You Are Your Enemy


Do you remember the day when you were told of your diagnosis? Do remember how it felt? Do remember all the emotions and bewilderment that quickly filled your mind? Of course you do and I doubt that you shall ever forget it. I doubt that I will ever forget that day either. How odd it felt to be on the other side of the exam room being the patient instead of the doctor. I had given this type of news to many patients while I wore that white coat, but on this day my white coat was home hanging in the closet.

That was the day our lives changed so drastically and would never be the same. Our hopes, our dreams, and our future aspirations suddenly stopped at an idle. We had just been given a label which would dictate much of what was to come in our future. And, like most labels, this one came with a set of unique instructions! Simply stated those instructions were, “You can’t change or control it, or ever hope for it to improve, in fact it is only going to get worse. You must learn to accept it!” The doom and gloom, the reality of our plight, had been thrust upon us that fateful day. We found ourselves suddenly stripped of our life’s dreams and aspirations. Dazed and depressed we began the process of coping with our new label and the controlling instructions.

Thus, we are controlled by our label. Whether it be our own thoughts, another person out in public who may think “it’s just a bit too early in the day to have been drinking that much”, our family and friends advice or warnings, or in the instructions we receive from the medical community, we have changed our behavior to fit the label. Our ambitions, careers and goals gradually faded into oblivion as we have been forced into the constraints of the label. Some of us gave up. Why?

Some gave up because of the doom and gloom storyline of the reality of the degenerative process we must live with. In addition, we are told that we cannot change the reality of the disease process so we have learned to merely accept “the facts” and have tried to “cope with it”. It’s that simple. The power of suggestion, and the word of someone else (especially if they are an authority figure), can often be very compelling. It is within this regard that we have come to harbor the darkness of the diagnosis – degenerative, symptoms will get worse, no cure, no treatment and nothing anyone can do – and then allowed that labeling darkness to hold too much control.

This defining labeling diagnosis haunts us every day of our lives and is draped around our necks as if displayed for all to read. We define too much of ourselves by it. This label we have accepted has forced us to modify most everything about ourselves and it is what has shaped our lives into what they are today. Good or bad, right or wrong, we are all controlled to some degree by what we interpret this label to be. And what becomes the sham for many of us is that we have allowed the opinions of others to dictate what we think and do without considering other possible alternatives. In that regard, we have simply accepted too much, sometimes surrendered and have not allowed ourselves to explore our own possible potential.

This is a tough reality for many of us to overcome. This label proves to be a monster to deal with has become nearly impossible to see beyond in hopes of finding something different. Everyday it seems to rear its ugly head and remind us of our place, our limitations and we are forced to live the label. There seems to be no escape and we succumb to what our perceived reality dictates to us.

However, I think we can change the way we think and we can change our attitude. We have the ability to change our passive mindset and begin to help ourselves out of the pity wagon. I’m included in all the above and live it just like you. It feels like something has been ripped from our very soul, and so it has. Some of our normal, some of our pride, dignity and self respect was stolen as we became powerless to prevent the theft. In disbelief, we observed the process as if it were happening to someone else – we became powerless. Nothing in our lives could have prepared us for what we now face. When does it get easier? What can I hope for? Who can make this better? You know the answers. Yes, I think you really do. And, even more, I think you also harbor the best form of treatment available today. Look within yourself. What can you do to help yourself better cope with our reality? That is where you must begin!

Much of our life admittedly will never again be in our control. However, I think we have relinquished too much control to our label. I also think that it is high time we fight to regain some of that control. And how do we do that? I have found that the best way for me to regain more control into my life is by relearning how to safely and confidently move again. What a profound difference I feel and see everyday, and many of you can achieve the same for yourselves.

Today, start to believe in yourself!
Today, start to take some control and responsibility for yourself.
Today, start to reshape your future and the possibilities you possess.

Live your life for yourself with a challenge to do what you can to improve your capabilities. Take some responsibility upon yourself and begin to think outside of the box of the label. You don’t necessarily have to live as you do. You have choices.

A quote from an old movie continues to help me stay focused. A soldier had become blinded by shrapnel during a battle. On his return home, and readjusting to his new life, he found that everyone treated him as if he couldn’t manage many things by himself anymore. After all, he was blind and therefore….different. His new label changed how everyone else in the community viewed his capabilities. Many of them intuitively knew what was best for him; many of them viewed him as a burden. They continued to instruct him on his limitations, what he couldn’t do anymore and what he ultimately had to accept.

However, he didn’t listen to them very well and continued to tell those who would listen of his dreams and ambitions. He continued to tell them what he wanted to do regardless of being blind; and many attempted to dissuade him. Frustrated by his wrongful dreams, fearing for his safety, and lovingly knowing that he was filled with false hopes, his fiancée finally pleaded, “Why do you insist on wanting to do things you know you can’t do?” He replied, “Because I won’t know what I can’t do until I try!”

Get the point? We live in the same world as that soldier. People are constantly reminding us of what we can’t or shouldn’t be doing. And what is worse, we do the same thing to ourselves. We often limit what we do in the same way. Sometimes it is warranted, however, there are plenty of times when it is not. Then the troubling reality sets in as time marches on. When do we really know which thought process we are listening to? Is it the truism that we really shouldn’t be doing “that” because of our condition, or are we accepting excuses and inhibitions that we shouldn’t without really knowing? Sadly, it is a combination of both surrounded by the many fears we hide within.

We have to break that cycle; you have to know the truth. I will make this pledge to each of you. With few exceptions, every one of you has the ability to improve your movement skills. Are you up for the challenge? Are you willing to allow yourself to try?