As soon as I was home from the hospital I wanted to get back to normal. Obviously I couldn’t do everything, my thoughts were fuzzy and things were overwhelming, but I wanted to take charge of something.
I hated the powerless feeling of being in the hospital. All of the needles, tubes, machines, medication, trays of things masquerading as food, beeps, flashes, questions, and so on. I wanted it to all go away and to get back to my life.
One of the first things I took on once I got home was packing my daughters’ lunches. Believe it or not, that was a lot. I had to make sure we had everything we needed and doing so required focus, which was a huge challenge. My thoughts would drift and I would have to remember what I was doing and thinking, and try to stay on-task.
Once I knew we had everything, I had to make it. A simple sandwich required me to go through all ingredients and make sure I didn’t miss anything. Bread, meat, cheese… I ended up making a detailed list and checking everything, “yogurt, spoon, ice pack…”. I had to keep checking the time so it would be ready before they needed to leave. The consequences of them depending on me, and making mistakes were too great. I was doing something important and I needed to get it right.
At first, writing a reminder note felt belittling, but over time I found that it helped me remember things. I started needing to read each line, focus, and do what it said. Then I would have to double-check the list and inventory the lunchboxes. Did I skip over any of the instructions? Did I forget anything? Packing two lunches took about an hour when I first got started.
Now, more than three and a half years later, I am reflecting back on that time with gratitude. I’m grateful that my girls gave me a chance and believed in me. I’m grateful that I believed in myself, wanted to try, and that my motivation overpowered my negative thoughts, insecurities, and fears of worthlessness.
I’m grateful that I stumbled onto what have become my best modifications for learning and remembering. My best methods include writing things down, repeating actions numerous times, using multiple types of learning- watching, listening, doing, reading, writing, repeating, tying new concepts to older, known concepts, and so on. I’m capable of learning and remembering, but it requires more focus and effort now. It’s my difability, my modified, different approach that keeps my abilities alive!
This memory and gratitude hit me this morning, in the kitchen. I wasn’t packing a lunch, but it just hit me how easy and automatic things in the kitchen are now. How I don’t even have to think much about what I’m doing. How much all that work paid off, and how much the extra work is worth it as I take on new challenges. I’m grateful for how far I’ve come, and look forward to where I’m going!