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No offense, but I don’t want to be here,” says stroke patient Darryl Blakely of Raymond.

He’s in the middle of a strenuous workout session, so Methodist Outpatient Therapy physical therapist Molli Sorrels could take the comment as a complaint.

But she understands the deeper meaning and says: “I don’t want you to be here, either.”

HERE is the middle ground between fighting for your life and reclaiming your lifestyle.

As a graduate of LSVT BIG & LOUD therapy for Parkinson’s disease, Mark Heusel of Madison knows he’s supposed to continue the program’s intensive exercises at home.

“But it’s hard to stay motivated to do it on my own,” confesses the retired mechanical engineer.

That’s why he’s delighted to have discovered BIG & LOUD for Life: A Parkinson’s Disease Wellness Program. Free classes are now available at Methodist Outpatient Therapy clinics in Ridgeland and Flowood.

Before she knew she had multiple sclerosis, Eva Jackson hid her shaky limbs for fear it would compromise her career.

Now, she boldly embraces all things MS, even bedazzling her first cane.

“I am in such a better place, and now I want to help others,” said the National MS Society peer support leader in central Mississippi.

As a Black woman who struggled seven long years before being properly diagnosed, she’s determined to counter the dangerous delusion that Black people don’t get MS.

Jeff Merchant of Terry had been hunting some 47 years.

So on Nov. 4, he felt confident as he climbed to put new straps on a lock-on tree stand.

It was the proverbial pride before a fall.

“The top of the stand broke and pulled my feet off the section I was standing on,” he said. “I fell 19 feet.”

He landed standing up, dislocating both ankles and crushing his heels. Then he fell backwards atop his bow.

Amy DeGrado’s Benton farm is home to piglets, dogs, cats, goats, cows, ducks, bees, chickens and rabbits. It’s her happy place, and she enjoys the work it takes to tend to her animals.

“That’s my me time,” DeGrado said.

In January, a milking mishap interrupted her peaceful farm work. DeGrado bent to check a cow’s udder, which accidentally spooked her. A kick to DeGrado’s head caused a massive hemorrhage in her brain.

As the executive director for International Outreach Ministries, Michael McCarty of Brandon helps support 101 missionaries in 22 countries around the world.

The job comes with plenty of travel, and McCarty has to routinely fly across continents.

But navigating a room full of people made him nervous.

“I had balance issues which made me prone to fall (or think I was falling) easily,” he said. A tumble after waking up disoriented and wobbly one night even left him with a dislocated rotator cuff in his left shoulder.

Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson recently named Dr. Dan Jones, Dr. Marion R. Wofford and businessman Ben Walton to its Board of Trustees.

Fourteen years ago, Amanda Dove Wells watched her father-in-law fight back from a near fatal helicopter crash.

Larry Wells broke 12 ribs, his right femur, his sternum, pelvis, tailbone, wrists and upper arms, vertebra in his back and right shoulder blade. “He was never supposed to walk again,” Amanda said.

Yet by the time he finished therapy at Methodist Rehabilitation Center in Jackson, he could even climb stairs. “We were talking about putting a ramp on the house, and the need went away,” said his wife, Donna.

David Clark hates laziness. He believes in working hard for what he earns. A resident of Grenada for more than 21 years, Clark built his business, Clark Construction, from nothing but honest work.

He’s taking the same approach for his latest project–a rebuild of his body following a spinal cord injury.

In a physical therapy session with Erin Perry, Clark urged Perry to let him walk further than his goal for the day. She reminded him, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Clark grumbled, “Yeah, but I’m sure they had it studded up and ready to go.”

Kalisa Conley of Vicksburg lives with a long list of don’ts.

Don’t drink alcohol, smoke, take hormones, go on low-carb diets or fasts. Don’t take certain pain relievers, antibiotics or seizure medication. And don’t stress out or invite infections.

All are triggers for porphyria, a condition that nearly killed Conley before two Methodist Rehabilitation Center researchers identified the mysterious disease.