Dear Friends and Fellow Sufferers: We all have our place. Some of us have our couches, some of us have our beds. We all have a place we go to and lay in pain, praying for it to go away. As we lay there our thoughts wander. Some of us focus on positive thoughts. Some others cannot think positively because the pain is too much of a negative force in our lives. Regardless of how we think, I am sure all of us at some point have asked God, the Universe, whomever your higer power may be the exact same question...WHY ME? WHY ME??? It has taken me years for the answer to be realized in my fogged up brain. Years of pain, fatigue, misery, and self loathing have clouded the answer. Every night since this all started I have asked God that question. WHY ME?? The answer has been trickling in as slowly as a small stream thawing after a long cold winter. Today must have been summer because the answer hit me as if the stream suddenly melted at once. WHY NOT ME?? I was in nursing for many years. All of those years I had compassion for the majority of the patients I cared for. Yes, it was compassion, but not empathy. I never felt what they felt. I never felt the despair of a 17 year old paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident. I never felt the frustration of a well versed literary Professor after a stroke as he struggled to find the right words. I never experienced the pain a woman in the last stages of cancer felt as the pain racked her body to the point where uttering a single word was excruciating. I have never experienced the full blow that all of these people have. Yet, in the last five years I have experienced each of these symptoms time and time again. Why not me? I recall many times walking through a grocery store. I would avoid the eyes of those in a wheelchair. Sometimes if the compassionate part of me saw a person who could not reach an item on a shelf, I would smile and offer assistance. Yet the majority of the time, I would avoid eye contact with those who had disabilities. Why not me? When I was a manager for a large retail chain, I remember a man who always stood at the entrance of our parking lot. Everyday he held a sign in his hands that read "Help a Brother out........" I never looked long enough to read the entire sign. He had a very convienent place to stand. He stood at the only entrance and exit to our parking lot. If I was leaving work, ninety percent of the time I would be stuck at the light. I would be forced to endure either looking at this man and tell him I had no money (which was a lie), or avoiding looking in his direction while seeing him out of the corner of my eye. I often chose to stare intently at the stop light as if it were the most intriguing thing in the world. Why not me? In the past five years, I have experienced the emotions of a person who cannot walk. I have experienced the frustration of trying to find the right word to say in a simple sentence. I have felt the excruciating pain of a person trying to gather the strength to endure light conversation. I have experienced taking my children to a soup kitchen to ensure they could eat. I have experienced the feeling of despair of lost hopes and dreams of being homeless. Why not me? Having this myriad of symptoms has taught me alot about life, love, and most of all, empathy. The saying about walking a mile in someone else's shoes has never meant more to me than it does right now at this moment. I do not know if I will ever get better. I pray that I do. I do know one thing. I promised myself and God today that I would never say "WHY ME??" again. Instead of WHY ME, I said THANK YOU.