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.