I now have enough doctors
to form an offensive line.
By Greg Smith
I’m protected by all-stars. At left tackle is my primary care physician. The left guard is my optometrist. My center is my cardiologist. My right guard is my pulmonologist, and my right tackle is my gastroenterologist.
It is a winning team. With their protection, I have plenty of time “in the pocket.”
It is no secret that one of my strengths is the ability to find pleasure when I accomplish difficult obstacles and emerge victorious. I always say that we get stronger by lifting the weights of life’s challenges. If I indeed ultimately profit from misfortune, I’m going to be rich. I’m facing cataract surgery, an esophageal scope and (I’m now 50), a colonoscopy all in the next month!
It’s all good to me. I’m brave with the knowledge that after it all, I will be even stronger! I’ll be able to see better without needing glasses anymore! I’ll be able to swallow easier and nourish my body better. And I will learn (God willing) that I am cancer free!
Lost a few teammates
As you may know, my sons and daughter have moved 1500 miles away and relocated in Arizona. I am proud of their independence and very happy for them. That’s the most important thing. I am confident that they will do well and be successful.
But from my perspective, I have three less sets of arms and legs to help me function. As a result of their absence, I need to be more independent.
Muscular Dystrophy is a disease that gradually weakens the muscles in your body. It is the opposing defensive line, trying to “sack” me. It doesn’t do it with speed. It thrives on sheer power… gradual pressure.
The gradual change is so slow that you barely notice it. But when the moment arrives where you can no longer do something that you used to be able to do it can be quite shock. 30 years ago, I could walk from my bed to the bathroom sink. 20 years ago, I could stand up in front of the sink and brush my teeth. Now I have to lean my elbows on the sink to support my body. 10 years ago I could independently transfer from my wheelchair to the toilet. Those days are long gone.
Not yet ready to call it a night
Two years ago, I could, with some difficulty, transfer from my wheelchair to my bed and vice versa. About a year ago, I got sick and spent weeks in bed. Extended periods in bed drain your strength and force you to ask for help. Instead of transferring independently, I needed help getting in and out of my wheelchair daily.
As I recovered, I found the struggle of climbing into and out of the wheelchair to be unappealing, so I started asking for help most of the time. At first, I knew that I was being lazy and could do it myself, but as time progressed, I started to realize that getting in and out of the chair was no longer a sure thing. It got to the point where I would only take on the challenge if nobody was around.
And then one evening, several months ago, I started to question whether or not I COULD make the transfer. Imagine laying in your bed and thinking to yourself, “I wonder if I can get up from here?”
That night I tried but after about a 30 minute exhaustive effort, I could not do it. I tried every possible strategic use of leverage, momentum and strength but I could not overcome the force of gravity. I realized that night that I was truly bedridden.
For a while I accepted it. Having the kids around to help me at all hours of the night made my lifestyle relatively unchanged. I could call Greg Jr. at 2 AM to put me in bed. But now that they are gone, my parents have to do it, and they like to go to bed early.
I believe in all of that “early to bed early to rise” stuff, but on the other hand, the silence of the evening offers me a great opportunity to strategize, write, and record my material which helps people build their inner strength. Sometimes I feel like I just need to be up at the computer typing or recording, but I am unable to because I have to take the help getting in bed when it’s offered.
Enough is enough!
I have decided that I am not going to give up without a fight. I’m going to hit the “weight room.” I have obtained the services of an occupational therapist, and I am determined to try to help myself more in order to maintain my freedom.
I am happy to tell you today that this morning I was able to get myself in the chair. It was agonizing. It was time-consuming (took about 20 minutes). It was physically draining and by the time I was in the chair I was exhausted. But I made it into the chair! That is the victory. That is what has energized me and given me the drive to have a very productive day.
Now that the kids are raised, it is time for me to move on to the next opponent on my schedule, moving out of my parents home and into a new life of independence. That’s the sport I play. I have a must-win attitude. Building inner strength for victory in the game of life is what I help others do. Its time for me to get back into game shape and do what I’ve been telling others to do.
Welcome to the game I play. I hope you enjoy the battle. Consider this blog your online source for updates. Bring me in to speak to your group to see the action live from your luxury skybox seats! It’s gonna be a helluva ballgame.
Here’s video of an independent transfer from over three years ago. It is much more difficult now.