Well this is it, the first day of my 8th year being housebound, I never have trouble with the date as I lost use of my hand the first day back at work after the new year. I had managed to make it into the office, just to be sent home a few hours later when it became clear that having just one hand and being in a manual wheelchair, just doesn’t work. I was though extremely lucky as I was already totally connected to the office from home and more than able to work from here for several years, on one level it feels like a different life time, on the other, well just like it was yesterday, but life is like that. It doesn’t matter what life throws in front of me, I somehow manage to make it work and to move on and I am totally sure that that is the same for the majority of the human race, the difference is that most don’t have that type of hurdle put where we can do nothing, but stop or jump. So many people send me messages saying they don’t know how I manage so well, or stay so happy, well I honestly believe that there is no secret and that every single one of us could do exactly the same, we just have to make ourselves. Even to me though, 8 years is starting to sound a long time, somehow a lot longer than 7, I guess we all have milestone numbers where it changes from everyday, to something of mark, we all reach those through out our lives as we age, so don’t say you don’t know what I am talking about. My own age for some reason has never really bothered me, not even turning 50 made me feel badly about myself or life, well other than the fact that the NHS sent me through a bowl cancer testing kit that arrived on my birthday, that did put a slight downer on my day. It’s not my age that I have always found difficult, but my daughters, it doesn’t matter what her age has been, from the day she entered double figures I didn’t want reminding, as it instantly made me feel old.
If something is going to make you feel old, I would have expected it to be my health, yet strangely even when I wake as I did this morning, so stiff that just getting myself vertical seemed like an enormous effort, then to find that I could only move in a way that I would expect someone in their 80’s to move, I still don’t feel old. PRMS and the other members of my health gang have really done a good act on my body when it comes to giving me the appearance of premature ageing, but this is where being housebound becomes a blessing, no one can see me. I know that sounds incredibly shallow, but there are things that none of us want to play out in public sight, the first for me was my staggering, the second my walking stick, strangely my wheelchair proved to be the opposite as I suddenly felt more normal, more agile and more alive as I could keep up with and even beat the world around me. Now though I couldn’t manage that, I simply don’t have the strength to push myself in my chair, if I had an electric one, well then yes I might manage out there for short spells, but out of a chair, I would be totally mortified and totally unable to cope, not just physically but also mentally. I have no doubt what so ever that the biggest element of surviving any chronic illness is our own self esteem, if we don’t see ourselves as part of, or the same as something positive, we will get worse and we will struggle more. That is why I say there is a point when housebound is actually the best thing that could possibly happen to us, but the timing is different for all of us and so personal, that I wouldn’t like to be the one to work it out for anyone. Here in my home the only person I have to compete against is myself, so what ever I achieve, it is always my best and there for the best there is. I don’t actually go around congratulating myself with smug smiles of “I am the best”, but I equally don’t look around me and feel pathetic, which is incredibly important. It doesn’t matter how much pain I am in, how badly I walk or how fatigued my body becomes, in my housebound world, that is normal life and that normality is precious.
8 years is a long time and if it hadn’t been for my hand I probably would have managed another couple of years, it may have taken me a long time to realise that it was probably the perfect way for me to move into the disabled, housebound, unemployed world, as I did it slowly and in that order and still being allowed to protect my self esteem as I went. I know that I am both physically and mentally not the person I was 8 years ago and in many ways I prefer the person I am now, no matter how pathetic the body, or how useless the brain is compared to then, life is now at my pace and that is a pace I can deal with. Being housebound has more bonuses than most people would every expect and if something is right and allows us to carry on living in a way we can manage, well where is the bad, the scary and the lonely world that I once thought it would be, there is nothing to fear in being housebound, in fact it is a positive step when it is taken at the right time. If the doctors are right I am half way through my confinement with another 8 years ahead, that kind of makes it sound like a prison sentence, I’ve never even visited a prison, but trust me from what I know I prefer housebound as it is a positive place to be and I look forward to another 8 years of living a good life.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 03/01/13 – No way to fight