Saturday, July 15, 2017

Adaptive living requires adapting

Adaptive living requires that you actually adapt. I've been coming to not only recognize that fact now, but also internalize it and start doing so. And it's helping.

For so much of my life, the migraines hitting, and then receding, would give me an easy All or Nothing lifestyle. When I was younger and I didn't have a migraine flooring me, and later after my intractable migraine settled in,  the pain was more in the back of my mind, I was able to function as a "normal" person would. Then, come the pain and other symptoms, boom I was flat on my back, functionally ceasing to exist. Frankly, that was somewhat handy, I'll be honest, as the extreme black and white idea fits comfortably with my bi-polar.

But now? The vertigo is different, and that scared me.

Learning a new way to live at 27 was incredibly hard, and frankly, I fought it a bit. Not intentionally, but because I didn't really know or understand any other way to cope. Having to find a way to carry on when I didn't know how the vertigo would effect me each time an episode came was, and is, incredibly unnerving. Trust me, with all that I've come to live with, I cherish any sort of control or predictive abilities I can get my hands on.  But the vertigo doesn't work that way, and after what, about two and a half years, I'm finally starting to figure that out.

After years and years of procrastinating, and also of reluctance on his part, my neurologist earlier this year did willingly fill out the paperwork I needed to get handicap placards for parking. I had to eat my ego to do so, but I had finally heard what I had been saying. I frequently didn't have the endurance to go to the store when the vertigo was hitting. I knew that getting to the store, then doing whatever shopping was needed, and then getting back to the car was far too much. So, in my lovely prewired mind, that meant that since I couldn't do ALL, I would do nothing.
It wasn't working. There were a lot of times I could have done part, but was too afraid of getting stuck halfway through.

Since I got the placards in late May, I've used one only four or five times, I believe. But those few times have made a huge difference.

On one occasion, I was able to agree to go to the Phoenix Art Museum with my family, because I knew that I would have a little bit of an aid there in the parking lot. It might not sound like a terrifically huge leap, five parking spaces closer or such, but mentally it gave me the strength to go.

Another ego blocker I conquered on that same trip was agreeing to use a wheelchair. I never wanted to do so; as somehow in my mind it showed weakness...or something. I never understood how that was, but I'd wired it in my mind as such.
However, about five minutes into the visit, the vertigo came along and decided it wanted to visit the museum as well. Instead of turning around and leaving, I agreed to a wheelchair which was happily provided by the museum staff, and I was able to spend the next several hours going around the rest of the museum.
Yes, as I had to take more medication to fight the increasing vertigo I got less and less able to focus or pay attention, and almost fell asleep in the last gallery, but the fact that I was able to actually stay and be there, and if nothing else, not end up wrecking the trip for the rest of my family, was an immense achievement for me.

It won't work every time. I don't expect it to.  But the thing is, adapting to my new health situations can't ever happen if I never try.

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