Sunday, December 9, 2007

Life Goes On

We are so happy to introduce you to Sherry Meiners. We met Sherry just a few months after we opened Capabilities. She became a big supporter fast. In fact, for a brief time Sherry worked for us. As you will learn from her blog, Sherry has Parkinson Disease. So, while Sherry worked hard and well for us and was a hit with our customers, she had to leave to take care of herself physically. We are delighted that the R&R have worked wonders for her. She looks great and continues to come into the store regularly and bring her wonderful energy and zest for life. Her blog reveals a lot about Sherry. Be sure to send us your thoughts about it. She also is pulling together a support group for Parkinson’s so please contact her a reply if you are interested. Her phone number is: 303-432-8981.

We will all be faced with challenges in our life. They may be physical, mental, financial or significant losses of family or friends. The one thing we can be sure of is that LIFE GOES ON with or without us.

My challenge came in the form of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). I was 52 and in the prime of my life. I was in great physical shape; had a rewarding job; a wonderful married life; a recently married daughter and a new son-in-law. LIFE WAS GOOD!

My greatest fear was confirmed on May 5, 1998. The moment I heard the doctor say “you have Parkinson’s Disease” everything started to spin in my head and all I could comprehend was life was never going to be “HAPPY” again.

The doctor did not paint a pretty picture about my future nor did she give me any sort of comfort or reassurance. Maybe she thought she was doing me a favor by giving me all the bad news right up front. Unfortunately several years earlier I had worked in the same building where the Parkinson’s Association was located. I remember thinking when I saw people coming there for meetings how brave they were and what an awful affliction!

Well here it is almost ten years later and LIFE GOES ON. I apologize if it sounds like I am making light of “life’s significant challenges”. I’m not, but there are a few things that I have learned over these 10 years. I would like to share my RULES OF SURVIVAL!

  • Allow yourself time to grieve over the loss of life as you have known it. All of a sudden a label has been placed on your head and the grief you feel is very real. This is an on going transition in your life. Every time you experience changes in your condition the same feeling of loss shows its ugly head. You take a deep breath and then LIFE GOES ON.
  • Become your own ADVOCATE! Learn everything you can about your illness. Make sure your information is from knowledgeable sources. People have good intentions when they share information but it may not be appropriate for your particular needs.
  • Select a family member or good friend that will also be your advocate. They will be of great comfort and help when you go to your doctor, and should you ever need to be hospitalized. When you are dealing with all the new information, new medications and emotional feelings it is difficult to remember everything that you were told.
  • Take charge of your life. Get to know your body. Your doctor only knows what you tell him/her. It is absolutely critical that you be an active participant in your medical care. Your doctor is a filter between you and the care he will recommend. Take time to write down your physical changes; questions about your treatment and care. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about personal changes like sexual, relationships, anger etc. (I must add that a lot of physicians are not comfortable talking about the emotional issues. It is very helpful to find a good therapist. This person can help you deal with these issues. I wish I had done it sooner).
  • Allow yourself to take care of you! Most of us go through life “taking care of everything but ourselves”. We don’t eat right or get enough sleep. We think the laundry must be done immediately; the grocery shopping is urgent, etc. The most difficult thing to learn about this time in your life is what your “limitations” are and how to accept a new “standard” in your life. This was a huge loss for me. I had never given any thought about not being able to do16 things in one day and still be able to entertain friends the same evening. Be prepared this was a tough one for me, but LIFE GOES ON!
  • Don’t put off doing the things you always said you would do later when you have the time or money. Of course there may be factors in your life that may make this more difficult. But I strongly encourage you “DO IT NOW”. Make plans for things to look forward to.
  • Stay interested in life and people. Take up new activities - painting, pottery or volunteering where you are able.
  • Take advantage of all the resources available. Many organization offer support groups, free medical equipment use, transportation, etc.
  • Work very hard at not letting your illness define who you are. It’s surprising but most other people still see you as the same person you were before. Maybe this is out of their own fear, but to them you are still YOU. Give it your best shot at being you with a few extra “bumps and bleeps”.
  • Whatever your Spiritual belief hold on to it. Find something that touches your soul and gives you peace and hope for the future.
We are all kindred spirits in this life. The last ten years have been good for me. I have two beautiful grandchildren; I took up painting and writing poetry; and did some pottery (not my best thing but fun). My wonderful husband and I took a year off and traveled the USA in a motorhome - what a blast! There have also been losses - my dear mother died; a dear cousin my age died of cancer. I heard about some high school mates that also made their transition. Just remember “Some days are diamonds and some days are stones”. Live in the “present moment”; laugh as much as possible; take care of yourself; appreciate and show gratitude to all those who love you.

LIFE GOES ON with or without you. What is your choice?

If you would be interested in being a member of a Parkinson’s Support Group
in the Westminster / Arvada area please contact me.

Sherry Meiners

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