Something to Celebrate

Yesterday wasn’t a good day — and that’s okay. Today is better emotionally and mentally, which always helps the physical part of things.

We are celebrating Jim’s graduation this afternoon. A few people thought I should cancel the party feeling it would be too much right now. After Jim and I discussed it, we decided to carry on with the party. I can’t let my health stop everything, and canceling the party would create more feelings of anger and sadness within. Plus, my husband worked so hard for his degree and he deserves a celebration.

No marriage is perfect, and Jim and I certainly have our differences and disagreements. However, we work together as a team, and celebrating the good things in life, however that celebration may come about, is important to the both of us. It is extremely important to me that I give him this day to enjoy and celebrate, even though I cannot help nearly as much as with the party prep as I originally planned. I am so very proud of him, for everything that he does for me and Viviana, and especially proud of his latest academic accomplishment.

Even through all the shit, the confusion and the pain, there are things in this world to smile about, to be proud of, and to look forward to. Stop and celebrate them, even when you feel at your lowest.

Celebrate the good, even when times are rough.

Rough Day

I try my best to be positive and optimistic, but today has been rough.

I’ve been up since 3 a.m. with heavy legs and numbness from the waist down. On top of the physical, today I am emotionally bummed out. I don’t know any better way to put it. I am making progress, but I feel like I cannot fulfill my role and duties as wife and mother.

Honestly, it sucks. The everyday tasks I would do — laundry, cleaning, etc. — that I would sometimes dread, I can’t do right now and it may sound strange, but I really, really wish I could. I want to be able to take care of my husband and daughter the way I used to, and though I try my best, I am in this limited state so I feel like I am doing nothing at all.

I would give anything to be “normal” again. And although in time I will be, it is so difficult right now. I try to be in the now as best I can. Getting out and enjoying time with family and friends does help, but it’s rough when my body does not always respond well on a particular day.

There will be good days, and there will be rough days. I need to accept that. On the rough days, I need to be stronger than I generally am; to get through it and remind myself there is no other way to be. I can’t give up — that is not an option.

There is light at the end of this tunnel. Sometimes it’s hard to see it, but it’s there, and I will get to it, powering through the good, bad and the in-between.

Making Progress

Two weeks ago today, I felt the most excruciating pain of my life. Today, though still tired and feeling the pins-and-needles sensation, I am making progress and have no unexplainable pain.

Two weeks ago feels like a lifetime ago.

With the progress I’m making, I still have so many questions about my future journey. Why this happened will never leave my mind. But other things like, will the numbness always be there? Will I be able to drive? When will I be able to care for my daughter properly? Does this condition affect my having children in the distant future? How long will I be “in recovery?”

So many questions running through my mind.

This condition is so rare, and besides researching what exactly it is, it’s hard to find specific success stories related to CES. For a person that craves instant satisfaction in a world where this is normally easily achieved, it can be frustrating. But I stay hopeful and continue to hunt down answers.

This syndrome isn’t stopping my life, and it requires me to modify things. I am adjusting to how I view myself in this whole scenario, rather than how others view me. For the majority of my life, I cared too much what others thought. Not anymore.

I went into my real estate office yesterday for a sales meeting and was initially nervous about going in, fearing what people would think of me, what’s been going on, and more importantly, seeing me with a walker.

But I put that fear aside and when in. My office is filled with some truly wonderful and caring people, some of which have known me since I was 16. None judged and all were happy to see me. Sitting in on the sales meeting also ignited my passion to stick to my goal of working the business hard in 2015. Even if I need to modify certain ways of working, I am dedicated to this goal.

Maybe this happened to me to help pull out the person I know I can be — a confident, strong individual that is dedicated to her family and will stop at nothing to make her dreams come true. There was a period of my life it seemed as though that person was slipping away. I am making progress on getting her back, and will not let anything stop me.

Small Steps

This weekend I took a few steps completely unassisted, and also walked around the house holding on to the walls or furniture. I’m not near being fully recovered and still need the walker, but it is amazing what the body can do to heal. As the doctors and therapist say, I have youth on my side, and because I’m young, I will recover faster.

When people hear of the Cauda Equina and learn that it wasn’t just a herniated disc, they feel so bad for me. I admit: when I am feeling the lowest and shittiest, I feel bad for myself. But then something happens; something clicks within me — for example, taking the small steps by myself — and I no longer feel bad and certainly do not want others feeling bad for me. I am a strong believer in everything happening for a reason, and although I do not know the “why” of this, it happened to me for a reason.

This entire situation has been a true test of strength and patience. It’s forced me to view myself differently, and others as well. There have been so many people that came to my aid, and I am very grateful for that. And there are other people that won’t bat an eye when they see a woman with a walker looking for an empty seat to sit down in a public place. I can’t change the world, or those kind of people, but I can change myself and make the strides toward becoming a better and stronger person.

Maybe these small steps I am taking will rub off on other people, or maybe they won’t. All I know is each step I take I become a little stronger and I can bear all of this a little bit more. And in light of the holiday season, I can keep my spirits up.

There is so much good in the world, we just have to take small steps in the right direction to see it.

Smile on a Gray Day

I won’t lie: I am exhausted today.

Sleeping at night is tough; I have a hard time finding a comfortable position, and once I do, I wake up with heavy, numb feet and an achy back from staying in one position too long.

This week was busy with doctor’s visits and physical training, and all of it caught up with me. Darla will be coming over soon and I hope the session gives me energy and strength like it did yesterday. I’m hopeful it will.

The weather today is particularly dreary and not aiding my exhaustion; wintery, gray skies and cooler weather that would be more tolerable if the Florida sun shined.

Yet there is some eternal sunshine: I received the family holiday photos we took earlier this month and seeing them overwhelmed me with happiness and gratitude. A friend of mine told me to document one thing I am grateful for and today it is Jim and Viviana. They are my reasons for being; the reason I push myself to getting better; and the reason I can find sunshine on a cloudy day.

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I keep telling myself, “This isn’t going to be easy, and it’s going to take time.” I want, more than anyone else, to be fully recovered now and be able to be the sun in my family’s day again.

But I can still do that, and keep my smile, even if I’m exhausted and not in the mood for much else. It takes some altering and changing, but they know I am doing my best.

And as long as I have their smiling faces looking back at me, it’s all worth it, and whatever happens to me during this recovery, it will be okay.

Balance & Strength

Balance and strength. Balance and strength. Balance and strength.

That is what the physical therapist told me we are focusing on, and what I need to repeat to myself as I’m going about the day.

Right before physical therapy today, I was on an emotional rollercoaster. Earlier this morning, I picked up my ankle braces (which are used only for extended trips, as we are focusing on me naturally building ankle strength, and are interestingly made by the same company who constructed the prosthetic tail of famous Winter the Dolphin.) All went fine with the appointment, except for my peeing my pants as I walked. I started to cry out of embarrassment, but Jim picked me up as he always does and made me feel worlds better.

Once I settled back at home, I had “accidents” twice more and felt completely deprived of my humanity. I aged 70 years in a week. It was — no pun intended — a rather pissy situation.

I cleaned up myself and the floor the best I could and no sooner did my physical therapist, Darla, come by. She could tell I felt defeated, embarrassed and upset, but she had confidence in me.

“Balance and strength. That’s what we are going to work on,” Darla said.

For about an hour, Darla showed me the more challenging exercises for my condition and to help me push myself to heal faster.

“You’re a Do’er,” Darla told me. “You’re going to get tired, and this is going to push you more than you probably ever have been. But you have an athletic side and you can do this.”

She gave me a list of exercises for me to do two to three times a day, with 10 to 15 repetitions. I felt invigorated — and exhausted! — after our session, but treated my list of exercises just as I did before all this happened. If I set time aside to do these exercises like before, Darla explained, I’ll make a full recovery in no time.

You may be surprised by the level of vulnerability I write in my posts, but it is only a reminder to myself that I must keep pushing through and stay dedicated to my goals. I honestly hate my walker, (or moreso hate that I have one), and almost wanted to chuck it out the window right before my session. I could do without the occasional accidents, and feeling like a 95-year-old woman.

Yet in my being vulnerable and honest, I can dig deep and pull out the strength to make it through the day, and how to balance it all.

Balance and strength. That is what we are working on.

The Blinds

This morning was a little more challenging. I didn’t sleep well, and my back was aching. Even though I felt like crap, I wanted to get out of bed and spend a little time with Viviana before she left for daycare.

Now having the walker makes things somewhat more manageable, so once I heard Viviana headed down the hall, I pushed myself to get up. It was hard. REALLY hard. But I asked my mom to put the walker at the foot of the bed so I could make my way out to the living room and join her for breakfast.

As always, Viviana was being her usual silly self, putting her pancakes in her hair, and waiting for me to say, “Oh, how pretty!”

Following breakfast, Viviana gave my walker a full inspection, testing it and making sure it worked properly. How she makes me laugh.

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It feels so good to laugh.

The trek from bedroom to living room was a little easier than yesterday, and in this small way I feel success. My legs are still heavy and numb, but I am noticing less numbness in the waist area, and throughout my feet.

But it is the simplest of tasks that can get me frustrated. For instance, I wanted to open the blinds in my bedroom but the current layout of our room halted my attempt. I made it halfway and thought, “Damn, this is not a good idea,” turned, and laid back in bed. I will need to wait until someone comes in to open the blinds.

These small things that we do in our everyday and seem so routine, unimportant and overlooked, I am ever so aware of them now. Everything is a struggle and effort for me, and as much as I am trying to gain back some independence, I have to wholly accept I am in a currently dependent state. It really sucks.

I know people say do not take anything for granted in this life. Ain’t that the truth. But there is laughter, smiles and sunshine throughout the day, it just takes some patience to open the blinds and find it.