2 days to go. 365 days in 2022 and we have lived/survived/flourished within 363 of them. 363 days of good and hard and exciting and boring. Some moments of feeling insufficient and others of feeling on top of the world. Most moments falling somewhere in between the two. Another 12 months, another four seasons, another calendar year, all behind us BUT also all ahead.
It’s fall. I get that this isn’t some big revelation, we’ve all seen the date. But my internal seasonal clock tends to be a bit ahead of the game, and I’ve been in fall mode for a few weeks. When the mood hits, my hair goes dark, I remove the ice from my coffee, and, voila, fall!
*Before you read this, I beg of you just one thing: please read it in its entirety.*
My computer is full of documents I feel like I cannot share. Every time I think I’ve said it “right” I second guess myself. I save the words, file them away, and spend the rest of my waking hours wondering how to calm the cyclone of thoughts and emotions inside of me. I feel them swirl in my head. When I swallow them, they get caught in my throat and the saliva builds like I could vomit, but I push them down until they sit, heavy, in the bottom of my stomach. My chest vibrates and my hands shake. My body hurts from the things I’m keeping to myself. Because it’s just not like me.
There were a lot of things I didn’t know about disability when that swift but severe fall left me paralyzed from the bellybutton down. In fact, I was blissfully unaware of almost everything. But as surprising as it was to learn about wheelchair life as it unfolded in front of me, there was one thing that really shocked me about this new club I suddenly belonged to — and it had nothing to do with my body. It was all about the unwritten rulebook.
This is the face of vaccine anxiety. Not a covid-denier or anti-vaxxer—simply, vaccine anxiety. Now please don’t just come at me with facts, figures and stats like anxiety can be reasoned with. Trust me, I’ve tried to help it see the rational side of the argument. Things like, the science, the numbers and the risk vs. reward. Or how about the fact that I’ve been vaccinated my entire life without a single issue. You might think all that would calm the anxiety but it prefers to plug its ears, close its eyes and say “la la la, I can’t hear you” over and over again.
What if I Told You I Want to Write a Book—the Self-Doubt, Procrastination and Constant Comparisons of a Wannabe Memoirist.
What if I told you I want to write a book. That I was finally ready to share my story as only I know it. Maybe you think I’ve done that already, but I’ve kept a lot of the intimate details to myself. All of the memories that shaped my life from what it was before to what it is now, keep pulling at me—telling me to sort through them, string them together and create something that resembles a coherent retelling. And I want to answer that call. I want to write a book. In fact, I started writing it months ago hoping that one day I could add it to my bookshelf next to my constantly growing collection of memoirs.
I’m restless. Restless inside my mind and this body—within the constraints of my wheelchair. I want to get up and move. To stretch, climb, jump and run. I’m convinced that the increased spasticity that’s taken over my legs—causing them to seize and shake uncontrollably—is my body’s way of giving physical representation to my inner angst. I’m struggling to find the positive spin. My mental health is not on the up-and-up and, while my depression has been in remission for a long time, it is shifting. And I am struggling.
Give this paraplegic a wrist injury and watch the catastophizing begin.
I don’t mean to brag, but I’m really good at the catastrophzing game. I can go from All is well in my world to My entire family is dead in a ditch in the span of a few seconds. Or, more relevantly, You need to rest your wrist for a week to My independence is gone forever and my life will never be the same without pausing to consider a more realistic outcome. I’ve spent decades (yes, decades—plural) perfecting my anxiety skills and this little wrist problem was the perfect catalyst to put them into practice.
We decided to dress up for New Year’s Eve. Ok, that’s not totally true. I decided that we would dress up for New Year’s Eve and played the “Please do it for me card” to get everyone else to agree. After spending a week in pjs and sweatpants—wait, who am I kidding? After spending most of 2020 in pjs and sweatpants—I needed a reminder that we could still put in the effort, shake off the dust and get, just a little bit, fancy. Even if it was only to go to our kitchen table.
The first Halloween my daughter could walk was the last Halloween that I could. She took to the neighbourhood for trick-or-treating as a mermaid—accompanied by her brothers: the fisherman and the scuba diver. My mom crocheted her mermaid’s tail out of a bright green yarn and I looped tulle through the bottom of it, giving it a tutu effect. She wore a matching hand-made toque and a purple long-sleeved shirt—because, Canada—with knitted flowers in place of seashells.