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.
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.
Since having to leave work because of my health, I’ve had nothing but time on my hands. And when I have all kinds of time, I have all kinds of thoughts. Lately the main one running through my head is ‘who the heck am I now?’
But here's where you might think I'm losing it; It all started with a dream. I don't remember dreams well, including this one, but I woke up the next morning feeling as though it'd be worth checking out becoming a SD myself. Up until that point in time, I never once had this thought.
I’ve had so many wonderful experiences and have learned so much these past years that I could never even remember most of it all. It’s been an amazing ride. The folks who live on or near the streets have taught me so much about life, love, gratitude, community, and God. And the people I’ve worked alongside over the years, my colleagues/teammates, have been so kind, generous, educational and supportive to me I wouldn’t know where to begin to say thanks.
I’m really looking forward to the next stage of this crazy ride I'm on. I'm moving into a transitional, supportive apartment while my house gets renovated. It looks like I'll be there for the summer. It’s meant to act as a bit of a rehearsal for moving home.
But the reason for my blog is to talk about my last week of spiritual direction training. It’s been a wonderful 2-year journey. I have not been able to travel to Niagara Falls for the whole training week like I have done previously, but I have been able to take in the lectures and my small group gatherings via Skype.
So it’s here. The day when I’ve transitioned into a power-chair has finally arrived. And quite honestly, it hasn’t had the emotional impact I had expected. I actually feel quite good about it, which I did not see coming whatsoever.
My new friend in California, a Salvation Army officer, texted me a question a while back. It was “what is your favorite colour?” I said blue not knowing what would come of it. She then proceeded to knit me a shawl and mailed it to me with a card. Though I’ve never had a shawl, I was deeply touched by it and so have decided to rock it:)
So yesterday morning at 8am, Holy Monday, I had the distinct privilege of going to Toronto Western Hospital for my first ever Botox treatment. That’s right, you heard me; Botox!
MS, Stephen Hawking, crack cocaine, homelessness and other random thoughts. Day 51 of being in hospital
On Thursday this past week I was feeling kinda sorry for myself yet again. According to my 3 hour neuro-psych evaluation my brain in many areas is better than average. Also, when I get my heart rate and blood pressure checked about 400 times per day (give or take) it's kinda textbook. So my brain and heart are in good shape. But my body sucks. And on Thursday that got to me.
My body took a major hit in January. That's why I'm here. I'm not dying (well I guess we're all dying but you know what I mean). If you saw me you may think he's the same guy that looks like he always did. But the reality is, I can no longer do things that I could much more easily do just few months back. I'm getting used to yet another new MS normal. So the whole point of my rehab is to make this new normal as good as possible for not just me but Erinn and Cate too.
As a tiny glimpse into my daily routine, each morning a nurse needs to come to my room, give me my meds, check my blood pressure and heart rate and temperature, get me cleaned up, get me dressed, put a harness underneath me, and then I get lifted using a power lift into my chair.