In a way, becoming disabled is like being a plant that has been viciously pruned back. Because of how much is changed, you have to grow in new directions. Well, that or you sit mulling over everything you’ve lost all day long, but that scenario doesn’t really get you anywhere.
In the past year and a half of being disabled, I’ve tried to find some new equalibrium. I’ve found that just as hard as it sounds. There have been big physical changes – crutches, bracing many of my joints, new medications. There have also been lifestyle changes. I don’t even try to do things in the morning anymore if I can help it – I know precisely how (un)successful that is. I wake up at 10:00, but I often don’t get out of bed until 10:30 or 11:00, because I hurt too much until the morning medications kick in. I’ve learned that I can’t do the same thing for hours at a time, but must break my life into blocks and take breaks to stretch, walk around, get more water, so on. I take far fewer classes. I have trimmed down my commitments.
In the end, that leaves a very different world. I do more crafting than I used to, because I can do that even when my mind is too muddied to think. Oh yes, the costs of this disability are more than the physical ones.
Somewhere between the disability and the medications, I’ve lost a great deal of my ability to be mentally sharp. I have to be ‘on’ for my classes, as I am a law student and law classes are rather infamously taught using the Socratic method (which can be humiliating when you aren’t at your best). On bad days, just getting to class is a struggle. Fortunately, I have had sympathetic professors; because I choose to participate more than anyone else in the class (by a longshot) when I am mentally on top of things, they leave me alone when I’m not. I just have to remember to keep my mouth shut, which I am not very good at.
In the end, learning to live with a disability is learning how your body is willing to let you live life. For me, it has meant slowing down drastically. The wild bouncing-off-walls, always doing something Brilly that existed before…can’t anymore. Everything has to be planned, oftentimes down to stupifying levels of detail. I have had to let go of control of a great many things in my life. Ask for and accept help when I would not have before.
It also means a lot more time by myself. I was quite the social butterfly before I became disabled; I’ve become rather stuck in my house now. In part because of this, I now have a great many plants. If I’m going to be stuck inside, at least it can be pretty.
A piece of good news: I’ve been paired with a service dog. This summer, Hudson will be joining me. My boyfriend and I are also trying to figure out the logistics of attempting to move in together, while he finishes his PhD and teaches at a college almost 100 miles away. I can’t be moved away from school, or I will miss a great many more classes than I already do, so he will have to slog all the way out there. Thankfully, he is willing to do that; I’m not sure what we would do, otherwise.