The Lights in Our Darkness
Our Voices features guest bloggers in their own words sounding off on disability issues in Arizona.
Phoenix resident Kimberly Solis is a lifelong Arizonan who enjoys rock climbing, swimming, and trying hard things. She currently works in the Valley as an executive business assistant.
"Life is tough... get a helmet," was a saying the dad of one of my friends used to say to us kids growing up. I didn't think much of it when I was a child, but now as a young adult I take this simple saying to heart. For me, the helmet represents friendships and everyone who have had a positive impact on my journey. Life is tough enough as it is living with a progressive disorder, and I can't imagine making it through without that support system. For they are my lights through the darkness.
The most common inherited neurological disorder which affects approximately 1 in 2,500 people in the United States is named after three doctors, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, or CMT. It damages the motor and sensory nerves, which in turn causes atrophy to the muscles in our hands and feet. I live with CMT every day.
The number one support in my life would have to be my parents. Since I was young, they signed me up for activities that were challenging both physically and mentally. From swimming and dance, to piano and gymnastics classes, I learned at a young age that though I might be weaker, slower, and different than other kids, I could still accomplish anything I set my mind to.
One type of darkness in my life comes in the form of pain and depression. The pain comes with the muscles cramping and the burning sensation from the nerves. You get tired quicker and things that some people think are easy, like tying a shoelace or opening the toothpaste bottle, become difficult. That is when depression sets in... when easy tasks become hard and the body just feels like quitting. It’s during these dark moments that the light of encouragement and support of friends and family guides me through.
In college, my roommate and friends were there for me as I participated in intramural sports like flag football, soccer and floor hockey. I made it through rock climbing and scuba classes with the leadership and support from the teachers and fellow classmates. Those activities pushed my body to the limit! Somedays I could barely walk or move, but I endured and kept on pushing forward because of the supportive people in my life.
I am now learning the art of Wing Chun and go twice a week to class. Being a martial art, it is hard on the body. It can cause bruises and numbness in my arms and legs. Some days I don't want to go to class, but the teacher has been very supportive and understanding. His words of encouragement and thoughts of how I could adjust certain things to fit my body and strength level keeps me going. His belief in my improvement and becoming stronger makes him one of the lights on my journey through life with a progressing disability.
The darkness can be great having a disability, and it may take many little lights in our life to shine us on our way. We just need to put ourselves out there to be receptive of those lights that want to help us. With that said, we in turn can be a light to someone else. It doesn't take much—perhaps a listening ear, a helping hand or an encouraging word. For a person who may slip into darkness when life gets tough, it may take only one little light to make a huge difference.