I continue to be amazed at how quickly time passes. I am suddenly four months away from gaining two bachelor degrees, only one month from seeing my incredible students and partner teacher again, three weeks from another surgery, and two weeks away from turning twenty-four. As time flies, I attempt to stay in the current moment, enjoying all that it has to offer, because I see and feel many changes that will be affecting my near future. But before I begin, let’s catch up. It’s been a while.
My teaching experience taught me more than I could have ever imagined. The bright, young individuals I spent my days with made it hard to leave in December. When I began in November, my body struggled with the daily routine. I had just started the Butrans patch, which slowly administered a small dose of opioid into my body on a daily basis. The Chronic Pain Clinic had a goal of managing my pain, so that both my days and nights would be more comfortable. To this day, I am still conflicted with this. While I have been on many different forms of narcotics, it is so foreign to my physical body and mental state. Some days I would feel the medication so intensely, that I was afraid to go to work. It also added to my already damaged digestive system, which made many days extremely uncomfortable. Many times I took the patch off, but immediately I noticed a change in my pain and sleep. I so desired to use natural remedies, but I have come to realize that I simply cannot do so all of the time. My work became more enjoyable once the intensity of the drug dissolved, and I was able to spend more time on my feet, sleep regular hours, and wake up without excruciating pain.
While the positive changes were evident, I began to notice a change in my ankle over the course of the six weeks. Prior to my practicum date, I was given an orthotic to correct the way I step with my left ankle. Every time I would take a step, my left pinky toe would get caught underneath my foot. While it may seem quite minimal compared to other issues, it became a daily pain that I couldn’t tolerate. I used the orthotic for the first two weeks, but saw little to no change with the pinky toe, and it began to create severe straining in my ankle. I soon discovered that the (very expensive) orthotic was moving my ankle inward, so that I would no longer step on my toe; however, my ankle simply cannot move that way. So, because my ankle was strained from the orthotic, it could not be used, the toe continued to be stepped on, and I noticed over the weeks an increase in pain when walking. I began to walk so far on the outside of my foot that calluses were developing, and I noticed my ankle curving inwards.
I left my students with the happiest of goodbyes, knowing that I will see them very soon. I was ready to begin my vacation with my family, and give my body a much needed rest. Travelling is something I always think about, this massive world we live in and I have seen a minuscule amount of it. However, ever since the crash I have struggled with sitting on planes for a large amount of time. I get uncomfortable quickly and my legs swell even on short rides. It also doesn’t help that I have a strong fear of airplanes. Travelling also has always added to my gastro issues, and as stated above, the patch does not help this either. I have spent many days crying, unsure which was more important: my digestive health or my pain/sleep. This happened the first day of vacation, and I ended up ripping the patch off. Only three days later did I put the patch back on, realizing how much it truly did help me when I began waking up in terrible pain again, and also needing to take strong medication for sleeping again.
I had many personal realizations this vacation, two being how rapidly my physical body was changing, and how I’ve been suppressing my feelings and ignoring my mental state. The days were beautiful in Mexico, and the times with my family are something I will remember until my last day on this earth; however, the nights were hard after attempting to keep up with my family, and each day I noticed I had a little bit more difficulty waking up and walking. These physical pains go hand in hand with what was occurring in my mind and nervous system, and still currently is. I am unsure if it was because I was around the people who know me best, or if it was simply because I could finally slow down and relax, but during Mexico I began to notice my PTSD. It has been years since it has affected me, or so I thought, but as I was trying to relax, I noticed that my nervous system is so shocked that I can’t find a way to slow down. My body shakes, my mind goes a mile a minute, I am extremely sensitive, and I finally noticed just how scared I am of the world. I finally comfortably said it to my siblings, and had a conversation with my father about it. It is no shock that they already knew this. I also began to grasp how closely related the gastro system is with your brain. While it took years, I believe I am finally beginning to recognize that I must seek my equilibrium. After years of saying I don’t need help, I am finally seeking it.
My return to Canada was a rocky one, after getting extremely ill on the airplane and spending a night and day in the Peterlougheed Hospital here in Calgary. I had caught a bacterial disease down in Mexico, which resulted in me feeling extremely ill for a few days. As I write this post, I am feeling almost back to my normal self; however, I can’t help but feel discouraged with how easily my body fails to protect itself from illness. I feel as though my body is so damaged, that even the smallest things greatly impact me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. This new year is going to be busy, but I hope to attempt to put a great focus on mental health, as it truly is connected to every aspect of our being. Please feel free to send your methods and practices of staying mentally healthy, as they are greatly appreciated and always tackled. I wish you all a very healthy and happy New Year, and you will hear from me soon.