Sister Karen Zielinski is a BraunAbility customer and frequent contributor to AbilityVoice. She’s the proud owner of a wheelchair van (a Chrysler Entervan®) and contributes frequently to multiple sclerosis publications across the country.
I sent an email to a friend recently asking a simple”How ya’ doing?” Her response was overwhelming – and certainly a bit depressing. She told me how she was homebound, desperate about her health and no doctor could help her. That was followed with an entire lunch conversation with a coworker who spoke only about the many specialists she’s seen for the many conditions she has and the many diets her doctors have recommended. I finished both of these conversations feeling lucky I had multiple sclerosis!
Obsessing about our health – we all do it to a degree. And depending on the state of our health (both mental and physical), we all need to vent once in a while. But listening to my friends reminded me of a very important reality check: it’s not about me!
I’ve been guilty of talking about my multiple sclerosis maybe a little more than needed, but when I catch myself doing this, I stop. When asked about my health, I’ll answer, butI’ve learned to say just enough and then change the subject. It’s not denying or lying about my health – it’s shifting the conversation and my focus.
Turning our thoughts and our energies outside of our own anxieties and focusing instead on other people, other ideas, can feel like the equivalent of a great night of sleep. If being a better person isn’t enough motivation, a study by the Corporation for National and Community Service shows volunteers live longer, have higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease.
It doesn’t take a lot of money or even a lot of time to do it. In the case of my friend in the lunchroom, I told her I’d pick her up in my wheelchair van and take her out for coffee. She got a lift (pardon the pun), and I was able to help get her out of her home and gain a new perspective…and a little fresh air. It’s just one example, but these little visits have made a big impact on her outlook.
So, instead of a New Year’s resolution to be more active, lose weight or read more books, I’m resolving to do a better job of shifting my mental energy from my health and my worries to making life a little easier for others. Let’s all put health in it’s proper place – not ignoring it, but not making it our one and only focus (or the focus for others).