Posted in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Courage, Gastroparesis, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Rare Diseases, Strength

Broken

Yes but no one whats a broken crayon

I saw this quote on Pinterest a few days ago and as a person living with a rare and several chronic illnesses, it made me stop and think about life.

When you buy a box of crayons, you expect unbroken crayons with those perfect little crayon points. You don’t expect a box full of pieces of crayons. As a matter of fact, most people throw away broken crayons. I hadn’t really thought about it until I saw the quote, but broken crayons do still color, so why do they get thrown away?

Living with multiple chronic illnesses, I can relate to the broken crayon that still colors. Due to illnesses beyond my control, my body is “broken.” I have pain and weakness in my legs and feet and am unable to walk. My stomach doesn’t empty, which makes eating difficult. It also adds to my weakness and causes me to be tired. Sometimes, I feel like people treat me like the broken crayon. Maybe I’ve got it all wrong, but it seems to me as though I get left out of things and I’m sure it’s because people think I’m “not able” or “don’t feel like it.” Maybe they are afraid to ask out of fear of hurting me.

Sometimes I feel like I, like the crayon, have been thrown out because I’m broken. However, like the crayon is still able to color, I still have purpose and am useful. I may not be able to run marathons or win pie eating contests, but there are lots of things I can do and am good at. My ears work fine and I’m a good listener. While I may be physically weak, I’m spiritually strong and am willing to be a shoulder for others to lean on. I may spend most of my days in bed because I simply do not have enough energy to get up, but I can talk on the phone and send emails. I can also inspire others going though similar situations by blogging about my experiences. When my carpal tunnel and neck pain cooperate, I can knit, paint, and do crafts. I may not currently be physically capable of working, but I still have purpose.

Being disabled doesn’t make me useless, it just points my life in a different direction and gives me a new purpose.  Small chunks of broken crayon are often disposed of because they are difficult to color with. However, I have melted broken crayons before and used cardboard and plastic molds to form them into new crayons. Instead of putting them in the trash, I made new, often larger, multi-colored crayons. Just like crayons broken into little pieces can make coloring a little more difficult, CRPS and gastroparesis have made my life more difficult. Many of the activities I did before CRPS (hiking, playing volleyball, etc.) are no longer possible. With gastroparesis, I can no longer eat many of the foods I once enjoyed. Just like I took the broken pieces of crayons, melted them. and molded them onto new crayons with new purpose, I’ve had to take my broken life and put the pieces together in a new way to find purpose. I’ve had to find ways to adapt. I’ve learned new things, found new hobbies, and adapted to my new life. I miss my old life before CRPS and gastroparesis, when things seemed easier and life seemed less complicated, but I’ve come to accept my new life and continually look for things I can do to make life better, both for me and others.

If you are struggling with a new medical diagnosis or changing abilities because your chronic illness is getting progressively worse, I encourage you to keep fighting. Don’t give up. As chronic illness warriors, we must stand tall and stick together. Talk to others fighting the same fight. There’s strength in numbers. You may feel broken, but know that broken crayons still color. No matter how broken your life may seem, you are very important. You are loved. Your life still has purpose.

 

Here are a few more broken quotes I came across that I liked..

King David committed adultery & murder - he sinned big, but repented bigger - he is a model of what real repentance looks like - he wrote Psalm 51 as an agonized cry to God for forgiveness - God not only forgave him but called David "a man after His own heart" Like & Repin thx. Follow Noelito Flow instagram http://www.instagram.com/noelitoflow

Beautifully Broken Quotes | Broken clouds pour rain, Broken soil sets as fields, Broken crop yield ...

 

Posted in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Faith, Gastroparesis, Invisible Illnesses, Life Lessons, My Life, Normalcy, Physically Disabled, Rare Diseases

I’M NOT BROKEN!

Some days, all I want to do is scream out for the whole world to hear, “I’m not broken and I don’t need you to fix me!” I’ve looked my wheelchair over from top to bottom and I’ve checked myself from head to toe for signs indicating or requesting that every person who sees me out of my house stop me and act like it’s their personal mission to heal me. Before I go on, I would like to say, I don’t have a problem with prayer. I’m a Christian and I believe in the power of prayer. However I’m sick of people preying on the disabled.

I was at Kroger the other day, minding my own business, trying to quickly pick up some low-fat, low-fiber, protein packed food. The foods I rely on for protein are not available for purchase anywhere in my small town. I have to travel at least 45 minutes to the nearest Kroger or Wal-Mart, just to buy tofu. I asked about tofu one day at a local grocery store and had to explain what it as because the store employees didn’t even know what it was.

So, I was at Kroger. I’d just passed through the fresh produce section and entered the area where the soy products, such as tofu, were located. An older looking gentleman stopped me and asked a simple question, “What are you doing in that?” He was referring to my wheelchair. I wanted to scream, but I was taught as a child to respect my elders and to be kind to everyone. I thought to myself, “Isn’t is obvious?” Given he was a complete stranger, he received the short sweet version…I have complex regional pain syndrome and it causes pain and weakness in my leg. The man went on to tell me he had a back surgery and it had saved his life. Then he went on to tell me everything I needed to do to get better. The only part of his plan that stuck with me was “massage.” Just the thought of someone touching my leg makes me hurt. I thanked him for his advice, although I don’t really think I was thankful, and went on shopping, thinking I’d probably never see this man again. I was wrong. During that very same shopping trip, every time he passed the aisle I was shopping in he stopped to talk. Although I know it’s a rude behavior, I’ve become pretty good at ignoring people like that. When I pretended to be so interested in rice noodles that I didn’t hear him, he started talking to my mom. He asked her if she was with me. At one point, he passed the end of the aisle I was shopping also in and commented, “She’s not been healed yet.” I suppose he was expecting a Kroger miracle.

On the way home, mom and I discussed what had happened to us at Kroger. I kept asking, why do people ask “What a person is doing in a wheelchair?” To me, it’s obvious that the person has mobility issues and is using the wheelchair to get from point A to point B. For some reason, although wheelchairs, walkers, and canes come in all different sizes, people think they are daily living aids for old people, not the young. I jokingly told mom that I should have told that man I was just sitting in that wheelchair because I thought wheelchairs were sexy and I wanted to see how many creepy old men I could attract. Of course I’ll probably never really say that in public, because I would be too embarrassed, but come on, what did he think I was using a wheelchair for. They aren’t cheap and you don’t just choose to use one because it’s the latest fashion statement. Maybe I was using that wheelchair to try to get a suntan inside the Kroger store or to walk my invisible dog or to imagine I was deep in the ocean in a submarine. I’ve always heard there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but sometimes I feel like giving sarcastically stupid answers.

Like I said, I am a Christian. I do believe God has healing powers, but I don’t believe in picking out only the obviously disabled to pray for or prey on. If you see me in the store and want to pray for me, go for it. No one is going to stop you. You don’t have to know my name or what’s wrong with me in order to pray.  When you pray for that girl in the wheelchair, God is all-knowing and He is going to know who you are praying for. God wants us to pray for the sick and injured, but He also wants us to pray for the healthy. If your going to pray for me, I ask that you also pray for yourself and every other shopper in the store. Everyone needs prayer.

I haven’t yelled at any one yet, but I can’t make any promises not to yell in the future. When you see someone in a wheelchair, please accept that we are just like you. We have feelings just like you. We came to the store to shop, just like you. Just because we are rolling around on wheels instead of walking on two legs doesn’t really make us any different. Many of us have been in a wheelchair for years and we are tired of the million and one people who are always offering advice on what we should be doing different. I realize you may think you are helping by offering the solution that worked for your dear aunt’s coworker’s bother’s friend or by praying for healing, but drawing attention to every disabled person you meet in life is just that, drawing attention to our differences. Our bodies may work or look a little different from the majority of the population, but deep inside we are just the same as everyone else. We are trying to live our lives to the fullest. Our physical appearance and abilities may be different, but we wish to be treated with dignity and respect the same as anyone else. If you aren’t going to stop everyone that looks healthy and able-bodied, why stop me?

 

Posted in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Gastroparesis, Invisible Illnesses, Life Lessons, Rare Diseases

Just Chillin’

For those of us living with chronic health issues, life can get a bit overwhelming at times. Doctor appointments, treatments, etc. can be stressful for anyone, but when you figure in the uncertainty of chronic illnesses, things can get out of control pretty quickly. We quickly learn to look for ways to make life a little easier. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m willing to try anything if there’s a possibility it might help.

With my Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, pain medications didn’t control the pain. They just made me sleep 18-20 hours a day. When I was awake, I was tired and didn’t function well. I basically didn’t even know I was alive. I just knew I was in pain. I didn’t like the way the meds made me feel, so I refused to take them. I told my doctors we needed to find another form of treatment. Like most people with complex chronic illnesses, I’ve tried many things. I’ve researched CRPS and read books on how our bodies process pain. I’ve done relaxation, psychology visits, physical therapy, graded motor imagery, mirror box therapy, injections, blocks, etc. The list of things I’ve tried seems endless. As I’ve mentioned before, my doctor implanted a nuerostimulator in 2004 to help block pain signals. I think everyone living with CRPS would agree that it’s very painful. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The nuerostimulator helps make the pain more tolerable, but I still cannot walk due to pain and weakness. It’s not a fix, but I’ll accept every little bit of improvement I can get.

Gastroparesis has been just as challenging. My doctor diagnosed me with idiopathic gastroparesis. Idiopathic means they don’t know what caused it. I imagine that diagnosis must be just as frustrating for the doctor as it is for the patient. It’s very difficult to fix something, when you don’t know what needs to be fixed. They do know that my gastric emptying scan shows that my stomach isn’t emptying my food into my small intestines. They also know that a biopsy of my stomach wall shows a lower than average number of nerve cells. However, they don’t know what is causing those two things. We tried medicine and that didn’t help. The trial gastric neurostimulator raised my stomach’s ability to empty from 30 percent to around seventy percent, so I agreed to have a permanent nuerostimulator implanted. Again, this nuerostimulator isn’t a fix either, but it is an improvement. I’ve also had to make some major changes to my diet. They say fat and fiber slow down digestion and since my stomach is already too slow, they have encouraged me to stay away from fatty and high-fiber foods. It has taken some adjusting to learn how to make tofu and other vegetarian protein packed meat substitutes taste good, but it’s better than being sick all the time.

Somewhere along the way, I started hearing about restorative yoga, essential oils, and aroma therapy. I live in a small town where these alternative treatments are not readily available, so I did some internet research. I thought I might find a restorative yoga class online that I could do at home while watching a video. I’ve still not found a restorative yoga video that fits my specific needs, but I did find some yoga positions that help ease Product Detailssome of my pain. I also found something on Amazon called Pinga, which is advertised as a 30-day pain relief program for treating and defeating complex regional pain syndrome. The entire program costs less than ten dollars and claims that it may free a person of chronic pain in as little as thirty days. I must admit, I was pretty skeptical, but it sounded simple and I was willing to give it a try. The book comes in paperback and digital format. The digital book was cheaper and allowed me to start reading instantly, so I downloaded the book from Amazon here. While the book contains scripts of the four recordings (introduction, session one, session two, session three), I felt I would benefit from having the MP3 recordings to guide me. The digital book cost almost six dollars and each of the four recordings was less than a dollar each. So, you are probably wondering  “What is Pinga and how does it work?” The book basically explains that you must do any of the three sessions, three times a day. You can do each of the three sessions one time each day, one session three times each day, or any combination of the three. The book explains that the most important part is to make sure you do three session each day for at least thirty days. Each session lasts from ten to fifteen minutes, so it doesn’t take a lot of time. In each session, a gentle relaxing voice leads you through focused breathing, relaxation techniques, and guided thinking/imagery.

 

As skeptical as I was, I wanted to complete the program and see if it worked. If you are still reading this post, I’m sure you are wondering, “Did it work?” My answer would have to be yes and no. I know that doesn’t seem like a fair answer, but it’s the one I have to give. After thirty days, I’m not pain-free. The program didn’t heal me. However, I’ve continued to use it periodically since purchasing it in 2014 and I’ve discovered that on days that I’m having more severe flare-ups, I can turn on a session of Pinga and relax. It doesn’t make my pain go away, but it does help me relax, which relieves the tension the pain is causing in my body and helps ease the pain a little. On nights when I am having trouble sleeping because of my complex regional pain syndrome and/or gastroparesis, I find myself turning a session of Pinga pain relief on, putting it on repeat, and letting it play all night long.

Will Pinga help everyone relax and rest better? Absolutely not. The guided imagery requires a person to be able to turn loose of their mind and let their imagination take them wherever the session leads it.  Just like everyone doesn’t get the same relief from medications and other treatments, meditation and guided imagery doesn’t work for everyone either. Like I said, it didn’t defeat my CRPS. Some days it doesn’t help at all, but on the days it does help, it’s worth it.

I share all of these things that I’ve tried as a way to encourage others not to give up. We get our hopes up, thinking a treatment might work and then if the treatments fails, we feel defeated. Every treatment option doesn’t work for every person. Our bodies are all unique and what works for me might not work for you. I encourage you to do your homework. Regardless of what chronic illness you might be fighting against, research the available treatments and don’t be afraid to try even the most simple things. No matter how silly something might seem, you won’t know if it works for you until you’ve tried it. A person can only fail, if he/she fails to try. Stand tall, hold your head high, and show your illness that you are a warrior and you aren’t giving up or backing down.

Posted in #MyMightyMonth, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Gastroparesis, Invisible Illnesses, My Life, Rare Diseases

Day 6 of 30

January 7

Personal Prompt: Write a letter to your illness or condition.

Dear CRPS and Gastroparesis:

Challenge accepted!

CRPS / RSD Awareness  also   Crohns and Colitis Awareness♥ my son has Crohns disease, anyone ever wanna chat Im Misa Blessed Lopez-Coleman on facebookYou may feel like you’ve won a few battles, but with the help of my God, my family, my church friends, and my doctors, I’m going to win the war.

You may have robbed me of many nights of sleep, but I didn’t give up.  Even with your many symptoms leading to sleepless night and tiredness, I’ve pressed onward and upward reaching toward my goal.  Your tiring attributes may make life more challenging, but I’m ready to fight back.

You may feel like you’ve stacked the deck against me by bringing pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, but I’m here to let you know that it is going to take more than that to tear me down.  These symptoms that you so love may slow me down, but they will not stop me from living life and loving it.

CRPSYou’ve taken my ability to walk, but I just see that as another challenge.  I know with God all things are possible and  I will walk again someday.  Whether it’s here, leaping for joy, or later strolling down streets of gold, I’m going to walk.  I also realize that without me and the many others putting up with you, you would not exist.  We may not need you, but you need us.  When we win this battle you lose everything.

Shout out to all of the grave chronic pain/illness warriors out there ❤❤ <a class="pintag" href="/explore/Inspiration/" title="#Inspiration explore Pinterest">#Inspiration</a> <a class="pintag searchlink" data-query="%23ChronicIllnessQuotes" data-type="hashtag" href="/search/?q=%23ChronicIllnessQuotes&rs=hashtag" rel="nofollow" title="#ChronicIllnessQuotes search Pinterest">#ChronicIllnessQuotes</a>If anything, you’ve shown me how strong I truly am.  You may have taken away my ability to eat and walk; you may have given me pain, nausea, and vomiting, but you also showed me that when life becomes difficult, there’s nothing that my God and I cannot overcome.  You’ve taken a lot from me, but I’ve learned so much about myself because of you.

You have inspired me.  I’m sure you are surprised to hear that, but because of you I’m reaching out and trying to help myself and others.  I hope you aren’t disappointed that I refuse to be defeated.

As I said… challenge accepted… I’m not giving up…the battle is on!

With lots of love and gentle hugs,

A CRPS and Gastroparesis Warrior

 

 

 

Note: These images came from Pinterest.  If you own an image and want it removed, leave me a message and I’ll remove it. If you own the image and are willing to allow me to continue to use it, send me a message and I’ll update this post to give you credit.

I chose not to do the creative prompt today.  It was writing a five sentence story using ten random words someone else gave you.  It was an easy prompt, I just chose not to do it. Felt relief for 3 days after getting a nerve block... I cried when I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I felt relief. Endometriosis and Poly cystic ovarian syndrome are no joke!

I just received an email with next weeks topics.  I hope you are enjoying my journey.  I know I am.  I think this journey is intended for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, but I’m not on any of those, so I’ll just continue to use this blog.

 

Posted in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Courage, Life Lessons, My Life, Rare Diseases, Thankfulness

Lost and Found

As you my followers know, I keep asking myself why I am sharing my story.  I’ve been blogging since September and haven’t even told anyone who knows me about my blog.  I was surprised when complete strangers started following my blog.   I found myself questioning whether or not this was a good idea.  I’ve been scared and tempted to stop writing, but there is an inner voice within me that won’t let me stop.  It tells me to keep going.

I realized today what it is all about.  Today, through a video on the Mighty, I found a fellow warrior.  This young lady has CRPS, writes for The Mighty, and also has a WordPress blog #SIMPLYSABRINA.  I share this because her writing titled “2017: Acceptance” put what I’ve been feeling in words I couldn’t come up with.  Sharing my story on this blog has helped me accept my circumstances and has set me free.  Writing this blog has allowed me to open up and be me.  I’m learning to accept my life as it is and embrace my differences.  I’m learning that I don’t have to meet the expectations of others.  There may not be a cure for CRPS and gastroparesis, but through sharing my story, I’m finding emotional healing.  I feel free to be me.

Thanks Sabrina for helping this lost writer find her way!  Supporting each other…that’s what it’s all about.

Posted in #MyMightyMonth, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Family, Gastroparesis, Invisible Illnesses, Rare Diseases, Uncategorized

Day 2

January 3

Personal prompt: Congratulations!  You just won an award!  Pick an award, and write an acceptance speech.

When I was born, rumor has it that I was given brains, but no veins.  Throughout the years I’ve won several awards for academic achievement, but none for which I was expected to write an acceptance speech.  However there’s one award I received in the past for which I would like to write an acceptance speech.

As a high school student, I had to have a lot of tests and procedures to diagnose and treat may  CRPS/ RSD.  Many of these tests and treatments required IV access for intravenous fluids and medicines.  As I already stated, rumor has it I was born with brains, but no veins.  My veins are small and hard to get an IV into.  With tiny veins that easily blow, they rarely get it on the first stick.  I’ve been stuck as many as ten times, just to get a single IV access.  One time, multiple doctor’s were sticking me at the same time because my IV needing to be started was causing them to run behind schedule.  It’s bad enough that lab technicians seem to dread me coming through the door.  Anytime I go in for a procedure, I usually come away with hands and arms covered in bandits and bruises.  I was stuck so many times for lab work and IVs, that one of my high school friends made me an award congratulating me for being a human pincushion.  It’s that award that I’m going to write an acceptance speech for.

pincushionLadies and gentleman, I would like to thank you for this prestigious award.  It is with great honor that I accept this award on behalf of the many people across the globe living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, gastroparesis, and other diseases that make it difficult to get access to veins for lab work and IVs. Having lived with these two poorly understood and invisible illnesses for several years, I realize it is difficult for those working in the medical field to find our small and often dehydrated veins. As painful as it may be at times for both you and us, we know the blood work and IV access is needed, so we try to sit patiently as you take turns coming in to stick us.  We would like to thank those of you who know your limits and choose to let someone with more experience do the job.  We also wish to thank those who use the three strike and your out policy.  If you haven’t been successful at hitting a vein in three tries, you probably aren’t going to.  Again, I’m honored to be receiving this award. Thanks for choosing me to receive the “Human Pincushion” award.

Creative prompt: Describe your dream house.  (Where is it located?  Who lives there with you?  How is it decorated.)

First, I would like to mention that this question brings back lots of childhood memories.  As a child, I spent many hours rearranging furniture in Barbie’s house,  all while imagining how my house would look when I grew up.  Now that I’m an adult, I frequently rearrange my furniture. My nieces now enjoy watching “Barbie, Life in the Dream House” on Netflix.

My dream house would be located on a farm in an area where the temperature ranged from seventy to eighty degrees Fahrenheit  year round.  I would choose this location because cold and hot temperatures make my pain worse.  While changes in weather seem to affect my pain level, I would want their to be both sunny days and rainy days.  In order for the farm to be profitable, we would need both types of weather.

I would want the house to be big enough to accommodate my parents, siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews.  I would want the house to be broken up like apartments so that each family had their own living quarters.  However I would want a common area where everyone could gather to eat, play games, watch movies, etc.

I would want each person’s personal space to be decorated to match their individual style and interests.  My bedroom would be decorated in greens and blues with a rustic or outdoors theme.  I would have a craft area with shelves and bins to neatly organize and store all my painting, craft, and knitting supplies.

Since we are dreaming, this house would be fully equipped to stay fit and entertain visitors.  There would be a state of the art gym and an indoor heated pool.  There would be a home theater set up like a small movie theater. I would also have the kitchen staffed with a chef and cooks who were well-trained and prepared healthy meals that accommodated the digestive restrictions and allergies of everyone in the household.

This house would be fully handicapped accessible.  Every entrance to the  house would be accessible by wheelchair and all doors would be wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs of all sizes.  Each room would be big enough for the persons belongings and still have plenty of room to move around.  There would be multiple handicapped accessible restrooms.  You, my reader, may think I’m over doing it with All the rooms being handicapped accessible or you may think I’m nosy or selfish and want access to everyone’s room.  My reason for making everyone’s space accessible is because I realize diseases and accidents do not discriminate.  Anyone can be up walking and seeming perfectly healthy and the next minute be deathly ill and unable to get around.  I’ve had several family members have ramps built into their houses when they needed a way to get in because an accident or injury left them unable to climb steps.  Some of these relatives had to sleep in their living rooms because all their bedrooms are on the second floor of their house.  We don’t know what we are going to face in life, so my dream house would be prepared, just in case.

Posted in College, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Invisible Illnesses, My Life, Rare Diseases, Thankfulness

Normalcy – Thanks for seeing beyond my disability

Normalcy is defined by Webster as “the state or fact of being normal.” After being diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome also known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, my life was far from normal.  At sixteen, while my classmates were getting learner permits and driver licenses, I was being diagnosed with a rare chronic disease and getting lumbar nerve blocks and epidurals.  While my classmates were anticipating their senior trip, I was preparing to have surgery.  When everyone else was worrying about not making it to class on time because of the long walk across campus, I was attempting it on crutches.

Then I got a Pride mobility scooter.  Although many classmates thought it was cool and wanted to play on it, life still wasn’t normal.  While others were parking on ramps because it was the closest place to the dorm door to park while unloading their belongings, I sat in the cold snow and rain because the only ramp to the dorm had a car parked on it.  On one occasion a campus police officer was a gentleman and waited to hold the door open as I exited the building.  When I rolled down the front deck, I came around the corner and there on the ramp set… yes he had just held the door for me and now I would to have to sit ten minutes waiting for him to come back and move his police cruiser off the ramp.  When I would call campus security to complain about a car on a ramp, they would come out, run the tags, call the owner of the car to tell them it needed to be moved, and wait with me until the person came to move the car.  Sometimes the officer would have to call more than once.  When the person would finally come to move their car, the officers usually laughed and joked with the person and warned them not to park there in the future, but since tickets were never written, no one seemed to take the warning seriously. A few times, more than one officer reported and I heard them talking between them about not being able to write a ticket because they didn’t have a ticket book or that the spot wasn’t painted to indicate it was a handicapped ramp. I wondered why an officer would report to the scene of an illegally parked car without a ticket book and why wait for the driver to come move the car if you are going to make jokes and make the ordeal seem insignificant.  It all seemed a little strange to me.

You would think going to class would be normal for all students, but my professors couldn’t even allow me to be normal student. I’ll never forget the first day of math class when the professor said with excitement, “I’ve never had a handicapped student before!” How was I supposed to respond to that? “Oh, I became disabled just so an idiot like yourself could feel rewarded having taught a handicapped student.” No, I didn’t really say that.  Instead I just smiled and overlooked it that time. After I decided to major in education, I had to take a class on including students with differences in the classroom without drawing attention to them.  I learned a lot in that class. The very first day, the professor pointed out that we all have lots of differences and that everyone has a disability of some sort…some are just more visible than others.  However,  for every disability, regardless of what it was, the professor used my name for the student in her example.  I can assure you I didn’t just imagine this.  When the professor wasn’t in the classroom, classmates commented that they had noticed the professor always used my name in her examples.  I must admit, that while I found my math professor’s comment slightly offensive, I was highly offended by the professor that was supposed to be teaching me how to include all students in class without drawing attention to their differences.  She certainly did not make me feel equal to the other students in class.

Then came the day that I was normal for a brief moment.  After ten years, I don’t remember her name, but I’ll never forget what she did.  I lived on the bottom floor of my dorm in a handicapped accessible room.  This classmate lived somewhere in the same building on a higher floor.  We often “walked” together to our science class.  Our class was on the fourth floor of the science building and as we approached the door one day, she looked over and asked if I was going to take the stairs or the elevator. I looked over at her thinking she was just being funny and realized she was asking that question seriously.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.   I felt as though my eyes and ears were deceiving me. There I sat on my three-wheeled Pride mobility scooter and I was being asked if I was going to take the stairs.  She was able to look past my disability, overlook the fact that I was using a mobility scooter, and ask me the same question she probably asked other classmates all the time.  Thankfully, she had a sense of humor because  I replied, “I think I’ll take the steps today.”  Then I patted the front of my scooter and asked, as seriously as I could, “How do you think this will do on the steps?”  She said, “I’m so sorry.  I forgot!”  I explained no apology was necessary and told her how good it felt to be treated with kindness and seen as a person not a person with a disability.  We both laughed as we entered the building and climbed on the elevator.  I may not remember her name, but I’ll never forget the day she saw and treated me as an equal…the same way she would see/ treat any other classmate.  She was able to overlook my physical disability/differences.  For that brief, unexpected moment of normalcy I will always be grateful!