Because of my temporary disability, I am always filling out various forms and having to answer to so many different people. The question they always ask is: What can't you do right now? This is such a demoralizing question, as it keeps me rooted in that question, because every time they ask me that question, I have to provide updates on what I can’t do. For the past three months, that’s been what I’ve been focused on. What I can’t do.
Here’s the list:
- I can’t sit for long periods of time. The length really depends on the position and chair I am sitting in and my willingness/need to put up with the pain. I can drive for about 30 minutes, but I’m in discomfort from almost the beginning. By the time I reach 15-20 minutes, I’m in pain. I can’t really go beyond 30 minutes. Not without taking heavy duty pain meds, and then it’s a question of safety because of the meds. Couches I can’t comfortably sit in, however I can lie down on one. Office chairs, the chairs at my doctor’s office, at physio are agonizingly uncomfortable.
- I can’t swim. The current and instability and resistance are too much for me. The hot tub helps, but even walking slow and small steps is awful. If I go to the pool, which my physiotherapists and doctor wants me to do, I’m in so much pain afterwards I can barely move to a few days afterwards.
- I can’t take my kid to the park. I do, every now and then (I’ve taken him exactly three times in the past three months), because why suffer for my disability? When we get home, however, I head straight for bed with a heating pad and lots of medication.
- I can’t walk more than a few meters without help from my cane.
- I can’t make dinner for my family, unless it’s something really simple and I’ve had a somewhat pain free day (relatively speaking).
- I can’t sleep without a heating pad, 2 – 4 morphine pills and a pillow between my knees for when I sleep on my side.
- I can’t walk up or down stairs without hep from my cane. Slopes or hills? Forget about it. My hips are put in too awkward of an angle.
- I can’t ride a bike, go hiking, go to the gym or go horseback riding. Granted, of the things mentioned, I’ve only been to the gym this past year.
- I can’t stand for too long. If I do, my hip starts to throb and my legs start to shake.
- I can’t bend over to pick something up. Not without doing a really slow pirouette and holding on to a wall or table or something to keep me from falling and to aid me in getting back up.
- I can’t pick up my son. I can’t bend over to give him a hug, or kiss him goodnight. He needs to climb up on my bed so that I can give him his night time kisses, puppy noses, snuggles and hugs.
- I can’t afford my bills, or to send my son to daycare so he can hang out with his friends, or to buy little treats for me or my family. I’ve exhausted most of my options in regards to financial assistance, and am still waiting to see if I’ll be accepted for Long Term Disability. My fiancé has taken on basically all of the household expenses. Without him, I’d be pretty screwed right now.
- I can’t go on vacation this year. All year since my fiancé got his new job, I’ve been looking forward to going to Las Vegas in the fall with him again. He took me in 2006 when I was pregnant, and I’ve always wanted to go again with him. As I go more and more days not working, the dream of actually getting a vacation this year got dimmer and dimmer until all hope of being able to go has been completely snuffed out. I’m quite bummed out by this. I try not to dwell on this one too much, but it’s pretty difficult not to.
- I can’t plan my wedding this summer. I had been working (with the help of my fiancé) very aggressively on getting rid of a personal debt I had, and I was so freaking close to having it completely paid off. Once I had accomplished this goal, we were going to start planning our wedding. I was getting so excited at the prospect of finally sitting down with him and fleshing out a plan. The longer I stay off work, the more I start to wonder if a wedding is going to happen at all. It certainly won’t be in the next year. Not with me not working. That’s quite depressing.
There are other things on this list, but I’m not able to think of them right now. The ones I mentioned are the big ones. The ones I’m faced with almost every day. My world is all about can’ts right now. Every day I struggle with depression as I start to see more and more can’ts. Some days aren’t so bad, some days are scary. It helps knowing I have allies. It helps knowing that my fiancé is standing by my side, fighting for me to get better, or to at least make our lives as liveable and as enjoyable as possible with the circumstances presented to us. It helps knowing that my mom, particularly bad days, is willing to drop everything and just come be an anchor for me; a port in the storm, if you will.
The more I think about it, actually, the more I realize that I have quite a few ports in the storm. I am actually quite fortunate. I’m not so bad off that I’m completely unable to fend for myself. I’m surrounded by a strong support network; there are a number of people who are willing to help me out. I still have a roof over my head and food in my fridge. I live in a country that makes my several trips to the doctor possible.
I try to keep thinking positive, but with so much negative events appearing in my life in the last 10 (not able to work for a month; fiancé getting laid off; getting injured again, preventing me from working for over 3 months now; getting rear-ended, having my wallet stolen) it’s a lot easier said than done.