Decisions, Decisions, Decisions. How do you choose?
Hi again folks, This is Day 9 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.
This week has been a really tough one for me as I have had to make some serious decisions about my life and the direction in which it is going. Everything from my health, my blogging, my studies with the Open University and even what I do in my leisure time with my family has been on my mind in this past week. So if you folks don’t mind I would like to ask you all for your opinions and advice.
The first thing I have had to address is my studies with the Open University. i was studying for a degree qualification in Psychology and over the past year I have juggled my health, caring for my daughter and my studies to try and get my assignments in on time. I have just about managed it but with a considerable amount of stress which grew with each assignment that was due. it got so bad that I almost had a meltdown with the last one causing me to suffer terrible insomnia for about 4 days where I didn’t get any sleep whatsoever. This affected my health really badly both mentally and physically and my poor wife and kids took the brunt of my bad moods I am ashamed to say. On top of all that my medications keep changing to get stronger and stronger each time which often means I have extreme difficulties in concentration, my memory is terrible and a very strange phenomenon of being unable to read and understand things. Add on top of this the effects of constant pain being a distraction and you start to see why I was struggling so much with handing in my assignments. I decided that I should speak to my GP about all of this and make my decision as to whether I could continue working towards my degree. The result was my GP said that she didn’t know how I wasn’t comatose during the day with the amount of medication I am on and that it probably wasn’t going to improve for the foreseeable future. This means I had no choice but to withdraw from my studies. I am really gutted about it but I have to admit I do feel a little relieved that I won’t have the added pressure on me when things start up again in September. I do have the option of looking at some counselling courses in the future which I would consider in place of the Psychology qualification as it is a lot more ‘hands on’ and is something I think I would be quite good at doing.
Then I started to think about my blogging and writing. I have been having an absolute blast writing this blog up to now and it has been therapeutic, opened up my world to supportive and caring people and caused me to take a look at what I want from life and where I am heading. The support I have had from your comments and the support I have been shown through Facebook and Twitter has been astounding. I have had so many nice comments, spoken to so many nice people and had so many different thoughts and ideas on what I would like to do next. I have decided that I am going to self-host my blog so it will be changing web address in the very near future. This will allow me more control over what can be done on the blog and hopefully will give me a bit more freedom to change the design and feel of the blog to fit what I want it to become. I have also considered writing some other things such as some poetry, short stories or maybe even a weekly story in episodes for a different blog. Are there any things you would like to see me write about either in this blog or for another blog on a different subject maybe? I will consider any suggestion as I have not got any ideas for certain about what the next project will be.
My health has took a bit of a battering over the past couple of months with my insomnia becoming increasingly worse, my pain getting steadily worse and my ability to move around being severely compromised. I spoke to my GP about my insomnia and she is stumped about what to do about it as I already take combinations of Morphine Sulphate, Oramorph, Gabapentin, Diazepam, Paracetamol, Acupan and Feldene Gel for my pain and swelling. I am currently taking the maximum dosage she can give me and she said it should technically have me knocked out during the day but I find I can’t sleep no matter what I try. As the insomnia gets worse the physical symptoms associated with it (ulcers in the mouth, stomach cramps, headaches and fatigue) also worsen causing me to withdraw to my bed on some days with an inability to move from it. This has taken its toll on me mentally as well as it can cause me to feel depressed, tired and that I am fighting an uphill battle in trying to deal with my pain and it’s control.
I also wanted to start trying to do some exercise in the form of swimming but with the constant tiredness and stomach pains it can make it difficult to commit to going regularly to swimming sessions at our local pool. I did manage to find out that our local council is planning on disabled only swimming sessions which will hopefully mean that we can go as a family to enjoy some leisure time together as well. I just hope that I can manage to get the pain under control enough to be able to go to some of these sessions as I think my weight loss would benefit from doing some regular exercise and I also don’t want to end up with too much muscle wastage due to inactivity. Which actually brings me on to my next couple of points.
I have recently put in my renewal forms for my disability benefits and they have finally awarded me the care component as I need a lot of help from my wife with everyday tasks. I have been trying to get them to change this for about 8 months now but they seemed unwilling to budge, but, as of October, they have awarded me the new rate. This has been a good thing and a bad thing for me in a way. In one respect I feel validated because there has finally been recognition of how much I actually suffer each day and that is a good thing but on the other hand it has also opened my eyes and made me realise that I am actually disabled. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that I was having these difficulties but I guess in my own mind I tried to rationalise it as ‘something I just get on with’ without analysing it too much. This change has made me re-evaluate things and realise that maybe I need a little more help than I have been comfortable asking for in the past and that is something it is going to take me a little while to come to terms with I think. This also ties in with my next, and biggest, question that I would like some opinions on. On Sunday gone I participated in a sponsored walk to raise funds for the respite care unit that my daughter attends. I say I participated, my wife and one of the ladies from the unit took turns in pushing me in my wheelchair while Manga pushed Pretzel in her wheelchair. It was really nice to get out as a family but it did highlight a few problems that have made me weigh up some options. Manga found it quite difficult after a while to push Pretzel because it caused her to get sore hands and shoulders while my weight and my wheelchair caused my wife to get tired quickly pushing me. It was only then that I realised that this was one of the reasons why we don’t go out as a family very often as it is so difficult for us to organise places to go with two wheelchairs. I can’t physically propel myself along in my wheelchair because the position I need to be in means it causes my back muscles to spasm and worsens the pain. That is what made me consider getting a powered wheelchair scooter. I have the option as I get a mobility allowance on my disability benefit which would pay for me to have the powered wheelchair but I do have some reservations about getting one. The advantages would be that my family would get more time out together as my wife would be able to push my daughter in her wheelchair while I would be fine getting myself around. It would also mean for short trips to the GP and the local shops would be made easier meaning I wouldn’t have to be taken in the car, saving on petrol and running costs. We already have a wheelchair adapted vehicle so transporting a motorised wheelchair wouldn’t be a problem but I do have some reservations. I have a thought in my head that I would just be seen as an overweight guy ‘too lazy’ to walk if I was to use a scooter type wheelchair and I would feel a bit self-conscious because of it. I also would be scared that using a scooter would make me become too reliant on using it. A phrase that sticks with me is one that my pain management clinician said is “Most of the time people who go into a wheelchair because of a back problem don’t come out of it”. This had me thinking and I don’t know whether it is something I should accept is going to happen to me or if I will actually get better. I have suffered now for a number of years with the pain and things have become progressively worse during that time, so do I accept that I am going to need to be in a wheelchair for the forseeable future and adapt to that as best as possible or do I resist and struggle on as I have been doing?
So these are the questions that I am faced with. What subjects would you like to see me talk about in my blog? Are there any other types of writing you think I should try out? Should I get a motorised wheelchair to improve my family’s social life and ease the burden on my wife and daughter? Am I worrying too much about what other people will say about me if I do get the wheelchair? I am at a total loss as to what I should do so I am throwing it open to you, my new found friends of the world wide web……What would you do?
I thank you again everyone for the support you have shown me so far and I truly value each and every opinion that is offered to me,
So until next time, Stay safe folks!