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.
Little did I know how much was going to manifest into reality from all those poems in which I visualized my healing.
The struggle was real and hard. Every day I feel greater ease.
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."