Monday, May 19, 2014
Seven years ago today, I sat in my sparsely decorated office at the VA Outpatient Clinic at 251 Causeway Street poised to leave behind my 25 year social work career having spent almost 20 of them with the VA serving those who served. I brought home my books, photos, inspirational sayings, my lamp, my awards and left the bare minimum I would need until I officially "cleared out" on Friday 5/25/07.
From my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility" now available on Amazon --
This is the conversation Dr. Darren Rosenberg had with me during my initial assessment, October 2006, at Spaulding Rehab's International Rehab Center for Polio:
“I’m going to make a lot of suggestions for you. It’s up to you whether or not you follow my recommendations. I know this is a lot for you to digest but let’s begin. I am working on the assumption that we are dealing with post polio syndrome since the symptoms you are exhibiting are classic for post polio syndrome.”
“You need to quit your job. You’re eligible for social security disability. The stress of your work is exacerbating the symptoms. I am going to refer you to brace clinic, our speech and language therapist who will do a swallow assessment and based on her findings we’ll see if you require an endoscopy. I highly recommend a sleep study because it is very common for post polio patients to experience sleep apnea. The chronic fatigue can be a result of sleep apnea. You need to see our physical therapist who will not only get you started on some gentle exercises but talk with you about nutrition. Our occupational therapist is going to work with you on energy conservation and while you remain at work, what adaptive equipment you need to diminish the stress on your body. You’ve already had an EMG…..”
I began planning my exit strategy in February of 2007 after the diagnosis of post polio syndrome was made in December.
While I was beginning to feel a little better with outpatient rehab and writing poetry as my pen became my divining rod for healing, I faced a tremendous amount of uncertainty with my health and my finances.
As I sat in my office, was I frightened? I was terrified but I had to choose faith over fear.
It's been 7 years of ups and downs and everything in between.
I saw this on Facebook this morning:
I hit a lot of sour notes on this journey and I greet them all with loving kindness and compassion.
I have met many, many people on this journey many of whom would be my greatest teachers for the toughest lessons I needed to learn in order to heal. I found the strength to say goodbye to those I needed to say goodbye to.
I found the courage to be who I really am, as I am and embrace those who love and support me and challenge me to my best and highest self.
I sit here smiling. I feel better today at 60 years old than I have in my entire life!
I am a 2009 Boston Marathon finisher, the author of 5 books of inspirational poetry and my memoir. I am writing a 6th book of inspirational poetry, "Journey Well" which will bring together the best poems from my trilogy of poetry books and my recent poetic creations.
I am back on the roads once again seeing what this body can do training for the Tufts 10K in October.
Friday I am blessed that Marathon Sports Brookline is hosting my Book Release Party for my memoir. It's going to be More Than a Book Release Party ...
And all of this happened and is happening because I had the courage and faith to take that first step on 5/25/2007 ....
What first step are you going to take today to step confidently in the direction of your dreams?