Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sharing the Journey

This blog post is dedicated to Carolyn Balnskas, Speech and Language Therapist at the Spaulding Rehab International Rehab Center for Polio

Last night I was blessed to be a guest speaker at Denise Ambrosi's class for Speech and Language Therapists. I met Denise 'by chance' at the Health and Fitness Expo last year. We were both in Spaulding Rehab's VIP suite waiting to meet Tedy Bruschi of the New England Patriots. After I shared my journey with her she invited me to speak to her class last year. When she invited me to speak to her students again, I jumped at the opportunity.

As I prepared for this year's presentation, I realized how the journey continues to unfold. I could feel the difference in myself physically, emotionally and spiritually as I prepared to share the journey. Speaking to a group of young and upcoming professionals preparing for a career in the health field requires a different talk than ones I give at Rotary Club, running clubs or other venues. I need to focus on the clinical aspects of my journey - then and now. I need to emphasize the importance of being healers and as Denise so poignantly said, "joining science with healing."

As I shared my journey, the reasons why I left the VA became crystal clear. I talk about having left to heal my life. As I reflect on how post polio had taken over my body, I realize the profound nature of the statement. I had trouble breathing and swallowing. My esophageal muscles were weak as were my diaphragm muscles. Two activities which people take for granted - eating and breathing were compromised by the effects of post polio syndrome.

Thanks to the skill and love of Carolyn, I was able to begin to connect with my body. I learned strategies to eat and drink to compensate for the weakened muscles. While sharing my journey, I recalled how I would eat in my office implementing the new strategies. Yes, there was an element of shame and embarrassment but this time in solitude enabled me to prepare to take my leap of faith. I continue to utilize the strategies Carolyn recommended and I continue to hear her voice reminding me that if I did not use the strategies, my vitamin would end up in my lungs rather than my stomach where it belonged! I wanted the students to know the profound affect they have on the lives of their patients and, if they are fully present with them bringing all of their skill, love and compassion to the table, they have the power to transform a life and help shape a miracle. As the students asked me questions, I gained perspective on my journey; they had a window into a world beyond what they see in their office or bedside with a patient. Several students came up to after I spoke to tell me how I touched their lives not only as future professionals, but with the personal challenges they were facing. We were all students and teachers, healers and healed in that wonderful space created by Denise.

My healing journey with polio and post polio syndrome is expressed through my poetry. I am launching "Set Sail for a New World:Healing a Life Through the Gift of Poetry" on the midnight hour on the Jordan Rich Show this Saturday! You can purchase your autographed copies through my website and when you do, 20% is donated to the Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts Foundation. When you click on the Pay it Forward tab, you can learn more about why I pay it forward.

You'll enter a whole new world of greeting cards which I created shortly after my diagnosis of post polio syndrome. I use my 25 years of social work experience with my gift of poetry and together we create a poem that says the words that are in your heart.

To read more about my inspirational journey, visit Be sure to visit the News and Events Page. I hope I'll have the opportunity to meet you at one of my upcoming events this summer and fall.

God bless, be well and enjoy every moment
With love,

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