When Life Hands You Lemons…Solve a New Problem

I had a rough February. First came the vertigo attack on Feb 1. Then I fell on Feb 8 in the gym with Erik and broke my “indestructible” glasses. (Oh yeah? I’ll give you indestructible.)

I wrenched my problematic knee on Feb 24, and I had such pain I was not able to dance in the dance competition Mar 3. (Yes, I had a cortisone shot Mar 2, but it’s really stupid to stress your knee right after a cortisone shot. I try not to be stupid.)

I spent February staggering and lurching, trying to return to my previous physical abilities. I finally did on Mar 11. I woke up and was better.

But there are residual effects. I’ve noticed my spelling ability has declined since January. I can no longer spell three syllable words with any consistency. I tried to spell “streetlight” the other day as “streeghtlight.” I knew it was wrong, but I could not see what was wrong. As a previous champion speller, I cannot tell you how frustrating this is. It might be another form of aphasia. It might not. (When I’m dehydrated, I have expressive aphasia.)

Vestibular conditions absorb all your brain energy. Of course, they don’t use any of your food. No, that would be too easy. I might be able to lose weight. No, they just absorb all the glucose in your brain and all the hydration in your body. Maybe. All I know is that the vertigo fog is better some minutes and worse others. And, I struggle to lose the weight I still want to lose.

So, I use spell-checkers more often, and I ask other people for review, just as I normally do. I’m a writer. I know I need review. I stick with my meal plan. I drink tons of water.

I’ve been trying to stay positive, but it’s a minute-to-minute thing. My condition overwhelms me at times.

Professionally, life is great. Personally, life is great. Physically, life stinks. And, I’m a whole person. I can’t separate these pieces of me. Just because I’m “on top” in some ways doesn’t mean I’m not on the bottom in others.

Am I depressed? Probably. I am sad. Am I going to do something about it? Yes, in the sense that I will continue to wake up every day and go to work.

I don’t think that these times are a test, like Job. They are times to get through. I take a small step and see where I am. Take another one and see where I am. Take a drink of water (that omnipresent water), another small step.

I had plenty of pity parties in February and early March. That’s because my state was not sustainable. Lurching and staggering through life, seeing the world move every time I turn my head because the medication isn’t working–that’s not a sustainable life. I had no idea what I would do about it. I still don’t, meaning I don’t have plan. I keep solving the next problem.

There’s a great book by Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In it, she discusses the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. If you have the growth mindset, you believe you can learn and grow. If you have the fixed mindset, you believe you are stuck and will never improve. I have the growth mindset, even about learning foreign languages. Here’s a quote from the book I have found helpful:

The more depressed people with the growth mindset felt, the more they took action to confront their problems, the more they made sure to keep up with their schoolwork, and the more they kept up with their lives. The worse they felt, the more determined they became!

If you keep going, you keep going. That is, your determination, your perseverance can see you through. I solve the next problem and keep going.

Perseverance doesn’t work by itself. When my doctors aren’t ready to persevere with me, I know it’s time to find new doctors. And, the time between the old doctors and the new doctors I was teetering on the edge of emotional hell. Especially because my vertigo chose that time to go haywire.

We had a session at the AYE conference in 2010 called, Solve, Cope, Manage, Exit. You can try to solve the problem, cope with it, manage it, or exit. The problem is if the problem is your life, exiting is not the solution. I had to reframe the problem to decide what to do. In my case, finding a new doctor was a solution. So exiting from the previous doctor and working with a new doctor was the solution I chose for now.

I don’t have all the answers for me. I certainly don’t have answers for you. But I do have a question for you, that you can consider, with any luck before you have these lemons in your life. How are you going to solve this problem?

2 thoughts on “When Life Hands You Lemons…Solve a New Problem

  1. Gail DeMoss-Dinwiddie

    Good words. I do it one tiny little chunk at a time. For me, planning ahead is frustrating. And, I laugh as much as I can about the strange things I do. Eating soup is cause for great giggles. It goes everywhere. Although I do dislike the bruises from turning and walking into a wall. Splatt.

  2. Magnus Ljadas

    I’m very thankful for knowing you, I find inspiration in your writing and talking, and I don’t like lemons coming at you Johanna.

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