Saturday, March 6, 2021

Fibro Symptom or Something Else?

When you have multiple physical and mental health issues, new symptoms pop up all the time (or old symptoms come back into play). When you have an anxiety disorder and those symptoms show up, it's less than exciting, as the big dogs - cancer, heart attack, and major organ failures - are the first thoughts.

The latest was a pain in my ribs, mostly in my right side. I've had this pain for a long time, off and on. During the time I've had this pain, I had my gallbladder taken out (as it's in that area) and I was diagnosed with diverticulitis after an ER visit when the pain became extreme. 

However, my gallbladder has been gone for several years now and I'm not showing the other symptoms of diverticulitis. I have researched it over and over throughout the years I've experienced this pain. 

Last night it was acting up and I decided to research it again in order to calm my fears that it might be something serious. After reading all the same information I had read the other times I looked into it, I happened to think, what if it's related to fibromyalgia?

It's not one of the main symptoms by any means, but it did come up. In fact, I found a site that relates experiences from those who have fibro. One person asked the question I have and several responded that yes, they have those same symptoms. 

Now, my anxiety mind started racing with questions I wish I could ask them... have they been checked out by a doctor for those specific symptoms to rule out other issues; do they have other disorders that could have that same side effect; how long have they had the symptoms?

I have an upcoming annual visit with my primary care doctor so I'm going to bring it up. I just had one with my rheumatologist and I wish I had thought about the connection before that appointment to bring it up to him. If I don't find out anything from my primary care doctor, I'll contact him about the possibility.

But the point of this blog isn't about whether or not others with fibro are having this same symptom. It's that it's so hard to figure out if a new symptom is related to fibromyalgia or something new. 

Is anyone else having this issue?

Sunday, February 28, 2021

A Month Later... and a Year Later

It's a month later. 

My last post was exactly a month ago. It was a quick one - I wrote it almost frantically as I realized that Groundhog Day was coming up and, as it was based on that event, I needed to get it done quickly. This month has flown by. I have barely thought about this blog. Of course, it has only 28 days and that's part of it, but that's not the only thing. I have noticed this phenomenon of February feeling like it lasts only a week year after year.

But the more important point is that it's a year later.

It's coming up on the first anniversary that COVID has been a part of our lives. Can you believe it's been a year? 

When we first heard that we needed to stay at home as much as possible, wear masks, and that restaurants, businesses, schools, and churches would temporarily close, they told us it would last only about two weeks. 

I don't know about you, but I know that I can do anything for two weeks. I remember when I was in college, I would make the conscious decision at the beginning of a semester of classes that I hated that I could do anything for those few months. 

I didn't think about the other horrible classes I would have to endure to graduate. I just concentrated on getting through the current semester. Though it was more than two weeks, I knew I could make it because there was an end in sight.

You may have seen the 1986 movie, "The Money Pit," with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. They also had to deal with the concept of "two weeks." They realized that the house they bought for almost nothing had multiple problems after they moved in. 

They hired a contractor to rebuild practically the entire house. Even when it had holes in the walls, the water didn't work, no stairs to the second floor, and no electricity, he continually told them that it would only be "two weeks" until it was finished. As the work stretched out into months, he continued to say it would only be two weeks until it was done.

If we had known that a majority of the COVID restrictions would last for a year, I think all of us would have gone crazy. It was hard enough to last those first two weeks... can you imagine if we had known it would be a year? Or even worse, that there is no definite end in sight?

I'm a recovering addict and also have some mental health issues and one of the main principles of overcoming addiction/coping with mental illness is living "one day at a time." It's also a basic concept of many religions, including Christianity - taking each day as it comes and dealing with those immediate concerns instead of fretting about the past or worrying about tomorrow.

That principle is easy to talk about but difficult to do. If it was easy, there wouldn't be numerous workshops on how to learn "mindfulness," the concept of staying in the moment. We wouldn't have to pay therapists nearly as often to deal with our issues from the past and our concerns for the future. We wouldn't have sleep issues or need to take prescriptions to calm our anxiety.

But even though it wasn't easy, we've made it through this past year.  It's become almost automatic to wear masks and keep six-feet away from others. We have grown accustomed to meeting virtually and keeping the few get-togethers we have small in number.

We now have a vaccine that is being distributed to more and more people. There's hope again that maybe one day we'll be able to leave the masks at home, open restaurants, businesses, schools and churches without special restrictions, and shake hands and even hug each other.

Even without that definitive end in sight, we've made it a year and we can make it longer if needed.... one day at a time.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

How the Movie "Groundhog Day" Parallels Addiction

 

Groundhog Day, the iconic comedy from 1993 starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell, had some success at its release but has become a classic as fans watched it over and over. In fact, the term itself has become part of popular culture. In Cambridge Dictionary, the term “Groundhog Day” has come to mean “a situation in which events that have happened before happen again, in what seems to be exactly the same way.”

According to Wikipedia, the film has been analyzed by various religious groups who see it as an allegory. It’s reported that screenwriter Danny Rubin based how the main character, Phil Connors, changed as he tried to cope with re-living the same day again and again using the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

A Twelve-Step support group I'm a member of has made an annual event out of watching Groundhog Day together. When I first heard of this idea, I wondered why they chose this movie to be the center of one of their very few annual events. After I heard the explanation it was obvious… addiction is doing the same thing over and over. No matter what one does to try to change, it doesn’t just go away.

This year right before this annual event, I decided to really dig into the movie and parallel the stages of recovery with what Phil went through. I realized something very surprising at the end of my search.

(Warning: spoilers and mentions of suicide ahead.)

The first step in Phil’s journey clearly corresponds to Kubler-Ross’ Stages of Grief with his apparent denial that the day was starting over. Everything he did showed his disbelief. He finally checked for the truth by breaking his pencil before going to sleep, only to find it whole again in the morning.

Anger (and I’m adding fear) are next. He avoided interaction with others and made the same mistakes he made before, like stepping in a water puddle. He reached out for help by talking to his colleague Rita, who didn’t believe him, and a psychiatrist, who also didn’t believe him and asked if they could meet again the next day.

A form of bargaining began when Phil finally found some guys who would listen. Phil asked his new friends, "What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?" One answered, "That about sums it up for me."

He then tried to deal with it with risky behavior – knowing he wouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of his actions. He had a car chase with the police on the railroad track. He ate all he wanted, drank coffee by the gallon, smoked, and “[didn’t] even have to floss.”

Phil remarked, “I’m not going to live by their rules anymore.”

Phil also started to use his knowledge of daily events to get his way. He obtained facts about women so that they would concede to his advances. He figured out how to steal money from an armored vehicle. He asked Rita questions and used the information so that she would fall for him.

This built up to one perfect day with Rita, where he almost got what he wanted. However, Rita soon recognized it was a sham. As Rita said, “I could never love someone like you, Phil, because you’ll never love anyone but yourself.”

Phil responded with, “That’s not true. I don’t even like myself.”

Phil tried to re-create that same perfect day with Rita, only ending with her slapping him each time. On his way back to the bed-and-breakfast after one such day, he started to show signs of depression. He started looking really rough, staying inside in the evenings with the senior citizens and answering every question correctly while watching Jeopardy. His news reports during the Groundhog Day event became extremely sarcastic. He broke his alarm clock every morning.

He finally completely lost it. He kidnapped Punxsutawney Phil and drove a truck he stole off a cliff, with them inside. He tried various ways of killing himself. This finally led to him desperately trying to convince Rita to stay with him for the day.

Phil had one more good day with her, ending it by them both tossing cards into a hat. Their conversation included Phil saying, “It's alright, I am a jerk.” Rita’s responded by saying he wasn’t.

Phil fully showed how depressed he was when he replied, “It doesn't make any difference. I've killed myself so many times, I don't even exist anymore.”

At this point, the movie leads you to think that now that she loved him, his endless day was about to end. She spent the night but when he woke up, he found her gone.

It was at this point that Phil began to reach the acceptance stage. He started to focus on making himself a better person and helping others. During one day portrayed, he gave all of his money to a homeless man he encountered. He began to learn to play the piano and create ice sculptures.

That same evening Phil showed compassion for the homeless man by bringing him out of the cold. However, the man died. Phil decided his next mission was to save him. He tried various methods to keep him alive, like buying him meals and performing CPR on him, to no avail. As one nurse said, “Sometimes, people just die.”

The final day started with Phil giving a very eloquent and moving news report. Rita wanted to hang out with him, but he put her off, saying he had errands to run. During that day, he caught a boy who fell out of a tree, fixed a flat tire, performed the Heimlich maneuver on a choking man, talked a scared bride into agreeing to the marriage, and later gave that couple a gift, and fixed an older man’s back.

Rita finally fell for him when she heard him expertly playing the piano with a jazz band and discovers some of how he spent his day. Rita bought him at a bachelor auction, and they spent the evening together during which he made a snow sculpture of her face. Phil remarked, “No matter what happens tomorrow, or for the rest of my life, I'm happy now… because I love you.”

After Rita spent the night, Phil is disgusted when he woke up to the same song on the radio, thinking it was one more day in the endless loop, only to see Rita still in bed.

After this realization, Phil asked Rita, “Do you know what today is?”

Rita replied, “No, what?”

Phil responded with, “Today is tomorrow. It happened,” later saying, “It was the end of a very long day.”

So… yes, Groundhog Day at least loosely covers the Stages of Grief. But what does this have to do with addiction?

I went into this project thinking that it was similar to the stages of recovery. And one could make the argument that it does.

But what I realized is that even more parallels an addict’s entire journey – from addiction to sobriety.

Every addict knows that first stage well – denying the addiction, denying that “I” am an addict. Eventually you break a pencil and hope that you are wrong about not being able to get out of this cycle, only to wake up and know you are still in it.

Then comes a point of realizing this is bigger than you are. You find yourself stepping into the same puddle of water over and over. Sometimes when you first start to reach out for help, no-one believes you or puts unrealistic expectations on how to recover (like asking you to come back tomorrow when there is no tomorrow.)

If you don’t find help, you reach out to those who you know will understand – other addicts still using. You find yourself doing more and more risky behavior and you no longer concern yourself with following the rules of society… you drive on the railroad track.

You become more and more selfish. Everything you do is to get more, feel better, obtain a bigger high. This all-about-me attitude leads to great feelings of shame. Though it may look like you only love yourself when acting this way, as Phil said, “That’s not true. I don’t even like myself.”

Trying to again reach that perfect high that was so easy to get at first just ends up feeling like you’ve been slapped. Depression hits hard. No matter what you do you can’t stop… and you don’t even get the feeling you want from using. This is when sometimes suicidal thoughts enter the picture.

Even when it’s not a literal suicide attempt, I think every addict has felt like Phil… “It doesn't make any difference. I've killed myself so many times, I don't even exist anymore.” When Rita was gone after that second almost-perfect day, it was Phil’s “bottom.”

Finally, you give up. You realize you can’t change the loop, so you work on changing yourself. But even that doesn’t fix it. The homeless man still ends up dying, no matter what you do to change it. This is where recovery begins and the Serenity Prayer comes in: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This is where I had a lightbulb (more like a searchlight over my head) moment. It wasn’t loving Rita or Rita loving Phil that got him to tomorrow. It wasn’t even Phil making himself a better person.

It…

Was…

Service…

True recovery doesn’t happen until you have worked the Twelve Steps and then commit to doing the Twelfth Step – service. It wasn’t until Phil got the focus completely off himself, what he wanted, even making himself a better man by learning the piano and ice sculpting, before he got out of the never-ending Groundhog Day.

As Phil told Rita when he woke up with her still there… “Is there anything I can do for you… Today?

Mind… blown…

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Trying to Get Some Good ZZZZZZ's

So... I got a call from my sleep doctor the other day. It was a little bit of good news couched in bad news. First, some background...

I have severe sleep apnea. I was first diagnosed with it by one doctor in the early 2000s... then again with another in about 2010.. and then again with still another in 2018. 

Why did I go to three different doctors for the same diagnosis? Your first thought might be that I didn't believe the first two. But I knew I had it before it was confirmed through the first sleep test I experienced (which was a nightmare, by the way, as was all the others).

Switching doctors had nothing to do with the diagnosis. It had everything to do with the treatment, or lack of useful treatment, to be specific. Nothing the doctors encouraged me to do worked for me, and not for lack of trying.

The first doctor immediately prescribed a CPap. I tried so hard to use that CPap but had no success. It was more than not liking the way it felt... I literally felt suffocated. 

Somehow I found out that an ENT could help figure out what was going on. I'll never forget the end of that visit. The ENT was so mad, telling me at the end of the appointment something along the lines of, "These sleep specialists make me so mad. They never check with us to make sure that a patient is able to handle a CPap before they prescribe it."

Yes, I was one of those he was thinking about in that statement. I actually had several issues that made a CPap not a good fit. These issues were structural, not just emotional/mental (like I just didn't like using it). So I gave up and figured I'd just have to deal with it somehow.

A few years later I was so incredibly tired that I knew I couldn't ignore it. I found a new neurologist and went through all of the testing again. I told him at the first appointment that I literally already knew that CPAP wouldn't work, that an ENT had confirmed it. 

What did he do? He told me that I should try another type of CPAP (BiPAP) with the newest, latest mask would make it work. And he prescribed it for me anyway.

So I bought another CPAP unit and went through all the hassles of trying it again. The newest, latest mask didn't work so I tried other kinds (which I had tried the last time). Was it really too much for him to believe that my physical issues didn't just go away in that period of time?

One thing, though, he did listen to me when I told him I tried it but it didn't work. He suggested a mouth guard, an appliance to keep my lower jaw forward, which would help open my airway. 

This appliance was a pain to obtain and it wasn't covered by insurance, so it was extremely expensive on my meager salary. But if it worked, it would be worth it.

It wasn't fun to use, but I was able to tolerate it. I did yet another excruciating sleep study to check for its effectiveness. I knew I wasn't as tired during the day so I was ready to hear some great news.

It wasn't. I still had severe sleep apnea. So I figured why go to all that trouble to use the thing if it wasn't helping me? I abandoned that treatment too.

Fast forward even more years... I had a couple of people who saw me sleep say that I stopped breathing, a lot. I heard of a new surgery for sleep apnea that totally bypassed the oral/nasal routes that I had tried to compensate for before. So I decided to try again.

Thankfully, this time I found a truly amazing sleep specialist. For one, she didn't make me go through a sleep study to confirm what I already knew I had. Furthermore, she really, really read through my records and figured out some issues that the other doctors hadn't found. 

We looked into the surgery that I was hoping to get, but I'm not a candidate due to some other health problems. So she convinced me to try the CPAP once again, with an even better model, a brand new, just came-on-the-market mask, and settings that would accommodate my physical issues.

I was again encouraged that this treatment would work. But once again, it didn't. I just couldn't do it. I really tried, but it was to no avail.

But my doctor didn't give up on me. She asked if I wanted to try an oral appliance. I told her that I tried it before and it didn't help. She told me that the other doctor had misrepresented the data from that sleep study... it had helped but was not helping the numbers get to a point where it wasn't a problem.

That really upset me. If I had known that it was helping, even a little, I would have kept wearing that mouth guard. But that's in the distant past. It was time to see what I could do now.

Again, the process of getting a new, custom-fitted mouth guard was a royal pain. I won't go into all the details, but it took almost a year to get it done (COVID didn't help but it wasn't the only obstruction). 

So, finally, I get it and start using it. It seems to be helping and I have more energy than before. So I had yet another sleep study to see how much it was helping.

And that brings me to the day earlier this week. I got a call from this doctor explaining the results of my sleep study. Her first words were, "What am I going to do with you?"

My heart sank. It turns out that it is helping, but again, not nearly enough. Because I know it is helping, I'm going to wear it, even though it's not curing anything.

But it's really discouraging. If you read this blog any at all, you know that I'm extremely overweight. The sleep apnea is part of the reason I'm so overweight, as being really tired all the time makes it extremely hard to exercise consistently. But on the other hand, being overweight makes the sleep apnea much worse.

It's a chicken and egg situation. If I lost weight, the sleep apnea would improve. But until I get the sleep apnea under control, it's extremely difficult to lose weight.

This is why I sometimes wonder if I can keep going on like this. Every time I get something fixed or treated with my physical and mental issues, something new pops up, often from the treatment itself.

However, I will. I have too much to live for to give up. It's hard, so very hard, to keep dealing with the myriad of diagnoses that I have, but the other choice is not an option. I'm not a quitter. 

I'm also very thankful that she's not giving up either... on me. She's still trying to figure out something that will help, even with all of my other physical and mental issues that makes this thing so hard to treat.

I hope that if you are going through a similar struggle, you'll know you aren't alone. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Disappointment

 Disclaimer... In this post, I'm going to sound like I'm the most selfish person in the world... But with this blog, I'm trying to be honest about who I am and what I'm going through so that others know they aren't alone in having these same feelings. So I'm planning to share the truth even if it doesn't put me in the best light.

I'm sad... disappointed... frustrated... It's Christmas Day, 2020. I'm at my boyfriend's parents' home in another state and today I'm supposed to be having Christmas with his extended family, the vast majority of whom I didn't meet until this week and about half that I still haven't met even after five days here.

But I don't know what's going to happen. You see, his dad had a TIA (mini-stroke) on Wednesday morning. He was in the hospital two days and was released last night. He was doing well and it looked like he dodged the bullet of having lasting damage.

Overnight things changed. I'm an early bird so I was awake when my boyfriend's parents woke up. At first, I thought that my boyfriend's dad was just weak... until my boyfriend's mom told me that he could barely move his right side and that she was considering taking him back to the hospital.

My first concern was for them - and I was also worried about the long-term affects of the stroke. 

The embarrassing admission I have is that this thought was quickly followed by: So now what's going to happen with the family gathering I have been both excited about and dreading for at least six months?

I don't want it to sound like all I'm thinking about is myself, but I already had to cancel the main activity I was looking forward to - going on a river cruise to look for dolphins, manatee, and other wildlife. As a photographer with a foot injury, this was right up my alley. I could sit, enjoy the wildlife, and take lots of photos without having to deal with my injury. 

We were scheduled to go the day he had the TIA. With it being Christmas week, he was already booked for the few slots he had left, so rescheduling wasn't even a possibility... and with my boyfriend's dad's condition, we had no idea how long he'd be in the hospital anyway.

So, like I warned you about, I'm being incredibly selfish with this admission, but I'm so sad that my plans have been ruined. My boyfriend and I have been dating almost four years now and this is the first time he's been able to get off work long enough and the right time of year for us to come down. I wanted to cram in so much this week, as it's the first vacation I've gone on in several years too. 

But instead, I'm doing a lot of what I'd be doing at home... playing Candy Crush, watching stuff on my phone (with earbuds so I don't disturb anyone), culling photos on my laptop, and blogging. I'm doing these things on a less comfortable bed than mine or at the kitchen table with not very comfortable kitchen chairs and a laptop. 

At home, I have a comfy bed, a cushy desk chair, a huge monitor (for photo editing), and all I need. At home, even though it's Christmas week, I can work some. At home, I can go to the gym and swim or take a long, hot bath (stress relievers for me).

One more thing... with COVID, we can't even go to the hospital to relieve his mom or help in any way. We are stuck at his house, waiting on updates.

I am so upset but even as I admit that I feel bad that my major emotion has to do with me. I feel like I should be more concerned about his dad's health and how his mom is handling all this. Don't get me wrong, I am both of those things. But I was really hoping to just have a fun time this week - and that's blown to bits. 

All I can do is try to make the best of it and try, try, try to not focus on all the bad. 

(I'll be so glad when 2020 is over...)

Using a Wheelchair for the First Time

If you have read this blog recently, you know that I had a major ankle injury this past summer. The only way I could walk for even a few steps the first two months was to use a walker and I'm still recovering several months later (it's now December).  

I am to the point where I can walk on level surfaces without too much of an issue. If I'm going places where I don't know what types of surfaces and varying heights I'll be walking on, I wear an ankle brace and take a cane. 

But for very long distances, like going to a zoo, I knew a brace with a cane wouldn't cut it. I realized the only way I could get around was to get a wheelchair. 

My last blog post discussed the whole process of getting ready for a trip to meet my boyfriend's family, which I knew would involve at least one instance of needing to do lots of walking. This included buying a wheelchair because I knew that I couldn't count on them having one at the place(s) we visited, and even if they did, it might not be a heavy-duty one (which I need because of my weight). 

So I ordered it. There was a lot of nervousness surrounding whether it would arrive in time for the trip with all of the delivery delays surrounding a COVID Christmas. I had decided it made more sense to get it delivered to my boyfriend's parents' home in case it arrived after we left. Still, I was very relieved when I got a confirmation that it had been delivered.

But getting it at his parent's house caused a new dilemma... I was nervous about sitting in it for the first time. I knew it had measurements and was supposed to be big enough to fit me - and heavy-duty enough to not bend under my weight - but until I sat in it, I wouldn't know for sure. 

I ended up waiting until everyone was asleep to try it out for the first time. I sat in it and was so relieved when I realized it was the size it advertised as well as being very sturdy. Only then was I able to start getting excited about going to the zoo with his family.

The closer I got to actually getting to the zoo, the more nervous I started feeling... again. What would it be like to have to be wheeled around? Would there be places I couldn't get to because they weren't accessible? Would I get judgmental looks because I am so overweight and I "should" be walking?

I'd love to say that when answering those questions, it turned out that there had been nothing to worry about. I can't say that's true. It wasn't fun to be wheeled around (more about that later). Most of the zoo was accessible but there was one place I had to go on a very shaky lift and a couple of other places I had to get out and walk (which was difficult with my ankle). I got looks but I didn't feel a lot of judgment (some, but not a lot).

About being wheeled around... you need to know that this type of wheelchair has small wheels so it fits easier into a car. This meant that when my boyfriend, who is also a photographer, wanted to get a shot of something quickly, he'd park my wheelchair and just leave me there. I was stuck because I can't move it on my own.

Sometimes this meant that I couldn't get the shot I wanted, because I either had to try to get up and walk (which was very difficult) or just miss it and wait for him to come back. It didn't happen much as he takes great care of me, but there were a few times he did this. 

I didn't get mad at him; however, I was really mad about the situation. I kept beating myself up for letting this happen. Though the ankle injury wasn't my fault, I felt that if I was a typical size, I'd be fully recovered by now. 

When I can step back (pun intended) and analyze my feelings, I know that even incredibly fit athletes have injuries where they have to be in a wheelchair for a time. I know that I'm a food addict and didn't realize this for 50 of my 52 years on earth. I know that I have other medical conditions that contributed both to my injury and my weight. But at the zoo, I continued to beat myself up. 

On the other hand, it was nice to be able to get around the zoo without worrying about whether I'd be able to walk the next day due to straining my ankle. It's also a relief to know that if my ankle gets worse or something comes up where I normally would have to do a lot of walking, I have a way to get around. 

My hope is that when I get home from this trip, I'll be able to store the wheelchair and not need it for a very long time, if ever. But it is nice to know that I have it if I need it. So I'm thankful for my wheelchair, even though it would be so much better to not need it at all.


Saturday, December 5, 2020

When Someone With Anxiety is Getting Ready to Visit the Boyfriend's Family for the First Time

Two weeks from tomorrow we'll be on the road. So many emotions are going through my head... fear, excitement, anxiety, hope, and a myriad of others. You see, for the first time in the 3 1/2 years since I met my boyfriend, we are going to visit his family for Christmas.

When he first told me he could get off work and that we were going, I was excited. His parents still live in the house he grew up in - and I've wanted to see it. He has a huge, close family and I've wanted to meet them. Plus it's a chance to do something different for Christmas and get out of town, which is a huge treat because of being home so much due to COVID.

Then the anxiety started. He made an offhand comment about how his sister doesn't like anybody... it's the first time I realized I might not be liked by his family. When we first planned it, COVID issues should have no longer been a factor... they still are. 

The worries multiplied... What were we going to do each day? Where were we going to stay? Will my ankle handle the activities planned? Will my mental illnesses get in the way? What about my weight - will that be an issue? How will I deal with my new meal plan in the midst of lots of food and also not wanting to draw attention to myself?

I'm thankful that the work I've been doing with therapy, support groups, and my sponsor kicked in. I decided I needed to be proactive concerning the trip. I'm so proud of myself for both realizing that and for actually taking those steps.

For one thing, after discussing it, we decided that we needed to drive instead of fly as well as stay in a hotel instead of with his family. 

There are many reasons driving makes more sense to me as someone with anxiety. For one thing, my car is an extension of home. It's something familiar when almost nothing will be familiar for eight days. 

It's also practical - both on a general level and concerning my anxiety issues. I'm very overweight so with some cars the seatbelts are tight. I won't have to worry about that embarrassing and safety issue if I have my own car. 

This will also give me somewhere to escape if I get overwhelmed with his family. He has a large, loud, multigenerational family and I know enough about myself to know that the noise could be hard to deal with. Having my own car gives me a place to go - either to just sit in the car for a while or to head back early to the hotel if needed... without inconveniencing anyone.

Staying at a hotel gives me even more of a chance to breathe. I don't have to have "guest behavior" every minute if I have a space I can relax in. Even though I know the family is sincere when they say that it's not a bother to stay with them, I'll still feel that I am intruding. Until I get to the point in my recovery that I truly accept that I'm not always in someone's way, this is a great way to deal with those feelings within myself.

There's a part of me that is concerned about the financial aspect of staying at a hotel. Yes, we are saving money by not flying, but gas adds up so it's not that much cheaper (especially considering flights are inexpensive right now). I wrestled with that at first but finally realized that my mental health was worth it... I am worth it.

In addition, there's the ankle injury I had earlier this summer. I recently got to the place where I could walk on it without a lot of pain but not for long periods of time. My boyfriend's family has already expressed an interest in taking us to some attractions that involve a great deal of walking. 

I felt both a lot of fear and sadness when I first heard. I hate to be a bother and the thought of making everyone change their plans because of my health and needs is at the top of the list of ways I could be a hassle. At first, I  just hoped I could somehow make it with the new brace my doctor ordered for me and a cane that I bought for "just in case" times.

Then I did more walking to test my ankle and I realized that this was a pipe dream. There's no way I can make it around their zoo, for example, without being in a lot of pain and possibly re-injuring my foot. I was looking at the website for one attraction we might go to... and wondering how I could possibly walk that much... when I considered renting a wheelchair. 

However, remember how I mentioned I'm very overweight? Though I've been too scared to test them out, I'm almost positive most regular size wheelchairs are too small for me. When I reflected on this, I got pretty discouraged and very, very sad until I decided how I needed to be proactive in this area too. 

My ankle could be an issue for a very long time and hoping it would get better won't just make it get better. I have other health issues that come into play both in how long it takes to heal as well as how much I will eventually recover. So I decided to go online to see how much it would be to buy a heavy-duty wheelchair.

This decision is also scary. A very overweight person in a wheelchair carries a lot of stigma. It doesn't matter if there's an injury involved... I know that many people will see me and think, "She is lazy and has no willpower. If she just would stop eating and start walking instead of coasting along in a wheelchair, she wouldn't need it." 

That stigma, that issue, is for another blog. All I can do now is know that even though it will be a pain to deal with both physically (I'd much rather walk than be pushed in a wheelchair, and it also won't be fun to have to find room for it in the car) as well as emotionally (trying to not be embarrassed when people see me riding instead of walking), it's something I need right now. 

Like the hotel, there's a part of me that is concerned about the financial aspect of buying a wheelchair. It makes sense to not rent one each time I need one at an attraction in the long run but right now, it's an investment. I again wrestled with that at first but finally realized that my physical health was worth it... I am worth it.

It's hard to understand that I am important. It's hard to believe that I'm worth others going to the trouble of dealing with my issues. It's hard to spend money on myself and what I need. It's hard to recognize that I'm doing the best I can and it doesn't matter what others think.

But I'm getting there. I might not be at the place where I can take all of this in stride, but at least I'm now at the point where I think proactively about what needs to be done to make a trip like this the best it can be... for me. And I'm worth making that happen.