By Carla Schick
How often have some of us heard: “You can’t do…” or “You shouldn’t…” or “You’ll never be able to…”? With all that negativity coming from other people, it’s no wonder we feel depressed and hopeless sometimes. It’s bad enough that we have to battle with our own negative emotions, but to have someone else come along and tell us that we can’t do something, well, it’s enough to make us go out and do whatever we’ve been told we couldn’t or shouldn’t, or whatever other kind of “ouldn’t” people want to throw at us.
As famed silent and motion picture star Gloria Swanson once said: “Never say never, for if you live long enough, chances are you will not be able to abide by its restrictions. Never is a long, undependable time, and life is too full of rich possibilities to have restrictions placed upon it.” There are a number of examples of people who have defied the odds, done the unexpected and overcome what appeared to be unsurpassable obstacles.
Recently, I read a story in the news about Tom Buckett, a young soccer player who crushed his skull after he fell 15 feet through a glass skylight. He spent two weeks in a coma, and after waking, he realized that not only had his skull turned to mush, but he was paralyzed on one side and wasn’t able to talk. Doctors told him that he would never play soccer again. But Buckett did the unexpected. After a cranioplasty, months of rigorous physical therapy and a lot of determination, this young man went and did exactly what his doctors told him he’d never be able to do again: play soccer. Buckett has to wear a special plastic helmet whenever he plays, but he’s thrilled to be back out on the field again.
Ian Barnes, diagnosed when he was just 10 years old with severe Crohn’s disease, is another survivor who has challenged the status quo. When he was newly diagnosed, Barnes was told that he would die because of the severity of his condition. Despite being plagued with uncontrollable vomiting and rapid weight loss, he never allowed his disease to define who he was, even as a young boy. After having an IV surgically implanted in his arm to administer medication, Barnes initiated a very serious and dedicated exercise regimen. Starting at age 11, he began doing 500 crunches and push-ups each day. At age 14, he started lifting weights. He stunned his doctors by not only surviving, but thriving as he continued to gain weight and muscle. Now age 19, Barnes is pursuing his life’s passion: bodybuilding.
My mom is another inspiring example. Having lived with severe chronic pain in her right foot for the past 18 years, you’d think she was used to people telling her she shouldn’t or couldn’t. But my mom has never accepted the word “no.” Time and again she defies the odds, pushing her body past the point of pain, whether she’s driving around town, doing all of her own grocery shopping, cooking dinner or cleaning the house. Sometimes she just goes and goes; I call her my little Energizer Bunny because oftentimes I’m the one trying to keep up with her.
Then, there are the well-known examples of those who have defied the odds. Ludwig van Beethoven, despite profound deafness that began approximately 30 years prior to his death in 1827, continued to contribute beautiful and moving compositions to the delight of listeners all over the world. And Helen Keller, rendered blind and deaf from meningitis as an infant, fulfilled her dream of going to college and graduated cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in 1904. She is remembered as a prolific writer, lecturer and activist.
Of course, the majority of us will not have our skulls smashed in or write a timeless piece of classical music. For the most part, we will just be glad to be able to conquer the smaller, simpler aspects of everyday life: making dinner for our families, picking up our children from school, and walking to the mailbox and back. For many, these are the actions that doctors, friends or family members have told us that we can’t or shouldn’t do. But, being brave and determined, we’ve gone out and accomplished our goals - despite the negative feedback.
How about you? Share with us your goals for next year.
For further reading, please visit these websites:
Tom Buckett - swns.com/injured-football-fans-incredible-skull-operation-091527.html
Ian Barnes - www.muscleandbodymag.com/author/ian-barnes/
Helen Keller - www.afb.org/info/about-us/helen-keller/12
Ludwig van Beethoven - www.humanehealthcare.com/Article.asp?art_id=912