Stair Master

I’ll never forget Mike pushing me to workout on the stair master one of my last weeks in New Zealand. I was huffing and puffing and begged him to stop. “What’s hurting?” he asked ready to help me back into my wheelchair. “My lungs,” I wheezed out. “Oh, that’s what normal people feel! Keep going!” If it wasn’t a nerve issue, he wasn’t going to let me stop. I had to use the gym differently than able bodied people, but Mike taught me to find ways to push myself and celebrate when my struggles were on par with able bodied workouts.

Sometimes my work environment has struggles that are unique to my disability, but the majority of the time, I’m facing similar struggles to my able bodied educator peers. I had a low day professionally on Tuesday when I experienced some pretty frustrating situations with students not recognising the impact of their actions. I joked with a couple of people that I was looking for a new career. My students this term are great, and I love them, and I am by no means jumping ship on teaching them. I just had some really valuable moments to step back and think about how I can be a better teacher for the kinds of students coming into my class these days. I’ve been an educator in the classroom for roughly a decade, and most of those years are post-accident, so I’ve had to adapt a lot.

This term, I started a new style of lesson based on the student request where we push the desks back and students sprawl around on the floor while listening to me read the Bible. I remember doing a similar lesson before my accident where I was down on the floor with the students and we read Haroun and the Sea of Stories while talking about apologetics. I am incredibly grateful that I’m still able to teach, and that I can adapt my lessons to be creative and engage with students while having the limits of my disability.

Last weekend, my right leg was pretty angry and it kept me from walking, but Anja spent our physio time helping my calf to calm down. This week has gone much better, but I’m still asking for everything. Someone at church asked me how recovery was going, and I commented that I needed Anja to remind me that I’m still making progress because I get frustrated with how slow it is sometimes. I had less spasms this week than last, and that’s a plus. I walked less than I wanted, but I also thought about how much better I am at stairs these days. Last night, I was having dinner at an apartment up two flights of stairs. I had to wait for Paige to come down after leaving the food upstairs, but I realised I’d managed this particular solid staircase several times before and felt confident to make it up with my stick in one hand and holding the banister on the other side without the safety net of a person behind me. Paige was shocked to find me at the first landing when she was coming back down.

I still needed her in front of me on the way back down at the end of the night, but I will celebrate the new accomplishment of managing going up stairs with confidence. This is a new and exciting marker in my recovery. I’ll still ask for everything, and I hope you’ll pray with me for big miracles, but I hope you’ll also praise God for the minor miracles too.

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