On the Loss of My Independence – And How I Found it Again

On the Loss of My Independence – And How I Found it Again

By Liza Zoellick.

We spend so much of our youth trying to acquire independence. We want to get out of our parents’ house and we want to go off to school and we want to learn how to drive. Driving has to be one of the pinnacles of independence. You suddenly have the freedom to go where you want and need to go. You can run to the store and go buy that shirt your mom didn’t want you to buy and, as an adult your car is still an extension of your independence. So, what happens when you can’t drive anymore? Where does the independence go to?

Liza Zoellick

Some time in 2008 I found out I have seizures. To make a long, long, story short, they never found out why or what causes them. They referred to it as undefined seizure disorder. It was a difficult diagnosis. Seizures were something I had always been frightened of because I had a friend who had them and she didn’t have the tonic-clonic ones, that I was aware of, but the absent. I remembered her staring off and I thought she just got bored with talking to me. Now I understood and I was afraid people were not going to understand. Aside from the not understanding part, I was terrified I was going to have a seizure in public and wet myself. I never have, but I heard it was a pretty common thing. I am very socially anxious so this was just another thing to cause a lot of internal panic.

It’s not easy handing over the reins. In the beginning, it’s a novelty to have someone chauffeur you around, but it quickly wears out. I went through a rebellious period where I made up excuses to legitimize my driving. My two oldest had just gotten or were in progress of getting their license. I didn’t feel comfortable. I was working and I didn’t want people having to cart me around back and forth. I didn’t have the resources to take a cab or Uber because they weren’t around! But most of these were excuses, although financially, taking a taxi or uber would have not been worth me working. But I did have a seizure on the road, and I was very lucky that I ended up in a ditch and didn’t hurt anyone. It wasn’t long afterwards that I chose to stop driving and allow my kids to drive me. Soon, my third will have her license and will take over “Driving Miss Daisy,” as I like to call it.

It’s still not easy, even though I made the choice and I wasn’t forced to relinquish my license. It’s a freedom I gave up and a chore that my children have had to pick up because I am not well and I place people at risk on the road. Still, I feel like a burden a lot of the time. It makes me feel less like an adult and it reminds me of being a kid and relying on my parents.  When you are 44 you don’t want your 21 year old driving you; you don’t want to be hobbling around on a cane; you don’t want to take a nap after a shower because it saps all your energy; you don’t want to talk about spoons and how many you have left- you just want to be who you were before your health tanked.  And I have a secret to tell you. You can.

Finding my Independence, again.

This is the part where I share with you how to take back your independence. And what is funny is that you never really lost it, it just changed. Remember to do a few of these and reclaim your independence.

  • Accept Help: Swallow down the pride. Learn to accept your limits and to do this, learn to ask for help. If you can accept some help for the things you can’t do, you can do more of what you can, yourself.
  • Create a schedule and goals: Flexibility is key and forgiveness for when you fail to meet the deadline. This is about growth and succeeding and we do not succeed without failure. When you accomplish your goal you will burst with pride.
  • Don’t give up: Not on your dreams and not on your goals. You can still achieve anything you put your mind and heart into. You have to find balance.
  • Find Silver Linings: Instead of driving around myself I drive around with my daughters. This is great time to spend with them and chat and catch up. See the silver linings in things always.
  • Be honest with yourself: When you need help, ask. When you need to cry, cry. When you need extra self-care, take the extra time.
  • Open your own doors: Open them to your own independence. Share your talents. Start a blog. Mentor a child. You have so much to give, remember that. Do what you can to show people what you have to offer.

Liza is a chronic pain warrior from Houston who has been chronicling her journey through chronic pain and illness on her blog: http://lovekarmafood.com. She is a frequent and valued contributor to the National Pain Report.

You can follow Liza on Twitter at @fibrohippiechic

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Authored by: Liza Zoellick

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Chrys

I feel hopeless! Regardless of what I write or who I write it to, the fact remains that this country is punished those in severe chronic pain because of the people that abuse pain meds or more often seek a greater high by turning to street drugs or combining drugs and alcohol!
So I have stopped writing and now suffer needlessly in silence.
God help those who have caused so much pain on others because they are on the popular “opioid war” bandwagon!

Alan Edwards

Great article, Lisa. You are blessed to have a family and support. You lost your independence but found it. I am single, not by choice. And have spastic and ataxic cerebral palsy and diffuse brain damage with spinal damage and arthritis. I can walk in an indescribable gait for 50 ft then it’s over. I collapse. No family to help, no social services, no neighbors. This is true loss of mobility and independence. But wait. I am independent. I have no help getting off the ground. No help shopping or getting to appointments. Weakness and intractable pain mean I have to sit while cooking and brushing teeth etc. I independently removed my body from the terror of amitriptyline and 16 month withdrawal that nearly ended my life. I can’t even get to ‘social services’ to be denied(was denied 3 times-years ago), whilst healthy young parents get Medicaid, food stamps, tanf, wick, legal aid, money for heating fuel, money for house cleaning and sometimes they are given a free home or apartment. But one has to be healthy, with a partner and children. Their children are born in a hospital, no charge or one dollar, pain-free. This is how independence really works where I live. I don’t want that kind of independence. Don’t believe it? Visit Carroll County, Virginia. Free food, denistry, healthcare are all available for the young, well-connected and healthy parents to be. That is reality. Can a 55 year old man obtain assistance to be independent or find a wife who can deal with Cerebral Palsy and intractable pain disease? Not yet. But I still pray for a miracle.
I do appreciate national pain report and all the contributors.

Kathleen Kaiser

February 6th I broke my left ankle in 3 places and sprained my right ankle. After surgery my doctor told me I was not going to be allowed to put any weight on my left foot for 14 weeks! That meant from February 6th to May 7th I could not walk. And of course in the beginning it hurt just to put my full weight on my sprained ankle. And for several weeks I had a boot on both foot. I tried a nursing home for one week and could not stand it so I went home where I knew I was going to have to learn how to do things on my own (and with my husband’s help when he was not at work). I will not say that I now have an understanding of what a wheelchair-bound person feels or what they go through but I think I do have an understanding of what it must be like. Of course I knew I would someday be able to walk again. And let me tell you it’s hard. My husband put in temporary small ramps in my house so that my scooter could get over the various bumps and out to the garage. There were challenges that I had to learn. I learned things like you can’t open the refrigerator/freezer doors from the same side. And I learned to use the back burners of the stove top so I didn’t burn my arm reaching out to turn off the stove. And transferring myself from my scooter to the toilet or bed would prove to be the end of my hands and sign you them before my accident. I am now suffering from a great deal of pain because of carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger thumbs in both hands. I had to hire a driver to take me to my doctor appointments because it there was no way I could drive especially if I couldn’t even get in the car to start with. I’m just fortunate that we could afford to do that. It was $50 a ride and that company was the cheapest one I can find and definitely the best company I’ve ever worked with. Soap I know what was the year Independence feels like.

Lori T.

Great post! You have so many nice ideas. The silver linings positivity principal is the cherry on top of the ice cream Sunday! I’ve always believed this principle and I try to practice this as much as possible. I find even if I have a bad day and get side tracked with negativity and feelings of the loss of self worth, I try to get back up again the next day to practice the silver lining principal again and it really does work. Thank you for the great post and keep doing what you are doing. You are an inspiration to me and I feel for sure, many others!