Living with anxiety, sometimes your imagination can get the better of you. Especially when you live with daily anxiety, and are disabled (Whoa! You didn’t see that one coming, did you? 😉 ).
Yes, since birth I have lived with spina bifida (SB); one of the most common of birth defects. Occurring in the first trimester of pregnancy–1,500 cases in the US alone each year–SB happens through a failure of the spine to develop properly. During normal development of a fetus, the spine forms in two sections and comes together, much like two sections of a bridge when they come together to enable cars to go across. In a fetus with SB, this process is either, A. disrupted completely, forming a gap in the spine, or B. formed completely, but the spine sticks out of a gap in the spinal column. This can happen anywhere on the spinal column, but the lower the lesion, the better the prognosis, as everything below the lesion site is effected; bowel and bladder function, as well as the ability to walk. If the lesion is higher on the spinal column, the patient can end up paralyzed, unable to walk at all. With the advancement of technology though, there is good news. Surgeons are actually able to go in and repair some SB cases in utero.
Fortunately, my lesion is located at the base of my spine. The opening was closed immediately after birth. I am able to walk, but not for long distances. I rely on a wheelchair for that. I also wear leg braces and use crutches for short distances.
So, how does this tie into anxiety? Oh honey, let me count the ways. I worry about safety on a daily basis. When I was a kid I worried about staying home alone for fear that someone would break in and I’d not be able to get out of the house. Because of this, I wasn’t able to stay alone in the house overnight till I was in…college. Basically because mobility is a challenge for me, my brain is a constant bundle of worrying about the what if’s in case of an emergency and I’m alone.
I also worried about what to do in case of fire. I remember one night I had just seen an episode of Rescue 911 where there was a fire rescue. That night, lying in bed I mulled over what I had just seen and wondered what I’d do. At that exact moment, the smoke detector in our house went off!! (Which answers the age-old question, “If you think it, it’ll happen). Turns out, the alarm didn’t go off because I had thought it to happen, but a few lost carpenter ants made a wrong turn going back to their home and got STUCK in our smoke detector. 😀 Still scared the stuffing out of me.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that, while there are some things I can do to lessen the risks of disaster; walking in pairs after dark, making sure to turn the oven off after use, etc….when it comes down to it, I can’t prevent everything bad from happening. So what is the best solution? That’s easy. I simply LIVE. And appreciate every moment. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go appreciate that my husband just gifted me with season 1 of The Muppet Show.
Remember you are not alone. I’ll see you tomorrow!