I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. It’s been a difficult couple of months. My thoughts might jump around during this blog, I apologize in advance. Please hang with me.
Sometime early in February I was sitting out in the backyard with my dog on the swing. I put my left hand down on the arm of the swing to steady myself, I didn’t even put my weight on it, but as I stood I felt something pop inside my left shoulder. Pain shot up my neck behind my ear, down my arm to my elbow, and down into my chest. As the next few days passed the pain reached down into and below my arm pit. Sitting in certain positions was very painful, reaching or lifting with my arm brought tears to my eyes.
Within roughly two weeks I was standing in the shower, I put my right foot up on the shower seat and felt something along the outside of my left knee grab. The pain shot down into my calf. I hurriedly finished my shower and got to my bed where I had help drying.
Over the course of the next week, I could hardly stand to put weight on my leg, I could hardly pick up any weight with my left hand. I nursed the pain with Aleve and ice packs. I had a scheduled appointment with my doctor and discussed the pain and incidents with her. She looked me in the face and said… “You are probably getting arthritis.” I laughed out loud and asked her, “Have we met? Getting?” She corrected herself and said it’s getting worse.
My multiple diagnoses include osteoarthritis and a variety of diagnoses related to arthritis such as degenerative joint disease, degenerative disk disease, Spinal Spondylosis, Spinal Stenosis, etc. I asked her what she would recommend and she told me try ice packs alternating with heat to see which provided relief. She admonished me, saying, “You have to do things differently, be more careful, do less, considering your disability.”
I left her office feeling more hopeless than I ever have been before.
Over the weeks that have passed since that visit I’ve become alarmingly aware of the significance of my short term memory loss. Reality has hit me, that I’ve lost a great deal, my comprehension and retention are dramatically reduced. I’m having a very difficult time with recall, with putting words together and expressing my thoughts.
I’ve had a migraine for several days this week that has made concentration that much more difficult. I’m sure that’s impacted my memory issues and my emotional state.
The friend that interviewed me for a paper as an assignment for their Master’s Degree pointed out to me that I live with an incredible amount of stress, with a great deal on my plate, that I push myself way too much to try to meet responsibilities that are really beyond my ability. It took that friend saying that to make me realize the breadth of what I’m living with on a daily basis.
In a way, I wish that veil had not been pulled back. I knew what my health issues were, but I was able to ‘compartmentalize’ in such a way as to face each challenge individually, rather than looking at the ‘big picture’ as a whole. I guess I, more or less, was able to deny the severity of my health condition if I only took on one challenge at a time. It was my way of ‘managing’ my disability.
I’ve had several meltdowns emotionally in the past two weeks that have left me feeling exhausted and drained. I feel much less prepared to deal with whatever life is going to put before me in the near future, as I just can’t wrap my mind around anything right now. I feel ‘disconnected’ and a little bit adrift lately.
I’ve been searching for some consideration from my friends and family that has been slow in coming. Rather than being considerate of what I’m dealing with (which they are all well aware of, by the way), they tend to dismiss or disregard my feelings, opinions, struggle. There are those, whom I believe to be uncomfortable with my health concerns, who stridently diminish any expression of my struggles, suggesting that everyone has pain as they get older, everyone pulls muscles, gets stiff and achy, everyone loses their memory, has trouble getting around, etc. These kinds of statements make me feel that I’m just weak, perhaps I give my disability too much consideration, rather than not enough.
I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s what goes through my mind.
A young person in my life, not my son (he’s an angel who helps me and looks out for me without fail) has an expectation, that is partially my fault, that I will listen attentively to what’s important to him, regardless of how I feel, regardless of whatever else I may be dealing with. He seems to not understand that things like Dungeons and Dragons and Video Games are of little interest to me and in the scheme of my life, have no importance. I have had to prioritize things in my life and focus on ‘real issues’ that impact myself and my family if I’m not following through with what’s expected of me.
Recently, I’m having a very hard time giving him the attention he would like, I’m having trouble even listening, as my mind is filled with concerns for the deterioration of my health, strategizing as to how I will be able to adapt to these new pains and difficulties, and trying to focus on my responsibilities, taking care of my family and ‘being there’ for my son.
I’m trying hard to cope with this new realization. I know it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of focus, to keep moving forward, to get into a ‘frame of mind’ that will allow me to overcome this current set-back. Trying to take on a more positive outlook.