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    A Holy Limp

    I got polio at six months old. Every step of my life, I have walked with a limp. It was a source of great shame to me growing up because of people’s stares. And my limp was probably the biggest reason I hated polio and hated how I saw myself, as the “ugly crippled girl.” One day, as I studied the scriptures, God gave me a divine “lightbulb moment.” As I read in Genesis 32 about Jacob wrestling all night with God, the same Lord who touched his hip, asked me, “Do you see the souvenir I gave Jacob from his night with Me?” Jacob walked the rest of his…

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    From Fears to Tears

    In a previous blog post, I’m Scared, Lord, I wrote about my apprehensions concerning my upcoming hip replacement surgery. My doctor was cheerfully confident that I would not experience the post-operative pain I was afraid of, but I was all-too-aware of my potential complications. As a polio survivor, I’m twice as sensitive to pain as those whose brains were not infected by the poliovirus. On top of that, I was extremely aware of the fact that my severely arthritic hips had become basically frozen, leaving me with a limited range of motion. I knew that the surgeon and her team would be moving my legs in all kinds of unnatural…

  • Sue on Scooter in CXozumel
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    What It’s Like to Live with a Disability

    As a polio survivor since I was an infant, living with a disability has been my “normal.” But, like most polio survivors, I just gritted through the limitations and inconveniences, trying to keep up with everyone else. I’ve been thankful for the opportunities to speak to children about what it’s like to live with first a limp, and now the need for a scooter to get around, as several months ago I stopped being able to walk. My favorite thing to tell them is, “I am not my polio leg. I am me. You connect with me by looking in my eyes. When you see someone in a wheelchair, please…

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    This Too Shall Pass

    I wrote this blog post on May 7, 2012, not quite five years ago. I had no idea that by this point, I would hardly be walking, using a scooter 95% of the time and unable to move without a walker for the rest. Pain and serious weakness are my daily companions. As I noticed the counts on my most popular blog posts and discovered this one among the top, I am grateful that the wisdom God gave me five years ago is even more true today. And I am grateful that I can even minister to myself . . . Sometimes it’s the simplest things that help us navigate…

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    Leaning Hard

    I wondered when it would happen, when the pain and weakness from post-polio, exacerbated by hip arthritis, would set me up for a fall. And now I know. The other day I took a tumble. I forgot to have my husband put my walker in the back of my mini-van. At some point this year I discovered that leaning on a cane for stability wasn’t enough, and I need a walker for literally every step. But this level of loss and disability is still new to me; sometimes I forget that my “new normal” demands things like taking a walker with me. When I got to my destination, all I…

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    Pain: God’s Just-Right Tool

    “You know, you’re like the Martha Stewart of kitchen gadgets and tools,” my friend observed as she unloaded our dishwasher. “You’ve got stuff I never knew existed.”   I really do like having just-right tools. I only use my cherry pitter during cherry season, but it’s perfect for the job. I don’t use my electric knife sharpener every day, but when I do pull it out to put a finely honed edge on a knife, it brings joy to my culinary tasks. I love being able to chop up nuts in my food chopper in no time flat—and no mess. Tools like these are a reason I enjoy cooking and…

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    When Life Hands You Bananas. . .

    My friend Jonathan Baker handed a banana and a knife to every student in his Bible classes at Puebla Christian School in Puebla, Mexico. He told them to cut up their bananas any way they wanted. Junior high boys pretty much decimated theirs while other students cut their bananas into large pieces. Then Jonathan passed out cellophane tape and told them to put the bananas back together again. It was, of course, a mess. The students who had made neat cuts with their knives were able to reassemble their bananas, but even with tape it was clear they were in parts. The mashed bananas, needless to say, were hopeless. Even…

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    If God is So Good, Why Does He Let Me Hurt?

    This is probably the biggest question, and the biggest obstacle to trusting God, in Christianity. It’s a legitimate question, and it deserves a thoughtful answer that honors the amount of pain attached to it. Disclosure: I am writing this while beset by the most physical pain I’ve experienced since post-polio syndrome started attacking my body with the “unholy trinity” of pain, weakness and fatigue. It hurts to stand, it hurts to walk. Every single step. Why does God allow it? And my pain is nothing compared to the horrific suffering of millions around the world. Doesn’t He care? Why doesn’t He stop it—surely He can. He could stop it all…

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    Mad at God

    I knelt down next to my bed, ten years old, and once more poured out my heart to God. “God, please heal me! You know how much I hate having polio, I hate limping, I hate going to physical therapy every week, I hate the surgeries, I hate the way people stare at me because of how I walk. I hate that no one could love me with polio. I hate this, God! I know You can take it away—please let me wake up tomorrow morning all healed and restored!” Once again, I fell asleep, hopeful that God had heard me and He was able to snap His fingers or…

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    The Stink of Self-Pity

    When I got polio as an infant in 1953, just before the vaccine was developed, my parents were instructed by the doctors and the therapists that the very worst thing that could happen was for me to wallow in self-pity, and to never let me go there. Maybe they all thought that if no one ever talked about the huge assault of this life-changing trauma, it would never occur to me to think about it, and so I’d never end up in the Self-Pity Mudpuddle. So what was modeled to me, and which I dutifully followed, was a constant response of denial. So I grew up wondering, but never able…