‘Calm and self controlled’, one of the synonyms for ‘patience’, might well describe me now, but I certainly have not always been that way. With an abusive husband/father, and four children to care for after my divorce, too many times I was anything but calm. My attitude toward discipline didn’t change much but I discovered that I could express my innermost belief that love and self-control accomplishes much more than anger and a loud voice. Be more patient and understanding became an internal motto. The result is that I now have four beautiful, loving, caring children, all of whom are well educated and successful in their own lives. Oh, we had our ups and downs, but I could not be more fortunate than I am today.
Some of you readers know of my physical circumstances. Very suddenly, with no warning, I became a statistic; a senior citizen, well past eighty years who had a severe stroke. The consensus of medical opinions was that I either would not live or would be no more than a vegetable. Fortunately I never heard those comments. When I regained consciousness and decided I had rested long enough, my choice was to prove that recovery is possible. I was fully aware that only a great deal of patience could place me anywhere near independence. My responsibility was to learn all I could about my own body and patiently go about making changes for the better. My focus was on what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t.
Another synonym for ‘patience’ is ‘suffering a hardship’. There are a number of friends and acquaintances that believe that is my lot in life and they are afraid to call me or visit me. One friend in Sri Lanka finally said he could only envision me in bed, unable to talk, and being fed and bathed. It took patience on my part to communicate with him, and others, to convince them I spent only nighttime in bed and was capable of talking, laughing at funny stories or comments, and feeding myself.
I have spent several years, before and since my stroke, studying, researching, and learning more about my passion. Since a very young age I have wanted to know more about the physical body and the effects of thought and outside influences on the body. There was never enough time or money to study at a university before my stroke. I soon learned how important thought and positive imaging is in any recuperative period.
There were things I had to overcome such as some memory loss. I play computer games, take university courses on the computer or via DVDs and follow up with tests to see if I remember the content to answer questions. I read voraciously and often stop at the end of a page to recall what I just read. I recall an exercise or movement I could do prior to my stroke and try to duplicate it. If I can’t do it I have choices – either forget about it and don’t try again, or wait a while and give it another try. In the meantime I often think about it and soon try again. When I find my leg or arm is beginning to respond I make that movement a part of my daily routine. I do exercises every day, not all of them each time, but enough to keep me active.
There is no simple answer to how I accomplish what I do. If I were asked to sum up how I can accomplish everything, and I am involved in several tasks, I would have to say it is through ‘my perception’. I am 88 years old, but I do not see myself, or think of myself as old. I spend most of my time in a motorized wheelchair, and walk with a walker only within my apartment, but I don’t think of myself as a cripple. Every week I am aware of some improvement in my body and I never forget to express thanks for what I have and what I am about to receive.
My days are seldom long enough to do all I would like to do, but if I lacked patience I feel I might miss something wonderful.
– Rowena Nichols, Columnist ‘Row’
Rowena Nichols, RN, Dr. MMT, PTA. Registered Nurse with BS in Nursing, Dr. of Medical Massage Therapy, and Physical Therapy Assistant(Certification). Beyond the use of her mass credentials, she has had a “full and rewarding life,” including living and teaching in Chile and returning to nursing at age 80. Currently, she is writing articles for several Newsletters and magazines, including problem solving for tutors of English at a Literacy organization in New Mexico.