About Going Beyond Coping to Thriving
Back in 1995 and a few years before, I was a weekend runner and began to have problems lifting my legs while running and some problems with my gait too. One of the things I learned, when you press for a diagnosis is be careful what you ask for. At Johns Hopkins Hospital, they ran tests and diagnosed me as having a progressive form of Multiple Sclerosis. The doctor who diagnosed me said you’ll probably be in a wheelchair in a year. That really got my attention! At the time, I had begun to use acupuncture to deal with these unknown symptoms. So when I heard from Hopkins and got the diagnosis, I was in shock! The first person I called was my acupuncturist, Bob Duggan. Bob, at the time, was the CEO of the Traditional Acupuncture Institute in Columbia, MD. Bob said something profound to me…”are you going to live or live the diagnosis? And what’s different today than yesterday other than you have a diagnosis?”
Those few words have stuck with me over the past twenty years. I used to do whatever the doctor said, but now I listen to my body and have realized that I know what my body needs much better than some high-tech interment. I have taken charge of my own health and happy with it.
Before we moved to our CCRC, I had an old Schwinn Airdyne and rode it three or four times a week, began doing pranayama breathing exercises, taking acupuncture, and maintain a positive outlook on life. I found that I did not contract the usual colds, etc., and attribute that to in large part to acupuncture. I have no data on that, just one data point, me and to me, that’s all the matters!
About two and a half years ago, I was not being mindful at our home in Harford County and took a fall in our tile bathroom. I ended up with a small brain-bleed, five stitches over my left eye and a broken humorous in my left arm. I spent two weeks in the hospital and two months rehabbing. My wife and I decided to investigate CCRC’s in the area as we did not want to burden our children with our care and snow and leaf removal were becoming an issue where we lived. Our go-to daughter lived in Carroll County and taught English at Westminster High. She suggested we look into Carroll Lutheran Village (CLV) (see www.clvillage.org) and we did…like what we saw (especially the pool for me).
We moved to CLV in April, 2012. I’m now swimming a mile a day and am the chairman of the CLV Wellness Committee. While I lived in Harford, I had become a commissioner on the county Disability Commission so when we moved to Carroll County, I volunteered for the Commission on Aging and Disabilities and was appointed in January 2014. The chairwoman asked me to help her with setting up an Aging in Place initiative in Carroll and that’s what brought me to Communities of Practice (CoP). I had been volunteering as a mentor with McDaniel College for the Director of the Center for Aging (CSA), Dr. Diane Martin. I thought, wait a minutes, this is a no-brainer! Why not approach Dr. Martin about AIP in Carroll County? She has the skills and knowledge about dealing with an aging population and teaming with her would be a win-win. I also think that when you live in a community, you need to reach out and I’ve found working to bring this choice (AIP) to the Westminster and Carroll Community has been exciting and rewarding.