Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My (New) Life Adjustment

Living with a disability is challenging in ways other people understand and in ways they don't. Living with an invisible disability has its own special challenges. I like a challenge. Most times.

I have learned various "workarounds" to deal with my cognitive and physical problems. As a matter of fact, I don't even like calling my issues "problems" Let's just call them challenges.

My physical challenges are easier to deal with. I know what I can and can no longer do. The new twist to this is that I have recently relocated to another state and will, for the first time in almost 8 years, be living on my own. When I lived in a household with a roommate or family, I had a lot more support for daily living obstacles that I never really thought much about. Now that I am looking for an apartment here in my new town, I am forced to consider a variety of challenges from new angles.

Getting out and around is going to work differently. When I was living in Anchorage, I knew the streets and basic locations of my personal "landmarks". Because my brain seems to work strangely, there were times when even driving to the most familiar of places (think Walmart on the other side of town) required orienting myself before starting the trip. On a good day, this only required plotting out the route in my head (Get on Old Seward, head towards the church, turn left onto Lake Otis, head down Tudor., etc.) and along the way, I'd make sure to keep track of where I was so I didn't get off route (going past my doctor's office meant I'd missed my turn onto Tudor). On a great day, I didn't miss any turns and have to re-route myself.

Other people are able to use their Google Maps navigation. I can do that too except I might have to pull over to pay attention to the directions because it's hard for me to listen to the instructions while actually driving. Crazy, I know. It's also a little embarrassing. So I find it easier to "self-plot" routes.
Image result for being lost
Also, I could understand North from South and East from West. Of course. I'd lived in Anchorage for most of my adult life.

Now that I am here in my new town (thankfully a very small town!), I am staying with family while I wait for my application to go through on an apartment. My brother and sister and law have told me that I am more than welcome to use their vehicle anytime I want. I've told them they might want to reconsider that offer. If you think it's embarrassing losing my way in a town I spent over 50 years in, just imagine getting lost in a tiny spot where nothing is more than 5 minutes away from anything else.

Out of my price range for 3 lifetimes!
Yesterday while riding around with my nephew (who has a learner's permit and must be accompanied by a licensed driver), he realized that he had a band practice. He wanted to know if I could drop him off at his school and make my way home okay.

Uh... Probably not. Not only was I still recovering from a weekly medication, but I was just a little bit lost. I had a vague idea of which direction home was, but I wasn't completely sure. So we ended up going home and getting my other nephew (also in possession of only a learner's permit) to do the drop-off.

I can't describe how frustrating this all is. Pre-Slip, I would have been able to make my way around this town on the first day here. Knowing where I was wouldn't matter because I'd have been able to reason out the directions by following a grid or just finding my way back to the street my family lives on. I no longer have that ability or confidence. I've got memories of once getting lost and having a mild panic/anxiety attack while on my way to a doctors appointment. The same doctor in the same location I've been going to for years!

Image result for downtown clear lake, ia
This is where I want to live
Not exciting, but location is everything
I've decided that I probably will not own a car again until I get better. The apartment that I am applying to live in is income restricted and for seniors only. It's situated beautifully in the most convenient downtown location - close to shopping, banking, and leisure. Thank Jesus and please pray that I get in. Half my stress about living solo will be erased if I can get a spot in that building. I won't have to depend on having a car to do most of my necessary business and it will be hard to get lost if I leave my apartment.

Should I have to move into my second or third choice of an apartment, I will be out of walking distance to grocery stores and my bank. That means I will need to rely on family or the special transportation provided for people like myself. Or that I will have to get a car.

Managing daily living is going to also be easier should I get the apartment I prefer. Because shopping is closer, I will be able to get groceries and other necessities at my own pace. Being able to buy as I need things (versus stocking up) will be easier on my budget. The biggest plus is that I will be getting regular exercise in small, daily doses. Even when my balance is off, I can manage short distances. Back in Anchorage, there was no need even thinking about walking to the grocery store - too far away and the route isn't pedestrian-friendly - and the closest convenience store is too pricey. Here, there is a discount grocery literally around the corner from where the apartment is. The bank I joined is directly across the street, there is a Woolworth-type mercantile a block away, and I the streets are very pedestrian-friendly - even for the elderly and physically challenged. There's even a library and church within walking distance.

Praying, dealing with it all, and just living are my immediate goals. Yes, I am out of my routine of many years, but I want to focus on getting healthy and whole again. I want to enjoy this journey - no matter how rocky and precarious it can sometimes be. All that means is that I have to be life-adjustment ready. I am. With God's help, I truly am.