Thursday, April 25, 2013

A couple recent small victories

Over the last couple weeks I've started noticing a couple positive changes in how I function physically. The first thing I noticed is that I've suddenly become able to take a leak (standing) without having to hold onto walls and other fixtures to keep from wobbling. The other change is that I've unintentionally begun showering much more frequently than I had been.

It may seem strange for me to share details about my peeing proficiency, but you surely have no idea how difficult it had become for me to do little things that used to be easy, like taking a leak without worrying that weakness or spasticity might suddenly cause my body to shift one way or another, thus causing me to momentarily miss my mark. Sometimes you have to be able to manually aim your tool in both a specific direction and at a specific angle if you want to get the job done right. Which is simply not possible if you're using both of your hands to hold on to walls or towel racks. Until the last couple weeks, I had to worry about these things every time I used the bathroom. (OK, almost every time.)

Regarding my showering habits: I must admit that up until the last couple weeks, it had been a long time since I showered more frequently than about twice a week. Since I rarely have a reason to leave the house, and since there's no one in my life who has a reason to get very close to me, I usually don't feel like it's a big deal. I shower when I feel like I need to.

So why do I feel this is worth mentioning?

Because I really don't know why I started showering every day instead of every 3 days or so, but it feels right. Interestingly, this behavioral change began shortly after I resumed walking on the treadmill. It began a week after I started driving myself to physical therapy instead of relying on my mom to drive me.

I'm just trying to connect the dots, since there seems to be dots worth connecting. And right now the dots are telling me that once you make the effort to do things that require a degree of energy, motivation, and dedication that you don't feel like you possess, you naturally become even more motivated and more able to do even more of these things. It's the snowball effect that I've probably mentioned somewhere during the last few months.

And why am I analyzing this?

Because it may not seem like much to you, but it's pretty big to me. Because I intend to walk normal again someday, or maybe even run, even though the "experts" know I will never be able to do either of those things; even though the "experts" know I'm only gonna get progressively worse until I finally die at least ten years ahead of schedule. And when the day comes that I do walk normal again, without a cane, I'll be able to look back at posts like this and remind myself of how the seemingly insignificant victories were actually huge; that big change only happens as the result of many small changes.

I guess the fact that I've driven myself wherever I need to go since early April is another small victory. Before early April, I don't think I had driven at all since mid/late-January (2-1/2 months). Even though I probably could have driven myself during that period, I had kinda become afraid to drive. Some of that fear was realistic, considering my optic neuritis and the occasional inability of my legs and feet to respond quickly to driving demands, as well as the fact that my car has a standard transmission and I don't have what I consider adequate control of my clutch foot.

But some of the fear was what I'm inclined to think of as unrealistic. When your body stops working, like mine has, it feels like your life stops working along with it. And when you start feeling that way, life starts omitting you from everything, keeping you on the outside looking in; causing friends and family not to be able to relate to you or interact with you like they always had before your body started falling apart; when you were the badass who had just finished walking across a continent. It makes you feel worthless and unable to complete even the easiest tasks. It leaves you functionally friendless and very lonely. That's scary, and if you don't make a real big effort to change it, you just get worse and worse, like I did, and it becomes even harder to claw your way back to a new reality, in which you only need to fear things that are actually worthy of your fear.

Regardless of what kinds of realistic or unrealistic fears I may have faced over the last few months or last couple years, this much is true: Mom has not had to drive me anywhere since I began driving myself, and this is yet another of the little victories that are adding up and helping me become a real person again.

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