That Was Then, This is Now

Hey, all of you wonderful people with a d……… who refuse to let it define who you are! You have found out, as I have, that having a d……… makes you more special.  It lets you be YOU, helps you realize that you can’t pretend to be someone or something you aren’t.

A bit of history about me:

Born and grew up in the mountains of western Pennsylvania as the only child of a high school shop  teacher/coach dad and a homemaker mother, diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) two months after graduation from high school in 1958.

Now seventy years of age, I look back on a life that was filled with music, people, children of all ages, travelling, loving, liking, animals (mostly cats and a couple of dogs,) teaching music and reading to various ages, college and graduate school, singing with choral groups, directing other choral groups, church activities, social life, entertaining, dancing, eating out, week-end or longer trips and vacations.  It added up to a normal active life.

That was then, this is now…

Now I am unable to do many of those things.  The MS diagnosis fifty-five years ago put an end to that chapter of my life.  Relapsing-remitting MS changed to Primary-progressive MS.  No longer able to be the teacher with an active social life, coming and going at will.  It is necessary to become another me, one who has a d-i-s-a-b-i-l-i-t-y. That must be the other D word.  Maybe I’ll write a song about that.  Maybe not.

My efforts have turned to a different direction.  I have turned once again to my secondary love of writing.

My walking ability is much, much slower now, so much that I use a scooter outdoors and a wheelchair indoors.  When I do walk, two canes are needed, for my balance is very bad.  That is, unless I can touch a wall or countertop.  Doing our daily dishes is an easy job.  I stand at the kitchen sink.  This gives me a great deal of confidence. There are counters all around, which make it easy for balance.

I also do our family laundry.  Our family consists of my husband and me.  Some weeks we have a small amount of dirty clothes, but some weeks it takes most of a day.  The house-cleaner’s towels are placed in our washer.

Caring for two cats is also part of my duties.  They do seem light, correct?  These cats are so sweet; caring for them is a joy to me.

I do have help from my husband who said after two short weeks of marriage,

“Honey, I really like my cooking better than yours.  Please don’t be offended.”

To that I replied,

“No offense taken, have at it!”

He did and he is a really good cook!  This provides me extra time for other matters, whatever they are.

Why no mention of my children?  I am childless.  It just wasn’t meant to be.  I have compensated by enjoying the children of others and the children I taught.  Fortunately, I always sent them home to someone else at the end of the day.

Then I was able to return to my quiet house, my husband and cats.  Does that seem selfish to you?  Maybe it was. But I fought MS fatigue even then.  I needed a quiet house with no distractions then as now.  Cats usually curl up in your lap or in their own bed, perfect.  Just having them seems to comfort me and help me relax.

Being disabled makes one do a lot of thinking.  I mean, you think you aren’t able to do much else.  Isn’t that right?


You might need to sit down, jot a few things on paper that you like or want to do.  We CAN use our minds!  Your mind is full of POWER!

Zig Zeigler said:

“What your mind can conceive, it can achieve!”

You might need to make some adjustments in the way you get it done, but it CAN be done.

An example from my own life:

I now teach private piano students of all ages and write content for websites.

No I can’t run a marathon or go out dancing.  The things I will do are the things I can do!

I do not know the extent of your disability.  I do know there are resources out there to help and give you guidance to find out what you can do and how it can be done. There IS a way!  Find it and do it!

NEVER say, “It can’t be done.”  Get the word NEVER out of your vocabulary.

You are not going to let disability define you.  You must define it.  Make your life meaningful by showing what you can do.

J Gail Norris

5 thoughts on “That Was Then, This is Now”

  1. I appreciate. the way this ladies attitude is so good. She gives me inspiration to keep on when I really feel down. Some of the time I wake up to severe pain and just feel like “I hope I never wake up again.” Then hours go by and I find that the pain fades out or is drowned out by simple beauties of life. Thank you for a great article.

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