I can’t remember the last time I felt ‘normal’ – before all these symptoms started five months ago. I know they haven’t always been here but I honestly can’t remember what it felt like before. As much as I try to remember how it felt to be strong, active and awake, I just can’t do it. The thought of being those things feels so foreign to me – as if they were a lifetime ago. It scares me because it’s only been five months since this started. If I’m struggling to remember normal now – what the hell is it going to be like in five years’ time?
I’ve been visiting my old pole dance studio where I taught for 2 years to watch the girls dance. At first doing this used to just sadden me because I so desperately wanted to join in and really struggled just being an audience member. This time however was different. I watched in awe as the girls danced and threw themselves upside-down, holding their whole weight in just one body part. It looked effortless. As much as I tried – I couldn’t even imagine what it felt like to have the strength to do it; even though I was doing those same tricks just 5 months ago! I feel like this is the best example I can give to demonstrate how foreign ‘normal’ was becoming to me.
I have however decided that this needs to become my ‘new normal’. Instead of being in the headspace of ‘I’m sick’ I need to start living my life as if this is my new normal life. I need to relearn my body’s limits and what I can and can’t do because who knows how long this will last! There’s no point holding onto an idea of ‘normal’ that I can hardly remember! So from here on out – this is my new normal.
I’ve started to relearn certain skills that I have lost since this started, like driving. I hadn’t driven in four months so getting behind the wheel was very scary. Because my right leg can go completely numb at any time and has very little strength it is still very hard to drive, but I’ve been giving it a good go for short distances. Sometimes I get out of my street and realise it’s too hard and turn around but other times I successfully make it to my destination and back. I’ve also started back at work! I can only serve the counter and sometimes make a few coffees for four or five hours but the fact is I’m back at work, learning my new limits and capabilities! I’ve also started exercising a few times a week by doing some yoga. As my lifestyle was super active prior to this, I’ve lost my much loved muscle definition and replaced it with some not so loved chub. It was really getting me down for a while there but I decided only I can change that! Not only is yoga good exercise it is also good for clearing my head and relieving my stresses.
While I’ve made those various changes in the physical aspects of my life, I’ve also began to change the way that I think. I try to avoid explaining my situation negatively to other people and tell them I’m unwell. Instead I explain my symptoms and tell them how happy I am within myself at the moment. Instead of gaining sympathy, this way people are more likely to respond with positivity such as ‘that’s great to hear’ and I’d prefer this any day over ‘I’m sorry to hear that!’ I tell people about how happy I am with my mental strength instead of how frustrated I am by my condition. It definitely has changed how both people react to my situation and how I feel about it.
This for me is about adjusting to my new situation instead of putting my life on hold and waiting for it to pass – which is precisely what I had been doing for the past four months! It’s no way to live your life, just waiting for something that may or may not change! It’s just plain frustrating. At the end of the day I still have the potential for a great quality of life so why waste it! Life wasn’t meant to be easy and we face all kinds of challenges every day. While, like a storm, some of these challenges can only be met by waiting for it to pass – I don’t believe that applies to me. I think that to overcome this challenge I must learn to go about my life despite it; to push through, to get used to it and to relearn my new limits.
I’ve stopped thinking that my ‘new normal’ is an impediment. Who knows – maybe it’s secretly an enhancement? I always thought my first ‘enhancement’ would be a boob job but the universe decided to give me this instead. I suppose I could test out some pretty cool party tricks like setting my numb arm or leg on fire or sticking 1000 pins in it. Maybe that could lead to a job in the circus? I could also compete in the Olympics for my athletic napping abilities? If you put it this way, I’m basically a superhero, saving the world one nap at a time.
Jokes aside, I don’t know whether this will last another month or another decade so all I can do is adjust and get used to it. if I keep thinking and acting like I’m ‘sick’ I will forever be sick, however if I keep telling myself and others that this is just my new life, my new normal, my life will be so much fuller. No one wants to be known as the sick one – so from here on out, I am not sick, this is just my new normal.