I always thought of blogs as being narcissistic, business related, or as my sister's, a way of keeping in touch or memorializing.

But, by necessity, I am learning a lot about myself. I find I need to get my thoughts out, and it helps me to know that someone else will read them. So I have created this little space for myself, to express the things I have trouble saying (be it emotional or physical trouble), to share what I'm going through, and what I'm learning through it.

I absolutely welcome comments. It's nice to know how people relate to what I'm saying.
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Friday, 25 April 2014

Distance, Effort and Mind

I had this thought the other day. I was sitting in the car, watching my son and his friend run to the lake, and as they got smaller, it struck me... things seem a lot farther than they used to. I lived in a house in University that was farther from the lake than I was at that moment, and I walked to the lake all the time. I walked all over campus. Heck, I used to walk to work when I lived downtown.

I wanted to go down to the lake. I wanted to sit on the bench at the boardwalk and take it in. And it was just too damn far. And that was ok, because if I'm honest with myself, it had already been a busy day and I had already done a fair bit of walking. And so I started thinking instead.

One of the things that has shifted tremendously through this period of extreme healing is my perception of distance. And now I'm finding that perception shifts right along with my energy. For instance, the walk from the front door to the end of the drive is perfectly doable some days, while other days it's just not even within the realm of possibility. I think that's pretty normal, even if most people don't realize it. I mean, reasonable distances are really quite long for healthy folk and still everyone has had that experience at one level or another - I don't feel like walking today, let's take a cab. So there's that relatively simple piece of physical ability. But I also think I am more easily overwhelmed and emotionally drained by the idea of distance, which is something a little bit different.

I remember writing a long time ago about how strange it was to have to be aware as I walked of how tired I was getting, and being worried about whether I was going to be able to make it back. That's pretty much second nature now. I can tell when I need to turn around if I'm out for a short walk, and when I need to slow down or sit down altogether. I am better able to manage that kind of distance/energy calculation. I think the overwhelm is a lack of confidence in my abilities, which is sometimes justified, but not always, seeing as my abilities are different every day. I do think however that the lack of confidence is a pretty natural, albeit fear-based, reaction to my experience over the last couple of years.

When a friend recently celebrated her 40th at an unfamiliar setting, I actually borrowed my grandmother's wheelchair, just in case the walk was too long. It turned out not to be. But I needed to have that back up to feel comfortable going. It's harder now, going into unfamiliar situations. Having a plan boosts my confidence and eases my fears, and that is pretty important. Even if the wheelchair sits in the car the whole time.

But beyond that, there's a new awareness I have, that goes beyond confidence and ability. It's really neat, because if I'm aware, my reaction to distance in the moment can tell me a lot about both where my head and my energy levels are. I know that if I'm on the couch and I want the socks at the other end because my feet are cold, sometimes I can just reach over and get the socks - no problem. That's when I know I can do things - I'm confident, I'm functioning at a reasonably good level. Other times, I stare at the socks and will them to come to me. That never works, by the way. But as I'm staring, different qualities show up in my thoughts... One is a shivery/whiny kind of "they're too far, and I can't get them and I don't want to, but my feet are cooooold" - that's the lazy one. That's the one where I know I can do it and I just don't feel like it so I'll throw a mini pity party instead. Another is a very heavy and blank kind of "why can't I even why do I want no what do I want oh yeah wait what why am I staring at my socks oh my hand moved oh no its flopping again socks..." This is usually a really good indication that I have a good deal of cognitive impairment, which usually comes hand in hand with physical exhaustion. In this case, I'll be lucky if I can form the words to ask someone to bring them to me. Luckily, I haven't had this level of impairment in what seems like a while (but my perception of time has shifted too). A third quality is this kind of clear, tangy "I want those socks. I know I have to move if I want to get them. I don't want to move. I can't move. I will glare at them until they move. Never mind. Ugh. Maybe if I just forget the cold." That one is the new one I'm watching out for that I didn't realize existed. The thing is, in that moment, I really can't move. Until I become aware. Even then, I can't always push past it. This is still very very new. I'm still playing around with seeing what I can do in those moments.

My hope is that if I can translate that process of awareness to further distances and more complex tasks, maybe just maybe I can do little things here and there for myself that I haven't been able to do in some time. Now wouldn't that be super cool!

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