The costs of being a “Social Butterfly”

Effort-fully flawless

I’ve been talking about my Gran’s 80th Birthday Party for months. Finding a venue wasn’t straightforward given the necessity of wheelchair access, and a properly “accessible” toilet, plus a function room easily navigated by an electric wheelchair, and a buggy, and enough room to seat everyone else. Through the effort of more than one person, this was successfully achieved.

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All dressed up in my pink lace dress, hair curled, make-up done, with somewhere to go.successfully achieved.

Despite knowing this, I knew I wouldn’t sleep much the night before. There is always too much to think about. Eating little the day before, but drinking the full jug of electrolyte fortified water, helped minimize risk of accidents as much as possible. I knew found a dress that would be comfortable enough for sitting in a wheelchair, and shoes that matched the dress but were still easy enough to walk in.

Getting ready still took me and two carers more than an hour but the finished result was worth it. I still had anxieties over the journey, and surviving the day well enough to enjoy it.

Surviving, and thriving

I found the journey very difficult due to delays and roadworks. Circling roundabouts feels very different when travelling in a wheelchair-access van. The chair pulls you one way, and the roundabout another, despite being clamped in and wearing a full seatbelt. I tell you how relieved I was when we finally landed. I found a corner where I could easily see everyone, and finally settled Eschewing the sparkling wine and orange juice for my usual electrolyte water, I enjoyed all the catching up. My Gran loved it all too, despite protesting months earlier that she didn’t want a fuss! 🙂

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My Gran’s gorgeous birthday cake, decorated with purple flowers and lots of twirly icing.

Dinner was lovely, melon and sorbet, followed by roast chicken and all the trimmings, and berry pavlova for sweet. I considered snapping pics of the plates, but decided I rather enjoy it than photograph it all. Drinking decaff coffee all the time means the after dinner coffee energised me. Enough for a ‘walk around the golf course with my mum, grandparents and nephew. Loved the fresh air and wildflowers/weeds. My favourite bit was all the catching up with family I hadn’t seen for months, and being able to whizz round the room in my chair to choose who I wanted to talk to. This was thanks to the room being re-organised by my Auntie the night before. All too soon, it was time to head back to the home. I even had an impromptu leaving party round the van!

 

Post party hangover

I was of course, exhausted when I got back, and continued to feel shattered even after a good night’s sleep. It was 3pm before I was even awake enough to get up. If asked how I felt yesterday, I would have said I was drowning in fatigue, drunk on sleeplessness, despite not touching a drop[ of alcohol. It’s a big effort to participate in family gatherings or other events, and takes a toll on me afterward which I am still feeling today. Staying in bed would have likely made me feel worse, so I got up very reluctantly. Now I’m managing to write, I’m glad I made the effort. I have fabulous memories of the weekend, and photos I can keep forever. I was able to celebrate with my Gran, and the rest of a family I love to pieces. No price can be put on that, even in terms of energy reserves used. The effort required is always worth it, no matter how much ‘recovery’ is required afterwards.

Age, not just a number…

Milestones, done differently…

I have a pretty good idea of which milestone I reached at which age, from talking to my parents over the years, from photographs or from my own memories. I was late to start walking and talking for example, though I’ve not stopped talking since. I was 5 or 6 when I put my crutches in the back of the wardrobe, and didn’t look back until I need a mobility scooter aged 18 at university.

I was 12 or 13 when I started worrying about boys, though wondered if anyone would ever be interested in me. I remember well the love letters from a boy called Danny when I was 14, who moved away shortly after, but I don’t think of him as my first proper boyfriend. However, by ‘proper boyfriend’ I mean someone that I really, really loved. That only happened last year, just before my 30th birthday. Things like that make me feel old, especially when I consider that by 25, my Mum had two children, effectively two babies, because of my level of need. I wonder now if I’ll ever meet someone, or even if I need to.

Babies everywhere, but not mine!

I don’t know whether I ever thought I would be married with children by this stage or not. I think my mum would say the former. I am more and more aware of my age as more friends get married and/or have children. Even the friends who like me were waiting to meet someone are now married. I’ve got to the stage where I can be genuinely happy for them, meeting up with a close friend and her baby regularly, who I adore. Also, Sunday school will have exploded in numbers in a few years. I love that I’ll still have contact with lots of children because of church. It’s funny, no way would I have said that before I got my electric wheelchair, but it somehow makes me more approachable to most children, and has helped me be much more comfortable talking to them. I am more at their height I guess, and some kids are fascinated by what the chair can do, or the golf ball controller.

Am I always defined by the number I am?

Recently, someone told me I ‘look good for 30’! A backwards compliment, for sure! I definitely don’t feel 30. Some days I feel old, when the routine of care and the sameness of every day gets me down. Other times, I feel young and insecure as though I were a school kid again… usually when something goes wrong in the house and I don’t know what to do.

I might like to do Uni over again, with carers to do personal care, and PA’s to help with library access and so on, as I didn’t have care until a couple of years ago, and no PA till third year. I wish I had been strong enough to ask for these helps though and been able to concentrate my limited energy wholly on my studies. I don’t think I realised I was entitled, or thought my disability was ‘bad enough’ even though tiny things sapped my energy. It’s so easy to say ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ though… almost everyone must have some regret about something. I was so intimidated by everything too, fearful, and never feeling like I was ‘good enough’ to be there… I guess that is where some mature students have the edge. Do I wish I were a different age though? Probably not, unless I had more confidence to with it.

My Grandparents, examples of how to age!

On a slightly different tack, thinking about age makes me think of my three grandparents, who are 78, 76, and 88. Generally they all keep in fairly good health and all have active lives. They are amazing, and definitely defy stereotypes of ‘elderly people’. I hope I am like them when I am older. All of them look young for their age. My Gran recently came to visit, and someone asked how only she was. When I told them, their jaw dropped in shock, and they said how strong and healthy she seemed for her age.

In some ways it is easy to tell they’ve got much older (for example, my granddad has two hearing aids, but he is 83) I don’t remember him having any health problems at all until a few years ago. Trouble is, aside from Gran’s diabetes, I have more health problems than them all put together!! Maybe I am the aged one?!

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I used the ‘Weekly Writing Challenge‘ prompt from March 10th, as inspiration to get me writing again. The prompt asked what age meant to each blogger. Above is what it means to me… but what does it mean to you? Why not have a go at your own post on ‘Golden Years’ and aging in general? (Click on the link in the sentence above to see the prompt) I’d love to read it!

With every breath…

Today’s daily prompt:

Who’s the most important person in your life — and how would your day-to-day existence be different without them?

I am wary of repeating what I have already written on this subject, as I have already written recently both about having no significant other (yet!) and how important my Gran is to me. Then, of course, there are the/my carers. Without them, there are some days I would see no one, and other days I would struggle to get out of bed. The other people I don’t think I have mentioned are my parents. There are other posts where I may not have mentioned them, but without them, I would not have achieved what I have. Their sacrificial, unconditional love would be the envy of many.

Were I to lose either or both I would miss them with every breath. I need them in a different way that other people need their parents. In some ways I still feel quite dependent on them, being single and disabled. This also means I do not feel as grown up as I might, with a significant birthday approaching. What I do manage, at the moment, is to live independently thus far. Time, my health and the actions of local and national government may yet change things. I don’t wish to talk to much more about my parents as I do not wish to embarrass them. However, they have done much for me and continue to do so. This includes te way both of them live out their faith and the example they are to me. As I’ve said, were I to lose either of them, I would miss them with every breath, every moment of every day.

My lovely Godly Gran!

I’ve not had the energy to post in the previous few days, or else other things have taken priority. I have thought about this particular post, and I think I’m ready to write it out of my head. I love this daily prompt from the 17th asking about mentors. I am both fortunate and privileged to have had a few wise and Godly people in my life, including but not limited to my Mum, My friend who is also key-holder and tablet-overseer, among other things, and a number of friends. My Gran though has been there for me through thick and thin, as have my other grandparents, and my parents, and for that I really am Blessed with a capital ‘B’. Since my Grandfather went to be with Jesus when I was about 15, I’ve gradually got to know my Gran in a different way. One step removed from my parents, but just as reassuring  and a wonderful listener, we have had many conversations over the years, including many debates, and times when we ‘put the world to rights’.

If I have done anything which my Gran has felt is out-of-order, she will tell me straight. She has also mopped up many tears, and along with others, prayed for me every single day. I will never truly know the results of all those prayers this side of Heaven. However, times such as when I have a big fall or whatever, I have known God’s peace, and it’s never been as bad as it might have been. The same goes for day-to-day health. By rights I should have more hospital admissions and infections than I do, given my medication and so on, but I am convinced all those prayers have kept me well.

There have also been times when, choked with emotion or a breaking heart, my Gran has prayed with me over the phone, or just after the phone call has ended. Times when I have been unable to pray for myself. She has also when need by reminded me of what has gone in the past, things I’ve been though or come through, things God has brought me through or times he has provided.

The one lesson that sticks in my head, above all is that Gran has taught me to be thankful. Even in the darkest of days, to find three things to be thankful for. It is something I am still learning, but I do so know the importance of it now. I am glad for her forbearance with me in the times I have been out-of-order and the times she has spoken her mind in love. I am thankful for these times also. I guess it’s all these things put together combined with wise, Godly wisdom which makes her a kind of mentor really. Mostly, she’s Gran, and I love her to bits! I am truly thankful for her, and all that she’s taught me and all the fun times we’ve had too. Hopefully there will be many more times to come.

I’ve chosen to schedule this post on a Sunday as this is when I often specially think of her, singing praise in Church to her Lord and Saviour Jesus, whom she loves very much. Unlike me, Gran has a wonderful singing voice 🙂 I’m hoping I can visit her at some point this summer, as a visit is long overdue. Those of you who read this blog who are Christians, please can you say a prayer of Blessing for her after you’ve read this?! Thank you!