Friday, April 12, 2024

‘Chair on Wheels’

Staff Writer | August 11, 2020 1:06 AM

Sandy Crabtree says faith and writing have sustained her during 50 years with multiple sclerosis

“Threescore and more — much more — body has sat in chair on wheels, rarely does ground hold heels, for chair on wheels support frame so ground can be gained.

Sandy Crabtree, for 50 years, has endured multiple sclerosis. She has done so with what her husband of 34 years, Ray, describes as grace, strength and dignity.

“She is not a person who will let anything get her down,” he said as they sat in the living room of their Coeur d’Alene home.

“Her attitude from the beginning is, ‘Why not me?’ If you have that attitude, a faith-based background, that gets you through most things.”

The disease that attacks the nerve covering, thus throwing glitches into communication between brain and body, affects people differently. For Sandy Crabtree, it started with double vision when she was in her 20s.

She recalls going to an eye doctor, and then a neurologist who ran tests and bluntly told her, “You have MS.”

“I was in a daze. I really didn’t know what MS was,” Sandy said.

She found out through research and experience.

Her face went numb. Gradually, her left leg stopped working and then, her right, so she no longer drives. Today, she primarily uses a wheelchair to get around at home, but has the use of her arms.

She can walk short distances with assistance.

Physical and water therapy sessions help.

“I’m still strong,” she said, smiling.

Daily things that most people do without thinking — getting dressed, preparing a meal, helping with chores — demand determination.

“Everything is a challenge,” she said.

What also keeps Sandy Crabtrees strong and positive, what gives her joy, is writing. The 72-year-old recently penned what she considers her best work, a poem, “Chair on Wheels.”

Despite her physical troubles, it expresses her outlook on life, her trust in God, her appreciation and gratitude.

“I was sitting in a chair and these words just came,” she said. “It was easy, actually.”

She named it “Chair on Wheels.”

It says, in part:

“Thank goodness though, it has been a very slow ride to chair on wheels. Therefore allowing time to adjust as each taken to learn new ways that help in chair on wheels.

Enjoyed all before in life the Lord allowed and others not. Experiences that only happen once in life now held dear. Lots of memories cherished with pictures to gaze on from chair on wheels.”

She has since shared it with friends and family, who have praised her and urged her to keep writing, which she does.

Her faith, Sandy said, has sustained her.

“That’s No. 1,” she said. “The Lord, I always look to him to do things. He is my major help.”

Ray, retired Navy, is No. 2 and her primary caregiver at home.

The two moved to Coeur d’Alene 16 years ago but are far from homebound. They get out to visit people, go for drives, attend church and have dinner.

Still, by evening, Sandy tires and the summer temperature takes its toll.

“I’m like liquid. It melts me away,” she said, laughing. “I can’t do anything. That’s my big enemy, heat.”

“Being on wheels isn’t all bad though — Yes, there are areas that don’t get used due to nerves not being revived to act. Atrophy set in making harder for body to respond or move.

“There are perks to being in a chair on wheels. I don’t cook or clean or handle anything too much to make things straight. Of course, at times I wish I was abler to help the one who does ALL before me while watching from chair on wheels.”

Sandy’s advice to anyone recently diagnosed with MS?

Don’t panic.

Stay away from heat.

If you’re tired, take a nap.

Accept the support of family and friends.

Do your own research and see a neurologist.

Good humor is important.

“Laughter helps,” she said.

A grinning Ray agreed.

“All of our married life, we’ve had a lot of humor between us,” he said.

And write. Often. Anytime. Anywhere. Just write.

The other night she woke up and told Ray she needed a pad and pen.

“I have some thoughts I need to write down,” she said.

She wrote, and then went back to sleep. A sound sleep.

If never incurred what now is, I wouldn’t have met all the Medical staff to share Him and spread His Word.

The Lord in past and present has always and will always be near to encourage strengthen inner-self and teaches to push forward in a positive way with life in chair on wheels.