Over the next 6 months, I worked very hard on my VRT. I had a goal and that was to get back to my work! Yes, I know, many of you (including most of my family and friends) wonder WHY on earth I’d go back to the very place that put me here. For me, there really was no separating me from my job. I ‘lived’ it whether or not I was at work, these children and their families were part of me. So ‘they’ were my motivation. Just as I once gave them directives for Home Programs with expectations of follow through, now I had a Home Program to follow through with. With nausea and vomiting a rarity, I was feeling very hopeful.
My next visit to Dallas, I saw both my Physician and PT. Both felt I should have progressed more (I really felt I was doing okay), but now this Specialist was making another referral. He wanted me to go to a Rheumatologist, ‘Say WHAT?’ He told me, he noticed that when he simply placed his hand on my back (in greeting or in reassuring me), I flinched. Well, yes I did because it hurt! Oh, good grief! My back, head, and neck were always hurting! “What do you think that means?” I asked. “Sometimes, people who have continued dizziness, and with the pain you told me about, may be Fibromyalgia”…He was interrupted by a very loud “Oh, my God! You have got to be kidding me!” groan…He was very serious and made a referral to one in my area. Plenty of time for research as my appointment was 9 months away.
I would continue with my Home Program plus a couple of new activities. My new activities could safely be done at my work in the very room I loved most, our Sensory Integration Room. I helped design it with the other Therapists and it was built during all my time off. These rooms are a child’s dream playground! Ours was lined with mats, had a zip line that ended into a foam filled pit, suspended swings in a variety of forms (a platform swing you sit on, a spandex one that hugs you, etc), foam blocks, a trampoline, bolsters, a climbing wall, etc. Now do you see why I loved this job? It was PLAY! I was allowed to use this room when no one else was, I thought, this is going to be so fun! It was only once I tried using the various pieces of equipment that I realized, TRULY realized what I was asking of my little clients with Sensory Integration Issues which include Vestibular Issues and Proprioception Issues. What I once actively did with the children, was making me want to go limp and give up. My cheerleader husband set up a number of the swings and it was the spandex one that I was able to tolerate. It feels like a cocoon, a big hug, a nuzzle in your Mom’s neck, a big ‘ahh’. So with me feeling very snuggled, my husband began ever so slowly rocking me. As good as it felt it definitely was working my Vestibular System. I did this about two times a week in addition to the VRT. My co-workers knew my struggle, how could they not? Being unable to work was an inconvenience to be sure, yet my position was being held and I was grateful.
As hard as I worked, I still was ‘wall walking’ and ‘floor watching’ according to my Therapist after my next visit. After almost one year of VRT, I was becoming depressed and my PT picked up on it. We did a lot of walking and talking during sessions, as a Therapist, I know what is going on, I’m being evaluated. This conversation had more to do with why I thought I wasn’t making progress. I told her my fear of falling was crippling me. I felt this valid as I’d broken 7 bones. When a ‘walker’ was suggested for safety (just as I would have in my practice), I flipped out! I gave an absolute “No”! I wasn’t yet 50 years old, I didn’t look at myself as ‘disabled’ (even though I was totally dependant on my husband), so why would I want one? I am a hard headed, hot-headed, redhead. I left this session feeling defeated. I had two very special co-workers that had watched the decline of my once vivacious personality. I was becoming cynical and dismal but felt I covered it up, obviously, I wasn’t. I was approached by one of them offering to send me on a weekend retreat. She really wouldn’t provide much information, other than, “All my needs would be taken care of”. It sounded mysterious and I was intrigued. When I discovered a woman I knew was also going, I thought, why not? Life was feeling so overwhelming at this point, everyone I knew thought this weekend would make me feel better. I was fine with that. We would go in a few weeks, enough time for me to get out of it.
I feel the mystery of the weekend should remain for those who have not experienced it, but the retreat is called A Walk to Emmaus. Some people may be familiar with it, some may never even heard of it, like me. What I will tell you about it, is that for me, it was a profound weekend. It was so wonderful to finally just allow myself to just be, to ‘listen’ to the quiet, to write, to think… For all the excuses I came up with prior to going besides the obvious, “What if I get dizzy or sick?” (it got pretty ridiculous, “I can’t sleep in a room with a ‘stranger'” and “I have to have a sound machine and fan”…), I did it. With hardly any issues! During the ‘Walk’, I had time for reflection and I wasn’t thrilled with the person I’d become. What might happen if I just ‘released’ and ‘gave up’ all the horrid crap I’ve clung to for so long? I thought, truly, what do I have to lose? I decided I’d just let it go…
I left the Walk feeling totally renewed. When my husband saw me, he could tell something was different but couldn’t put his finger on it immediately. He asked many questions, just as I would have if tables were turned, but I continued with the ‘mystery’ and told him, it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I was still processing it, and I wanted him to go to one someday. Just the fact I had a three day period where there was little to no dizziness or nausea was amazing. Mike felt hopeful after hearing I’d done fine the whole weekend and said we needed to do something for us, as it had been well over a year since we had time together, with no appointments or testing to be done. Later that night, he asked, “What about a trip to Ruidoso?”. We have a tiny place there, and it holds so many memories. This is where we Honeymooned, where we created so many great times that only got better over the years. I answered with a very loud, “Yes! It’s been too long” and we started making plans to go the very next weekend. As I lay in bed that night, I felt grateful, I felt happy (what’s that?), but I also felt a little anxious…what IF I get dizzy? That’s how I drifted off to sleep that night, ruminating my conflicted feelings… gratitude/happiness/anxiety…gratitude/happiness/anxiety…gratitude/happiness…
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