Monday, February 29, 2016

Permission Granted

Here is an example of how big decisions usually get made in our house:

D:  The carpet shampooer broke.
Me:  Should we buy another one?
D:  We could just replace the floors.
Me:  Makes sense, let's do that.

I know, we sound crazy, but we are seriously frugal people who wait until the absolute last minute to do most costly, time-consuming jobs.  The previous owners of our house had three inside dogs; we have four inside children.  The carpet is beyond disgusting, and this needs to happen,  The shampooer breaking just sealed the deal.

Since we made the decision to have the carpet replaced, it looks even worse because I am not policing it.  Mud on your shoes?  Oh well.  Dropped spaghetti sauce in the floor?  Things happen.  Vacuuming is now not the only thing I do all day.  Want to stop caring about the carpet?  Great, permission granted.

The same thing happened when our dishwasher broke.  For a while I experimented with hand washing, but I'm not sure I was built for that.  Once I knew the repair man was coming, six people pretty much lived with two clean cups and a spoon.  When the poor guy saw our kitchen I said, "I knew you were coming so I just gave up" and he laughed.

It's amazing how much of my day is occupied with keeping a house in order, whether it's cleaning or cooking or making appointments.  It's great work, work that should be done with excellence to the Lord, but it sucks time away from playing action figures with Sam or going on walks with the whole crew.  Taking care of housework is necessary, but it's not everything, and once I gave myself permission to let things go until the carpet was cleaned or the dishwasher working, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I just needed to give myself permission.

The same thing happened last month when I finally gave myself permission to go to the doctor after a year of struggling with vertigo.  I let myself think through what would happen if I got there and the doctor said I was just crazy, and then I made an appointment anyway.  Permission to be called a hypochondriac was granted.

I wasn't called crazy.  After testing I was told I had lost hearing in both hears and that my balance system on the right side was weakened to the point of not working.  The assumption was that I had an inner ear disease, but before that could be decided for sure, I had to go in for an MRI to see if I had a brain tumor.  For the next four days, I just tried hard to fight off a constant low-level panic attack and thanked God that I never, not once, felt abandoned.

My brain is healthy with no tumors, but I do have an inner ear disease called Meniere's disease.  It's rare.  I have bilateral Meniere's meaning it affects both ears, which is even more of an anomaly.  The hearing loss can't be stopped, and it could get really bad or it could get better on its own.  Right now, I sometimes lose hearing in one ear for no obvious reason, then it comes back.  The vertigo and balance issues are tricky, especially with four kids underfoot.  We're working on figuring out how to deal with it.

There's been a lot to process, but the biggest adjustment right now is how low my energy level gets when I've struggled with balance all day.  I'm tired.  I need rest, and if I don't rest I pay dearly the next day in the form of ear ringing or unsteadiness.  I feel like a flake cause I can't plan out further than about ten minutes, though I still try to.  This disease hit me where it hurts: my pride and my independence.  I don't like to appear weak.  I know as humans we all are, and that we should confess that so we can rest in the Lord's strength, but I fail at this on a daily basis.  And I don't want to ask people for help.  I want community and I want to help others, but I do not want to need help.  I don't want to call Dennis while I'm stuck on the floor due to my world spinning and tell him I need him at home.  I don't want to tell the kids I can't chase them around the yard because I am having issues just putting one foot in front of the other and staying vertical.  I don't want to need hearing aids, though I have made my peace with that being a real possibility in the future.  And I don't want to whine, though for the last month I feel like I have done nothing else.

I'm working on giving myself permission, permission to take a nap during the kids' screen time instead of do the laundry; permission to say I can't make plans to be somewhere if me not showing up will negatively affect someone else, because I have no idea from one day to the next what I'll be capable of; permission to explore why after all these years it's so important for me to appear to other people as a self-sustaining island when I know I'm not and don't even want to be; permission to rest and to be and to accept what is happening even as I try to find ways to stop it.

I'm getting better at doing what my body needs, mainly because I have no choice.  I'm not doing great at sorting out and changing some of the big problems this situation has brought to light, but I'm going to keep trying.  Permission granted to fail and try again.

I doubt I am going to be blogging about Meniere's disease.  Like Celiac, dietary changes can help, but Meniere's is rare and every person's situation seems to be a little bit different.  There are commonalities, but there is not one path that this disease seems to take.  It's a bit rogue.  I'm not sure I have that much to offer to the hearing loss/loss of balance conversation.  I mention it now to say that it's okay to give yourself permission: permission to need, permission to rest, permission to have hard conversations, permission to change.  It's okay to give yourself permission to have a dirty floor and a bed with clean clothes heaped on top because you spent the day hanging out with the wee ones.  It's okay to go to coffee with girlfriends even when the day's to-do list is not all checked off.  It's okay to realize that despite growing spiritually, you're still just a tiny bloom with so far to go.  Whatever you need, permission granted.

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