Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pacing - Part II

Tonight, I sit at my computer cognizant of my inability to put together the post I really want to write.  There are too many pieces and parts to it, and I have not significantly put together the parts in my mind to create the whole.  As I think of how I am unable to complete a task that would have seemed so easy a few months ago, I become even more aware of how much healing my brain still needs in order to do what I once was able to do.  I would be very discouraged about realizing that I can't formulate a clearly presented post on the topic about which I wish to write if it were not for the fact that I am

rejoicing
over
 not being 
dizzy.

For three days prior to today, I was so dizzy I could barely function.  When I get those dizzy spells, or the accompanying headaches, I begin to think I will never be well again.  

The search for answers about my symptoms:
Since my head injury on the January 2, I have been referred to several specialist.  One was an opthamologist  who ruled out a visual mid-line shift.  I had never heard of such a disorder, but it turns out that this can accompany head trauma.  The good news is that many people can reclaim their lives once they are diagnosed with visual mid-line shift by being fitted with prism lenses.  The sad news is that many of our soldiers are coming home with this problem which could be fixed by these lenses, but they don't have the type of insurance coverage to take care of the lenses.  Without insurance the cost is prohibitive.  Even with insurance, the co-pays can also be prohibitive.  I have been told there are 20,000 returning soldiers in Colorado Springs who suffer from head injury trauma and/or PTSD.  The services they need are many times not covered by insurance.

The opthamologist who ruled out visual mid-line shift did diagnose a vestibular disorder.  He referred me to a vestibular rehab specialist.  I met with this wonderful therapist in Castle Rock, Colorado, which is about two hours from my home, on Valentine's Day.  I was given a very through exam, and I was also assessed as to my risk factor for falling, and for the severity of my problem.  It turns out I am at moderate risk for falling again.  I also have a pretty significant imbalance in my balance system.  The good news is:  It is most likely quite fixable.  The bad news:  It takes time, and it could get worse before it gets better.

It turns out I am "visually" dependent.  I use my vision excessively for balance.  Since my fall, I experienced "visual motion hypersensitivity."  This is one reason I can't spend much time on the computer, on my iPhone using apps.  This hypersensitivity also means I can't drive, do much reading, nor can I tolerate spending time in crowds, or shopping.  I told my husband that WalMart make me crazy because it is too visually stimulating.  She countered with the bet that I would have no trouble at Nordstroms.  (He may or may not have a point there.)   I just know that when I am too visually stimulated, I get dizzy.

What I learned about pacing
  • I cannot go to a high school basketball game on Friday night unless I plan on taking it easy the next day.
  • Walking along a winding path around a lake that reflects sunlight off its waves on a Saturday morning while watching the dog dart back and forth in front of my is extremely visually stimulating.  That is why when I became dizzy on a walk Saturday morning, I should have spent the rest of the day resting.
  • One who understands pacing, would not have gone to a dedication ceremony on Saturday afternoon after becoming dizzy just walking beside a lake.  I did not understand pacing, nor did I assess my true condition well, so I went to the ceremony.  When I looked up on the stage during the dedication ceremony to watch a power point presentation flash photos across a screen, I became so dizzy, I had to leave the auditorium.
  • Mingling with the crowd of friends who had gathered at the ceremony also is not a good idea when one is dizzy.  Crowds make one more dizzy.
I spoke with my vestibular therapist today.  She was helpful in helping me deconstruct the cumulative events that led to my three day dizzy spell.  

Pacing oneself is truly a learning process.  I love to walk along the river walk in our town.  I love to go to the basketball games.  I love to spend time writing and reading on my computer.  I love to socialize.  I love to be in groups of people.  Those are the activities that defined me in the past.  I also think that if I feel good one day, I can jump back in where I left off.  

I am wrong.  
I have more to learn about healing.

I love this quote that my vestibular therapist has hanging in her office:

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is PATIENCE
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

That lesson, the secret of adopting nature's pace, is not one I will learn easily.
Patience is a hard lesson for me to learn, and to practice.
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