"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
March 17, 2014
Mind of the Beholder
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Back when I was in the hospital, the nurses impressed on Fluffy how important it was for him to get me out of my wheelchair pronto. They said if I stayed in that chair, I would identify with being a cripple and I would soon think of myself as a helpless human being.

Fluffy took this counsel to heart. Unfortunately, the advice was hogwash. I never thought of the wheelchair as something that made me a cripple. On the contrary, the wheelchair was a piece of furniture. And when compared to the chairs at church, it was a comfortable piece of furniture. I had no interest whatsoever in getting out of it, when the alternative was those horrible church chairs.

Instead, I perfected a series of wheelchair moves as I waited for my legs to come back. I started doing wheelchair maneuvers, much the same as the wheelchair basketball players but without actually having to carry a basketball.

I really got good at it. I could back up or move laterally without benefit of my arms, using just a touch of my feet to the floor or even my legs to the side of the chair. This wasn’t a skill I could actually show off, but I secretly knew I had it. I had never been able to call myself an athlete, but I finally had a physical skill, albeit a tiny one, and I was pleased.

Eventually, however, my feet started telling me they were ready for just a little bit more. It was time for them to simulate walking, with the operative word being “simulate.”

Now when I walk down that church hallway on my walker, I finally know the meaning of the word “cripple” in a way I never knew it in a wheelchair. My right foot is a cinderblock that has no human feeling. My right leg does not have the strength to pick up that heavy right foot, so I stumble.

I think my right foot is secretly a drunkard roustabout that has no intention whatsoever of following the Word of Wisdom. It probably smokes tiny little cigarettes, too, but I haven’t caught it yet.

Despite my daily upper-body exercises, my right arm and shoulder do not have the strength to hold up my body on that side the way the left side does. That right side tends to collapse like an accordion as I walk down the hall, so that I stand straighter on the left than on the right. When I was in the wheelchair I didn’t even know the right side was weaker. Now that I’m walking, the weakness is inescapable.

I truly now feel like a cripple. Bummer.

Now that I’m using the walker in church, everyone seems to think I have taken great strides toward my recovery. They congratulate me as though I have run a marathon or placed in a swimming competition, but I feel like anything but a champion. On the contrary, I feel like Igor from the Frankenstein movies, all hunched over on one side and barely making it from one destination to another.

I never felt like Igor when I was in a wheelchair.

Looking at me from the outside, the world thinks I have made great improvements now that I am standing on my own two feet. From my inner perspective, I feel as though I have gone leaps and bounds backwards. After all, when I was sitting in the chair, I was an athlete (albeit in my own mind).

I was not bent over sideways. I did not have a cinderblock foot. I was not scouring the village, looking for brains for science experiments.

Oh, the joys of progress.

But if this is the price of walking again, I’m gladly paying the admission fee. After all, we signed up for this life with all its experiences — the good ones, the bad ones, and the really nasty ones. Walking like Igor is an experience I never actually wanted, but if it’s on my life’s menu, bring it on. God must have decided I needed it, and if that’s what He thinks, it’s good enough for me.  Until then, please keep any extra brains safely under lock and key.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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