Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Independence Lost

When we have our independence, we have so much. So very, very much…

When my mom had to give up her driver’s license I became very aware of all that she lost when she handed over that little plastic card that gave her permission to drive. When she did have her license, she never drove any more than was absolutely necessary, but she knew that she could. She had the freedom to run errands at her leisure. She created her own boundaries but she knew that she had the ability to pick and choose when and where she felt comfortable driving.

Our physical abilities allow each of us a certain amount of independence. When we can put on a comfortable pair of shoes and walk for as long as we choose, we are rich. I know people who would give anything for that simple gift. Back pain, circulatory, heart, debilitating health issues are only a few that come to mind as I run down the list of people that I know that would give anything to have the ability to walk to the store and back.

I have a friend who is presently battling three different types of cancer. They surgically removed one of the cancers. Another has taken residence in her body and threatened to slow her down but with treatment, the success rate was high. She was still optimistic about her future. The third cancer is terminal.

She rolled with the punches and rallied as each diagnosis was handed out. I’m sure there must have been many dark days along the way, but each and every time she was dealt a new diagnosis her stubborn and determined nature was set on putting up a fight and beating the odds.

But the biggest obstacle of all? She stubbed her toe. The toe turned purple. Then black. As the weeks progressed into a month, the rest of her toes followed suit. Then her foot. It was a few months before she was diagnosed with Blue Toe Syndrome. She has had vascular surgery three times in six months. The most recent surgery was last week. She will be lucky if all she loses is the tip of her big toe, because surgery is no longer an option …

This clotting disorder has caused her no end of discomfort and has completely upended her life. She can’t drive, she can’t stand long enough to cook a meal, she can’t leave her house on her own and her husband does not want her alone at home. She can’t run out and buy groceries or shop or do anything independently.

Cancer has thrown my friend’s life into utter turmoil but she keeps getting back up and fighting the good fight. The clotting disorder is aided and abetted by the lymphoma that she has – that is a nasty little cancer that is causing her no end of grief. Because it has stolen her independence.

She feels that she has no control over anything in her life. Every time she picks herself up and starts fighting, she gets knocked back down. Each time, it takes a piece of her independence with it.

There is no amount of money in the world that can give my friend back the life that she had before all of this began. She would be grateful for a fraction of the independence that she used to have. For her, the freedom to walk out of the door of her home alone has become a goal.

When we have our independence … we are rich. Just ask anyone who has lost just a piece of the independence that they used to have.

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