I have spent a lifetime being active and while I have never done a proper pushup, I have always loved climbing. Stairs, furniture, mountains, vehicles were all game. There is a part of me inside that I call “Michelle Unlimited” or MU and she is unaware that I have lost the physical ability to do a lot of things. She also forgets that things are hot or weigh too much.
MU still likes to do all of the things and I suffer for it. In the MU mindset, I began shoveling out front and pulling up sprinkler lines. I think spent two days recovering because I am not supposed to be shoveling dirt in the sun OR doing any type of landscape work. As soon as I felt better, I tried to dig up a bush for transplant but was caught before I could really get anything done. Of course I know better, but somehow in the heat of the moment I am able to convince myself that I will be fine if I just use proper form or drink water or whatever lie I am willing to believe so I can feel like my old self again.
One area that I seem to struggle with is stairs. I grew up in a house with stairs and lived in one for a good portion of my life. My apartments were upstairs, office is upstairs, everything I like is upstairs. However, stairs are not the friends they used to be.
MU does not care.
Using a cane has made stairs even more of an issue because my natural inclination is to take the stairs and it’s just getting more difficult because I am tired. It is a ‘tired’ that is becoming all consuming and I feel like I am drowning in reality. The stairs seem to make things real, but I am more often floating up a building in the elevator now because I lack the strength to get up the stairs safely and I then have to take a few minutes and bring my heart rate down.
I keep telling myself that I can do it, but I just can’t right now. Since I now travel with someone else, I am usually corralled to the elevator so that I won’t make the attempt at the stairs. We know that my seizures seem to be aggravated by activity and the more strenuous the worse the seizures. It is a little upsetting when something as simple as stairs is taken away and what used to just be useful architecture is now a barrier. A thing that once held no meaning now represents a failure of my body.
Of course this is something that I am dealing with in therapy and I am trying to stop letting ability of my body and mind define who I am and dictate what I can accomplish. Reading back over this I am telling myself that it is ok to be upset about losing some ability, but the focus should really be put back into how do I overcome or compensate for this? I obviously can take elevators. I realize that I am blessed to be in a city with the strictest building codes, so access for disability is almost everywhere. I have the tools at home to maybe work a little harder to build up my strength to get up and down stairs, but until I go see the cardiologist, I will just take it easy. If there is an issue, we have to figure it out first, and honestly, not having to walk up stairs is something that in time, I will get used to if it comes to that.
So much of this journey is having hope but being reasonable if everything goes wrong. Having a belief system that I consistently study and read and having a support system that is large and loving is what keeps me going. My family has known for months that I am getting slower and slower on the stairs, now I literally have to sneak up stairs if I want to walk up some. The only stairs we have at home now lead into the pool or spa and I am not allowed to use either of those without someone there…and I need help getting up the stairs as there is no railing. (Our pool was built for fun, not children or the disabilities that would later come.)
Maybe for a while I will just tell myself that I can take the stairs but I choose to take the elevator. Then it feels like my choice, and sometimes the feeling is what gets me through the hard times. MU just has to find a less energetic way of being awesome.