How I See It: Moving Away

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IvanaI first started showing signs of muscle weakness when I was fourteen years old. The first signs of it were having difficulty picking things up off the ground. I went to the doctor with my mom – it was a week or so before we were going to Europe for vacation – and the doctor said not to worry. When I came back, that’s when the tests started happening. I did multiple scans, x-rays, blood work -  you name it. So many test, but no answers.

I went through high school as best as I could. Every September when I would come back from summer holidays the stairs got harder and my walking became slower. I graduated high school with the name of muscular dystrophy in the back of my mind, but no confirmation of it yet. It wasn’t until about the age of twenty-one that the specialists told me about my diagnosis.

Eighteen years old was the first time I moved away from home. At this age I was still able to get around, slowly, but still manageable. I didn’t worry about anything when I moved the first time. I was just excited to be on my own, have no curfew, and experience this new independence. One thing I always craved was independence. Always.

School took me five years to finish and I could tell by the fifth year that independence was getting harder. The walk to and from school was getting hard, winters were getting longer and more difficult, and I could feel my body growing weaker. If there was one thing I wanted more than anything, it was to walk across that stage on my graduation and get my degree. Sure, it was probably something simple to most people. But to me, it meant so much more. All the times I cried, begging for an easy day, all the times I fell and thought I might never get back up, and all the times I wanted to quit – it would have all been worth it. And let me tell you, it was.

As I write this today, I am 26 years old. Weaker than I have ever been but my hope and inner strength has never left me. Walking is still hard, lifting heavy objects is near impossible, and the arms that have once helped me up are growing weak. The wind nearly knocks me over, I have lost count of the number of doctor visits I have a year, and getting out of bed is the first struggle of the day. Why then, have I moved nearly 600 km away from home on my own?

The biggest reason I have moved is due to winters. The small town I am from has up to five months of winter. No underground parking exists, half the old buildings aren’t even close to accessible, and there aren’t any apartments that are safe enough for me to live in. It frustrates me even as I write this. Someone with a disability wants to get around just like everyone else. It’s hard when all the grocery stores have steep ramps I can barely get up, the banks have washrooms that are downstairs in the basement with no elevator, and downtown parking is near impossible.

So I moved. If you can’t open a door, build a window. I’m not going to lie, it’s been eight years since I last moved, and I’m more terrified than ever. When I was eighteen, I was still a fearless kid with my head in the clouds. Now I’m a lot smarter and more aware of things. I worry more and stress about all the things I now have to learn. But I have to keep reminding myself; nothing is permanent. I can always begin again. If I don’t like it here or if living on my own is too hard, I can always create a new plan. You see, I am absolutely terrified and completely out of my comfort zone right now. But I fear five, ten years from now I will regret not trying. I will regret not taking a risk.

I have stood still for the last two years. It has been too long. Thinking too much of what to do next and allowing everything I can’t do to swallow me. So I am going to go. I am going to run until I cannot go anymore. Then I will walk and when I can walk no more, I hope you will carry me. I do not know where I am going, but all I know is I want to just keep going. There is willingness in me. To fight and do the things I am afraid of. It is the kind of thing that has kept me alive.

Life is hard, end of story. It’s not supposed to be easy. We come here to learn lessons, to be challenged, and to take action. You build through practice, commitment, and resilience.  So test your character, face discomfort – you must do it. Have the strength to handle it. You have the power to heal. Use your pain; use your wounds. This is not what will destroy you; it will be what builds you back together.

I will continue to learn and hope that I never stop learning. I will use my energy to worry less and believe more. I will trust the time of my life, stay patient, stay calm, stay determined, and trust this journey I am on. One day, I’ll look back and see how far I have come. Maybe it will be all worth it. One thing I know for sure, it’s something I will never forget.

“I know this for a fact: there is nothing in the world we cannot defeat.”        – Tyler Knott.

“One fine day, it will be your turn. You will leave homes, cities, and countries to pursue grander ambitions. You will leave friends, lovers, and possibilities for a chance to roam the work and make deeper connections. You will defy your fear of change, hold your head high and do what you once thought was unthinkable: walk away. And it will be scary at first. But what I hope you’ll find in the end is that in leaving, you don’t just find love, adventure, and freedom. More than anything, you find you.”          -    Isa Garcia

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 Ivana was born in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina but moved to Canada at the age of three. She was diagnosed with LGMD a few years ago and it has forever changed her life.  She is a regular contributor and her blogs will be everything she has learned along the way and what she continues to learn today. Read Ivana’s personal blog at: https://milarosa6.wordpress.com/ 

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