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* from dis-abled to re-enabled (more or less)

November 4, 2015

Several years ago I shared some reflections with colleagues at an organization I was leaving (not of my own volition) about how handicapped symbolsometimes life puts you on a path you had never planned on being on. To be saying this then and there was very painful, as it was one of the first steps I made to leave behind work I had hoped to be doing and a place I had hoped to be for a very long time. I did this, little knowing at that time, how this reality of being on different paths than those I’d planned, would continue to be true for me as I grew older.

Recently I’ve begun to have some problems with my lower legs and arms. It’s due to a form of neuropathy that’s the result of having what’s known as CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth) and at present, anyway, there’s not much to be done about it other than for me to “ride” along on its progression. Fortunately for me, this has been a slow process.

I also struggle with depression. This has been tougher. However, thanks to a great support team and a combination of meds that for now, anyway, are working well, I’m much better than I’ve been I’m very grateful to say.

Because of the combination of the above, I’ve now officially been classified as “disabled” by Minnesota WorkForce. Good news is this means I’ve qualified for additional assistance from them in finding a new job, something which has been a bit of a struggle for some time now.

More problematic for me is coming to grips with the reality that this is where I’m now at. You see it wasn’t in a list of my To Do’s. When I was encouraged to “hitch my wagon to a star!” way back in high school in Madagascar, I didn’t see this coming down the road.

In thinking back to what I could once do with my legs (and not do with my head), what a chopping treesblessing that was! And how much I took it for granted!

On the one hand, I’m fortunate to not having had more problems sooner in my life as many people with either of these sorts of challenges frequently do. My reality is that for me both have shown up later in life.

And yet, here I am. The combination of things has progressed to the point that some things have changed. I am still mobile and can still get around fairly well, including not so long ago, much to my relief, on some of Madagascar’s country paths (though this with the help of leg braces–which I don’t yet require very often–and my trusty walking stick.

These changes mean for me it’s been a time of quite a bit of reflection, reassessment, learning and adjustments in a variety of areas, with, unless there are several major breakthroughs in medicine, more to come. And yes, there’s some mourning for things which are no longer the same, coupled with a gratefulness for things I can still do.

On the other hand, insofar as I’m approaching what for so many decades was that far off age of 60, things would be different for me by now anyway. It’s just that in my case they’re even a bit more different. Or maybe it’s being more different sooner?old-man-walking-with-cane

But it’s also an opportunity to experience and better understand new things. In my case, sort of a preview of things to come, some of what many people will also experience as they grow older.

And in a funny sort of way, it’s an opportunity to start over with a new set of realities. In some ways a “new” me, if you will. So here I go…

Just don’t ask me to run!

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