Okay...now, I wanted to talk about this thing that happened to me at the pool a couple of days ago that was upsetting. But I didn't want to get caught up in the negativity of it all, and decided I needed to do my deep breathing exercises and work through my anger before I put my experience into words. Anyone out there who has had a moment of complete insensitivity (on someone else's part,) knows what I'm talking about, and has probably done some special breathing of their own...what works best for me is a deep, quick breathing technique that sounds like this: "HEE...HOO...HEE...HOO...HEE...HOO" that's kind of like Lamas, but with less cramps. So while I do that I'm going to write about a good experience instead, so I can end this week on a happy note...hopefully I won't pass out in the process!
I decided to write about miracles...do you believe in them? I most certainly do! I think the reason some people don't believe in miracles is because the big ones don't happen very often, and we cannot always see beyond the bad times in our lives to notice the small ones. Though there are tiny miracles everyday that are God's little reminders to be thankful for the good things...a beautiful sunset, all the green lights on the way to work, a random $5 bill in your pocket you didn't know was there. My favorite one is seeing the smiles of my two beautiful nieces, and hearing them laugh...you can't get much better than that! My friend 'A' gave me a plaque last year that said "Look for the small miracles and you'll find, they're everywhere" and he is absolutely right. I try my best to lift my head up and look around every so often, so I can see these little miracles...and sometimes I fail. But I keep trying! And I was blessed to have a BIG miracle come to me during one of those difficult moments when desperation overwhelmed, and there seemed to be no answer.
In an earlier post I mentioned that I was finally diagnosed with CMT when I was 25. That was a miracle in and of itself, to finally have a name for my symptoms. After being diagnosed I got my first set of leg braces...also a miracle, though not always easy to see. Yes, I needed them to walk...I could no longer manage it on my own. And yes, having those braces and being able to walk without falling was a blessing...but it also felt like a curse. It took a lot of strength within me to get used to those things...they were cumbersome and hot, since they covered the backs of my legs almost up to the knee. My tiny little sized 5 1/2 feet all of a sudden seemed HUGE in these sized 8 1/2-9 shoes I had to buy in order to accommodate them. And my braces were EMBARRASSING!!! Part of me didn't want this "blessing" that had come into my life, and I would hate my braces every time I got stared at or pointed at, or I heard a child ask their mother "Why is she wearing them, mommy?" And I knew how important they were...I remembered my life before I got them, and how much I struggled. I knew these braces took a lot of that struggle away. But as I mentioned before...I try to lift my head up and look around so I can see the miracles in life. And sometimes I fail!
Those braces did serve me well, though, for 10 years. I couldn't have gotten through those years as well as I did without them! But time, as it often does, took its toll...and my ability to get around (with only my old friends to help me,) was decreasing. Walking was becoming difficult again, and my balance had declined so dramatically that I was never far from a wall. I literally hugged the walls as I walked around my home, and a short walk from my car into a store seemed as long as a football field. I skipped a lot of things except for the bare necessities such as food shopping, which had become a huge chore...I had taken to parking next to the cart holders so I could grab a cart in order to have something to hold onto, just so I could get my shopping done. My ability to function was failing, big time! Surprisingly enough I could suddenly see what a blessing my braces really were...but I knew if an even bigger blessing didn't come my way soon, they would no longer be enough.
Now here's where the miracle comes in...because I have learned (sometimes the hard way,) that God does listen. And there is no other word other than 'miracle' to describe what came when I most desperately, completely needed it. It all started when my friend 'K' contacted me about something called 'Dynamic braces' that were supposed to greatly increase a person's balance. K's mother, who also wears a leg brace to help her walk due to post-polio symptoms, had attempted to find these braces but had so far been unsuccessful...so they put me on the search. For some reason it didn't take me long at all to find them (part of the miracle, perhaps?) and before I knew it I was scrolling through a website, dedicated to Helios Orthotics that restore balance! I read testimonial after testimonial from people who suffered from the same balance issues I dealt with everyday, who spoke about how they had their balance restored by these wonderful 'Dynamic' braces. Comments such as "...standing perfectly still without touching anything..." hit home. I REALLY needed to get these!! And the best of all? The website had an entire SECTION dedicated just to CMT. A guide explaining the different types of CMT (did I mention there are different types?) and which Helios braces might benefit which type...I was in shock! And what surprised me most of all were those testimonials I mentioned...the majority of them were written by people with CMT! Before I knew it I was on the phone, calling Ortho Rehab Designs in Las Vegas. Soon I was talking to the office manager, learning even more about how the braces were made and the doctor who made them. In order to get them, I would have to travel to Vegas, a place I had only seen on episodes of CSI (maybe not the BEST example!) And it would be costly and a little scary, but I was determined...I have to admit--I probably would have crossed a river of hot coals on my backside at this point, in order to get the answer to all my struggles and prayers. Every second without these braces seemed longer than the last...I learned that there was an opening in November for a new patient, which was less than a month away. This seemed to good to be true!
And then it happened. Before I say exactly what, let me explain...the cost of plane tickets and hotel fares seemed unreachable, but I knew I had to manage it. I had gone through the process of filing for Social Security Disability because of suffering an injury a few years prior, and after two years of denials and appeals I had finally won my case. Now anyone who has tried to live on disability payments knows that they don't stretch very far. And for the two years I was filing for SSD I hadn't been allowed to work at all, and had just gotten permission from my doctor to start working a light duty job on a very part time basis. I was owed retroactive pay, though had yet to see a penny. In fact I had no idea when that money would come, because there was no date stipulated as to its return...government bureaucracy at its finest, people! So now to the dropping ball...I asked the office manager the cost of these dynamic, balancing braces. And you wouldn't believe it--the cost, which was paid up front, was $12,500.00. The reason for this? They consist primarily of carbon fiber, which is used to make weapons for the war, and supplies at this time were very short. Medicare would cover about 40% of that and I would eventually get some money back...EVENTUALLY. But there was no way I could ever hope to afford them! As it was, I couldn't even afford to travel to the doctor who had the power to dramatically change my life for the better. Tears started pouring down my face, as I thanked the woman for her time and information, but I regretfully declined taking the appointment in November.
Now I did say I wanted to end this week on a happy note, so don't worry...the story does get better, really! Remember the big miracle I mentioned? Well, after learning about these wonderful braces that could make everything better and bring back so much of what I had lost, and knowing they were beyond my reach--I can honestly tell you that miracles were the last things I was thinking of. Nothing seemed possible at that point. Though this turned out to be one of those times I would learn just how much God hears us. That retroactive pay I mentioned, that could take months, maybe even a year or more before it showed up? It was deposited into my bank account THE VERY NEXT DAY. Enough to pay not only for the braces, but for my trip as well. If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is...a true blessing!
And the new braces certainly delivered! If any of you readers want to learn how, check out the website and read more about Dr. Mitchell Warner, CPO at http://www.ordesignslv.com/. As for me, I'm thrilled! I gained my balance back, and my functionality...I don't even park next to the cart drop-offs at the grocery store anymore, because I don't need one until I'm actually IN the store. Once again I am living my life (now in size 6 1/2 shoes,) and there are no football fields in front of me! See? Those miracles do occur...big and small. You just need to open your eyes, look around you...and believe that they can. Because they will come when you least expect it!