Level-Up: Part 5

Every Sunday (I know it’s Monday) I record my health achievements and discoveries for the week here. To find out why I decided to start doing this, you can read an explanation in the first post of the series here.

This week’s health achievements

Wednesday – Short walk to the bank and coffee shop, then home again. (With walking stick, nausea tablet and umbrella)

Sunday- Short city centre shopping trip, partially accompanied, partially alone. (With walking stick, partial assistance and nausea tablet)

Why were these things challenges?

My main goal this week was to rebalance my energy levels. I’d been doing too much and my energy had been suddenly tanking. While I was getting some work done, there isn’t much extra to report during the work days other than my Wednesday walk. I was a little nervous about it because I wasn’t sure if my energy was sustainable, and the weather was stormy, so I lost my ‘balance arm’ to an umbrella and some strong wind. It went fairly well in the end, though.

Sunday was a big deal. I went with my brother and his girlfriend into the city centre so that I could buy a new phone. I’ve mentioned before just how difficult I find keeping my balance in busy crowds. All that movement, the bright shop lights and the extra walking short-circuits my balance.

For the first half of the trip I used my walking stick and held on to one of their arms to manoeuvre around the crowds. I avoided escalators so I didn’t set off any big dizzy spells. Once the shopping was complete, they left to go to the cinema and I attempted to make my way home via a taxi. Large parts of Cardiff city centre are pedestrianised; which is great but it meant I had to walk a short way by myself to find a road where a cab could reach me.

I spent a small amount of time in the John Lewis beauty department, before the lights got a little too bright and I moved on. I then went to the nearby Starbucks, where I became a little tearful. I sat on a bench outside while I regained some balance before continuing across The Hayes and down toward Westgate Street. This only makes sense if you know Cardiff. It’s not a long walk for anyone else, but for me it was a fair distance alone.

I got upset on my way home and cried for a while afterwards. Half of it was the sadness of feeling so alone and having nobody to hold on to. The other half was the stark reminder that something I used to enjoy doing very quickly, regularly and without thought now has to be planned carefully and done incredibly slowly. It hurts. It hurts that there’s no way back and that I can’t just wait for a cure that may never come. It was a little rush of grief for something I loved, that I may never do in the same way again. Thankfully, it only took an hour or so for the positives to emerge.

This week’s lessons

  • Learning how to rest and sacrifice going out for the sake of more stable energy levels is getting easier. Maybe I have been trying to prove too much to too many people, including myself.
  • The first time you do anything you used to do in an adjusted way is painful because it’s different, but it is necessary.
  • Short trips where I suss out the area, work out a strategy for where I might enter, exit and plan where I want to go are useful. Especially if you think of them like a Grand Theft Auto rendezvous mission.
  • Everything I do is not only an attempt to improve my life, but also to make the people I love proud of me.
  • I am a tougher cookie than I let myself believe.
  • It’s OK to be sad and to cry, as long as you let it go quickly.
  • Indoor shopping centres are still beyond me alone, but targeted outdoor shops may be doable in small doses.
  • Say what you want about Starbucks, but I’m grateful to the nice barista who asked me if I was OK and winked when I started doing the Clare Danes chin wobble. I bet that’s not in the staff training manual.



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