An RA Story: Nature as Healer

Patient Expert
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Home for Brad

Brad Carlson grew up in the mountains of PA and has lived in the country for much of his life. Seventeen years ago, he and his wife Laurie moved to SC for his job. Now in Myrtle Beach, they live in a subdivision, but the back lot backs up against a wooded area. “I like sitting in the back, listening to the birds or seeing deer and coyotes. There’s a drainage pond nearby and I can see ospreys hovering in mid-air. It’s just amazing.”

Close to the beach

Living close to the beach is a real gift for Brad. “There’s nothing like the beach and the ocean to deal with stress. I can’t get in the water anymore, but I set up my folding chair right at the edge of the surf and let it wash around my feet. I can sit there for hours and watch pelicans and dolphins go by. There’s no better way to relax.”

Looking for fossils

“When we first moved here, a buddy got me started on hunting for shark teeth. I had no idea you could find them on the beach. We have thousands of them and put them in a clear vase until it’s full, then start another one. These fossils are millions of years old. Holding one makes you realize that you’re the only person who has seen it. It makes you kind of awestruck.”

Live oak trees

“We have an annual pass to Huntington Beach State Park. Atalaya is an estate from the 1800s and people come from all over to go through it.” Brad especially enjoys the live oaks on the estate. The Park is also heaven for nature lovers. “There’s a nice beach. We can park close in the handicapped parking and I use my forearm crutches to walk the 100 feet to the beach. The park also has a huge saltmarsh with tons of alligators.”

A Cabin in the Woods

“My father-in-law built a cabin in the Pennsylvania woods. He split the wood himself, still does every day. You can’t even see a dirt road, it’s like something out of an old movie. The cabin’s hidden underneath hemlock. It’s like an umbrella, always cool and shadowed and the long soft needles cover the ground. You can’t hear anything but the birds and in the winter, it’s even more quiet. It’s unbelievably calming.”

Closer to God

“Two years ago, there was a fire in the woods behind our house. It burned right to the fence. You can’t tell now, it’s re-claimed by Mother Nature. It was green again in a few weeks. I wish we could do some healing like that.” Brad feels that nature heals emotionally. “Nature can cool your jets, there are no worries about how to get the meds or what the doctor will say. It makes me feel closer to God. It’s like you’re not alone.”