It does not matter…

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. ~Confucius

This is my affirmation for myself on this Wisdom Wednesday.  When I am feeling like I am not progressing quickly enough, I will remember the tortoise won the race.

Blogging and Mental Health

I’ve tried to keep my blog posts as positive as I possibly can since my accident back in November.  Unfortunately, the denial of my own fears and anxieties has only allowed them to incubate.  So it is likely I will posting some more transparent posts, at least for the next week.  I have been tasked with recording what I am actually thinking and feeling.  While I won’t do all of that here, I will be processing those thoughts and feelings so they will likely come out in my writing.

Part of the reason I blog in the first place is because it is therapeutic.  I respect and admire other bloggers who bare their souls on the page.  I feel their brutal honesty is as helpful to others as it is for themselves.  So as I embark on my journey into the belly of the beast, I am reminded of a couple of bloggers whose writings have been helpful to me.

When I first came back to blogging, I stumbled across SchizoIncognito.com.  The tagline, “the incoherent ramblings of a mentally ill writer and blogger” is witty.  I assure you the blogger who refers to himself as “the Schizo” does anything but incoherently ramble.  He is open, honest, and gives voice to those, like himself, who struggle with mental illness.  He gives me the courage to say out loud that I am a person who struggles with anxiety and Acute Stress Disorder, and who is facing a possible Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis.

More recently, I happened upon teddylee’sblog.  Teddy talks openly about abuse and it’s effects.  He openly processes his childhood out in blogosphere, for the whole world to read.  He speaks plainly and truthfully.  I cannot help but admire his bravery.  In spite of his childhood experiences, and seemingly rough exterior, he has a sweet spirit that comes through in his writing.  He gives me hope that I can let go of past experiences that haunt me.  He also reminds me that those past experiences have helped shape who I have become… and I am okay with that (I actually like who I am now).

So this week, as I begin to record those thoughts and feelings that I would much prefer to avoid, please forgive me in advance if some of it oozes out onto my blog.  Better yet, I hope someone out there will find it beneficial, just as I have found the two blogs mentioned here to be.

Renewal

On this, the first day of Spring, I was thinking about renewal.  The skeletal trees begin to bud.  Tufts of green start to peek out of the once frozen ground.  I don’t know about you, but I sure could use some renewal… renewal of my mind, body, and spirit.  

Turnaround Tuesday

This morning was difficult.  I had lots of fatigue, pain, and stiffness.  I got out of bed at 6:00 am, and made my way to the couch where I slept another 4 hours.  When I did get up, I didn’t feel like doing anything.  I made myself go to the YMCA, where I got into the whirlpool and sauna.  This coupled with the fact that it was sunny and warm (79 degrees) really helped my spirits (and body).  We also had dinner delivered by the angel that has been cooking for us on Tuesdays.  Now it is evening and I am feeling much better… and grateful for all the things that have turned my day from a rough one to a pleasant one.

Day of Rest

I was dreading setting the clock back to standard time today, since we “lose” an hour.  As it turns out, I didn’t lose a thing.  Hubby and I stayed in bed late since we had no children at home.  Once I was up and moving, I went outside for a walk, which I’ve only recently been able to do.  It was much slower and shorter than my walks used to be, but an outdoors walk nonetheless.  Although it was a bit chilly, the sun and fresh air were invigorating.  When I returned home, I fixed myself a delicious, nutrition packed smoothie.  Then I settled in for a day of reading, mostly on spirituality and health, and a few blogs.  I stopped long enough to fix a quick dinner for my husband and myself.  Afterward, I went back to my reading.

I am still building my stamina since my accident, so when I became tired I simply retired to the couch for a nap.  (There was a time when “nap” wasn’t in my vocabulary.  Now it is a regularly used term.)  At some point, it dawned on me that I was very relaxed.

Relaxation is something I had great difficulty experiencing six months ago.  I was always in hyper-drive.  My naturopath told me I had no low gear.  My adrenal glands were shot.  If I sat still for more than a few minutes, I fell asleep.  Of course, I didn’t ever sit still for very long.  I was up at 4 or 5 o’clock and didn’t stop moving until I went to bed, at which point I was utterly exhausted.

Today, as I sit in a virtually silent house, I feel the calm inside my body and mind.  I enjoy simple pleasures like a long shower in the middle of the day and I don’t feel guilty for what I’m not getting done.  I know that rejuvenating myself this way will allow me to accomplish what needs to be done later without robbing myself of the joy of simply living and being.

Writer’s Hands, Part III

As a follow-up to “Writer’s Hands,” and “Writer’s Hands, Part II,” these were taken today.  The last in this series, “Writer’s Hands, Part IV,” will follow later this week.

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This afternoon, prior to the pins being removed.

My son took this photograph just before I left for the hospital.  I removed the splint so you could see the pins.  (The stitches were removed two weeks ago.)

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After pins were removed.

My husband took this photograph after we returned home this evening.  It’s the first time I’ve had my wedding rings on in 4 months.  (We actually drove home to get them before we went out to dinner.)

I still have some occupational therapy to do, and I have to sleep in a splint at night, but my hands are recovering.  I actually typed this with the three veteran typing fingers on my right hand, and my index finger and thumb on my left.  Now that’s progress!

Placid

Recovering from trauma is a process, with it ups and downs… three steps forward, two steps back… and can be unpredictable.

Yesterday was a pretty good day until, on my way home from a trip to the store, a bus pulled up right behind us at a red light.  I thought I had overcome all of my anxiety surrounding buses.  Evidently, I have more work to do.

After having been hit by a school bus while walking to my car in November, I worked with a cognitive behaviorist who recommended exposure therapy.  Right after my accident, the hair on my neck stood on end every time heard a school bus drive by my house.  This was particularly difficult as three buses pick up children in the morning and the same three drop off children in the afternoon.

My therapist suggested I overcome my fear of the bus by gradually getting closer to it until I could tolerate the fleeting feeling of anxiety that always came with hearing it.  After standing at the front door with my walker when the bus came by in the mornings, I eventually had my husband take me outside in my wheelchair when the bus dropped off my son in the afternoon.  This strategy enabled me to pass buses on the road with no physiological symptoms… until yesterday.

When I realized there was a bus behind our car, I felt a bit queasy.  Then I heard its brakes and almost immediately developed an excruciating headache.  By the time we got home, I felt physically sick and cried intermittently for the next 30 minutes.  I felt completely drained and remained on the couch for the next several hours.

Having participated in a trauma survivors’ class and individual therapy, I knew that I needed to talk about what I was experiencing.  I talked to my husband and gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling.  I forgave myself for having what I saw as a setback.  Although I was emotionally exhausted, I was feeling better before I went to bed.

I slept late this morning, and woke up feeling calm.  In fact, I had the thought that I felt unusually peaceful.  Like a still lake, I felt emotionally placid.  The day was peaceful and quiet, with no surprises.  Once again, I am grateful for a good day and the fact that there are increasingly more good ones than challenging ones.

“Buh-bye” To What No Longer Serves Me

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Today, my hubby posted these pictures on his Facebook page with the words “Buh-bye ramp!”  I was grateful for my father-in-law’s labor of love (building my wheelchair ramp after my accident) and now it no longer serves me so it is time to let it go. 

The day I was cleared to walk, we returned home from the orthopedist and I asked my husband to leave the wheelchair in the trunk of the car.  I was grateful for the loaner from my step-father, and I was ready to release it.  I returned it rather than bringing it back into the house.

When it no longer served me, I asked my husband to put my walker out in the garage.  The same was true for my tub transfer seat.  And I recently put my cane out of sight.  It isn’t that these things trigger bad memories.  I simply want to keep moving forward, and it seems like getting the things that no longer serve me out of my awareness helps me do just that. 

 

Disproportionately Mixed Bag

I waited to post until later today because I was hoping to entitle this one Writer’s Hands, Part 3.   I went to the hand surgeon today, thinking the stitches and pins would be removed from my left pinkie.  The former were, but not the latter.  But I did get the go ahead to remove the splint from my right pinkie. 

I have resisted putting pictures of my finger online because they are quite graphic.  I find them quite fascinating but when I’ve offered to take my splint off and show people what’s underneath, I often get responses like, “That’s all right” or “I’m good.”   So my next “Writer’s Hands” post will have to wait for two more weeks. 

On the other hand (no pun intended but after it came out, I decided to leave it), I was happy to hear that a woman who has been cooking for us every Tuesday would be bringing dinner.  (I still have difficulty cooking because of my hands and because standing for long periods of time is painful.)  I had not received the usual heads up she sends, so I thought we had enjoyed our last meal from her.  Instead we arrived home from my doctor’s appointment to a hot meal of roasted chicken, green beans, and scalloped potatoes.   

And really, when I looked back over the rest of my day, I even more for which I am grateful.  I completed 2 hours of physical therapy this morning, without the usual fatigue that follows.  Afterward, I mailed a coaching contract and assignment to a client.  I completed the last module of an online course I am taking.   I designed my own business cards and ordered some.   I tackled a technology issue that I normally would have asked my husband to show me or do for me.  In spite of my limitations, I was productive today. 

Albeit, I was disappointed that I will still have a splint and pins for two more weeks, I really can’t complain.  This day may have been a mixed bag, but there was much more good than anything else.

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

I am noticing that my recovery is not linear.  Today I struggled to get up and get moving.  I managed to make it through an hour and a half of physical therapy.  Initially it was wonderful.  My therapist did some soft tissue work, relieving the tension in my muscles from my previous visit and the headache I endured much of the previous night. She then assigned several exercises that quickly reactivated all the tension she had just relieved.  I then returned home only to struggle to stay awake a short while.  I finally gave in to the exhaustion and slept for two and a half hours.  This evening my husband suggested dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, to which I quickly agreed.  I will complete this post and my day will be essentially done. 

This has been the pattern lately.  If I take a shower, that’s the most physical activity I can endure in one day.  If I go to the store or to run an errand, I’m done.  It is somewhat frustrating for someone who has been used to running at full speed all of her adult life.  I am learning to accept the low energy times, although I do regret the “lost time” until I remember that it isn’t “lost.”  I have to remind myself that these afternoons when I have to recover from therapy or other activities are times my body needs to heal itself.  

Above all else I have to remind myself that I am fortunate that these obstacles I am facing are not permanent.  So I will accept the fact that some days my body’s need for rest will win out over my will to be Wonder Woman.  In the long run, this will ensure that I keep moving forward.  After all, three steps forward and two step back does equal forward movement… one step at a time.