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How I Went From the USAF to Struggling to Get Around a Grocery Store

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I’m posting two pictures here to help people understand something.

Sometimes the people you meet don’t have a cast, they don’t have an ADA placard and they don’t “look” ill.

I was diagnosed officially in 2010 with cardiomyopathy and more evidence and testing was done in early 2011 after I left the USAF.

The two pictures attached will help represent me.

The first picture of me was in 2014 in July (almost exactly three years ago from today).

man in the us air force holding a log

I am wearing a 20-lb. weighted vest, 10-lb. ankle weights and carrying “Jimmy,” a 20-lb. weighted log (60 lbs. total).

I carried all this while walking through Camp Shalom Inc. on a route that was by no means flat and was, in total, 1.7 miles in length. I did this every day after already working a full day at home.

The other picture is of a grocery store, in particular, Hy-Vee (what kind of grocery store doesn’t really matter).

inside of a grocery store

Now, in June of 2017, just three years later, when my wife and I need to go grocery shopping, I fear the store!!

It’s flat, air-conditioned and full of helpful people should something happen. And yet, this now concerns me because of how far I might have to go, or because of how heavy that cart with wheels might get for me to push.

I’d give anything to go back to 2014 when I could walk through the hilly roads of Camp and carry that log…

So at the end of all this, what I am trying to say is: Don’t judge a book by its cover, and take advantage of here and now. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, and if you are fortunate enough to see tomorrow, you might wish you had today back anyway.

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Originally published: June 22, 2017
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