“Disabled”

According to the state, I am “disabled”.

Sitting at the DMV office this afternoon with my husband was a lot more emotional than I figured it would be. Pretty much everything about Blue Sunshine and not being able to use my legs has felt like an emotional upper-cut, actually.

My handicap parking permit is valid through the end of February 2013. The permit allows for completion of my physical therapy and any period I’ll be using a walker or cane. I’m glad to have it because I know it will make the day-to-day a bit easier. But it feels so strange to be labeled that way. I understand much better now the move toward the term “differently able”.

The real kick in the head is that I finally feel like I could walk — even run — for miles. That’s something I haven’t felt able to do since my last month of pregnancy.  Now that I feel like I can, I can’t. Really can’t.

Can’t is not a word I like to use. That is not a word I take lightly. I don’t even usually use it when I describe my excruciatingly limited swimming ability.

Although I know that this is temporary, it certainly doesn’t feel like it when I’m trying to angle between things and get stuck, long for a REAL shower or pinch my leg between the transfer board and the chair.

And I’m realizing that I’m having a hard time articulating my frustration as it happens. Instead, it seems to bubble up inside me and roar out for about 10 minutes each day. More often than not, my husband is the one to catch that eruption. It’s not fun, it bothers both of us deeply and I’m not sure how to fix it.

I feel vulnerable. I feel a lot of pressure because while I get better and stronger each day, I know lots of people are eager for me to be my “old self” as quickly as possible. And I feel scared because I don’t know how I will feel in February or in 2014. There isn’t a way to know.

All I can do is remind myself that I feel better today than I did before my surgery. I don’t need a heating pad in order to fall asleep. I don’t need help putting on my shoes. I don’t have to grit my teeth to walk up the stairs. Granted, that could be because I’m not allowed to walk up the stairs. But you get the idea. I am in a better place than I was. I just have this mountain to climb before I can get back to our regular life.

We are hopeful that going back to campus and having the normalcy of work in the office will help me feel better about myself and get stronger emotionally. Do any of you have any advice on dealing with challenges like this? Or breaking through frustration to communication each little fire at a time to prevent this awful build up?

I need to work on it. In the process I will become differently able.

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