Monday, June 27, 2005

Do What You Gotta Do

Back when I was 21 years old and had cancer I had an instructor tell me "Do What You Gotta Do" in response to my need to undergo chemotherapy and miss class. I was not sure how to take that at first and it seemed almost an uncaring attitude. Later I had someone tell me the same phrase. The meaning never really hit home for me until I deeply pondered it a couple weeks ago while trying to battle the insuing depression of the situation at times.

There was a particular day when it just seemed like everything was caving in. All these events relating to NF2 were coming to a head, my dog was recooperating from knee surgery which was not cheap, she had some lesions which I feared may have been ringworm (but later found out it was a coon bite), mice had snuck through a vent under the deck and a hole under the kitchen sink making a mess in my cabinets, and so forth. As if the things I was dealing with the NF2 were'nt enough. I began to get angry and ask God "Why are you letting all this happen to me???" My husband seeing my frustration as I was taking a great deal of it out on him said "Becky, life is going to go on for you. It does not stop just because you have NF2. Lots of people have these things happen to them" (like mice and ringworm).

Then a light bulb seemed to click on and I more deeply understood the phrase I had been pondering a week earlier. He was right. None of these other things called "life" will cease to exist due to my circumstances. I learned when I was young that when you fall down you get back up, brush yourself off, and go on. In his autobiography titled "Still Me", Christopher Reeve would get up and cry for 20 minutes each morning to feel sorry for himself. He would allow that much time to grieve every day. When he was finished he would put his sorrow away and move forward with the rest of the day.

I have reflected often on what his life must have been like after the accident. While walking the other day I thought, well I might not be a hot dog anymore on rollerblades or waterskiis but I am able to move my limbs and enjoy this walk with my dog. I thought about what his family went through as I peered into the creek. His one wish was that he would be able to hug his son. A simple thing that we all take so much for granted. I can move my arms and hug anybody I wanted but it was reading about his quadreplegia that made me realize what a gift I had been granted.......that I can still embrace my husband and run my fingers through his hair. Christopher Reeve was never again able to do that for his wife.

So today after the dentist I accidentally hit a curb I could not see in the rain while making a turn. My tire had instantly gone flat. I pulled into a parking lot and wondered "Now what am I going to do?". After all, life must continue on.

I walked over to a Kinkos and had an employee call my husband to explain the situation and for him to please come down to meet me. I had not changed a tire since I worked for the WSDA 5 years ago and I was not as strong as I used to be or had the balance. I returned to the car and proceeded to go through the steps in my memory.

Everything went well except I could not loosen the dang lugnuts. I did not want to put too much into it where I could injure myself from falling or rolling over or knocking the car down. Luckily it had stopped raining. I continued to work on the flat while MANY people drove right by me staring or walked back to their cars from the store. It is possible that some may have asked me from their car or behind me if I needed help but I could not hear them and did not respond.

While all this was happening I thought about how when I worked for the MDA and the WSDA, several people would stop to ask if I needed help when I actually had it all under control. It was kind of funny and I admit I felt slightly sorry for myself because when I needed help nobody was really coming to my aide. I began to wonder if I was turning the lugnuts the wrong way. I pulled the manual from the glove box and read the instructions on changing a tire. I had done everything right. Disappointed I returned to my flat tire and the lugnuts.

At that moment a very nice man came up to me where I could see him and I read that he asked me if I needed help. I responded that I actually did and only needed him to loosen the lugnuts for me because I did not have enough strength. When he did so, I said I could handle the rest but he insisted upon helping me complete the process. After the tire was changed I thanked him and said that I could take care of the car jack. While breaking down the car jack a nice hispanic young man came over to see if I needed any help. I assured him that I had it all taken care of but thanked him for stopping.

Later when Harley picked me up at the tire and brake shop he was very proud of me. Even though I was not strong enough to release the lugnuts I was pretty proud of myself too as I continued on and tried to solve the situation. You have to admit that as silly as it may sound, there are many people out there that have no clue where to begin to change a tire. I was just bestowed another priveledge that at first glance would be easy to overlook. First of all, I still have the ability to drive which is a rather HUGE freedom. Second, I had the ability to solve the problem despite the obstacles I now face (deafness....meaning I cannot jump on a cellphone or payphone to call for help and it can be complicated trying to get help when you can't hear; plus my balance and strength are poor right now and I was unsure about changing the tire myself).

The morale of the story is that no matter what your grief is, life is going to go on with or without you and if you choose to be proactive and a part of it you must "do what you gotta do."


Anonymous said...

you are my Hero! I am astounded by the obstacles you get through on a daily basis. I think by now I would be a basket case. You keeep on going.
You are da bomb baby! And I love you for being all that you are!


Rebecca said...


Thank you! You always manage to brighten my day!

You a basket case? I could never imagine it! You are one of the most calm, caring, and peaceful people I know.

Anonymous said...

hehehehehe!! I;ve got you fooled!!! hehehehehe!! wink wink!

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