A Step Back to Roll Forward
Over the last few months I've felt myself slowing down. I'm only 27, but ADLs (activities of daily living) seem to take a lot more work, chores are anticipated with a physical kind of dread, and at the end of the day, I'm exhausted after doing nothing more than living. After six years, I think my body is finally tired of yelling at me and has decided to strike until I agree to more reasonable working conditions. I'm not a weakling, but I'm also not a hoss. No extreme sports for this bookworm, please. But when a spinal cord injury laid me out three months before my wedding, I worked my butt off in order to walk down the aisle. And after that, I just sort of kept going on the same way. I stuck my chair in the basement, determined never to pull it out again. That lasted for a couple years until I got pressure sores on my feet. The only way to get rid of a pressure sore is to stay off of it and give it time to heal. Well, it's pretty hard to walk and stay off your feet at the same time, so I caved and brought out the chair.
It felt like a cop out. I mean, I'd spent all this time and energy getting out of the chair and there I was plopping back down at the first little setback. This was totally not true – just another lie I believed. I really did need to get off my feet to heal, but it felt like a step back. What I didn't tell anyone was that under the frustration and depression was a profound relief. Suddenly my feet didn't hurt, my knees didn't crackle and my back didn't ache.
So I started to use my chair for getting around large places like airports and zoos. But it still went in the basement when we got home. After all, I only needed it for long walks, right? There's nothing shameful about that. Except there shouldn't be anything shameful about using my chair at all. Looking at it now, I can't figure out what I was fighting against. Was I trying to prove something? I think I was trying to show myself that I wasn't less than I had been. And now that I've done that maybe I can focus on what's best for me.
The chair makes my life easier. Why would I balk at using just another kind of tool? I buy Pampered Chef stuff all the time because it makes my life easier. I don't say “well, I'm not going to use a knife to cut my vegetables because I want to prove I can do it without”. And then what? I gnaw an onion into submission? See how silly that is? Now that we have a new house with wide doorways and wood floors, I can get around without a moment's hesitation. I don't have to struggle up a flight of stairs to get to my books (halleluliah!). And guess what? I have a lot more energy throughout the day. I can get chores done and still have the umph to sit down and write. I'm not giving anything up. In fact, I'm gaining something. It's called freedom.
It's taken me six years to admit it, but I don't want to walk everywhere. I get around my house with a weird mix of walking, rolling, and crawling. I know it looks odd but it works for me. Y'all are probably thinking “Why was this so hard to admit?” Well, I'm pretty stubborn by nature and sometimes you have to beat me over the head with an idea a couple times before I'll even consider it. This was one of those times. And I find clarity when I write my thought process down, so you get to experience the inner workings of my mind. Lucky you. But in writing this post I realized I'm not trying to justify my choice to you. I'm trying to convince the girl I used to be that it's all going to be okay. That poor young woman who ached to be up and walking for no other reason than to say she could. This is for her.
I promised y'all an update on the new project I'm working on, but after starting it I realized it's going to take a lot more work than I originally thought. Research! And interviews! So I'm postponing the announcement until I've got a better grasp on my timeline. I know, you're sooo disappointed, but I'll have to make it up to you later.