When our disability Monster appears we can often find ourselves, “Up the Creek without a Paddle: We are still in the stream and canoe, but the Disability Monster has stolen our Paddle. This is fine while the stream of our life is calm, but the stream is flowing. Where is it taking us?
Disability Monsters can be sneaky slowly robbing us of our abilities. For me this was my initial experience. Over the many years between when my glaucoma was diagnosed and when I finally had to make changes, it slowly stole my peripheral vision. For this reason it made me legally blind before I knew it.
Then my Disability Monster got serious. I took a medication for another illness. An Illness that if I had not been cured might be now threatening my life. As I started the medication a cloud descended over my world. I found myself looking into a foggy world. It was my choice to risk it being permanent. I already had to learn to live as a blind man. Fortunately, I am “high functioning” and my disability Monster has left me able to do much as before.
Disability Monsters do not always choose times when we can focus only on them. We need to do other things in life. Often the Disability Monster strikes by making it impossible to work. Yet, we have to find a way to pay our bills. Families may need us to be there for them. They may not be able to meet our new needs. . Marriages end when one partner is forced to seek what a new mate can provide. That leaves us “High and Dry, without that Paddle” or person.
We all know that the stream of life has rapids as well as calm stretches. In those calm times we can dip our hands in the water and maneuver the canoe. When the rapids come we need a good paddle. Many such rapids lie in our stream of life. New bosses and coworkers, illness in the family, our kids moving out and many other events serve as rapids in our stream of life. We know the stream’s course. We do not know how rough they will be. We do know we will need that paddle. How will we get safely through those rapids?
Realizing that Rapids lie ahead we panic
The rapids in our life’s stream have upset others. We see others try to negotiate these rapids and some have to swim for their lives! Without our trusted paddle how can we stay afloat?
When we have a “Life Partner” we are not alone in that canoe. Let’s hope their paddle is good. We will need to be sure that we are ready for the next rapid. We need to adjust so the stronger paddler and best paddle is in the stern. Changing positions in a canoe is tricky. Most do the over –under method. Literally one person passes under the other as they move from front to back and back to front. It is easy to tip the canoe and swamp it. Can the former “bread winner” stay home and the homemaker find our bread? I took up the challenge of washing dishes and doing the laundry. However, my relationship with the kids had suffered over the years. Teenagers need to be able to rely upon their parents. They are learning to paddle their canoes and negotiate the rapids of adolescence.
How else might we prepare for our next rapid? Few people have experiences with persons with disabilities. As a physician I had cared for a few blind persons. I had seen some people with white canes. However, I had not really KNOWN them. They have struggles unique to their disability.
At least those with physical disabilities are obviously challenged. . My white cane tells people why I can’t read signs. What about a person who is depressed, or has heart disease, or dementia? How can we see the whole person?
What has been your experience when a Disability Monster steals your paddle, or the paddle of others?
In future blogs I will explore this more and then explore ways to keep our canoes afloat and moving with new paddles. If you know anyone who might like to share their journey or just join us, tell them about this blog.
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave
Author of the forthcoming book, “Recipes for Lemonade (thriving through Disability): Dr. Dave’s Personal Recipe”