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2006: A year in review

I can’t quite believe that it’s already the end of 2006. This also means that it’s time to write about the year and gain what perspective I can.

January was a month where I spent most of my time at home. I think I did a lot of what I do now; writing and trying to learn about myself and the world around me. I do remember that I was able to spend some time at church, which was good. That’s probably the month when I realized the RSD/CRPS was going to give me a larger run for my money than the last time. Whether I truly understood everything is doubtful, but I did start understanding some of it. I also began making plans for CSUN.

February was the beginning of my second semester of college. Developmental Psychology was incredibly challenging for me, because the professor relied on overheads that didn’t always make sense when I had them scanned. That was also the month when the professor made the infamous comment about aborting children with disabilities. I learned a lot about working with someone you’re not sure you trust all of the time.

Sociology was fascinating for me. We talked about social structures, and all manners of group dynamics. I enjoyed finding ways to understand the context of disability and ablism.

My art of listening class was a class I did not expect to enjoy. I anticipated issues with being unable to read music, or people thinking I should be better at the course than I was, simply because I was blind. I’ve experienced that in the past, but not this time. I was blessed with a wonderful professor who was willing to learn about my needs and abilities. I also found I could start understanding music as art, and appreciate the elements like sighted people do with paintings and visual art.

My Stages of Christian Life class gave me the framework to understand how my faith was changing and gave me new ways to understand my relationship with God. I’ve written about all of my classes before, so I’m going to let these short synopses be the extent of my reflections on coursework.

Unfortunately, February was my first experience with the nausea related to my pain and my pain itself not responding to my attempts to calm it. At the time, I didn’t have the coping skills to deal with it appropriately, so that was pretty miserable. On the bright side, the challenges set the stage for me to learn new skills.

March was CSUN, and that was amazing. Again, pain was a problem. However, the friends I met, friends I got to see again and skills and knowledge I gained were more than worth the pain. I hope never to have to deal with nausea that bad. While my pain tolerance has increased, so has the pain. But again, the experiences I gained were more than worth the nausea and pain. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

April was when I started to realize I had to try something, anything, to better the painful situation. I decided that it might be time to look at surgery. I met with doctors and figured things out.

May was the end of my first year at college. I felt pretty proud of myself for surviving it. I went from a final on Tuesday to surgery on Thursday. I went from almost complete independence (getting meals on my own, hanging out with friends etc), to almost no independence (having to get help to brush my teeth and get to the bathroom) in a matter of days.

June held the spreading of the pain and the chance to reflect. I found that I sometimes had enough energy to write and used this blog to do that. I also tried to cope with the death of a friend. I’ll admit that was challenging.

July was a growth month. I had to learn about walking again, and figure out what 25% of my weight on my foot actually meant. I also began investigating relaxation techniques to deal with pain.

August was a real treat. I began that month with learning to walk without a walking. Not easy when you haven’t done it for two and a half months and are traveling. I got to go to Seattle, Portland and Springfield though, and had the best possible support. It’s good to be with friends who understand what you’re going through and deal with the challenges well. And because they’re great friends, you don’t feel embarrassed about your limitations. Seeing Julio’s trainers was wonderful too!

As I said, I began rehabilitating with a wonderful physical therapist. We seemed to have the same goals, and things worked well.

September began the school year. It was challenging, because I hadn’t ever experienced the challenges of recovery/rehab from foot surgery plus school before. That was when the toolbox method came in handy. It was also good that I had friends who supported me in my challenges. Strength continued to improve, and I noticed that I was a better handler with Julio.

October was more school, dealing with the realization that I was still walking the tightrope of dealing with RSDD, and continuing to expand my knowledge. I had to make decisions about what I could and couldn’t do, but still maintained a good social life, and did okay in school.

November was a busy month. The news story proved that I could still travel independently, manage my pain somewhat effectively, use relaxation skills and have a great time all while adding some unique stressors. Voting accessibly was amazing. I also enjoyed the Ronnie Milsap concert and basking in the realization that my strength and balance were better. Celebrating turning 20 with friends through the miracles of tech was wonderful! I also really began investigating relaxation for pain management, and learning how to use it somewhat, although the breakthroughs continued into December.

December was also a good month. It started with me realizing that I was experiencing some depressionlike symptoms (when in social work class you take a depression screening and answer yes too many of the questions, you start to figure these things out). But this realization only helped me to better understand what I needed to do to help myself. I just practiced self-care and, wrote some to deal with the feelings I had.

There are probably many many things I’m leaving out. This is a short over view; I can’t write it all down. I’m looking ahead to this New Year, and I’m optimistic. I don’t know what will happen to my pain levels; they could get better or worse. But I’m confident that there will be resources for dealing with this.

My goals for this year? Maintain a gpa of 3.7 or better, manage pain effectively, grow in faith, improve computer skills, improve audio skills and make podcasts, write more helpful articles and entries, investigate more aspects of social work, improve guide work skills, and mostly, enjoy the year!

Over all, I plan to continue the growth started last year.

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