Level-Up: Part 41
As I suspected last weekend, and by suspected I mean hoped, the Saturday where I felt that my illness had completely defeated me slowly passed. By Tuesday I was still feeling very unsteady on my feet but I really needed to go out and grab a few things. It was the only day where the humidity lifted for a while, so I capitalised on the opportunity to try walking in a slightly easier environment. I also didn’t want Saturday’s scarily bad walk to put me off trying again. I find that once you let fear set in, it creeps over you and convinces you that you’re not capable of things you’ve achieved before. It was a very careful, slow and difficult walk but I rather pleasingly managed to put Saturday to rest without having to throw myself toward walls for support this time.
Physically the rest of the week was pretty rough. The weather has been hot and humid and even those not trying to manage an illness have been struggling. There can be nobody in the country who didn’t have a headache or lose sleep to thunder storms. For me and for others who live with vestibular disorders, the heavy air pressure and heat make symptoms significantly worse. My condition is actually called Vestibular Hypersensitivity. The clue is in the title. My balance system is basically a drama queen. The part of my brain that understands my body position and movement is so overly sensitive that it thinks I’m moving 24/7 and makes me react to a position I’m not even in. Hence why I feel like I’m falling so frequently throughout the day. Anything that impacts upon my inner ear increases that sensitivity. I can feel the air pressure changing before anyone else. Like the way birds know when a storm is coming or Karen’s boobs could tell her when it was going to rain in Mean Girls.
Wednesday was bad. I was so wobbly, dizzy and sick that I couldn’t even sit upright at my computer. I kept slumping and falling. Initially I was frustrated that it looked as if I was going to lose another work day to illness, but I was determined that I wouldn’t. After a lot of shuffling around I found that I could manage a little better if I moved my computer to the coffee table and sat on some cushions on the floor. I still felt the same way, but when it got too wobbly I just had a lie down on the cushions for a couple of minutes before getting back to work. It wasn’t perfect but it was an adjustment that worked.
That word ‘adjustment’ is loaded for me. It’s one of my vestibular rehab therapist’s buzz words. “Think of what you’d like to do, then make an adjustment and do it in a different, manageable, safe way.” I hated when she said that because the adjustment still felt like failure. For a long time I was angry at her for it. Actually, not so much angry at her. I was angry at the illness and how it made even the simplest of tasks things that needed adjusting. I just passively directed my displeasure toward her because she was the one telling me to do it and I couldn’t accept that it was necessary. But to have sought out an adjustment on Wednesday and to have genuinely accepted it was pretty big. It wasn’t just acceptable, it felt good that illness had tried to steal a productive day, only for me to find a way of stopping it at least taking some of the day. It was an important shift.
For the rest of the week the weather has remained much the same and it seems to have set in for at least another week. I’ve accepted that if there’s one thing I have no control over it’s the weather. I was already feeling tired and extra dizzy. Being angry about how much worse it made me feel would waste valuable energy I couldn’t afford to lose. Which is not to say that I’m feeling good. In all honesty I’ve been feeling pretty horrendous. And I won’t pretend that I didn’t have the odd moment of complete, desk-thumping frustration thinking about all the things I could be doing instead. But I’m learning to pick my battles. It was okay that I didn’t go out walking much this week. I did as much as I could manage and that’s fine. I made some adjustments and they didn’t feel like failure. I’m the boss.
Now I defer to Michael J. Fox, who manages to say in two sentences what’s taken me over 700 words. But that’s why he’s Michael J. Fox.
Every Sunday 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.