Friday, February 10, 2012

Doing Most Everything!

Question: What do you think of when you see the acronym DME? 

Depending on who you are and what you face daily, DME could be a Moscow airport, Digital Motor Electronics, a chemical solvent, a Canadian brewery, or if you are like me Durable Medical Equipment. 

The term seems relatively harmless. Individually the words are actually very strong, frequently used words. But for some reason when combined, Durable Medical Equipment tends to carry a hefty punch in the gut, especially when the term is used in relation your own personal abilities. I know because I've experienced it. 

I've had home health nurses hook me up to IV's and I've walked with a cane out of need. I already know what the transition of able bodied to "needing assistance" feels like. 

But it's the public stare you get with "disability" that can test your hope, motivation, and positive outlook; it can even alter your perception of self.

I have a dear friend, who is about my age, and she also has multiple sclerosis. She is absolutely beautiful, inside and out. She has a genuine sincerity and glow about her. 

My friend used to be a dancer; however, her legs no longer perform like a dancer's. But my dear friend is still living life fully. She has kids, a husband, she's a normal mom. 

She has things to do, activities with kids and family. She's also a patient advocate speaker. This last December we travelled back from our patient advocate conference together. 

I was assisting her through the airport by pushing her two-wheeled walker and transporting her carry-on bag, while someone from airport security wheeled her to our gate in a wheelchair. 

While walking through the airport she told me to look at people as we walk through the airport. She wanted me to notice how often people stared at me specifically while pushing her walker. 

I pushed her walker as though I needed it to walk. It was simply easier to move it and her bag that way. In all reality, it appeared as though I was using the walker out of need. 

Oh dear, people really do stare... sometimes people are so transparent that there's no guessing as to what they are thinking. 

I got stares when I used a cane - but not like this. I now know the look and feel of pitiable concern - I do not like it at all. After a while I found that it had negatively affected my spirit. 

I really wondered about my ability to cope with that situation, if my level of ability were to ever require "assistance". 

I have another friend that was in an accident in his early twenties and it left him a quadriplegic. I was talking with him not too long ago.  He's been in a wheelchair now for more of his life than he's been without one. 

He's now at the point where he doesn't personally view himself as "disabled". He's married, lives a very full life. Travels for work, for pleasure and yes there are always considerations that have to be made in order to do that, but it's second nature now for him - it's normal. He said he doesn't even notice all the stares very much anymore.

It may be a hard pride hit to go from your own ability to using a DME (cane, walker, wheelchair), but recently I've really liked my new take home message of what a DME is. 

To me they're not only canes, walkers, wheelchairs, catheters, and such. They are also shoes, railings, ramps, a steady hand, and trekking poles to name a few. Even more recently, they are running shoes, cooling vests, iPod, knee brace, ice and pillow. 

All of these things are designed to get you from one location to another or to assist you achieve a desired action. To help you keep living life, in whatever capacity you can currently participate.

My DME's (left to right): cane, running shoes,  running water belt,
trekking poles, sharps container, needles, porcupine massage ball, knee brace.

After evaluating both of my friends and their circumstances as noted above, I have decided that because of my accumulated DME, I am and already have been, Doing Most Everything. 

I know that when people had a fixed gaze on me while using my cane a few years ago, and while pushing my friend's walker through the airport, that judgments were being made. 

But even if I weren't using those things, judgments were still being made. We can't escape that in life, so why let those judgments define our own beliefs and abilities? 

This is where the Imaginary Villain (the ego) seeps into our life. It is also precisely when we must commit to live life without limits.

If my time comes to live life fully in a more modified fashion, I pray that you will help me remember that I am still Doing Most Everything, just in a different way. We all need this kind encouragement. 

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