Tag Archives: loss of independence

Independent Struggles

Second day of stumbling around, attempting to survive on my own under these… unpleasant circumstances. You would think it would be better. Easier.

Yeh… It’s really not.

It’s been worse. Now I’m sitting here, in my chair in the lounge, watching Andy Murray, alone and cold, unable to reach the damned radiator and turn it on (there’s a table I can’t move in the way), wrapped up in my mother’s fluffy dressing gown, I’m regretting being alive…

I’m certainly regretting being ill.

It’s been a nightmare day, and it’s not even over yet… Althouth it feels like it’s been about a week already. I’m in turmoil and frankly traumatised as to how much of the downhill slope I’ve actually gone. This morning, as always, I woke up confused, disorientated, with the only conscious thought emerging of that I was supposed to eat my meds… which were not where they were supposed to be. I was distressed and in pain, barely able to move and yet still attempting to find the medication.

Then the dog starts going bananas because the postman is at the door and the bastard just won’t leave the package and go  so the dog with shut up.

Both of my legs were dead (I could manage some twitches with my left, though… score!) and I couldn’t barely even feel them. I couldn’t get up and the dog wouldn’t listen to me. I was distraught and confused, becoming more and more panicked as I tried to make the noise stop so I might at least find my meds.

My father finally made the dog stop. I finally found my meds. I struggled to take my tea and coffee left for me. My back was burning so much I could barely breathe through it, my hands were numb, and I just about managed to get myself up onto my elbow for the few seconds it took to drink each one. Such a fun start to the day…

I lay there, so upset at the fact it was so difficult to do such simple things as get up and drink tea/coffee, anguished at the confusion and disturbed perception of where I was and even who I was… I was also in a rediculous amount of pain in my back. For company, for something for my mind, I somehow managed to get the TV on, playing live shows over TVPlayer on Amazon Fire TV Stick. It helped. After about an hour or so, I realised I had to go to the bathroom – so at that point I was forced to do something about that.

Unable to really move my legs, I dragged myself up to sitting. I pushed my stuffed baby penguin and favourite little pillow into my canvas tote, added my phone and iPad, then proceeded to put it back around my neck and carry it, dragging myself along to the stairlift, and finally into my chair. I had to take a half-glass of wine to dull some of the pain/paraesthesia in my back, and I had another downstairs – I coulnd’t put oils on; I tried (numb hands and small bottles I can barely hold anyway do not mix, especially when sliding with oils).

At least I made it to the bathroom after that, anyway. That’s definitely something very important!

I managed to place myself in the living room. Watched On Demand TV and helped dog with his paralysing fear of overhead RAF planes going around, until 12pm when the tennis started and the dog was happy again.

So here I sit. Many, many, many hours later. Hands are funny – buzzing, numb-ish, tense, a little spasmy and cramping, with some electric shock-like pain. My back, upper legs and torso are all kinds of not OK, from the beginning of real spasms, to buzzing, to cramping, prickles, and burning. My lower legs and feet don’t really feel like they exist and are freezing to the touch (despite being wrapped in a fluffy dressing gown). I am unable to get dressed on my own, and I realise I left my big cardigan upstairs (not realising I would need it). So I remain cold. Borderline frozen. Just hoping I don’t actually die of hypothermia on contract frostbite whilst I’m down here…

I managed to not throw my food on the floor again, at least. It’s a start… But this day is just so hard… It makes me feel terrible that I just really can’t manage for myself. I’m glad I don’t have to do this tomorrow (my mam is off work), I would not be able to cope. I’m not coping now. My head aches, my muscles and bones ache. The isobars are all the way up, pretty much, so clearly having help makes a huge deal as well..  Even putting things out for me doesn’t really work – it’s not exactly being “independent”, is it?

The fatigue is overwhelming. Not having the correct “care” is hurting me and having a direct impact on my welfare: You know, you just don’t realise what a big impact that makes on you until it’s no longer there anymore! The “new” version of Fibro Flareup is hitting me again… and funnily enough, I don’t really appreciate that, either… Seriously, is this day really not over yet??

 

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Finally Freedom

The chair came – and such a good thing it did too.

Today I really, really needed it – and found out how much freedom and indipencdance it really does bring,

Firstly, on 30th June 2017, Lou[ise] from Ableworld came around 12:30pm and made sure it fitted, showed how it all worked, all the little neuonces to it. Then it was all mine.

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I went to Penrhyn Castle first (it is not suitable for wheelchair access at all!). It was only because of this thing I was able to enjoy it – or get into it! – at all. Yesterday (the next day), I spent the afternoon/evening out in the local town with a friend I hadn’t spent any proper time with for years, not since I became ill. I pushed myself the entire time, and it’s a very difficult place to generally manage.

I’ve never been able to indipendantly manouvre around this place single-handedly before. I was quite amazed I had managed. First we went to Starbucks, and walked all the way to the other end of the long high street on a rather steep hill, all the way up to my favourite pizza restaurant. We had pizza and cocktails at Johnny Dough’s and really enjoyed ourselves. It was a lovely day out, much like the ones we used to enjoy back in London, and I was so relieved to have a “normal” day out for once.

However, that elation came to a crashing halt today. After passing out from a Fibro flareup in the night, about 11:30pm, I awoke around 3:30am and barely [physically] made it into bed. I ended up unable to sleep after that, eventually going out again about maybe 5am. No more than two hours later, my mother woke me up to tell me my father (my main day carer) was violently ill during that night, throwing up. She had prepared my teas and my meds, leaving them there for me next to some coffee (which I drink mainly cold in the morning) for when I did wake up. I wasn’t happy, but I allowed myself to go out again.

At 9:25am my usual meds alarm went off and I managed to take them with a bottle of water also left for me. I immediately went out again, only coming round properly at around 1:30pm. I was woozy, disorientated, confused, afraid, and my eyes were glued up by about three layers of mascara still on my face from the day before (having never taking it off due to passing out). I had no one else to turn to – I rang my sister to help me orientate myself and help me from feeling scared and confused. Bless her, she spent about half an hour with me over the phone, chatting, discussing, telling me about the renovations on her new house, and what she was up to.

By the time she had to go, I had managed to consume most of my teas and felt clearer-headed. I then had to work out what on earth I was going to be able to do with myself. I couldn’t feel my legs – there had been no one to help me with massaging (I don’t have the strength to do it myself, more’s the pity), nor used my essential oil massage oils on me (I couldn’t find the morning one, and could barely move to do so). It was then I remembered the chair downstairs. It was to be my saviour.

I managed to drag myself to get my canvas tote that I keep my things in, and put my phone and iPad in. I subsequently had no choice but to then place it around my neck and drag myself to the stairlift. I managed to get up into it and took myself downstairs. The wheelchair was left folded in front of where the stairlift comes to an end, so the transfer was easy. And once in… I was free to do whatever I wanted to do. Which was mainly to go to the bathroom, frankly.

Without this chair, I would have been screwed today – even something as simple as going to the bathroom would have been a nightmare. Food would not have been an option, that’s for sure.

I took myself to the lounge after and entertained myself in there, mainly talking to my friend over Facebook Messanger app, and nosing about online, whilst watching on demand TV. I struggled to make myself food later, around 3:30 or 4pm, and dropped some of it on the floor. I could barely manage to eat the rest I was so upset, and I made some more replacement side dish after I stopped crying. I had to stay in the kitchen to eat, which I didn’t like (it’s far too bright in there, with no blinds), but after all my struggles I got my dinner in the end, and returned to the lounge to watch (don’t laugh) Ben Affleck’s Ant-Man.

After feeling terrible about losing so much independence again, being unable to manage to do things like make food without a farracas, I had (gluten free, dairy free) ice cream. Then I got out my new seated dancing DVD and proceeded to try and cheer myself up.

The Smile and Sway DVD looks like it might be a strange and over-enthusiastic attempt at making ballroom dancing fun… but it’s far more than that. It’s 40 minutes of dancing fun, from ballroom favourites of Tango, Foxtrot, and the Cha Cha Cha, to Big Band and Jazz Hands, via the Jive to a little ballet-esque technique, this is a lovely doorway into a world I thought was no longer for me. To be back in a world of fun dance routines, Fosse-style moves, ballet arms, “Big” arms, and “Big” moves… it was a relief to be engrossed into something I had missed so much, and that was so familiar to me.

It wasn’t all so great: I missed my medication time by over an hour, but luckily there was some downstairs. I had been unable to make my teas, or even any coffee (I can’t hold nor lift the kettle), and had to rely on wine to keep my mounting paraesthesia at bay (I don’t know what it switches off, but it does the trick when necessary). I kept banging into things, and knocking paint off the skirting boards. I had to wait for my mam to come back from work to have some dinner. I ended up watching Big Bang Theory and felt a little sad again about not being able to manage things myself. Apparently I also even somehow managed to burn my hand a little… I didn’t notice until I noticed the red burn  mark on my finger just before I went to bed.

I’m glad to be upstairs, but that also comes with the fact that getting to the bathroom is going to be very difficult. I’ve so far spent hours and hours avoiding it, but I don’t think I will be able to manage putting it off much longer (it’s actually 3:30am now…), and I’m going to have to take up all my strength, courage and will and face the horrid and difficult struggle to get there and back.

My father is also still ill, so there’s a very good chance that I shall be facing the same kind of day tomorrow. This time a few more things will hopefully put in place, and I’ve already had the traumatic practice-run today.

Thank god for that wheelchair…


And Then There Was Two…

It’s one thing to like having things done a certain way… it’s another when you’re almost completely reliant on someone else, or other people, to ensure that they still happen that way.

Having an illness that strips away your ability to physically do things yourself after being always (physically) independent is incredibly… awful. Being unable to dress yourself, get your own coffee, make food, shower, walk, move – at least without a lot of help and/or extreme pain – is heartbreaking, upsetting, frustrating. The pain sears my brain, and I’m left asking for help. I don’t like asking for help and I prefer to do as much of everything that I can myself. Left like this is a living nightmare… especially the part on being reliant on someone else other than myself for things. I’m a firm believer in if you want something done, do it yourself. Now I have no choice but to get someone else to do it instead.

Carry MeThe worst part of that is that I like things done in very certain ways – rules, preferences, ideals. I used to just be OK managing them myself, and therefore no one else really needed to care because I did them all myself. No one else needed to know, understand or care about it too much when I could do it myself. But that was then; this is now. Now I can’t do them. Other people have to. I’m always now reliant on another person, someone else, someone not me, doing them. It’s disheartening, disempowering, frustrating, annoying… awful.

Now they have to care, and I have to try to get them to understand that it’s important that things get done in the same way I did them, that I need to have things done “right”. The thing is, there’s also something else: when things don’t happen or get done in my specific way, in the same way, in the right way [for me], in the way I like them done, I react badly. It’s like my whole world crashes down on me. I become scared, confused, lost. Those routines are the building blocks of my existence. They keep me happy (or my version of happy), keep me grounded, keep me “OK”. (this is the bit where you don’t judge me…). I am not “a slave” to them; they are my way of making life work for me, to deal with my existence in this world – in your world… to make the “every day” stuff everyone else seems to be fine with make sense to me… otherwise I am lost and scared. I panic. My brain shuts down and it disintegrates. Then bad things happen.

But I am not crazy. Nor am I stupid, mad, demanding, manipulative, or anything else everyone has always called me in regards to this. It’s just me, and I can’t do anything about it. I’m scared… What do you do when you’re very, very scared? I didn’t say it was rational; it’s just real. My truth. My brain. My fear.

My panic. My Hell.

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It’s apparently because I have this thing called AspergerI wasn’t too happy to learn that. Ironically, even the thought of it stressed me out so much it made it worse. On the other hand, it was pretty clear when I read all about it that was what the “problem” was, though. My parents read about it and just went “… ohhhhhhh“. The lightbulb moment was clear with them. The general reaction apparently was: “Well, that explains a lot“… For me, though, it was just one more label to stick on the back of my collar, and I didn’t like that. I didn’t need a new label; I just wanted to be able to do my own thing again, my way. I had it, whether I had the label on my records or not. What I wanted was someone to give a label to whatever the hell was wrong with my body, then fix it. But that isn’t what I got. And it’s not fixed.

I have diagnosis, but it’s not the one I wanted. I’m still stuck with being unable to do most things on my own. Thing is, just like pretty much most other people with ASD, a big part of being “OK” is that everything is the same. Take that away and it feels like your world is falling apart. When I could do everything myself, it was not so much of an issue. But when I’m almost entirely reliant on someone else to do it, then I have a problem. Good intentions unfortunately don’t make it right if it’s done wrong… and even though to everyone else it’s the thought that counts, I’m afraid I can’t deal with it if it isn’t right. I honestly can’t help it, change it, or “fix” it. It’s just how it is. I know… I’ve tried everything I can imagine to make it go away, and it just won’t. This is just how my brain is. It’s not like everyone else’s. It simply doesn’t really work properly.

Love Autism

If only I could accept it…

After more than 30 years, someone has finally told me why my brain doesn’t work properly. However, this is a diagnosis that doesn’t make everything all better and go away. You don’t pop a pill or have some surgery and get all better. There is no “getting better”. In a sense, there’s nothing to fix… it’s just a thing that makes you different. We don’t all have brown eyes, we’re not all one gender, we don’t all like the same things, some people are puppy-people and others are not… We are all different. OK, mine might be a bit stranger, but it’s just mine. My brain reacts differently to things, and that’s all there is to it. I have Asperger that you don’t understand, but maybe you have a strong affinity towards Gansta Rap music and a penchant for pink that I’ll never understand. That doesn’t mean either one of us is wrong. (Although pink of any kinda really is…)

And if only I really saw it all that way… If only everyone saw it all that way. (Not the pink-thing, the other thing.)

At the end of the day, it’s just a name for what’s wrong. It doesn’t change the fact it’s there, or ease my suffering – and yes, I suffer. It’s not at all pleasant being left lost, scared, and confused because something wasn’t done “right”. It’s not my choice, I don’t like it, I don’t want it, but it’s there and I can’t change it. I can only control what goes on to ensure feeling that way doesn’t happen – or happens as little as possible. It’s not worth the consequence if it does.

What really needs to change is the pain. Having the chronic pain has taken away my ability to do what I need to do to be OK. I am lucky that about 90% of the time the people who help me go out of their way to ensure things are done “right” for me, out of kindness and understanding. The other 10% of the time unfortunately leads to extreme breakdowns, or “meltdowns”, as my brain is unable to somehow distinguish that despite it not being right it’s not something to panic about. The result is a terrifying mental breakdown and blackout created by an extreme panic attack that execrates into a “meltdown”. During it I am not really aware of what’s going on, I just want the panic to stop. It’s exhausting and traumatic, and I’m quite willing to do what it takes to ensure they don’t happen. Most kids get diagnosed young and spend their lives learning how to deal with what’s going. I grew up in the back-end of north Wales and the best my mother got for my strange behaviour was, “she’ll grow out of it”, followed by mixed psychiatric diagnoses. The one that stuck was Depression. So I got treatment for depression… and, strangely enough – who’d have thought – that didn’t work. Nothing worked. Now I know that doing the little things I’ve always done to keep my mind tranquil and “happy” is what is required, and I do them. When they’re done, I manage. When they’re not… well, things don’t go so well and I end up back in that hell I hate so much.

Pain Will Make SenseWhat this ridiculous amount of pain has done is taken away my ability to cope. I spent my whole life learning techniques on how to deal with things that fall out of these strict parameters I built for myself. The pain sears every cell in my brain and takes away my ability to think, my ability to remember how I’m supposed to manage things if they go wrong. The pain causes stress and suffering, flaring (for want of a better term) the other thing that I have, and rendering me in that state of lost confusion, terror and panic. I need to do things myself, in my own way, to manage – taking that ability away is a living nightmare.

The Pregabalin has brought some of the pain under a little control, but the other side is the side effects screw with my head anyway. I’m walking a tightrope I keep falling off. I’m walking it alone. I had (stupidly) assume I would have some kind of professional help, but I don’t. Certainly not on the pain-side. There, I’m left to my own devices, having had nine whole months to deal with all this until my next (second) pain clinic appointment, the pain continuously getting worse. As much as the Pregabalin masks, it doesn’t mask the fact it’s getting worse and I can do less and less.

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I apparently actually have two crappy conditions that contraindicate each other. Both are crappy and both are rubbing each other the wrong way. One just aggravates the other, and the meds just gets in there and makes everything even worse when it’s not actually doing its job and helping.

There should be help, but there isn’t. The NHS pain clinic here is overburdened, and ergo useless. To have almost an entire year between appointment one and appointment two is mind-boggling, especially when ordering an MRI right away, eight months before you’re even going to see the person about it… and by then it’s no longer relevant. In the meantime, I continue to get worse. Also, in an ironic twist, I now have that pain everywhere except in one of my fingers – which is now actually going almost completely numb. It’s the only place I can’t really feel pain… or much of anything, really. Actually, it just feels weird. That’s the last thing I expected to experience with all this.

 

Weather The Storm