2017 has been quite a challenge. At times it has felt like the biggest challenge since the end of my first marriage. However, all the building work is over and the kitchen is better than when we first moved in.
As I like to focus on positivity, I thought I would share some of my achievement of the past year.
- The ability to drive through narrow country lanes at more than 5-10mph: Whilst living out in the middle of nowhere, the journey back into town involved single lane country roads. In the past I have avoided these whenever I could. This was not possible this year. I was pleased when I slowly improved, eventually managing a speed of 30mph. I was also able to stop safely when oncoming traffic emerged at short distances.
- French Plaits/Braids!: When my daughter attended primary school I wished I could style her hair in the styles some of the mums created. I tried a couple of times, but due to fatigue and hand pain I was unable to create one. Something clicked earlier this year and I finally managed to do them.
- The ability to reverse the car out of the road. We live on a small road which has a dead end. If you drive down you have to reverse out. I had a very bad neck from this when Ben was on half days at school and needed collecting at lunch time (due to fatigue and pain with his EDS). For some reason I twisted round to look out of the back window. The pain was so bad I was unable to lift my head off the pillow when I was laying on the bed. A couple of months ago I realised I could look in the wing mirror and line it up with the yellow line on the edge of the road. We’ve been living here since 2009 and it’s taken me nearly 9 years to figure that out! But maybe my fatigue has improved enough to have the thought process which led to the solution!
- Walking on my own. When I had cardiac symptoms before my Hyperaldosteronism was diagnosed I didn’t feel safe going out on my own. My legs became too heavy with fatigue, my heart rate increased too much and I was very short of breath. Many times chest pain accompanied these symptoms. Experiencing all these symptoms together made me feel unsafe. I was never sure I would be able to get home again. It wasn’t until I began the treatment that I started to feel safe to go out on my own again. Recently I have been walking more, mainly when I go shopping. A few weeks ago I walked into town with my daughter to pick up her glasses. She then spent time with friends whilst I walked to the pet shop to buy some hay for the guinea pigs. There were three choices of ways to walk back. I chose the shortest, steepest route, as it was also the quickest one. All three have big hills, so it didn’t really matter which way I went. A short while in I began experiencing shortness of breath. I carried on. A short while later my heart began to pound. I tried to carry on more slowly, but had to stop. I rang Ben, just to distract myself from the fast heart rate. He said the way I went was steep for anybody to walk up. Next I paced myself by taking 10 steps, then stopping to have 3 slow breaths. It took a while, however, the routine of the pacing allowed me to focus on something other than my symptoms. I knew my heart was ok, as I had tests on it before having the tilt table test. Nothing could have changed that drastically in a couple of years. As the road evened out I was able to walk at a slow, steady pace. When I arrived home my heart rate was 125bpm, so I think it was about 160 at it’s fastest on the walk home. My thoughts later were how great it was that I managed to do that on my own. I felt safe enough to walk up that hill alone. That is amazing! It is so good to have all those symptoms under control.
- Going to the vets. This year we’ve had two guinea pigs pass away. About ten days ago, our hamster, Panda, became unwell. I never managed to go the vets with the others, as I knew I was going to cry and didn’t want to be seen crying by others. It was on a Friday and Chris had just returned from work. I didn’t want him to deal with the situation on his own, although I felt very tearful. I just wanted to see if there was anything we could do to help Panda. I managed to hold it together, but did have a few tears when we were told Panda may die anyway. Having done that once will make it easier to deal with next time.
I am very proud of my achievement this year and hope to continue next year.