November 13, 2016
Saturday was an unexpectedly rough day. Before we get to it I want to say I’m fine now. There’s no need to worry or be concerned. The reason for writing this is while recovering something occurred to me in the aftermath that I’d like to try to convey to those I care about, which is all of you.
I start out most Saturday mornings with a visit to McLain’s, a bakery that is 2 blocks from my house. At 10am I was going to attend a birthday party at the climbing gym. I’m not big on parties but climbing, yes please.
When I left McLain’s I went to the grocery store to pick up 2 items for a weekend cooking project: gruyere cheese and smoked ham. The plan was to smoke chicken thighs with cheese and ham inside while wrapping the thigh in bacon. And now for the cheese…
Fancy cheese (not cheddar, american, or taco blends in a bag) are in their own section in the market. They’re in a 15 foot long open refrigerated unit. The unit is packed with cheese and the only way to find what you want is to scan every package trying to find the type on the label (except for stuff like mozarella balls and shredded parmesan which stand out). There are no high level labels to limit the search. You have to inspect every label.
My eyes don’t do well with scanning. Scanning quickly makes me nauseous and dizzy. I also forgot a grocery cart this time. The cart helps with balance. I should always have a cart. I scanned the whole refrigerated unit and didn’t find gruyere. I struggled to do it and had to employ techniques like closing one eye, taking a time out while looking somewhere else, etc.
When I didn’t find this stupid block of cheese I thought of leaving but knew I’d feel defeated, pathetic, and depressed if I left. So I moved back to the left side of the unit and started looking again. This time for whatever reason a mirror on the left of the unit came into my vision. When I looked at it I lost my sense of balance and had to grab onto the side of the unit to steady myself. That’s right, a mirror. If I had an arch enemy all they’d need to do is carry a mirror to render me powerless in a matter of seconds. Let’s keep that between us though.
After looking away and the passing of some time I regained my balance and started the scan again. Lo and behold on the top left was gruyere. Victory. Now all I needed was smoked ham. The section that contains ham is only about 40 feet away. 40 feet and I’m home free. There can’t be that many types of ham. After about 10 steps something started pulling my head down and to the right. This was a sensation created by my brain to correct something that it thought was wrong. This happens quite often. I don’t know if it was something in my vision that triggered it or if it was because of the scanning of the cheese section but with every step I took the force pulling my head down and to the right became greater. The sensation was incorrect because my vision told me I was fine.
Let’s pause here. One thing I’ve learned is the panic that comes with not being in control of my body is a force to be recon’d with. It flares up quickly and fills my head with so much noise that thinking logically is difficult if not impossible. Combine that panic with the fear of drawing unwanted attention in my own neighborhood around friends and neighbors. I always give in and rather than stopping and taking a few deep breaths I fight by getting rigid and probably looking even more awkward than I would if I’d just stop and try to gain control again.
Walking towards the ham section (seriously, this is about walking to a section of ham in a grocery store), when this sensation came over me, I tried to stand up straight and look normal. It was a battle. When I reached the ham section I gave a quiet “woohoo” and took my deep breaths. Unfortunatley I had to scan again. Why do we need so many types of ham!?! When I tried to read the labels I couldn’t. I chalk this up to not being able to focus my eyes after the scanning. So I grabbed one, brought it up to my face, closed one eye, and with a crazy amount of effort I deciphered what they were and found my ham.
With effort I made it home. It took about 7 hours of sleep to get back to 75%. I’ll spare you the commentary on that time except that having Lucy around makes this such an easier process than it used to be.
I typed this up because I wanted to attempt to convey why I’m so skiddish to break my routine and do something that could put me out of commission for a day or two. Somedays it’s easier to step out of the routine and most of those times everything is fine when I do. Somedays I’m blind sided. Being blind sided puts my ability to work and support myself at risk. And this is why when I’m asked to attend some event or go somewhere that isn’t familiar it’s why I don’t, or rarely do. It’s why I say “no” so much.
And now on the positive silver lining junk so that no one worries… these events focus me. I lose days when they happen and each time I’m forced to reevaluate what I’m spending my time doing and what is important. In a round about way I’m greatful for this happening. It would great if there was less pain and discomfort but maybe they wouldn’t be as effective.