My Recovery:  Paralyzed 

my_recovery

I hope you read this post all the way through, because this man’s life is changing before your very eyes.

As I sit here and type, headphones on, I’m thinking about my new job with the paralyzed soldiers in Building 8; that’s where I work 24 hours a week now, for those of you who don’t follow me regularly.

If you would have told me last year, that I would be comfortable feeding a quadriplegic in a busy canteen, I would have told you that you have lost your marbles.

muffin on justruminating men's blogBut there I was yesterday, escorting my new friend–and yes, he is quickly becoming my friend–Jim, down to the canteen for hot chocolate and a muffin.  I was the one who suggested it.  I was the one who paid.  And let me tell you, it felt incredible.

At first I was intimidated by the environment.  There are about 25 men living in Building 8.  Almost all of them are completely paralyzed.  I’ve made it a habit of forcing myself to go into their rooms.  It’s a little daunting, but I am now almost completely comfortable doing it.

safe on justruminating men's blogThere’s Grover, an old crusty, who informed me that his name is not Grover, it’s Command Sergeant Major.  Then there is Ron.  Ron is your proto-typical stoner who owns 6 electric guitars that he can play.  He also has one of the biggest private safes I’ve ever seen.  Right in his room!

There’s one-legged Pete.  Pete is surly to me every time I say hello or try to strike up a conversation with.  My mission is to crack Pete before I leave at the end of March.

There are many other characters, but Jim is my favorite.  He is full of sarcasm and put downs, and I match him blow for blow.  I abuse him verbally and he abuses me.  He beat me in chess yesterday and relentlessly tortured me about it.  He also makes fun of the way I think, talk, look, and the way I call bingo–I call it using all kinds of voices and accents.  He’s one helluva man, I’ll tell you what.

lifechanging on justruminating men's blogSo my life is changing before my eyes.  I never listened 3 years ago when my then psychiatrist said that volunteering would be incredibly good for my well-being.  Now I know what he means.  What a blessing in disguise.  I might even go so far as to say I am actually happy when I am there.

Now THAT’S astounding to me.

58 comments

  • As a person with a muscle disease I have an interesting point of view. I would want someone to feel better about themself because they helped a person who cannot help themselves not necessarily what they considered a less fortunate person or a struggling person. I wouldn’t want them to feel fear or pity. I want people to see past my disability but they often cannot. The fact that you got the muffin no big deal was great. Like hey lets get a muffin. No fireworks go off just normal day. I have very bad days where I need to be carried. My husband practices great humility. Never ego when helping me. He doesnt want praise for doing what a loving person should do. Although i thank him. But that is all. I just happen to not always be able to move. I happen to not always be able to use my left leg or my right shoulder. But that is not who I am. Who I am is way beyond my body.
    I used to volunteer in a nursing home. I was a chaplain there. I never felt sorry for them. I would feel bad for the crappy nursing home they were in and the crappy care. But they didnt want it to be a chore or someone to feel like they checked off a help the poor sick person eat today box. They just simply wanted to eat. And i fed them every day and i did it out of love which sounds like what you are doing. They told me. Don’t feel all yippy you helped an elderly person eat. I said that the only pleasure I got out of helping is that I was led there, and I was doing what I would want done for me one day. And it has been .
    Volunteering is incredibly rewarding. I think it is awesome you are doing it. I think it is awesome you have a connection already and a respect for those you are working with.
    I read through your comments and saw you are gaining a lot from the giving part. And that is beautiful . Just beautiful.
    I have no idea why I felt compelled to comment froma person who uses a wheelchair perspective. Maybe because I wanted everyone to remember that we are not our disability and we are grateful for help when we get it but we want it to be no big deal because so much attention is already put on the things we can’t do. So much attention. Just always remember the person inside. Hope this came across right.

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful, thorough, honest comment on my post. It was most appreciated, make incredible points and was gratefully appreciated. And yes, it came across very well!

      • Oh good! I was hoping i would not offend in anyway by giving a perspective of a person like you are helping. It is the smallest of gestures that a person like them and a person like me actually live for.

      • I am grateful for both your insights and your time.

  • Change is the only thing constant………. I’m glad your finding your peace by helping others, it gives you a very different kick. BTW I’m sure your listening to hardrock on your headphones.

  • I am glad I read this to the end – the first long piece of your writing on this blog I am glad I chose this one – first line pulled me in. I am glad you told their story – the ones that time did damage to and did not heal. I am a believer that nothing happens by chance – lives cross for a reason – while you may get a lot of emotional satisfaction from your interaction with them, I think their minutes of not being alone with themselves were more precious when you stepped in. Totally loved how you described each one of them.

    • I left out a few, but I’m still learning them. I am glad you enjoyed the share

      • I did very much – gave me a glimpse into who you really are -and I was pleased with what I saw. you should write more stories like these. I like reading about people lives like this. But don’t listen to me just write!

  • Reblogged this on Ipuna Black and commented:
    I think it’s wonderful sharing uplifting messages. Life is about connecting with one another. Rob shares his experience with service by working with paralyzed soldiers. He talks about the impact it has had on his life during his road to recovery. Just touching.

  • This is ABSOLUTELY amazing and touching! ❤️​ I love every part of this post. I 100% agree that when you volunteer/give service, you feel great! To know you touched another person’s life is a feeling like no other. What a blessing you are to the paralyzed soldiers. Thank you for sharing.

  • You know I’ve always wanted to do something like this, or even in an old folks home. This blog has totally made me even more interested in doing it.

  • Volunteering is so rewarding, and addressing your own fears, misgivings, or prejudices, along the way is very stressful. Well done Rob!

  • Giving is always more satisfying than receiving!
    Dwight

  • I’m glad to here that you’re finding your new volunteering experience rewarding. I had the same experience in early sobriety. Like you, it changed my life! I no longer volunteer but get paid for what I do in a different profession but it was the volunteering that led me to where I am today.

    I was reluctant to get into the nursing field. My Mother was a RN for many years. Throughout my childhood I spent many hours in a “convalescent hospital/ward”, now called a nursing home/assisted living, etc. Never did I imagine I would enjoy the time that I spend with the residents I take care of on a daily basis. Despite the circumstances I’m going through now, I wouldn’t change anything; my circumstances are nothing compared to the elderly, who many are at the end of their lives.

    I learn so much from them every day!

  • Lovely, I’m glad you found something like that. x

  • This is a wonderful story. I’m always amazed how when we go out thinking that we will bless others with our voluntary service, we find ourselves madly blessed!

  • I am glad that I read all the way through! This made my morning brighter, in addition to the light you are bringing to these people.

  • It’s great to hear that things are going well. Also, the good you’re doing for others is more than most of will probably do in a whole lifetime.

    • I am blessed I have this chance to make up for some things I’ve done in life. I feel true redemption through this work. I’m learning I don’t need it FROM people, I get it through my actions FOR people

  • That’s really heartwarming, Rob. You’re doing good work.

  • Thanks for sharing this with us. Wow! They are going to miss you when you leave in March. Even Pete!

  • That is amazing! Keep at it! There is comfort in helping and being there for others. And even though it may not seem like it, I am certain that they are appreciative of you.

  • In giving to others we give back to ourselves in knowing that we played a part in making this world and someone’s life a little bit better. This is awesome, Rob.

  • Love has an incredible healing power. Those men are spiritual warriors. So are you…by doing the work. Proud of you.

  • Very interesting post. It seems to make our ‘issues’ so small compared to what they have been through.

  • Great post sir! yes one of the tenants of recovery is service, I know part of my personal problem is ego and serving others is one of the ways that I remind myself that life isn’t all about me. And I am always enriched by the experience.

  • Glad you’re getting so much out of it. In DBT they also say this, you should make a point to spend time with those less fortunate. I haven’t done it yet though. It just seems like a lot of work and I haven’t had the energy. This is an inspiring reminder though.

    • I love practicing DBT, it’s the cornerstone of this program, along with CBT, meditation and lots of other stuff. One day you may have the chance. Thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate it

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