This painting by Jack Baumgartner portrays Jacob Wrestling the Angel from the book of Genesis. It’s a central metaphor for this blog – wrestling with life, health, urban issues, and even with God.
So, I’ve been made aware that my last blog can be read ad a bit deceiving when it pertains to me moving home. The move is still close, but not as imminent as I fear I have unintentionally suggested. I fear I've been a tad impatient and a little hasty. The finish line is definitely in sight but the very last few steps are kind of excruciating.
"Happy new year!" I hear it over and over again. And yes, I say it over and over again as well. That’s just what you say to each other I guess. But really, if happiness is the measure of whether or not the year is good, I would say that last year was a bust.
I was taking the bus downtown. I left the neighbourhood I’m currently staying at, which I do like (though it’s kind of hipster-ville which admittedly creeps me out at times:), scooted aboard a bus and headed towards one of our SallyAnn shelters. As the bus passed the very touristy Yonge Street and headed into the downtown Eastside of Toronto, we headed into ‘the hood’.
Hospital Beds and Beeping Machines (a guest piece from my daughter as to how she views life with MS)
By Cate Oxford I woke to the sound of a knock on my bedroom door. I had been in that strange realm between asleep and awake, when the world is a foggy kind of grey. I looked at the clock, it was early, too early. Too early for everything to be okay. I look to see my mom standing at the door. She opens her mouth. “Hey, sweetie. So, dad couldn’t get out of bed this morning. We had to call the hospital. I just wanted you to know before the paramedics show up.”
So I thought I’d share another slight glimpse into what a day in my life looks like. At the very beginning of each day I am completely dependent on somebody coming to me and helping me get dressed and out of bed. So if that person calls in sick or is late, I simply need to wait. I am utterly dependent on them.
AnyWho, now to day-to-day life stuff. Our lives are unbelievably full of ups and downs but this has been an unusual week full of extreme highs and lows. I won’t get into the details of either of those except to say that the lows hurt me deeply and the highs encouraged me greatly.
So my power chair has an odometer on it and it showed me that I crossed the 1000 km mark this week. For whatever reason I love that it keeps track of how far I’ve gone. I’ve gone pretty far. It’s a constant reminder that this bloody illness is not keeping me down as of yet...
It would be impossible to keep a record of all that’s happened in life, both good and bad, but this thanksgiving weekend in particular I wanted to focus on my gratitude/thankfulness. It would be easy to focus just on the deficits of life, but man I have so much to be thankful for.
Well this morning was quite a start to the day. I did my usual morning routine of the three S’s, with some help from my personal support worker of course (Well actually I didn’t shave but you know…)
For at least the past 10 years we as a family have been going to a camp to spend a week together. It has become a part of my annual rhythm of life to go there with other family friends, leave behind the day-to-day grind, enjoy being in nature, and relax. One of my favourite things to do there was to swim every afternoon in the lake. Something about floating around in lake water really does it for me (especially being able to pee guilt free in the water...) I think partially because it evens the playing field. When I’m in the water I don’t need to walk and I seem to be able to swim just fine. Like everyone else, I’m simply swimming around without the need of a mobility device.
The other day one of the people I am getting to know here at Bellwoods showed me her garden. She has been in a wheelchair for her entire life due to a disease that she was born with. She’s very smart and kind though sometimes people look down on her because they judge the disease and not the person. But I digress...
When I saw this picture for the first time, possibly a decade ago now, it pierced my heart. I just couldn’t forget it. It really spoke to me in that I felt as though it was a picture of my own story. I promised myself that I would someday tattoo that picture on my arm. Yesterday, after way too many years of thinking about it, I finally did it.
there is that big giant tree in front of me. I suppose if I knew about trees I would know what kind of tree this was. But as I gaze on it in a form of meditation, I see two things. One is a tree that is reaching to the blue sky at any cost. The other is a tree that is heavy with its burden of the leaves and branches drooping towards the ground.
It happened to be the same night that some guy in his 20s with apparently significant mental health issues took a gun and went out onto the Danforth and shot up the whole neighborhood. It was the same street that my family and I had dinner on just a few hours earlier. People lost their lives. People lost their friends. People lost their sense of safety.
One last major update is that the renovations on our home have finally kicked into high gear. Our basement is now officially demolished and we’re soon about to dig down the floor and do the underpinning so as to make our basement more liveable for me.
At Summer solstice I’m reminded that this was around the time of year when I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997. I’m ‘celebrating’ 21 years of life with this disease.