Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chronic Illness Blues & My Plan

It has been a couple weeks now that my Meniere's attacks have been keeping me bed bound.  Thankfully today was my first day in weeks without vertigo (*knock on wood*). However an hour ago, I got the intermittent hearing loss and tinnitus, which often means vertigo is just around the corner.

Here is a typical day in my life these last couple weeks : I wake up in the middle of the night/early morning with severe vertigo. Vertigo makes it impossible for me to sleep/walk/see/concentrate/focus/think. I take a full dose of the acute medication to knock out the vertigo. It also knocks me out and I am sedated for six plus hours. Around late-morning/midday, I fight through the medication, grabbing for the television remote on my nightstand in order to hopefully wake myself up with some tv. Sometimes the vertigo has calmed down enough that I am able to get dressed and lay on top of the bed but under the quilt that some Amish women made especially for me.. Sometimes the vertigo is so severe I am not coordinated enough yet and I'm stuck in my pajamas, under the covers for the majority of the day until I am steady enough to stand up and get dressed, not just throw myself to the bathroom and back. My body is so fatigued. On these bad days, I am trapped in my sky blue bedroom. The four walls are like a cell. I can almost feel the cold chains around my body weighing me down.

On a better day, after the morning debacle of waking up with severe vertigo, taking medication and then fighting myself awake, the vertigo comes in mild to moderate waves throughout the day. On those days, I load up my rolling walker with books/iPad/computer/medication/water/a stuffed panda bear/neck pillow and make my way to the leather couch in the living room. My two faithful followers, Knightley and Zoe nest in on either side of me.

You read that correctly, I have to use a walker right now. My stamina went downhill so fast that my legs frequently give out from under me. As you can imagine, this is quite humiliating. I do all I can to keep up my strength, but some days it simply is not possible to do any more than I am. The Meniere's makes it extremely difficult, not to mention the constant severe Migraines.

So as anyone who would be in my situation, I have the blues. Actually, I'm depressed and fighting anxiety. I had George move the dirty laundry into the other room because I was so sad that I am unable to do something as simple as laundry. Being so extremely limited can take a toll on one's emotions. So I have committed to fight back. I have created a plan to get me through this rough spot until the limitations are lessened. My plan is twofold: Do things to support my emotional/spiritual health and do things to support my physical stamina.

Plan for my Emotional & Spiritual Health:
-Read daily. I am committing to read from one or more of the following: Bible, One Year Book of Hope by Nancy Guthrie, Mosaic Moments: Devotionals for the Chronically Ill by Lisa Copen, and A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada (for which I'm anxiously waiting to arrive in the mail).
-For distraction, I have toyed with the idea of getting a fiction book, The Outlanders, on the Kindle app of my iPad, but that will come down the road when focusing on a computer screen isn't such a struggle.
-Journal daily. Even if it is simply copying a passage or verse that is meaningful to me, I commit to writing once a day. Hopefully though, I will spend more time actually writing about my emotions. As I am a verbal processor, I know writing will help me process through my emotions about my situation.
-Reach out to Chronic Illness Community daily. Whether this be by writing blogs, reading blogs, participating weekly Migraine Chat, and/or participating in forums, staying connected will help me stay grounded. 
-Pray daily. Keeping a close relationship with God is vital to getting through each day and that means talking to him must be a daily priority.
-I have many other ideas, but I think this will be a good start.

Plan for my Physical Stamina:
-George is in the midst of his busy season at work where he is gone from 6:30am-7:30/8pm and sometimes later six days a week.  So, taking care of myself is good for keeping up my stamina. It may seem simple, but walking to the kitchen to get my meals and letting out the dogs will help my stamina.
-I love doing Tai Chi, but unfortunately I am not yet strong enough to stand in one place for fifiteen minutes, but I am trying to do it in increments. I plan on starting it seated and then will work up to doing it standing. Eventually I hope to make it back to the treadmill. Of course, my vertigo has to cooperate, but this is my plan.
-I plan on stretching. I can do simple stretches, even from bed, that will keep me flexible.

So I'm going to keep taking things one day at a time. I'm gong to try to not get overwhelmed by the things I can't do (i.e. laundry). I'm going to focus on what I can to to help improve my situation.

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