On Being Thankful

Being Thankful
Vivian Heyl
Delta Boogie Editor

On Aug. 15, 2002 I learned just how fragile the human body is. In less then 30 seconds, I lost the use of both arms. Thankfully my disabilities are not permanent. My injuries will heal and my arms will regain their strength. I have always had sympathy for ttose with physical handicaps, but now I have empathy as well.

My youngest son is learning to drive and every opportunity to practice is very important to him. We were just a couple of miles from home, and he wanted to take a turn at the wheel. We exchanged places, and I was proud to see how well he was doing. Then, as we negotiated our last turn onto the road where we live, something went wrong. Instead of completing the turn, we went head-on into a ditch.

My son received a few bruises and the van was unharmed, but I had a dislocated and broken shoulder and a broken arm. After being released from the hospital, I learned quickly that even the simplest tasks were now impossible.

During the first two weeks following the accident, my frustration with being unable to do anything for myself made me angry with the world. I couldn't eat, bathe or use the bathroom without someone there to help me. Using the computer was impossible. I couldn't hold a book, and television rapidly lost its appeal.

As I sat there contemplating my bad luck and feeling sorry for mysalf, I began to think about those people who face permanent disabilities and what their lives must be like.

The shock of losing the ability to do things you have taken for granted and the sudden dependency you are faced with is daunting enough, but now you must face getting on with your life. This means learning how to do all those things you used to do in a different way.

I admire those people who have overcome incredible disabilities to go on with their lives. They have enormous courage and strength of character. While I sit here typing slowiy with one hand, I remind myself of those who type with a stick held between their teeth.

I had a friend who was injured in a diving accident. In those few moments she went from a carefree young woman to one who was confined to a wheelchair unable to walk and with only limited use of her arms. She taught me a lot about being thankful, not because I could walk while she couldn't, but because she approached each day as a gift and looked forward to what new things it would bring.

Now that I am healing and regaining the use of my arms, I hope I never become complacent about my life again. I also hope that I can begin each day thankful for the new things it will bring.

*Editors note: If you have been wondering why Delta Boogie has not been updated frequently the preceeding article I wrote for the newspaper I work for explains what has been going on in my life. I am still unable to use my right arm and only have limited use of my left. I am gradually getting things back but it is taking a long time.