Normal. Just what is it? Is anything or anyone really normal? I often say that I have never pretended to be normal and, while said light-heartedly, there is more than a grain of truth there…for a variety of reasons.
We all have our ow normal. But, the main reason I’m not everyone’s idea of normal is that, like many others, I have a chronic disease. In my case, it is multiple sclerosis.
Whatever the chronic disease we each have, we are not like others. Whatever our life was before the onset of the illness, there are things we can no longer do anymore. That, however, is not to say we are abnormal. What it really means is that we have to adapt to the new normal in our lives.
Actually, it means that often we have to adapt continually as the supposed new normal is surpassed by another.
MS affects my left side primarily. It causes weakness in my leg, dropfoot, arm, and hand. It affects my ability to walk, to keep my balance, to hold anything in my left hand. Even writing this, I can only use just one hand, my right obviously, to type.
Adapting to mobility problems in stages
At various times in the last 16 years, my new normal has included walking with a stick, then a rollator.
This was followed by a heavy self-propelled manual wheelchair, followed by an electric wheelchair and lastly, I am now using a lightweight folding power chair.
The good news is that I can load the newest chair into, and unload out of, my car – by myself. And that means I can go anywhere alone, if need be. That is independence.
Eating has to be done using just the one hand, and Lisa is happy to cut the meat into mouth-size portions that I can pick up with a fork.
Washing dishes, I can just about complete, as long as I can do it using just one hand. That’s no easy task but it’s well worth the effort.
All of these things are my new normal. As with everyone in a similar position, they didn’t all come at once. It’s all about adjusting, one step at a time.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.
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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.