In the trenches

Rest

I’ve been quiet on this space thanks to a hydrops flareup last week. The past week has involved lots of pillows to help prop my head up at a comfortable angle and has meant that my computer time has been precious. Things are better than last week, but it’s been slow progress.

Long month

Well, I’ve titled this post Long month which is a fitting follow-up to my previous post at the beginning of the month titled Long day. The nasty cold and cough I mentioned then continued to get worse and about halfway through the month it turned into bronchitis, so I gave up and got antibiotics. I don’t start antibiotics without feeling like I absolutely have too, but I was desperate. It was rather a relief to admit to myself how crummy I felt.

But that’s not the only drama this month. A couple weekends ago a tree fell on our house. Yes, that’s right, a tree. Our 100 foot tall Oak tree split in half and crashed into a corner of the house . . . so there’s also been that. More on that forthcoming!

Anyways, I’m looking forward to sharing on this space again as I miss sharing photos and tidbits from my day.

A quiet week

I’ve been pretty quiet as I’ve been dealing with hydrops this past week. It is discouraging, but it could be so much worse.

My highlight of the week was going to the rodeo. It was a good distraction and was nice to get out of the house!

Last Wednesday was also the first Functional Neurology Support Group meeting. It was a small but mighty start. I was pretty excited that two other people showed up! 

Over the weekend it was nice weather and hot enough to go swimming, which was another good distraction. There are not too many hot days of summer left, so we are squeezing as many trips in as we can!

Turbulance

I haven’t posted about my balance in much detail for a while. No news is good news, as they say. For the most part everything has been fairly ho-hum. I’ve cut back my appointments to the Functional Neurologist to twice a month. I tried going to once a month, but that was way too long. I spent the last week or so regretting that decision.

As my balance has improved so much in the last year, I’ve mostly gotten into the world of the nitty-gritty annoyances. The little things that still don’t come easily, but aren’t holding me back, like bending down, riding in the backseat of a car, and being cautious about movie theaters. It’s nothing that holds me back from enjoying life. I’m just very careful about how I approach it sometimes.

It’s been more on mind this week as there was turbulence as were landing in Portland and I haven’t normally noticed to much trouble before, but this time I was intense on doing my crossword puzzle and had a hard time putting it down. I suspect that’s what put me a bit over the edge for the rest of the week. I kind of liken it to a painless headache. I’m not dizzy per se, although I could probably get there easily if I tried. I know my limits and try to avoid anything that makes it worse, but if my head isn’t resting than for the most part it’s silently screaming at me to lay down and rest. Now it’s not really tired that is, it just doesn’t know where it is in space and so it gets exhausted easily. Which then eventually makes my neck tired as it’s constantly making micro adjustments to keep my head on somewhat even keel.

I have my little exercises to do from the functional neurologists and often I can figure out what’s off and fix it myself, but not this time. And I don’t dare mess with it too much for fear of making it worse. So I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to get in to see the functional neurologist early this week!

 

Save

Save

Sickness struck


Sorry I’ve been MIA around here. I’ve been dealing with some wierd nausea flu bug that’s slowing me down. Praying that it doesn’t come around tomorrow as I have a final and papers to write! I’m not quite sure how it’s all going to happen. Praying that it does.

Eyes working, essay posted


Today was fairly slow paced. Mostly me just working on school at a slug’s pace this afternoon, trying to ignore the gorgeous weather outside. 

I did attempt to get to my evening class early to go over my homework with the teacher and then eat my dinner afterwards. Well, errands took longer than I expected and I got there right on time and left my food at home. Oops. So I gave in and bought a snickers bar and some trail mix from a vending machine. About 10 min later I got a text saying my dad was bringing me dinner and I couldn’t have been happier. I just assumed he had a meeting in town, but after I got home I found out he came up just for me. I’m glad I shared that snickers bar with him. He deserved it.

Also, thanks to the tweak in my eye exercises yesterday, reading is coming much more easily and I had the mental energy to bake a rhubarb crisp for tomorrow. I’ve noticed that when my eyes aren’t tracking normally I tend to be a pretty stick to the family favorites cook as I don’t like doing all the looking down that cooking and reading recipes entails. So happy to be back to a better normal!

Also, my essay was published on The Papermill. You can read it here.

Gardening, a slow re-introduction 

Today it was gorgeously sunny and blue skies and this was the best picture I got. I spent a few minutes organizing the garden shed and thought I’d take a less than artistic photo…

One of my goals the past month or so was to try to spend a little time outside each day gardening. While most days I fail in getting outside as Homework! Dinner! Cleaning! all yell with more urgent voices, I have managed to slowly mulch almost all of the flower beds around the house. Most days I just do one wheelbarrow load of mulch, which considering our mulch pile is ironically and stupidly at the complete opposite end of our two acre “yard” than the house and said flower beds. And did I mention that it is also down hill? This means a steep walk pushing a full wheelbarrow up, up and up to the house. It also means that I get a good workout. When I first started this about a month ago, half a wheelbarrow load left me panting and sore. Today I pushed up not one, but two FULL wheelbarrow loads and was barely out of breath.

I used to love to garden before my concussions, but ever since my inner ear issues began, it has always been a fight to get my brain to go out there. And while I still hear my brain pushing back and fighting against so much movement, today I felt like the voice was a little less loud.

 

Weekend Links & Updates

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Links:

10 Surprising Facts about Dizziness and Vertigo – It was nice to see both Mal de Debarquement Syndrome and Meniere’s mentioned in the same article

Symptoms: Sound- and Pressure-Induced Vertigo – A rare reason for dizziness

It’s About More than Your Inner Ear – How vision therapy can provide stabilization. I did vision therapy as a child and then repeated it after my first concussion. While it was very helpful when I was young, after my concussion it didn’t do much  for me. Because my vision issues weren’t muscle related but nerve and balance related, what I really needed and what we didn’t know about at the time was Functional Neurology. 

Links thanks to the VEDA Facebook page.

Updates:

  • On Monday I went dancing! This was hugely exciting for me. I love dancing and it was one of those things that I thought I would never do again. I mostly did some waltz and swing. I made it through about 30 minutes of lesson review and then maybe 5 dances with lots of sitting in between. I did have moments of dizziness, but it was all mangeable.
  • On Wednesday, my family and I drove to Corvallis to watch my brother Andrew’s White Coat ceremony. Afterwards we went out to dinner at a restaurant that had the dreaded overhead fans. Yikes. My dad ended up loaning me his hat which helped tremendously but there must have been subtle flickering going on because after an hour or so my brain had had enough and I almost burst into tears at the restaurant! So, yes, that surprised me. That was my signal to get out of there, which I did.
  • This was my brother Jacob’s third week at Arrowsmith. We are noticing huge strides already. He talked all day Thursday, which is a big deal. At some point I’ll have to do another blog post on it!

Benefits of listening to your body

Last week, I talked about how to listen to your body, which perhaps was a rather backwards way to go about it, as maybe I should have first talked about the benefits of listening to your body.

Here are just a few reasons to fine tune the skill of listening to your body.

Track minuscule progress
When you’re in the midst of not feeling well every single stinking day, it can be hard to recognize progress when it comes. It’s easy to feel continually discouraged. We often think of progress in terms of large items – for example, being able to wash the dishes without help. But by paying attention you can encourage yourself with small progress that perhaps you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t taking the time to listen to your body. Perhaps you had a strenuous day and that evening you’re not quite as tired as you should be. Take time to notice it and celebrate it. Thank God for it. Don’t just ignore it. I think it’s easy for us to ignore small progress as we don’t want to get our hopes up that everything is getting better. It seems so much safer to wait until HUGE progress is made before we enjoy it. But that’s not really what it’s about. Big progress only happens with lots of incremental steps of often insignificant movement. Taking time to recognize what’s happening in the moment is important.

Track setbacks
While this isn’t quite as fun to think about as tracking progress, this is just as important. By tracking setbacks you can be proactive in trying to find the correlation between activities, food, stress and other factors that can lead to diminishing returns. Then you can work to find ways to avoid, minimize or work around the things that contribute to setbacks.

Communicate with your doctors
Being able to communicate accurately with your doctors is huge. Going to the doctor while dealing with a chronic issue and just responding with “Okay” when the doctor asks you how you’re doing is simply not helpful! Unfortunately (or fortunately!) doctors are not mind readers and need all the help they can get when it comes to helping you towards better health.

 

Listening to your body

I realized on Monday that I forgot all about Weekend Links and Updates. The past two weeks have been crazy, and last weekend was the craziest. I think my brain was so exhausted by Sunday that it went into survival mode. I’m sad I missed it, as I had lots to share, but next weekend I’ll be back!

This weekend I was visiting with friends at a wedding and I was talking about an experience I’d had in which my ability to listen to my body had surprised the doctor I was with. My friend remarked that she wished she had that intuitiveness, to which I replied, “No, you don’t really want to have to go through what I have to gain it.”

Being able to listen to what my body is telling me isn’t something that happened overnight, or something I was born with. But dealing with two concussions over four years forced me to pay attention to myself in a way I had never done before.

While I think this ability comes more naturally to some personalities, it certainly didn’t for me! I was willing to push myself through almost anything. It took a lot to stop me from pretending I was okay. It was only with my concussions that I started listening closely. I couldn’t pretend anymore. I couldn’t fake it.

Listening to your body is important if you deal with any sort of ongoing health issue.

It is possible to learn how to listen to your body, but it’s not always natural or intuitive. It takes time and practice. BUT, if you can learn how to do it, it’s a valuable tool that can help you recover faster and give you more peace of mind.

So how do you learn to listen to your body?

The easiest way to start, I think, is to ask yourself how you feel when you wake up. I know that seems simple, but it makes all the difference. I suspect that most people don’t give a thought to how their body is feeling in the morning unless they wake up with unexpected pain. So as you start to wake up, sit up, or drink your coffee, just take a moment to check in. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Does anything feel out of place?
Do I feel worse or better than yesterday?
Is there an obvious reason why? If not, try and think about it off and on for the rest of the day. Sometimes it takes me a day or two to see a pattern.
Am I feeling rested? Do I need to make time for a nap today?
Do I need to take it easy today? If so, what can I cut out that’s not essential?
Am I happy? Sad? Depressed? Stressed? Sometimes just acknowledging what you are feeling can make it seem better. And you can give a heads up to the people you’ll be seeing.
Why do I feel this way? This is a little harder, but go for it!

Listening to your body is really all about trying to find what patterns and habits are helpful or harmful to your body, and trying to put a stop to anything that is within your control that is negatively affecting you. It’s a valuable tool to have and one that will hopefully lead to quicker healing or at least more consistent health.

Next week I will share some of the benefits of listening to your body.