This week I’ve been working on focusing on what I can do. It’s been a hard couple of weeks.
Getting from one room to the other is sometimes like running a marathon. And getting my trash to the dumpster, which is approximately 30 feet from my apartment, seems like a herculean task.
Getting to my car is about 40-50 feet.
A year ago I had high hopes for my ankle. But it’s been 16 months and it’s getting worse lately instead of better. The surgeon told me to give it a year. Well, I’ve done that.
Let me say that I have had some good weeks that made me extremely happy. Like being able to water my garden without pain there for a little while.
But it does get depressing when your body just won’t work right. There’s no way around that.
Last night I slept in my chair. It gets me sitting upright by pushing a button.
Getting out of my bed has become harder. One of those beds that help you with that would be great. But it isn’t in the budget right now after buying this expensive chair.
I wanted to write this post to tell others in a similar situation that you cannot do anything about what’s beyond your control.
So you have to start focusing on what you can do. But just before that is another important step. Go ahead and grieve.
It isn’t like losing a precious pet. Not that kind of heart grinding grief that tears you asunder.
Grieving The Loss:
This is grieving over the loss of what you can no longer do. Your body just will not comply.
I look back in my blog posts as I’m working on them (another Google god must), and am astounded. At the other apartment, early on, I was painting entire rooms.
And that was after my second ankle surgery!
I almost couldn’t believe it when I read it. It seemed beyond belief that I actually painted entire rooms. Painted cabinets, and DIYed so many things in that apartment.
I redid my kitchen counter tops and backsplash 3 times in the 8 years I lived there!
Where did I get the strength to do that? Why has my body now begun to fail me?
Well, I don’t have any answers about that. It’s beyond my reasoning. That was then; and this is now. I’m older, more prone to accidents, having to take more medications for nerve pain.
I’ve had back pain on and off since my twenties, so that’s no surprise. But now it’s terribly hard just to sit on a toilet seat without searing pain.
When you’re in a lot of pain, I’ve learned, your bodily functions sometimes don’t work as well. Some of you will understand this sentiment I think.
So here’s what I’m doing. I’m not going to lament what was before. This is now. Let’s just get this first part out of the way and allowing myself to grieve it.
Any way you look at it, it is a loss.
What I Can’t Do:
- I can no longer walk around in a store. Some days I can’t walk to my car.
- I live with daily pain so outside activities are few and far between
- I can no longer stand up to cook meals
- I can’t work in my garden without a walker/rollator to sit on
- If I exert myself in any way by walking much, I will have pain
What I Can Do:
- Accept what is and move on
- Enjoy the things I can still accomplish
- Find joy in the little things
- Mentally reduce my need to get out and about
- Adjust accordingly
Adjusting is hard, there is no doubt about it. If this has happened to you in any capacity, you’ve suffered, and are still suffering, a loss. A big one. So grieve for it. If you don’t you will be stuck.
It’s just accepting what is and what possibly may never be again.
So cry in increments and flush your mind of all the “what if’s” and “what was” and get to living life again. Just in a different way. Learn new ways to accomplish daily tasks. It will keep your brain active!
I’m no longer wearing the walking boot. I’ll try to manage without it. Wearing that walking boot off and mostly on for 2 years has taken a toll on the rest of my body.
So now, and you will be relieved, I am driving short distances with my shoe on instead of the boot. Yes, there is pain. But I don’t go far from my home. Usually within 2-3 miles.
The biggest lesson here is: I can still find joy in the every day. And I do that. I don’t let this get me so far down that I can’t laugh or decorate my home in small ways. Or create a garden. I managed that somehow.
I’m focusing on what I can do.
A Craft Project In The Works:
Yesterday I was able to sit at the table in my office/craft room and work on the leaf clay dish project. You have to let it air dry on both sides. And two of the three I made are thick. So it will probably be awhile till I can do the next step.
I can confirm right now that I will never be a clay artist. But it’s the fact that I managed to do it at all that’s important here.
And I can also tell you that mine will not look anything close to the DIY online.
Yes, it’s a project for kids. And I don’t know if an adult or a child made the pretty leaf dishes in the photo above. Just don’t expect mine to look that good!
I used morning glory leaves because they were the leaves closest to the patio and I could get to them without the walker.
So I can still manage projects if it doesn’t include having to be on my feet for more than a few minutes.
What I’m Grateful For:
Most of all, I’m grateful to have a roof over my head. So many don’t have that luxury. And these days, I consider it a luxury because of the many homeless people I see on the streets.
I can still bake a cake and scramble eggs while sitting on the rollator/walker. Wash the dishes. Go outside with the walker and sit to take photos of the garden.
I’m grateful that, though it took me till my fifties, I finally managed to find a way to make a bit of money. I’ll never be rich or anything close to rich.
But with my social security and blog income, I am independent. Nothing is a surety. Especially the ever changing blog income. Nothing is a given.
Google changes the rules constantly and puts content creators in great peril. We all wonder when the sky is going to fall.
But for now, I’m okay. I have my precious beloved Ivy as my companion. I’m so grateful for her!
I have children and grandchildren. Though I rarely see them, they’re still there, and that bond will always be an invisible umbilical cord.
I’m grateful that I can do small decorating and gardening projects. Not anywhere near what I used to be able to do. But I won’t ever stop doing those two things because they’re so important to me.
Still Trucking Along, But More Slowly:
And I worry I’ll lose you if I don’t keep churning out the decorating or gardening posts. Because I’m limited now in what and how much I can accomplish. So what used to take me hours now takes me days or weeks.
I worry that you’ll think to yourself: Well, that gal had a good run. But she just isn’t up to par anymore. She can’t do what she once did. So I’m heading to greener pasture (blogs) to read.
And I sure wouldn’t blame you. I’ve been at this now for 14 and a half years, and I’m not going anywhere.
My energy and excitement about my home and garden is still there. But my body is limited on what I can accomplish.
I never stop looking around me and wondering what I can do to make things prettier/more cozy. What I can add to my outdoor space. My mind keeps chugging along.
The Biggest Loss:
One of the losses for me is not being able to go out to the parks and take photos of the beauty of fall. Something I looked forward to doing every year. Maybe I’ll get to go back to Woodward Park one day.
My physical therapist, Greg, asked me once: “If you could go out and do anything, what would it be?”
And I said without even thinking about it: “I would go to parks and places of beauty where I can take photos of nature.”
That wouldn’t cost me anything but the gas in my car to drive there. But I might as well ponder walking a marathon. Because for the foreseeable future, that just isn’t a consideration.
Can you believe that Greg is still coming to my home every week for physical therapy for well over a year now? How time flies.
So if you have physical, or mental, limitations, be kind to yourself. It isn’t your fault. It isn’t really even your body’s fault. It’s just the card we’ve been dealt.
The secret: Adapt.
And you adapt by finding new ways to do things that bring you joy. Or even just things that will get you through the day.
Unless I had a brain injury of some variety, I’ll always have the ability to write. My mind never stops clicking when it comes to putting thoughts into words. It’s been there my entire life, like an old friend that never stops visiting.
Learning To Adapt:
There are many ways to adapt. And that’s what you must do. If there is something you cannot change, then you have to adapt to what is. To focusing on what you can do.
Greg recently mentioned the idea of a wheelchair or scooter of some kind. But he worries about the narrow doorways and the corners I’d have to navigate to get from room to room.
But if it gets to that point, I’ll look into it for sure. I’ve never even seen all the grounds here where I live and I’ve lived here since January 2022!
I can’t go enjoy the pond for instance, etc. The sidewalks here just aren’t safe for walkers. Lisa goes down to the office on Monday mornings, and the ladies have donuts and coffee.
I really don’t know if I’d want to do that, but the fact is, I can’t. But then again, I’m not as social as she is.
But I’m grateful I have neighbors who come visit. Who I can sometimes talk to when I’m outside in my yard.
Neighbors like Peg who help me and pick up prescriptions for me if need be. I’ve never had that before.
What A Difference A Year Makes:
And speaking of the yard, what a difference a year makes! I can’t take any credit for the landscaping because I paid for it to be done.
But I planted lots of flowers and herbs that flourished. And, if I do say so myself, they have been beautiful to behold from spring onward.
It took the morning glories and moon flowers till August to bloom, but I didn’t plant them early. And they were planted from seeds.
The ferns are massive now. Easily 2-3 times the size they were when I planted them.
And I got many plants from companies willing to mail them to me. That way I could just go online and order what I needed.
I ordered the plants below from Great Garden Plants.
Plants I Ordered For My Garden:
I ordered herbs from The Growers Exchange.
All the herbs did well over the summer. So I’ll probably order from them again. Because every year I like to have pineapple sage and lemon verbena.
So this post has turned out to be almost a full-length book! If you’re still with me, the gist of all this is just to enjoy life. In whatever capacity you can.
For as long as you have. In as little pain as you can manage.
That’s all you can do.
Sorry it’s taken me so long to get this out. Peg went to CVS to pick up prescriptions for me.
It seems there’s always a neighbor coming in the patio door. Especially when I have chocolate cake to give away!