My name is Maria Furnish and I have Muscular Dystrophy. I would like to take a minute and tell you about my life and the struggles that I experience in my life.
When I was playing baseball, as a little girl, I struggled with running. I couldn't run as fast as the other kids or play as good as them. I was frustrated and I didn't know what was wrong with me. So, my mom took me to the doctor and, after a few tests, they diagnosed me with Muscular Dystrophy. That's when my life took a different path. Your parents have ideas for your life and you also have many things you want to do with your life but then sometimes reality doesn't allow that to happen. No one plans for bad things to happen but they do and then you have to come up with a new path for your life.
It's hard but you have to find a “positive” out of it all. Trust me … it’s hard. I have many bad days but you have to “fight through them”. It helps when you have people who love you. I have people who love me and would do anything for me if I just asked them. I'm not always positive but you have to try and focus on the good in what you might be going through. If you don't, then you will go crazy.
At first, life was ok, but as time went on, things got worse. I walked until I was in fifth grade. I struggled walking and, on Valentine’s Day, while getting ready for church, I fell and broke my leg. When I finally got the cast off, I was unable to walk for the rest of my life. All of my dreams of dancing were gone but, for my final recital, I was able to sit on the side of the stage, with the rest of my dance group, while they performed. My daughter currently attends the same dance studio as I did. Now, you’re probably thinking "daughter"? “How does she have a daughter since she’s in a wheelchair? Well, before I had kids, I never thought that I would have kids or even get married for that matter. As I got older, my muscular dystrophy got worse. I had to have surgery in junior high school for scoliosis and that consisted of getting two metal rods fused to my spinal cord. As time went on, I had to get more and more help from other people around me.
I never thought any guys were going to “like” me, let alone want to date me but some boys did.
My “negative thinking” almost messed that up because I thought that they were “playing a joke” on me when they asked me out, but they weren't. I had to “open up” more because I was embarrassed about my disease. It took a long time for me to “open up” and get over my embarrassment of being in a wheelchair. It's “who I am” and I can't change that so I had to embrace it. There are days that I have trouble embracing my “path in life” like when I have to go to the hospital or I can't feed myself or even help with the simple task of house cleaning. I hate the fact that so many people have to help me but they don't mind. There are lots of people out there with “good hearts” and they don't mind feeding me or helping me go to the bathroom.
I have a great husband, who has “stood by me” for over thirteen years now, and two great children, who don't look at me any differently because they simply don't know me any other way. I have a wonderful mother, who has taken care of me, with my disease, for over twenty-five years even though taking care of me has caused her to miss work and have long term pain. I have a step-father who accepted me and my mom as we are. He came into a family with two kids, and even grandkids, and didn't hesitate to help where he could. My brother has taken care of me “no matter what”, even when it became uncomfortable for him because I was his sister. I have so many other family members and friends who love me no matter what. So, when you think life is horrible, you should just think of everyone in your life who “loves you” and “cares about you”. Think of all of the “positives” in your life, even though they may have been so small that you thought they were nothing, they were actually something important. Sometimes, I've let “negative thinking” take over my life, but when you make yourself “think positive”, it makes you happier. Life isn't always easy but how you handle it makes a BIG difference.