This has been a strange season in our family. In the first half of the year, my husband was overtaken by his hidden disability. He experienced worsening seizures and immeasurable fatigue for several months. When his seizures finally came under control, Ben started feeling more like himself and decided to take some time to strengthen his physical body. He jumped on his new mountain bike (purchased with the money we received from selling his car since he can no longer drive) and set out for a three-mile ride around our neighborhood. He wanted to wake up a bit before the children arrived home from school. I was away on yet another business trip.
That was when I received the text: “Let me know when you have time to talk.” I was in the middle of a Board meeting. My heart raced with fear…is he having seizures? “What happened? Are you OK?” I texted back. I expected my husband to simply say yes or no. Instead, I received multiple texts telling me that he had been riding his bike and was hit (dragged, actually) by a Ford F-350 truck. He was OK, but his bike was a mess.
Since Ben was hit by the truck, our life has centered around his physical disability. A lawyer friend of ours suggested that Ben go through testing to make sure that his injuries were not too serious. At this friend’s advice (thank you, Lord), Ben sought treatment he otherwise never would have done. That was when we discovered that Ben tore two ligaments in his knee and needed surgery. Wow. We were both stunned.
Strangely, since Ben’s bike accident, he has been seizure free and his memory problems have not been much of an issue. But his physical disability has taken over every aspect of our lives. How different than dealing with hidden disabilities…and yet, it’s eerily similar. We adapt. We make accommodations. We try to do too much, and then deal with the aftermath. Basically, we have once again organized our lives around a disability. Only this time it’s a physical disability, not a hidden one.
After surgery, Ben was in a lot of pain. We needed to find a recliner he could sit in to lift his leg and allow him to fully recline (he couldn’t do stairs for the first few days). We’ve eaten dinner in the family room rather than the kitchen for about a month, since Ben needs to keep his leg reclined. We can’t do much of what we would normally do in summer…family walks, camping, hiking…even daily trips to the pool as a family are out.
Ben’s focus on his physical disability is good. For my husband’s hidden disabilities cause him to struggle when he has to remember much and be responsible for much. In this season, he can’t do too much. He can only be responsible for one thing…healing. He is resting, doing physical therapy, icing his knee regularly, and scheduling his own doctors’ visits. We are working together with a large community from our church to help him get rides to his physical therapy appointments, since I am at work during the day. And as Ben’s leg is healing, his brain is healing too. We see the benefits of Ben focusing on “one thing.” We know that removing stress and anxiety from Ben’s life helps keep his seizures at bay. So while this is a challenging season as Ben heals physically, it is also a restful season as we’re not experiencing many of the issues we normally do surrounding Ben’s hidden disability.
We are thankful to God. The physical disability will come to end. The hidden disabilities will not, although they do seem to ebb and flow in the course of our life. It’s a good reminder that ultimately, God will come and make all things new. None of our disabilities are permanent, even if we may feel that they are.
Now if Ben could just get well enough to mow the lawn….