Tag Archives: Walking

Finding Determination Through Fear.

19 Oct

A few days ago I was talking with a friend of mine, and he asked me to explain my absolute worst fear in life. Though some classic answers popped into my head, like ending up alone and losing the people I love, I knew my absolute worst fear. I tried to say it, but couldn’t. I felt like I was about to cry. However, after a period of silence stretched over us like a blanket, I finally spoke.

“I’m afraid of the day when I’ll no longer be able to walk.”

I spent my entire childhood learning to walk so I could be as independent as possible, despite my Cerebral Palsy. Before my intense operations, I learned to walk in my own way, my knees knocking together as I put one foot in front of the other. During the years I spent on a t-ball team, I loved the feeling of running to first base. Even though I typically got out before making it to first base, I ran with all my heart just like everyone else on my team. I ran in my own way, but it never stopped me from trying.

After my first operation at the age of 10, I had to completely relearn to walk after having my femurs straightened out and kept in place with rods. One year later, when I got the hardware removed that was placed during my first operation, I had to relearn to walk yet again. See, not walking was never even an option for me. I wanted to be like the other kids my age, and to do that, I had to be able to walk. I had to be as normal as I possibly could. Even when I was faced with physical pain that made me want to curl into myself and give up all together, I kept going. Every day, I literally walked towards my own independence, one step at a time.

Because I spent so much of my life struggling, and ultimately succeeding, to walk, the thought of reaching the day when I’ll no longer be able to walk is completely terrifying. In so many ways, when I reach that day, it will feel like a kind of giving up. Though I plan to walk for as many more years as I can, I am scared of the day when the pain will just be too much, when walking will be putting too much strain on my body. It’s especially frightening because I know how much physical pain I’m in on a daily basis currently. The realization that I am in so much physical pain and I’m only 21 is terrifying. Trying to imagine my level of pain when I reach age 30 is nearly impossible.

That is one great thing about fear though. It has the ability to help us find the determination and strength we didn’t know we had. Yes, my worst fear is seeing the day when I will no longer be able to walk. However, I’m not there yet. I am a long way off from that day. Today, I am able to walk and do the things I love, despite being in pain. Today, I am able to push through the pain, because the result…the view at the top of the mountain…is worth it. The happiness, joy, and pure bliss of the destination weighs so much more than the pain of the journey.

The fear lingers in the back of my mind, the fear of knowing one day I won’t be able to get to the top of Max Patch, my absolute favorite place in the world. However, the fear also gives me the strength and determination I need to continue doing what I love. Yes, one day I may not be able to walk because of the amount of pain I am in. But I’m not there yet. I’ve still got plenty of fight within me.

At the top of Max Patch (October 2013)

At the top of Max Patch (October 2013)

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Mr. Tim and braces.

23 Aug

For much of my life when I was little, I had to wear AFOs, which are basically braces that I wore on my feet to keep them from turning inwards (before my first surgery, my femurs were turned inwards). Getting new AFOs had its ups and downs. I had to get casted for new braces every time I grew, and most of the time it wasn’t something I was looking forward to. New braces meant fresh “hot spots” on my feet until I could get used to the braces and “break them in” in a sense. Even though we used padding to try to ease the hot spots, they weren’t comfortable. When any body part has to be held in a position that it’s not naturally in, it’s not exactly fun. The one thing that did make me smile was getting to pick my color.

Picking a color for braces is a lot like picking a color for a cast after you’ve broken your arm (which I’ve never done, thankfully). You want something bright or something that makes you smile when you see it rather than frown. I know that many times I chose hot pink and bright purple. However, I remember one special time when I had to get new braces when I was at Shriner’s Hospital. Instead of going for one of my typical bright colors, I picked the bright red that had monkeys on it. I was so excited to be able to look down and see animals. It almost made the fresh “hot spots” worth it. Almost.

The best thing about getting new braces was Mr. Tim. I can see his face in my mind even now. He was the orthopedic doctor that I went to when I needed new braces, and seeing the way he smiled every time he saw me almost made the process of getting new braces bearable. I remember the process so clearly. Mr. Tim started by taking an ace bandage roll and soaking it in what I think was plaster of paris. Mr. Tim then wrapped the ace bandage around my foot and waited a few minutes for it to harden. The next part, the part that always made me a little anxious, was when Mr. Tim had to use a saw to remove the brace mold. Even though I knew that Mr. Tim wouldn’t cut me because I knew how many brace molds he had made, the sound of the saw wasn’t pleasant…and it could make you nervous even if you didn’t think you were one bit scared.

Even though I’m grateful that I don’t have to wear braces on my feet anymore, I remember coming across an old pair of braces when my mom and I were cleaning out my closet a few months ago. It felt good to be able to not even have to hesitate before I told my mom to get rid of the braces, but for just a second, I thought of Mr. Tim and the smile that seemed to brighten even the really hard days.