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September 09, 1994 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-09-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Me Brink Of Sorrow

Hardships are
not dead ends,
survivors of illnesses say.

AMY OPPER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

man resorted to getting around
her house in a small automat-
ed vehicle. She refused to grow
frustrated.
"I had to find a reason for liv-
ing," she says.
Setting her sights on educa-
tion, Ms. Pearlman volunteered
within the schools and became
the Berkley Parent-Teacher As-
sociation's "Mother of the Year"
in 1980.
Today, as an elementary
school tutor, she utilizes the
same creative problem-solving
approach she implemented with
her son and herself.
"Every child is different and
is going to respond to a differ-
ent teaching technique," she
says.
Still, the pain of MS always
lurks in the background.
"That's why it's even more
important to focus on other peo-
ple," she explains. "Concen-
trating on myself and whatever
pain I'm feeling won't accom-
plish anything ... If you're suf-
fering and you really want to
help yourself, do something for
someone else. Don't let an ill-
ness stop you."
Bloomfield Hills resident
Tillie Mossman acknowledges
the difficulties that sometimes
arise. After losing the majori-
ty of her sight to macular de-
generation, Ms. Mossman says
her actions have become limit-
ed.
Though she probably will
never completely lose her sight,
Ms. Mossman's vision has been
reduced so significantly that
only blurry forms are evident to
her.
"I used to play cards. I used
to read. I loved being with peo-
ple," she says. "I've lost that."

Ms. Mossman also was an
avid knitter. She designed
sweaters and afghans for
friends and sewed baby bibs for
her grandchildren and later on
for Sinai Hospital.
After her diagnosis, Ms.
Mossman never considered
counseling. _
"Maybe I'm too independent.
Whether I was right or wrong,
I don't know. But I never did it,"
she says. "I knew what I had to
know — that I had to go on liv-
ing. I didn't want to simply ex-
ist."
But, the hobbies that she had
once enjoyed so much now
seemed impossible for her. Not-
ing her boredom, a friend sug-
gested that Ms. Mossman
resume knitting.
She was skeptical at first. Ul-
timately, though, it was knit-
ting that began to fill her days.
"You never forget how," she
says. "You just rely on feel."
From the yarn brought to
her, Ms. Mossman now creates
vivid afghans in an array of col-
ors. She is quick to credit the
people who request her services.
"It's a mitzvah for them to
ask me to knit," she says. "They
know that it keeps me busy."
In addition to knitting, Ms.
Mossman listens to books-on-
tape and to the daily news.
"There's still a world out
there, whether I see it or not. I
just can't bury myself in a hole,"
she says.
Ms. Mossman notes that peo-
ple who are ill miss different as-
pects of their former lives.
"No matter how many times
you tell someone that they
should be able to accomplish
more than they presently ac-
complish, it may never sink in,"

she says. "When people are sick
or in pain, it is very difficult for
them to understand that they're
not the only ones with the prob-
lem."
Ms. Mossman has round-the-
clock assistance with cooking,
laundry and transportation —
"Everything I'd like to be doing
myself," she says. "But you just
have to accept how it is. There's
mail to open, bills to pay. I have
a bookkeeper who comes twice
a month because I can no longer
see the bills."
Sinai's Linda Diaz, with the
cancer counseling program,
says Ms. Mossman raises a
valuable point.
"It's helpful for fam-
ilies to realize that pa-
tients may look
perfectly fine, but in-
side they're healing—
and it may take a long
time for them to heal,"
Ms. Diaz says.
She also points out
that families of pa-
tients may urge pa-
tients to overcome
illness as quickly as
possible, to leave the
sickbed and return to
a "normal" life. They
should be sensitive,
however, to the
amount of time it
might take patients
to acclimate them-
selves to the life they
once knew.
Certain hobbies
might spark pa-
tients' interest, Ms.
Diaz says, and fam-
ilies should coax pa-
tients out of
depression and
back to daily activ-
ities.
Rehabilitation is
an ideal opportuni-
ty to become in-
volved with art or
music, pastimes a
patient probably
didn't have time
for before the ill-
ness. Keeping a

journal, though, can become the
most precious undertaking.
"You tend to forget where you
were emotionally during both
sickness and rehabilitation," she
says, explaining that some
memories might become hazy
and that journals provide an ac-
curate record of the illness.
"Journals help to determine
what was fantasy and what was
reality during that time," Ms.
Diaz says.
Most importantly, she advis-
es patients that their families

should enter into a counseling
program.
"Counseling allows you to
confront feelings you may not
have even realized you had,"
she says. "It helps to get the
negativity out."
Keeping a sense of self, Ms.
Diaz continues, is a critical part
of recovery.
"It's important to realize that
being sick is only a part of life.
There's a lot more out there,"
she says. "Having an illness
doesn't define who you are." 1:1

PHOTOS BY GLENN TRIEST

a)

C)

C:f)

CC
UJ

ao

LLI

F-

Rebecca Pearlman:
"I had to find a
reason for living."

U_I

31

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