Accepting

This has been a tough two weeks for me. First, I got a nasty infection in my left knee, which turned out to be cellulitis. I was on bed rest for five days. Not strictly—I could transfer to my scooter and sit up for a while—but about 22 hours a day.

On Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I felt good enough to go out on my mobility scooter, go swimming, and get a haircut. On the way back, while crossing a busy street with the light, in the crosswalk, I was knocked off the scooter by a right-turning car. (I sometimes think that crossing in the crosswalk with the light is the most dangerous way to cross. Those right-turners don’t look where they’re going, and you can’t see them.)

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Anyway, I fell on the same knee that had been infected and injured it pretty badly. I went to a knee specialist later and I’m waiting for the MRI results. I’ve pretty much been back in bed ever since the fall. We had Thanksgiving at our apartment with friends and relatives. I was able to sit up for that and even helped cook the green beans. So that was nice, but other than that, I’ve been in bed with my leg up on pillows and a heating pad over it.

The worst thing is that the infection and injury seem to have made my MS symptoms worse. I’m having shakes and tremors in my hands and feet, and my right leg (the uninjured one) seems weaker, too. I won’t know if those symptoms are going to get better or not until the infection is gone and the injury heals somewhat.

So it’s scary and it’s depressing. How am I coping? First, I’m trying to accept my situation as it is and see the positives in it. I’m fortunate enough to have work I can do in bed or in a chair, and I’m getting a lot of writing done. I’m finding more time to relax and meditate, which I’ve needed to do for years but haven’t done. Now I almost have to. I’m also doing some reading that’s not work-related. I haven’t done much of that in a long time, and I enjoy it.

I also cried a lot—I usually find that helps. Tears are our natural way of dealing with grief and loss, in this case loss of ability to walk. I didn’t cry right away, but I read a sad short story and that was enough to start me sobbing. Now I feel better.

I’m starting to think that maybe these knee problems came along now because I needed something to slow me down. My life was too far out of control. Do you ever feel that way about your symptoms?

One thing I did to make me feel better was take steps to be safer from future accidents. My brother is an avid bicyclist. I asked him to buy me all kinds of visibility reflectors, lights, and flags for the scooter, like he uses on his bike. I’m going to buy a reflector jacket for riding at night, too.

The other thing that’s helped has been finding a way to exercise. For two weeks, I haven’t been able to go to the Y, except for that one time, and I couldn’t even do my regular stretches, because the knee hurt too much. I was starting to feel sluggish and out of shape.

Yesterday, my wife handed me a couple of 2-kilogram (4.4-pound) dumbbells, and I started doing lots of lifts—bicep curls, straight arm lifts, overhead presses. There are about eight different ways your arms can move. I did them while sitting on the edge of my bed watching the sun set over the ocean. That was a good workout, and I felt much better.

How do you cope with scary symptoms, losses, disabilities? What helps you accept and what helps you fight back? Let us know here with a comment.

  • Beth

    David,

    Do you know of Belleruth Naparstek’s “Health Journeys” guided imagery recordings? I like her recordings a lot, and many of my patients also like them. (I am a nurse.) Her web site is at:
    http://www.healthjourneys.com/

    When you wrote of the healing power of crying, it reminded me of a phrase Belleruth uses. She speaks of tears as providing a much-needed “rinsing”.

    I have a big problem with insomnia, and am using Belleruth’s “Healthful Sleep” recording right now. The effect for me is not dramatic, but that’s really OK. What I notice is a little bit of increase in restful sleep every few days. That is good.

    She does have an recording for MS.

    Beth

  • delebra

    Belleruth’s Diabetes and General Wellness are good too. Martin Rossman has a CD, Self-Healing with Guided Imagery with Andrew Weil, and his own set which is even better. I listen to his Meeting Your Inner Advisor track every night. The CDs are a companion to his book, Guided Imagery for Self-Healing, which includes all the scripts, available at http://www.thehealingmind.org. The Fibromyalgia Information Foundation (www.myalgia.com) has 3 good exercise DVDs that can be used seated.
    Acceptance is a struggle, especially when an injury is added. I have diabetes and fibromyalgia and both of my feet fractured about a week apart. Clumping around in 1 walking boot wasn’t fun, but my acceptance improved when I got the second – my hips are even again! Finding little bits of humor like that helps!
    I’m watching a lot of TV and reading a lot. But the most fun is genealogy. There’s a lot you can do online to collect dead relatives! Distractions like these help when things are overwhelming.

  • David Spero RN

    Thanks for the tips re: imagery. I’m a big believer in it. I trained with Dr. Rossman to be an imagery guide. You can read some imagery experiences in my first book, Art of Getting Well. I guess I’ll have a lot of time for guided imagery now–I just got back from the orthopedist who told me I’m mostly going to be in bed for the next 2-3 months! I am not happy about this, but I’m glad I enjoy writing and reading. I’ll have plenty of time for that.
    David