To Love, Honor, and Help Load My Wheelchair

“Honey, are you ashamed of me?”

I remember the puzzled look on my husband’s face the first time I asked him that question. It was around 2008 when I had just received a prescription for my first mobility device: a scooter.

I was in my early 30’s. He was in his early 40’s. This was NOT how I pictured my life. I was a teacher driving a cute sporty black car dealing with my “weird” fainting issue while keeping my arrhythmia and heart valve issues in check. I was eating healthy. I was doing everything right. I was exhausted all the time, but it was the norm for me. I was still able to be Mom and Wife and Teacher.

Then in walks Gastroparesis into our lives, and suddenly progression of some disease was a REAL thing.

My husband took me by the hand and swore to me that day he was NOT ashamed of me. He couldn’t understand how I would even think something like that about him. I tried to make him understand it wasn’t about him. It was about me.

With every single mobility device added over the years, a little piece of my dignity took a beating. The rational part of my mind knew I should NOT be feeling that way, but my heart and soul were hurting. I was in the grieving stage of my illness for a very long time. I grieved the loss of my career, the loss of my identity which I’d sadly wrapped up in my career, the loss of my purpose in life, the loss of what I considered my self worth, the loss of me. My already low self esteem was in tatters.

I truly went through all stages of grief when I lost my career to my illness in November of 2013.

*Dealing with a disability at any age is not easy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting you’ve struggled with difficulties on your journey. I love positivity as much as the next person. Let’s be real for a minute though. Chronic illness can be ugly, miserable, devastating, painful, debilitating, financially burdening, and cause unbelievable stress. Sometimes it’s good to vocalize or write about what you’ve overcome to help someone else going through the same crisis.*

My husband is now 52. I’ll be 42 in a few weeks. I am now in the Acceptance Stage of Grief. While my physical body is worse than it’s ever been, I am happy. I accept that I am incurable without a miracle. I accept myself as a disabled retired teacher who is now a housewife. I accept that I may never be able to drive a vehicle again, and if I cannot, I WILL be okay. I accept that while my tribe and my circle shrank to very few, I am STILL loved.

Not too long ago, I couldn’t help myself. I asked the question again. We were getting ready for my weekly outing. I was struggling to put on compression stockings, and he was about to load my power chair into the truck.

“Honey, are you ashamed of me?”

He took me into his arms, told me I was as beautiful as always and he’d never be ashamed of me.

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