“Be proud of the person you are”
After taking a break this summer from physical therapy, I returned last week. It was so great to be back and to see my therapist, who is such a breath of fresh of air, is always positive and makes me feel good about myself even when I have a terrible day. Instead of being frustrated by my unsteady gait or settling for a simple solution, like a walker or a cane, she is constantly coming up with new ideas to improve my walking. As we did my re-evaluation, testing to see what skills I’ve maintained and what I need to work on, I mentioned that I didn’t really wear my AFOs (ankle fitted orthotics) this summer. Being made of hard plastic and fitting around my calf, the AFOs are not the most comfortable things in the world and are miserably hot during the summer months. Although they help somewhat, even my therapist admits that I do not need to wear them all the time. (thank goodness)
I fully prepared myself to hear a lecture from my therapist on the importance of the orthotics or how I can’t totally neglect them. But instead she said our goal then is to ditch the AFOs during our appointments, to focus on strengthening my ankles and practice correctly walking without the AFOs because after all, i don’t want to start depending on them. God gave me feet for a reason. I smiled and thought this is why I love my therapist and why we work so well together.
However at my appointment Thursday, it was clear that maybe taking the orthotics out of the equation might not be such a great idea. I would take one step forward and three steps back. Or step to the side instead of directly in front of me, looking like Frankenstein. Or land on the sides of my feet causing my foot to roll and lose the little bit of balance I had. It was defiantly a frustrating appointment. Having an unsteady gait will always be something I struggle with, I’ve come to accept that and embrace my disabilities but some days are harder the an others. To be honest, some days being disabled just sucks, I feel so separated from the world and like I don’t fit anywhere.
Earlier this week, I was in Baltimore visiting my friend. I know Baltimore doesn’t have the greatest reputation but it is a beautiful city, in certain areas. Looking around the city, watching all the people, and seeing them interact, I couldn’t help but think “why am I not living here?” Here I am living at home, have no life really; most of my friends are living in the city with successful careers and awesome lives. So after throwing my little pity party in my mind and comparing myself to everyone, I started to think realistically. Most of the people in cities walk everywhere. Not that I don’t like walking but between my lack of balance and my legs tiring out easily, there’s no way I would want to walk around the city. As usual my disabilities would get in the way, go figure. And quite honestly after living in Pittsburgh for a semester, ends up that I’m not a city girl. Nothing against Pittsburgh, love that city, but I prefer wide, open spaces.
Comparing myself to others is something I do way too much or wishing I had someone else’s life. For example, to not be physically disabled seems like a great idea every now and then. But something I need to remind more is that I am where I am meant to be at this moment in my life and that we all have a certain path we are supposed to take in life. If we all were alike, life would be boring but instead we live in a world with unique individuals, people with different opinions, abilities, and lifestyles that may differ from our own. Isn’t that exactly what makes life so beautiful?!
Shortly after my disappointing therapy session, I was asked to speak at an event to benefit the American Cancer Society and the governor of Maryland will be there. So maybe I don’t have the most social life or am able bodied or have a super awesome It’s easy to get . Maybe I do live at home, my mom is my best friend, the life I lead is not glamorous but because of the person I am, I’m able to share my story of surviving cancer and give hope to others.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of life, to think how terrible our life is, and wish we had someone else’s life. But if we embrace our uniqueness and take our own path instead of following someone else, we will discover our true potential.
“Be who God created you to be and you will set the world on fire”
– St. Catherine of Siena