Taking Care

Disability Network/Lakeshore staffer, Chris Wistrom, wanted to share some thoughts with all of you!

I had a “eureka” moment yesterday, the kind where you realize that you haven’t been entirely truthful with yourself.  You see, this past year has been a really rough one for me, and to compensate for that, I’ve been pampering myself.  Notice the terminology there:  I “pamper” myself, instead of “take care” of myself.  You might ask, “What’s the difference?” 

Pampering is a form of self-gratification (at least my case).  I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted rather than making healthy meals.  I put off exercising.  I felt I deserved to pamper myself to compensate for all the stress in my life. 

Taking care would have made much more sense.  Taking care would have meant not giving in to indulgence, but rather making healthy choices.   My “eureka” moment was about how much better off and healthier I’d be right now if I “took care” of myself. 

Michigan’s Strategic Plan includes a section called “Health Promotion for People with Disabilities.”  You see, they have realized a lot of people in Michigan are doing what I’ve been doing: pampering instead of taking care of themselves.  It’s a situation that has grave implications, no pun intended, especially for people with disabilities.

The Strategic Plan recognizes “there is a strong relationship between disability and chronic disease.”  In other words, if you have a disability to begin with, it’s more likely you’ll acquire other chronic conditions too.   It’s hard to manage a chronic condition when you have a disability.  It’s hard to deal with a disability when you’re trying to manage a chronic condition.  Health Promotion for People with Disabilities works on the premise that, “…all people can be healthy within their own parameters, and that everyone can do something to improve their health and the quality of their lives.

There are over one and a half million people in Michigan with a disability.  There is a greater chance that we will have more problems with obesity, smoking and lack of exercise than people without disabilities.   That makes sense.  It’s more difficult to burn calories when you have limited range of motion or restricted use of your large muscles.  We have more trouble exercising.  Let’s face it, who wants to exercise when your arthritis hurts, or when you can’t walk or run?  How many exercise machines do you see at the gym designed for people with disabilities?  Not too many, I’ll bet!

Now that I’ve seen the light, so to speak, I’m determined to take care.  I’ve made a plan, set some goals.  I am taking control of my own life and I refuse to let stress lure me into thinking it’s okay to pamper myself.  Instead, I am going to take care of myself.

I don’t want to reach my so called “golden years” and find I have to live out the remainder of my life in a nursing home…or that I don’t have any life remaining!  I especially don’t want to be dependent on others for things I can do for myself.  I bet you don’t either, so, please, take care, my friend… take good care.

For more information, go to: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/Health-Promotion-People-with-Disabilities-Mich-Strategic-Plan-2012-14_384839_7.pdf.