Thursday, February 11, 2016

On Struggles, Taking a Leap of Faith and Triumph!



The other day I received a call from the Social Work Executive at the West Roxbury VA Medical Center. They are having a celebration of 90 years of social work at the VA. At the staff meeting on 2/29, they are going to honor those social workers who retired from the Boston VA Health Care system in recent years to honor their contribution to the mission and vision of social work at the VA.

On 5/25/2007, almost 9 years ago now, I walked away from my almost 20 year career as a VA social worker. In December of 2006 I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a progressive neuromuscular disease and told that I should prepare to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. After intensive outpatient treatment at Spaulding Rehab with a physical therapist who would not treat me as a polio survivor but rather believed in the body's capacity to heal, writing poetry, meditating, visualizing, making dietary changes and finding the strength within me to take a leap of faith and leave my career



I began to feel better than when I walked into Spaulding in October of 2006.

I remember the day I gave my notice to my nurse manager at the VA. At first she was happy for me but within 24 hours she told me that I couldn't leave; that my plan to write poetry and heal my life made no sense whatsoever. In fact it did not make any sense if you look at the stark reality of what I was doing but I had a vision and was living in my imagination of what my future could hold for me despite all appearances: physical, emotional and financial. She wanted me to consider my options - work part time; give myself more time to make my decision but she could see that my mind was made up and in 6 weeks time I would separate from my job at the VA.

Wearing a leg brace and no longer needing a wheelchair I walked out of the Jamaica Plain Campus of the VA Healthcare System. (I write at length about this leg of my journey in my memoir, "Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing, Hope and Possibility"available on Amazon)

I experienced triumph when I crossed the finish line of the 2009 Boston Marathon:



And since then it was a journey of more struggle than triumph.

In April of 2015, I partnered with Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy and Owner and Principal of the industry leading massage therapy practice Spratt Muscular Therapies. From the moment I experienced his touch, I knew that all I had imagined through my poetry and envisioned in those dark uncertain days back in 2006 was going to manifest in reality.

Little did I know how much was going to manifest into reality. In addition to healing the devastating effects of paralytic polio and trauma, I am back to work feeling passion and purpose and so blessed to be able to share the work that Jeffrey and his team do day in and day out. I work in the world class Seaport Hotel at Wave Health and Fitness with a remarkable team of people who support our mission and our vision.

The struggle was real and hard. Every day I feel greater ease. Every week, partnering with Jeffrey I heal on deeper and deeper levels while also experiencing the wonderful effects of the Spratt Method incorporated into advanced sports massage therapy. The work at times is deep and painful but it is work that hurts so good and work that is in the service of healing. Jeffrey continues to remind me that it is his honor and pleasure to be at my service to help me go the distance in healing my life; what I set out to do when I left my VA career behind me.

And I have to tell you...when I return to the VA on Monday 2/29, I am going to experience the glorious triumph of my healing and to celebrate the work I did while I was at the VA serving those who served. And as my shero and fellow polio survivor Wilma Rudolph so eloquently stated, "The triumph can't be had without the struggle."

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