The hour of my deliverance has come.
After months of being legally grounded from operating a vehicle, I’ve reached the required amount of time without a seizure when I can resume my rock-n-roll lifestyle. Being homebound has been more of a challenge than I expected.
I realize now I’ve taken independence for granted my whole adult life. To have a strong, able body with the resources to move freely/easily are precious things. And while I’ve come to appreciate quiet afternoons a whole, awful lot, I’ve also come to realize how demoralizing being ‘stuck’ is.
I’ve gotten a glimpse of how difficult life can be for people who are unable to leave their homes due to chronic illness or physical disability. And for the first time in my life, I feel a greater awareness and compassion for what those with limited mobility go through.
There have been days in the last several months when I’ve barely changed out of my pajamas. I’ve been tired and weary-but not so much on a physical level. It’s been more on an emotional, psychological level. It surprised me to discover how debilitating this sort of fatigue is. You may have the physical energy to act yet be completely immobilized by that emotional and psychological anguish.
And yet, looking back upon the view of this particularly trying season of my life; living in a temporary situation without my creature comforts, not being able to drive, depending on everyone else for help, dealing with an uncertain medical diagnosis, etc., I’ve been able to see it hasn’t been all that terrible. Trust me, there have been some pretty dark days. This has all been manageable though.
BUT it’s been manageable for a reason.
I’ve been able to get through all of it because of the support I’ve received from others, people who know and love me, friends who’ve constantly supported me. I’ve been on the receiving end of large as well as small, quiet acts of service I, myself, have done for others before, never thinking they help all that much.
I’ve come to realize: They do.
So, dear reader, based upon the personal experiences of my time as a (Maybe) Epileptic, I propose 8 ways you can support your homebound loved ones that can make a huge difference:
1. Take time for a visit. Some of my dearest friends have surprised me by impromptu visits, just to chat. Sometimes, they’d call up to give me just enough time to put on a bra and brush my teeth, giving little option to turn them away out of embarrassment. As it turns out, this was the best thing for me. Had I the opportunity, I might have been too mortified by my disheveled state to allow anyone to come over.
Inevitably, I always felt a little better after these chats.
2. Encouraging texts are precious gifts. Knowing someone was thinking about me, encouraging me through the hardest parts of this experience, gave me a boost when I needed it the most.
I believe there is a reason when someone ‘pops into our heads’.
As we connect with others, we create ties that bind our hearts. I don’t believe we’ll ever be able to explain it with logic, but those connections are supported by unseen forces that alert us to one another’s needs. Don’t disregard those promptings when they come. If that little voice tells you to reach out, do it.
3. In this fast paced, virtual world, never, ever underestimate the power of the United States Postal Service. My three-day EEG was unquestionably the hardest part of these last few months. I can’t remember a time when I felt more helpless or hopeless. Amazingly, also around that time, I received a letter from my dear friend in Neverland. The next day, another arrived from the same zipcode. The day after that, two were in my mailbox. Even more came in the following days. I noticed a commonality. These letters all had sparkles. That’s when I realized I was witnessing a coordinated attack on the vicious depression that was setting into my soul. To my Florida Family: Just so you know, I’m keeping these forever.
4. Speak their language. As an adult, I’ve based much of my interpersonal relationships upon the book, ‘The Five Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman. I’ve come to understand that I speak love with the languages of words of affirmation, gift giving, and of course, chocolate. (Mr. Chapman forgot that last one). There is something beautiful about the amazing moment when you connect with someone as they feel your love for them in the ways they interpret it best. It goes both ways.
Some of my dearest friends told me ‘I love you’ with some of my favorite things: sparkles, herbal tea, jewelry and chocolate. Words fail sometimes…which is why we have other languages. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but someday, I’ll be able to express that love back in ways most meaningful to them.
5. Keep them busy. Sometimes, having something to do will distract a person just long enough for them to forget the gloom that’s trying to darken every corner of their soul. Given enough opportunities to forget, glimmers of light just might make it through. Once it penetrates, that light tends to have momentum behind it.
He-Man has undoubtedly been my champion through all of this. For years, I’ve been wanting a farm table for our family. (more on this story later) We talked about making one but never had the time. Moving into a brother’s home with a wood shop meant we suddenly had the resources. We set to work on the project shortly before my seizures began. When my health took it’s turn, I lost the motivation and nothing really mattered anymore. That was a sign that something was wrong.
Gratefully, He-Man quickly picked up on this and began tasking me with sanding, staining, oiling. Anything that helped me keep my focus. These were often small steps on the way to the finished project. Nothing too overwhelming but enough to keep the project going. He’s a smart man.
6. GET THEM OUT OF THAT HOUSE! Sometimes a person needs to remember they are human. It’s easy to forget when you’re immersed in the struggle of just getting through the day. Two of my dearest friends who’ve been among the constants through all of this have seemed to know what I’ve needed before I did. When they invited me out for Indian food a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea how incredible it would feel to just get away from the confining walls of my home for a couple of hours.
7. Provide meaningful help. He-Man’s commute to his clinic is 45 minutes to an hour away. Moving to our temporary home meant no longer being within walking distant to our children’s three schools. Since I could no longer drive and He-Man wasn’t available, it also meant getting our children to and from school was suddenly a challenge. Asking for help with this particular problem was incredibly difficult. I hate asking. I’d much rather be giving help rather than accepting it.
Following through and just asking was the most hardest part. Once I asked, my friends Marla and Janelle jumped in immediately. For weeks they’ve dropped our children off after school and have become some of our favorite people. The gourmet Valentine cookies didn’t hurt either.
What struck me about these two beautiful people is they made it easy to rely on them. My hesitance was unnecessary and only hurt myself. Being fearful meant I was giving my friends and family far too little credit. They were ready to mobilize. They just needed to know how to help.
8. If you’re the praying sort and you tell someone they’re in your prayers, mean it and be prepared to BE the answer. One of the greatest blessings in my life has been being part of a prayerful circle of people. They’ve included many from several religious and social backgrounds and spans countries from all over the world. I’m always struck by how much truth comes from these statements when I observe these people praying, meditating or pleading to a Higher Power on behalf of others.
What is even more incredible is when, through supplication, this family circle finds the means to mobilize in thoughtful, meaningful ways to provide relief. It’s inspiring and has taught me that such statements aren’t hollow. Prayer done right isn’t passive. It’s active. You have the power to be the answer to those prayers if you’re eyes are open.
So there you have it, folks.
I’m grateful my experience being homebound has been brief. But I’m also grateful it’s been enough to stick with me. It motivates me to be more aware of those who need support. Maybe that’s the point.
Okay, maybe it’s not THE point. But, maybe it can give the inevitable challenges life throws at us a purpose to go along with the pain.
Then again, maybe I’m overthinking it.
But for now, I’m back behind the wheel and currently looking for bedridden friends who just had triplets and have a hankering for Tater Tot Casserole.
Just kidding. But only sort of.
FYI: I make killer Indian food.