“Preparing for the worst, and hope for the best” is a motto I am choosing to live my new life by. Instead of hope, I choose to put a little more determination in it saying “I will do my best.” I will face every situation, old or new as if it is the first time that I am attempting to complete the task at hand. Approaching tasks in this manner releases me of any “failures” of the past, making whatever I accomplish a success because “I gave it my all”.
Being prepared is often seen as giving up or giving in. To me it means you are ready for anything. Being preemptive is not given the right amount of admiration it should be given in our society. As proven to everyone this year, that might be something we all need to incorporate into our thinking. Just like recent choices presented to us, such as mask-wearing, we have to take on an “it is not all about me” attitude. I must admit, an idea I still struggle within many circumstances. Like just about everything else I do, I try to make decisions based on the well being and safety of my children (two sons). The three of us building our lives together, as well as independently, is crucial for all of our well beings. It is often easier to do something because of, or for, someone else rather than your own sake. I am learning, and accepting, that my own peace of mind IS a valid reason. If, however, you are not there yet, then figure out what motivates you to make thoughtful choices.
Reality is a place I now live. So now I am concentrating on making proactive choices, for me my sons. In some ways, I have been making these choices right along. For example, 11 years ago, when my older son was 6 years old, I gave my car keys to my sister-in-law and voluntarily stopped driving. At the time I lived in a building with elderly and disabled tenants. A number of my elderly neighbors were at a point in their lives when people close to them started talking about whether or not these neighbors should stop driving. It is not a choice made lightly, but I was 26 not 83+ like some of my neighbors and had only been driving for 10 years, not 67 years. Driving represents freedom to shop for both essentials and fun. In current times we have all learned that even nonessentials can hold differing value to each individual. Even more so now, because once again we have almost all learned that even if we run out our first choice of food we can make do, for at least a little while, with what else we have. We, for the most part, live in places not made for pedestrian life. Non-drivers need to rely on others or outside services which are also accompanied by costs whether they are monetary or not. While being grateful, for rides and deliveries, what you fear also accompanies any form of dependence.
It is different now though because instead of picking and choosing areas in my life I deem important enough to uphold this mantra, I am trying very hard to uphold and respect it in every aspect of my life. So, quite often, I do a silent cost/benefit analysis in my head. What will produce the best outcome, whether or not I make this choice?
At 37 I called and ordered myself a Life Alert system – you know “I’ve fallen’ and I can’t get up!”; which is not something I previously would have done. I would have been too proud or found the $90 monthly service fee (not covered by any of my three medical insurances) not worth the cost. When I moved into my apartment with my 2 sons, I found there were times I was alone with my 4 year old and even totally alone. Coming from a small house with seven people living in it, being alone now seems like a foreign concept since COVID. For the first time in years, I found myself 30 minutess or more away from the people I relied on in emergency situations, and I saw that for all our sakes I needed a more immediate plan.
I am a wheelchair user and although I pride myself on my independence and my ability to adapt, there are some things I can not reliably do, such as getting myself up off the floor. My disease is known for its muscle deterioration, among other symptoms. There is an ideal balance between pushing yourself, strength, anxiety, mind over matter, and knowing and excepting safeguards. Now, unless I am with someone I know is reliably able to help me get up from the floor, I limit my self-transfer as much as possible – to and from my bed once each a day, to go to the bathroom (now between water and coffee that alone is a lot), and back and forth from the couch to watch TV with 4yr old son. A couple of weeks after moving into my apartment, I received my equipment in the mail and had an appointment for an installer to come. When the man came he was nice and said my sons and I made his week. My sons both asked questions he happily answered. As I put the lanyard over my head, the tech and my sons went to place a help button in the shower. The tears started following as I thought to myself, “well this is it – it’s all down hill from here …” but I maturely wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and listened to the tech explain the equipment to us. The tech left, again praising my sons. I hugged my boys as they too left for the night. In my new home, alone, the phone rang – it was the company just going over somethings and assuring me they were there if I needed them. After I hung up I thought “this is it, I am doing it”. To me, independence is not doing everything all by yourself. It’s implementing the tools you need to make life work for you.