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The Choice
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She and I are members of the same women's gym. While the primary purpose of this place is to exercise, the gym also offers the opportunity to share joys and concerns with other women. For all too many this place is where lonely women find fellowship.

I noticed her as soon as she checked in. We’ll call her Bev. I was already working out on one of the machines. As she walked she dragged her leg and helped it along with one of her hands. When she got situated she chose the machine next to me.

We were silent for the longest time and then she introduced herself and asked my name. When I responded she told me she had been a member of the gym for many years. We didn’t usually come at the same time so I was a new face to her and she was new to me. “I come because I want to keep my Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in check”, Bev said.

I thought to myself, "That explains why she drags one leg". My fist impression of her was that she was a woman who had suffered a stroke.

As we moved around the circuit she talked and I mostly listened. In those moments Bev shared a snap shot of her life.

Both she and her younger sister became victims of MS in their mid twenties. She explained that her sister gave up as soon as she learned her diagnosis whereas Bev decided to fight back.

Encourages Exercise

When the physician Bev was seeing told her there was no use for her to exercise because her muscles would deterioate in time anyway, she quit his practice. She is currently being monitored by a physician who encourages her to continue to exercise and use her muscles. She had a big smile on her face when she told me her condition is not getting worse.

I asked Bev if she would be interested in participating in a clinical trial now that medical science was experimenting with the use of stem cell transplants for MS patients.

“No”, she replied. “I’ll leave that to the younger ones whose life would be cut short by the disease. I’m getting along fine. I even tell my husband ‘Don’t help me unless I ask’ and I don’t ask! If I get discouraged I just think of all the injured men and women in the Veteran’s hospitals throughout our country. Now those people are bad off.”

Bev reminded me of a verse in 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed…”

It was time for me to leave. Bev made one more attempt to continue our conversation. “And then there is my sister. She didn’t even try. She chose to sit in a wheel chair and now is dependant on others every day.”

Two sisters. Same disease. One is fighting back. The other isn’t. Each made a conscious but very different choice.

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By Carole Kilcher. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.


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