In Body

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how to get out of a wheelchair

“Lisa, how did you get out of a wheelchair?”

I get this question all the time. Actually, I get a lot of inquiries about how I turned a degenerating, autoimmune disease around and lead a ‘normal’, healthy life.

When I was in my early forties, I was diagnosed with an incurable neuromuscular disease called Myasthenia Gravis which literally translates to, “grave muscle weakness.”

Muscle weakness caused by myasthenia gravis, or MG, worsens as the affected muscle is used repeatedly. MG symptoms tend to progress over time, usually reaching their worst within a few years after the onset of the disease.

I first noticed my symptoms when I was training for a marathon. I was running every day but noticed that I was getting more and more tired as I got closer to my race. I also noticed my legs starting to drag a little toward the end of the day.

As a busy mom, I ignored my symptoms and wrote it off to overtraining. I pushed through the weakness like most athletes do and trained even harder, but I was losing ground in my efforts to increase my mileage and speed.

I never dreamed that soon I would be fighting for my life and trying to get out of a wheelchair.

Within a few short years, my average baseball mom life turned into a horror movie of emergency rooms visits, medications, and depression.

[clickToTweet tweet=”As a busy mom, I ignored my symptoms and wrote it off to being tired.” quote=”As a busy mom, I ignored my symptoms and wrote it off to being tired.”]

My running shoes soon collected dust in the corner of my closet as lay in bed for months wondering if I would ever make it back to the life I had loved.

Doctors repeated the same words over and over, “This is a degenerating disease which means it will only get worse over time but we can hope for the best.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”I need a lot more than hope. I need real tools to move on.” quote=”I need a lot more than hope.”]

I needed to be able to use my throat muscles so I could eat again.

I needed to use my diaphragm so I could breathe well enough on my own. I was getting tired of everyone tripping over the growing number of life-sustaining machines in my bedroom. 

I needed to get out of a wheelchair that my son would push around the block to take me for a walk as he did with the dog.

I needed my life back.

Once I was painfully clear of all that I needed to work on, I got busy. 

At some point in your life, you will need to get out of a wheelchair too.

Here’s what your wheelchair may look like:

  • depression
  • A little too much wine or other alcohol
  • anxiety that prevents you from living your dream life
  • pulling away from friends and family
  • intense brain fog
  • a crippling sense of overwhelm

Your wheelchair may not look like mine, but the recipe to get out of it is the same. I thought I had reached a point where I was stuck and could no longer move forward. As I lay in my bed month after month, I watched as my family began to move on with their lives as I lay there month after month.

The pain of being trapped in my own prison of disease, sitting on the sideline and not being able to experience my children’s growth was unbearable. I wanted back into their world, not just by being walked around the block like the dog.

Here are 10 tips that will get you moving forward when your mental or physical health has left you stuck:

  1. Get clear on your goals – I wanted to walk again. I wanted to be part of my family more than anything. I breathed that goal in every day to give me the energy to keep going. What’s do you want so much you can feel it? Write down your goals and put them where you can see them to remind you of why you are putting in the hard work.
  2. Do your homework – Find people that have reached your goals and study them. What did they do? How can you model them? Can you work with them as a mentor? Looking out of the box for answers will keep you open to new ideas. Just because a protocol is ‘standard in the industry’ doesn’t mean it’s best for you. Care is much different than it was 50 years ago and will change completely in another 50 years.
  3. Listen to your gut– Don’t accept someone else’s ideas as your own if they don’t feel right. Friends and doctors mean well, but they don’t always know what’s best for you. Listen to your intuition, if something doesn’t feel right, look for other options.if I believed what my doctors told me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Your life is filled with a series of beliefs. Trust and follow your intuition even when it doesn’t make sense.
  4. Get organized -develop a system for your health and wellness. It’s easy to get distracted when we break our daily routine of self-care. There are many apps you can put on your phone to keep your system consistent. I’d like to use the productive app on my phone because it reminds me daily of the things I need to do. It takes 21 days to make a habit, make sure your habits are taking you in the direction you want to go.
  5. Do the work – The important thing is that you create forward movement. Remember progress over perfection. If you blow it one day, forgive yourself and just start fresh the next day. Pick one thing a week, and focus on that. Next week at something else. The more you ease into change, the easier it is to ingrain in your daily life. Baby steps will get you further than you think. Nobody changes with just a theory, get to work.
  6. Stay focused – You are in it for the long game. That can get tiring. When you feel yourself getting discouraged, remember your end goal and stay disciplined in your approach if it’s working. Keep little reminders around of your progress to keep you going.
  7. Self Care – It’s easy to forget about self-care when we’re spending so much time and money on mental and physical health. But self-care is a key piece the puzzle. Make sure you get enough sleep, and time for reflection. In our house, we have something called goddess hour. Goddess hour is a time to stop and check in with yourself and ask how am I feeling and what do I need? Then do it. Taking care of your mental health is key in taking care of your physical health. Make sure you take the time for little self-care to check in with yourself every day.
  8. Get support – Would you expect a child to know a foreign language that they’ve never been exposed to? No? Then why would you expect change without learning how to actually change? There will always be someone a little ahead of you, that’s a good thing because you can learn from them. Join a positive support group and get involved asking lots of questions. Also, don’t be afraid to lean on them when you’re feeling overwhelmed. If you need more one on one help and are ready to invest in your health and wellbeing, fill out this short questionnaire. I’d be happy to help.
  9. Clean up your diet – Diet plays a very important role in your mental and physical health. Make sure yours is as clean as possible Eat food in its original form. Processed foods and sugar with create chaos in your head and body. If you need a sugar fix, stay with fruit. Shift slowly. Every week, take one processed food out and add one organic food in. Pretty soon you won’t even miss the ‘bad’ stuff.
  10. Don’t give up – You are going to have down days, we all have them. Don’t panic! It’s just a moment in time and will pass. Remember your goals and keep going!

If you are ready to take your life to the next level, regardless of where you are in your healing journey, I have some room opening up in my schedule soon.  You’ve invested in everyone else, isn’t it time you invested in you? Simply fill out this short questionnaire.

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