Level-Up: Part 59

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a health post, and honestly, I feel it. I don’t mean that I’ve deteriorated. The hard work I’ve ploughed into improving my self-esteem and confidence, and handling the bad days has really been paying off lately. I can feel them getting more robust again. Slowly but steadily. I still have bad physical and emotional days, but I know they don’t last. I never stay down and there’s incredible comfort in both knowing and truly believing that however bad a day gets, tomorrow has the potential to be great.

But I have missed documenting these past few weeks because I’ve done some things I’m really proud of. They can slip away without me paying them enough attention if I don’t write them down. Part of it has been that I’ve been busy getting on with other things, but the other is that I worry about being repetitive. I don’t want people to get bored of hearing the same things, for better or worse, over and over again. On the other hand I also know how many people have told me that the things I write help them, so it’s probably less tedious to read than I imagine it is. I actually wrote a post a few days ago about something I saw on Instagram, but I was so tired that when I read it back it seemed like utter gibberish. I may come back to it on another day. It was an important point.

Christmas and New Year 

I was lucky in that I didn’t have too many commitments over Christmas and New Year. It was fairly quiet and, even though I worked a bit through the break, I could do it in a more casual way and relax a bit too. I spent Christmas Day at my brother and sister-in-law’s house, which was lovely. I was determined to enjoy the day, so even though I had a few big dizzy spells, I didn’t allow them to ruin the fun. I even managed to complete the short but slow walk home at the end of the night. It wasn’t easy when it had been such a long day, but seeing the roads so quiet and deserted was a pretty sight. Boxing Day was tough. I could hardly stand up nor move around the house, but it got easier with a couple of days staying sat in a comfy spot. I felt particularly exhausted over the whole of Christmas, but I don’t think that’s just a chronic illness thing. Everyone gets tired at the end of the year because it’s the only time most people get off the treadmill for a while. It just gets compounded when your baseline is a little lower.

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Clown College

I finished my university comedy class and got a first class mark. I cried a few times on the day my essay results arrived. It was great to do so well, but it meant so much more than writing a good essay. It was tough sitting through the classes and there were a few times where I either felt too unwell to go or wondered if I should leave half way through because I was basically falling off my chair, but I never left nor missed a single session. I also forced myself to take an active part in the class. It would have been so easy not to say anything, just sitting back and listening to the lectures. Some people did that. But this experience was more important than learning about the history of comedy. It was about being able to complete something by myself and not feel like I had to give up on something I really wanted to do just because I’m unwell. If anything, the fact that my tutor wrote on my feedback sheet that I was a great class contributor might have made me even more proud than the essay marks. I’ll be taking some more courses in the spring.

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 Eye Tests and Supermarkets 

It sounds silly to say that going for an eye test was a big challenge, but it’s actually one of the more difficult things I can do. I find the pre-tests where you have to watch flashing lights especially hard. When you have a clinical balance test, one of the things you can be asked to do is follow flashing lights to see how dizzy and unstable you become when your eyes are darting around. (Spoiler: I didn’t do very well in that balance test.) As I feel like I’m moving all the time, having to sit still and focus in on anything is tricky, even more so in the dark. Things move in my field of vision, but there are no glasses that can fix that. As it turned out I did need new glasses, and they’ve helped a lot since having them. The eye test left me with a massive headache from having to keep my body, head and eyes still for so long, but I felt pretty proud of myself for going along and doing it without any help.

The opticians I used is set inside a large ASDA store. I figured it would be easy to access and I knew they had some extra testing available. Supermarkets can be difficult to manage and very disorientating. The combination of bright lighting, background music, lots of people moving around and an insane amount of colour can overload my senses and make me extra dizzy. There are so many points of reference and my eyes can find it impossible to take it all in, so my balance systems short-circuit. It’s one of the things that frustrates me the most because I love shopping for food. It’s been a lifesaver to have groceries delivered, but I would love to do it myself. I could have just left straight after the test and ordering the glasses, but I let myself stay, look around for a few minutes and buy a couple of things. I did the same when I went back a few days later to collect them, and even though I nearly toppled forward and fell over standing in the queue to leave, it felt pretty exciting to be there, even just for a short time. I don’t know if I could manage a big shop by myself and I definitely wouldn’t attempt it on my own at its busiest times of day, but if it was a good day and I only needed a few things I could give it another try.

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Libraries and Coffee Cards

I’ve been knocked off my feet with some kind of cold virus thing since last Friday. What’s worse, the congestion was making me so dizzy I hardly slept for four nights. Every time I felt myself dropping off it was like being shaken awake by my own brain and body again. Thankfully it’s easing off, but yesterday I hadn’t been out of the house for a few days and was starting to feel a bit penned in. I’d wanted to head to the local library to renew my membership and borrow some comics, so I took a taxi there. As it turned out, they’d closed for the day and I couldn’t do it. I was then faced with the dilemma of heading home or taking a taxi to a different one. Being my first time out in a few days and still not feeling well I was pretty shaky, so I headed home. But I decided to do a really slow walk him instead of calling another cab, in the name of getting some fresh air. It took a lot of stopping on benches along the way and some very slow shuffling in places, but I did it.

Best of all, I stopped in the coffee shop on the way home to cash in my 10th loyalty card and cheer myself up. I can’t begin to explain what a big achievement it felt to hand it over. 10 cards means 100 walks. Wow! It took a year and about three months to do it, but it’s incredibly surreal to know that I’ve been able to push myself to do it 100 times. Especially when there are still so many days that I wake up feeling like I can’t get out of bed at all, but I always make sure I do.

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I went back, got my library card and borrowed some comics today, but I used two taxis this time. I don’t want to push my luck.

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