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March 2011

Losing My Right Hand

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“If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.”
~ Yiddish Proverb

In This Issue:

A Message from Shelley

Dear Friends,

I lost my right hand! No, not literally my "hand-hand," but figuratively my "right hand," colleague and assistant, Deborah, who helps to keep me motivated and organized to accomplish all the things we do here at Meeting Life’s Challenges.

Deborah has a chronic illness that is exacerbated by the long, cold Wisconsin winter and she left last month to stay in Texas until May. Last year, we tried a similar arrangement. Deborah went to Florida for a few months and came back in the spring with renewed strength and vigor. With such a positive benefit, how could I not encourage her to go again this year – especially since is spending these months with her 9 month old granddaughter?

There was a time when Deborah's absence would have generated a major anxiety attack in me; I would be panicked about “How am I going to…?” “Who’s going to help me with…?” “What am I going to do when…?” But, that was then and this is now. So how do I manage on a day-to-day basis, because when you have limitations, believe me, it’s more than just “having a good attitude?”

Over the last few years, I have done a number of things to make myself physically stronger – swimming, physical therapy, food supplements, and better nutrition – and it has helped immensely. So today, I can relax a little because I know I can do more for myself physically than I have before.

But here are some other things that help me manage with Deborah gone:

  • History helps. Knowing that I’ve faced challenges before and have found solutions gives me the confidence to face the future with a more positive outlook. I did it once; I can do it again.
  • Good, kind, and genuine people help. They’re the folks who call to say hello and just listen as you pour your heart out. They make a pot of soup and bring you some for dinner. They stop by to bring in your mail just to make sure you’re doing OK. Sometimes, you know these people well. Sometimes, you just met them taking a walk around the block.
  • Having a plan helps. Over the years, I’ve learned that my anxiety level goes down when I have a Plan A, a Plan B, a Plan C, and then another backup plan. My life with multiple sclerosis and the limitations I live with have taken away a large part of my independence. I need help dressing, grooming, preparing meals, and just about every other aspect of my life. So I have to plan my days carefully so I have the help I need, when I need it.
    When weather conditions make it difficult for people to get to my house, when the flu or a cold keeps someone away, or when friends are unavailable because of vacations or other commitments, I have to scurry to put a plan in place so that I have what I need to get through the day. It may take a little effort, but I always manage to create a plan that works.
  • Asking for help helps. I don’t like asking for help. Frankly, I don’t think anyone enjoys asking others to help them, especially when you have no way to reciprocate the favor. All I know is that as the years go by and my need for help remains constant, it gets easier to ask. Most folks are happy to help if their schedules permit, and if they aren’t available to help, they often help me think of others who might be available. I can’t tell you how good it feels when people end our conversation with, “I’m so glad you called. Please call me again.” And that’s exactly what I do.

Enjoy your winter, Deborah! It will be wonderful to see you again in the spring, but for now, I'm doing just fine.


Don't Just Take My Word for It

“As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Shut out all of your past except that which will help you weather your tomorrows.”
~ Sir William Osler

“It is not so much our friend's help that helps us as the confidence of their help.”
~ Epicurus

“The healthy, the strong individual, is the one who asks for help when he needs it. Whether he has an abscess on his knee or in his soul.”
~ Rona Barrett

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
~ Henry Ford

What's New?

Whew! Has it been busy around here. The approval of my DVR plan has set a number of balls in motion and I am juggling as fast as I can. I am so pleased to be working with such wonderful professionals that are helping me improve my Website. Soon you will be able to search the thousands of tips in our database and quickly find those that will help make your life easier. Thanks Robyn and Stan. And thanks too to Don and Lisa who are helping me to increase traffic to my Website — I am Blogging and tweeting more and people are responding.

Do you have a question, a comment, or concern? Visit my Blog and start a conversation that will help us all make our lives easier.

Did You Know?

The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University is a comprehensive resource for tips and ideas for making your home more accessible whether you are remodeling, building, or just trying to make a few adjustments. Check out their booklet Residential Rehabilitation, Remodeling and Universal Design and other publications to help you make your home more accessible.

Share Your Wisdom

Have you made adjustments to how you do something or perhaps devised some device or way of doing something to make your home easier to live in with a disability? If so, we want to hear from you. Send me your ideas and I’ll put your name in a drawing for one of three free copies of my upcoming book, Affordable Home Accessibility: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier, to be published in late 2011. E-mail Shelley@MakingLifeEasier.com be sure to put Affordable Home Accessibility idea in the topic line. I look forward to hearing from you.

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