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January 6th, 2019 neurological change - it IS possible

Real, lasting neurological change (a brooaad category - I mean, we're talking about your brain, nervous systems) is really hard ...

Archive for May 2016

May 27th 2016 This summer, and dealing with stress....

To listen: Copy and paste into Google Translate, click the "speaker" icon.

If you've read my last two posts, you know that I've got to deal with a major homeowner's project this summer.  There's a lot of pieces and parts to this, so I finally wrote a general timeline of what needed to happen when.  My timeline - which is now printed and thumb tacked to our kitchen bulletin board - is helpful.  The job is scheduled - we've basically got a month to go. 

We've met with our contractor - Tom - to talk about flooring, wall panel choices, and the general timing of everything.  We've made a reservation at the local Residence Inn, and Ron knows I'll need my computer set up.  He and I will need to check in with our Village to make sure we have the permit, but I think that will work out.  I told Ron and the girls we needed to get containers because we'll be storing a lot in our garage, and I don't want a huge mess. 

There may be some surprises along the way, but one way or another everything WILL have an end point.  So that's a plus over my health issues, which are far less definitive.  A side note re health issues - as I've mentioned on my VPIP FB site, getting off my steroidal nasal spray took care of the retinal fluid (not gone completely, but much better), but now I have to figure out about allergy/sinus problems.  However, again, this hopefully will be more easily fixable than my other disorders.

Still, thinking about all this upheaval this summer makes me feel there are too many demands and challenges.  Too much disruption.  All of which makes me feel ungrounded.  So I needed to be really specific about stress relievers.

Here's what I came up with, not in any particular order:
1)  There WILL be an end to this, and some positive changes as a result.  I have to remember that.

2) Breathing.  Sounds too simple, but I know when I'm stressed, my breathing changes, and that starts a chain reaction.  So I'm going to try my best to stop myself when I feel stressed or overwhelmed and Just. Breathe.

3) Listen to music.  Be in the moment, and just listen.

4) Snuggle my pets. 

5) Try for some normalcy.  Routines and daily tasks.  I really need this.  Doing something really basic and mundane - like emptying the dishwasher - isn't boring.  It's normal.

6) Talk things through with Ron and the girls.  Make sure this stays a team effort.

7) Ask questions, but leave the work to our contractor.  To an extent, just like with a health problem, if I have more info, that will be helpful.  But some things, I can leave to Tom.  Make sure he knows what we need, and let him figure it out. 

8) Be honest.  I'm going to make sure that Ron knows what makes me anxious - I don't want him to think I'm feeling on top of dealing with something, when I'm not.

9) Don't be a perfectionist.  Don't be too hard on myself.  These are important for me, and apply to whatever I need to do.    When I write about dealing with this, or anything else for that matter, I don't have to post the perfect article.  There's only so much cognitive processing I can do, so I'll do the best I can with whatever I need to do. 

The cognitive processing thing is hard for others to understand, so I may sometimes just have to say I need a break or whatever.  Doing what I can will be good enough.  Good enough will be enough.  Even if everything doesn't go perfectly, it'll be OK.  One way or another, things will work out.  It's not worth making myself ill, having a setback.

10)  I'm recovering from a sinus infection, and I've got a lot going on, so I  need to dial it down. Pacing matters.

11) Joyce is out of town for a couple weeks, and there are some things that don't need to happen right now.  I can maintain to a degree on my own, but it's not the same as working with her.  And dealing with my sinus infection is another challenge.  So I'll be careful, and some tasks will wait a couple weeks until she's back, and can help me get back on an even keel.  

12) Give myself credit for getting through each day.  I've gotten through difficult times before.  None of them is ever identical, but I'll get through again.

13) Print this out to remind myself of what I came up with that will help me.


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May 15th 2016 Trying not to get overwhelmed by seepage....

To Listen: Copy and paste into Google Translate, click the "speaker" icon.

Our basement is finished (done by a previous owner), and we use it extensively.  It's like a second floor, but underground.  So when I open the door to the basement, and see water covering much of the main room, some of it about an inch deep, it's not good.  I see furniture reflected in the water, a plastic cat toy floating like a little buoy, and Ron is barefoot in the laundry room, using our wet vac to suck up gallons and gallons of water.  Ugh... this seepage problem really sucks.  I feel tension rise in me, worrying about how bad our seepage problem will get, before it gets fixed. 

Dealing with stress has been on my mind a lot lately.  We're starting to put into motion what needs to happen in order to deal with our problem.  I feel tension about the whole situation:  how everything will come together to fix the problem, and what I don't have control over (rain, and that it's coming into our basement).  So I ask myself how I can deal with all of this.

I have to make taking care of myself even more of a priority.  This means pacing myself, trying not to plug too much into any given day or week, AND means taking breaks.  I need to do things that make me feel better, like listening to music. When I take breaks, calming breathing is a priority, so I can release some of the tension.

I can't think about what's going on ALL the time.  It won't help the situation, and only makes me feel, well, stressed out.  I need to do what I can to feel some control.  I will do my best to expedite getting the necessary permit.  Our handyman contractor, whom we've used before, said that all the prep and post project work was doable.  I will stay in touch with him, and use him as a resource.  There are a lot of pieces to this whole process.  We're more experienced homeowners than we used to be, but we've never dealt with a homeowner's project of this magnitude before.  He, on the other hand, has a lot of experience.  I can ask him questions, and get some guidance regarding the timeline.

As we move along, and I get a better idea of what needs to be done, and when what needs to happen, we can talk as a family about who pitches in where.  Delegation of responsibility can really help.  For now, using the wet vac is more difficult for me than Ron or the girls, so it's not a good use of my energy.  But I can deal with some of the clearing out and sorting, as long as I pace myself.

I need to take to heart the idea of taking things one step at a time.  In that way, it's like doing rehab; I can't get ahead of myself, and worrying about everything ahead of time won't do me any good.  I have to let some of it go - it's going to rain, and we're going to have a lot of seepage, and for now I need to live with that.  Worrying about a worst case scenario isn't going to help.

I can get more info about the Residence Inn where we'll be staying.  I will write down, as I think of them, the different pieces involved for me in staying someplace else.  One by one, I'll figure out how to deal with them.  I can get ideas from Joyce and Ann, since they both have a good understanding of my disorders, and challenges.  I'll talk with my daughters so they can figure out how to make temporarily living someplace else as manageable as possible. 

I will remind myself that as obnoxious, complex and stressful as it may be, the problem IS fixable.   We can do our best to put everything back together in better shape than it is now.  We'll get a new - long overdue - kitchen floor.  Since we'll be out of the house anyway, and spending a significant chunk of change on the basement, we figured why not get it done.

Some of what we have to do is no different than any other family dealing with a major homeowners problem/project.  I will, however, deal with challenges that are unique to me because of my vestibular and vision disorders, challenges that feel very big to me.  Our house already feels different because of the seepage, so my environment is already different, and there will probably begin to be disruption to my routines. That makes me anxious and uncomfortable.  So I keep breathing, and keep moving. I'll  attempt to keep my sense of humor, and tell myself, "We'll get through this, and I'll get through this."




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May 6th 2016 Dealing with a multi faceted challenge...

To listen: Copy and paste into Google Translate, click the "speaker" icon.

I've often been struck by the complexity of water; beautiful, versatile, vital for existence, powerful, destructive and dangerous.  When we bought our house 22 years ago, we unknowingly bought a house with a seepage problem.  We discovered this for the first time many years ago.  We hired a handyman to plug a crack in the wall of our basement, and when he was doing the work, he told us he was pretty sure the wall had been plugged (badly) before.  Now we have a serious problem that requires a major drain tile project. I had originally hoped to wait till next summer ('17) to deal with it, but after the last rainfall it became clear that that isn't an option; we don't want the problem to get any worse.

The reason I wanted to wait is because dealing with this problem will challenge me significantly in a number of ways.  I haven't stayed anywhere but our house since I got sick - our house is my safe zone.  My body/brain knows our house, which makes it significantly easier to function.  Spatially, visually it's all familiar.  However, due to the needed prep work, and the work involved in putting everything back, we will not be staying in our house while the work is done.  Thankfully, there's a Residence Inn nearby that allows pets, and has kitchens, because I think we'll need to be out of our house for about three weeks.  Living in a different space will be a major challenge for me, both on a vestibular and visual level.

The other day, while I was cooking, I thought about moving around in a different kitchen.  Moving around the rooms will require extra effort for me, as my brain learns the new spaces.  There may well be different routines.  There's also the planning involved in the organization of the prep work.  Meeting with and hiring a handyman company to do, among other things, floor and wall paneling work.   I'm confident that the prep work is all doable, though some of it may be difficult. 

Even with the handyman, there will be general work we'll need to do to prepare the house.  Spatially OUR house will look different at different stages of the project.  I will supervise and organize, but be limited in terms of what I can actually do.  I know that wearing myself out doing something won't make sense, because I want to maintain my health as best I can.  As I said, we've lived in our house for  22 years, but we now have weeks instead of months to get ready to get the project done.  So I will not be a perfectionist; some sorting will be done prior to the work, but some things can simply go temporarily into storage.

My first reaction to hearing what was needed, was to shut down.  To say "no way."  Then I realized that I didn't want to avoid a project because of my vestibular and vision disorders.  Rather, I needed to break it down - do that problem solving thing I've written about, and say "OK, this needs to be dealt with, so how do I do that?".  My first thought was to give myself time, thus the one year later time frame.  But the stress of watching the forecast for when it will rain, wondering how much it will rain, whether we'll get seepage, if so how much, will there be any serious water damage, etc., etc., isn't working for me.  It's too stressful.  And I recognized that although dealing with this project will be very challenging for me, fixing this seepage problem is possible.

Rain - even a thunderstorm - does not need to be a major stress.  I don't want my invisible vestibular and vision disorders to take complete control; *I* need to have some control over my environment, my world.  I can't say about everything that seems really difficult, "I can't do it because I have these health problems." So I'll try not to over think what needs doing, but problem solve as issues come up, and take each piece a step at a time.  I will keep in mind that there will be positive changes in our basement - we may as well take advantage of taking care of the seepage - and that I need to make my house a safe zone once again.


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