For the last year, but two months in particular, id say that I’ve been pushed physically and mentally to a place I not only thought wasn’t possible to survive, I didn’t even know it existed in the first place. My mind and body have been stretched so far by the stress of fighting for the correct medical care for my son, that currently I’m only a shadow of the person I once was.
When things get over stretched, they often don’t return back to their original size. I guess I thought I was made of invincible elastic, the kind that could stretch beyond the realms of infinity, and still return to their original factory settings when the time was right.
Why did I think this? Because mentally, i have been stretched further in the past than I am right now, and I’ve returned to normal and lived to tell the tale. It wasn’t very nice mind you. Actually, it was the worst experience of my life, but I’d do it again for my son. This weekend though I realised that my mental capacity (whilst being exercised hard and pushed to its healthy limit) is in a damn site better state than my physical health. And this has been a real shock to me.
Whilst I’ve suffered various viruses, your run of the mill appendicitis, flu etc. I’ve never actually had any major health concerns (pregnancy aside here obviously as that was a huge anomaly in my life). Then this week I went to see the GP.
I actually went to discuss kiddo. But I needed some run of the mill repeat prescriptions and as a standard procedure I needed my blood pressure taking. Baring in mind that I’ve had my blood pressure taken regularly since I was 14 and never once had a high reading, you can imagine my surprise when the doctor said he was unable to continue my medication at present because my blood pressure was too high. I didn’t really know how to respond. I’ve always been fit and healthy with a good BP and heart rate. He sent me home with a monitor and instructions on how to record my BP four times daily.
Now this is hardly a major problem is it? I mean, plenty of people do this and have far more significant problems. But for some reason this all seemed to hit me quite hard once I got home. I was shaken. My mind was holding up, but my body wasn’t. The doctor had also asked about my inhalers during the appointment. I stopped and realised that my asthma had also developed within the last year, and the onslaught had been pretty dramatic. My body was crumbling. Only slightly, just at the foundations, but it is no longer the stable physical fortress it used to be five years ago.
As I’ve been recording my BP I’ve been thinking about what’s been happening around me. Sure enough, kiddo’s screaming, highly demanding behaviours and need for control are now enough to make the numbers soar beyond what is acceptable. Have I lost the ability to parent my child? Am I now so tired from lack of sleep, so exhausted from the fight with the NHS, that my physical health is destined to suffer? And there’s nothing I can do about it?
I went to bed last night feeling that way for sure. But today I have woken up with a very different point of view. This is a warning. A very stark warning, and it must be noted and acted upon. Right now. And in order to do that, I must start to accept a few things that so far in this four year journey I have totally ignored. And here they are:
1. My house is, and will always be, a bomb site. Completely chaotic and topsy turvey. Kiddo is a one man wrecking machine and he will almost instantly undo any housework I have done. I must accept this and learn to live a peaceful tranquil existence in a house that looks like it belongs in a crime scene on Murder, She Wrote.
2. I must learn to say no to some social engagements to make time for myself to be at peace. Over the years I have jumped at the chance to meet any of my friends and filled my diary. Why? Because I’m genuinely scared that if I don’t, I will lose them. Just like I lost friends in the past along our autism journey. But if these friends are truly understanding (and they all are, it’s not them, it’s my insecurities), they will still be there another day. They aren’t going anywhere.
3. I need a goal in life for me. Just me and no one else. Not five goals, not ten. Just one. I must accept that with my lifestyle I cannot spread myself thinly whilst the kiddo is at school. Because what will be left when I collect him at the end of the day? The dregs of what he should be entitled to. The last few drops of energy that should have been reserved for him in the first place. Pick a goal, stick to it.
This weekend has all been about learning my limits. Especially my physical ones. I’ve never really “done” limits in the past. In fact I’ve viewed them as something to smash right through. But this is different. There’s a tipping point in life where you reach your most effective, but can very quickly fall down the other side and become ineffective. I feel I’m at the top, looking down at the ineffective side. And if I don’t take note right now of how my body is responding, I’ll be down that side so fast I won’t have had time to stop it. And i will land in a crumpled heap on the floor.
So today, I learn my limits. And tomorrow I change my lifestyle so I can live within them.
Thanks for reading,