Jeanne lives with the chronic illness Multiple Sclerosis, which has gradually diminished her physical abilities. From the neck down, her body pretty much ignores all commands.
"It's not sad or disabling," she says. "It's just me. People might think, 'Oh, that’s terrible she can’t do this or that' but I think it just depends on your perspective."
As long as I've known Jeanne, she's always been up for the next activity, jumping at the chance to do something new, or finding any excuse to have a party. She's positive and enthusiastic.
Her out-going personality is a plus when she notices people are uncomfortable about her wheelchair. "I try to make them feel at ease by smiling and talking. When kids stare at my wheels, I say, 'Yes! It's really fun.' and tell them I love my sippy cup."
It's no fun to have MS, and annoying when you can't scratch your nose when it itches, but Jeanne is intentional about enjoying everything she can do.
"You can decide to go on about your life, choose to do things, rather than just sit home. You can make jokes about it, and have family and friends who you trust who you can talk to."
You have to choose, do you want to be miserable, or do you want to be happy.
At left, Jeanne and Bob enjoy the Abyss release party at the Deschutes Public House in Portland, Oregon. In the next month or two they will travel from their home in Western Washington to Florida to visit a friend, Alabama for a wedding, and Colorado for their daughter's graduation from nursing school.
Bob is Jeanne's primary care-giver, chauffeur, housekeeper, cook, gardener, etc. He does all those little things for her that you and I use our hands to do for ourselves on a daily basis.
Jeanne says there are some advantages to not being physically able. "Some people might worry about their hair or something, I can’t even see my hair. There's less to worry about. It sounds funny, but MS is a blessing in disguise because you have to be positive, otherwise, you’d be a miserable person, and then you might as well just go check yourself into the mortuary."
"It's not Pollyanna,
and it's not denial.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.
The cause of MS is still unknown – scientists believe the disease is triggered by as-yet-unidentified environmental factor(s) in a person who is genetically predisposed to respond. There is no cure.
I enjoy writing about brave people from way back in history. But sometimes the best inspiration comes from the courageous people close to us.
What about you? Do you have someone in your life who inspires you? Share in the comment section below.