Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rising to Challenge

There are times in everyone's lives when a change happens that is so great that life is defined in terms of then and now. These events mark time in a different way and change our perspective. The birth of child, marriage, divorce, death. These things change the landscape of our lives. They always come with a wave of change and adjustment molding and shaping the people we become.

Tuesday November 21, 2006 was one such day in my life. It started out like the days before with me driving my kids to school and going into work but it didn't take long to know that something life changing was underway. On that day went home sick at the urging of my boss and never returned. The astounding thing for me was that although something wasn't right, it didn't seem horribly wrong either. I didn't feel sick, or different than normal I was "just" losing the ability to use my left hand and leg. That is how it happened. I truely didn't feel strikingly different even as I progressed towards paralysis all the way along the left side of my body.

The next day I was admitted to hospital and to make a long story short I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In the days that followed I continued to lose abilities that were innate. Within six days I was not able to sit, feed myself, dress myself, or move independently. My diagnosis was not clear and I was worried that my life at age 33 was nearing its conclusion. Visits from friends and family were celebrated like never before and my close family became my caregivers.

I knew that this monumental shift had a profound impact on those who love me. My mother and father stepped in to care for my kids who were in grades 9 and 6. The kids wanted so desperately to have any bit of normalcy restored. My mother took over most of daily care needs, maintaining my home, laundry, cooking, personal care etc. My kids, father and countless others stepped in to help as well. This was a time that called for everyone to give more then they had to give.

People stepped forward to help in ways I couldn't even have imagined possible. A Great-Aunt undertook a fundraising campaign generating funds to help offset expenses that were quickly piling up. My co workers did the same. People that I didn't even know banded together to ensure my kids had a Christmas like years previous. A local high school drew up designs, bought materials and installed a wheelchair ramp on my home so that I could return home for the holidays. A local team of high school aged boys brought gifts, food and money that came from their own contributions. So many people offered me such kindness I worried that I would be unable to remember them all to thank them due to my ever increasing symptoms of crushing fatigue, cognitive problems, and immobility.

I am forever indebted to the countless people who stepped forward with gifts of all kinds. Their kindness and selflessness were like a welcome blanket amid a terrible storm. In all this, of paramount concern to me were my children. The shake up in their lives caused in this stroke of time would forever mark their lives. I worked with Occupational Therapists in the hospital who coached me to ask my kids to take on responsibilities that they had never before had to do at a time when their entire worlds were upside down. Ensuring they had supports was foremost in my mind, but that did not change the fact that as life went on the things that needed to be done would have to be shared amongst them.

Our family could not even comprehend the kindness and generosity of people, many of whom were complete strangers who came forward restoring our hope, and allowing us to move forward. These acts of kindness, each and everyone was a reminder that each day is a gift and together we can rise to meet any challenge before us.


Nicole said...

And you know what else I find? Sometimes the "weaker" I am the more it tends to bring out the best in others. I'm so glad you've found this outlet!

Kim said...

Thank you Nicole. I am humbled and pleased to have this forum to share my thoughts.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou