This is the first of a four-part series in which I will share my experience, strength and hope in living with PPS. I believe that it is possible to have a progressive chronic condition and still enjoy life. This is my story.
I am powerless in the face of PPS. I didnít cause it, I canít do much to control it and I canít cure it. My doctors donít even know how to treat it. I have raged, blamed, felt sorry for myself and played the martyr; however, all this did was to make me exhausted, stressed out and more miserable. My PPS stayed the same! Finally it dawned on me to try a different approach, and wonder of wonders... this seems to work for me.
While I canít control what PPS will do to my body, I can control how I deal with it. Trying to avoid the issue doesnít work for me; neither does being resentful or wallowing in self-pity. Instead, I have chosen to accept my PPS and to embrace my life and enjoy it. Acceptance has been helpful in befriending my long-time foe, polio.
One of the first steps I had to do in my quest for acceptance was to look at my polio experience openly and honestly. Oh, what emotional pain lurked within all of the nooks and crannies of my soul! I grieved for all of the missed opportunities, for the person I was created to be, for the excruciating pain I felt in looking at my twisted body in the mirror, and for all of the times I felt so different and out of place. All of these losses had been stuffed inside for years, and they were preventing me from moving forward.
I didnít have to do this work alone. I spoke with other polio survivors from around the world on the Internet and attended GBPPA meetings. I worked with a therapist and joined a 12-Step group. I journaled and meditated. It took great courage to do that painful work; but as each wound was healed, I felt lighter and more peaceful. I was starting to accept my life as it continues to be affected by polio.
Acceptance doesnít mean that I like PPS or how polio has affected my life. It just means that I accept what is and who I am today. When I can accept my PPS and myself, I can move forward in my life. Acceptance can bring me serenity and happiness; it can change my whole environment. When I accept myself as I am, I feel better about life; and I donít even experience as much physical discomfort. To be able to accept is a great blessing; it doesnít take nearly the energy that resisting my PPS did. Acceptance has brought me physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, and it has also given me gratitude.
Acceptance is a process. It doesnít happen overnight, but little by little, one day at a time. Itís not a steady, uphill line either. There are days when I am more vulnerable than others because I havenít taken good care of myself; these are the days when I have trouble accepting. They are farther apart though, and I can recognize what is going on and do something about it.
I believe that new awareness about my polio years will continue to come forward throughout my life. I am open to more grieving and healing when necessary because I know that life is better on the other side. I embrace acceptance regardless of how painful it might be; it is the only life-giving answer Iíve found to my PPS problems. Acceptance has empowered me to face a condition which I am powerless to defeat.
Next: Self-love Is Not Selfish